Win the Peace NOW!
Says this writer: Canada has her own share of the peace to win; if she doesn’t start to win it now she may become 'a flabby satrapy' of the U.S.
NOT long ago Mr. Sumner Welles, United States Assistant Secretary of State, made a speech at the University of Toronto in which he said this: “Failing to begin such organized study and discussion (of postwar economic and trade problems) now, there is danger that divergent views and policies may become crystallized, to the detriment of the common war effort and to the detriment of efforts to bring about a peace that will be more than a brief and uneasy interlude.”
What is this dangerous process of crystallization which Mr. Welles and his Government fear?
After watching the process in Washington, I think it safe to say that the national mind of the United States is crystallizing, crystallizing with irresistible force and at high speed.
This process is of fateful consequence to Canada. If the American mind crystallizes into a bold and generous internationalism the future of Canada can be firmly established among the nations. If it crystallizes into a new nationalism or a new imperialism we can become in Canada a flabby satrapy of an indulgent neighbor, a kind of larger Cuba.
If the mind of the United States crystallizes behind a policy of world economic co-operation the economy of Canada can be placed on a sound basis; another depression, and probably government interference in all aspects of business, can be avoided. If the mind of the United States crystallizes behind a policy of self-containment, the economy of Canada can be distorted, compressed, and desperately impoverished.
Undoubtedly what alarms Mr. Welles, what alarms every internationalist in his country, is the extraordinary change in American opinion during the last year. It might be called the sweep of scepticism. It is not the return of isolationism, which exists still, but is no longer practical politics in this kind of world. It is rather the growth of unbelief, the increasing lack of confidence in a better international order after the war. It is a sudden slump away from the high hopes of a year ago.
Mrs. Clare Boothe Luce, a member of Congress, has given this new scepticism a habitation and a name. She has called the nation’s hopes of a safe world by the name of “globaioney.” It is not isolation but globaioney that Mr. Roosevelt has to fight now.
WHAT created globaioney? First there were positive factors—the political difficulties with the French in North Africa, the inadequacy of Allied help to China, the depressing silence of Russia, the tragedy of India, Mr. Churchill’s speech announcing that he would not preside at the liquidation of the British Empire, which is generally misunderstood by Americans. (Most of them do not even understand yet what the Empire is.)
Second, globaioney grew out of a negative factor, out of a political vacuum. There has been no postwar plan which the people of the United States could grasp or believe in. There have been only general aspirations and the vague speeches of statesmen. There is a bitter irony in this because Roosevelt certainly has clear ideas about the next peace. He has not announced them yet for his own reasons but doubtless he will do so when he considers the time ripe. It is ripening fast.
All these things unfortunately are involved in presidential politics and must come to focus in next year’s election. Roosevelt, who evidently intends to seek a fourth term, has made himself the champion of internationalism and of the world’s larger hopes. In this there is great strength
and great danger—great strength because these causes could hardly have an abler champion in America; great danger because these causes could be defeated with Mr. Roosevelt’s personal defeat at the polls. If his peace plans become an election issue, the unpopularity of an old Government in a difficult time might sweep away an enlightened world policy precisely as it did in 1920, when the League of Nations perished as an incident in the defeat of the Wilson administration.
These great decisions are in the making now. They are being made not on the surface, which is in Washington, but in the deep substance of the people’s mind. Is it possible for Canada to do anything about them? I think it is.
CANADA should consider its position in relation to the great American decision under two headings, economic and political. At this writing we have barely considered either. Perhaps by the time this is printed we shall have begun to move in response to Mr. Welles’ invitation.
Facing the economic problem, Canada must realize certain facts which, being obvious, are usually overlooked. The first fact is that this is not the same Canada which entered the war in 1939. This is a new Canada—industrialized, reorganized, more productive than anyone has thought possible. It is a Canada which has found out how to put all its people to work. It is a Canada which has become the fourth industrial power among the United Nations. It is a Canada whose present boom is based very largely on a huge new export trade.
The second fact is that our war industries, with their million workers, must be converted after the war to the uses of peace or they must be demobilized, with resulting depression.
The third fact is that if we convert or demobilize our huge structure of new industry without the co-operation of the United States and other customers, without developing large new markets.
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; in the United States, then we shall ! have to go in for a huge measure of self-containment. And if we freeze our postwar economy into this shape we shall not be able to unfreeze it for a long, long time. Business and labor, having gone once through the terrible strains of one postwar reorganization on the basis of selfcontainment, will not be ready to accept a second reorganization later on to lower trade barriers.
Thus the fourth and sovereign fact is this: If we are to develop
an economy based on export trade, if we are to make the best use of our resources and our new skills, if we are to avoid the government interventions which go with self-containment, then we must do it immediately after the war. If we fail then, it will be too late. As Mr. Welles clearly fears, we shall crystallize into the shape of self-containment, of impoverishment and of state regimentation.
Our great and probably our only chance for better things will come with the peace. You would think that by now we would be preparing for it. We are not.
LAST YEAR Canada and the * United States started out with enthusiasm to plan not only their economic relations during the war, but their long-term relations afterward. The Joint Economic Committees were set up in Ottawa and Washington. For a few weeks they met with high hopes and big ideas. But presently, as the United States got deeper into the war and its top officials were otherwise engaged, the committees sank into desuetude. Lately they have seldom met.
After Mr. Welles’ announcement that the United States intends to start international economic planning in earnest right away—a step which he says is “already overdue”— we may hope that work will be resumed. Mr. Usley made a gesture in this direction in his recent budget speech but, at this writing, it is a gesture only.
