Two different stories
The record of what happened after Israel invaded Egypt on Oct. 29, 1956, is a measure of what is happening now between the United States and Israel. From the military point of view the 1956 invasion was a stunning military success. Israeli forces reached the Suez Canal with ease and were in effective control of the entire Sinai peninsula within two days. They were joined there by British and French forces under terms of a secret agreement among the three invading powers.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower condemned the invasion in the strongest possible terms, demanded an immediate cease-fire, demanded withdrawal of all the invading forces, and instituted immediate sanctions against all three.
One form of pressure was to refuse oil shipments from the Western Hemisphere. The fighting had stopped all normal oil flow from the Middle East to Europe. Britain was in particular danger. Its oil reserves were just about enough to keep British transport and industry going for another month. Without oil from the US, Venezuela, and other Western sources, British industry and transport would have had to shut down.
The lack of oil and the danger to British industry set off a run on the pound. But when members of the British Embassy staff in Washington tried to talk to White House and State Department officials about oil and support for the pound, they ran into polite questions about the health of their families.
Under orders from the President, US officials refused to talk to British officials about oil or credit until the British agreed to a cease-fire.
Under such devastating US pressure the British and French agreed to a cease-fire and began withdrawing their troops. The last British and French troops left on Dec. 22.
The Israelis held out for another month hoping that ''Ike'' didn't really mean that they should get back out of all the territory they had occupied during the fighting. But ''Ike'' did mean it. In the end he even threatened to shut off the flow of private funds to Israel from the US. Israel gave in and took its troops out of everything overrun in the fighting.
Israel got one credit from that fighting in 1956. The US agreed that the Gulf of Aqaba was an international waterway - which it was, and long had been so recognized.
In other words the US in 1956 treated Israel's invasion of Egypt as an act of military aggression which was to be ended without gains to the invader. Israel gained nothing from that invasion.
Last weekend the US secretary of state, George Shultz, presided over a draft agreement between Israel and Lebanon which would leave Israel with considerable gains from its invasion of Lebanon which began on June 6 of last year.
Now, 11 months later, Israeli armed forces are still in occupation of southern Lebanon up to the city of Beirut. Under the agreement they will pull out if and when the Syrians agree to take out all of their own troops and also those PLO units serving with the Syrian forces in the northern part of Lebanon.
If the Syrians agree (which seems unlikely though not impossible), the Israelis will be authorized to have uniformed observer teams of 11 men each serving with equal numbers of Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Lebanon will open talks for formal relations between the two countries within six months after the withdrawal. Maj. Saad Haddad, a cashiered former Lebanese officer who has been on Israel's payroll, is to remain in southern Lebanon as a deputy commander of Lebanese forces in charge of antiterrorist intelligence.
This means that even if Syria agrees to the terms Israel will retain a military presence in southern Lebanon for the foreseeable future.
This is less than Israel was asking for but probably more than Syria can accept. It was sponsored by the US secretary of state. No significant sanctions have been imposed on Israel to cause it to withdraw its troops. One nominal sanction was imposed. The US suspended authorization for delivery of 75 more F- 16 fighter planes to Israel. But since the planes will not be ready for delivery until 1985 the suspension of authorization had no practical meaning.
If Syria declines to accept the agreement, what then?
In that case, obviously, Israel stays in southern Lebanon as long as it chooses.
In 1956 the government of the US disapproved of military aggression by Britain, France, and Israel - and stopped and reversed the aggression.
In 1982 the US government did not halt or reverse the invasion of Lebanon. It imposed one nominal and meaningless sanction. In 1983 it is funding and presiding over an expansion of Israel's reach.