Ruthless People
July 31, 1956 — U.S. editorial

The Mossadegh Project | August 15, 2020                     

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970)

A vicious editorial opposing Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) and his nationalization of the Suez Canal.

Nasser Should Pay Dearly

Seizure of the Suez Canal by President Nasser of Egypt has enormous implications, economic, political and military. Nasser must be made to pay dearly for his ruthless action, which has many parallels with Mossadegh’s seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. several years ago. [Premier Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran in April 1951]

The Suez Canal is a key factor in world trade. If shipping had to move around the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East and Far East, transportation costs would be doubled, enormously affecting prices in the economic complex of world trade.

Movement of oil to Western Europe would be economically difficult. Loss of the canal could be circumvented, however, by pipelines. But if Nasser gets away with his grab, it may embolden other Arab states to seize American, British and French oil properties.

Nasser’s audacious and melodramatic seizure of Suez has made him a hero not just in Egypt but in much of the Arab world. His prestige and that of Arab nationalism which he leads never have been greater among the simple and economically illiterate Arab masses.

Nasser has said that he would use the $100,000,000 in annual tolls from Suez to build the $1,300,000,000 Aswan dam. It is true that the canal has an annual gross of around $100,000,000 in tolls, but operation and maintenance cost on the average $40,000,000 a year. The canal needs deepening and widening for modern shipping, the cost of which would run to a huge sum.

As in Mossadegh’s seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., Nasser’s action also raises the problem of personnel, of irreplaceable foreign technicians. Nasser has a Frankenstein situation on his hands, one which could destroy his own power and influence.

But consideration of Nasser aside, the situation is one made for the advantage of and exploitation by Moscow. In fact, Moscow had a big hand in making it.

The West must bring Nasser to leash, and make him pay dearly for his treachery and bad faith. But how? He has indicated by implication that he would ignore the decrees of the World Court. Proposed internationalization of Suez requires Nasser’s assent.

The United Nations, a political and not a judicial body, is not a promising avenue of solution. A Communist veto or vetoes could stymie UN moves.

The Suez Canal dilemma owes much to U.S. miscalculation in policy and to U.S. foreign aid. Largely on the strength of U.S. aid, the Nasser regime started a program of land reform, improvement in communications, transportation, irrigation, education and agricultural techniques.

Nasser, a shrewd operator in public relations and promotion, gained great prestige from American-financed programs. Even as he took American aid, he worked ceaselessly to undermine Western influence in the Middle East.

Nasser played footsie with the Russians as a lever for new demands and extortion. The West might have gone along with the Aswan deal if his “blackmail” had been less crude.

In Egypt, as often elsewhere, American foreign aid scored for the enemy.

Nasser in seizing the Suez Canal is caught in an economic labyrinth, but so also is the West. He can be made to pay dearly, but so also will the West. The Western error was in ignoring first principles—trying to buy and do business with a dictator. [Heaven forbid!]

Newspapers that published this editorial included:

The Binghamton Press (Binghamton, New York) — July 31, 1956 (lead editorial)
The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) — August 3, 1956


Related links:

Nasser Asks for Trouble | Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sept. 9, 1956

American Negroes Should Be Concerned About What Is Happening in Egypt (Nov. 1951)

Trying Mossadegh’s Tactics | UPI, July 31, 1956

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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