In eulogizing his friend, former Kansas senator Bob Dole best surmised Nixon’s legacy as a statesman when he said, “The second half of the twentieth century will be remembered as “The Age of Nixon.” In the three decades since his passing, the world has witnessed unprecedented turmoil; Nixon’s first-rate diplomatic skills and sage wisdom are needed more than at any time in history. With Israel’s existence in jeopardy due to increased aggrandizement by its enemies in the Middle East, Richard Nixon’s role in saving Israel from Soviet aggression following the Yom Kippur War should serve as the loadstar of America’s strategy for bringing peace and stability to the Middle East.

Richard Nixon’s critics’ manic obsession with the Watergate burglary, cover-up and myriad controversies that were ubiquitous during his administration has precipitated a dismissal of his innumerable foreign policy achievements, particularly his preservation of Israeli sovereignty. Perhaps Nixon’s crowning foreign policy achievement was saving Israel from Soviet and Middle Eastern aggrandizement. Israel remains America’s foremost ally in the Middle East primarily because Richard Nixon decided to infuse the country with billions of dollars in aid and munitions. Israel’s survival in the volatile Middle East requires continued American support and leadership. President Biden’s wanton disregard for Israel’s survival is a reversal of the goodwill engendered by Richard Nixon. Israel, the Middle East and world need Richard Nixon’s brand of leadership and unprecedented diplomatic skills now more than ever.

Following Israel’s decisive victory in the Six Day War—an imbroglio resulting in Israel gaining territory previously occupied by Syria and Egypt—resulted in the Arab world denouncing the Jewish state and rejecting overtures towards peace and collaboration. Israel’s victory in the Six Day War coupled with a robust military buildup and upending the status quo in the Middle East precipitated the surprise attack on October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur, one of the most consequential Jewish holidays. The Richard Nixon Foundation wrote of the attack, “To demonstrate how much Israel was up against one hundred-eighty Israeli tanks faced over fourteen-hundred Syrian tanks; closer to the Suez Canal, a mere four hundred-thirty-six Israeli infantry were poised to fight over eighty thousand Egyptian soldiers—this even after Israel’s military buildup. The attacks by Egypt and Syria were backed by nine Arab states—as well as one non-Arab state: the Soviet Union.”[1] Preventing Soviet and Arab domination of the Middle East and inhibiting the spread of communism, something Richard Nixon devoted his life to achieving was of paramount importance. Détente, a problematic policy of multiple presidents, was a loadstar of the Nixon Doctrine. It was abandoned following the Yom Kippur attack in an effort to prevent the spread of communism and ensure Israel’s survival. Nixon aggressively pursued Détente at the urging of his domineering secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, despite it being resoundingly unpopular with the conservative internationalists who dominated the Republican Party’s foreign policy intelligentsia. Détente, quite simply, is the relaxation of strained tensions between geopolitical rivals. While it undoubtedly produced a few successes, most notably the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talk, it was ultimately a failed strategy for several reasons. First, détente was merely a bargaining chip used by both the Nixon administration and the Soviet Union to engender goodwill and diplomacy. Second, it rejected the use of hard power or an arms buildup by the United States.  Lastly, it legitimized the Soviet Union as an adversary and expanded its empire by propping up anti-American governments in the Middle East. Détente required both the United States and the Soviet Union to make concessions concerning nuclear armaments. The United States should have been projecting an image of strength, using hard power to thwart Soviet aggression.

According to Conrad Black, “Richard Nixon’s role and that of his administration, in the Yom Kippur War has been credited with literally saving Israel from an onslaught of potentially devastating attacks. The President recognized the threat that an Arab victory posed the threat of victory by Soviet arms.”[2] The Soviet Union was, at the time, the leading supplier of munitions to Arab countries. As such, Egypt and Syria had a robust munitions and personnel advantage over Israel. Recognizing Israel’s myriad deficiencies, Richard Nixon intervened by supplying strategic arms to the Israeli military. According to the Richard Nixon Foundation, “RN [Richard Nixon] knew that the only way to end the crisis and push out the Communist influence was to provide American arms to the Israelis in order to defeat Russian arms in the hands of the Syrians and Egyptians.”[3] The events of 1973 parallel the current situation: military action to settle territorial disputes, particularly in Gaza; a rogue regime trying to impose its anti-western views on the Middle East; and the Jewish state threatened by adversaries with robust munitions and personnel advantages. A void in leadership is the inherent difference, as Joe Biden, unlike Richard Nixon, has done the bidding of Israel’s enemies in an effort to ameliorate the desires of his supporters, a plurality of whom stridently defend Palestinian aggression.

