Diane Kunz describes here how the United States employed economic
diplomacy to affect relations among states during the Suez Crisis
of 1956-57. Using political and financial archival material from
the United States and Great Britain, and drawing from personal
interviews with many of the key players, Kunz focuses on how
economic diplomacy determined the course of events during the
crisis from start to finish. In doing so, she provides both an
excellent case study of the role of economic sanctions in
international relations and a solid treatment of the American use
of such sanctions against a Middle Eastern country.
The crisis was prompted by the Eisenhower administration's decision
not to fund the Aswan High Dam, triggering the takeover of the Suez
Canal Company by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Responding
to events, the American government imposed economic sanctions
against Great Britain, France, Egypt, and Israel, with varying
degrees of success.
Because of its weakened financial position and misguided decisions,
Kunz says, the government of British Prime Minister Anthony Eden
proved most vulnerable to these tactics. Indeed, American economic
pressure caused the British government to withdraw its troops
ignominiously from Egypt. France, on the other hand, had borrowed
sufficiently prior to the crisis to be able to withstand American
pressure. For Israel, Kunz says, the threat of sanctions symbolized
the Eisenhower administration's wrath. Israel could forego American
funds, but, dependent on the goodwill of a great power for
survival, it could not take a stand that would completely alienate
the United States. Only Egypt proved immune to financial
Kunz also illuminates the general diplomacy of the Suez crisis. The
American government was determined neither to alienate moderate
Arab opinion nor to become too closely intertwined with Israel. As
such, this account has significant lessons for American policy.
Originally published in 1991.
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