THE Mediterranean region has always played a conspicuous part in history. Alike in prehistoric, ancient and medieval times--in peace and in war--high civilizations and great political activity characterized it. It is not one of those regions, like prewar Germany and the present Soviet Union, whose concentration of population and economic resources is great enough to make it a political base for a bid for world mastery. It engages the interest of the Great Powers, notably the great naval Powers, because of its political disunity and weakness, and its geographical location and character. Only once in history--in the heyday of the Roman Empire--did all the Mediterranean lands form one political unit.

In modern times, with the decline of Turkish and Spanish power, and in a world which had become "oceanic" in its relationships, Britain intruded her sea power into the Mediterranean to suppress piracy, to protect her commercial interests, to help maintain the balance of power in Europe, and to defend her territories east of Suez. Certainly Britain made good use of the geographical opportunity presented by the Mediterranean-Red Sea short route which flanked or pierced great desert obstacles and linked the two most populous and civilized regions of the Old World--Europe and monsoon Asia. It was possible for her to exploit this opportunity, among other reasons, because the entries from the Atlantic Ocean and the Arabian Sea were restricted and thus easily controllable, because island groups in the Mediterranean provided necessary ports of call and bases; and, not least, because the African flank of the Mediterranean and the desert coastlands of the Red Sea offered few political or naval dangers.

But today, when so much has changed politically both inside and outside the Mediterranean basin, it does not follow automatically that the part which this sea played for Britain in the past is the one it should now play for the American-led Western World. The place of the Mediterranean and Middle East in British defense policy was seriously questioned before the Second World War, and though their rôle in the defense policy of the West has been much discussed it has never been clarified. We must remember that this continuous waterway is made up of two unequal and distinct parts, which until 1869 perforce functioned separately--the Mediterranean proper and the Red Sea--the two tenuously linked at the Suez isthmus. And while the present defense policy of the West, expressed above all in the formation and activities of NATO, assigns unmistakable functions to the Mediterranean area, policy in respect of the complementary Red Sea-Middle East area remains obscure.

The scale and nature of the political changes wrought since 1939 must be recalled, because they help to define the practical problems. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy together only narrowly failed to dominate the Mediterranean, and the former won control of the inner Black Sea basin. When they were destroyed, the Soviet Union emerged as the danger to world peace and the catalyst of Western defense planning; and the Soviet Union, beyond the Turkish Straits, is the chief Black Sea Power. Alongside Britain, driven by the stream of events, the United States found itself in 1945 in control of the whole Mediterranean and Middle East areas. France, which had occupied a powerful position in the Mediterranean in 1939, was greatly weakened by 1945; she had been deprived of her emplacements in Syria and Lebanon, which became independent states in 1944, but was still in control of vast territories in Africa; today the routes across the western Mediterranean provide her with the vital links with French North Africa.

Britain's relationships to her overseas territories have also changed greatly. Although most of these are still within the Empire and Commonwealth, so many have ceased to be controlled from London that it is necessary to reassess Britain's defense responsibilities and her facilities for carrying them out. India, Pakistan and Ceylon have assumed Dominion status and taken full control of their foreign policies; and Burma opted for complete independence of the Commonwealth. Thus Britain lost not only the principal base which made her a formidable Power in the Indian Ocean, but also a strong support to her position in the neighboring Middle East. The termination of the Palestine mandate, the withdrawal, now in progress, from her condominium with Egypt in the Sudan, and the expected withdrawal from the Suez Canal zone are also basic facts which must affect plans of defense both for the British Commonwealth and for the whole Western World.

And there are other well-known changes around the shores of the Mediterranean, of course, including the revolutionary advent of the state of Israel and the creation of an independent Libya in place of Italian North Africa. Trieste remains under Anglo-American occupation on the tense Italo-Jugoslav frontier. Many, but not all, of the Mediterranean countries share a new political and military allegiance under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Given a world of changing political attitudes and forces, in which air mastery invites new geographical evaluations, it is clearly necessary to reëxamine the political interests which focus on this sea and the assumptions on which they rest. Britain's interest in the Mediterranean began as early as the sixteenth century with the Levant trade, which helped to establish good relations with the Turkish Empire, the principal territorial Power in the eastern basin. For three centuries the sea was a useful field of political and military operations for her. In the western basin naval pressure could be exerted against France and Spain. In the eastern basin sea power, supplemented at times by military forces, was effectively applied at two points and for two distinct purposes. On the one hand, by supporting Turkey, especially in the area of the Turkish Straits, Britain sought consistently in the nineteenth century to thwart Russian expansion and thus to preserve the balance of power in Europe and Asia. On the other, as the failure of Napoleon's attack on Egypt in 1798 showed, Britain could defend India, at long range, in Egypt, mainly by naval superiority. The maintenance of naval forces in, or available for, the Mediterranean and Red Seas contributed to Britain's political independence, commercial progress, imperial unity and security, and stature as a World Power. Nor was this policy merely national and self-interested. Greek independence, the unification of Italy, the liberation of Arab peoples from Turkey, the creation of the Jewish national home in Palestine and of the present Libyan state were all in some sense by-products of British naval power and political initiative in the Mediterranean area. It can also at least be claimed that--as Captain Mahan argued--the application of naval power there, as in other waters, contributed to peaceful international relations.

