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Fathom | 1967 | How Nasser’s vendetta against America led to the Six-Day War

For 50 years historians have debated the question of what motivated Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s disastrous drift towards a humiliating defeat in the Six-Day War with Israel in 1967. Gabriel Glickman argues that the archives suggest we have underestimated the pivotal role of Nasser’s vendetta against America in driving Nasser’s actions. Current American and Israeli officials, he advises, should take note of this episode as a lesson in how history can play out when the US tries and fails to turn a formidable foe into a friend. With US policy now tilting towards the Sunni states and an angry Iran possibly left out in the cold, Glickman’s essay has more than historical interest.

Decisions leading to war are rarely understood without the benefit of documentation to show exactly what officials were thinking. However, in the case of the Six-Day War, historians have overlooked what has long been staring them in the face: Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser mobilised his army against Israel in mid-May 1967 in part to get back at the US for refusing to provide economic aid that the Egyptian leader so badly needed after years of wasteful spending on ‘Egypt’s Vietnam’ in Yemen. Not only does this challenge the conventional notion that Nasser acted to stop an alleged Israeli plan to topple the radical Baath regime in Syria, it demonstrates the limits of a US foreign policy that relies on appeasement to turn adversaries into friends.

To begin with, US President John F. Kennedy’s officials dealing with the Middle East believed that a close personal relationship between the president and Nasser, and generous amounts of economic aid without attached strings, could buy the Egyptian leader’s loyalty. However, in spite of an unprecedented three-year credit agreement, Nasser refused to disengage from Yemen, where he was locked in a proxy war against Saudi Arabia for regional mastery. Unlike his predecessor, however, Lyndon B. Johnson (who took office at the end of 1963) had little regard for ‘personal diplomacy’. If Nasser wanted to continue receiving American economic aid, he needed to withdraw from Yemen. Thus, when Nasser still failed to make progress on Yemen even after receiving a new six month credit agreement following the expiration of the original one, Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk hesitated through the end of 1966 and the beginning of 1967 to approve Nasser’s request for more aid. Evidently, Nasser resented being made to wait. He considered the delay an indication of American imperial pressure and readily turned to the very issue that US officials had sought to circumvent through years of aid: Arab liberation of Palestine. READ MORE.

Also in Fathom 16 on 1967:

The international media and the Six-Day War, by Meron Medzini

As long as the Arab world views Israel as a temporary aberration to be conquered, Israel will stand fast, by Einat Wilf

Internalising defeat – the Six-Day War and the Arab worlds: an interview with Kanan Makiya

The wisdom of Resolution 242, by Toby Greene

Remembering the Six-Day War, by Michael Walzer

Manchester explosion

Awful news.

My thoughts are with the victims, their families, the first responders and the British people.

Obtuse, envious or both?

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who accompanied President Trump on his visit to Saudi Arabia, was interviewed on CNBC:

Ross: I think the other thing that was fascinating to me … there was not a single hint of a protestor anywhere there during the whole time we were there, not one guy with a bad placard, instead …

Host: But Secretary Ross, that may be but not necessarily because they don’t have those feelings there but because they control people and don’t allow them to to come and express their feelings quite the same as we do here.

Ross: In theory that could be true. But boy there was certainly no sign of it, there was not a single effort at any incursion. There wasn’t anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood. And at the end of the trip, as I was getting back on the plane the security guards from the Saudi side who’d been helping us over the weekend all wanted to pose for a big photo-op. And then they gave me two gigantic bushels of dates, as a present, as a thank you for the trip that we had had. That was a pretty from the heart, very genuine gesture. It really touched me.

Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology

Never mind the quasi-bow, the sword dance or the remarkably unremarkable speech to Muslim leaders.

This has got to be the most fascinating part of President Trump’s Saudi visit so far:

Since daily life in Saudi Arabia is currently governed by an extremist ideology which its rulers seek to spread throughout the Muslim world, I’m not sure how seriously to take this whole thing. But if it doesn’t work out, they can always rent it out as a set for James Bond movies.

Update: This is as good a time as any to recall imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who likely did not arise as a topic of discussion between Trump and the Saudis rulers.

Corbyn and the IRA bis

Here he goes again. It’s the Corbyn tic. On Sky on May 21. In this case, shall we call it #otherformsofbombing?

Corbyn says:

I recognised that you had to bring about a peace process in Ireland. I did my best to assist in that process and that is the way you bring about peace anywhere in the world.

No Jeremy, you were on the other side.

Here is a new refresher course for anyone who doesn’t know this already. Here is another.

This is just like his “peace process” lies about his “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah.

Do you like “fake news”? Just tune in to Mr Corbyn for some of the best in the business.

Deeper into the Twilight Zone

Professor Stephen Cohen, a longtime Putin apologist and contributing editor to the leftwing Nation magazine (where his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher), went on Tucker Carlson’s program on Fox News to proclaim that the biggest threat to the United States today is the “assault on President Trump.”

