Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
FULL CIRCLE. THE MEMOIRS OF ANTHONY EDEN. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960, 676 p.
FEW differences have so estranged the American and British Governments as the one that resulted from the seizure of the Suez Canal. None has been revived more resentfully than by Anthony Eden, then Prime Minister of Britain, in his memoirs. This is the provocation to inspect the slithering course of consultation between the two Governments during this experience.
Eden, two years before, had prevailed upon his colleagues, even upon his imposing senior, Winston Churchill, to assent to the evacuation of the British base in the Canal Zone. In the agreement with President Nasser signed at that time, the two governments had confirmed their recognition that the canal was a waterway of international importance, and avowed their wish to uphold the International Convention of 1888 which provided that "the Suez Maritime Canal shall always be free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to every vessel of commerce or of war without distinction of flag."
Even as the British were getting out of Egypt, and the French from Tunis and Morocco, Nasser had striven with slanderous bluster to get all the Arab nations and tribes from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf to follow his call. He had used every means and method in an effort to destroy the state of Israel. Funds needed for improvement of Egyptian life were devoted to purchase of weapons from the Communist countries.
At the same time Nasser had sought financial aid for the construction of a great dam at Aswan on the Nile. The American and British Governments had joined with the World Bank in a loan program. To this they had attached three restrictive conditions. One was that Egypt should reach a fair agreement with the Sudan about Nile water rights; another was that Egypt should accord this project priority upon its financial resources; the third was that Egypt should not accept aid from Communist sources.
Nasser had not liked these terms. He was encouraged by the Soviet Government to resist them. By Nasser's account, the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, Shepilov, while visiting Egypt in June 1956, "expressed his readiness to help Egypt in all fields in which he asked for assistance to the extent of granting longterm loans. He said that everything in which they coöperated would be without restrictions or conditions; all we had to do was ask them . . ."
The inclination of the British and French Governments to contribute to this project had sagged. They had decided to drop the offer by "mid-July," and probably informed the American Government of this decision.
John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, was arriving at the same conclusion, for a somewhat different compound of reasons, of which one was the idea of teaching a lesson not only to Egypt but also to other governments who were courting Soviet favor while seeking our aid. On July 19, he abruptly informed the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington that the American Government had changed its mind, and announced that it would not aid the project. The news reached Nasser while he was visiting Tito on the island of Brioni, with Nehru as a fellow guest. Eden can hardly be wrong in his impression that the blow, struck in this way and at this time, was "wounding" to Nasser's pride.
The riposte left the West agape. Nasser dissolved the Suez Canal Company (whose concession was to run for another 12 years) and created a government company to manage the canal as an Egyptian waterway. In a frenzied and vulgar speech he told an Alexandrian mob that the American and British Governments were setting a trap in order to dominate Egyptian independence and economy. He scornfully charged that they were trying to force Egypt to obey them and to make peace with Israel, the "stooge of imperialism;" and of seeking to destroy Arab nationalism which "has been set on fire from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf."
Eden had revolted against the subservience of his country and France to Mussolini and Hitler. He was now swayed by the belief that they must not behave the same way again. Eden tells that at once "The [British] Government determined that our essential interests in this area must be safeguarded, if necessary by military action, and that the needful preparations must be made. Failure to keep the canal international would inevitably lead to the loss one by one of our interests and assets in the Middle East, and even if Her Majesty's Government had to act alone they could not stop short of using force to protect their position. This was our recorded opinion, which I still hold." (italics added) If it should come to that, Eden relates, "We expected that the United States would at least be neutral."
Correspondingly, Eden told President Eisenhower that he and his Cabinet colleagues and Chiefs of Staff believed "that we cannot afford to allow Nasser to seize control of the canal in this way, in defiance of international agreements;" that they did not think economic pressure alone would suffice to get Nasser to undo his action and place the management of the canal in international custody; that they believed the maximum political pressure should first be brought to bear on Egypt; and that they were convinced Britain must be ready in the last resort to use force to bring Nasser to his senses and were prepared to do so. The State Department characterized Nasser's discourse as a "compound of intemperate, inaccurate and misleading statements."
Dulles being in Peru, the President asked Robert Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State, to hurry over to London for talks with the British and French officials. While he was on his way, Nasser in another impassioned speech remarked, "The uproar which we have anticipated has been taking place in London and Paris. It is backed only by imperialist methods, by the habits of bloodsucking and usurping rights, and by interference in the affairs of other countries."