It should not be thought that naval control of the Mediterranean by Britain was either easily or continuously held. Physically it depended on the possession of a few well-selected bases, of which some remain: Gibraltar, taken in 1704 and ceded by Spain in 1783; the Maltese Islands, which voluntarily joined Britain in 1800; Aden, originally leased to the East India Company in 1839; and Cyprus, leased to Britain by Turkey in 1878. But these small footholds would scarcely have proved adequate but for two powerful supports: political control of Egypt from 1882 until 1936, of which the military base in the Suez Canal zone marks the last vestige; and a skilful diplomacy which produced allies and neutrals within the Mediterranean basin. Indeed, Britain's delicately poised position there seemed at times untenable: in 1893-94, when war with France and Russia appeared imminent; in 1935-37, when Mussolini was waging war in Abyssinia and talking of mare nostrum; and in 1940, when, with the fall of France, Italy joined Germany in World War II.

These dangers were met successfully, but they raised a broad strategical problem. Is the Mediterranean a vital link in British imperial defense, to be preserved at all costs? Have developments in the art of war, notably aircraft and rocket projectiles, undermined the efficacy of naval warfare in such confined waters? Can this sea be virtually closed to merchant shipping by the air forces of peripheral land Powers aided by submarines? Is the Suez Canal really defensible from all likely forms of attack? Is the Mediterranean-Red Sea only a "short cut," and, if so, should it, in a major war, be abandoned in favor of the longer oceanic (Cape) route, where fewer hazards are to be expected? Do air routes across Africa dispense with this waterway as a direct route to the Middle East? In short, is the Mediterranean-Red Sea route a major factor in world politics or only a local convenience?

The experience of World War II provides provisional answers. While France stood firm and Italy remained a nonbelligerent, i.e. until June 1940, use of the Mediterranean raised no difficulties. With the fall of France and Italy's entry into the war the situation was worse than could have been envisaged: the sole factors favorable to British operations were the neutrality of Portugal, Spain and Turkey and the temporary availability of Crete and the Cyrenaica coast. Only shortcomings in the technical equipment of the Italian naval and air forces--notably their lack of radar, aircraft carriers, and dive bombers armed with torpedoes, as well as their shortage of oil--made it possible to continue war there; and as a route for through traffic the sea was useless for some time. The epic struggle waged in the Mediterranean, costly on both sides, was virtually won, however, late in 1942, when Malta was not only relieved but again became a base for active operations.

Various factors were essential for the success of this effort. Thanks to both military and naval action, control of the Red Sea approach to Egypt was never lost. Malta was supplied with fighter aircraft flown from carriers. The Takoradi air route was organized across Africa; and, above all, a powerful base was created in Egypt, from which Libya was finally conquered by the end of 1942. While Hitler's employment of submarines and torpedo-bombers had added greatly to the hazards of Mediterranean warfare, his strategical failures were probably the greatest cause of Allied success, for had he succeeded in carrying out his plan for the capture of Gibraltar in the winter of 1940-41, the gate to the Mediterranean nearest to the United States and Britain would have been closed. Had either Malta or Egypt been occupied, or had the Suez Canal been more than temporarily closed by enemy action, the sea would have lost much of its strategical value. Actually the enemy was successful in only one of the critical sectors of the sea--the approach to the Turkish Straits --which he controlled largely by air power based on Greek territory and the Italian Dodecanese Islands. In short, the Mediterranean seaway was preserved only with great difficulty to facilitate the first Anglo-American invasion of Europe.

