Intelligence factors leading up to the 1973 Arab-Israeli War
There was failure in intelligence prior to the occurrence of the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Agencies that were accountable for intelligence reached and offered starkly-wrong conclusions regarding the proximity of hostilities. During the war, there was an array of concerns that were demonstrated by available information. For instance, the opinion of the Muslims throughout the world, the interests of the Soviet Union and the United States, the implications of the United States shortage of energy, and the degree of vigilant of the Middle East martial among other issues. William Colby was the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) when the war broke out. Colby`s tenure started with a key intelligence failure based on the fact that he, together with the Intelligence Community failed to offer awareness to the policymakers regarding the breaking out of the Arab-Israel war. In addition, they did not project that the war had a high probability of provoking a United State and Soviet Union altercation in the Middle Eastern region. During the war, the Intelligence Community, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the DCI offered exceptional emergency management support to the administration. Nevertheless, the White House was highly dissatisfied with the agencies due to their misconception regarding the occurrence of the war.
According to President Nixon, the CIA had dismissed as yearly military exercises the strange and substantial movement of troops in Egypt and put forth that the war was not likely to take place. With this it can be said that the war did not take policymakers and intelligence community by surprise. According to Henry Kissinger, the initiation of the war marked the peak of a failure of intelligence. In his opinion, each policymaker was to be blamed, but not only the DIA and CIA agencies, as all of them were up to date with the facts of the likelihood of war break out. Various reasons were put forth regarding the failure of the United States intelligence to project the attacks on Israel by Syria and Egypt in 1973. One of the major explanations was that the Israel Intelligence was responsible for offering the Intelligence Community with information and judgments concerning the Middle East. In this case, the Israelis failed to offer accurate data, in spite of their accuracy in preceding instances.
The intelligence failure in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 can be linked with the central idea in the research on surprise attacks. It demonstrates that such failures are mainly caused by inaccurate understanding of the implication of existing facts prior to the attack, instead of unavailability of such data. Scholars in this field of study have also supported this argument by asserting that the intelligence failure was as a result of human nature and mistakes. This paper investigates the intelligence factors that led up to the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. In particular, the research question being investigated in the paper is how a cascade of misconception creates problems for the states that could have been avoided. The hypothesis for this question is that there was intelligence failure prior to the 1973 invasion of Israel. In order to achieve this, the paper offers a review of literature on the subject, methodology and research strategy, analysis and findings, and conclusions.
The governing systems of the developing nations put no efforts in ensuring sustainable economy and ensuring military cooperation amongst them, in an attempt to capitalize sovereignty and secure domestic political positions. Military cooperation amongst the ruling systems of developing nations may be hindered due to its direct effects on national security and is identified with system security. Though the Arab states were in agreement on the principle of Israeli to commitment and illegitimacy to redeem the historic territory of Palestine, they indicated no exception on the pattern. Without a doubt, the probability of a military alliance for all Arab states was always considered a working supposition by the decision makers as well as national security planners of Israeli.
Apparently, the Arab-Israeli conflict had numerous striking phenomena. To begin with, it lacked a joint peaceful, military Arab strategy right from its conception designed to end the conflict. The main reason elucidating this fact between 1948 and 1967 was the lack of undeviating interest to go to war with Israeli since they had taken Palestinian land rather that the Arab sovereign states` national boundaries. This had lessened the interest of Arab states in the conflict with Israeli to the milieu of inter-Arab and domestic rhetorical competition and engagement in short-of-war activities including strategic blockade, economic boycott and guerilla warfare.
The reasons behind the 1973 Israeli-Arab war were entrenched in the loss of the territories of Arab to Israeli in 1967, as well as the failure of the political efforts to end the conflict through a peaceful settlement. It was not until 1973 that coordination aimed at instigating a united offensive against Israeli was reached by Syria and Egypt. At a later date, this cooperation resulted into a final nucleus of the Arab coalition that comprised of economic, political and military resources that blown fully at the end tail of the war. According to literature, a myriad of reasons elucidate the success of the inter-Arab military collaboration of 1973. However, it is apparent they are centered in regional and domestic causes. Of the explanations put forth, the most significant explanation to the eruption of the Arab war alliance was the local behavior and policies pointed towards other local actors concerning the political efforts to end the war by Egypt.
