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Globalized Hopes and Disillusions

Israel's Institutional Transition from the Brink of Peace to New Wars



In contrast to the common tendency to see war as the result of leadership decisions based on risk assessments, and political and economic considerations about gains or losses, we use a constructivist and institutional perspective to historicize and politicize the way “nation-state interests” and “nation-state preferences” even in a decision to go to war are socially constructed and culturally embedded. We maintain that with the end of the Cold War, many societies found themselves at a crossroads where they had to resolve internal conflicts in regards to neoliberal globalization. These internal conflicts and a crisis of identity, between those who supported the principle of globalization and regarded it as a promise for democracy, openness, liberty and peace, and those who saw it as a danger to their exceptionality and distinctiveness, ended in wars (either internal wars or external wars) when the objectors of neoliberal globalization succeeded in creating an institutional turn which presented war as the “efficient,” “necessary,” “legitimate”, or “desired” solution to the new threatening reality.

We demonstrate the validity of this argument by using Israel as a test case, examining how institutional changes in the 1990s, arising from internal societal conflicts around the Oslo Agreements, led the state to move from the brink of peace to new wars despite exogenous objections to its policy.