Murphy's hurried report of the angered state of mind of the French and British Governments caused Dulles himself to hustle over to London. There at his first meeting with the British and French Foreign Secretaries, he summed up his views in five points, three of which, as reported by Eden, were:
"It was intolerable that the canal should be under domination of any single country without any international control.
"We should mobilize world opinion in favor of international operation of the canal.
"Force was the last method to be tried, but the United States did not exclude the use of force if all other methods failed."
Several of his ensuing statements could be taken to mean that he was hardly less wrought up than his French and British associates. According to Eden, Dulles told him that Nasser must be made to disgorge; and also that the American Government understood the purpose of British military preparations and thought they had had a good effect.
The three agreed that there was little chance of achieving this through the Security Council of the United Nations. The French and British Governments wished to engage immediately upon an "activist" policy, to concert economic and political measures. Dulles hung back. His wish to gain time in which to cool down the French and British ardor prevailed.
Three days of talks eventuated merely in an outline of a desired arrangement for an international system of management of the canal which differed but little from one Dulles had composed on the plane while flying to London. A conference of all countries with substantial interests in the canal was to be convoked to devise and inaugurate such a system. But how was Nasser to be persuaded or compelled to acquiesce in it?
Eden and Pineau, the French Foreign Minister, made clear in public utterances that they were not renouncing the ultimate use of military measures if necessary to compel Nasser to do so. But in the address which Dulles gave after his return from London, he took refuge in vague optimism. "Now, I have been asked, 'What will we do if the conference fails?' My answer is that we are not thinking in terms of the conference's failing. But I can say this: We have given no commitments at any time as to what the United States would do in that unhappy contingency." In conclusion he remarked, "I repeat . . . the conference will not fail but will succeed. And I believe that by the conference method we will invoke moral forces which are bound to prevail."
The British, French and American Governments proceeded to agree on the essentials of the proposal they were going to submit to the conference. It visualized the establishment of an International Authority that was to have power to control and administer the canal, determine its tolls, run its finances, construct its works.
During these ten days Eden's political opponents and critics became aroused at his public utterances and the continuing movements of British and French forces into the Eastern Mediterranean. They began to allege that he was seeking to drag the British Commonwealth into an adventure to protect or restore colonial interests. The Shadow Cabinet of the Labor Party declared that the use of force would be justified only if called for by the United Nations. Whether recognized or not, that was equivalent to debarring it.
Dulles continued to be the leading formulator and advocate of the plan for an International Authority during the conference in London (August 16-23) of all interested governments. He visualized a treaty with Egypt that would provide for Egyptian coöperation with the Authority, compatible with Egyptian sovereignty and a fair financial return to Egypt.
This proposal was denounced by Shepilov as an affront to Egyptian sovereignty, heedless of Egyptian national interests and contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter. He warned that any attempt to impose it on Egypt by force would bring about a conflict that would not be limited to the area of the Suez Canal, and that could flare over the whole area of the Near and Middle East and maybe beyond.
Dulles proceeded as though unperturbed by this indication that Soviet opposition was likely to doom his proposal to futility. "I suggest," he said in the course of discussion in London, "that any expression of our views ought not to be based on speculation as to what the Government of Egypt will or will not agree to."
Eighteen of the nations present at the London Conference approved on August 23 declaratory proposals to be put before Nasser. The British and American Governments may not have construed their meaning in the same way and with the same intent. Selwyn Lloyd made it clear that the British Government thought them satisfactory because the contemplated treaty would bring about genuine international control of the canal and provide effective sanctions for violations. But the President and Dulles did not regard themselves as committed to so positive a version.
At a press conference on August 31, shortly before the small group headed by the Prime Minister of Australia, Gordon Menzies, left for Cairo to put the proposals up to Nasser, Eisenhower gave out a soothing interpretation of what was to be required of the Egyptian Government. When asked how he regarded the current French movement of ships and troops to Cyprus, the President answered, "While I am not going to comment on the action of any other government, for ourselves we are determined to exhaust every possible, every feasible method of peaceful settlement, and we believe it can be done . . . I am very hopeful that this particular proposal will be accepted, but in any event, not to give up, even if we run into obstacles."[i]
Nasser, on September 2, referring to this statement, said he had the impression now that the President's general point of view was "that of Egypt's," and that the President's explanation had "lifted the worry we had about the American stand on international justice."
