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The Suez Canal Nuclear Showdown

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

IN SUMMARY: the Suez Canal in the Middle East significantly, reduces the travel time of naval ships and cargo (particularly oil) by allowing ships to slip through a man-made channel between continents. But the Canal constitutes a single point of failure. If it is blocked, economies fall and wars are lost. The British had built the Canal along with the King of Egypt, but he sold his shares. Now, the Egyptian monarchy has been overthrown and Gamal Abdel Nasser is the 2nd President of Egypt. Naturally, he nationalizes the Canal (which is what "stealing" is called when nations do it). So naturally, Israel invades to take it back. (WHAT?) The British and French are shocked, shocked, I tell you! So they move their troops in. (What nice guys!) But this invasion has been planned from the beginning by Britain using Israel as a stalking horse to provide a plausible excuse for Britain invading. France is along for the ride. Khrushchev of the Soviet Union wants to destroy the West ("We will bury you!") so he threatens to nuke Britain. Mao of communist China tries to undermine Khrushchev, by offering Nasser 250,000 Chinese "volunteers", and a no-pay-back loan of 10 million Swiss francs. Nasser takes the money but not the troops. President Eisenhower saves the day by pressuring Britain, France and Israel to back off. The Soviet Union remains a hero to Egypt even though Britain is not nuked. What? I didn't mention Hungry? Too bad about those guys. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Nuclear threats became the Soviet Union's foreign policy after this. Unfortunately the Suez Crisis, left the Hungarian Revolution out to dry. The Hungarians were depending on US MILITARY support, and not just pretty words. But Eisenhower was too busy in the Middle East. The Soviet tanks rolled in, and that was all she wrote. FYI, Alex Shrugged is Jewish, and he supports Israel. He is OK with Israel's part in the Suez Crisis, but not all of Ariel Sharon's part. He always seemed to be around when something bad happened. [8] [9] [10] [11]

U2 Is Not Just an Irish Rock Band

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

President Eisenhower has authorized 10 flights over the Soviet Union using the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane. Up to this point the best pictures the USA has of the Soviet Union are old Nazi photos taken during World War 2. Naturally, the United States is worried about defending itself against Soviet aggression, but to hear it from the defense contractors the Russians are 12 feet tall and eat babies for breakfast. Just recently, Khrushchev of the Soviet Union threatened to "bury" the West and threatened to nuke Great Britain over the Suez Crisis. The threat is real but HOW BIG is the threat? No one really knows. Thus begins a program of picture taking, counting planes, tanks and missiles. The Soviets try to shoot the U-2 down, but so far, no luck, and the pictures are crystal clear. [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Spy plane? What spy plane? It was embarrassing when the Soviet Union finally shot down a U-2 with a Surface-to-Air-Missile and captured Gary Powers in 1960. It was down right frightening when the Russian Sputnik satellite orbited the Earth in 1957. It demonstrated a technical ability that could be used to spy on the USA, and the potential to drop a nuclear bomb anywhere on the Earth because the rocket that launched Sputnik was the R-7... an Inter Continental Ballistic Missile design. If you think the Sputnik was launched in the pursuit of knowledge, you need professional help. [13] [14] [15]

The death penalty is banned in the UK... Almost.

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

MP Sydney Silverman had long been an opponent of the death penalty in the UK, due to numerous miscarriages of justice. These had resulted in multiple innocent men being executed only for the real perpetrator to be convicted for the crime years later. In 1956 his bill to abolish the UK's death penalty was passed by the British House of Commons. Unfortunately, the House of Lords killed the bill before it could become law. In 1965, he was able to get the The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act passed through both houses in 1965, however this bill only outlawed the execution of murderers. Only in 1998 was the death penalty completely abolished for all criminal offences.[16]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
It looks like I've found Jack's inspiration for his views on the death penalty! All kidding aside, I tend to agree with this line of thought about the death penalty. Like Jack, I have been all over the place in my thoughts on the death penalty, having been raised in a Republican household, but slowly becoming more libertarian over the years, and would currently consider myself a voluntarist.

