Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Fighting World War Three from the Middle East: Allied Contingency Plans, 1945-1954

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Fighting World War Three from the Middle East: Allied Contingency Plans, 1945-1954

Article excerpt

Fighting World War Three from the Middle East: Allied Contingency Plans, 19451954, by Michael J. Cohen. London and Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1997. xv + 329 pages.

Append. to p. 330. Bibl. to p. 339. Index to p. 349. $24.

Reviewed by George H. Quester

This book offers a wide-ranging and lively survey of the contingency plans involving the Middle East developed early in the Cold War by American and British strategic planners. As with all war plans, there is a problem in determining how important and serious those plans were, and the author himself admits that these Allied plans were inconsistent with each other and with reality. In his own words, "Allied contingency plans appear as little short of a farce" (p. 328).

While Michael J. Cohen relies a great deal on secondary sources, primarily for the broad strategic development of the over-all Soviet-American confrontation, he has certainly obtained access to a large number of declassified documents on the actual contingency plans. Somewhat surprising, given how much more closed the British archival system is than the American, Cohen actually goes into greater detail on British plans and scenarios than on American ones, reflecting, perhaps, the continuing British effort after 1945 to be a major power in the Middle East. There is nonetheless also a great deal on American theories of how nuclear weapons and air forces would be used if war broke out between the Western powers and Stalin's Soviet Union, with an assumption that the United States and Great Britain would rely heavily on military bases in Egypt.

Anyone interested in the evolution of the Turkish, Israeli and Egyptian roles in the Cold War will indeed find much of interest here, albeit one sometimes wishes that the information had been organized and sorted out a bit more coherently. …

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