The Albatross of Decisive Victory: War and Policy between Egypt and Israel in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars

The Albatross of Decisive Victory: War and Policy between Egypt and Israel in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars

The Albatross of Decisive Victory: War and Policy between Egypt and Israel in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars

The Albatross of Decisive Victory: War and Policy between Egypt and Israel in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars

Synopsis

In 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in a mere six days. This remarkable military accomplishment would, however, have the ultimate effect of creating an albatross around the neck of the Israeli Army, as Israelis would now expect the next conventional war with the Arabs to achieve similar results: a quick, decisive victory with relatively few casualties. Although Egyptian forces were militarily inferior to those of Israel, President Anwar Sadat developed a successful limited war strategy designed to exploit this unrealistic expectation.

Rather than aiming to achieve a military victory or to seize strategic terrain, Sadat merely sought to break a diplomatic stalemate with a major military operation designed to soften Israeli intransigence toward negotiations and to force a change in U. S. foreign policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. In support of these political aims, the Egyptian Armed Forces set out to discredit the Israeli Army's prowess by inflicting heavy casualties in a limited war. Sadat's success in regaining the entire Sinai without another armed struggle holds an important lesson for the United States. After its dramatic victory in Desert Storm, American armed forces feel compelled to win the next conventional war quickly, decisively, and with relatively few casualties, much like the challenge that faced Israel after the 1967 war.

Excerpt

Achieving a decisive military victory in a short war with minimum casualties stands as a noteworthy achievement in the annals of modern warfare. The Six Day War of 5–10 June 1967 saw the Israel Defense Forces accomplish such a triumph over the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. As a result of this remarkable feat, Israel emerged as the regional superpower in the Middle East, seemingly invincible in conducting maneuver warfare against any Arab coalition. Conventional wisdom, therefore, would counsel against challenging such a militarily superior foe in war, and Israel naturally expected some respite from hostilities as a result of its impressive victory. But such proved not to be the case.

Egypt refused to countenance military defeat and offered armed resistance to Israel's occupation of the Sinai. The next three years saw a border war between the two countries, with serious escalation occurring in the third year, followed by three years of relative calm. During this entire six-year period, the Egyptian Armed Forces sought to improve their combat effectiveness as they prepared to recapture territory through military means. Finally, frustrated by the lack of diplomatic progress, Egypt, in alliance with Syria, attacked Israel on 6 October 1973.

Virtually every Western pundit expected an early Israeli victory. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was acutely aware of the Israeli army's marked superiority over his own; out of desperation, he crafted a war strategy designed to achieve political benefits without a military victory. His statesmanship proved successful. After five and a half years of negotiations following the October War, Egypt and Israel finally signed a peace treaty that ended their state of belligerency and returned the Sinai to the Egyptians. Sadat's political achievement . . .

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