"The Cold War and U.S. Diplomacy"

?The only winner in the Suez Canal crisis was Egypt perhaps due to the strategic significance of the canal to the world’s energy requirements. The crisis was caused by Egypt’s attempt of nationalizing the canal, which was under the control of Britain and France (Document 161, 1956). After the crisis, Gamel Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt, became increasingly popular in the Arab nations while Britain’s and France’s power status declined significantly due to the distrust to western governments and the increasing instability in Arab and Muslim countries. Nasser started supporting Arab nationalism in order to consolidate Egypt’s power in the world, and this made the United States come up with a direct strategy to counter the increasing power Nasser was accumulating due to a power vacuum following the ongoing Britain’s decolonization (Walt, 1987). With too much power the west interest in oil from the Middle East were threatened and Nasser had the chance to make Egypt a communist country, which would pave way for other countries in the region to follow suit. To neutralize Gamel Abdel Nasser’s influence in the Middle East and prevent the Soviet Union from playing a more powerful role, the Eisenhower doctrine was developed and approved in 1957. Any post cold-war United States president who allowed communism to spread was regarded as weak and would not enjoy public support (Roskin & Berry, 2010). This was likely to happen. Relations between the United States and president Nasser did not improve allowing him to lean towards the Soviet Union. The Eisenhower doctrine was supported by many poor countries which needed the economic aid offered for development, but Syria and Egypt were suspicious of the doctrine implying that it was targeted at Egypt with the purpose of establishing imperial control through nonmilitary means (Hahn, 2006). President Eisenhower allowed and encouraged any country in the world to request American support in the form of economic aid and military resources to safeguard its sovereignty in the event of an external aggression. This doctrine was particularly important for America because the Soviet Union was aggressively advancing communism to other nations at all costs and international relations between the Middle East, France and Britain had been greatly affected after they attacked Egypt (Document 161, 1956). The United States’ interests in the Middle East and its western power status in the world were threatened by the possibility of Egypt becoming a communist party due to its association with Russia, which would have severely limited western countries’ access to oil. Egypt was colonized by Britain, an American ally, and was still under colonial rule in the early 1950s, but after independence it had control of the Suez Canal, a vital strategic transport route. If Egypt had aligned itself with Soviet Union, then America would have been the biggest looser as it would not have had enough oil, a key to its development agenda. Egypt leaders were open to both Russia and America as they wanted the Britain dominance in the country to end, so American foreign policy in Egypt was to contain the Soviets Union influence there. To achieve this, America had to support Egypt’s full autonomy from Britain, which was a very delicate balancing act as it did not want to jeopardize its relations with either of the two nations. Egypt’s leadership, albeit weak, did not support communism but rather wanted a capitalistic democracy shaped in the western style of leadership with full liberation. Egypt’s neutrality and penchant for playing with the super powers to its advantage laid open the complete takeover of the country by Russia as internal divisions (Buescher, 2012) plagued its political leadership. To make the Egypt’s leadership strong, President Eisenhower provided military support to the Egyptian army in the form of military hardware and advice, enabling the Egyptian leader Nasser to contain political opponents through propagandist campaigns. Despite the lack of a full military alliance with Egypt, America continued to support the Egyptian government to prevent it from becoming a communist state. The United States’ support did not sway the Egyptian leaders to the American side, and President Eisenhower changed tactics. When Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, Britain and France attacked Egypt, quickly overcoming it and this enabled Israel to successfully occupy some parts of Egypt. The military action to retake control of the Suez Canal by France and Britain raised a very negative reaction from the Middle East as they felt that the military action was done in line with Israel’s plans for invasion of Egypt (Hahn, 2006). 

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