In the Shadow of the Hawk: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Isreal

In the Shadow of the Hawk: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Isreal

In the Shadow of the Hawk: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Isreal

In the Shadow of the Hawk: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Isreal

Synopsis

Because Israel was regarded as a bulwark against pan-Arab nationalism, especially in light of Nasser's approach to the US and the Vietnam War, President Johnson approved the sale of arms to Israel during his tenure. Ben-Zvi explores the politics of arms sales to Israel during Johnson's term in office.

Excerpt

This book is a continuation of Abraham Ben-Zvi's earlier path-breaking studies of the politics of arms sales to Israel in the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. Taken together, this body of work constitutes a fundamental and definitive re-examination of this decisive period in the building of the close US-Israel relationship that became, and remains, a fixed point of reference in Middle Eastern diplomacy. Despite the controversies and contestations that attach to this topic, Ben-Zvi's trilogy will stand the test of time because he has dug deeply into the primary sources and allows them to speak for themselves, while combining this meticulous research with a sophisticated conceptual framework and a penetrating analysis that plays no favorites.

Each stage of this project has corrected prevailing stereotypes about the birth and early childhood of the US-Israeli alliance. The first volume showed how the initial turn to a more supportive US stance toward Israel, often credited to the Kennedy administration, actually began in the later Eisenhower years and reflected changing realities in the Middle East. The Kennedy-era study focused on the first major arms sale to Israel, the 1962 Hawk anti-aircraft missile deal, connecting it persuasively to a historic shift in strategic thinking within the defense community rather than to transient political factors, and showed that the critical transition took place well before the 1967 war, rather than after it.

The book in hand covers the culmination of this process during the Johnson years: with the beginning of an on-going arms supply relationship. Ben-Zvi concentrates on the two major arms sales-M-48A Patton tanks in 1965 and A-4E Skyhawk fighter-bombers in 1966-with some attention to the 1968 sale of Phantom fighters. Even here, however, previous perceptions need to be qualified. Ben-Zvi points out that there was not a simple linear process of growing cooperation, but rather a series of tendentious bargaining situations with different strategic and political components in each.

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