Allied sea power, taking advantage of the peninsular character of Europe, thus made practicable the invasion of Italy; and Churchill argued that further advantage of this might have been taken by an invasion of the Balkan Peninsula. The "Mediterranean" school of strategists had justified its views, and the grandiose strategy of the enemy, which would have outflanked the Allied position in the Mediterranean by a gigantic pincer movement directed toward the Middle East from the Caucasus and from Libya, came to nothing. This success contrasts with the failure of the Mediterranean strategists--"Easterners" they were called--in World War I. While the "Westerners" had then argued that only an all-out effort against the Germans in the West could win the war, the "Easterners" urged an attack on Turkey (then allied with the Central Powers) in the area of the Straits. This was attempted, but just failed to force the Dardanelles in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

These experiences offer some help in our present problems. In the defense of Europe, at least, the Mediterranean has a clear rôle, although a powerful and resolute enemy who had gained territorial bases on the sea could intervene with powerful effect against shipping. Some of the questions raised remain unanswered, however, and to pursue them we must turn to the history of Russian political and military operations during the nineteenth century.


If only because her territories front the Black Sea, from the Danube delta to the coast of Georgia, the Soviet Union necessarily has political interests in the Mediterranean, and above all in the Straits which link these two seas. Yet they developed late, when Britain and France were well-established Mediterranean Powers. It was only in the latter part of the eighteenth century that Russia expanded southward to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and set about building a Black Sea fleet. By the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji in 1774 the Turkish Black Sea outpost of the Crimea was ceded to Russia, and it was then also that the Straits were forced open to her commercial navigation. Thereafter Russia's relations with the Ottoman Empire, whose European and Asiatic territories flanked the Straits, were the prime factor in the so-called Eastern Question which engaged the continual attention of the European Powers. Either control of the Ottoman Empire by Russia, or its disruption, would have upset the whole balance of power in Europe; and now that the U.S.S.R. and the Turkish Republic have replaced the former Tsarist and Ottoman Empires, the problem in some measure persists, especially as concerns the Straits.

Certain basic geographical facts lie behind these problems. The Straits consist of the narrow and winding Dardanelles channel, which leads from the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and the yet narrower and shorter Bosporus, which in turn links this sea to the Black Sea. The work of nature here has defined a critical intercontinental area where land and seaways cross. Within the Straits stands the historic city of Istanbul--the Constantinople and Byzantium of earlier days. Situated on a hill by a natural harbor where the Bosporus enters the Sea of Marmara, Istanbul controls access between the Black and Mediterranean Seas. The capital in turn of two remarkably long-lived empires --the Byzantine (or East Roman) and the Ottoman Turkish-- it was in itself so tempting a prize to imperialist ambitions that no Great Power could afford to let it fall to another. Further, the neighboring lands of the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor are the meeting places of political pressures generated by land-based military power and long-range sea power, and as the Ottoman Empire weakened they were bound to become areas of high international tension. In his well-known analysis of the political significance of the Heartland, Sir Halford J. Mackinder showed how the strategic prize of Constantinople and the Straits has been in contest throughout history between Continental and Mediterranean Powers. Moreover, Istanbul is a key point on the land route from Central Europe via Iraq to the Persian Gulf, a potential path of imperial expansion which outflanks the Mediterranean Sea--as Kaiser Wilhelm II, for example, was well aware.

For legitimate reasons of defense Russia had perforce to keep a steady eye on these confined waters: they were and remain "keys to her house." This did not, however, exclude territorial aspirations at the expense of Turkey. Russia might have profited greatly from the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, provided certain Balkan areas, the Straits included, fell safely into her hands; but other watchful Powers--Britain, Austria and France --had every reason to prevent this. Britain especially saw in Russian control of the Straits a danger to her own Mediterranean position and to India.

The Straits question engaged international attention continually during the nineteenth century. While Turkey had accorded the right of passage to merchant ships of the chief maritime nations, she held firm to her ancient rule which closed them to foreign warships, a rule essential to her survival as an independent state. At one time--in 1833--when British sea power was at a low ebb, Russian influence dominated at Constantinople. At another--in 1841--a workmanlike compromise, upholding the Turkish view, was written into the public law of Europe, thanks mainly to Lord Palmerston's diplomacy, backed by a newly-built fleet. The Crimean War of 1854-56 showed Russia how dangerous to her was the intrusion into the Black Sea of the sea power of Britain and France, in alliance with Turkey. In 1856 and 1878, settlements of the question of the Straits (which always eluded Russia's grasp) veered in favor of Britain; but the Straits tended to remain, under international law, a zone of insulation between the Black Sea forces of Russia and the Mediterranean forces of the Western Powers. And this facet of the political geography of the nineteenth century suggests a conclusion still valid. The area of Istanbul and the Straits (like Korea, a meeting point of maritime and continental power) is one of the pivots on which the wheel of peace and war turns.

