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Military Intervention: A Case Study of Britain's Use of Force in the 1956 Suez Crisis

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Student thesis

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Great Britains management of the 1956 Suez crisis has been universally condemned and has raised fundamental questions concerning application of force in the nuclear age. Suez has also been described as a successful Soviet effort to expand Communist power or orchestrating sub-threshold conflict techniques together with accelerating nationalist revolutions in developing areas. It is the purpose of this thesis first to examine Britains legal, politico-military, and moral justification for the employment of force with the view toward crystallizing the implications of military intervention in the nuclear age and, second, to assess Soviet Russias role in the crisis in an effort to establish a relationship between this role and the utilization of military force. Analysis of the military factors influencing the Suez crisis indicates that US and British preoccupation with the theory of massive retaliation resulted in a distortion of vital strategic planning factors such as the requirement for forward base areas and the protection of vital geographic communications links. Concomitantly, the supporting structure required to conduct efficient conventional operations was no longer maintained. Finally, the military analysis indicates that both practical and psychological concern for escalation requires that military intervention, when undertaken, be swift in tempo and decisive in scope. The thesis concludes that Britain when judged by traditional Western standards was legally, politically, and morally culpable in its adoption of force as a response to Egypts provocations. However, when viewed in the context of the Cold War, Suez confirms the successful distortion of accepted Western values by a Socialist camp which can employ provocation and such forces as imperialism, rising expectations, and the nationalistic ambitions of selected proxies as a technique of aggression. Conversely, the West has continued to view the whole in terms of the parts.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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