Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"An Affair To Remember"
The July 29th-August 4th edition of The Economist has on the 1956 Suez Canal/Arab Israeli War. This is a Special Report and is unattributed. The report gives the background of this conflict that saw Israel, Britain and France pitted not just against Egypt but also a coalition of both the USA and the Soviet Union. The USA even applied pressure on Britain by making it plain that the IMF would not give emergency loans to a foundering British economy unless the Suez adventure was ended. Britain caved in. The Suez crisis was the last time in history that America acted strongly against Israeli interests, and the results of 1956 set the tone for most of the uneasy relationship between America and Europe during the Cold War. Nasser was the greatest beneficiary of the 1956 war. The canal was nationalized, and the revenues so obtained were diverted to paying the Soviet Union for development of the Aswan Dam, a dam that was far from an unalloyed good. Egypt's jails were filled not only with supporters of the monarchy that Nasser had overthrown in 1952 but also with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists. Despite the latter the Soviet Union became and remained Egypt's good friend. Real geopolitical interests trumped "proletarian internationalism". As usual one might say.
What is most significant in terms of what the world may yet see is that the Suez crisis was a spur to the development of the EU. The French foreign minister was at a meeting, along with the French prime minister Guy Mollet, with German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer when they were informed by the British that they were terminating the invasion of the Canal Zone. Adenauer said to them, "France and England will never be powers comparable to the United States...Not Germany either. There remains to them only one way of playing a decisive role in the world:that is to unite Europe...we have no time to waste;Europe will be your revenge."
In years to come, as America's empire weakens as all empires eventually must, it remains to be seen what Europe's revenge will be.

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