A Missed Opportunity: Hawk Sale Spoils Kennedy's Attempt to Harness Arab Nationalism, 1961-1963 Open Access

Buchman, Ari Lance (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/dr26xx94g?locale=en


In 1962, the United States, under the leadership of the John F. Kennedy Administration, chose to sell Israel the Hawk missile, ending the arms embargo it had placed on Israel since the creation of the fledgling state in 1948. The significance of the 1962 Hawk missile sale to Israel on the United States' relationship with both Israel and the Arab world, however, is often overshadowed by the events of the 1967 War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This paper demonstrates why the Hawk missile sale must stop being overlooked. While the Kennedy Administration justified the sale on the grounds of maintaining a military balance of power between Israel and Egypt, the diplomatic and historical record actually indicate that the sale was primarily made to receive a boost in domestic political support from the Israel lobby for the Kennedy Administration. The Arab world, specifically Egypt and its president, Gamal Abdul Nasser, was able to see through the Kennedy Administration's military justification for the sale and concluded that the United States could not truly be a neutral actor in dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict, as it claimed to be. Thus, this paper argues that the Kennedy Administration's decision to provide Israel with the Hawk missile must be viewed as a major turning point in the United States' role in the Middle East, as it ended the period of rapprochement between the United States and Egypt and cost the United States the opportunity to harness the forces of Arab nationalism that were instrumental in shaping the development of the region.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Arab Nationalism and U.S. Policy toward the Middle East, 1950-1960 5

Chapter 2: Courting Nasser 13

Chapter 3: The Decision 23

Chapter 4: Reactions and Ramifications 41

Chapter 5: An Analysis and Alternative Options 57

Chapter 6: A Summary 65

Bibliography 71

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