The U.S. feared that communism and the growing Arab nationalism posed a greater threat to the national security and international policies. Hence, to curb the expansionist powers of the Soviet especially after the Suez crisis and the decline of British influence over the Middle East, it released the Eisenhower Doctrine in a defensive mode. This Historyplex post summarizes the Eisenhower Doctrine along with its significance and effects.
Did You Know?
In an attempt to counter communism, President Dwight D. Eisenhower invested in nuclear armament accumulation which eventually led to the foundation of the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
On 5th January 1957, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed a joint session of Congress with his famous speech on the impending communism crisis soon to engulf the Middle East. He debated that the region was in danger of falling under the Soviet control and the United States had to take up strict measures to aid the Middle Eastern independence. He put up the request of passing a resolution empowering him to assure increased economic and military aid and even direct U.S. protection to any Middle Eastern nation or group of nations willing to admit the threat posed by international communism. Two months later, the Congress passed the modified version of the policy embodied as a legislation which came to be known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. The doctrine marked America’s growth as the prevailing Western power in the Middle East.
Brief Historical Facts
➔ The Suez Canal crisis of 1956 started when Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal. Egypt was furious that the U.S. had refused its aid for the Aswan dam project and hence initiated this nationalization. This in turn provoked violent reactions from Israel, United Kingdom, and France who ganged up against Egypt.
On 26th October, 1956 Israel attacked followed by the British and the French troops which led to the successful capture of the Suez canal. Meanwhile the Soviets had tapped on Arab nationalism and were riding high on it by supplying armaments and monetary aid to Egypt during this crisis.
➔ In the meantime U.S. justified its withdrawal from the Aswan dam project citing Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s anti-Western sentiments and his proximity towards the Soviet as the reasons. Following the major developments in the Middle East, President Dwight D. Eisenhower jointly directed the Congress for authorization of economic and military cooperation with friendly nations in the Middle Eastern region.
He also requested a mandate to use U.S. troops in an event of future dispute among the Arab nations. President Eisenhower conceived that a power vacuum had formed in the Middle East due to the loss of prestige of Great Britain and France after the Suez canal conflict. He wanted this vacuum to be filled by the United States before the Soviets could step in and fill the power void.
➔ Another vital point emerged that the Arab Nationalism was substantial in the context of the Cold War because oil and gas supplies from the Middle East were critical to sustain the European and American economies. The Soviet Union recognized this and sought to compete with the West to gain more favorable position in the global bi-polar power tussle. After two months of strong resentment and cynical debate, the Congress sanctioned the Eisenhower Doctrine in a joint declaration on 9th March, 1957. The program also sanctioned $200 million for economic and military assistance in each of the years 1958 and 1959.
Significance & Effects
➔ There was mixed response among the Arab nations after the declaration of the doctrine but its actual implication came about in 1958 during the Lebanon crisis. Lebanon’s President, Camille Chamoun reached out for U.S. aid in order to prevent political attacks from his opponents who had supposed links with the Soviet Union and ties with Syria and Egypt. President Eisenhower responded to the call by sending more than 15,000 U.S. troops to silence the conflict in a way sending a silent signal to the Communists that U.S. had a dominating presence in the Middle East. This came to be known as the clearest application of the Eisenhower doctrine till date.
➔ The doctrine was rarely cited after 1958. It remained to be significant of American engrossment with the Cold War in the Middle East.
The Eisenhower Doctrine was one of many crucial events that took place during the first decade of the Cold War. The slow induction of Middle Eastern countries into the USSR had been gathering momentum, other economically free countries during this period did very little to stop the spread of communism, except the U.S through its strict policies such as this.