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Afraid of Commitment: Gamal Abdel Nasser's Ephemeral Political Ideology - a New Definition of Nasserism

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Title: Afraid of Commitment: Gamal Abdel Nasser's Ephemeral Political Ideology - a New Definition of Nasserism
Author: Friddell, Bo
Advisor: Graham, Lisa Jane; Kitroeff, Alexander
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Gamal Abdel Nasser played an integral role in Middle East politics in the 1950s and 1960s. He led a military coup against the incumbent King, and then successfully converted his political capital into a national revolution. The transition of power occurred without major complications because of the socio-political conditions in Egypt at the time and because of Nasser's particular style of rule. Without a steadying, autocratic leader, Egypt likely would have fallen under the direction of a foreign power. Nasser used decisive action to stabilize Egypt's internal politics and prevent foreign agents from agitating Egypt's domestic stability. From this stability, he projected power at the regional level and remained independent from the major foreign powers that attempted to control Egypt. Egypt's geopolitical importance guaranteed its relevance in international politics. Foreign powers competed for the chance to control Egypt — a nation ideally situated to project power throughout the Middle East and North Africa. However, each contending superpower grew frustrated with Nasser because his rule relied on personal judgment, making Egypt's policies unpredictable and inconsistent. Nasser realized the value of his freedom to act and utilized this ability to retain Egyptian sovereignty. Scholars attempted to define Nasser's political ideology, but his policies were so ephemeral that they needed to create a new ideology — Nasserism — just to describe the man's political tendencies. I argue that Nasser was not ideological in the 20th century sense of the word, but that he harbored specific core concepts that framed his decisions. These concepts allowed him to select the best course of action without being hindered by ideological constraints. His political history — including his actions in times of crisis, his use of charismatic authority, his manipulation of nationalist sentiments, and his construction of a new Egyptian cultural identity — illustrates his flexibility and willingness to change tracks as long as his core concepts remained intact.
Subject: Egypt -- History -- 1952-1970
Subject: Egypt -- Politics and government -- 1952-1970
Subject: Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 1918-1970
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Friddell, Bo. "Afraid of Commitment: Gamal Abdel Nasser's Ephemeral Political Ideology - a New Definition of Nasserism". 2012. Available electronically from

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