Click on the link here for Audio Player – American Forum – The Middle East – November 11, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Looking at the history books, you’d get the impression the Middle East has been in a perpetual state of crisis for the better part of 70 years. And you’d probably be right.
But in the 1950s, with the rise to power of Gamal Abdul Nasser and the New Arab Nationalism that sprang out of Cairo along with it, the face of the Arab world began to change, along with the political atmosphere in the entire region.
In 1956 The Suez Canal crisis made abundantly clear Colonial rule was a thing of the past in the Middle East. Egypt was no longer a protectorate of Britain, nor was Iraq. Iran was on its way to neutralizing its monarchy, but that was quashed by a CIA-led overthrow of the democratically elected Mosadegh government and reinstating the Shah. France was no longer in charge of Syria, granting its independence in 1946. And we all know the story of Israel and the Partition which created the state of perpetual tension between Arabs and Jews in the former Palestine.
But with Nasser came a new set of concerns and a new set of crises. The Suez Canal crisis was only one of what would be a series of upheavals disputes and changing political landscapes over the next 6 decades.
Where America fit in all this wasn’t entirely clear. The recent Suez Canal crisis was something for the United Nations to deal with and we stayed reasonably out of it.
To discuss the situation, as it stood in November of 1956 were three panelists on this American Forum Program from November 11, 1956. Abba Eban, who was United Nations Amabassador from Israel, New Zealand Ambassador to the United Nations Sir Leslie Munro and R.S.S. Gunawardene, UN Ambassador from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
The concern was whether or not this latest crisis in the Middle East was a harbinger of World War 3. Interesting that it got that far, but nonetheless a matter of great pessimism over whether or not the situation would ever be resolved. And what Nasserism meant for, not only the Middle East, but for the rest of the world.
Still asking the same questions. Here is that episode of American Forum, as it aired on November 11, 1956.
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