The IDF’s lamentations about a shortage of funds and recruits highlights the gross mismanagement of the Israeli army. Originally a lean, daring, highly professional army, today’s IDF combines the worst traits of the American and Russian militaries: it demands expensive cannons and cheap cannon fodder. Politicized, bureaucratized, and addicted to hyper-expensive, untested American military toys, the IDF seeks to overcome its institutional disadvantages with mass and money.

The Lebanon wars of 1982, and to a larger extent 2006, marked a shift in the balance of will. Up until then, the Arabs had fought grudgingly and the Jews vehemently. Now the Arabs are ideologically charged, while peace propaganda and constant concessions to the Arab enemy have made the Jews reluctant to fight. Still, the conscription figures are remarkably good: the number of outright refuseniks is negligible and only 7 percent skip the army for medical reasons, many of them legitimate. Society’s morale is so low that 4 percent of conscription-age youth are convicted criminals, but there is no draft-dodging problem in Israel.

Most students of religious schools refuse to serve in the IDF. Though anti-Zionist propaganda by ultra-Orthodox rabbis plays a major role in their refusal, the IDF alienates religious students by requiring them to serve in mixed secular-religious units. Mixed units do not allow for a religious way of life. The IDF can easily bring yeshiva students into the army by creating strictly religious units without a hint of secularization; that would alleviate the rabbis’ major objection to conscription. Instead, the IDF introduces secular peacenik brainwashing detestable even to normal Jews, let alone to the religious. Add the un-Jewish atmosphere of intimidation of young draftees by their ostensible comrades from rough neighborhoods, and it is a wonder that so few Jews refuse induction.

The IDF spends the available human resources inefficiently. Women are rarely given meaningful support jobs, let alone combat roles. Arabs can be conscripted for secondary support roles and construction work; let them prove their loyalty to the Jewish state. Reservists receive next to no training during their periodic muster. The available troops waste time in camps instead of using the readily available training grounds in Gaza.

It is impossible to devise an intensive training program 1½ to 3 years long. The IDF removes young Jews from studies and productive work, but fails to fill their schedule. The cost of the army draft to Israeli society is incalculable. The draft robs the Israeli economy of people at their most creative age and impedes their propensity for university studies. The IDF has to decrease the infantry draft period to six months at most; an intensive half-year training is more than enough to acquire the necessary skills. Yeshiva students will more easily accept a short draft than a years-long service which takes them away from studies.

Snobbish procurement officials prefer US-made gadgets to Israeli weapons. Israel canceled many promising developments and competitive production lines in favor of American imports. For a mere $2 billion a year in subsidies, Israel re-oriented her military procurement toward America. Worse still, Israel has adopted the US method of waging wars—technical abundance. Since WWI, America has conducted its wars with a massive advantage in material supply; Germany, Japan, and Vietnam were all unable to compete with the supply chain of the American military-industrial complex. Israel uncritically accepted the model of ultra-rich America. Though the exact figures of Israel’s military expenditures are unknown, they can be safely estimated at two to three times the official figure of $17 billion if we account for GDP losses from conscription and other indirect costs. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz similarly estimated the US costs of the Iraqi war at least three times higher than direct budgetary expenditures. For a trillion dollars, every insurgent in Iraq would commit suicide and spare America the war effort. Jews also spend their military budget meaninglessly.

The Navy is great for boosting the egos of the General Staff, but it lacks practical application in Israeli wars. Large tank corps were great thirty years ago, but advances in anti-tank rockets have made them too vulnerable, even allowing for the excellent Trophy active-defense system. The IAF’s top-of-the-line US planes lack viable opponents; cheaper Russian or Israeli Kfir planes would do the job as well. In the wars of the future, enemies will not attack Israel with immense infantry forces because they will fear to amass such forces at the border. Rather, they will launch hundreds of missiles at Israel simultaneously.

Israel won all her major wars with smartness and her advantage in mobile warfare, but there is only so much mobility can do against numbers. The numerically superior Russians defeated the strategically brilliant Germans in WWII. The Arabs vastly outnumber Israel in terms of infantry and armaments. When Islamists come to power in Pakistan, they will further equalize the Arab-Israeli balance of power by providing the Arabs with a nuclear shield. Israel cannot hope to win wars forever, but has to deter the Arabs. The only credible deterrent is nuclear, and it has nothing to do with conscription.

America lost many lives on Iwo Jima, but ultimately the war with Japan was decided by nuclear weapons. Israel has no option to prevent large wars with Arabs other than by announcing the defensive strategy of total nuclear destruction.