The Middle East Crisis, Part I: 1956 and Origins of the Conflict

Posted by on July 4, 2008

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With today’s continued upheavals in the Middle East, oil shocks and wars, it’s easy look back at the tranquility and quaintness of the 1950’s and wish we were back there once again.  We had Elvis, Rock-n-Roll, and Suburbia!  Life after World War II was good and life was easy. Really?  Is that our vision of what the Fifties has become?  “I Love Lucy” and a Chevy in the driveway?

No…and if we actually do some investigating, we find the truth to be radically different, especially by examining the crisis of 1956, in which the world stood on the brink of war….

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March of 1956 saw the opening of “My Fair Lady” in New York city.  Later in the same year, at the Copacabana club, Martin and Lewis did their last routines together.  America was hitting her stride that year for popular culture.

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1956 also marked the birth, (rebirth?), of many countries following the British Empire’s retreat from many of her previous conquests.  In particular, Egypt and its youthful leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.  Described in the August 1956 issue of Reader’s Digest as “…a big, handsome, muscular man of 38..”, he nevertheless was proving to be unpredictable to the nations of France, Britan, and the United States because of his dealings with the Soviet Union and his threat to expand the nation of Egypt.

Previous engaged with the western nations, in particular Britain, France and the United States, for financing and helping with the construction of the Aswan Dam (Nile), his turn to the East for weapons and other agreements soon proved a stumbling block.  The end result?  The pull out of western financing for the dam.

The crisis had begun!  Nasser soon responded to this by invoking the nationalistic tendancies that were sweeping Egypt and other countries in the Fifties.  Said William Manchester, in his work, The Glory and The Dream:  “…He (Nasser, my notation) cried, ‘We shall rely on our own strength, our own muscle, our own funds.  And it will be run by Egyptians!…”  He then responded by taking and nationalizing the Suez Canal!

Part II: The Western Nations respond!  (coming soon….)

Links:

(I will post links in the part II attributions)

Sources:

(1) Internet Archive: Chevrolet Advertisements

(2-3) Nara

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