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The Suez Crisis Assignment

1. Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about Anthony Eden’s reasons for opposing Colonel Nasser?

Source A is a radio and television broadcast to Britain given by Eden in 1956. Eden says he’s opposing Nasser, not Egypt, because he has taken control of an international company with out consulting anyone first. This shows he cannot be trusted. He says Nasser met them with vicious propaganda against their country which doesn’t give a good impression. Eden compares him to Hitler, referring to the consequences of trusting him. He gives this impression on national radio so that the public are convinced that he is right and that Nasser isn’t a person to be trusted. He wanted to convince the British public to hate and attack Nasser. He has also seized Britain’s oil supply route for his own use which means the oil wasn’t available for their machinery and transport.

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2. Study Sources B and C.

How useful are these two sources as evidence of Egyptian public opinion during the Suez Crisis?

Source B is a photograph taken in 1956 of Colonel Nasser in a crowd of people. This is useful as evidence of Egyptian public opinion because it clearly shows everyone is happy and cheering for Nasser, as his arms are raised too. It is not useful because it only shows a few people and not the whole country. There may be a lot more people who are against him and the situation but they aren’t shown in the picture. Those who are not pictured are the wealthy as he gave away their land to the poor without their agreement, which obviously makes the lower class increase respect for him, and the communists also dislike him as he jailed them.

Source C is a cartoon of Eden and an Egyptian sailor drawn by an Egyptian. It shows how Eden was not the cleverest of people and gives the idea that the sailor is laughing at him, showing his superiority. This cartoon is useful because whoever drew it must have been very optimistic towards the Egyptians as Eden could never make the correct move. It also shows that Egyptians are becoming more successful as it is usually the British who are in control of the seas. It shows that the Egyptian public opinion was that Nasser looked much stronger and this is reflected as it is a cartoon, and cartoons are made for people to laugh at so they obviously agree and understand with the view. It is not useful because it is just one persons opinion and is probably biased as the cartoonist is Egyptian and is obviously against Eden. It has many limitations, for example the source doesn’t even provide the name of the newspaper and we don’t know exactly how many people read it. It is also controlled by the government so it is very biased.

3. 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.

Source D is an extract from the Daily Mirror in July 1956. It shows Nasser as a dangerous, violent person which suggests the public are against his opinions. The Daily Mirror shows the opinions of the conservative supporters of Britain which is biased due to the fact that Eden has convinced them all that Nasser is a bad person and should not be trusted. Since the majority of the British population go with Eden’s words, they believe him. Although there are some people who don’t trust Eden and therefore show that this source is not reliable as it only shows one opinion. It also reflects source A as it compares him to Hitler showing his power and aggression.

Source E is a photograph of a demonstration in London during the Suez Crisis. It shows a crowd of people with signs showing they are against Eden and think he should go. This suggests they don’t particularly care about Nasser and they are not interested in starting a war because the Second World War had just finished. This is in contrast to source D as they are for Eden’s decision to take action against Egypt. The demonstration was possibly controlled by the labour party where someone said ‘he’s too stupid to be a prime minister!’ which shows their general opinion.

Source F shows extracts from readers’ letters that had been published in the Daily Mirror in August 1956. These show that over 2 weeks, lots were against Eden’s decision to take military action against Egypt. Britain is just against every idea of a war and is trying to avoid anything that might cause one to occur because it has only been 11 years since the Second World War and they all remember what that was like. Also, Khrushchev, who stands by Nasser, threatened to use nuclear weapons against Britain if Egypt decided to attack.

4. 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.

Source G is a letter to Eisenhower looking for support from the US. It supports source H because they both agree that Nasser should be stopped. They both want the Suez Canal to be under international control so that Nasser can’t control the supply of oil to the western countries and especially Britain as they don’t trust him. He has made irresponsible decisions in the past and they know better than to let him be in charge of that.

In source H the writer says Eden was the reason the war didn’t happen because of his decision to take military action against Egypt. This source is also biased because the writer of the book used to be British Foreign Secretary during the Suez Crisis so is likely to support Eden and his actions. Whereas, source G disagrees and says that Egypt should become less hostile to the West instead. Source H compares Nasser to Hitler, obviously agreeing with Eden’s opinion of him and in source G he says “I have never thought Nasser a Hitler” but he did in source A when he says “We all know this is how dictatorships behave, and we all remember what the cost was of giving in to Hitler”.

