Since 1945, few regions of the world have seen as much war as the Middle East. During this time, the armies and air forces of the Arab states have been involved in almost every type of military situation imaginable, from blitzkrieg offensives, to counterinsurgency campaigns, to wars of attrition and border clashes. This history reveals that the Arabs were not simply mindless buffoons who repeatedly butted their heads against one wall after another. Far from the undifferentiated lumps portrayed by some accounts of Middle Eastern wars, the Arab armed forces evolved in a number of ways in response to various influences. Some armies improved over time, others deteriorated. Some reached a peak of effectiveness—low in comparison to other armies though that may have been—only to lose their edge by overreaching themselves in war or by neglect in peacetime. Some were forced to improve by ambitious leaders, others were emasculated by fearful ones.
The Arab militaries and their relationship to the larger Arab polities changed constantly throughout this era. Under the pressure of repeated failure, the Egyptian army was forced to become increasingly more professional. At the same time, Egypt's political leadership developed an ever more sophisticated approach to the use of military force in pursuit of its foreign policy goals. The product was Egypt's political victory in the October War and the eventual peace treaty with Israel. This in turn led to the gradual re-erosion of Egyptian military power that followed. The Jordanian army, by contrast, began the post—World War II era at the zenith of its military effectiveness but the next forty-three years it struggled to hang on to its proficiency even as the political leadership in Amman grew less and less inclined to use military force to secure foreign policy objectives. In contrast, the Iraqi armed forces rose from incompetence to become probably the most potent military ever wielded by an Arab government. But the