Nation columnist Katha Pollitt recently dissented from some of her colleagues on Putin and Russia. However she seems to think it was more understandable for leftists to defend the Soviet Union than to defend Putin’s Russia.

It wasn’t.

Update: Former congressman Dennis Kucinich on the “Deep State.” If you’re a leftwing Putin apologist and Trump defender, Fox News wants you.

Andrew Murray and antisemitism “smears”

The Labour Party manifesto says:

Commissioning a report on our own party was an unprecedented step in British politics, demonstrating a commitment to tackling prejudice wherever it is found. Labour is already acting on recommendations, including reform of internal disciplinary procedures to make them firmer and fairer, and expansion of training to tackle anti-Semitism. On a matter of such importance, Labour urges all democratic political parties to do the same.

But does Andrew Murray, head of Labour’s Campaign team, really feel the same way?

He said antisemitism is a smear against the great leader;

Furthermore Israel’s war with Hamas was only to further entrench occupation;

Erdogan’s thugs attack protesters in Washington [updated]

The Washington Post reports:

A Turkish state news agency said guards for visiting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were involved in a violent clash with demonstrators in Northwest Washington on Tuesday in an incident that D.C. officials said left nine people injured.

Turkey’s semiofficial Anadolu news agency and similar accounts by pro-government outlets confirmed what many on social media had speculated after seeing videos of men in dark suits and ties — some holding Turkish flags — going after demonstrators outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence at Sheridan Circle on Massachusetts Avenue. The Turkish news agency blamed the incident on an “inadequate” response by local police.

Not terribly surprising when you remember that Yusuf Yerkel, a former PhD student at SOAS University and an adviser to Erdogan, was photographed in the wake of the 2014 Soma mine disaster kicking an anti-government protester while two policemen held him down.

Update: The New York Times reports:

New video surfaced on Thursday that shows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey looking on as his supporters, including members of his security team, violently charge a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence.

Michael Weiss on Trump, Russia and “Trumpkin Republicans”

Our friend Michael Weiss was on CNN Tuesday night reporting that government-controlled Russian media are reporting that President Trump is a true friend of Russia being victimized by the “liberal mainstream media and US intelligence services,” while the Putin regime has “a sense of relief in watching the US government tear itself apart.”

He also says the information Trump disclosed to the Russians may have jeopardized an Israeli agent in Islamic State-controlled territory.

Finally listen to him excoriate Republicans (“many of whom I used to respect”) who are still making excuses for Trump.

And here’s former Mossad director Danny Yatom’s take.

Update: And this.

Labour and NATO – Will the real Frankenstein please stand up?

This is what the Labour manifesto has to say about NATO:

As the security threats and challenges we face are not bound by geographic borders, it is vital that as Britain leaves the EU, we maintain our close relationship with our European partners. Alongside our commitment to NATO, we will continue to work with the EU on a range of operational missions to promote and support global and regional security.

Labour’s commitment to spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence will guarantee that our Armed Forces have the necessary capabilities to fulfil the full range of obligations, and ensure our conventional forces are versatile and able to deploy in a range of roles.

Yes, NATO does want its members to spend 2% of GDP on defence. This guideline was agreed in 2006 and reaffirmed at a summit in Wales in September 2014.

Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so.

Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:

- halt any decline in defence expenditure;
- aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
- aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls.

So what’s this then? Why, it’s Mr Corbyn opposing NATO in June 2014 and looking forward to protesting against the summit in Wales later that summer. He decries the defence spending targets we are talking about and then says NATO is a “very, very dangerous Frankenstein of an organisation”.

Corbyn did show up in Wales to do his anti-imperialist duty. He said:

- NATO needs to be “taken to task”.

- NATO was etablished “in order to promote a Cold War with the Soviet Union. That resulted in the formation of the Warsaw Pact. That resulted in 60 years of a ludicrous arms race which cost us all billions of pounds and dollars and damaged the civil liberties of people all over the world.” In Corbyn’s world, it is always our fault, of course. Whatever it is. Our fault. Always our fault.

- This is what NATO really is: “an engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies and the main nations of this world”.

- Bottom line? “Close down NATO!”

No wonder Mr Corbyn has brought the veteran communist Andrew Murray into the top echelon of his election campaign. Murray doesn’t just want the alliance “closed down”. No, it needs to be “defeated”.

Here’s the summit rabble. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Yes, every proper Corbynista gathering needs calls for Israel’s annihilation, doesn’t it. “MI6, CIA, how many kids did you kill today!” Ah, multi-generational stale slogan recycling. Well done. “Class war!” Communist banners too, naturally.

Queried on the party and NATO last Sunday, Labour in the shape of Emily Thornberry assured us that Mr Corbyn has been “on a journey” and all things NATO are now settled.

I do like good comedy.