Post-World War II

The Suez Crisis of 1956

Aldrich, Richard J. "Review Article: Intelligence, Anglo-American Relations and the Suez Crisis, 1956." Intelligence and National Security 9, no. 3 (Jul. 1994): 544-554.

Aldrich reviews five books on the Suez Crisis: Lucas, Divided We Stand; Calhoun, Hungary and Suez; Hahn, United States, Great Britain and Egypt; Kunz, Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis; and Kyle, Suez. He notes that "one critical aspect of intelligence-gathering is conspicuous by its near absence from all these ... accounts.... This is signals intelligence.... Lucas is the only author who attempts even a brief foray into this important subject."

Calhoun, Daniel F. Hungary and Suez, 1956: An Exploration of Who Makes History. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991.

According to Aldrich, I&NS 9.3, the author uses only "limited source material," and his "understanding of the day-to-day diplomacy is far inferior to that offered in the other studies now available." He gives only a "thin treatment of clandestine activities." Calhoun's "observations on the activities of Radio Free Europe are ... balanced and fairly well-informed."

Calhoun, Ricky-Dale. "The Art of Strategic Counterintelligence: The Musketeer's Cloak: Strategic Deception During the Suez Crisis of 1956." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 2 (2007): 47-58. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no2/the-art-of-strategic-counterintelligence.html]

"[T]he British, French, and Israelis hid their preparations [for an attack on Egypt] in plain sight by allowing the Americans to see what they expected to see and thus led them to a false conclusion, then acted in an unexpected way. The strategic deception operation that enabled them to do so was multi-faceted and complex."

Cogan, Charles G. "From the Politics of Lying to the Farce at Suez: What the US Knew." Intelligence and National Security 13, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 100-122.

"[T]hough there was suspicion on the part of the US that an Israeli-French operation might be in the offing, Washington never seriously focused on the possibility of a tripartite operation involving the British, the French, and the Israelis.... Thus the American leaders were caught totally unawares by the Anglo-French ultimatum of 30 October [1956]."

Cohen, Raymond. "Israeli Military Intelligence before the 1956 Sinai Campaign." Intelligence and National Security 3, no. 1 (Jan. 1988): 100-140.

Until 1956, confidence in the work of Israeli military intelligence "was as yet far from unshakable. A number of intelligence failures in 1953 and 1954 affected the morale and credibility of the service.... The new chief of military intelligence, Colonel Yehoshafat Harkabi, who took over in May 1955, faced the task of rehabilitating the service at the very time that relations between Israel and Egypt began a seemingly inexorable slide into war."

Drachman, Edward R., and Alan Shank. Presidents and Foreign Policy: Countdown to Ten Controversial Decisions. Ithaca, NY: SUNY Press, 1997.

The authors offer a case study of one major decision for each president from Truman to Clinton. It is possible to argue that there are better potential cases for each president than the ones selected for study, but those chosen are interestingly fitted into the authors' novel countdown approach. The cases presented include Chapter 2 on Eisenhower's decision to oppose the British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez.

Larson, APSR 92.1, appreciates the authors' efforts to "present more objective criteria" than is normally the case in decision-making evaluation. Their evaluation scheme "seems plausible and reasonable on the face," but "it does not always work well when applied to specific cases." Nevertheless, "the case studies are well researched, concise, and provocative."

Hahn, Peter L. The United States, Great Britain and Egypt, 1945-1956. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Aldrich, I&NS 9.3, calls this work "impressive..... [A]n extended analysis of the unusual phenomenon of 'surprise' inflicted upon the United States by its close allies is the highpoint." In an earlier review, Fry, I&NS 7.4, argued that while this work is "briskly and clearly written" and analyzes a "judiciously selected set of central themes," it does not contain a lot that is new. In addition, it is possible to wonder about the author's command of the literature on the subject.

Kelly, Saul, and Anthony Gorst, eds. Whitehall and the Suez Crisis. London: Frank Cass, 2000.

Reynolds, Journal of Cold War Studies 4.1 (2002), notes that "[t]he essays were earlier published as a special issue of the journal Contemporary British History" 13.2 (Summer 1999). This "valuable collection of essays, based on a fortieth-anniversary conference held in 1996, is the first to explore in detail how the Whitehall machine actually functioned during the Suez crisis.... The contributions are generally of high quality."

Kunz, Diane B. The Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Aldrich, I&NS 9.3: "Although somewhat exaggerating the role of economics in the Suez crisis,... this is a valuable study." But it has nothing on economic intelligence.

Kyle, Keith. Suez. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992.

Aldrich, I&NS 9.3, finds this to be an Anglocentric account. Its "real strengths ... lie in its ... discussion of SIS and also of black radio." The author's "use of monitoring summaries in following the output of these sort of stations is particularly effective."

Lucas, W. Scott.

1. Britain and Suez: The Lion's Last Roar. Documents in Contemporary History. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1996.

According to Maglio, I&NS 12.2, this volume contains "a selection of primary sources designed to provide undergraduates and non-experts with an overall view of the 1956 events and the role played by Great Britain." The selections include "valuable material on the CIA and SIS."

2. Divided We Stand: Britain, the US and the Suez Crisis. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1991.

Aldrich, I&NS 9.3: "Among the numerous recent accounts of Suez," this is almost certainly "the outstanding volume.... The full extent of the close relations between the local CIA station and Nasser during the crisis will come as a surprise even with those well acquainted with diplomacy of this crisis." Lucas is "always scholarly in his approach" and presents a "superb picture of SIS-CIA tensions," accompanied by an "outstanding analysis." For Kyle, London Review of Books 15.4 (25 Feb. 1993), sees this work as "meticulously researched and pleasantly written."

3. 'The Missing Link? Patrick Dean, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee." Contemporary British History 13, no. 2 (1999): 117-125.

McNamara, Robert. "'Let's Make It Clear that We'll Get Him Sooner or Later': British Covert Action against Nasser's Egypt in the Aftermath of Suez." In  Intelligence, Statecraft and International Power: Historical Studies XXV, eds. Eunan O’Halpin, Robert Armstrong, and Jane Ohlmeyer, 222-234. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2006.

Rawnsley, Gary D.

1. "Cold War Radio in Crisis: The BBC Overseas Service, the Suez Crisis and the Hungarian Uprising, 1956." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 16, no. 2 (1996): 197-219.

2. "Overt and Covert: The Voice of Britain and Black Radio Broadcasting in the Suez Crisis, 1956." Intelligence and National Security 11, no. 3 (Jul. 1996): 497-522.

"Britain supplemented its Suez policy with sophisticated propaganda and psychological warfare." The author focuses with best effect on the "grey" radio The Voice of Britain, while his discussion of black broadcasters in the period lacks specificity. For additional coverage on black radios, see Keith Kyle, Suez (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1992).


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