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Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectivenes...

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Westminster Institute

6729 Curran Street

McLean, VA 22101

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Dr. Kenneth M. Pollack is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, focusing in particular on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf countries. Heserved twice at the National Security Council, first as director for Near East and South Asian affairs and then as director for Persian Gulf affairs. He began his career as a Persian Gulf military analyst at the CIA, where he was the principal author of the CIA's classified postmortem on Iraqi strategy and military operations during the Persian Gulf War.


Since the Second World War, 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, Dr. Pollack's riveting history of Arab armies from the end of World War Two to the present, assesses these differing explanations and isolates the most important causes. (The book will be available for purchase and signing.) He examines the combat performance of fifteen Arab armies and air forces in virtually every Middle Eastern war, from the Jordanians and Syrians in 1948 to Hizballah in 2006 and the Iraqis and ISIS in 2014-2017. Sweeping in its historical coverage and highly accessible, this will be the go-to reference for anyone interested in the history of warfare in the Middle East since 1945.
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Westminster Institute

6729 Curran Street

McLean, VA 22101

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