A world without Nasser

Michael Oren answers readers’ questions in Ha’aretz:

Many historians would probably list Harry Truman’s recognition of Israel in May 1948 as one of America’s most fateful decisions in the Middle East. A more seismic event, I think, was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision to support Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser in the 1956 Suez Crisis. Though Nasser had plotted against Arab moderates and had violated international agreements by nationalizing the Suez Canal, Eisenhower sided with the Soviet Union – this while Soviet tanks were crushing freedom-fighters in Hungary – in rescuing Nasser from certain defeat at the hands of Britain, France, and Israel. A vastly strengthened Nasser once again turned his Soviet arms against Arab moderates and ultimately aimed them at Israel. But imagine if Eisenhower had just stepped back and let Nasser fall. There might not have been wars in 1967 or 1973, no occupied territories, no intifadas or Hamas. Minus Nasser, the Middle East might today look radically different.

There’s lots more fascinating stuff in this Q&A.

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