Study source A
What can we learn from Source A about Anthony Eden’s reasons for opposing Colonel Nasser?
Throughout the radio and television broadcast Eden argues a cast iron case against Nasser. Nationalizing the Suez Canal threatens British links abroad and her economy. It is an artery between the motherland and the empire but it is ‘not vital to Egypt.’ Legally, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal without ‘consent’ or ‘consultation.’ As far as Eden is concerned Nasser has ‘seized it’ and broken international law. Eden feels betrayed and claims Nasser is not a representative of Egypt as ‘our quarrel is not with Egypt, it is with Colonel Nasser.’ Eden is hurt and appalled by Nasser’s treatment towards Britain as he ‘conducted a vicious propaganda campaign against this country.’ Nasser is shown as a demagogue and ‘ not a man who can be trusted.’ Eden compares Nasser to Hitler and the implication is that we let Hitler get away with it, let us stop Nasser before he can thrive and do the same. This is negative propaganda and shows us Eden really believes Nasser is a new Hitler and ‘ we all remember what the cost was of giving in to Hitler.’
Study sources B and C
How useful are these two sources as evidence of Egyptian public opinion during the Suez Crisis?
The fact that source B is a photograph means that it cannot be truly reliable. Nasser appears to be the hero of the people, but it only shows a relatively small number of people and so it could be staged. We do not know who took the photograph or for what purpose. But the focus of attention is on Nasser, which surely gives the impression that Nasser is being hailed as a liberator. The people in the photograph show jubilation, mass approbation and adulation. It shows Nasser standing up for Egypt and thus it is unsurprising that the people are behind him.
In source C the cartoon is satirical and a political point is made through humour. The purpose of the cartoon is to first poke fun at the British and secondly to encourage the Egyptians. It is useful propaganda as it shows us what the propagandist thinks. The Egyptian is looking confident as he thinks what Egypt have done is right and they will be successful. By trying to denationalise the canal, the British and French will do more harm to themselves than they will do to Egypt. The stereotypical image of the upper class Briton is shown to be panicking as the Egyptian is showing him the sole of his shoe, which is the ultimate insult in Egypt. As the cartoon was drawn before the British and French attacked it is said to be prophetic as what is conveyed in the picture becomes true. Source C shows us the same confidence that we observe in Source B. In both sources, Nasser and his people are confident that what they are doing is right and thus they will be rewarded by being successful.
In conclusion both sources are useful to see the attitudes of the Egyptian people. Neither state useful facts but Source C gives us an incite to the eventual outcome.
Study sources D, E and F.
Did public opinion in Britain support Eden’s decision to take ‘military action against Egypt?’ Explain your answer using the sources and your own knowledge.
It is important that the Mirror, a left wing newspaper, supports the government in power, as it is a very influential paper that many working class people read. The extract is written in a very populist style and uses phrases such as ‘boss’ and ‘Big Shot’ which is the language of American gangsters. It implies Nasser will end up like Hitler and Cairo will end up like ‘devastated Berlin.’ It also suggests that like dictators, Nasser shows insecurity by having to demonstrate his ‘power’. Many soldiers like Martin Habberley ‘fell in to the trap of thinking those in charge must know what they are doing,’ until they arrived at Suez and described the incident as ‘a complete fiasco’ and that ‘utter chaos’ reigned throughout. He for one has had ‘no faith in the public image of leadership ever since.’
In Source E the people are appealing against Eden’s actions. They represent a slice of British opinion and want to ‘stop aggression’. Eisenhower said to Eden that a ‘method must be attempted before action.’ He warns Eden that there is not much support from America or the UN and not to heed the advice ‘is virtually to destroy that institution.’ Letters published in The Times in 1956 further suggest military action is not in favour, as by using ‘military force over Suez’ they will do so ‘in defiance of very large sections of opinion in this country.’
Source F believes that it is immoral to attack just because the British think Egypt will attack. It is a moral and legal objection to what is going on, as Nasser ‘has made no attempt to close the Suez Canal to our shipping,’ it is therefore wrong ‘to threaten force by military action against Egypt.’ In the emergency debate Gaitskell believes ‘our Government are defying a resolution of the UN assembly.’ This suggests it would be fatal to ignore UN opinion and he goes on to say that ‘we represent on this issue the point of view of millions of men and women’ and ‘many of those persons who have hitherto voted conservative’ which suggests that he is worried that many people are dissatisfied with Eden’s government and wish him to ‘resign.’
