STRAIGHT TALK FROM MIKE PEARSON
The man who speaks for Canada abroad says bluntly in this exclusive tape-recorded interview with Maclean’s that we won’t be anybody’s satellite. Here’s our foreign policy, nailed down plank by plank
IN THE article which follows, Maclean’s presents the frankest, the most authoritative and most complete statement of Canada's foreign policy ever to appear in a magazine. It is the result of an interview, lasting an hour and a half, between the Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Lester Bowles Pearson, O.B.E., and Arthur Irwin, editor of Maclean’s, and Blair Fraser, the magazine’s Ottawa editor.
Every question and answer went on a tape recorder, a machine about the size of a portable typewriter. Nothing could be further from the traditions of secret diplomacy than this three-way conversation, but Pearson believes Canadians should know where their Government stands on the vital issues involved in the country’s foreign policy.
Here, then, is Canadian foreign policy sketched out in general, examined in the particular. Here is a discussion of how we stand on the cold war, of how this country could be involved if it turned into a bot war. Here is the official Canadian attitude toward Marshal Tito in his quarrel with the Kremlin; to Franco’s Spain; to Britain and the United States.
Here is the official view of the problem of Western Germany and the commitments we have made through the Atlantic Pact. Here’s our policy on The Bomb.
Pearson is a very unusual Minister of External Affairs. Almost everybody who knows him well calls him “Mike.” After 20 years as a professional diplomat he probably carries more state secrets in his head than any other Canadian. No man in his position can tell all he knows, but Pearson believes in telling as much as he can.
Shortly before Parliament opened Maclean’s approached him with this idea of a recorded interview. After taking a day to think it over, he consented.
At 10 a.m. one day in September Editors Irwin and Fraser went to the Minister’s office in Ottawa’s venerable East Block of the Parliament Buildings. Earlier, with the Minister, they had run through a list of questions they wanted to ask. He thought some were pretty tough but undertook to answer all of them. The picture below was taken while the interview was in progress. The Minister is at his desk, Irwin is at the left, Fraser at the right.
The complete interview taken off the tape by stenographers ran 13,000 words. Maclean’s editors by careful condensation cut this to 8,000 and submitted the resulting copy to the Minister. He asked that one question and answer be omitted, okayed the rest.
The interview begins at the top of the next page.
IRWIN: May we ask, Mr. Minister, what is our foreign policy, where it is going and what are its objectives?
THE MINISTER: That’s a good question, but it’s not an easy one to answer for a country like Canada. Let me try it this way. In economic policy the objective of our foreign policy is simple. It is to bring about the widest possible area and volume of trade on a multilateral basis. It always has been. So far as other aspects of foreign policy are concerned our basic objective is peace and the avoidance of conflict. You may say that peace isn’t a policy, it’s a prayer. Maybe. But that prayer should be the ultimate objective of everything we do in our relations with other countries—to avoid conflict and maintain peace.
FRASER: Not at any price, though?
THE MINISTER: No, not at any price. Peace with liberty, and, if you like, with justice. If our freedom were in danger we would protect it. If we were attacked, of course, we would defend ourselves. But we haven’t many concrete objectives in our foreign policy in the sense that some countries have.
We have no territorial ambitions; we have no old grudges that shape our foreign policy. We have certainly no expansionist ideas. We have all the geography that we can handle, and we’re not interested in ideological crusades.
IRWIN: Is it possible for a country like Canada to have a really independent foreign policy or are we just a tail to the American State Department or, say, the British Foreign Office?
THE MINISTER: I don’t think we’re the tail to any foreign office, the U. S. State Department or any other. There is some truth, of course, in your suggestion that we are influenced by the views of other countries. But no country can have complete independence today in its foreign policy, because no country can now guarantee its own security by its own actions. Not even the United States—
FRASER: Not even the biggest—?
THE MINISTER: Not even the United States. And if that is true, then no country, certainly no middle or small Power, can follow a completely independent foreign policy. But that doesn’t mean we are necessarily a satellite revolving in a fixed course around some larger planet.
IRWIN: Would you say that one of the basic tenets of our policy is that we must not get into trouble with the United States?
THE MINISTER: Well, certainly not into serious trouble. It would be folly if we didn’t work very closely with the United States. But that doesn’t mean we have to be subservient to every aspect of United States policy. Not at all. We are not, for instance, a satellite of the United States in the sense that we do whatever the United States tells us to do in continental defense.
IRWIN: In other words, there are times when we tell them?
THE MINISTER: Well, there are times when we have to differ with them. I could mention seven or eight matters on which we have differed with the United States and, on some occasions at least, our views may have influenced United States policy. -
FRASER: Could you put that list or some of
it on the record?
THE MINISTER: I could put some of it on the record. We have differed with the United States at the United Nations in certain aspects of Palestine policy, though our basic objectives in that policy were the same.
We have differed with the United States on Indonesia. We refused on one occasion in the Security Council of the United Nations to support a resolution proposed by the United States on Indonesia which was supported also by the United Kingdom. We voted against it and we spoke against it, and we managed to get it changed—I think in the right direction.
On control of atomic energy, though we have supported the principles of the plan put forward by the United States, that plan has been modified in certain importent details by Canadian action.
In United Nations policy on Korea we differed quite definitely from the United States.
These were occasions on which we followed our own line, and we do that enough, I think, to make it fair to say that we’re no satellite to the United States or to anybody else.
War or Peace?
