The United States fully realized the depth of British and French feeling—a feeling which encompassed party and press leaderships from right to left in both nations, excluding only the Communists in France and the ultra-left in Britain. Dulles, in fact, rather admired the British attitude of going down fighting rather than surrendering to Nasser. Yet Dulles also felt that for Britain and France to resort to force was a confession of weakness rather than a sign of strength.
Nasser's Mein Kampf
Curiously, it was Nasser himself who helped put the problem in perspective for Washington. He did so through his book, The Philosophy of the Revolution, a slim but potent work which belatedly became must reading at the State Department, as it already had been at the British Foreign Office and the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. Here Nasser, in the triumphant flush of the first days following his ouster of Farouk, had laid out in the manner of Mein Kampf the dreams which came to haunt the Western chancelleries and, in time, at least to disturb the Soviet Union, India, and other nations as well.
In his book, Nasser spoke of Egypt's need to discover "what constitutes its living space." And he went on to dream in print of three "zones" for the Egyptian future—the Arab zone, African zone, and Islamic zone. In the Arab zone, he wrote, Egypt would hold a strategic position geographically (which of course is due to the Suez Canal), with its neighbors bound by common ties and oil resources. If only Arab nationalism could be roused so that Arab nations would act in concert to use their power and resources, he argued, Egypt could become a great force in the modern world. And when a world storm blew up after he nationalized Suez, Nasser quickly cried out with glee that Arab nationalism had been aroused.
Nasser had written of the great revenues obtained by the Western powers from Arab oil while paying "less than a subsistence wage" to Arab workers. He wrote of an African zone where he saw a "terrible and sanguinary struggle going on" between "five million whites and two hundred million Africans." And finally Nasser dreamed out loud of an Islamic zone "of our brothers in faith" which could be united if a Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca were regarded not only as "a ticket of admission into paradise" but also as "an institution of great political power and significance." This Islamic zone, said Nasser, swept "across continents and oceans" and embraced fifty million Moslems in Red China and forty million in Red Russia.
Here was nationalism unbridled, or so Dulles saw it. Here too Dulles saw an opportunity to arouse Indians, who have no desire for another holy war after the massacres of the partition with Moslem Pakistan. And here he saw an opportunity to work along a road of parallel interest with the Russians, who, while they want to eliminate Western influence in the Middle East and Asia, also desire to replace it with Soviet influence, not with some Pan-Islamic power or even Pan-Arabism.
Dulles plays for time
Eisenhower and Dulles felt certain that Moscow and Washington were in accord on one great fundamental: there must be no Middle East conflict, for it might ignite a world war, which both fear and neither wants. Yet Washington was faced as well with our British and French allies, who were linked and aroused as they had not been since World War II years. So Dulles began to play for time.