Suez End of Empire

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Oct 24, 2006.

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  1. Gents we are now in the middle of the 50th aniversary of Suez.
    I must admit I though this would have been a subject of intrest on the board and perticularly this section.
    My last months copy of The Aeroplane, to which I suscribe, has an indepth artical from the aviation point of view.
    I was a school kid at the time but I still remember Lt. Moorhouse, Para Regt, being found murdered.
    Old memories from what the Areoplane has termed End of Empire.
    Was this the first time the US openly stabbed us in the back and did the outcome from that, soon become the start of the US 100% support for Isreal ?
  2. Actually the French were Israel's biggest benefactors until the Sixties.

    You have to look at Suez through the prism of the Cold War though.

    Once Ivan started issuing threats the Yanks had no choice but to slap us down, it was reckless adventurism on our part.

    Unlike now, the US was multilaterist and rather enamoured of the UN back then.

    Funny how things change!
  3. I was watching the documentary series on BBC 2 TV last evening. It is one of the most in-depth analysis of it I have yet seen and I am looking forward to the next episode.

    I found the interview with the major players and reconstructions extremely informative.

    I hope it is released on DVD by the BBC. It is an excellent educational programme.

    British, French and Israeli collusion, Britain seeking a pretext to invade, plans not just to take back the canal, but to effect a 'Regime change' for someone more friendly to the United Kingdom.

    Sounds familiar doesn't it?
  4. British, French and Israeli collusion, Britain seeking a pretext to invade, plans not just to take back the canal, but to effect a 'Regime change' for someone more friendly to the United Kingdom.

    Sounds familiar doesn't it?[/quote]

    Ironically, the plan was feasible but didn't allow for the length of time it would take to build a task force - shades of Gulf (remember the lead in time?) so when the Israelis did their pre-emptive attack they had almost reached the stop line even before the Anglo-French had deployed.

    It is also interesting that although Eisenhower then allowed a run on the £, in Europe the Sovs had the green light to crush Hungary, another event that is 50 years on yesterday. :wink:
  5. I must admit I was under the immpression that Eisenhower started the run on the pound.
    And you are perfectly correct, the Rushins took our involvement as the Green Light to put down the Hungarian people.
  6. Over Suez, the Americans stabbed us in the front and the back.

    Key points to remember

    1) The Americans knew what we were planning; Dulles knew of the operation. He had been told by various sources (Israelis and UK)
    2) November elections - the Hungary impact meant that Eisenhower could not be seen to be supporting imperialism.
    3) Oil- The Americans were still sore over the Wadi crisis that we had with Saudi Arabia. The Americans after the Amco deal wanted to secure primacy in the Middle East.
    4) The Americans wanted GB to re-orient towards European defence.
  7. Reference point 4, that wouldn't seem to square with the diplomatic alliance building that has seen SEATO set up in 1954 and the Baghdad Pact signed in 1955 (becoming CENTO in 1959).

    The US never joined CENTO and my understanding was that Britain was the Western 'front man' for the US in the MidEast up until the Carter Doctrine because we had the history and because the US had already been too pro-Israel for Arab tastes.

    The 1957 Defence White Paper may reduced the size of Britain's standing armed forces, moving towards an all-regular force, but still kept a global commitment by setting up the Strategic Reserve and staging post system.

    Any references that support point 4? As the above points show, you can't really see the UK as complying with any US such wish but I realise that doesn't mean there wasn't such a wish. Not having a go, just interested...
  8. The American View of the Middle East.

    Even before the Suez crisis the Americans began to realise that the British decline in the Middle East was irreversible and with the new climate in the ME (Arab Nationalism) they realised that they would have to be the prime guarantors of not only their interests but also non communist interests (See G Kolko's - 'The limits of Power' for an American viewpoint and R.Ovendale's 'Britain, the United States and the Transfer of Power in the Middle East'.)

    As come the Suez crisis, Washington recognised that Nasser was not a communist. However the fear was that that the Anglo-French actions could completely push him and the ME into the soviet sphere and so seriously threaten their own interests. Remember that only 3 years previously, they had intervened in Iran not out of solidarity with Britain but over fears over Mossadeq links with the proto-communist Tudeh party.

    In regards to CENTO, the Baghdad pact was been a British idea, originally it was to have followed the NATO command structure - with a GB supreme commander. However the Americans were never keen on the idea, this was in part due to Saudi intransigence over their rivalry with Hashemite Iraq. The British at this time wanted Iraq to be the leading regional power instead of Egypt while the US wanted Saudi Arabia. (Again See Ovendale's 'Transfer of Power'.

