Suez Crisis

“The Suez affair was one of the most complex and dangerous of Cold War crises.  Walking a tightrope over numerous conflicting forces, Eisenhower and Dulles did manage to avert war with the Soviet Union and limit the damage to relations with the Arab states.  On the other hand, America’s relations with its major allies plunged to their lowest point in years.  Washington and London each believed they had been double-crossed.  The British and French resented their humiliation at the hands of their ally.  Eden and Dulles’s mutual hatred deepened –as ‘tortuous as a wounded snake, with much less excuse,’ an Eden still angry years later said of his by then deceased U.S. counterpart.  An already volatile Middle East was further destabilized.  Nasser remained in power –a fact Dulles later privately lamented to the British.  His noisy neutralism veered further eastward.  Soviet premier Khrushchev mistakenly concluded that his rocket-rattling had carried the day –those ‘with the strongest nerves will be the winner,’ he boasted –thus emboldening him to further and even more reckless nuclear gambits.”  –George Herring, From Colony to Superpower, p. 676-77


Discussion Questions

  • Why was the Suez crisis so “complex,” as Herring put it?  What were the key geopolitical factors that drove the confrontation?
  • How does the Suez episode illustrate the alternative approach that US policymakers might have pursued during the 1950s –away from anti-communism and toward anti-colonialism?

 


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