Eden avers--in an account which he intimates is derived from Menzies' reports--that Nasser was at first impressed by Menzies' warning that if he did not acquiesce in the London plan its sponsors would use coercive measures, but that, incited by the President's statement, he abruptly concluded it was safe to turn it down. This may not be so. But I think it is clear that the evidence that the American Government would not join the British and French Governments in any kind of concerted pressure doomed to futility all subsequent effort to get Nasser to yield.
As soon as it became evident (on September 6) that Nasser was going to be recalcitrant, Eden once again tried to impress the President with the scope of the conceived consequences of allowing Nasser to continue unscathed. The Prime Minister believed that the seizure of the canal was an opening move in a planned campaign to expel all Western influences and interests from Arab countries; and that if Nasser was able to defy the 18 countries in regard to the canal he would be able to bring about revolutions in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, making them Egyptian if not Russian satellites, and deny oil to Western Europe. While he was aware of the burdens and risks of military intervention, he thought that "If the only alternative is to allow Nasser's plans quietly to develop until this country and Western Europe are held in ransom by Egypt acting at Russia's behest, it seems to us our duty is plain."
Three days later, in a letter to Menzies, Nasser bluntly rejected the 18-power plan. He dismissed it as unfriendly to Egypt, a trespass upon Egyptian sovereignty, and "collective domination." However, he again offered to reaffirm the pledges contained in the 1888 Convention, and he averred that by so doing he would insulate the canal from national politics. Egypt intended, he said, to allow freedom of passage through the canal, assure its secure use without discrimination and with just and equitable tolls.
Dulles on the next day said that he was disappointed. But he hinted that the American Government was about to give up the demand that the Egyptian Government enter into a treaty which would formally establish the international character of the régime of the canal. He was ready with an alternative: that ". . . the users [of the canal] should club together, hire the pilots, organize navigation and themselves manage the canal."
Eden had misgivings about the legal foundations and practicality of this notion, and the French Government had even stronger ones. Still Eden and his colleagues decided to see what could be made of it. For this decision he gives a combination of reasons. Among them was the thought that since the project as explained by Dulles contemplated that the Users' Club would collect almost all tolls paid for passage through the canal it "would provide a method of denying Egypt any profit from her act of nationalization until a settlement was reached."
The barrage of contrasting public statements continued in the following days; in one of these (on the 11th) the President, after reaffirming that the American Government would not join in the use of force, told the press that thus far he had not given thought even to economic sanctions.
When Eden informed the House of Commons of the conception of the Users' Club, incredulous laughter was heard on both sides of the House.
Dulles, as soon as the Conference of Users met on September 19, sought to assuage Nasser's opposition by denaturing the plan. He disavowed any intention of coercing Egypt, and admitted that "The extent of its [the Users' Association's] practical utility will of course depend much, though not wholly, upon Egypt's attitude." And he explained that "membership in the Association would not involve the assumption by any member of any obligation." Each would remain free to take such action in regard to its ships and payment of dues as it saw fit. This was exasperating diplomacy, for it avowed fixed purposes while discount-enhancing the measures needed to effect them.
The declaration which the conferees issued at the end of their discussions included a statement of purposes of the Users' Club--among them "To receive, hold and disburse the revenues accruing from dues and other sums which any user of the Canal may pay to the S.C.U.A. . . ." But it did not explain how the S.C.U.A. would proceed to carry out its designated activities, stipulating only that "The members shall consult together in a Council in which each member is represented."
The diplomatic correspondent of the Manchester Guardian wrote on the next day, "The picture of the S.C.U.A. painted in this Declaration and the final statement of the London Conference were more vague and shadowy than a Whistler nocturne."
However, Eden relates that the American delegation gave assurances that once the Users' Association was established it would seek and get the voluntary consent of American shipowners to pay their canal tolls to the Users' Club and the Users' Club only, and quotes an extract from a letter from Dulles to Lloyd to that effect.
Dulles (according to the biographer of his actions in office, John Robinson Beal, who wrote his account after personal talks with the Secretary of State), while in London for the Conference of the Users' Association, had tried to dissuade Eden from bringing the issue before the Security Council. He had urged Eden "to play it [the situation] so that Nasser would be the one to take hostile and obstructive actions against the users before attempting to carry the Suez dispute to the United Nations."[ii] If that is true, it indicates that by this time Dulles was in effect disposed to drop the contest against Nasser.
