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Suez 1956 alternate

uk 75

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The various threads about UK French cooperation on military projects in the 60s made me wonder whether a different outcome to the 1956 Suez crisis could have been the catalyst.
Prime Minister Eden was already crippled by illness. Had he been the vigorous Eden who had opposed apo
peasement in the 1930s and been in good health, supported by his mentor Churchill, the UK might have resisted US economic pressure and continued on to take the canal, as the French wanted.
This successful operation could have persuaded France and Britain to build a European Defence Community. German forces would have served under European rather than national command and been equipped with French and UK rather than US equipment.
The RAF V Force and the later Mirage IV squadrons would have been the beginnings of a European Deterrent.
In 1962 the European nuclear force pointedly is not put on alert as the US and Russia confront each other in Cuba. There are no US Thor missiles in the UK, while Blue Streak is replaced by a UK French joint mrbm programme of solid fuel missiles.
 

Archibald

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Well, it essentially boiled to "Nassau agreement" vs "De Gaulle". Interestingly enough, both were direct consequences of the Suez crisis. It is quite interesting when you think about it. "I used to be a world super power, but now I'm losing my colonial empire pretty fast. What future for me ?" exact same interrogation for both Great Britain and France. Yet completely opposed answers. What was better, playing solo on nuclear deterrent, or become the United States most loyal sidekick ? both answers had pros and cons. The British deterrent ended as a curious mix of national and foreign hardware. But the force de frappe cost France an arm and a leg, it was a burden on the economy... and on conventional forces.
 

zen

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It a proper poser of a question this.

I'm not sure about Eden's views of and relationship with France. But being Churchill's protoge, he may have shared both the hope and concerns about the UK's obvious neighbour and once rival.

One would assume a healthy Eden would press on with the defence review.
 

uk 75

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It is possible that an Eden Premiership buoyed by a successful Suez expedition could have gone into the early 60s,

Whether the Algerian crisis would still have led to the return of De Gaulle. would have depended on whether Nasser survived in Egypt.
Eden was bent on regime change, and it might have been possible, though Nasser survived the defeat against Israel in 56 and 67.

If Eden could have rekindled the Anglo French relationship it might have led to the UK being less Pro US. The V Force could have been upgraded with the Anglo French missiles instead of the ill fated Blue Streak, which was a UK copy of the Atlas and already obsolete by the end of the 50s.
 

dan_inbox

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No offense intended, but if we are talking about post-WW2, it is already way too late for the UK to be anything else than "the United States' most loyal sidekick". Obligatory TV posturing notwithstanding.

And on the French side, the 4th republic was a dismal failure of a régime. In all internal aspects (like being paralyzed by the effect of purely proportional representation in parliament leading to uncontrolable instability, generalized corruption), and made worse by the then-current problems of colonial wars in a context where the "old empires" faced the ideological hostility of both the East block and the eager-to-take-their-place USA.
No way a Socialist-Communist coalition could wage those wars to a win, especially with a weak constitution.

Actually, the outcome was an incredibly lucky one: all alternatives to de Gaulle were, hmm, much less attractive.
South American sort of less attractive: Junta, civil war, proxy wars, or worse.


Winning Suez and toppling Abdul Nassr wouldn't have saved the GB + FR colonial empires: USSR would still be there with their agenda. And the USA with theirs, too...
 

zen

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This isn't a thread about retention of empires.
 

kaiserd

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I may be missing something but the only way the Suez crises goes another way is if the US takes a completely different policy position.
The UK had zero ability to resist or continue as if US couldn’t call the shots. Such a scenario would have needed a radically different pre-existing UK and US.
Scenarios where the US would have made a different (more pro France and UK) decision would appear the only way this could have happened.
 

uk 75

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I think my wheeze of using Eden as the catalyst for a closer UK France defence relationship does not work.
As the above points make clear Suez could not work.
Oh well, it seemed a good idea at the time.
 

alertken

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Don't row back from a genuine Wiff.

Pre-Suez, 1955-56, was core to the evolution of W.Europe. UK declined involvement in "archaeological excavations" at Messina that formed The Six, but committed to France to retain vast Force in W.Germany to ensure that new Sovereign would point its Rearmament in the right (Eastward) direction. France initiated its Bomb and Bomber; UK already had its in R&D. We did Suez together as we both saw Nasser as satrap, opening the Canal to Soviet severing of our Trade. Eden invaded without telling Ike, who went incandescent (though Israel and France had been forgetful, too) and spluttered about blocking UK's International Loan (France had already banked hers).

UK stopped, so Israel/France did so. One writer has Ike meeting new UK PM Macmillan in Bermuda, 3/57 and asking why we stopped! Mac there secured the AW collaboration that would lift UK from fission to fusion and would lead on to the Key to the Cupboard scheme for deployment of "tactical" AW, to include France, 1961-66 (Honest John, howitzers, free-fall Bombs).

So far so aswas. So: what if...UK had delayed stopping for a couple of days. Well two possibilities: A: nothing much would be different - the Street would not expel/kill Nasser; Sovs. would splutter and refer to Security Council; some form of International entity would clear the Canal; Algeria would be unchanged and CDG would be called in. Or...
B. something along UK75's thoughts...which would have saved UK/France vast sums....but:

Q: Why did Ike surrogate an Independent British Deterrent. 4/8/58 US/UK Mutual Defence Agreement remains today its basis.
A: post-4/10/57 Sputnik, to share the dying. France had 200 PCF/RP seats in Parliament, Italy no more reliable, new W/Germany not yet fit to fight.

Even if an Anglo-French package, AW/aircraft, were then in R&D, UK would with alacrity have dumped it, as maybe-paper, and we would ride on USAF/SAC's actualite.

Let me offer another wifff...JFK did offer Mac's FBM/SSBN deal (Nassau, 12/62) to CDG and got another Non!. Now there's a fun thought.
 

CNH

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"Mac there secured the AW collaboration that would lift UK from fission to fusion"

Not really. We had developed our fusion devices prior to the collaboration. They certainly worked, but they were not weaponised. We could, if need be, gone it entirely alone on fusion weapons, but it was cheaper and easier to collaborate.
 

Archibald

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Wasn't the 1957 British H-bomb test a dud ?

France was beaten by the chinese by two years (1966 to 1968), for the H-bomb. De Gaulle was incensed. Never quite understood how the chinese went so fast from A-bomb to H-bomb, even more at a time when Mao bloody lunacies were throwing China into chaos.
 

CNH

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"Wasn't the 1957 British H-bomb test a dud ?"

No. The first two tests didn't give the yield that had been hoped for, and Aldermaston had to try again. Ultimately, the UK successfully exploded a 3MT device. The aim was to get a megaton yield for a ton weight. This was achieved, but further testing would have been needed to 'weaponise' an experimental design.
 

zen

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Yeap we made it thus far and the threat of going alone without the US involved meant that they realised they were better off with us inside their tent urinating out.....
Especially as it would force a much harder conventional forces cut....
 
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