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America’s Confrontation with Revolutionary Change in the by William Stivers

By William Stivers

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Additional info for America’s Confrontation with Revolutionary Change in the Middle East, 1948–83

Sample text

The United States enjoyed unprecedented leverage in the Middle East; it would probably never enjoy such leverage again. This leverage was not put to full constructive use. The administration addressed no concerted effort toward resolving the Palestinian problem; and after 1956, no attempt was made to broker an Arab-Israeli peace. Eisenhower thus bequeathed to his successors a virulent conflict that would go, at best, into sporadic remission before the next explosive outbreak. His ability to bring about a settlement was greater than any president who followed; hence, his failure to act when he had the chance imposed heavy burdens on future US leaders.

Others, however, saw need for a separate Indian Ocean fleet. Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations from 1955 to 1961, advocated the second course. His interest in an Indian Ocean fleet dated from the late 1940s, when he had already written the British off. Owing to the bureaucratic climate of the times, he could do little more than try to get his colleagues to start thinking about the future US role in the Indian Ocean. By 1961, the time was ripe to bring the question into the open. The new Kennedy administration was alive to the prospects of limited war in the Third World.

Israeli forces would drive into the Sinai peninsula. Acting under the pretext of protecting the Canal, Britain and France would issue an ultimatum demanding that within twelve hours both Egypt and Israel distance their forces at least ten miles from the waterway. When Egypt inevitably refused - an Egypt withdrawal would have conceded Israeli occupation of nearly the whole of the Sinai - the British and French would seize the Canal, purportedly to insure free passage. The Israeli attack came on 19 October.

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