THE SUEZ CRISIS AND THE WESTERN POWERS: A POLITICO-STRATEGIC RE-APPRAISAL
Paris: 16, 17 and 18 November 2006
This conference, sponsored by France’s Defence Historical Service (SHD), will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Suez crisis and forms part of a broader project that includes the production of the first comprehensive guide to the holdings of the French defence archives relating to the Suez affair.
The conference will provide an international academic forum to discuss and compare fresh research and new perspectives on the politics, policies, strategic planning and operational experiences of the three main western players in the crisis: France, Britain and the USA. It will explicitly focus on the triangular Franco-British-US dimensions to Suez – the affair’s origins, course and consequences. It will put the accent on re-examining the politics, policy-makers and decision-making in Paris, London and Washington D.C., and on re-evaluating the strategic and operational aspects of the crisis and its aftermath. The aim is to cross-fertilize research done separately on either side of the Channel and Atlantic, and to bring together two previously separated historiographies about Suez – the French one and the Anglo-American.
The conference’s steering group consists of professors Martin S. Alexander (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Robert Frank (University of Paris I Sorbonne), Georges-Henri Soutou (University of Paris IV Sorbonne), and M. Philippe Vial (Head of Research and Scholarship, Naval Branch, SHD).
Assisting the steering group is a conference Organising Committee chaired by Admiral Louis de Contenson (Director, French Defence Historical Service). This Committee comprises: Patrick Facon (Air Branch, SHD), Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac (Joint Services and Ministerial Archives Branch, SHD), Frédéric Guelton (Army Branch, SHD), Peter Hahn (Ohio State University, Columbus), Karine Leboucq (Naval Branch, SHD), Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham), Catherine Oudin (assistant to Admiral de Contenson), Pierre Razoux (Strategic Affairs Delegation, French Defence Ministry), Jean-Christophe Romer (Director, Centre for the Study of Defence History/University of Strasbourg III), Serge Thébaut (Naval Branch, SHD), Maurice Vaïsse (Institute of Political Science, Paris).
The Committee invites persons who wish to offer a paper to e-mail a 300-word single-page outline of their intended contribution (as a ‘Word’ attachment). The outline must indicate (a) the main lines of the intended argument (b) the originality of the contribution (c) a note on the sources it will deploy. Outlines, along with the proposer’s name, address, e-mail co-ordinates and a brief summary of her/his academic qualifications or relevant publications, must arrive no later than 15 FEBRUARY 2006 for consideration by the Organising Committee.
Outlines must be sent by e-mail to M. Philippe Vial, Naval Branch, Service Historique de la Défense, Château de Vincennes, BP 166, 00468 Armées, FRANCE (tel. 00 33 1 43 28 81 50; Fax 00 33 1 43 28 31 60) to his e-address:- email@example.com
The Organising Committee will meet again in mid-March 2006 to review the outlines received and select those for inclusion in the Conference Programme. All those who submit outlines will be notified of the result by 31 March 2006. For those whose papers are selected, travel to Paris in November 2006, along with accommodation and subsistence expenses, will be reimbursed by the French Defence Historical Service.
The conference’s languages will be French and English. Outlines, and eventual papers, may be submitted in either language. A simultaneous translation service will be provided during the working sessions of the conference.
The following is provided as a guide to the sorts of issues on which the Organising Committee would be keen to receive proposals for papers (although this list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive):-
SUEZ CONFERENCE INDICATIVE THEMES
1. Suez and Intelligence: from information to disinformation ?
-Anglo-French intelligence exchanges and coordination from July 1956…
-The over-estimation of the threat from Egypt
-The over-estimation of the level of Soviet support
-How much did the United States really know of what France/GB intended ?
2. The American dimensions
-What roles were played by the US embassies in Paris and London?
-The US administration and the crisis: pluralistic policy-making, State-DoD relations, the role of the CIA
-The VIth Fleet and the Suez crisis
-Consequences of Suez for transatlantic ties after 1956
3. The Franco-British entente tested on the ground
- Anglo-French military capability assessments of each other pre-Suez
- Military command relations and role-sharing/mission tasking
- The practicalities of military cooperation (staff work, communications, amphibious and airborne warfare doctrines)
- Suez’s fall-out for Franco-British military relations in the 1960s-1970s
4. Suez: a ‘dawning of new realities’ for France and Britain’s armed forces ?
- Military ill-preparedness and the political management of the crisis, July-Oct. 1956
-The lessons of the Suez expedition for each armed service (army; navy; air force), and for inter-service policy
-Suez and divergent French and British defence policies, post-1957
-The comparative effects of Suez for British & French armed services’ morale (armiesnavies--air forces)
5. Politico-Military crisis management
-How ‘the machine’ was supposed to work (in France… in Britain…)
-The realities during the crisis ….
-The human and ‘informal’ elements: the roles of key individuals and of like-minded elites or groupings (politicians and their advisors, civil servants, military chiefs)
6. Suez, the Western powers and the aftermath(s)
-The military-operational aftermath (plans and contingencies; Operations Verdict and Harridan etc.)
-UN mediation, the UN peacekeeping force, the role of Lester B. Pearson
-Lessons learnt for the future by the French and British military high commands (for the civil-military interface, for joint and combined operations etc.)…
M. Philippe Vial, Naval Branch, Service Historique de la Défense, Château de Vincennes, BP 166, 00468 Armées, FRANCE (tel. 00 33 1 43 28 81 50; Fax 00 33 1 43 28 31 60) to his e-address:- firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
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