The Economic Diplomacy Of The Suez Crisis

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Nick Butler reviews

  • The Economic Diplomacy Of The Suez Crisis
    Diane Kunz - University of North Carolina Press, 1991 - xii+295pp. - £43.95

'The last gasp of a declining power ... perhaps in 200 years the US will know how we feel'. Cynical and realistic as ever Harold Macmillan got it right. Only the time-scale of his prediction was wrong. Within forty years the United States too has begun to find its freedom of action restrained by economic weakness. Thirty-five years after Suez, US troops were landing in the Middle East to fight a war of principle – but a war which could not have been fought without the financial donations thrown into the collecting tin by the Japanese.

In 1956 Macmillan seems to have been one of the very few British politicians to appreciate that international alliances are dictated in the end not by sentiment, or the illusion of closeness created by a common language, but by perceptions of self-interest. He understood too, perhaps sooner than he made public, that financial weakness cannot be successfully married to pretensions of an international role.

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