MARCH 13, 1957
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—Few of us, I think, had much hope that the Suez Canal dispute would be settled rapidly in the United Nations. But if that hope existed, President Gamal Abdel Nasser was quick to bring disillusionment.
The Egyptians' argument right along has been that they could not talk about any permanent agreement for use of the Suez Canal or for recognition of Israel until Israeli troops were withdrawn from areas they had taken by force from Egypt.
There was a certain amount of logic in Egypt's desire to remove the last vestiges of her defeat so that the granting of further concessions would be easier. At the same time, however, there was doubt as to how much Nasser could be trusted to make concessions once he had gained his objectives.
So it is not surprising that Nasser now will not consent to full clearing of the canal if he must share tolls, even on an interim basis, for its use.
I sometimes think Nasser is a little too bold. It might be that by the time he gets around to being cooperative none of the countries will need the canal any more. They then may have found ways to ship oil by tankers or pump it through pipelines and the canal fees will be far less than anticipated.
I hope that the United States without question will insist that the canal be an international waterway open to ships of all nations. If this point does not carry in the United Nations, there is very little chance for a peaceful solution to Israel's existence.
We do not want to see the hardships that war would bring to the Arab peoples as well as to those of Israel. We want constructive, peaceful solutions. These do not seem to be the aims of Nasser, who in a speech to students in Egypt last week reiterated his threats to drive the Israelis into the sea and to have the whole of Palestine returned to Arab control.
If this is indicative of the attitude to be taken by Egypt and other Arab countries, and if there is no willingness on their part to live up to the pledges made in the United Nations Charter of finding peaceful solutions for international disputes, then there will be war.
Such a war probably would mean that the Arabs would count on the active support of the Red Army on one side and that the Eisenhower doctrine would bring the American Army into the conflict on the other.
This is something that the Arab world, as well as the United States and the Soviet Union, had better think about carefully. This could be World War III and the end for everyone, not for little Israel alone.