During World War I, when the Turks were at war with Russia, Britain and France (but not with the United States), the Straits were fortified with German help, and Turkey was able to deny them to her enemies and to frustrate the efforts of the Western Allies to send help to Russia by this convenient route. But at the end of that war, Turkey was disrupted. The Allies hoped to neutralize the Straits under the authority of the League of Nations, but the success of Mustafa Kemal as leader of the Turkish Republic necessitated a different solution. By the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 they were demilitarized and left in Turkish hands, but when new dangers arose in the Mediterranean, especially from Fascist Italy, this Treaty was replaced (in 1936) by the Convention of Montreux. Ten states, including the U.S.S.R. and Australia, were signatories.[i] By implication Turkey was left free to fortify the Straits, full freedom was accorded to merchant shipping, and it was provided that in time of war, if Turkey was not a belligerent, warships of belligerents could not pass through the Straits; if, however, Turkey was a belligerent, or if she were "threatened with imminent danger of war," the passage of warships would be left "entirely to the discretion of the Turkish Government." It is this provision of the Convention of Montreux which greatly disturbs Soviet sensibilities, and its importance needs no emphasis.

By a direct approach to Turkey in 1946 the Soviet Union sought to revise this convention in a way which would transfer control of the Straits to her hands. Her proposal--that defense, control and use of the Straits by warships should be the concern solely of the "Black Sea Powers"--was tantamount to reasserting the position temporarily won in 1833 by the Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi. But this Soviet démarche failed (as did the Soviet claim to trusteeship over Tripolitania in 1947). The Montreux Convention, however, expires in 1956, unless renewed; prior notice of two years is required for its "denunciation."


The interest of the United States in the Mediterranean area, which finds powerful expression in the political and financial support of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Jugoslavia, military guarantees, and the maintenance in these waters of its Sixth Fleet, is a legacy of World War II. Before that war the Mediterranean had no particular importance to the United States, although it was the scene of occasional American activity; a United States squadron was kept there during the first half of the nineteenth century, for example, and took part in the suppression of piracy along the North African coast. The foundation of the American University at Beirut was an interesting cultural enterprise in the Levant. At the end of the century, during the Spanish-American war, the United States came to appreciate the strategical importance of the Suez Canal. American warships operated in the Mediterranean during World War I and an American Naval Mission was stationed in the Adriatic from 1918 until 1921. Later--from 1928 onward--American oil companies, and indeed the State Department, intervened in the Middle East to secure oil interests or concessions--in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrein and Saudi Arabia. Americans found themselves there in commercial rivalry with Britain, which had aided national movements against Turkey and then assumed administrative control of many areas.

But none of these earlier considerations accounts for the present large-scale American commitments in the Mediterranean theater. The challenges of German and Japanese armed might, developments in the art of war, and the consequent weakening of the defensive value of the flanking oceans--no longer dominated as in the nineteenth century by British sea power--and the overseas interests and responsibilities which attach themselves to great political power, help to explain the present American policy which seeks defense by economic and military coöperation with states near to areas of likely conflict.

It seems clear that American foreign policy in the Mediterranean area was at first determined by the logic of events rather than applied as part of a preconceived plan. American intervention in North Africa in 1942--Operation Torch--brought American armed forces into the Mediterranean when the assault which they would have then preferred--an invasion of France--was too hazardous a venture. By 1944 there were nearly 1,000,000 American troops, as well as the Sixth Fleet, in the Mediterranean area. Jointly with Britain, the United States found itself in 1945 in a controlling position from the Western Mediterranean to the Middle East. As French influence and power in this area declined and as Britain reduced her commitments, the United States projected material aid, influence and power into the Mediterranean area under the symbols--beneficent to Europe but disquieting to the U.S.S.R.--of Marshall Aid, the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