    American View of European Defence

    In regards to European Defence (point 4) (See R. Ovendale's Anglo-American Relations and T. Geiger's *TBA).

    The post war attitude of successive American administrations was split between those who felt that Britain was a useful ally whose empire provided a useful bulwark. This attitude by the mid 1950s was evaporating and returning to the dominant pre-war disdain for British imperial and world power ambitions. The US post war aid to Britain was for defensive purposes and many felt that should primarily be centered around a European orbit (See Geiger)

    * On Geiger can't remember if it his book or a chapter that he wrote.
  9. Many thanks Mr C!

    With NATO, Baghdad Pact/CENTO and SEATO 'overlapping' in membership I had always asumed them all to be part of some grand US containment design and I made the wrong inferences from the US CENTO absence. Now I know better.

    CENTO and SEATO have always interested me but I have never found much info. Despite living in Bangkok for three years it took a surprsingly long time for me to find out where SEATO HQ was. I've always thought both presented a good subject for further research. Now I'm back in the UK I'll have to chase up some references...
  10. Just as an aside Lt. Moorhouse was West Yorks not Para regt, believe he suffocated after being kidnapped and bundled into the boot of a car.
  11. End of Empire? Well that started way back, some say in the 1870's but more likely after the end of WWI when the cost of the war had wholly knackered the ability to maintain a large Empire.

    And that was when the League of Nations awarded Great Britain the Palestine and Iraqi mandates. Hmmm.
  12. It's Miss, well it was last time I checked :p

    The Ovendale Book is excellent on the failure of MEDO and the emergence of Baghdad Pact /CENTO. I think the best book I have read on SEATO has to be by B. Leszek but have to say I am more of Pakistan specialist then a general Asian one.
  13. Thanks for the references, will have a look. Going back to the source of many, if not all, of my current thinking on the early Cold War, some contradictory evidence can be found in John Lewis Gaddis, 'We Now Know' (Oxford University Press 1998).

    Re. US wanting UK to re-position its defence posture to Europe pre-Suez:

    'Having deployed its resources so widely in Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and Northeast Asia, though, the United States could not even contemplate defending the Middle East on its own."Where will the stuff come from?" General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted to know."It will take a lot of stuff to do a job there." That left Great Britain and France, still dominant military powers in the region, but their capabilities were rapidly declining...The question for the Americans, then, was how to reinforce their allies...'. (p 167)

    'The Truman administration therefore responded positively when the British proposed setting up a Middle East Command (MEC), to be based at the Suez Canal and run by them, linking NATO with the British Commonwealth and the countries of the region itself for the purpose of deterring and and if necessary defeating any future Soviet attack.' (p 168).

    Gaddis also suggests that the Baghdad Pact was a US idea:

    ''Yes, (Dulles) had originally suggested the Baghdad Pact, he explained to ambassadors of its member states, but the United States could not now sign it...' with endnote to FRUS: 1955-57, xii 370 Dulles coversation with Turkish, Iraqi, Iranian and Pakistani ambassadors.

    Gaddis has Dulles taking the US into the post-Suez power vaccum through the enunciation of the Eisenhower Doctrine in consious imitation of Truman's 1947 European doctrine (p 174): 'A comparably dramatic unilateral commitment to defend the Middle East might now deter the Russians, reassure the Arabs, and at the same time maintain an appropriate distance from the British and the French.'

    I am relieved there is some support for my original position (as I was worried about the state of my memory!) but clearly I need to investigate further to see what points exactly might need amendment.
  14. What's the joke about historians in room or is that Rabis? :?

    Even though for Americans, Gaddis is probably the cold war historian. I think it is safe to say that the criticism that his work centres only American and Soviet sources is correct. He also seems quite disdainful of the European and even British role in the Cold War. He probably still has fits over the Ovendale thesis that is was British who pushed the Americans into cold war! However he still remains an excellent American Cold war Historian.

    For example he is right to suggest that the Truman administration were the pioneers of the GB empire as a Bulwark thesis but the change as Ovendale and others believe came with Eisenhower. Eisenhower from the beginning had an American first philosophy and we as a result suffered from it.

    But the Baghdad pact (part of my MA was on this and I spent many a night in the PRO over this) came as result of British concern over the US-Pak military alliance of 1954. Dulles may have been the key American in favour of the pact but the pact was British innovation!
  15. Blackcat.
    The memory of a 8 year old. For whatever reason it has stuck that he was a Para.