Notable Births

  • Leo Laporte : Computer tech radio host on Call for Help and Security Now! with Steve Gibson. (I follow Security Now!--alexshrugged) [17]
  • Paula Zahn: New reader for CNN, Fox News and documentaries. [17]
  • Mark R. Hughes (died 2000, age 44): CEO of Herbalife International. (Died after a 4 day drinking binge.--alexshrugged) [17] [18]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- In Music...: Randy Jackson, La Toya Jackson, and Kenny G. [17]
  • -- In Sports...: Larry Bird, Joe Montana, Sugar Ray Leonard [17]
  • -- Bill Maher: Comedian and political commentator. [17]
  • -- Mel Gibson: Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, Passion of the Christ and more. (His personal life turned him into a pariah, but he is making a comeback.--alexshrugged) [17] [19]
  • -- Tom Hanks: Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, You've Got Mail, The Da Vinci Code, Toy Story and more and more. [17]
  • -- Carrie Fisher (died 2016, age 60): Princess Leia of Star Wars and assassin in The Blues Brothers. [17]

This Year in Film

  • The Ten Commandments: Starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. [20]
  • The King and I: Starring Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. [20]
  • Forbidden Planet: Starring Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, but NOT YUL BRENNER! [20]

This Year in Music

  • Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be): Doris Day. [21]
  • Blueberry Hill: Fats Domino. [21]
  • Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog and Don't Be Cruel: Elvis Presley. (After 3 years he is an overnight sensation.--alexshrugged) [21]