In any case the British and French Governments would not be put off. On September 23, they asked the President of the Security Council to place the dispute on its program. In the ten-day interval before the Council began to consider it, Eden received another letter from Bulganin, objecting to every step which had been proposed or taken to cause Nasser to compromise. So on October 1 he again appealed to Eisenhower for support, saying that he thought that the wider dangers of the Middle East situation could be summed up in one word, Russia, since Nasser was now in Russian hands; and he emphasized the accumulating evidence of Egyptian plots in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq which might explode at any moment "unless we can prove to the Middle East that Nasser is losing." "I feel sure," he concluded, "that anything you can say or do to show firmness to Nasser at this time will help the peace by giving the Russians pause."
The American response was as disappointing as the earlier ones, and even more divisive. Dulles on October 2 spoke as though he were out to please Nasser rather than arrest him; he remarked that the United States had a different approach to the Suez dispute, and that "any areas encroaching in some form or manner on the problem of so-called colonialism find the United States playing a somewhat independent role."
The Security Council on the 13th approved unanimously the first part of the Anglo-French resolution. This laid down the principles which would be observed in any settlement--coinciding generally with those that had been originated by Dulles. But the Soviet Government vetoed the second part of the resolution which called upon Egypt to propose a system in accord with these principles, and to negotiate a treaty which would give effect to them.
Eden's impression was that "These discussions [in the Security Council] bowed out the practical proposals of the eighteen powers, which were our minimum requirement for the security of the Canal." But Dulles, according to Beal, left New York on the night of October 13 after this meeting of the Security Council believing that a satisfactory settlement with Egypt could be reached by negotiations soon to be begun, guided by the endorsed principles.
But the British and French Governments were not going to be beguiled any longer by evanescent formulas and vain assurances. Eden, in telling why, recalls his resignation 20 years ago because he would not commend an agreement with Mussolini and his later comment that "Drift is the demon of democracy."
Eden spent October 16 in Paris, conferring with Guy Mollet and Christian Pineau, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of France. He relates that they reviewed the state of negotiations about the future of the canal and the Users' Association, and also that "we had to pool our information and consider the action we must take in the light of developments in the Middle East itself, and, in particular, the growing menace of hostility by Egypt against Israel." But he does not tell what "information" they may have had about Israeli intentions.
The American officials, when they became engaged in the resultant controversy, were almost sure that Eden and Mollet had advance, though perhaps not conclusive, knowledge. That this is so is hinted, I think, in Eden's oblique comment, "Unless Israel was prepared just to sit and wait until it suited her enemies to strangle and finally destroy her, it was clear that before long she would have to take some counter-action," and that "if there were to be a break-out it was better from our point of view that it should be against Egypt [rather than Jordan]. On the other hand, if the break-out were against Egypt, then there would be other worries, for example, the safety of the Canal. We discussed these matters in all their political and military aspects. In common prudence we had to consider what our action should be."
On the 25th, the British Government learned that Israel was about to mobilize. According to Eden, then and then only the British and French decided what they would do in the event of war between Israel and Egypt. They would at once call on both combatants to stop hostilities and withdraw their forces to a distance from either bank of the canal; and if either failed to comply within a definite period, the British and French forces would intervene ". . . as a temporary measure to separate the combatants. To assure this being effective, they would have to occupy key positions at Port Said, Ismalia and Suez." That meant in effect, though Eden did not say it, that Anglo-French forces would temporarily control the Canal and their Governments would be able to negotiate with Nasser from that situation.
Eden avers that the British Government was at this juncture guided by two purposes: to safeguard free passage through the canal, and to arrest the spread of fighting in the Middle East (particularly by discouraging the entry of Syria and Jordan). It is not imprudent to surmise that his ulterior hopes went further: to wrest control of the canal away from Nasser, to end his upsetting activities in the region and if possible to break his power.
While the British and French Governments were thus determining how to turn any Israeli initiative to advantage, the American Government tried to avert the crisis. Eisenhower urged Ben-Gurion not to take any action that would endanger the peace; he informed the Arab countries of his anxiety and asked them to restrain themselves. He sought also immediate consultations with the British and French Governments.
As these were getting under way, Israeli troops crossed the frontier (on the 29th) and penetrated fast and far into Egyptian territory. The British and French Governments forthwith issued their call upon both to cease fighting at once and withdraw from the canal area.
