Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis: Suez and the Brink of War by David A. Nichols

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1185 Words
Date:  2022-04-04


The President's Year of Crisis is one of David A. Nichols' intensively written personal story about the United States most underrated president, Dwight Eisenhower, and his now famous actions in one of the most life-threatening international crisis that threated a start of World War III. The Suez-crisis. In the book, Nichols narrates the tale of international conspiracy that befell the wartime allies including British and the French who were at this time struggling to secure their grip on their collapsing colonial empires. During this period marked by the Cold War with the Soviet Union, both London and Paris felt a foul play by the then Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser's move to nationalize the Suez Canal Company. At this time, an intense rising nationalism both in the Middle East and in Hungary provoked a huge invasion force into Hungary by the Soviet Union to quell the rebellion and at the same time send a message to the Middle East.

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Ike and Mamie had just come from their hometown in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where they drove to Vote for Dwight Eisenhower second term in office when the call came in. Eisenhower had just experienced one of the most stressful time of his eight years in office in terms of his physical and mental health. Nichol states that the President had just recovered from both a heart attack and, intestinal surgery and a serious of campaigns in an endeavor to secure a second term in office. President Eisenhower had suffered a serious heart attack back in 1955 that took a toll on his life because of the long recovery period and prolonged bed rest. At this time, Ike had forfeited his official duties to his Vice President Richard Nixon, whose work with the cabinet was exemplary and at the same time studious of any suggestion that he had his eyes on the presidency. Eisenhower resumed his official duties after the long fight ignoring the doctors' conditions and instructions that he is to avoid any form of stress and unnecessary temper.

Ike's health was still fragile when he gradually returned to office, and the nation could not be thankful enough that he was stricken during a period of peace "the timing for Eisenhower's second illness could not have been worse" (Nichols, 283). At this time, the events around the Suez had accelerated into an international crisis over the United States support for the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser's economic efforts to construct a dam along the Aswan River. Many people in the United States mistrusted the covenant between the two presidents leading to strong opposition from the conservative members of the Republican Party who were against the American participation in the construction of the dam and claimed that "the Suez Canal can be blocked" (Nichols, 283). A few of the Democrats were also at a log-head with President Eisenhower about the economic and political implication of the American participation on the project especially to their wartime allies; the British and the French. "Eisenhower's confrontation with his World War II allies..." over the Suez Canal further worsened the situation (Nichols, 284).The pressure against the support of President Nasser escalated very fast, and Eisenhower finally succumbed and withdrew his support for the project. Predictably, these actions infuriated the President of Egypt who retaliated against the Western nations by nationalizing the controversial Suez Canal and also seeking allegiance with the Soviet Union and Communist China.

The action to revolutionize the Suez Canal in July by Gamal Abdel Nasser provoked the French and the British who had started preparing for war despite the peace efforts from John Foster Dulles; the US Secretary of State and president Eisenhower arguing that "the West should not any threatening or drastic action at this time" (Nichols, 282). Ike's main concern was the American peace and that a colossal mistake like Suez-crisis could lead to a much bigger repercussion especially to the United States. The crisis escalated very fast into a higher orbit giving Eisenhower a double battle as he wrestled for his survival against his intestinal disorder and the crisis. It was the middle of his second term campaigns. In one of his campaign speeches, Ike said: "We believe that the power of modern weapons makes war not only perilous but also preposterous." (Nichols, 286). Israel was the first country to wage war on Egypt in her endeavor to wrest control of the Suez Canal from the Nasser's government. By October 29th, Israelite troops had attacked the borders of Egypt, and without consulting Eisenhower administration, the British and the French were already bombing the borders of Egypt.

Ike was skeptical about the silence of his wartime allies. He called upon both the French and the British to yield to the voice of reasoning citing building of a stronger Egypt. He believed that the military response against President Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal was building Egypt into a stronger nation than it was before, but the trusted allies took no heed. "Eisenhower more than any other Western leader recognized that the era of imperial rule was finished" (Nichols, 280). Ike protested both to the invasion and even took the matter to the United Nations. He later announced to the United States citizens that there was absolutely no American involvement in the hostilities around Suez Canal. At this time, the hostilities had risen as the Israelites had an advancing reinforcement on Anglo-French armada heading towards the Egyptian coast.

In the midst of the crisis at the Suez, a Cold War had escalated very fast in other parts of Europe, building tension between Hungary and the Soviet Union. Hungarian rebels were all in arms threatening a confrontation with the Soviet Union. The confrontation did not last long as the Soviet Union having seen the division in the Western alliance over the Suez-crisis, responded with a great force in Hungary. "Over two hundred thousand Soviet Union troops and over four thousand military tanks were seen in Budapest, Hungary in early November 1956" (Nichols, 278). Ignoring the crisis in Egypt, Israelites managed to capture thousands of the Egyptian soldiers and lands around the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip prior to the landing of the British and the French troops within Egypt. Eisenhower had no choice but to support the Egyptian government against the British, French and Israelite's invasions citing betrayal from his wartime allies. "The allies apparently thought that once they were fighting, Eisenhower would come to their aid" (Nichols, 284). This further escalated the division of the Western alliance which resulted in Nikolai. A. Bulganin, the Soviet premier at the time threatening to join the crisis in the Middle East having trampled the brave Hungarian soldiers.


After being told about the urgent news from Moscow about the possibility of the Soviet Union matching towards the Middle East, President Dwight Eisenhower immediately convened a cabinet meeting with the top government officials and the Defense Department leadership to access the readiness of the American defense forces if war was to break between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Work Cited

Nichols, David A. Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis--Suez and the Brink of War. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

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Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis: Suez and the Brink of War by David A. Nichols. (2022, Apr 04). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/eisenhower-1956-the-presidents-year-of-crisis-suez-and-the-brink-of-war-by-david-a-nichols

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