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International Socialist Review, Spring 1959


Paul Abbott

Nasser as the Only Hope


From International Socialist Review, Vol.20 No.2, Spring 1959, p.62.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Will the Middle East Go West?
by Freda Utley
Henry Regnery Co., Chicago. 1957. 198 pp. $3.

The author is a phobist on communism. Among the anti-communists, she especially admires Chiang Kai-shek. She believes that the Generalissimo was betrayed by the Truman administration when it refused to send him “sufficient” arms and dollars to win in the Chinese civil war that ended his dictatorship. Fearing that the Middle East will be “lost” through policies of similar inadequacy or stupidity, she offers the State Department advice on the best thing to do.

The book is not as dull as this basic premise would lead one to suppose. The author thinks that Arab nationalism must be accepted; it cannot be beaten back as British and French imperialism hoped when they tried to seize the Suez Canal. The shrewder course, in her opinion, is to assist the Middle East to achieve independence and a higher standard of living. Through financial and political aid the allegiance of the Arab nationalist leaders could be won. This, she believes, is the best if not the only guarantee against the whole Arab world going communist.

She is particularly exercised over the folly of trying to build up Israel as a counter to Arab nationalism. Citing the unsavory record of British duplicity in setting up Israel, the shocking fate of the Arab refugees, and her own observations of how embittered the Middle East became, she maintains that “the West” is now obliged to make extraordinary efforts to overcome the damage.

As an example of what the State Department should not do, she cites Dulles’ refusal to help Egypt build the Aswan darn. As an example of the correct course, she praises Eisenhower’s role in stopping the French-British-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956.

This reactionary author sees in Nasser an Egyptian Chiang Kai-shek, the only force in sight that can possibly prevent the Arab revolution from developing into a communist stage. She therefore pleads that no other course is realistic for “the West” but to bolster Nasser and his kind.

What Miss Utley fails to understand is the force of a developing revolution. Against the massed power of millions of people, no dictator can stand up, no matter how well financed or armed. The best that her stratagem could achieve – if it were adopted by Washington and if Nasser agreed to become a puppet – is to gain time. In the end it would prove as useless in the Middle East as it did in China.

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