“Never in my lifetime has our name stood so low in the eyes of the world”

Suez Crisis, (1956), an international crisis in the Middle East, precipitated on July 26, 1956. (CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)

A throwback to the 1956 ‘Suez crisis’, when Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt, which happened at the same time as the USSR invaded Hungary to suppress the democratic movement there.

Lady Violet Bonham Carter, an influential member of Britain’s Liberal Party, wrote in a letter to The Times:

I am one of the millions who watching the martyrdom of Hungary and listening yesterday to the transmission of her agonizing appeals of help (immediately followed by our ‘successful bombings’ of Egyptian ‘targets’) who have felt a humiliation, shame and anger which are beyond expression…. We cannot order Soviet Russia to obey the edict of the United Nations which we ourselves have defied, nor to withdraw her tanks and guns from Hungary while we are bombing and invading Egypt. Today we are standing in the dock with Russia…. Never in my lifetime has our name stood so low in the eyes of the world. Never have we stood so ingloriously alone.

AN Wilson, Our times in the Age of Elizabeth II, Hutchinson, 2008, p. 66.

Photo: Suez Crisis, (1956), an international crisis in the Middle East, precipitated on July 26, 1956. (CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)

Alex de Waal is a Research Professor at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and leads the WPF research programs on African Peacemaking and Mass Starvation.

Considered one of the foremost experts on the Horn of Africa, his scholarly work and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, pandemic disease, and conflict and peace-building. His latest book is New Pandemics, Old Politics: Two Hundred Years of War on Disease and its Alternatives. He is also author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine and The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (Polity Press, 2015) Following a fellowship with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-06), he worked with the Social Science Research Council as Director of the program on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation, and led projects on conflict and humanitarian crises in Africa (2006-09). During 2005-06, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur and from 2009-11 served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009 and is the winner of the 2024 Huxley Award of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Professor de Waal regularly teaches a course on Conflict in Africa at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.  During this course, students should gain a deeper understanding of the nature of contemporary violent conflict in Africa. Students will be expected to master the key theoretical approaches to violence in Africa, and to become familiar with a number of important case studies. The focus is on the origins and nature of violence, rather than policy responses and solutions. The course is inter-disciplinary and involves readings in political science, international relations, and social anthropology, while also touching on economics, environmental studies, and history. 

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