ABSTRACT

After April 1957, Anglo-American policy in the Middle East was to oscillate between an active programme designed to counter Nasser’s influence and what John Foster Dulles and Selwyn Lloyd termed ‘Containment Plus’. The Foreign Office argued that although Britain could no longer hope to dominate the Middle East, it was still important to develop closer links among the ‘outer circle’ of pro-Western regimes so that these could act as a ‘centrifugal force’ to undermine Egyptian influence. 1 ‘Containment plus’ was a localised form of the established Cold War doctrine that sought to build up pro-Western regimes while using other methods, short of overt armed intervention, to limit Soviet influence in the region. Much of the justification behind this approach arose from John Foster Dulles’s conviction, shared by many in London and Washington, that ‘containment’ did not in fact contain. In Dulles’s view, the Khrushchev regime in Moscow was reckless enough to run the risk of limited war in the Middle East or Far East that could then escalate into a global conflict. In a revealing passage of a letter sent to Macmillan later in 1957, Dulles revealed how the differences between Stalin and Khrushchev increased his fears over Soviet intentions. For him the new leader was ‘not a cold calculator of the Russian chess-playing type like Stalin’; ‘He may make risky, impetuous decisions and may miscalculate’. It was therefore necessary for the West to employ ‘very high statesmanship’ in order to prevent a general war while avoiding ‘unacceptable losses’. 2