Crises over Hungary and Suez

The international situation in 1956 was marked by a series of explosive developments. Early that year Soviet party leader Nikita Khrushchev suddenly denounced the dead dictator, Stalin, as a cruel tyrant. Khrushchev's exposure of Stalin's crimes led people in the Russian-dominated countries of Eastern Europe to demand freedom both from Soviet control and in internal affairs. In Poland, a nationalist communist leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, who had been jailed under Stalin, became head of the Polish Communist Party and promised the people greater freedom of speech, press and religion. Inspired by the Polish example, the Hungarian people revolted in October 1956, installed a liberal government, and demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Instead of withdrawing, the Soviet Army launched a massive attack on the Hungarian freedom fighters, an action which the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned. The American people joined people throughout the world in shocked protest against the Soviet Union's ruthless crushing of the revolt, and welcomed thousands of Hungarian refugees who sought in exile the freedom denied to them in their own country.

The Korean war caused great loss of life and devastation. With United States and United Nations assistance, South Korean factories, schools and homes were rebuilt, communications repaired, and farmers returned to their land with modern tools.

Simultaneously with the Hungarian uprising, a serious world crisis developed over control of the Suez Canal. Since its completion on Egyptian territory in 1869, the Canal had been operated by an international company which was mainly British and French in composition. In July 1956, Egypt's President Nasser announced the nationalization of the Canal. The Western powers tried in vain to reach an agreement with Egypt on a new form of international control by the 18 nations that regularly used the Canal. Then in October, against a background of increasing border clashes, Israel accused Egypt of planning an attack against her and sent the Israeli Army across the Sinai Peninsula toward the Suez Canal. Viewing this development as a threat to shipping on the Canal, the British and French landed troops on tfie Canal Zone. The United States opposed this action of its NATO allies as a violation-of the principles of self-determination. Its delegation at the United Nations voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of the invading troops. Great Britain, France, and Israel accepted these terms, offering a striking contrast to the continuing Russian occupation of Hungary. Under the supervision of a U.N. police force, the Suez Canal was cleared of wreckage and opened to shipping in March 1957.

The Karnafuli multipurpose dam at Kaptai, East Pakistan, constructed with the aid of United States funds, is an example of American cooperation with other countries to provide low-cost power for industrial and home use.

The Suez Crisis, which prompted the Soviet Union to threaten armed intervention and the sending of Soviet "volunteers" to Egypt, revealed growing communist efforts to gain a foothold in the Middle East. To meet this threat and to encourage stability and independence in the area, the United States adopted what came to be known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. In January 1957, President Eisenhower asked Congress, first, to authorize him to use military force if this were requested by any Middle Eastern nation to check communist aggression; and secondly, to set aside a sum of $200 million to help those Middle Eastern countries that desired aid from the United States. Congress granted both requests.

A year and a half later, American aid was requested by the Lebanese government, which accused the United Arab Republic (a union of Syria and Egypt) of provoking and arming a rebellion in Lebanon. President Eisenhower sent U.S. marines to that country to insure its protection against hostile foreign elements. After several weeks the situation in Lebanon improved and the United States withdrew its troops. A similar crisis arose between Jordan and Iraq but calmed rapidly after British troops arrived in Jordan at that country's request. These troops too were soon withdrawn.