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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
CharlesHouston

Book "Eisenhower 1956 And 1956 Egyptian/Israeli War

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If you are looking for a good but DENSE book about the Middle East, “Eisenhower 1956” may be it. I just finished reading it and it filled in some holes about how the world got stuck in this never ending conflict. The author was David A. Nichols, an Eisenhower biographer and fan. 

The book talks a lot about how the various governments there were changing as colonialism died and was replaced by authoritarian, nationalist regimes. The people of many countries there seem to have changed from a peaceful, paternalistic government to a warlike, paternalistic government. This was no improvement. 

At this time the Middle East was rapidly changing - Israel had been supported by the Soviet Union and the British had threatened to bomb Israel to punish them for fighting with Jordan! The US refused to sell Israel significant military equipment. European economies had become dependent on oil shipped through the Suez Canal, which had just been nationalized by Egypt. The situation there was as complex then as it is today. 

One of the more interesting wars it covered was the “Tripartite Aggression” as the Arabs called it or the “Suez Campaign” as the Israelis called it. The war started on Oct 29, 1956 when Israel invaded Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. This was to support a secret plan to allow Britain and France to take the Suez Canal back. At that time the Muslim countries in that area did not like Israel, and had attacked it in 1947, but were very much in conflict among themselves. Apparently one of the unforeseen results of the 1956 attack by Israel was to accelerate the unity between their opponents and push them into the embrace of the Soviet Union. The Soviets subsequently became the arms supplier of choice for many of the armies in the region and sold lots of weapons. 

I have read several other books about that area, one was “Six Days Of War” by Michael B. Oren and it was interesting to see his version of the history of the Suez Campaign - it describes that attack as a necessary response. From reading several books it appears that the attack was unprovoked, unnecessary, and caused many more problems than it solved.

The Eisenhower book leaves the impression that the 1956 war might have been avoided had Eisenhower not had a major heart attack, a major abdominal surgery, and a reelection campaign in that year. Also, the Warsaw Pact almost had Hungary leave it that year, and they invaded Hungary and violently suppressed a rebellion there. 

The book answered a lot of questions that I had about the region and was well written. Apparently the sad situation we are now in might have been much better, had a number of people made much smarter decisions. What if the region had not divided into Muslim/Soviet and Israel/US sides??? It might have been several blocs supported by different major powers; even though Egypt and Israel were at war, the other Muslim countries did not come to the aid of Egypt (for various reasons). 

If you are tired of hearing about the Middle East - avoid this book. 

Edited by CharlesHouston

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16 hours ago, CharlesHouston said: Also, the Warsaw Pact almost had Hungary leave it that year, and they invaded Hungary and violently suppressed a rebellion there. 

Also, the Warsaw Pact almost had Hungary leave it that year, and they invaded Hungary and violently suppressed a rebellion there. 

This is something that needs a special emphasis: the suppression of the anti-Soviet rebellion in Hungary was a two-part operation: the first one failed, and the second one - with an all-out Soviet invasion - succeeded. It's unclear if the Soviet post-Stalin leadership would go for it without the Western powers being distracted by the Suez war, so it could be a major unintended consequence, right on. 

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The Suez action had many ramifications. Chiefly perhaps, was the lasting rift caused by the USA administration's quite hostile reaction to the Anglo-French action.  The support that one might have expected from an ally was certainly not forthcoming.

It certainly reverberated internationally and was just one reason why Britain was not sucked into the Vietnam conflict some five years later despite US requests.

Now there was a conflict that was "ünprovoked and unnecessary".

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On 2/12/2018 at 12:23 AM, Philip Whitehouse said:

The Suez action had many ramifications. Chiefly perhaps, was the lasting rift caused by the USA administration's quite hostile reaction to the Anglo-French action.  The support that one might have expected from an ally was certainly not forthcoming.

It certainly reverberated internationally and was just one reason why Britain was not sucked into the Vietnam conflict some five years later despite US requests.

Now there was a conflict that was "ünprovoked and unnecessary".

The British and French conspired with Israel to attack Egypt - that was not the action of an ally!! Our allies concealed the truth from their wartime colleague - Eisenhower. 

The French got out of Vietnam and the British had their troubles in Malaya, etc etc. Vietnam was not a place that Britain had ever been involved in. 

Vietnam was no less provoked and necessary than Malaya, Korea, and many other conflicts. We all lost a lot of people in Asia for very little purpose. 

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