Patterns of Political Leadership is a study of political leaders in one of the world's most volatile areas—the Middle East. It focuses on the highest levels of political leadership in three countries—Egypt, Israel and Lebanon. Within a cross-national framework the three elite groups are analyzed both aggregately and over time, in terms of recruitment, circulation, social background, and behavioral characteristics. Theoretical and methodological problems of equivalence and comparability are confronted and a number of hypotheses advanced regarding elite characteristics, many of which are expected to shape internal and external policies of the three countries. The Israeli and Egyptian groups are analyzed as elites in confrontation, enabling the reader to acquire new insights on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The specific leaders under study are those of cabinet level and higher rank—totalling more than 400 individuals. In each polity the unique characteristics of the leadership are explicated in considerable detail. In Lebanon, the linkages between the political and economic elites are explored, as these relate to that country's commercial centrality in the Arab world. The phenomena of za'imism and dynastic power receive particular attention, as do the dynamics of sectarian politics in this most unique Middle Eastern democracy.
The Israeli political leadership is studied from both socializational and behavioral perspectives. The process of elite formation is analyzed against a background of European persecution and the emerging garrison democracy in Palestine. An attempt has been made to gauge the impact of the October 1973 War on the Israeli elite and the concomitant transfer of power to a younger generation of leaders.
The Egyptian political leadership is studied in the Nasir-Sadat milieu characterized by a blending of charisma and military rule. Particular attention is given to the formative forces and events that shaped the behavior of modern Egypt's elite. President Sadat's efforts to defeat the Ali Sabri coalition is presented in detail as is Sadat's dramatic ascendance after the relative success of Egyptian arms in October 1973.
The final chapter presents a comparative assessment of the three elite contingents. A number of contrasts and similarities emerge regarding elite recruitment, political culture, education, tenure, age, representativeness, and integration. Changes in elite composition and efficiency are related to systemic stability and the future configuration of the Arab-Israeli conflict itself. The author concludes that recent fundamental changes in the composition and orientations of Egyptian and Israeli leaders are likely to improve the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
R. Hrair Dekmejian is Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science and Associate Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is the author of Egypt Under Nasir. He has written widely on the themes of political leadership, international politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict in Orbis, Soviet Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Forum, and Comparative Studies in Society and History.