Study sources G and H.
Does source G support Selwyn Lloyd’s statement (source H) about Britain’s motives for military action against Egypt? Explain your answer by referring to both sources.
In source G Eden tries to justify his future actions against Nasser. He knows that Eisenhower and himself want to ‘undo what Nasser has done.’ But Eden also wants a regime change, as ‘the parallel with Mussolini is close.’ This can be compared to source H where we learn Eden’s main motives were that the 1930s should never be repeated. This shows us that both sources support interventionism. But Selwyn Lloyd refers to Nasser as ‘Hitler’ and not Mussolini. This is because in source G Eden couldn’t refer to Nasser as Hitler in front of Eisenhower as he would say that it was a ridiculous comparison as Nasser neither has the manpower nor the same drive as Hitler did. Both sources refer to Nasser as a menace but G is a letter in which Eden appeals for support from Eisenhower as ‘a regime less hostile to the West, must rank among our objectives.’ By saying this Eden infers that Nasser is a threat to America as well as to Britain and France and tries to enlist America’s support. This shows us that both sources are against Nasser. We also learn that Britain ‘had certain objectives in the national interest’ and a ‘part to play in preventing war in the Middle East.’ This shows us that Selwyn Lloyd is trying to justify the British and French activities and states that if we didn’t deal with Nasser he could have started a war against Israel. So both sources refer to international control and in each Eden claims small fires should be put out before they become too big to stop. Eden really believed that ‘his government had done what was right’ and ‘was determined to see that it did not happen again.’
Study all the sources.
‘Britain was humiliated by international opinion and made to look foolish.’
Use these sources, and your own knowledge, to say whether you agree with this view of the Suez crisis.
Source A tries to protect Britain’s interests and shows us what Eden is trying to achieve and what he intends to do. We know that it results in a failure and that after the Suez crisis in ‘1959 the dates were considered for Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda to become independent’ which shows that instead of doing something beneficial, Britain has merely succeeded in speeding up the decolonisation programme and thus made to look very foolish.
Source B shows unity between Nasser and the Egyptian people. The photograph gives us a clue that Nasser’s actions are popular with his people and both sources B and C demonstrate the same Egyptian confidence that suggest the people think what Nasser has done is right.
Source D demonstrates some British confidence as the Daily Mirror claims Nasser is only a ‘big shot’ and can be sorted out like other dictators. We therefore learn that there was some initial support within Britain for the action but ‘the Americans, however, refused to support such action’ and as a result ‘Suez had shown that the British Empire was no longer supported by a superior military force.’ This shows us that British military power in the world was shrinking and Suez helped to speed it up. Suez confirmed that Britain’s time of colonial power was coming to an end.
Sources E and F show evidence of British public opinion opposing the proposed action, which suggests that some protestors realised that ‘the Commonwealth did not support Britain while India supported Egypt.’ Therefore by ‘going it alone’ with France and Israel, Britain risked ‘her currency and economy’ especially as ‘Eisenhower was opposed to this from the start.’
Source G shows Eden is having to work hard to bring Eisenhower round to the idea as Britain must have ‘the maximum United States support,’ in order to succeed or at least achieve anything beneficial. The fact that Britain did not receive American and UN support demonstrated that ‘Britain and France could not make military interventions without US backing.’ This further suggested that Britain was ‘dependent on US support’ and Britain would have to bow to America’s will.
Source H shows us that like Nasser, Selwyn Lloyd and certainly Eden believed ‘his government had done what was right.’ But the source does suggest that Selwyn Lloyd is not quite as cemented to his views as Eden is. Unfortunately the world did not agree with Eden and Britain subsequently looked very foolish, especially after America froze all of Britain’s assets and ‘forced an end to the invasion.’ We can now see that from all the sources and from my background knowledge the most influential aspect of the Suez crisis was ‘the fear that by incautious commitment and inflexible conservatism, Britain might again find herself isolated and friendless.’