This policy has given practical effect to the realization that Mediterranean Europe, linked by the sea, is Ridgway's right flank in the defense of Europe. It has achieved notable successes marked by the inclusion of Greece and Turkey in NATO, the support of Tito, and the recent military agreement among Greece, Turkey and Jugoslavia; and an American military and economic agreement with Spain is pending. But, as readers of Foreign Affairs were reminded not so long ago,[ii] it is to the abrupt edges of regional pacts that attention should be focussed. One edge is marked by the Jugoslav-Italian frontier of tension in Istria, where a militarily weak gap makes vulnerable not only Trieste but the whole of north Italy. The other edge flanks the Middle East from Syria to Egypt, a politically unstable and militarily vulnerable region where Western defense policy is faced with difficult and far-reaching decisions. For it must be clearly recognized that the geopolitical value of the Mediterranean Sea has hitherto rested on the British control of Egypt, junction of sea routes from the outer oceans and passageway between them. Associated with the British position in Egypt, reduced now to the base in the Canal zone which may before long be abandoned, were the special positions held also by Britain in Iraq (under a treaty of 1930) and in Jordan (under a treaty of 1947). British withdrawal from Egypt and the Sudan, taken together with her withdrawal from Palestine and India, and the loss of French emplacements in Syria and Lebanon, raises urgently the question of the rôle in Western defense of that large region which we oddly call the "Middle East."

Before grappling with this question, however, let us review the main functions of the Mediterranean area proper in Western defense and note the territorial bases available for performing them. The fleets of NATO, which rule its waters, have at their disposal the many mainland and insular bases and harbors of Britain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey--all member states. Since Spain, like Egypt, occupies so outstandingly important a position in relation to the Mediterranean--her territories border both ocean and inland sea and command both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar--it is not surprising that the United States has been at pains to seek an agreement with her. With air bases in Spain and with the existing American establishments at Port Lyautey, Rabat, Casablanca and elsewhere in French Morocco, defense in depth will become available at the Mediterranean's Atlantic entry. The United States is thus quietly writing a new page of history by replacing Britain as the principal guardian of the western gateway to the Mediterranean. As the use of this narrow seaway must depend increasingly on the air support from the land, it is advantageous that the new Libya, fronting the center of the basin, stands in friendly relations with the West. Only Albania--another delicate area in Italo-Jugoslav relations-- constitutes an outlier of the Soviet world on the shores of the Mediterranean. But in war, peacetime maps sometimes need rapid revision; there are weak spots--notably Istria, Macedonia and Thrace--at which a powerful continental enemy might quickly strike.

The functions which are, or can be, carried out by NATO naval power in the Mediterranean may be briefly listed. This long, ready and mobile arm helps to defend vital objectives, such as the Strait of Gibraltar, and to apply the policy of containment to potential aggressors. It provides a strong southern flank to the NATO forces in Western Europe, which occupy defensive positions determined more by political necessity than by military choice. Control of the Mediterranean seaway is indispensable to the efficient coöperation of the member states of NATO, and links France with her important source of manpower and supplies in Africa. The possibilities in war both of flank attack from this sea and support to land operations exist so long as air-naval supremacy is held; such operations have been a recurrent feature of Mediterranean warfare and owe their success in part to deficiencies in surface transport in many areas around the basin. The seaport of Trieste, which remains under Anglo-American occupation, has a striking strategical position where the Mediterranean projects farthest north into Europe; and, by way of Alpine passes, leads to the Middle Danube basin and Vienna, for which it was originally created.

Moreover, naval control of the Mediterranean can, in some areas at least, gain prestige, no mean consideration. It provides the opportunity of winning friends and of diverting neutrals from hostile action. The Turkish Straits, one of the water gates to the Soviet Union, lead not only to its industrialized south, but also to the Caucasus regions. Then again the Mediterranean provides the shortest route to the Middle East for both the United States and Britain. To the holders of this sea, in time of war, falls the trade in the many valuable commodities which its ports provide: oil, piped to the Levant coastlands, iron, copper and chrome, fertilizers and foodstuffs; control of these waters makes possible economic warfare generally, and maritime blockade in particular. And lastly, since Africa is virtually an island and contains large areas dependent politically on West European countries, its defense, and all that this implies economically and strategically for its defenders, rests primarily on air-naval supremacy in the Mediterranean-Red Sea area.


But if Western defense in the Mediterranean area appears firmly grounded, it is weak and growing weaker in the Middle East--"the land of the five seas." Although during the inter-war period Britain and France were strongly established in this area, their tenure of power in the face of nationalistic pressures has either ended or is waning. Britain's position in 1939 was still sufficiently strong to enable her to create in Egypt a powerful, elaborate and highly-organized base for the defense not only of Egypt but of the whole Middle East. In retrospect the British positions in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq would appear to have served more than a narrowly British Commonwealth interest in the war against the Axis Powers. It is now open to discussion whether this costly defense commitment in the Middle East is strategically justified in the best interests of the British Commonwealth and Empire, even if it can still be maintained. No other base in the Middle East can possibly be as efficient as one in Egypt[iii] where the Suez Canal zone, accessible to shipping from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, commands the single invasion route into Egypt from the Levant coastlands. The loss of this linchpin of the British Middle East defense position must inevitably weaken its remaining defense footholds in Jordan and Iraq. The practical possibility of preserving the Canal from all likely forms of attack also appears more than doubtful, and though loss of its use would not be disastrous to the base it would be serious.