            Operation Nickel Grass was launched by the United States shortly after the Yom Kippur attack in an effort to supply Israel with an influx of munitions. This airlift, the Nixon Foundation posited, “Literally allowed munitions and materiel to seemingly re-spawn for the Israeli counter-effort. Five hundred-sixty-seven missions were flown throughout the airlift, dropping over twenty-two thousand tons of supplies. An additional ninety thousand tons of materiel were delivered by the sea.”[4] The panoply of Israeli military successes following Operation Nickel Grass resulted in General Secretary Brezhnev requesting a ceasefire, which concerned soviet leaders. President Nixon, recognizing the gravity of a ceasefire and the role it would play in deterring efforts by the Soviet Union to advance communism in the Middle East further, agreed to a ceasefire. President Nixon signed the ceasefire on October 24, 1973. President Nixon believed an Israeli victory in the Yom Kippur War would be the opening salvo in a series of peace agreements between Israel and the Arab States. Up to this point, there had never been a formal peace agreement between Israel and the Middle East. Eliminating Soviet domination of the Middle East and imposition of Western values in the region required diplomatic overtures by Richard Nixon to Middle Eastern leaders sympathetic to peace.

            Recognizing the futility of their efforts, Middle Eastern leaders, particularly Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s president “proposed enforcing the ceasefire by sending ground troops to the region, which the White House rejected.”[5]  President Nixon’s refusal to comply with Sadat’s request prompted Brezhnev to threaten a unilateral ceasefire should the United States refuse to employ troops. Sensing heightened tensions and a potential war with the United States’ chief rival for global hegemony, Nixon formed the Washington Special Action Group, comprised of high-ranking military and intelligence officials. In preparation for a potential war between the United States and the Soviet Union, Air Force pilots were prepared for potential strikes on strategic targets in the Middle East and two aircraft carriers were deployed to the Mediterranean. According to the Richard Nixon Foundation, “A war with the Soviet Union came to its closest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis eleven years earlier.”[6] American military prowess and the knowledge that they would be annihilated in a head-to-head battle with the United States, promoted the Soviet Union to rescind their threats. Richard Nixon’s swift action and unparalleled diplomatic skills also posed a strategic advantage for the United States. Had Nixon not taken a hard-line stance, threatened military action, and abandoned détente, Israel might cease to exist in 2024.

             Since 1948, every American president except a few, chiefly Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, has claimed the mantle of “Israel’s biggest supporter.” While several presidents deserve acclimation for their steadfast defense of Israel, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, nobody did more to prevent Israel’s annihilation than Richard Nixon literally. At this writing, Nixon’s popularity in Israel is unequaled rivaling only Japan’s admiration for Millard Fillmore. Former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, a native of Wisconsin, this author’s home state, referred to Richard Nixon as “my president” and, according to the Richard Nixon Foundation, said, “For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life to our people.”[7]

            What lessons can the Biden administration learn from Nixon’s actions? The lesson is simple: support for Israel is of paramount importance. Preserving global peace and American supremacy requires a robust ally in the world’s most volatile region. Much like the Soviet Union and its communist allies during the Cold War, Islamic extremists are determined to decimate Israel in an attempt to facilitate a worldwide caliphate. President Biden must take swift action to end conflict in the Middle East by supplying Israel with the personnel and resources necessary to prevent their demise. President Biden should look to Richard Nixon’s policies as a framework for securing Middle Eastern peace and ensuring Israel’s survival.

            Upon pondering this article, the author sought a powerful encapsulation of Richard Nixon’s unabashed support for the Jewish state’s survival. Who better to summarize the consequentiality of Richard Nixon’s achievements than Stephen Ambrose, the author of a three-volume biography of the thirty-seventh president? According to Ambrose, “Had Nixon not acted so decisively, who can say what would have happened? The Arabs probably would have recovered at least some of the territory they had lost in 1967, perhaps all of it. They might have even destroyed Israel. But whatever the might-have-beens, there is no doubt that Nixon…made it possible for Israel to win, at some risk to his own reputation and at great risk to the American economy. He knew his enemies…would never give him credit for saving Israel. He did it anyway.”[8]

Volatility in the Middle East, Israel’s survival on the precipice and emerging threats American hegemony require policymakers to heed the lessons of Richard Nixon. The world needs Nixon and his brand of his no-nonsense leadership now more than ever. Richard Nixon’s saving Israel from extinction places him atop the pantheon of the most consequential statesmen in world history. The name Richard Nixon will forever be synonymous with peace, prosperity, stability, and unmatched diplomatic acumen.


[1] The Richard Nixon Foundation, “How Richard Nixon saved Israel.” October 8, 2010. Retrieved from:

[2] Conrad Black, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full (New York: PublicAffairs, 2007), p. 1050.

[3] The Richard Nixon Foundation, 2010. Retrieved from:

[4] Richard Nixon Foundation, 2010, p. 2. Retrieved from:

[5] The Richard Nixon Foundation, 2010, p. 3. Retrieved from:

[6] IBID

[7] IBID

[8] Stephen Ambrose, Nixon Volume III: Ruin and Recovery, 19730-1990 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), p.458.