Monday, May 16, 2005

Premature Invasion

From The Times, this discussion of the Suez Crisis shows that there was a time when US interests were maintained when formulating mid-east policy. Unfortunatly, you have to go back to Ike to find those times, but at least we know they existed once.

From the article:

I have immersed myself in the Suez crisis — such being the above — through reading the remarkable 1955-56 correspondence between Anthony Eden and Dwight Eisenhower [...]

Eden pleads with Eisenhower to understand the threat represented by the Egyptian, Abdel Nasser, who has just nationalised the Anglo-French Suez Canal Company (albeit with compensation). To Eden Nasser is Saddam and al-Qaeda in one, “active wherever Muslims can be found . . . from the Persian Gulf to Nigeria”.

[Edan claims that] Nasser is out to dominate the region, unseat friendly sheikhs and threaten Israel “to the point where the whole position in the Middle East will be lost beyond recall”. Nasser is the “greatest hazard facing the Free World since 1940”.

Eisenhower is incredulous. [Eisenhower] chides Eden for grossly overstating Egypt’s importance. War is not acceptable just “to protect national or individual investors”. There can be no question of the “legal rights of sovereign nations being ruthlessly flouted”. Nasser was not threatening oil supplies or ships in the canal. Britain’s sabre-rattling was rallying support for him across the Middle East, which was far more destabilising. Eden, in other words, was behaving like an old imperialist out to prove his virility. As for Eden’s constant references to Hitler and appeasement, Eisenhower clearly felt they insulted his intelligence.

Israel made it through those far more difficult times just fine without unthinking US support. And on the flip side the US did not suffer any finacial or human costs.

Sounds like a win-win deal to me. Can we go back to it?




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, had Eisenhower firmly taken Israel's side in the Suez dispute, it is possible that Nasser would not have been emboldened 11 years later to provoke the 6 day war.

5/16/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Horace Silver said...

Your best post yet as GIR II, Brian. Thanks.

5/16/2005 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...


Your statement is so speculative that is is useless. Even after 1967 Egypt tried again, so it is doubtful any changes in our policy, short of occupation of Egypt, would have prevented 1967 or something similar.

Conflict was inevitable. The only question is how much was america to get involved.

The US didn't get involved (too much) and things turned out ok, given the circumstances.

5/16/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America did not give regular support to Israel until after the Yom Kippur war.

Not surprisingly, Egypt offered to make peace shortly thereafter.

The 6 day war happened largely because the international community sat on its behind, assuming that the Arabs would make quick work of the Israelis. The second Israel got the upper hand (and that's actually about how long it took, a second), the international community decided to broker a cease fire.

Most of the bloodshed in the Middle East could have been averted early on if the international community took an immediate and firm stand that they would not stand for the Arab attempts at Israel's destruction. In the absence of international consensus, the next best thing would be to have a superpower step in.

This isn't just good for Israel, it would have eased world tensions significantly for all.

5/16/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the previous posts exemplify the wooly-headed thinking that has been so characteristic of recent American policy in the MIddle East. The 1967 war wasn't the fault of the US or the "international community." It was the fault of the Arabs, mainly Egypt, mainly Nasser. They are the ones who attacked Israel, not anyone else. And they did this because they expected a quick victory - this is the usual reason that one country attacks another. Like Hitler or Napoleon in Russia, like the US in Viet Nam or Iraq, like Russia in Afghanistan, like the whole miserable cast of characters in WW I, it didn't quite work out as planned for the attackers. Too bad for them - they all should have known better.

Israel is secure now for one reason - she is much stronger than her adversaries, alone or in any combination. She is the regional superpower and does not need help from the US or the "international community" to prevail.

Egypt made peace with Israel mainly because the Egyptians got trounced every time they went to war against Israel. Sure, US support contributed, but it wasn't decisive. Think about it - if the shoe were on the other foot and the Egyptians had been beating the Israelis, what was the US supposed to do about it? Pious notes to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry? US troops on the ground in the Sinai? Carpet bombing Cairo? None of this would have worked. The US has no vital interest here and is not really needed anyway. Israel's strength is more than sufficient to insure Israel's survival.

5/17/2005 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous r said...


You are way off in your history and your assesment of Israel's ability to survive on it's own.

Much as I and most other Americans familiar with the Isr issue would like to see Israel weaned off the US pocketbook and in a postion to sink or swim on her own..the fact is, the day the US announces no more aid to Israel or military support will be the begining of the end for Israel...


Unless Israel learns to do business the old fashioned way by paying for what she needs from her neighbors and learning to cooperate with the Arab states surrounding her and live within the land they were given.

I don't know if you are an Israeli or just an American supporter and I don't contridict you to insult you...but facts are facts....

5/18/2005 09:39:00 PM  

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