Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I. October 8, 1973

On Yom Kippur, October 8, 1973, Anwar Sadat and Assad launched a surprise attack on Israel. The surprise was nearly complete, but it shouldn't have been. Israeli and American intelligence had had explicit warnings, but chose to disbelieve them. Months earlier, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia had warned that trouble was brewing if the US continued its lockstep support of Israel. On a visit to President Nixon at his home in San Clemente, an agitated Leonid Brezhnev had had Nixon awakened in the middle of the night to give him a similar warning. Oil executives at ARAMCO had been warned by the Saudis in similar fashion and had passed this information on to the the press and the government.

The Arabs had made two previous attempts to wield the oil weapon, in the 1956 Suez crisis and the 1967 Israeli war, but had failed both times, due to excess capacity in the US and their own disunity. But by 1973, all that had changed. Oil capacity was tight and US production was falling.

This time would be different.