More Ike’s Advice Unheeded

Back in 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt and leader of a pan-Arab movement in the Middle East, proclaimed that he was nationalizing (taking over) the Suez Canal. US President Dwight Eisenhower received a message from the British that they intended to “break Nasser” and to initiate hostilities.

Britain, France and Israel then attacked Egypt and destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground. British paratroopers took control of the canal, which the Egyptians had blocked by sinking a ships full of concrete.

The US proposed a cease-fire resolution in the United Nations which passed 64 to 5 with Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and Israel opposed.

The Soviet Union, which had been cultivating Nasser as an ally, proposed that a joint US-Soviet force should go in and stop the fighting. Ike announced that such a proposal was “unthinkable” and cancelled leave for American service personnel in case the Soviet Union decided to send in troops unilaterally.

At the same time two hundred thousand Soviet troops with four thousand tanks were engaged in an extremely bloody bit of work suppressing the Hungarian uprising, reportedly killing more than 50,000 Hungarians in Budapest in a single day.

Eisenhower was able to diffuse the situation in the Middle East by constituting a UN force from countries besides the US, the USSR, Britain and France.

The Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent wrote Ike, “Never have I seen action on the part of a government that excited me more than the rapid way you and your government moved into the breech with your proposal for a United Nations force to go to Suez. You did a magnificent job, and we admire it.”

In his memoirs, Eisenhower states, “Some critics have said that the United States should have sided with the British and French in the Middle East, that it was fatuous to lean so heavily on the United Nations.

“If we had taken this advice, where would it have led us? Would we now be, with them, an occupying power in a seething Arab world? If so, I am sure we would regret it.

And regret it we do.

I know it would be too much to ask the butthead currently residing in the White House to read a big book with no pictures; but I just wish that someone had read it to him and explained it to him in words of one syllable.

It would have saved thousands of honorable US servicemen and woman from being killed and maimed and would have saved the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens.