The Middle East: For a Separate Peace
SELDOM HAS a diplomatic move been subjected to as much speculation as Anwar Sadat’s initiative in going to Jerusalem. The speculation has not diminished with the passage of time. If anything, it has increased with the Egyptian president’s subsequent actions. Still, the speculation remains just that. It may be, as some have suggested, that Sadat himself was not altogether clear about why he was doing what he did, that at least his first and decisive move was taken on impulse and without calculation of the possible consequences. On this view, Sadat’s principal motivation was simply a desire to break out of a developing diplomatic framework, largely of American design, that appeared to him to hold out far more threat than promise. Beyond this, the impulse theory maintains, Sadat did not know what he was doing, and only in retrospect has he come to appreciate the consequences of his action.
If true, it would not be the first time that impulse has led the way in diplomacy. Nor would it be the first time that impulse has led to striking results. “The greatest masters of statecraft,” A. J. P. Taylor once remarked, “are those who do not know what they are doing.” Perhaps. Yet the decided preference in this case has been to credit Sadat with knowing what he was doing.
About the Author