By William Stivers
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Extra info for America's confrontation with revolutionary change in the Middle East, 1948-83
Owing to the bureaucratic climate of the times, he could do little more than try to get his colleagues to start thinking about the future US role in the Indian Ocean. By 1961, the time was ripe to bring the question into the open. The new Kennedy administration was alive to the prospects of limited war in the Third World. Thus, when Burke discussed Indian Ocean requirements with Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally in early 1961, he was speaking to a receptive party. The question was submitted for re-examination, with Burke instructing a Navy study group to 'get a lot of general naval philosophy' into their work.
Likewise, repair and communications would be more difficult; and the prolonged stationing of a task force would wear more quickly on equipment and men. The Navy began to consider, then, the issue of bases. Some officers, keen on the idea of getting something for free, proposed in 1960 to take over facilities in Kenya - at Mombasa. 14 Beforehand, in 1959, members of the Long-Range Objectives Group had mulled over the problem and devised a solution more in keeping with political realities: instead of basing US power on the whims of what one official called 'bitchy little nations who wouldn't let us in', the Navy would have to resort to 'strategic islands' - sparsely populated territories, immune from pressures for independence, where the United States could build facilities and use them with no questions asked.
Nasser's nationalisation decree came one week after the United States reneged on an earlier offer to help finance the Aswan Dam - a giant hydroelectric and irrigation project on the upper Nile to which Nasser had accorded the highest priority. Egypt, Nasser said in a public address announcing the Canal expropriation, would apply profits from the tolls toward building the Dam. From the outset, the Anglo-French impulse was to reverse Nasser's move through force. Britain and France began as early as 28 July to lay plans and muster forces for an attack on Egypt.