Cover image for Arabs at war : military effectiveness, 1948-1991
Arabs at war : military effectiveness, 1948-1991
Pollack, Kenneth M. (Kenneth Michael), 1966-
Publication Information:
Lincoln, NE : University of Nebraska Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xv, 698 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
General Note:
"A Council on Foreign Relations book."

Based in part on the author's dissertation (doctoral--MIT, 1996) under the title: The influence of Arab culture on Arab military effectiveness, 1948-1991.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
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Kenneth M. Pollack, formerly a Persian Gulf military analyst at the CIA and Director for Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council, describes and analyzes the military history of the six key Arab states--Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria--during the post-World War II era. He shows in detail how each Arab military grew and learned from its own experiences in response to the specific objectives set for it and within often constrained political, economic, and social circumstances. This first-ever overview of the modern Arab approach to warfare provides a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the Arab militaries, some of which are the United States' most likely adversaries, and some of which are our most important allies.

Author Notes

Kenneth M. Pollack is Olin Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

As the U.S. rather publicly contemplates a strike against Iraq, Kenneth M. Pollack, the Council on Foreign Relations' deputy director for National Security Studies, offers a frank and statistically based historical assessment of Iraq's performance in war, along with the performances of Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Audi Arabia and Syria. Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 begins with the first of Egypt's engagements with Israel, and ends with the Gulf War, devoting a chapter each to the aforementioned nations (Iraq gets more than 100 pages), and focusing on everything from preparedness to unit cohesion. While it is often more technical than most readers will want, expect journalists to be combing the book (which includes 36 maps) in search of backstory. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the March/April 2002 issue of Foreign Affairs, Pollack, who is deputy director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, bluntly addressed what should be done once the al Qaeda has been dealt with: "The United States should invade Iraq, eliminate the present regime, and pave the way for a successor prepared to abide by its international commitments and live in peace with its neighbors." This forthrightness is evident throughout Pollack's significant albeit highly specialized military history of the tactical and strategic performance of six key Arab states Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria during the post-World War II era. Each broad analysis covers the strategies and goals of both the various militaries and their adversaries to provide a full political context. Pollack achieves the dual purpose of analyzing the factors that have consistently hindered these armed forces and providing a robust assessment of their strengths and weaknesses during various battles. Since the experiences of these forces continue to shape military action around the world, this important overview belongs in all military research libraries and larger university libraries. Dale Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Pollack (senior fellow and director of research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution) is a widely published author and former CIA analyst and White House official. This tome is the first comprehensive comparative analysis of Arab military (in)effectiveness. Detailed case histories of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria--which have collectively fought 28 wars since 1948--provide the basis for his systematic assessment of unit cohesion, generalship, tactical leadership, information management, technical skills and weapons handling, logistics and maintenance, morale, training, and cowardice. Pollack concludes that no single factor explains Arab military performance, but rather several different factors working together determined success or failure; unit cohesion was necessary but not sufficient for military effectiveness and its importance varied with types of missions; and Arab generalship and strategic vision were undermined by tactical and operational incompetence. With 36 maps, 70 pages of notes, and a 20-page bibliography, this encyclopedic study will be of great interest to scholars, military planners and analysts, and policy makers. A must-read with Middle East "military balance" studies, particularly those by Anthony H. Cordesman. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Collections specializing in the Middle East, international relations, strategic studies, and military affairs; upper-division undergraduates and above. J. P. Smaldone Georgetown University

Table of Contents

Understanding Modern Arab Military Effectivenessp. 1
1 Egyptp. 14
2 Iraqp. 148
3 Jordanp. 267
4 Libyap. 358
5 Saudi Arabiap. 425
6 Syriap. 447
Conclusions and Lessonsp. 552
Afterwordp. 585
Notesp. 593
Selected Bibliographyp. 663
Indexp. 685