MIDDLE EAST: A Base for John Bull

Britain's Suez Canal base is less a fortress than a giant imperial department store, crammed to its barbed-wire extremities with jets, fieldpieces, trucks, tanks, uniforms and the 10,000 other requirements of a modern army. The world's largest military depot, it can take 250,000 naked soldiers in at one end, march them out the other equipped to the last brass button (which is just about what it did in World War II with 28 infantry divisions).

Last week, as the Egyptian owners gave renewed signs of canceling her Suez lease, Britain sprang a surprise: a 20-year rental agreement for a new war...

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