Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis


The overwhelming consensus that Anthony Eden’s Suez policy was little short of disastrous has never seriously been challenged. But why did Eden – a renowned foreign policy expert with three terms as Foreign Secretary to draw upon – blunder so badly?

This talk explains Eden’s mindset and exactly what he did and, as importantly, did not know prior to the launching of military action against Nasser’s Egypt in November 1956. It considers the extent of collaboration with France and Israel and Eden’s failure to admit this to Parliament. Moreover, the role of the Americans, particularly that of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, is analysed in detail.

In truth, Dulles never supported the use of military force from the start, instead preferring a purely diplomatic response to Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal. In the endgame Dulles' arm twisted Eden to withdraw British forces but did this turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for the Americans?

This lecture is part of the 'Controversies in UK Foreign Policy: Diplomacy or Military Force?' lecture series, taking place on Fridays from 20 October to 24 November 2023. You may either register for individual lectures or you may choose to register for the entire lecture series at a reduced price.

Please note: this lecture will close to enrolments at 23:59 UTC on 31 October 2023.

Programme details

2–3.15pm GMT (UTC)

For those attending in person at Rewley House, registration takes place from 1.45pm. The lecture will last approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, followed by questions. Tea and coffee are provided in the Common Room after each lecture, from 3.15pm.

For those joining us online, please join in good time before each lecture to ensure that you have no connection problems. We recommend joining 10-15 minutes before the start time.


Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £30.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £25.00


Dr Martin Holmes

Dr Martin Holmes is a member of the Senior Common Room at St Hugh’s College, where he was previously Lecturer in Politics for over 20 years. Additionally, he has been Director of the annual Nebraska at Oxford summer program since 1989. For the OUDCE he has taught several syllabi on the Foundations of Diplomacy course over the past decade, as well as guest lectures for the Diplomatic Studies Program. A strong supporter of lifelong education, he has also been a regular lecturer for the University of the Third Age (U3A). A specialist in International Relations and European Integration, he is the author of seven books. His latest publication, a diplomatic history of 20th century Europe, was published by Routledge in August: From the Treaty of Versailles to the Treaty of Maastricht: Conflict, carnage and cooperation in Europe 1918 – 93.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this course. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.