Six Day War Essay examples

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The Six-Day War: A Rival of International Relations Theories

John Doe
University Program

Endings are inevitable; they are a part of the world, as we know it. It is expected that all things eventually end, from one’s life to that of a good book. Unlike the expectation of an ending to a book, the Middle East is a region containing a lengthy, perennial history of conflicts and wars with only an ending of chapters and the beginning of another. This is especially true between the Arab states and Israel. Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948 sparked the tensions between Israel and the Arab countries that has lasted for decades and remains of particular interest to the great powers.1 There are two rival theories of international relations that can be used to critically analyze the situation between Arab states and Israel. Realism theorizes that states are the primary actors in international relations and that systemic anarchy and power are prime factors that determine conflict.2 However, constructivism argues that it is the social identities and norms of the actors and that anarchy is what states make of it. It is the collective meanings interpreted by actors that make the structure and organize actions of a state that lead to conflict or not.3 Individually, Realism and Constructivism does not fully explain the causes and perpetual tensions of Arab states and Israel that led up to the Six Day War. Contributions from both theories are important however; the application of the core tenets of realism has a greater influence in continuing conflict and even possibly a coming of a fifth war between Arab states and Israel. After years of Jewish immigration into Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly divided western Palestine into two separate states. The creation of Israel in 1947 with its declaration of Independence a year later recognized by the United States and Russia. However, the creation of Israel failed to establish a definitive border carved out of the former British Mandate. The neighboring Arab countries soon began moving their forces into areas predominately occupied by Arabs and ignited fighting between Israeli and Arab military forces that marked the beginning of the First Arab-Israeli War. The Arab communities rejected Israel’s claim as a state and rallied together to persuade the world of their same beliefs.4 It was not until the late 1950’s that two of the world’s superpowers, the United States and Russia, began their involvement in the Middle East region. This is greatly owed to the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956, or the Second Arab Israeli War, when Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.5 His attempts were soon stopped by a coalition between France, Britain and Israel and led to a one of many cease-fire agreements that will follow throughout the course of Arab-Israeli history. Nasser’s ultimate goal was to unite and lead a Pan-Arab nation that would include other Arab countries and part of Africa and viewed Israel as a roadblock. In 1956, the Six Day War began with a preemptive strike on Egypt by Israeli air forces in response to Nasser closing the Straits of Tiran that allowed access to Israel’s only port on the Red Sea. The Israeli victory after the Six Day War humiliated Egypt, Syria and Jordan crippling and decimating their armies that encircled Israel.6 Lasting only a short duration, the six-day war is historically significant. The events leading up to and during this conflict can be analyzed providing rival explanations from a realist and constructivist perspective. The dominating theory throughout the Cold War was realism. It provided a powerful and simplistic explanation emphasizing the competition and rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union. During this period, realism evolved from a “classical” approach from founder Hans Morgenthau to a “neorealist” approach advocated by Kenneth Waltz. Comparing both theorems,