NO VICTOR, NO VANQUISHED: The Yom Kippur War by Edgar O'Ballance


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In the footsteps of his The Third Arab-Israeli War (1972), O'Ballance now provides yet another blow-by-blow account of the October War. Relying more heavily on Arab, primarily Egyptian interviews, maps, and diagrams as well as published Israeli sources, he reverses his emphasis: where 1967 had been an Israeli war, 1973 was basically an Egyptian one--thus the detailed analyses of Egyptian motivation (repair of damaged pride), long-range planning (Sadat had decided on war early in 1972), and the execution of a coordinated surprise attack no one thought the Arabs capable of achieving. These elements pins changes in Arab military training (more reliance on the soldier than the weapon, encouragement of the study of the Israeli mentality), and low-key media releases in contrast to the hyperbole of 1967 appear in apposition to Israeli arrogance, dissension among Israeli generals, early loss of nerve by members of the cabinet, and vague and ""selective candour"" in releasing news. In the context of this atmosphere, the Israeli counterattack and breakthrough to Africa seems less spectacular. The resulting stalemate, O'Ballance claims, can only be broken by Israeli flexibility in negotiations as in the long run Israel can no longer rely on military superiority. His summation provides critical lessons: the importance of the human factor and the element of surprise, the increasing significance of recognizance satellites for battlefield monitoring, and the ""incredible amount of material destruction that occurred in such a short period of time."" In contrast to Dupuy's Elusive Victory (1978), O'Ballance makes light of the dissension in the Egyptian High Command and maintains that the Israelis relied heavily on TOW anti-tank missiles, American weapons which they originally rejected. Read together, the two contain cogent analyses of this war and important implications for military planners in the future.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Presidio Press