We thank the support of the Leverhulme Trust (Research Fellowship # 2011-222) and the helpful comments of the three anonymous reviewers.
Airpower and Quagmire: Historical Analogies and the Second Lebanon War†
Article first published online: 15 AUG 2013
© 2013 International Studies Association
Foreign Policy Analysis
How to Cite
2013) Airpower and Quagmire: Historical Analogies and the Second Lebanon War. Foreign Policy Analysis, doi: 10.1111/fpa.12029and . (
- Article first published online: 15 AUG 2013
This paper assesses the role that analogical reasoning played in Israel's decision making during the 2006 Second Lebanon War with Hezbollah. Two analogies seemed to dominate internal deliberations: the “air power superiority” analogy which drew on more than a decade of developments in military theory and the air-based campaigns of the two Gulf wars and the Balkan wars of the mid-1990s and late 1990s; and the “Lebanese quagmire” analogy which drew on Israel's own traumatic experience of Israel following the its first war in Lebanon in 1982. The misuse of these analogies by the Israeli political–military leadership during the war produced a myopic approach which advocated an almost total reliance on air power rather than ground maneuver to win the war and refrained from using ground forces for fear of entering another bloody and unpopular war in Lebanon. The constraining power of these analogies prevented the consideration of alternative courses of action or the effective calculation of cost-benefit analysis during the war. Whereas previous studies of the war provided various explanations to singular decisions or episodes, this paper shows that the air power and quagmire analogies contained the conceptual boundaries of Israeli decision making during the war and thus best explain its attraction and limitations.