Year
1957

Eisenhower proposes new Middle East policy

In response to the increasingly tense situation in the Middle East, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a proposal to Congress that calls for a new and more proactive U.S. policy in the region. The “Eisenhower Doctrine,” as the proposal soon came to be known, established the Middle East as a Cold War battlefield.

The United States believed that the situation in the Middle East degenerated badly during 1956, and Egypt leader Gamal Nasser was deemed largely responsible. The U.S. used Nasser’s anti-western nationalism and his increasingly close relations with the Soviet Union as justification for withdrawing U.S. support for the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile River in July 1956. Less than a month later, Nasser seized control of the Suez Canal. This action prompted, in late October, a coordinated attack by French, British, and Israeli military on Egypt. Suddenly, it appeared that the Middle East might be the site of World War III.

In response to these disturbing developments, President Eisenhower called for “joint action by the Congress and the Executive” in meeting the “increased danger from International Communism” in the Middle East. Specifically, he asked for authorization to begin new programs of economic and military cooperation with friendly nations in the region. He also requested authorization to use U.S. troops “to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations.”

Eisenhower did not ask for a specific appropriation of funds at the time; nevertheless, he indicated that he would seek $200 million for economic and military aid in each of the years 1958 and 1959. Only such action, he warned, would dissuade “power-hungry Communists” from interfering in the Middle East.

While some newspapers and critics were uneasy with the open-ended policy for U.S. action in the Middle East (the Chicago Tribune called the doctrine “goofy”), the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate responded with overwhelming votes in favor of Eisenhower’s proposal.

The “Eisenhower Doctrine” received its first call to action in the summer of 1958, when civil strife in Lebanon led that nation’s president to request U.S. assistance. Nearly 15,000 U.S. troops were sent to help quell the disturbances. With the Eisenhower Doctrine and the first action taken in its name, the United States demonstrated its interest in Middle East developments.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Prague Spring begins in Czechoslovakia

Antonin Novotny, the Stalinist ruler of Czechoslovakia, is succeeded as first secretary by Alexander Dubcek, a Slovak who supports liberal reforms. In the first few months of his rule, Dubcek introduced a series of far-reaching political and economic reforms, including increased ...read more

Pol Pot renames Cambodia

On this day in 1976, Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot announces a new constitution changing the name of Cambodia to Kampuchea and legalizing its Communist government. During the next three years his brutal regime sent the nation back to the Middle Ages and was responsible for the ...read more

Kamikaze pilots get first order

On this day in 1945, Japanese pilots received the first order to become kamikaze, meaning “divine wind” in Japanese. The suicidal blitz of the kamikazes revealed Japan’s desperation in the final months of World War II. Most of Japan’s top pilots were dead, but youngsters needed ...read more

First divorce in the colonies

In the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to ...read more

Dreyfus Affair in France

French officer Alfred Dreyfus, condemned for passing military secrets to the Germans, is stripped of his rank in a humiliating public ceremony in the courtyard of Paris’ Ecole Militaire. The Jewish artillery captain, convicted on flimsy evidence in a highly irregular trial, began ...read more

Golden Gate Bridge is born

On January 5, 1933, construction begins on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages. Following the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators realized the land north of San Francisco Bay would ...read more

New York Yankees announce purchase of Babe Ruth

On this day in 1920, the New York Yankees major league baseball club announces its purchase of the heavy-hitting outfielder George Herman “Babe” Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for the sum of $125,000. In all, Ruth had played six seasons with the Red Sox, leading them to three World ...read more

Truman delivers his Fair Deal speech

On this day in 1949, President Harry S. Truman announces, in his State of the Union address, that every American has a right to expect from our government a fair deal. In a reference to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, Truman announced his plans for domestic policy reforms ...read more

Nixon launches the space shuttle program

Also on this day in presidential history, Richard Nixon signs a bill authorizing $5.5 million in funding to develop a space shuttle. The space shuttle represented a giant leap forward in the technology of space travel. Designed to function more like a cost-efficient “reusable” ...read more

House resolves to stop sharing Oregon

Boldly reversing its long-standing policy of “free and open” occupation in the disputed Oregon Territory, the U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution calling for an end to British-American sharing of the region. The United States, one congressman asserted, had “the ...read more

Alexandre Dumas pere fights a duel

On this day, 23-year-old Alexandre Dumas fights his first duel. He sustains no serious injury, although his pants fall down in the fight. He’ll later fill his romantic works, including The Three Musketeers, with duels, battles, and daring escapades. Dumas was the son of one of ...read more

Sonny Bono killed in skiing accident

In his characteristically blunt and self-deprecating manner, Sonny Bono transformed himself relatively late in his life, morphing from the shorter, homelier, masculine half of a 1960s husband-and-wife singing and acting sensation (alongside his glamorous third wife, Cher) into a ...read more