Dulles was more aroused by Israel's incursion than he had been by Egypt's attacks on Israel and Nasser's manœuvres. He made known that he was going to do his utmost to have the Security Council brand Israel as an aggressor. The American representative on the Security Council, Henry Cabot Lodge, exhorted it to order Israel to desist and withdraw from Egypt. "Nothing less," he declared, "will suffice." Eden exerted himself to stay the American action. In two messages to Eisenhower in the course of the 30th he explained his reasons for believing that decisive action was essential, and professed the belief that there was "a chance that both sides [Israel and Egypt] will accept [the Anglo-French ultimatum]." "In any case," he said, "it would help this result very much if you found it possible to support what we have done at least in general terms."
This unconvincing appeal reflected a continuing misjudgment of the views and reckonings of the President and Dulles. That was made the more manifest by the energy with which Lodge pressed the resolution in the Security Council that Israel and Egypt should be called upon to stop fighting; that Israeli forces should be withdrawn from Egypt at once; that all members should refrain from aiding Israel.
When the American resolution was put to the vote in the Security Council, seven of its eleven members voted in favor--two of these were the United States and the Soviet Union. Great Britain and France voted against it on the score that navigation on the canal was still imperiled and that the demand that Israel withdraw--without having any of its just grievances remedied--was harsh.
Within the next two days, while the Israeli forces sped through the Gaza Strip and through the Sinai Peninsula and the British and French began attacks against the Egyptian air force and air-fields to clear the way for air- and ship-borne forces, the American Government moved fast to bring the situation before the General Assembly. And the debate in the House of Commons grew excited and disorderly, finding expression in such statements as those of Hugh Gaitskell, who called the Suez intervention "an act of disastrous folly whose tragic consequences we shall regret for years." The Labor opposition had found a cause in which its diverse elements could unite--the pacifists, the United Nations enthusiasts, the anti-imperialists and the friends of the American alliance inside and outside the party.
Eisenhower let it be known he "was not consulted in any way about any phase of these actions. Nor were we informed of them in advance." And Dulles, on November 1, in the General Assembly condemned their conjoined action and submitted a resolution similar to that which had been before the Security Council. The Assembly adopted it by overwhelming vote. But the British and French Governments declared that they would not accede to it. Let Egypt and Israel, they declared, both accept a United Nations force to keep the peace between them; let the United Nations constitute and maintain such a force until an Arab-Israeli peace settlement is reached and until satisfactory arrangements had been made in regard to the Suez Canal, both to be guaranteed by the United Nations. Then but only then would they "willingly" stop military action. For this was the only route to a lastingly peaceful and just disposition of the troubles in the area. To Eden, this was the great, perhaps the last, chance "to snatch opportunity out of trouble."
These proposals may have been a retreat from the original British-French intentions. But the American Government only became more rigid in its attitude.
On the next day the United States representative to the Assembly said that the call for a "cease-fire" must not be subject to the British-French stipulations. "There must be an immediate and unconditional cessation of the fighting. . ." The Israeli Government queried the Secretary General: Did Egypt still maintain it was at war with Israel; would it begin to negotiate a peace with Israel; would it end the economic boycott and blockade and recall the fedayeen gangs under its control? The Secretary General could not answer. In the early hours of the next morning Dulles, the contriver, was suddenly, and it turned out, mortally stricken.
The British-French plans were to have the first brigade of parachute troops jump early the next morning (November 5). Eden briefly considered the postponement of that action--but found that he could not do so without confusion of military arrangements. The order stood.
Eden justified the decision to Eisenhower, "If we draw back now chaos will not be avoided. . . we cannot have a military vacuum while a United Nations force is being constituted and is being transported to the spot. That is why we feel we must go on to hold the position until we can hand it over to the United Nations." The parachutists were dropped on the 5th and the first contingent of Marine Commandos went ashore at Port Said in the early morning of the 6th.
Eden was not, however, able to stave off the combined pressures. For the Soviet Government, despite the brutal way in which it was suppressing the rebellion in Hungary, became boldly threatening. Shepilov urged the Security Council to resolve that Israel, the United Kingdom and France must cease fire in 12 hours and withdraw in three days, and if they refused, all members of the Security Council should send "naval and air forces, military units, instructors, material and other aid" to Egypt. And Bulganin sent another round of notes to Eden, Mollet and Ben-Gurion which concluded "We [the Soviet Government] are fully determined to crush the aggressors by the use of force and to restore peace in the East. We hope that at this crucial moment you will show due common sense and draw the appropriate conclusions."
