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The Limits of Détente

The Limits of Détente: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1969-1973

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Limits of Détente
    Book Description:

    In the first book-length analysis of the origins of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Craig Daigle draws on documents only recently made available to show how the war resulted not only from tension and competing interest between Arabs and Israelis, but also from policies adopted in both Washington and Moscow.

    Between 1969 and 1973, the Middle East in general and the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular emerged as a crucial Cold War battleground where the limits of détente appeared in sharp relief. By prioritizing Cold War détente rather than genuine stability in the Middle East, Daigle shows, the United States and the Soviet Union fueled regional instability that ultimately undermined the prospects of a lasting peace agreement. Daigle further argues that as détente increased tensions between Arabs and Israelis, these tensions in turn negatively affected U.S.-Soviet relations.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18334-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-9)

    The war came as a complete surprise.

    Shortly past 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 6, 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was sound asleep in his suite at the Waldorf Towers in New York, his headquarters for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, when Joseph J. Sisco, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and African affairs, barged into his bedroom. “Israel, Egypt, and Syria are about to go to war,” Sisco said as he watched the secretary force himself awake. Sisco had just received an urgent message from the American ambassador in Israel, former senator Kenneth...

  7. ONE From Confrontation to Negotiation, January–September 1969
    (pp. 10-47)

    As the dusk settled over the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, June 10, 1967, signs of the colossal destruction of Egypt’s army were everywhere. Hundreds of smashed trucks and tanks stretched bumper to bumper for miles. The shattered frames of dozens of Russian-built MiG-21s were tossed across the expansive desert. Forward air bases were littered with blackened craters along their runways. Guns, armor, and ammunition lay strewn across the sizzling sand. Piles of bedding, tents, mess equipment, and shoes covered the narrow roads, a sign of the army’s hurried retreat. Bloody remains of the some of the fifteen thousand Egyptian soldiers...

  8. TWO The Rogers Plan, October–December 1969
    (pp. 48-82)

    On December 9, 1969, Secretary of State William P. Rogers publicly unveiled his blueprint of a plan for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement that had been in the works with the Soviet Union for the better part of eight months. Speaking before the Galaxy Conference on Adult Education at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington, DC, Rogers declared that the United States had adopted a “balanced and fair” policy in the Middle East consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 242. He argued that the Arabs must accept a “permanent peace” with Israel based on a “binding agreement” and maintained that any...

  9. THREE The First Soviet Threat, January–May 1970
    (pp. 83-112)

    At approximately 2:00 p.m. on January 7, 1970, three squadrons of Israeli F-4 Phantom IIs crossed over the west side of the Suez Canal, headed deep into the Egyptian hinterland. The stated military objectives of the mission were, first, to reduce Egyptian military pressure in the forward Canal area by bombing military bases and supply depots in the rear and disrupting logistical support to Egyptian forces stationed along the Canal; second, to disrupt Egyptian military planning for launching a full-scale war against Israel; and third, to bring the War of Attrition to an end by compelling Nasser to observe the...

  10. FOUR Crisis on the Suez, June–September 1970
    (pp. 113-154)

    By the summer of 1970, the Middle East was at its most dangerous point since just before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. In the six months since the collapse of the Rogers Plan, the number of Soviet military forces in the region had doubled, Moscow had sent its most sophisticated air defense system to Cairo, and Russian pilots had assumed responsibility for the Egyptian air defense, coming into regular contact with the Israeli Air Force and even losing planes to Israel on occasion. Although the outbreak of another full-scale Arab-Israeli war was far from certain, the War of Attrition...

  11. FIVE Fighting for Sadat, October 1970–August 1971
    (pp. 155-191)

    No single event changed the landscape of the Arab-Israeli conflict more than the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the accession to power of his successor, Anwar el-Sadat, in September 1970. For nearly two decades Nasser had been the strongest figure of leadership among the Arabs. By nationalizing the Suez Canal in 1956 and resisting the Western powers during the ensuing war, he had developed a following throughout the Arab world and continued to increase his influence across the region by using his powerful personality and considerable charm to appeal to Arab nationalism. In 1958, Nasser formed the United Arab...

  12. SIX The Race to the Summit, September 1971–May 1972
    (pp. 192-227)

    Richard Nixon had a flair for the dramatic. Although he made most of his decisions in solitude on the basis of memoranda or with a few intimate aides, he liked to unveil his biggest decisions in major, prime-time television speeches that moved audiences without being subjected to questions and demonstrated decisiveness and courage of action. It was an art that he first learned in 1952 when, as the embattled Republican vice presidential candidate, he delivered a half-hour-long television address to defend himself against accusations of misusing a political fund. Nearly sixty million Americans witnessed Nixon’s speech and his now infamous...

  13. SEVEN Bombshells and Back Channels, June 1972–February 1973
    (pp. 228-260)

    “Get out! egypt tells russians.”

    So read the headline emblazoned across the front page of theLos Angeles Timeson July 18, 1972, announcing the momentous decision by President Anwar Sadat to expel the nearly fifteen thousand Soviet military advisers and experts inside Egypt.¹ Across the country, America’s leading newspapers and periodicals heralded Sadat’s grandiose move to terminate the Soviet military mission: “Russians Go Home!” declared theNew York TimesandTimemagazine. “An Astonishing Turn in Cairo,” said theWashington Post.“Friction along the Nile,” read another headline.²

    Not since Nikita Khrushchev withdrew Russian missiles from Cuba in 1962...

  14. EIGHT The Contradictions of Leonid Brezhnev, March–October 1973
    (pp. 261-293)

    By the beginning of 1973, Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev had reached the pinnacle of his power. When he seized control from Nikita Khrushchev as part of a bloodless coup in 1964, he appeared little more than an “apparatchik,” a Communist party man, who was an able administrator and bureaucrat but who lacked a strong personality that would make possible effective and dynamic leadership. “He seemed somber and dull,” wrote a Western journalist about Brezhnev in 1963, a year before he took power, and few outside observers believed that he would emerge as Khrushchev’s successor.¹ Days after Khrushchev’s ouster, in...

  15. NINE The Crisis of Détente, October 1973
    (pp. 294-331)

    The air raid sirens began to wail while most Israelis were still in synagogue on Saturday, October 6, 1973. It was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year. As scores of worshipers emerged from their afternoon services draped in prayer shawls and skullcaps, they witnessed a flurry of activity all around. Streets were filled with speeding trucks and military vehicles rushing the thousands of soldiers on leave for the holiday back to their units. Tourists hurried into nearby bomb shelters. Shopkeepers quickly boarded up their windows and shut down their electricity. Radio broadcasts, normally...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 332-346)

    Henry Kissinger’s Boeing 707 touched down at the darkened Cairo airport just minutes before midnight, November 6, 1973. Almost two weeks had passed since he had negotiated the shaky cease-fire ending the fourth Arab-Israeli war, but tensions among Israel, Egypt, and Syria remained extremely high. Israeli forces continued to encircle Egypt’s Third Army, an “intolerable affront to Egyptian honor,” while President Anwar Sadat threatened to resume hostilities. A “grim mood” had enveloped Cairo with persistent fears of renewed fighting,Washington Postreporters Jim Hoagland and Murrey Marder wrote hours before the secretary of state’s arrival in the ancient capital, but...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 347-402)
  18. Index
    (pp. 403-423)