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Wehling re-examines Soviet decision-making in three Arab-Israeli wars (June 1967, 1969-70, and October 1973) from a "value-conflict" perspective. By this, the author means that each of these crises forced Moscow to choose between its global interest (improving relations with the United States) and its regional interest (influencing Egypt and Syria)—hence a value conflict. Wehling argues that Soviet risk-taking tended to increase when time pressure and the prospect of losing control over events were high (known as autonomous risk), while it tended to decrease when these two factors were low. He contends that this approach "can refute the contention that Soviet strategy in Middle East conflicts was straightforward, premeditated, and cunningly duplicitous"; rather, it shows "that the Politburo reacted to events rather than follow an opportunistic master plan."

Wehling is especially insightful in describing how the Kremlin tended toward coercion when time pressure and autonomous risk were high—and how such policies imperiled Moscow's global and regional interests alike. Weakest is his claim that his value conflict method leads to a significantly different understanding of Kremlin behavior than traditional Sovietology; several authors Wehling cites, including Robert O. Freedman and Galia Golan, also portray Soviet Middle East policy as more reactive than premeditated. Nonetheless, Wehling's value-conflict approach provides an intriguing explanation concerning the circumstances in which Moscow adopted coercive behavior—and when it might do so again under similar circumstances in the Caucasus and Central Asia.