After Suez, Israel’s relationship with France deepened, and the decision to begin an Israeli nuclear program was taken. The brief unification of Syria and Egypt into the “United Arab Republic” in 1958 had fewer ramifications than the Iraqi revolution, which overthrew the royal family and set Iraq firmly on the road to fascism. This helped set in motion the Lebanon crisis of 1958, in which the United States intervened militarily to prevent the Christian leadership of that country from being overthrown. The Lebanon crisis also featured a Soviet nuclear threat. The United States and Britain were additionally forced to intervene militarily in Jordan in 1958.
Hagel could point to 1956 as an example of unintended consequences and how no good intentions or grand bargains go unpunished in the Middle East. Or he could point to 1956 as an example of how incommensurable promises to unreliable partners interested solely in extracting money and weapons from superpowers inevitably end in failure. He could even note that forcing allies into concessions is less impressive than successfully exerting pressure on adversaries. These, the real lessons of 1956, are unlikely to have been his message.
Alex Joffe, an archaeologist and historian, is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow of the Middle East Forum. His web site is alexanderjoffe.net.