How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower

Rosa Brooks in the New York Times:

05Rosabrooks-blog427Seventy years ago, the state of Israel was still just a gleam in Zionists’ eyes, and the future state’s military was hardly more than a ragtag group of irregulars, forced to manufacture bullets in a secret facility built underneath a kibbutz. Today, Israel’s military is widely viewed as one of the most effective in the world. Once compelled to arm itself with surplus equipment purchased from more powerful states (and sometimes obtained by stealth), Israel is now one of the world’s six largest arms exporters, earning billions each year through the sale of military equipment to buyers from China and India to Colombia and Russia.

“The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower” tells the story of this transformation. Written by the Israeli journalists Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot, “The Weapon Wizards” offers a lively account of Israel’s evolving military prowess, from the early days of Jewish paramilitaries operating within the British Mandate to Israel’s recent emergence as exporter of 60 percent of the world’s drones. From satellites and missile defense systems to adaptive armor and cyber weapons, Israel has consistently found ways to circumvent or leapfrog financial and technological barriers.

But Katz and Bohbot aspire to do more than just offer a journalistic history of the Israeli military’s technological advances: They aim to explain just how the tiny Jewish state managed to become such a military innovator. “How did Israel do it?” Katz and Bohbot ask. “What was the secret to Israel’s success?” Their answer: brains, pluck and the bracing prospect of imminent annihilation.

More here.