Armies of Sand The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, by Pollack, Kenneth
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- ISBN: 9780190906962 | 0190906960
- Cover: Hardcover
- Copyright: 1/2/2019
Since World War II, Arab armed forces have consistently punched below their weight--they have lost many wars that by all rights they should have won, and in their best performances only ever achieved quite modest accomplishments. Over time, soldiers, scholars, and military experts have offered various explanations for this pattern. Reliance on Soviet military methods, the poor civil-military relations of the Arab world, the underdevelopment of the Arab states, and patterns of behavior derived from the wider Arab culture, have all been suggested as the ultimate source of Arab military difficulties. Armies of Sand: Understanding Arab Military Ineffectiveness assesses these differing explanations. It examines the combat performance of fifteen Arab armies and air forces in various Middle Eastern wars, from the Jordanians and Syrians in 1948 to Hizballah in 2006 and the Iraqis and ISIS in 2014-2017. Comparing these experiences to the performance of the Argentine, Chadian, Chinese, Cuban, North Korean, and South Vietnamese armed forces in their own combat operations during the twentieth century, Kenneth M. Pollack ultimately concludes that reliance on Soviet doctrine was more of a help than a hindrance to the Arabs. In contrast, politicization and underdevelopment were both important factors limiting Arab military effectiveness, but patterns of behavior derived from the dominant Arab culture was the most important factor of all. It concludes by discussing the rapid changes going on across the Arab world-politically, economically, and culturally--as well as the rapid evolution in warmaking as a result of the information revolution. With both Arab society and warfare continuing to change, the problems that have bedeviled Arab armed forces in the past could dissipate or even vanish in the future, with potentially dramatic consequences for the Middle East military balance.