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1963

Juan José Hernández-Arregui, 'What is the National Being?' (Excerpts)

Juan José Hernández-Arregui (1913-1974), the Argentinian author of the Spanish book published originally in 1963 in Buenos Aires from which the excerpt here has been translated into English, was a journalist from a very young age, an intellectual, and an official. Having received his PhD in 1944, he from 1945 worked principally as a history and economics professor, and had a cultural program in the State Radio.

At the time, in 1946, a career army officer, Juan Perón (1895-1974), who in 1943-1945 had served as secretary of labor and social security and as minister of war in a military-led government, became Argentine’s president. He and his wife Eva were very popular especially among the poor for his social policies and approach to the working classes, and he worked closely inter alia with the General Confederation of Labor to promote economic independence. In 1955, a military coup forced him into exile, first in Venezuela and finally in Spain. (He would serve as president again from 1973 until his death in 1974). Although he was in exile and his party was outlawed, his broad brand of nationalism—leftist-statist with strong right-wing populist elements—remained deeply influential in Argentina.

Hernández-Arregui was a case in point. Though fired from academic posts after the coup, he remained the director of the Instituto de Historia de la Universidad Nacional de la Plata, retained his radio program—and was able to militate for Perón. In well-read newspaper texts, he soon called for Perón’s return. And his books—at that time most importantly Imperialismo y cultura (1957) and La formación de la conciencia nacional (1960) besides ¿Qué es el ser nacional? [What is the National Being?] (1963) which is excerpted text gere—made him a leading protagonist of el peronismo revolucionario, revolutionary (i.e. leftist) Peronism. Peronism defined itself and was seen as a very much Argentinian ideology, not unlike earlier nationalisms in South America’s second-largest country.

At the same time, as other nationalist ideologies since the 19th century, it and related nationalisms developed within global context. In the event, a key context was the rising tide of decolonization in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as Michael Goebel’s “Von der hispanidad zum Panarabismus: globale Verflechtungen in Argentiniens Nationalismen” (2011) has shown. Sure, the Cuban revolution exerted a considerable pull especially on leftist Peronists as it did on other in Latin America and beyond. But the Algerian War of Independence greatly interested Argentines, too. And perhaps most influential as a model to think with was the anti-imperialist leftist-statist nationalist Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970; r. from 1954), as the text here shows.

1962

Lam‘i al-Muti‘i, 'From Bandung to Casablanca' (Excerpts)

While in 1947 the Indian organizers of the First Asian Relations Conference invited a Yishuvi delegation, eight years later the Bandung Conference organizers did not invite Israel. At the same time, the second half of the 1950s signaled the start of Israel’s long “African Decade,” which would end only when many African states cut their diplomatic ties with the Jewish State after the 1973 October War. The first two countries to establish diplomatic ties with Israel were Ethiopia, in 1956, and Liberia, in 1957; in the 1960s, many others followed, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Thousands of Africans studied in Israel. Moreover, thousands of Israeli engineers, agronomists, architects, geologists and others who had participated in nation-state building in Israel worked often for years in development projects in Africa and also, though less so, in Asia and Latin America. And as Ronen Bergman’s 2007 PhD thesis “Israel and Africa: Military and Intelligence Liaisons” shows, Israel exported weaponry and Israeli officers shared with the militaries of recently decolonized African countries their expertise in warfare and in controlling civilians. After all, Israel blitzed through the Egyptian Sinai in 1956, had won its first war back in 1948-1949, and from then until 1966 kept its own Palestinian citizens under military rule.

In fact, the Israeli Defense Forces and the foreign intelligence agency Mossad were central to Israel’s involvement in Africa. The core reason for Israel’s interest in Africa was political and strategic. Israel needed allies in the United Nations, where postcolonial Asian countries were turning against it. And it wished to minimize the dangers of postcolonial Arab-African alliances and to extend to parts of Africa its “periphery doctrine” of honing relations with Middle Eastern countries that neighbor Arab states, like Iran and Turkey. As it did so, Israel at times shared some contacts and information with the US government; becoming a US asset was a boon to the Israeli government, though it remained fiercely independent-minded.

Hence, we have the text reproduced here: translated English excerpts from a 1962 Arabic-language book that shows how Arab nationalists read Israel’s Africa policy. Moreover, as works like Haim Yacobi’s Israel and Africa: A Genealogy of Moral Geography (2016) and Ayala Levin’s Architecture and Development: Israeli Construction in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Settler Colonial Imagination, 1958-1973 (2022) show, the afore-noted political and strategic imperatives were steeped in well-rooted Zionist aspirations—aspirations that were colonial in type though not name—to be a Western developmentalist pioneer in the world. These aspirations pertained especiallyto Africa, which, literally bordering Israel, has helped shape Israelis’ view of their place in the world. At the same time, however, Israelis explicitly framed this pioneering self-view within a view of Africans as people who, like the Jews, had recently escaped colonial conditions and reached independent statehood.

February 2, 1958

The Speech of President Gamal Abdel Nasser to the Afro-Asian Youth Conference, Monday, 2 February [Fibrair Shbat] 1958 / 24 Rajab 1378

This is an English translation of a speech originally given in Arabic in 1958 by Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) and then reprinted in a book published in Cairo.