The job of study and negotiation outlined by Mr. Welles will be extremely difficult, and its success will hang chiefly on the attitude of the next United States Congress, an incalculable factor. If the Congress elected in 1944 turns out to be of the same economic mind as that elected in 1920, the prospects will be bleak indeed. If we are going back to the era of Messrs. Fordney, McCumber, Smoot and Hawley, the Joint Economic Committees might as well sleep on.
But by starting now it may be possible for the experts of both nations, acting jointly, to avoid what Mr. Welles calls, with diplomatic moderation, “past mistakes.” Their job is not to suggest any sudden, impractical and impossible cancellation of all tariffs on the forty-ninth parallel but to explore in detail the possibility of moving individual proi ducts across the boundary in increas-
ing quantities. Here there are real chances of agreement.
Canada comes out of the war with certain large trading advantages. It has relatively low production costs. It has a huge new supply of cheap electrical power which can be used in industry. It has new skills. Given any reasonable chance of trade in the world including a sane world monetary system, Canada’s goods can hold their own in the world market. Given a reasonable attitude in the United States, Canada can supply its neighbor with many things more cheaply than the neighbor can make them. Given a reasonable attitude in Canada, the United States can sell us enough to enable it to increase its purchases here.
The job of investigations now will be to find out the possible areas of co-operation and the points of conflict, to explore the future of every large Canadian and American product in the other’s market. Mr. Welles believes that “if the analysis were thorough enough, and the problems of each country were fully understood by the others, solutions could be found ... if all aspects of an economic problem were explored it would become apparent that the basic interests of all countries are largely common interests.” And, of course the study will not be confined to Canada and its neighbor alone but will cover all the United Nations with whom we, as well as the United States, must trade.
THERE is a larger side to this business. In the lingo of statesmen it is on the “political level.” It is not concerned immediately with economics or with anything physical. It is concerned with national attitudes, with men’s minds. In the long run it is the most important thing of all.
The question to be settled by national attitudes and men’s minds is whether Canada is to develop as a powerful, independent nation or whether it is to accept a small role because it lacks the courage for a large one. At the moment the prospects are depressing.
Canada has become the fourth of the United Nations in an economic sense but it is still affected by the hang-over from colonial days. It has outlived a British colonialism, but shows signs of developing an American colonialism. It has what Mr. Howard Green called in Parliament a “small-power complex.” This is bad for the United States and for us.
In the United States a vigorous Canada would be of inestimable aid to the cause of internationalism. If the American people saw a determined nation on their northern flank, a nation which intended to pull its full weight in the world at large, this would encourage the United States to do the same. It would demonstrate beyond further question that North America could not remain aloof from the world when already half its area was actively in the world.
Most important, a Canada playing
its full part in the councils of the British Commonwealth, and franklyexpressing its views about the future of that Commonwealth,would answer the whisper of the cynics who say that the Commonwealth is only the old Empire in disguise and that a centralized British imperialism will emerge from the war. The power and independent judgment of Canada would demonstrate beyond all question that the Commonwealth is a league of equal nations with no designs against anyone.
For us the problem does not centre, however, in the United States. It centres right here in Canada. We do not need merely to convince the United States that we intend to build our own Canadian civilization. We need to convince ourselves. If, instead, we become a national vacuum, the inevitable pressures of large bodies will burst in upon us. If we have a small-power complex we shall always remain a small power. If we refuse to undertake the responsibilities, the positive actions and the risks of real nationhood we shall never be a nation. If we deliberately depend too much upon the support, good will and charity of our larger friends, either in Britain or in the United States, we shall grow incapable of supporting ourselves.
It is not primarily a problem of economics. It is a problem of psychology. It is not physical. It is spiritual.
Canada’s Lamentable Record
OUR record of late has been lamentable. In Canada we have long boasted that we are the interpreter between Britain and the United States and this very assumption has acted like a drug. Assuming that we inevitably occupy this unique interpreter’s position, we have let it go at that. We have assumed that, since we have been placed by history and geography between our mother and our neighbor, we must be fulfilling our destiny without effort, by some mysterious force of nature.
This may explain, in part, our failure.
We have not interpreted the British Commonwealth adequately to the United States. We have not indicated to them that we have any real ideas about the future of the Commonwealth, in which we are one of the chief factors. We have not spoken out like Australia on Commonwealth problems, or even like little New Zealand. I see nothing to suggest that we have done any better about interpreting the United States to Britain.
We have acted slowly and only under pressure to assert our own position as one of the chief of the United Nations. Our Government had to be prodded and badgered before it would ask for a seat on the Pacific War Council, though our Pacific Coast has been shelled, though we have sent fighting men to Alaska and the Aleutians against the Japanese.
At a time when it has a large stake in the distribution of surplus war materials, Canada has not established her right to membership on two of the important United Nations com-
mittees set up last year to handle these problems.
We have nothing to say about collective security, nor about our future relations with our Russian and Chinese allies. On all these matters we echo the views of London and Washington. The mere suggestion that we should do anything else at any time will come as a startling thought to many readers of these lines. Apparently it has never come to our Government.
The answer made to any such indictment is that this is no time to bring these things up, that it might stop us winning the war. On the contrary it would help us enormously to win the war by increasing the understanding and unity of the United Nations, by offering a greater hope to the men who must fight the war, by answering the cynics who say that all such hope is globaloney.
This is Mr. Welles’ view when he says that failure to tackle postwar problems now may be detrimental to “the common war effort.” Mr. Welles rightly sees that if this is not the time to tackle these problems then there may be no time when they can be tackled. For today, to use his descriptive phrase again, the nations are beginning to crystallize into their postwar shape. If they crystallize into the wrong shape now, politically and economically, they will be unable at the war’s end to fit themselves into the shape of a tolerable world.
Canada cannot govern this process. It can do its own particular part for the good of the whole of itself.
' But at this decisive period in the story of the human family where is the voice, where is the fierce energy, where is the daring imagination of this young country?