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Thread: Six Days of War. June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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    Aug 2009

    Default Six Days of War. June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    This is the 51st anniversary of the 6 day war (the first news I remember reading in a newspaper; I was 5.5 and could only read the headline, but I do remember reading that), so I thought I would post my review of Michael Oren's book. The complete review is on Brownpundits.


    An excellent history of the 1967 war, this books is even more useful in its coverage of the months leading up to the war. While it is written from a pro-Israeli perspective, the facts are not cherry-picked or outright falsified (as is common in more ideological books, from both the Left and the Right). Every important detail (and some unimportant ones..the book is long) is covered and the bias is usually limited to careful word choice or perspective, and does not extend to misreporting the “hard facts”. For example, the attack on the USS Liberty is presented accurately but it is clear that the order and tone in which the facts are presented is consciously meant to justify the Israeli story (which I personally think is likely to be close to the truth in any case, so there is always that)..

    ..One laughs (or cries, it depends) at the yawning gap between the Arab leaders grandiose and extravagant claims and military moves in the months prior to the war (whether they meant any of it or not is almost besides the point; they probably did not, but they all said it, and they, especially the Egyptians, moved troops around as if they meant it) and the actual abilities of their tinpot regimes. The lower level Arab units were brave enough, but the senior echelons (except in the relatively competent Jordanian army) were sub-standard and the top leadership was criminally incompetent and utterly buffoonish. Whether Israel laid a trap and they fell into it, or it was a series of accidents and bad decisions, or something in between, the bare facts are brutal. .

    ..It is fascinating to read what all the Arab leaders thought of each other..and how the “street” and their own delusions forced each country to join a “coalition” that was too united to avoid joint disaster and too disunited to do anything seriously coordinated…The way Egypt misled its own “ally” Jordan to sucker them into the war and how Syria lied to everyone from day one to day six are classics in the annals of useless alliances. There may be other examples like this somewhere in history, but offhand I cannot think of another example of a multi-national “coalition” as inept and self-defeating as this one.

    Of course, one cannot fail to be impressed by the chutzpah, initiative, courage and competence of Israel’s citizen army. At the same time, their undoubtedly impressive performance was greatly enhanced by buffoonery and incompetence at the highest levels of the Egyptian and Syrian armies. The Egyptian army could well have stood and fought a much bloodier and longer battle in the Sinai if “Field Marshal” Amer had not ordered them into headlong retreat after he personally fell to pieces on the second day of the war.

    PS: I mentioned to a friend about how celebrations broke out across the Arab world on the first day of the war, as the population imagined that the long promised “march to Tel Aviv” had begun (and as their own radio related tales of great victories). This friend reminded me that such demonstrations did not just happen in the Arab world, they also took place in far away Pakistan. He recalled that in his locality in Karachi, people came out on the streets and distributed sweets (no doubt having heard, as radio Cairo was claiming, that hundreds of Israeli planes had been downed and the Egyptian army was marching into Negev). By the second day, some of the better informed had figured out (presumably from listening to the BBC) that the Arabs were actually losing, but most people refused to believe them. By the third day, general depression had set in. I am sure this patterns was repeated across the Muslim world.

    Moderator adds: There is an old closed thread on the 1967 war:
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-07-2018 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Add Mods note

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