Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Suez Canal Crisis

One thing I love about working at home is that there are some TV shows that you can only see during the daytime. Stuff that you are not so impassioned over that you will record them, but that you are happy enough to give snippets of attention to as the TV does its thing.

This week on two consecutive mornings I saw bits and pieces of a multi-part program on Discovery Channel on the Suez Canal. It was nothing short of fascinating.

It seems that 50 years ago, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was France and France was George W. Bush. The British and the French had an evil imperialist agenda in the Middle East and America was the voice of moderation and respect for other nations’ sovereignty.

The British and French, with Israeli cooperation, launched an attack on Egypt with the motive of ousting (“destroying” was a word that was also bandied about) the legendary Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and take control of the Suez Canal. With Israel initiating the attack, the plan was for the British and the French to follow suite under the pretext of “separating” the opposing armies and establish a presence in the Canal Zone.

The U.S. was highly opposed to the plan. Diplomatic tensions between America and its European allies ratcheted up.

Finally, the day arriveļ½„, October 29, 1956 to be precise, and the Israeli invasion began. British and French forces began bombing Egypt on October 31.

The United States then decided to put some teeth behind its rhetoric and threatened to dump its holdings of British currency, which would cause the value of the Sterling to collapse. This threat put the screws on the British economy and the Egyptian operation came to a halt.

I actually knew about this Suez Canal story, I just had not thought about it for many years. However it seems so relevant now. With America transmogrifying from republic to empire, I wonder why it is not brought up more frequently in the media. This lack of interest in history and the resultant collective amnesia may be why humanity seems to progress only to regress, progress again, regress again, ad infinitum ad nauseum.

If only the U.S. could remember its role as a voice of reason in the world.

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