In short, although it may take time to adjust thought to such a fundamental reorganization of the British defense system--if time is allowed--it would seem sound British policy to build up defense in depth, as some military experts have long argued, in and around the Indian Ocean, behind the shores of which lie two-thirds of the area of the British Commonwealth and Empire. There the Gulf of Aden and the narrow Red Sea entry could be secured from nearby British territories; Kenya, linked with West Africa by air routes and roads, might be made a base for supplies; while the Persian and Ormuz Gulfs might be held with the aid of outlying defense positions in Iraq. For this the coöperation of Pakistan, India and Ceylon would be most desirable. Such a deployment of forces would impose on an aggressor from the north the weakness of lengthened lines of communication through difficult country, shield the oil fields of Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and utilize the facilities provided by command of the sea for the movement of men and matériel to required points.

Such a change in the geography of British defense organization, which might in any case be enforced by events, has its clear implications for the United States. Americans must necessarily have pondered the questions whether, and to what extent, their own foreign and defense policies were at times underwriting the waning imperialism of Britain. A delicate and careful analysis would be necessary to explore these questions, and the concept "imperialism" in its more decent modern dress would need evaluation. But the power vacuum that would be created by the British withdrawal from Egypt would not easily be filled. Defenses, now barely strong enough for their possible tasks, would become inadequate. While Turkey, set between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, may appear a substantial obstacle, both Persia on her eastern flank and the Arab states to the south remain areas of political and military weakness, exposed to the Soviet Union's sharpest weapon, ideological infiltration. The cooperation and bases which are necessary if the Middle East defense gap is to be filled are not to be easily obtained, in some at least of the states associated under Egypt's leadership in the Arab League. Recollection of American support for the new Israel, with which, in their view, a state of war still exists, desire for revenge against Israel and fear of her expansion, distrust of alliances with Great Powers, the aspiration for full independence in countries whose faith and culture are alien to those of the West, unwillingness to incur Soviet hostility by defense arrangements that will be deemed provocative in Moscow, predilection for neutrality--all present a stern challenge to Western diplomacy.

If the age of miracles has not passed and if Stalin's heirs were actually thinking of peace and not merely talking about it, the Middle East, east of Egypt, might be made the test case in an attempt at settlement between the U.S.S.R. and the West. Here nature has provided a spacious and largely desert frontier of separation between the Soviet Union on the one hand, and Africa and the Indian sub-continent and ocean on the other--an area of ancient cultures and historic interest as also of poverty and ill-health despite its oases of Western industrialism. Here, in a dream world of sanity, the rich oil resources could be exploited not only for consumers within the dollar and sterling areas. Westerners and Russians would agree to leave these Middle Eastern peoples free to develop in their own ways, with such financial and technical aid as they were willing to accept and able to absorb.

But pending the miracle, the broad strategical problem persists, and it is primarily an Anglo-American problem. Complete withdrawal from British positions in the Middle East would leave the eastern flank of NATO's Mediterranean position exposed to land attack and threaten the loss of the Suez Canal pass-way; available forward defenses would exist only in Turkey, Jordan, Cyprus, Crete and Tripolitania. To hold the area in strength for adequate defense clearly requires the collaboration of the Arab States and Israel, and the provision of bases in their territories. But if this cannot be achieved, or alternatively, if its achievement is found not to justify the outlay involved, we may well give careful attention to the Iskanderun area of southeastern Turkey, which is covered seaward by Cyprus and commands the historic invasion route into Syria; and to Israel, which has demonstrated her ability to defend herself at least from local enemies and could potentially provide both Red Sea and Mediterranean ports and even a canal link between them.

[i] The signatories were Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Greece, Rumania, Turkey, the U.S.S.R. and Jugoslavia. Italy signed the Convention in 1938.

[ii] "Eisenhower's Right Flank," by Hamilton Fish Armstrong, Foreign Affairs, July 1951.

[iii] It is Egypt, not merely the Canal, which makes the base so important. In World War II it provided a large labor force and repair center as well as airfields, railroads, headquarters and ports.

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