Dammed If You Do, Dammed If You Don't: The Eisenhower Administration and the Aswan Dam

By Borzutzky, Silvia; Berger, David | The Middle East Journal, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Dammed If You Do, Dammed If You Don't: The Eisenhower Administration and the Aswan Dam


Borzutzky, Silvia, Berger, David, The Middle East Journal


This article analyzes the Aswan Dam decision in terms of the interaction between individual perceptions and institutional priorities in the formulation of US foreign policy. The conceptual framework is drawn from the work of Richard Cottam and Richard Herrmann. After a background discussion of the history of both the Eisenhower and Gamal 'Abd al-Nasser Administrations, the article presents an analysis of the Eisenhower Administration's deliberations regarding the Aswan Dam decision. This analysis shows that US decision-makers interpreted Egypt and Nasser's actions according to a set of pre-established perceptions which clearly resulted in policies that contradicted the best interests of the US.

In July 1956, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced the United States' refusal to fund the Aswan Dam in a manner that was intentionally humiliating to Egyptian President Gamal 'Abd al-Nasser. After explaining his decision to Egyptian Ambassador Dr. Ahmad Husayn, Dulles patronizingly suggested that "Egypt should get along for the time being with projects less monumental than the Aswan Dam."1 This decision and its execution began a chain of events that would see war break out three months later, the severe decline in international prestige of Britain and France (two of America's closest Cold War allies), and the growth of Soviet influence over Egypt that would last until the early 1970s.

This episode in US-Egyptian relations is considered to be critical to understanding the subsequent Suez Crisis and the Eisenhower Doctrine.2 Existing analyses of the policy have explored this decision in terms of the greater US reaction towards revolutionary Egypt, Cold War strategic considerations, and with respect to the relationship between Secretary Dulles and Congress.3 Literature addressing the adverse outcomes of US policy towards Egypt or the Middle East at large tends to focus on the failures of US officials to interpret the local concerns of actors in the Middle East and the tendency of US officials to view Arabs as an "Oriental" and inherently emotional group of people, while others focus on the undue deference to Israeli interests in the region.4 This article, on the other hand, endeavors to explore the Aswan Dam decision on its own. Though we acknowledge that other factors may have contributed to US policy towards Egypt, this article will argue that in the case of the Aswan Dam, the Eisenhower Administration was primarily bound by conflicting international and domestic priorities which encouraged decision-makers to adopt a conceptualization of the situation which eased these differences by selectively interpreting available information regarding Nasser and Egypt. Decision-makers, in short, developed a schema to describe Nasser in terms that would provide a rationale for US policy towards Egypt that was geared to prevent that policy from conflicting with other domestic and international priorities. Because the schema was at odds with the objective facts of the situation, the resulting policy decisions led to disastrous consequences for the United States.

This article will analyze the Aswan Dam decision in terms of the interaction between individual perception and institutional priorities in the formulation of US foreign policy. The conceptual framework is drawn from the work of Richard Cottam and Richard Herrmann. After a background discussion of the history of both the Eisenhower and Nasser Administrations, the article will present an analysis of inter-administration deliberations regarding the Aswan Dam decision. This analysis will show that US decision-makers adopted a particular schema to interpret Egypt and Nasser despite available evidence that clearly contradicted the terms of the schema. The article analyzes the Eisenhower Administration's initial strategy of engagement with the Third World, the discussions on how to execute this strategy vis-à-vis the Aswan Dam, and finally the institutional awareness of adverse consequences to US interests should the Dam not be funded. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dammed If You Do, Dammed If You Don't: The Eisenhower Administration and the Aswan Dam
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.