Weinstein-Minkoff Lecture: “Military Entrepreneurs and the Evolution of Israel’s Special Operations Forces,” Ami Pedahzur

by CJS


Ami Pedahzur, Professor, Government and Founding Director of the Institute for Israel Studies, University of Texas at Austin


“Military Entrepreneurs and the Evolution of Israel’s Special Operations Forces”

Monday, April 20, 4:00 p.m.
Memorial Union (800 Langdon St.; check TITU)

By placing the Israeli experience in a comparative perspective, I explore the circumstances that led to the debut of present-day special operations forces and the mechanisms that allowed these units to ascend to their current prominent status. I argue that the recent crossing of four vectors, namely the rise of asymmetrical wars, technological leaps, heightened sensitivity to military casualties, and the professionalization of armed forces provided an environment conducive to the rise of special operations forces. Small teams of professional operators, equipped with cutting edge technologies, can rapidly deploy and carry out missions of strategic significance that in the past required massive military campaigns. An analysis of an original global database of special operations forces, offers a counter-intuitive picture. The seeming global proliferation of this branch is a façade. In reality, a small number of units account for the trend while the majority of their counterparts demise shorty after they form. Moreover, success in meeting their military objectives has little impact on the survival prospects of individual units. So far, I have discovered that victories in the bureaucratic battlefields, and especially the presence of military entrepreneurs, separate the successful units from the less fortunate ones.

This lecture is sponsored by the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies and made possible through the generosity of family and friends of the Weinstein and Minkoff families. 

Listen to Lecture

This lecture will be available for download through iTunes U, approximately two weeks after the lecture date. Click here for more information.

About the Speaker

Ami Pedahzur is Professor of Government and the Arnold S. Chaplik Professor in Israel and Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the Founding Director of the Institute for Israel Studies at the The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. His latest books include: The Triumph of Israel’s Radical Right (Oxford University Press, 2012); The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle against Terrorism (Columbia University Press, 2009); and Jewish Terrorism in Israel (Columbia University Press, 2009, with Arie Perliger). He is currently working on a new book manuscript entitled: Military Entrepreneurs and the Evolution of Israel’s Special Operations Forces.