Alan Dulles explained why this region could become such a “tinderbox.”

A handful of colonial oil monopolies and their hangers-on and the forces of Imperialism were interested in war and reminded that the maintenance of ‘peace and security’ in the area directly adjacent to the Soviet borders touched upon the ‘vital interests of the Soviet people. (Naidu p.24)

So, both superpowers had “vital interests” in the area. With a conflict brewing between democratic western supported Israel and the totalitarian Soviet supported United Arab Republic (note: the alliance of Egypt and Syria against Israel) the ingredients for a third World War, probably nuclear was a dangerously close possibility.

The Suez Crisis of 1967 brought the superpowers closer than anything since the Cuban Missle Crisis five years earlier. The Egyptians closed the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of aqaba in an attempt to strangle Israeli shipping through that area. Then, a war of words insued not only between the Arabs and Israel, but between the Soviet Union and the United States. Escalation and war brought the superpowers dangerously close to a confrontation.

On 23, May 1967, in a broadcast to the nation; President Lyndon B. Johnson stated that the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba had added a ‘new and grave dimension’ to the crisis. He declared that the US considered the Gulf to be an ‘international waterway’ and that the blockade was ‘illegal’ and ‘potentially disastrous’ to the cause of peace. “He made it clear that the US States (sic) was firmly committed to the ‘political independence and territorial integrity’ of all nations of the region” (US policy towards the Arab Israel Conflict. Naidu, Anantha Guruswami. New Jersy: Humanities Press 1982 P. 24)

(Naidu, 24). America’s clearly defined policy stated by Lyndon Johnson lined up behind Israel during this crisis. Because the war, which lasted only six days proved to be a total route in favor of the Jews, there was no need for a superpower confrontation. However, if Israel had not so completely annihilated its enemy, further deterioration in the super power communication could have degenerated into even more dangerous arenas, maybe even world war.  Would United States policy have taken its opposition to Soviet involvement in the regional conflict to the brink if it had been necessary to do so? Thanks to Israel’s victory, that is a question thankfully no one was forced to answer, except for some theoretical political scientists.

The Six Day War did however mark some profound changes in America’s relationship with Israel. Up to that point in time Israel received most of its large military hardware, like planes and tanks,  from France. General De Gaulle angered by his perception of  Israel’s aggressive stance in going to war, he cut off Israel’s supply to such hardware completely and as history points out, irrevocably.



Jewish community examiner

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