Down But Not Out: The Resilience of Imperial Britain in the Wake of the 1956 Suez Crisis Open Access

Brock, Nicholas Christian (2012)

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The 1956 Suez Crisis is traditionally interpreted as the moment when the United States assumed Western leadership in its entirety, as the United Kingdom, badly beaten over its joint intervention in Egypt with France and Israel, retreated from any imperial pretentions and the thought of playing a global role. However, this paper argues that such a view indicates an unconsidered assessment of the crisis and is wholly unsupported by the diplomatic and historical record. Rather, the Suez Crisis was but a single episode in the complex and developing post-war Anglo-American alliance: any ill will was quickly swept under the rug as both the United States and the United Kingdom realized that through cooperation instead of opposition they could each better achieve their interests throughout the Middle East, namely continued access to the region's petroleum and "containment" of the spread of international Communism. These were the two chief prizes for British and American statesmen, and both oil and the Soviet threat played a key role in Anglo-American diplomacy before, during, and after the Suez episode. Entrenched grudges and American economic pressure transformed the Suez Crisis from an unpleasant geopolitical conflict into one that was intensely personal. However, the United States and the United Kingdom were wiser than to allow bruised egos to prevent a continuation of their war-time partnership in this most vital of theaters, the Middle East, and each, therefore, strove to further his individual and shared interests in the region through cooperation and consultation with the other.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Chapter I: Deciding to Fight 3
Chapter II: A Risky Business: Britain's Precarious Economic System and American Economic Diplomacy 11
Chapter III: A Changing of the Guard? 27
Conclusion 49
Bibliography 55

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