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Negotiating the Montreal Protocol on Protecting the Ozone Layer

As global concerns grow over the effect of climate change and the devastating effects it already is beginning to have on agriculture, wildlife and the economies of lesser developed countries, there has been increasing despair that such issues are too great and that the international community will never be able to agree on a robust course of action. And yet, from the not-too-distant past, is a stunning example of just what the world can do when faced with a seemingly intractable environmental problem.

Only 30 years ago, scientists were deeply concerned over the growing hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which helps absorb harmful ultraviolet radiation and which was caused by man-made chemicals, such as refrigerants. That spurred countries, primarily the U.S. and the European Community, to reach an agreement on limiting and then eliminating these chemicals — the Montreal Protocol.   Read more

The Suez Crisis — And A Different Side of Nasser

Gamal Abdel Nasser was one of the most influential modern-day leaders in the Middle East. As part of the Free Officers Movement, he helped overthrow King Farouk I in 1952 [read about the U.S. embassy’s response to the 1952 Cairo riots] and began modernizing Egypt. He took a hard-line approach towards Western domination of Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. On July 26, 1956 he announced he was nationalizing the Suez Canal Company.

This came on the heels of strengthened ties with the Soviet Union and recognition of the People’s Republic of China, which in turn led the United Kingdom and the U.S. to withdraw funding to build the Aswan Dam, seen as integral to Nasser’s plans for modernization. Nationalization of the Suez Canal Company prompted an attack by the Israeli, British, and French military forces of Sinai and the bombing of Cairo with the objective of reestablishing Western control of the Suez Canal as well as removing Nasser from office. Read more