The difference between the letter and the book extract is that a letter is much more personal and not meant for an audience. It also only shows something from one point of view from one point in history. Whereas the book extract includes much more information as it was wrote years later and aimed at more people. This could mean it was less biased and showed the public’s opinions as well.

5. 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 shows Eden not against Egypt but against Nasser and his personality. He compares him to Hitler in the way his behavior will only end in negative consequences and he is very distrustful. This could agree with the view as we don’t know if Eden is trustworthy. Nasser could be a very honest, kind person and then Britain would be humiliated by Eden’s strong opinion. Source B shows the public love for Nasser which agrees with the view. It suggests Britain was humiliated by Eden because you can tell the Egyptians love him and he isn’t what Eden made him out to be.

Source C suggests Eden is stupid and cannot make responsible or reliable decisions for Britain as that is what is shown in the Egyptian cartoon. This agrees with the view as the Egyptian in the cartoon looks much more in control and almost looks like he’s laughing at him. This represents the Egyptian public opinion of Britain and shows they are very confident in defeating them. Source D does not agree with the view as it shows Britain has gained confidence and is agreeing with Eden’s view that Nasser is very much like Hitler and has chosen a dangerous way to show he is superior.

Source E shows the British public are against Eden which is very humiliating for Britain as their leader has no support. They have signs that read ‘EDEN MUST GO!’ which shows their hate towards him. They think he is very aggressive as he wanted to take military action against Egypt where it wasn’t necessary. This also shows that Eden’s opinion of Nasser, when he compared him with Hitler, wasn’t true and the British public knew this and turned against him.

Source F shows the general public opinion in Britain to be for Nasser. They think it’s wrong to assume that Nasser will close the canal to British ships as there is no evidence and he has made no attempt. This shows Eden has been humiliated because they are against his opinion of Nasser and obviously can’t get the support of his own country. The second quote suggests they are against Eden and his decision as it is immoral and is most likely to cause a war which is what they are trying to avoid. Even by threatening military action, a war could erupt and is totally unjustified.

Source G shows Eden writing a letter to Eisenhower looking for assistance. This alone suggests Britain is being humiliated as it isn’t hopeful if your leader needs outside help. He then goes on to saying, ‘I have never thought Nasser a Hitler’ which in fact he has earlier that year, as shown in source A. Although, the fact that Eisenhower agrees with him is not humiliating as it shows his opinions aren’t completely false and that he has the respect of another leader, showing they have a united stand.

Source H shows the government has admitted they were wrong in some of their policies. They may not have met with public or international approval but Eden continued to believe his government was correct. This suggests he was humiliated as he didn’t take the public’s opinions into consideration, showing he thought more of himself and this turned many against him. They thought their policy of removing Nasser would help to prevent a war from occurring but instead it created even more problems. They also did this to attempt at getting international control so that Egypt wasn’t completely in charge of the crisis as it was an important shipping channel and they would rather have control of it themselves instead of relying in another country to possibly make mistakes.

In January 1957, Eden resigned due to ‘bad health’. This shows how weak he was and that he didn’t want to be a part of the government which suggests he was ashamed of the decisions he had made. His choice to resign left Britain humiliated as they were frowned upon by other countries for their powerless leader. This then suggests that all of the decisions he had made about the Suez Crisis were a mistake and that he regretted making them. Also, Britain lost the canal to a weak country which shows they aren’t strong anymore and people are beginning to question their superiority. They were never again a world power as they didn’t have the general opinion on their side. The secret agreement Egypt had with Israel alienated Britain and put them down as they didn’t know what was happening. The fact that other leaders didn’t want to include Eden in their agreements shows that he wasn’t respected or trusted by them.

In conclusion, I think Britain was humiliated greatly due to Eden’s poor policies and lack of support from the public. Eden played a huge role in Britain and his actions resulted in alienating his followers and allies. The fact that he assumed negative things about Nasser caused the public and other leaders to turn against him, presuming he is just in it for personal revenge. Although, he had nothing against Egypt as a country and this showed through his effort in the Suez Crisis.

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