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The Cold War spreads Globally
Lesson objective: Students will be able to examine how the US policy of containment employed by
Eisenhower checks the ever increasing threat of communism in the Middle East during the 1950s-1960s.
EQ: In regards to Truman and Eisenhower, whose policies in dealing with the Cold War were most
Document 1: Iran and Guatemala
As the nation shifted to a dependence on nuclear arms, the Eisenhower Administration (1953-1961) began to
rely heavily on the recently formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for information.
CIA’s first covert actions took place in the Middle East. The CIA used spies to gather information abroad. The
CIA also began to carry out covert, or secret missions, to weaken or overthrow governments unfriendly to the
One of the CIAs first covert operations took place in the Middle East. In 1951, Iran’s prime minister,
Mohammed Mossadegh, nationalized Iran’s oil fields; that is, he placed the formerly private industries (owned
by most of Great Britain) under Iranian control. To protest, the British stopped buying Iranian oil. As the
Iranian economy faltered, the US feared that Mossadegh might turn to the Soviets for help. In 1953, the CIA
gave several million dollars to anti-Mossadegh supporters. The CIA wanted the pro-American Shah of Iran
who had recently been forced to flee, to return to power. The plan worked. The Shah returned to power and
turned over control of the Iranian oil fields to western companies. In 1954 the CIA, also took covert actions in
Guatemala, a Central American country just south of Mexico. Eisenhower believed that Guatemala’s
government had Communist sympathies because it had given more than 200,000 acres of American-owned land
to peasants. In response the CIA trained an army, which invaded Guatemala. The Guatemalan army refused to
defend the President, and he resigned. The army’s leader then became dictator of the country.
Document 2: Eisenhower Doctrine
A Message to Congress, January 5, 1957 by President Eisenhower
The Middle East has abruptly reached a new and critical stage in its long and important history. …Our country
supports without reservation the full sovereignty and independence of each and every nation of the Middle East.
…Just recently there have been hostilities involving Western European nations that once exercised much
influence in the area. Also the relatively large attack by Israel in October has intensified the basic differences
between (Israel) and its Arab neighbors. All this instability has been heightened and, at times, manipulated by
International Communism.
The Soviet Union has nothing whatsoever to fear from the United States in the Middle East, or anywhere else in
the world, so long as its rulers do not themselves first resort to aggression.
The reason for Russia's interest in the Middle East is solely that of power politics. Considering her announced
purpose of Communizing the world, it is easy to understand her hope of dominating the Middle East. . . .
Thus, we have these simple and indisputable facts:
1. The Middle East, which has always been coveted by Russia, would today be prized more than ever by
International Communism.
2. The Soviet rulers continue to show that they do not scruple to use any incants to gain their ends.
3. The free nations of the Mid East need, and for the most part want, added strength to assure their
continued independence.
The action which I propose would have the following features. It would, first of all, authorize the United States
to cooperate with and assist any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East in the
development of economic strength dedicated to the maintenance of national independence.
It would, in the second place, authorize the Executive to undertake … programs of military assistance and
cooperation with any nation or group of nations which desires such aid.
It would, in the third place, authorize such assistance and cooperation to include the employment of the armed
forces of the United States to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such
nations, requesting such aid, against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by International
These measures would have to be consonant with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the
Charter of the United Nations and with any action or recommendations of the United Nations. …
The present proposal would, in the fourth place, authorize the President to employ, for economic and defensive
military purposes, sums (money) available ….
The policy which I outline involves certain burdens and indeed risks for the United States.
The occasion has come for us … to show our deep respect for the rights and independence of every nation - We
seek, not violence, but peace.…
Document 3: The Suez War
In 1955, Great Britain and the US agreed to help Egypt finance construction of a dam at Aswan on Nile River.
However, Gamal Abdel-Nasser Egypt’s head of government, tried to play the Soviets and the Americans
against each other, by improving relations with each other in order to get more aid. In 1956, learning that Nasser
was making deals with the Soviets, the U.S. withdrew their offer of a loan. Angered, Nasser responded by
nationalizing the Suez Canal, the Egyptian waterway that was once owned by France and Great Britain. The
French and the British were outraged.
Egyptian control of the canal also affected Israel. Nasser refused to let ships bound for Israel pass through the
canal, even though the canal was supposed to be an open call to all nations. The UN quickly stepped into stop
the fighting. It persuaded Great Britain, France and Israel to withdraw. However, it allowed Egypt to keep
control of the canal.
Questions to consider:
1) Who would be on Caution/Stop/Go for US intervention in Iran, Guatemala and other parts of the Middle
East? Explain why you placed those individuals within their positions?
2) How could US foreign policy in these locations further the hostility between the US and the Soviet
Union during the Cold War?