Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War

Andrew Bacevich writes:

For the United States, what was once the strategic periphery has become the centre. On the short list of places deemed worth fighting for in the mid-20th century, Americans included Western Europe and East Asia. Any hostile power looking to control those critical regions sooner or later met with firm US resistance. In contrast, nations in the Near East or Central Asia were not worth fighting for. In Washington’s eyes, they were sideshows, to be, if not ignored outright, then allocated to diplomats or purveyors of dirty tricks rather than to soldiers. That somewhere like Afghanistan might be worth the life of even a single American would have struck residents of Des Moines in the 1950s as preposterous. That American taxpayers might one day spend trillions to topple an Iraqi dictator and install a government more to Washington’s liking in Baghdad would have seemed bizarre.

(LRB 16 June 2011)