Crises Over Hungary And Suez
In 1956, there was a series of explosive international developments. Early that year Soviet party leader Nikita Khrushchev suddenly denounced the dead dictator Josef Stalin as a cruel tyrant, a denunciation that led people in the Soviet-dominated countries of eastern Europe to demand greater freedom in managing their own internal affairs.
In Poland, Wladyslaw Gomulka, a nationalist Communist leader who had been jailed under Stalin, became head of the Polish Communist Party and promised the people greater freedom of speech, press, and religion. In October 1956, the Hungarian people revolted, installed a liberal government, and demanded the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Instead ofwithdrawing, the Soviet army launched an attack on the Hungarians and crushed the rebellion. The American people joined the world-wide protest against the Soviet Union's action and welcomed thousands of Hungarian refugees to the United States.
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, mainly British and French in composition. In July 1956, when Egypt's President Gamal Abdel 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 in creasing border clashes, Israel accused Egypt of planning an attack against her and sent the Israeli army across the Sinai Peninsula toward Suez.
Viewing this development as a threat to shipping on the Canal, the British and French landed troops in the Canal zone. The United States opposed this action of its NATO allies as a violation of the principle of self-determination. The American delegation at the United Nations voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of the invading troops. Great Britain, France, and Israel accepted these terms. In March 1957, under the supervision of a U.N. police force, the Suez Canal was cleared of wreckage and opened to shipping.
The Suez crisis, which prompted the Soviet Union to threaten to use force in Egypt, revealed growing Soviet efforts to gain a foothold in the Middle East. To counter 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, for authorization to use military force if requested by any Middle Eastern nation to check aggression; and, second, 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, President Eisenhower sent Marines to Lebanon at the latter's request. The action came after Lebanon accused the United Arab Republic (a union of Syria and Egypt) of provoking and arming a rebellion in Lebanon. 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.