An officer by training and profession and a participant in the 1952 coup that ended Egypt’s country’s monarchy, Nasser in 1954 became president of Egypt and as such the president of the United Arab Republic (UAR), which was formed with Syria in 1958 and which continued to exist for a decade after Syria left the union in 1961. Having met India’s president Jawahrlal Nehru already in 1954, Nasser began playing an important political role also beyond the Middle East in the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia. His star rose precipitously in 1956, when he nationalized the Suez Canal and when France and Britain had to withdraw their forces from the canal after occupying its northern part in November 1956. Given Egypt’s position in the Middle East and internationally, the US administration was concerned this aggression would play into the hands of its Cold War rival, the Sovet Union. The US forced its NATO allies (and their Israeli colluders) to withdraw—a defeat that Egyptians celebrated as their own anti-imperialist success and that deepened Nasser’s popularity among many Arabs and other decolonizing and postcolonial people.

It was against that background that the Egyptian government further upped its international profile. This now occurred also vis-à-vis Asia and not “only” vis-à-vis Africa, which had been an important arena for the republican regime’s foreign policy from before Bandung. Thus, in 1957 Nasser’s government organized the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Conference that, analyzed in Reem Abou-el-Fadl’s “Building Egypt’s Afro-Asian Hub” (2019), led to Cairo housing the secretariat of the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organisation. And in early 1958, it held the Afro-Asian Youth Conference. By this time and in the 1960s, Cairo became a key transnational hub for decolonization movements especially from Africa, as Eric Burton has shown in "Hubs of Decolonization. African Liberation Movements and Eastern Connections in Cairo, Accra and Dar es Salaam" (2019).

The text printed here is Nasser's address to the Afro-Asian Youth Conference, which happened to take place a mere day after the Syrian-Egyptian UAR was formally announced.

July 26, 1956

Speech by President Nasser, Alexandria, July 26 [1956] (Extract)

Eighty-seven years after the Suez Canal’s completion in 1869 and less than two months after the last British troops had left it in June 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) on July 26, 1956, nationalized the Suez Canal Company.

Nasser announced the step in the text printed here: a speech that would become a classic in the annals of twentieth-century decolonization worldwide. The English translation used here is included in a documentary publication printed in 1956 by the US State Department in Washington, DC, titled The Suez Canal Problem; it is an excerpt of the whole speech.

Nasser pronounced the speech in the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria in front of a crowd of tens of thousands, during which he also uttered the code word signaling his security forces to occupy the company’s assets and offices in Egypt. Nasser’s step took the world by surprise. The French government, the Suez Canal Company’s Paris headquarters and its many French shareholders, and the British government that was the company’s largest shareholder and that on July 23, following Washington’s lead, had retracted a 1955 offer to back a World Bank loan to Egypt: all they were outraged. (France and Britain would fail to reverse nationalization in court; the outcome, in Britain, of the ensuing Franco-British-Israeli attack is the focus of another document dated 1956 in this collection). Diametrically opposed was the dominant reaction among Egyptians, other Arabs, and people in newly independent and still colonialized countries. They were ecstatic. The reason was not so much that Nasser nationalized the canal in order to find a new way to finance a dam at Aswan, on the Nile, although that project was a linchpin of Egypt’s modernization, a history analyzed in Guy Laron’s Origins of the Suez Crisis (2013). The reason was more existential. Nasser’s act turned himself, Egypt, and by proxy the entire non-white world from a passive object of history into an active subject. “Die of your fury,” Nasser told the Americans, and by extension Europe’s descending imperial powers. And by calling the shots—“Today, citizens, the Suez Canal Company has been nationalized. This order has been published in the Official Journal. It has become a matter of fact”—he symbolically subjugated Britain and France, humiliating those once so powerful empires as only a non-white ex-colonial subject could. Even a cut as historic as India’s independence, in 1947, had not hurt Britain this much. Technically speaking Britain had co-initiated that final act of the British Raj, and it was a loss of a limb, however crucial. Nasser, by contrast, had stabbed the empire in its very heart—a story classically narrated in Keith Kyle’s Suez (1991).

October 12, 1970

Memorandum for the President, "The UAR Presidency"

Kissinger provides an overview of Anwar Sadat, why he believes Sadat will likely be the next president of the UAR, and Sadat's main supporters.

September 3, 1965

Record of Premier Zhou Enlai’s Fourth Conversation with Guinea’s Minister of Posts and Communications Minister Diop

Zhou Enlai and Alhassane Diop discuss prospects a second Asian-African Conference as well as Soviet policy toward the Vietnam War.

December 20, 1963

Record of Premier Zhou Enlai's Calling on President Nasser

Zhou and Nasser discuss domestic conditions inside of Egypt, the Sino-Indian border war, and the possibilities for a nuclear weapons free zone in Africa and the Middle East.

December 21, 1963

Cable from the Chinese Embassy in the United Arab Republic, 'Situation of Talks between the Premier and Nasser'

Zhou and Nasser discuss the Sino-Indian border dispute, nuclear-weapons-free-zones, and Taiwan.

December 19, 1963

Record of the Third Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and President Nasser

Zhou Enlai describes the state of Sino-American relations and Sino-Indian relations. Zhou and Nasser also discuss the Egyptian economy and Sino-Egyptian relations.

June 22, 1965

Minutes of the First Meeting between Premier Zhou Enlai and President Nasser

Zhou Enlai and Gamal Abdel Nasser discuss developments in Algeria and the fate of the Second Asian-African Conference.

Pagination