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Strategic logic and ability: revisiting the Arab-Israeli wars

Boraik, M. (2019) Strategic logic and ability: revisiting the Arab-Israeli wars. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00084844


This study explores how strategy links operational art, conduct and objectives to the achievement of political aims in war. It develops the concept of "strategic ability" as an analytical framework to assess the ability of states and non-state actors to perceive, institutionalize and practice strategy. While other factors affecting the outcome of war should be considered, political success in the immediate aftermath of war is best explained by having an advantageous ability in strategy making during the war; generating sound grand and military strategies, and guiding the operational capabilities and art to the fulfilment of strategic requirements. The crux of "strategic logic" is the use of military and non-military means to affect the political will of the enemy by specific ways and scales while keeping the means­ways-ends calculus right. This is invariable but its contextualization varies with the times and within each case. Political-military relations should be organized in ways compatible with political structure and permitting specific functions: information sharing, critical assessment, clear political authorization, the formidable position of the military and strategic intervention of the political leadership. Operational art is not a fixed formula but it should be highly contextual, strategy sensitive and promoting jointness. This research is based on multiple case studies from the Arab-Israeli wars. It shows that Israel has consistently demonstrated weak strategic ability in regular wars apart from the 1948 War thanks to Ben-Gurion, and more so in irregular wars, which explains the comparatively small political gains it has achieved despite its outstanding battle-space decisiveness. The Arabs, focusing on the Egyptians, suffered from malfunctioning political and social dimensions which prevented their huge human and natural resources from being channelled into operational counter-­capabilities or strategic ability. Only in the first stage of the 1973 War and later with the rise of Hezbollah, has the modest improvement in the Arabs' strategic ability been sufficient to expose Israel's consistent weakness in strategy making, which has otherwise been concealed by the Arabs' incompetent performance.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Sloan, G. and Gray, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Politics, Economics & International Relations
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:84844
Date on Title Page:2018


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