A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 1967: The Approach to War

Half a Century ago next month, the post-World War II Middle East was transformed, so much so that many of the assumptions made before June 5, 1967 had been turned topsy-turvy by June 10, 1967.

The Six-Day War has been examined in detail every year since this blog began in 2009, in one aspect or another, as it will this year as well. But the buildup to the June War had been building for the years since the 1956 Suez War, and tensions had been escalating for the past year, and especially in the months of April and May. Provocations were launched by both sides, though at the time Israel had considerable success at portraying itself a the primary victim.

But the weeks leading up to the war were an object lesson in how countries stumble into war. What Nasser saw as an opportunity to gain political prestige, Israel saw as an opportunity, perhaps a transitory one, to transform the balance of power.

One of my predecessors as Middle East Journal Editor, the late Ambassador Richard Parker, once wrote a book about the 1967 War called "The Politics of Miscalculation in the Middle East." It summarizes quite well he runup to the 1967 War, which I plan to be tracing in detail throughout the month of May.

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