Eden wanted legal team to justify Suez

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Those who believe that history is condemned to repeat itself need only examine newly-released files on the Suez affair showing how the government struggled to justify a legally dubious military operation.

Just as Lord Goldsmith, the current Attorney General, strove to put a legal gloss on Tony Blair's position on Iraq, so Lord Kilmuir, the Lord Chancellor in Sir Anthony Eden's cabinet in 1956, performed similar gymnastics.

Documents released at the National Archives 50 years after Suez, one of Britain's greatest foreign policy blunders of the 20th century, are reminiscent of debates surrounding what has turned out to be the first great fiasco of the 21st century.

The files also disclose the extremes to which Eden was prepared to go in his desire to remove Nasser, who he believed was a threat to Britain's weakening position in the Middle East.

The Chiefs of Staff, the files show, even considered closing a dam in British-controlled east Africa that would have stemmed the flow of the Nile to damage Egypt's economy and raise its population against their new dictator.

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