Airpower and quagmire: Historical analogies and the Second Lebanon War

Asaf Siniver, Jeffrey Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-231
Number of pages17
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 International Studies Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Airpower and quagmire: Historical analogies and the Second Lebanon War'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this