As stated by the United States Senate`s Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), the intelligence analysis was not insightful enough as compared to the public sources on the potentiality that the Arabs would utilize their oil as a political weapon. The evaluation of the intelligence community attempted to put emphasis on the continuance of the situation in the policy of the Saudis towards the US by analyzing the price levels of oil, and ensuring a restrained integration of economic and political factors. The Agency replied to these criticisms by asserting that, since the analysts of CIA had not projected the war, it was impossible for Saudi methodology as well as research strategy Arabia, and their territories to use oil as a political weapon.
In early 1973, the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) carried out an intelligence assessment that revealed to be unequivocal. The assessment demonstrated that the Arab nations did not have any intention of opening war any time soon. This conclusion was a misconception. Another misconception was the information obtained from “intoxication of power syndrome” that was endured by the Israel. It showed that the Arabs would be conquered in the battleground if their overrated their power and opened war to Israel. As a result, they would not attain their goals and objectives. The misleading message from Egypt fitted the fundamental presumption and consequential intelligence assessment. This confirmed the argument put forth by scholars in the field of ruse and surprise who argue that a victim has a high probability of accepting, absorbing and acting upon a deceptive story ones it fits in his/her opinion and beliefs. During this period, Israel absorbed the deceptive message from Egypt.
The failure of AMAN`s to interpret the April-May noises together with the dominion of the political idea disguised the objective and plans of the Egyptian. Prior to the break out of the war in 1973, a number of fake alarms regarding the upsurge of Egyptian martial were dismissed. It was linked with normal planned martial exercise. During this period, AMAN had entire control over evaluation and information flow. Nevertheless, this monopoly power together with the mind-set of a number of senior officers resulted in wrong assessment regarding the plans and objectives of the Arabs. These officers stamped out and silenced nonconforming assessments, therefore they were never scrutinized.
Methodology and Research Strategy
The researcher employed secondary data collection method. This is analysis of extant data that had been collected for another study. The researcher chose to use secondary data because he sought to pursue a research question close to the original work. Secondary sources include data gathered through qualitative research and methodologies. In this case, the researcher reviewed data from scholarly articles such as journals and government publications. Use of secondary data has numerous advantages. One of them is that the required background work is available since it has been done through literature reviews, published texts, and case studies. The affluence of this background information is an indication that secondary data have a pre-determined degree of reliability and validity which does not need further analysis by the researcher re-using it. In addition, secondary data helps in the research design successive primary research, and it provides a foundation upon which the collected primary data is compared.
The research strategy employed is historical research. This research strategy entails use of historical data. The strategy is suitable for this research since the research question used focuses on past occurrences of the 1973 Israeli-Arab war. In carrying out the research the researcher encountered some limitations as a result of using the secondary data collection method. To begin with, secondary data does not provide first hand information since it is a review of compiled data for purposes of a different study. As such, the researcher cannot verify that the published data reflects the actual occurrences. Secondly, in case the researcher wants to acquire more information or clarify certain suppositions, he/she could not since they are not in direct contact with the respondents. The researcher was able to overcome these limitations by comparing different arguments by different researchers in order to come up with a conclusive conclusion of what really happened in the war.
Analysis and Findings
Evidently, intelligence failure is a strategic incident. The planning and implementation of the Israeli-Arab war evaded collection efforts, irrespective of the intelligence services recognizing the partiality for such attacks, as well as having positioned intelligence resources to identify them. As some would claim, an attack by terrorists anywhere in the universe is a failure of the intelligence failure. With no doubt the attempts made in October 1973 was a failure. Since then, numerous attempts have been exercised to help understand the reasons behind the conclusions made by the intelligence community. The most common ones include:
Over dependence on Israeli to discover its security posture: the Intelligence Community of the United States took for granted that the intelligence unit of Israeli would discover any major attacks that have been planned against them, and assumed that they would seek for their help to counter the attacks. However, this was not the case and it was hard for the United States analysts to break with the judgments of Israeli about its own security.
Pre-determined notions: a major theme in the evaluations of the strategic warning of the 1973 war is the lack of dissent against the deeply held truths. One of the conventional wisdom is that the 1967 war exposed the superiority of Israeli military and the inferiority of Arab military to the extent that the Arabs were no longer willing to show up at wars. Secondly, Arabs were deliberately ill-suited for contemporary warfare and would not be in a position to trick analysts to establish surprise attack.
A reasonable explanation of the same confirmation: it is a plausible logical conclusion, with superiority at its side that the aggressive rhetoric of Anwar Sadat was deliberating approach to compel Israel to a settled solution. During the two prior years, Sadat threatened to start a war if a peace agreement was not reached between the two states. This was a plausible explanation of similar facts that the Arab military exercises close to the Golan Heights as well as Suez Canal were the same maneuvers underway in the past years.
