Summary of "Tactical Stalemates"

Summary of

Tactical Stalemates

This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium

By Dean Pruitt and Jeffrey Rubin

Citation: Selection from: Dean Pruitt and Jeffrey Rubin, Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate and Settlement, (New York: Random House, 1986), pp. 132-4.

The authors discuss the purposeful creation of a stalemate by third-parties in order to facilitate opponents' participation in problem-solving. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is credited with engineering the stalemate that resulted from the October, or Yom Kippur, War between Israel and Syria and Egypt.

After winning the Six Day War, Israel appeared to have a distinct advantage over Egypt and Syria. This power inequality made Israel less likely to negotiate with its Arab neighbors. When Egypt and Syria retaliated by attacking Israel on Yom Kippur, Kissinger appears to have used American military support and pressure "in order to create a stalemate that was characterized by relative equality and interdependence"[p. 133] of the combatants.

Under US pressure, further backed by the specter of Soviet involvement, the parties declared a cease-fire which left both sides stalemated. The Israelis had cut off the Egyptian Third Army, but were themselves surrounded by other Egyptian forces. Israel retained the Sinai territory, but lacked Arab recognition and legitimacy. The Arab forces lacked territory, but had growing support and could continue to withhold recognition of Israel as a legitimate state.

Both sides were now roughly equal in power, and unwilling to continue their conflict. Kissinger then exploited the situation to argue with both sides that "neither side could hope to move further through force and that their relative equality of power made genuine trade-offs possible."[p. 133]