To Eisenhower, Bulganin proposed that the United States, having a strong navy in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Soviet Union, having a strong navy and air force, should use these at once "according to a decision of the United Nations" to end the aggression. Lodge, before the Security Council, dismissed this proposal as setting a "new record of cynicism and indifference" in view of what the Soviet Union was doing in Hungary and called it "unthinkable since it would convert Egypt into a still larger battlefield." Eisenhower called Bulganin's letter "an obvious attempt to divert world attention from the Hungarian tragedy." He stressed his seriousness by having the American Ambassador in Moscow, Charles Bohlen, tell the Soviet Government that the United States Government would oppose Soviet interference by force.
Eden caustically attributes the issuance of these threats to the American attitude, which he believes emboldened the Russians "oblivious of Hungary. . . [to feel] they could snarl with the pack." This remains a matter of surmise. My own best guess is that even if the American Government had remained aloof, the Soviet Government would have striven hard and gone far to balk the Anglo-French venture; and that only if the American Government had given notice that it would join the British and French might Moscow have kept out of their way.
Eden, painfully sick, and near the end of his working strength, learned the morning of November 6--Election Day in the United States--of still another cause for worry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer warned him that withdrawals and sales of pound sterling were threatening disaster to the whole British economic position.
Around noon Eden gave in. He secured Mollet's reluctant assent to an immediate announcement of their decision for a "cease-fire." Eden thought this action would appease the American Government and cause it to acquiesce in an arrangement whereby the United Kingdom-French forces would be allowed to remain in location for a brief but indefinite time longer, during which, presumably, Nasser might be constrained to agree to negotiate about the status of the canal and to end his most disturbing activities. In Eden's words, "I did not foresee that the United States Government would harden against us on almost every point and become harsher after the cease-fire than before."
But Dulles and the President were bent on getting all foreign forces out of Egypt, and the United Nations force in, with utmost expedition--in order, as Eden surmises, to give the Soviet Government no pretext for intervention in some form or other, at the request of Nasser or its own initiative. With similar rigor the President insisted in his correspondence with Ben-Gurion upon swift withdrawal of Israeli forces. That beleaguered country had to be content with a general assurance that after all foreign forces were out of Egypt "new and energetic steps should be taken within the framework of the United Nations to solve the basic problems which have given rise to the present difficulty."
What of Eden's persisting belief that with more foresight and fairness--especially by the United States--his desired aims might, even at this late stage, have been safely achieved? It is dubious. Even if the Soviet Union had not intervened, it is probable that the Egyptians and Arab supporters would have engaged in the same sort of prolonged hostile action that led to British withdrawal from the Canal Zone. And if the Soviet Government had intervened?
Eden may fairly reproach the American Government--particularly Dulles--with having misled him in the crucial first period of this conflict, and by its wavering and leniency, with lessening the chance of obtaining Nasser's consent to international supervision or direction of the canal. He may also with reason conclude that the bold and indignant British-French action, in conjunction with Israel, has made Nasser careful ever since not to use his control of the canal for national purposes (except in his closure of it to all ships and cargo of and for Israel), and brought about at long last the creation of an emergency United Nations force to keep peace in the region. But Eisenhower and Dulles, by their ultimate action, saved Britain and France from a severe ordeal, preserved British interests in Middle Eastern oil, spared the British connection with India great strain, and, perhaps, averted a war, the range of which it might not have been easy to confine.
But none of the situations which Eden had striven to master has yet yielded to time or reason. The Suez Canal, the Egyptian-Israeli antagonism, the instability in the Arab lands, the masked designs of the Soviet Union--all disturb our days. Having refused to support Eden when he wanted stiffly to confront Nasser over the seizure of the Canal, the American Government is now being compelled to deal with the consequences of Nasser's actions--as master of that international waterway.
[i] New York Times, September 1, 1956. Eden, in his "Memoirs," page 524, refers to this statement and quotes part of it, but curiously he writes that it was made while Menzies was in the midst of his talks with Nasser--which started only on September 3.
[ii] "John Foster Dulles: A Biography." New York: Harper, 1957, p. 269.