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The Suez Canal in Time of War

Courtesy Reuters

THE thin hundred-mile ribbon of water connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, now in the limelight as an Italian military road to Ethiopia, has had a confusing history. It was dreamed of for centuries by those who coveted only a channel for trade; yet the first serious survey made of it was for purposes of war. From 1799, when Bonaparte's engineers sought to find at the Isthmus of Suez a road to India for French armies, the potential wartime uses of a canal there dominated discussions regarding its construction and its control in time of peace. As the rapidly expanding forces of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century made the early completion of the canal more necessary, the possibilities of its misuse became the more apparent.

From the moment when the project of a canal at Suez was first heard of the keenest interest was displayed by Great Britain.

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