In Other News

  • Grand Canyon air collision: In the deadliest civilian air collision to day, 2 passenger planes collide killing all 128 people on board. [22]
  • Hard disk drive invented: This creation of Reynold Johnson and his team at IBM is about the size of 2 refrigerators and stores 3.75 megabytes. [23]
  • Norma Jeane Mortenson changes her name: From February 23 onward, she will legally be known as Marilyn Monroe.[24]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1956, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Mao: The Unknown Story. Anchor. ISBN 9780679746324. “China gave Nasser 10 million Swiss francs in cash, and rigged the bilateral trade balance heavily in Egypt's favor. Man was so keen to play a role that on 3 November he sent Nasser a war plan. True to form, he offered cannon-fodder 250,000 Chinese volunteers. An offer Nasser did not take up--fortunately for the "volunteers," but also for Mao, as China had no way of transporting this number of people to the Middle East.” 
  2. Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties. HarperCollins Publishers, 489-490. ISBN 9780064334273. “Nasser did not forget the other lesson of Bandung: non-alignment. The idea was to play off East and West against each other. That meant dealing with both and being the property of neither. The Bandung philosophy was for the new nations to create their own industrial bases as fast as possible, making themselves independent of "imperialism".” 
  3. Bandung Conference - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “The conference's stated aims were to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neocolonialism by any nation. The conference was an important step toward the Non-Aligned Movement.”
  4. Suez Crisis - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “On October 29, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, which was ignored. On November 5, Britain and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal. The Egyptian forces were defeated, but they did block the canal to all shipping. It later became clear that the Israeli invasion and the subsequent Anglo-French attack had been planned beforehand by the three countries.”
  5. Stalking horse - definition of Stalking horse (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “Something used to cover one's true purpose; a decoy.”
  6. Suez Crisis - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “American diplomat Raymond Hare later recalled: "It's hard to put ourselves back in this period. There was really a definite fear of hostilities, of an active Russian occupation of the Middle East physically, and you practically hear the Russian boots clumping down over the hot desert sands."”
  7. We will bury you - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “While addressing Westerners at the embassy on November 18, 1956, in the presence of Polish Communist statesman Wladyslaw Gomulka, Khrushchev said: 'About the capitalist states, it doesn't depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!'[5] The rant prompted the envoys from twelve NATO nations and Israel to leave the room.”
  8. Hungarian Revolution of 1956 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “a nationwide revolt against the government of the Hungarian People's Republic and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from 23 October until 10 November 1956. Though leaderless when it first began, it was the first major threat to Soviet control since the USSR's forces drove out Nazi Germany from its territory at the end of World War II and broke into Central and Eastern Europe.”
  9. Ariel Sharon. jewishvirtuallibrary.org (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “In 1953, he founded and led the '101' special commando unit which carried out retaliatory operations against Palestinian fedayeen. Sharon was appointed commander of a Paratroop Corps in 1956 and fought in the Sinai Campaign.”
  10. The late Ariel Sharon is admired for his unwavering defense of Israel - Washington Times (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “Typical of his operating style was Mr. Sharon’s decision as a brigade commander in the 1956 Suez War against Egyptian forces occupying a key pass on the Sinai Peninsula. Ordered only to reconnoiter the pass, Mr. Sharon was later accused of provoking a major battle in which his forces seized control of the pass but suffered heavy casualties.”
  11. Alex Shrugged notes: I am OK with Israel's part in this crisis because Egypt had been supporting terrorist incursions into Israel. That was worthy of retaliation. Israel needed help, though, so when Britain offered this deal it looked good. That's how I read it. YMMV.
  12. Lockheed U-2 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “Although the Office of Scientific Intelligence issued a more cautious report in May 1956 that stated that detection was possible, it believed that the Soviets could not consistently track the aircraft. Dulles further told Eisenhower (according to presidential aide Andrew Goodpaster) that in any aircraft loss the pilot would almost certainly not survive. With such assurances and the growing demand for accurate intelligence regarding the alleged 'bomber gap' between the U. S. and the Soviet Union, in June 1956 Eisenhower approved 10 days of overflights.”
  13. Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower: In War and Peace. Random House. “The first reconnaissance flights were made from England in July 1956. They flew over Eastern Europe, and Eisenhower was shown photographs from the missions. Ike was stunned at the clarity of the photos. You could see not only a parking lot fourteen miles below, but you could even see "the lines marking the parking areas for individual cars." In terms of intelligence work, the U-2 was a breakthrough of gigantic proportions. As one high-ranking CIA official put it, "Photography became to the Fifties what code-breaking was to the Forties."” 
  14. Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Doubleday. “The Killian report was the beginning of the triumph of technology and the eclipse of old-fashioned espionage at the CIA. "We obtain little significant information from classic covert operations inside Russia," the report told Eisenhower. "But we can use the ultimate in science and technology to improve our intelligence take." It urged Eisenhower to build spy planes and space satellites to soar over the Soviet Union and photograph its arsenals.” 
  15. Intercontinental ballistic missile - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 February 2017. “The first successful test followed on 21 August 1957; the R-7 flew over 6,000 km (3,700 mi) and became the world's first ICBM. The first strategic-missile unit became operational on 9 February 1959 at Plesetsk in north-west Russia. It was the same R-7 launch vehicle that placed the first artificial satellite in space, Sputnik, on 4 October 1957.”
  16. Sydney Silverman - Wikipedia (2017).
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 17.7 17.8 1956 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
  18. "Binge Led to Death of Herbalife Founder - The New York Times", August 12, 2000. Retrieved on 17 February 2017. “Mr. Hughes, 44, who promoted natural healing methods using Herbalife's health care and weight-loss products, was being treated by a psychiatrist for his drinking problem and smoked six to eight cigars a day, according to the coroner's report. He founded the company 20 years ago.” 
  19. Mel Gibson Is No Longer Persona Non Grata in Hollywood - Hollywood Reporter (October 12, 2016). Retrieved on 17 February 2017. “Producer David Permut, who is gay and Jewish, had some reservations before teaming with Gibson on the film, but he decided to get to know Gibson personally before drawing conclusions. What he found was a man well at odds with the headlines.”
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 1956 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 1956 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
  22. 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision- Wikipedia (2017).
  23. 1956 - Wikipedia (2017).
  24. 1956 - Wikipedia (2017).

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