Commentary Magazine

Article Preview

Israel and the United States: From Dependence to Nuclear Weapons?

- Abstract

IT IS altogether likely that future historians will find in the Yom Kippur war, as most contemporary observers have already found, the great turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Although affording no solutions to the seemingly intractable issues that have defined this conflict, the war clearly marked a radical change in the circumstances attending and conditioning it. The war, moreover, may be seen as the major precipitant that opened the way to implementing a new diplomatic design for the United States. If Mr. Kissinger did not anticipate the war, the record indicates that he quickly sensed the possibilities it held out for a new policy. The essential feature of this new policy was simplicity itself. It was not the Soviet Union but the United States that could satisfy Arab demands for the return of territories taken from them in 1967. This being so, it was the United States that could establish itself as mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict and thereby largely displace Russian influence, particularly in Egypt. Still, it was essential that Israel’s adversaries first come to appreciate what the Soviet Union could not do for them, and this lesson they could only learn from experience. For Egypt, at least, the lesson seemed to have been largely learned in the years preceding the Yom Kippur war. The war provided the opportunity to confirm it while affording the occasion for a first demonstration of what the United States could do.

About the Author