Faith in diplomacy: the United States since 1967 expected that uneasy stalemates and diplomacy would hinder any war outbreak. Subsequent to 1971, major decisions were made and a cascade of negotiations averted the attack in May 1973, while the United States supposed that probable belligerents would deliver.
The fallacy of the lucid actor: the analysts from the west concluded that both Sadat and Asad would not launch a war they anticipate to lose. Basically, the model of a rational actor can fail to succeed since what seems lucid to the analyst or in the culture of the analysts may not be lucid to the actor in question. For example, to Asad and Sadat, it was unreasonable to attack the Israeli on the basis of military, but it may have been reasonable acting this way in restoring the prestige of Arab or compel other nations to intervene for a settlement that was favorable to the Arabs.
CIA managerial challenges: the Agency believes that some of the intelligence failures were as a result of major changes that had occurred in the organization and personnel prior to the war. William Colby, the new director of central intelligence introduced key reorganization of the intelligence estimative process of the Agency, which until early October was still disorganized. In addition, most of the knowledgeable managers and analysts of the agency had quit their jobs and had been replaced by inexperienced persons. Further, the intelligence community failed to bring to the attention of the decision makers of the United States of the crisis related to oil and monetary that took toll in 1973 and 1974 as a result of the 400 percent oil hike prices by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Several reasons have been put forth as to why the United States intelligence failed in predicting the Egyptian-Syrian to Israeli in 1973. Top on the list was the overdependence by the intelligence community for information and ruling on Middle East. According to studies, Israelis had always been accurate. Nonetheless, in this war they were not. This failure of Israeli Intelligence stunned most people. Of the stunned people was President Nixon since they had always been the best globally. Henry Kissinger argued that Egypt and Syria did not have the ability to restore their territory in a war, and hence the war would not take place. When the war was predicted by David ELazar, the intelligence leaders of Israeli refused to agree. Apparently, this is a judgment that increased the credibility of the intelligence officers.
President Sadat, who was the instigator of Israel invasions by Egypt and Syria, played a major role in deceiving the American Intelligence and Israelis. This was later confirmed by Kissinger who affirmed that Sadat paralyzed the enemies with their fixed ideas. Israel vigilance was calmed by Sadat`s tactics of announcing a fake war scare prior to the break out of the war. For this reason, the United States intelligence as well as Israel assumed that the martial concentrations in early October were merely a normal exercise. Indeed, the war broke out when Kissinger had attended Arab-Israeli negotiations at the United Nations. The involved parties including the president did not give much attention to the happenings that were taking place before the occurrence of the war. For instance, Nixon mainly focused on his political crisis which distracted his attention greatly that he did not take part directly. Moreover, policymaking communities as well as the United States intelligence were concentrating on diverse issues including SALT issues, the ongoing Vietnam War, and Paris peace negotiations, rather than the Arab-Israel tension.
In conclusion, there were various intelligence factors that led up to the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. This has been evidenced from the review of literature and findings of the research. Prior to the war on October 10, 1973, agencies that were accountable for intelligence reached and offered starkly-wrong conclusions regarding the proximity of hostilities. Intelligence Community failed to offer awareness to the policymakers regarding the breaking out of the Arab-Israel war. Various reasons were put forth regarding the failure of the United States intelligence to project the attacks on Israel by Syria and Egypt in 1973. One of the major explanations was that the Israel Intelligence was responsible for offering the Intelligence Community with information and judgments concerning the Middle East. In this case, the Israelis failed to offer accurate data, in spite of their accuracy in preceding instances.
The planning and implementation of the Israeli-Arab war evaded collection efforts, irrespective of the intelligence services recognizing the partiality for such attacks, as well as having positioned intelligence resources to identify them. Henry Kissinger argued that Egypt and Syria did not have the ability to restore their territory in a war, and hence the war would not take place. When the war was predicted by David ELazar, the intelligence leaders of Israeli refused to agree. Apparently, this is a judgment that increased the credibility of the intelligence officers. The CIA believed that some of the intelligence failures were as a result of major changes that had occurred in the organization and personnel prior to the war. President Sadat also played a major role in deceiving the American Intelligence and Israelis. Putting these factors into consideration, it is true to say that there were various intelligence factors and intelligence failures leading to the war. The failures can be linked with the misconceptions that were evidenced regarding the war.
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