Suez Canal - 11 September 1956

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Suez Canal - 11 September 1956

S.Ll. 

Three courses : mil. action/S. Council resoln. supportg. proposals of 18 & callg. on E. to restore rights under 1888 Convn./users club.
 U.S. against 1st. : unco-operative over 2nd. : & under pressure have produced 3rd.  If it works, well & good : if not, incidents are likely which wd. provide occasion for mil. action.
 Waitg. to hear wtr U.S. agree tht. AE. shd. announce 3rd. plan in H/C. incldg. arrangemt re dues.
 Practical diffy will be to organise traffic thro' Canal w'out control over land.
 But, if adopted, wd. entangle U.S. & deprive N. of 80% or more of dues.
 Then we wd. merely "inform" S. Council - so that, if incidents occurred, we shd. have entry to S.C. wh. we cd. use simultaneously with mil action.
 D. has agreed there shd. be no negotn. with E. before plan is put into operation.


L.P. 

Will be necessary to say in Parlt. tht. this is a U.S. plan.


H.M. 

Para 6 of 4136 (FO) covers that?


P.M. 

If U.S. decline to agree to our saying this in H/C., we shd. have to go to S.C.  Little risk tht. in last resort U.S. wd. not support us.


H. 

Old Dom. H. Commrs. favoured takg. that little risk.


W.M. 

W'ton 1866 explains D.'s attitude.  Good grd. at S.C. if we based ourselves on 1888 Convention.


P.M. 

Fr. agreed to-day tht. we shd either try users' club (+ dues) if U.S. will back it & allow us to announce it to-morrow or, if they won't, go to S.C.


I.M. 

U.S. involvement is most important thing.   On that ground I favour it.


H.A. 

I agree.


S.Ll. 

Canal Co. will help to operate users' club.


H.M. 

V. dangerous sitn.  Admire. P.M.'s handling - determinn.  Believe, however, we shall soon have to take mil. action.  We must succeed in this.  If we don't, better let those take over who will never use force. 
 This is a manoeuvre to put us in good posture to use force.
 It is a step by wh. we means to enforce our rights.
 E. cdn't accept it as permanent system  nor wd. it be practicable.
 Absence of U.S. mil. intervention may make R. intervn. less likely.
 If we succeed quickly, we shall restore confidence in sterling.
 If we allow it to drag on too long, we can't meet the cost e.g. of U.S. oil etc.,
 If therefore we go on with users' club, we must do so with clear idea  tht. we mean to bring issue to a head w'out any long delay.
 Reference to S.C. is for P.M. to judge - risks.  Mght be enough to say we will go to S.C. if users' club is interfered with.
 We shd. ask Parlt. for right to go on to enforce - and resign if we can't get it.


W.M. 

Don't wish to use these as steps to a war wh. we want.  Wd. prefer to gain internl. control of Canal & to bring N. down by means short of war.
 War wd. mean gt diffies. in M/East.  Also gt. loss of support in world opinion - esp. if we acted w'out support of U.S.A.


K. 

Discharge of our internl. obligns. is basis of all this.  Charter of U.N. puts more detailed emphasis on preservg. peace than on preservg. internl. obligns.  But later is plainly stated in preamble.
 Fait accompli presents greater internatl. & natl. diffies.
 We must maintain internl. obligns.  We have duty to seek peaceful soln.  We have tried - internl. confce. & M. mission.  This will be another.  If it fails, & N. declines it, I am ready to use force.  Either : i) if N. uses force to prevent users' club : answer - force & simultan. refce. to S.C.  ii) If U.N. prevents righting of this internatl. wrong, there is continuing oblign. on us to right it.  Only hope of peace in M/E. is to follow our duty & establish our posn.


L.P. 

Support K.   Ultimate decn. can be based on either i) sitn. in Canal or respect for internl. obligns .  I wd. prefer to rest on ii) For you can't have peace w'out ii).  Seek support of S.C. for that principle.  If vetoed by R., we shd. be able to say we have done all we can, & if U.N. incapable of enforcing its preamble we must take our own steps to enforce respect for internl. obligns.
S.Ll. Visiting card.  Mght involve us in debate in S.C.  U.S. don't want it.  But sooner we do it, the better.  On balance therefore I favour it.
 If D. agrees to our announcg. users' club, I wd. "notify" S.C.


R.A.B. 

Party in H/C. won't favour force unless satisfied tht. all other means have bn. fully explored.
P.M. Fr. are resolved on action - before their Parlt. meets on 2/10.  In France, Govt. is criticised mainly for not having acted at once.  There is no division of Fr. opinion.
 Effect of this has bn. to create resurgence in France.  Mollet y'day recalled W.S.C.'s offer of 1940 & said tht. France wd. now favour it.  Reverted to it this a.m. - in a form in which I shall have to answer it.
 On general issue : alternatives are v. serious.  If N. gets away with this, we are finished in M/E & Africa.  Diff. to judge when he has got away with it.  May be divided from French.  If we do take mil. action, risks are great.  But if N. gets away with it, it's not risk it's certainty.
 Military Plan.


W.M. 

Change of plan.  More flexible plan now adopted.  Cd. be operated as early - but also at any later date.  For this plan, enough land forces already in M/E. : no need therefore to take up liners or sail stores ships.  Fr. contribn. remains as large.  Involves more use of air attack & pol. warfare.  C.O.S. are now producg. detailed plans.  French agree in preferring 2nd. plan.


P.M. 

First plan - too large forces : too heavy civilian casualties.
 C.O.S. & Keightly have done v. well in this planning.


I.M. 

Meeting here before Brighton Confce., with Geddes.  He believed he cd. get T.U.C. Cttee. to put fwd. resoln. advocatg use of force, if needed.  He failed.  Motion passed was weak.
 Neden's judgemt. :  attitude of T.U.'s wd. turn on rapidity of action (lack of ultimatum etc.,)  Trouble likeliest in mines & docks.
 Will ask Geddes, at appropte. moment (after debate), what his view is.

Taken from C.M. 64(56) - Meeting held on 11 September 1956.