Egypt -- Nasser and Sadat: Decision Making and Foreign Policy (1970-1972) by Shaheen Ayubi

By Dekmejian, R. Hrair | The Middle East Journal, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

Egypt -- Nasser and Sadat: Decision Making and Foreign Policy (1970-1972) by Shaheen Ayubi


Dekmejian, R. Hrair, The Middle East Journal


Nasser and Sadat: Decision Making and Foreign Policy (1970-1972), by Shaheen Ayubi. Lanham, MD and London: University Press of America, 1994. xiv + 212 pages. Appends. to p. 218. Bibl. to p. 253. Index to p. 262. $49.50 cloth; $32.50 paper.

Reviewed by R. Hrair Dekmejian

The primary objective of this dissertation-cum-book is the reconstruction of the Egyptian foreign policy-making process in the late Nasir and early Sadat eras. The author wisely avoids narrow theoretical frameworks that have been used in studying foreign policy making in developed societies. Thus, instead of focusing on institutions, bureaucracies, and legislatures, Nasser and Sadat acknowledges the epicentric role of leadership in the formulation of foreign policy in developing countries. It emphasizes authoritarian leadership, charisma, ideology, nationalism, and personalized policy making.

Indeed, the tradition of centralized power in Egypt--"the pharaonic imperative"--necessitates the adoption of a research framework focusing on the leader's personality, belief system, and perceptions of the environment. In recognition of these analytical concerns, Shaheen Ayubi's research strategy is to utilize an eclectic theoretical framework combining Erik H. Erikson's psychohistorical method with the operational code construct of Nathan Leites as reformulated by Alexander George.(1) Thus, Ayubi identifies the external, internal, and residual variables of the leader's operational environment, as these interact with his psychological environment in determining specific foreign policy decisions.

In reconstructing the Egyptian policy-making process, the book is concerned with two crucial decisions regarding the Soviet Union: Jamal 'Abd al-Nasir's January 1970 invitation to the Soviet military to defend Egypt against Israeli air attacks, and Anwar al-Sadat's expulsion of the Soviet forces in July 1972. A detailed historical account of these events is presented, followed by brief personal portraits of Nasir and Sadat based on Erikson's psychohistorical theories. In two chapters, the research framework is used to analyze the operational and psychological determinants of Nasir's and Sadat's decisions.

In a concluding section, the author presents a counter-factual analysis to help determine the predictive power of the two decision-making models.

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