IRWIN: Do you think the Western world is heading in the right direction now? Can we achieve peace by military alliances and piling up armaments?
THE MINISTER: That’s a pretty fundamental question. I think that we are heading in the right direction now, and have been for over a year.
1 say that because, in my view, the period of wavering and doubt on the part of the West as to the best line to take toward Communist Eastern Europe seems to have come to an end and to have been replaced by a firm, consistent but unprovocative policy of opposition to any aggressive and expansionist policies of the Communist group.
The Western countries are building up an effective system of collective security through the Atlantic Pact. This remedies, to some extent, the present weakness of the United Nations as a defense against aggression and ensures that in one large area of the world an aggressor cannot now destroy his victims one by one. It also ensures that there will be sufficient defensive force to remove the temptation to start trouble.
At the present time weakness is,
I think, the greatest provocation to aggression. That’s one reason why I feel we’re on the right line now. Other moves in the same direction are the growth of political unity in Europe and the economic rehabilitation of that continent.
And yet, to deal with the latter part of your question, 1 think it ; remains fundamentally true that j there is no permanent guarantee of : peace in military alliances or armaments alone. All history shows that. Why should we think that history in the 20th century will be different?
All that we can do at present through things like the United Nations, the Atlantic Pact and the Brussels Treaty is to give ourselves an interval during which there will not be war because it will Ix» too ¡ risky for anybody to start one. Dur! ing that interval—it may be long or j may be not so long—we will have an opportunity to solve the problems that divide the world.
FRASER: Do you think we can settle our differences with the Russians peaceably or do you think World War III is inevitable?
THE MINISTER: Well, of course, if we can’t solve serious political differences with the Russians, or with any ! other Power, war is always possible ! and in the long run probably inevij table. But that “if” is a fundamental
part of the answer. Because of it war is never “inevitable.” Indeed, nothing is inevitable in human affairs, except life and death!
The difficulty, of course, is that the Russians and their Communist friends are not showing any disposition to co-operate in the solution of the problems that prevent peace becoming more than the absence of war. Somehow or other this solution must he found, but it takes two for that.
I think that on our side, the Western side, we have the desire for and the will toward settlement of outstanding problems. Yet it doesn’t seem to exist on the other side at the present time. But we should, of course, never give up the effort to reach a peaceful settlement no matter how frustrating the task may seem.
IRWIN: Assuming for the sake of argument that we don’t get concessions from the other side, can we defeat Communism by force?
THE MINISTER: What do you mean by Communism? If you mean can we defeat a Russian aggression using Communism as its spearhead, then I think, if it ever comes to that, the answer is “yes.” The democratic forces are superior in resources, in resourcefulness, in morale and in modern military equipment.
We can defeat that kind of Communism which expresses itself in an old-fashioned war of aggression, though at the same time I think it is probably true to say that in defeating it we might destroy many of the things we’re trying to preserve. But we would have no alternative but to do the best we could to defeat that kind of open aggression. I think we could do it.
If, however, you mean by Communism a social and economic doctrine, then you can’t defeat that by force; any more than you can defeat any idea by force.
IRWIN: Which do you think is the dominant Russian motivation? Is it the nationalist power drive, or the ideological drive?
THE MINISTER: I am in no position, of course, to weigh the relative importance of these two factors in the minds of those who control Russian policy. My own view is that the emphasis is shifting and has been shifting for 10 or 15 years from the ideological to the imperialistic
FRASER: In other words, they set out originally to convert the world but now they are shifting to the idea of conquering the world. THE MINISTER: I think there is such a shift, but I think also that the Russians are wise enough to use the idea of Communism as the spearhead of their Slav imperialism. That is their great strength and their great menace.
The Cold War
IRWIN: Who's winning the cold war?
THE MINISTER: The answer to that question brings me back to your other question: Can we defeat
Communism by force?
We may be able to contain Russia, but in the long run, the only way you can defeat Communism as an idea, a doctrine, is by showing that our own free system can do more for the good life of the average citizen than Communism can ever hope to do. That should be possible, if we’re really serious about it, because ours is a progressive, constructive approach to social and economic problems. Theirs is as reactionary as tyranny and as old as sin.
We ought to be able to defeat that kind of Communism and therefore we ought to be able to win the cold war. There is some evidence even now that we are winning it. Communism, at least in some parts of the world, is on the wane.
IRWIN: Do you think, as has been suggested sometimes, that the Russians are more afraid of our friendship than they are of our enmity? TIIE MINISTER: Here again I’d like to quibble over your question. What do you mean by “the Russians”? It’s quite clear in my mind that the ruling clique in Russia don’t want our friendship. They don’t seem to want friendly co-operation. They don’t want an exchange of ideas. They don’t want exchanges of visits, or the growth of understanding. They shut off their people from all contact with us, even to the extent of jamming radio broadcasts from outside. Also they are filling the minds of their people with the most vicious lies about our feelings toward them. They are doing everything possible to stir up suspicion and fear and mistrust. I think this is the most vicious form of warmongering.
So the evidence shows that the ruling clique in Russia must fear the effect on their dictatorship of knowledge and understanding between peoples. That might bring about friendship and that might be the end of them and their system. That I suggest is their greatest crime against their own people and against peace.
FRASER: Do you think they’ll get away with this?
THE MINISTER: I am convinced myself that the Russian people desire our friendship, as we do theirs. Our best hope for peace is that some day this desire may have a chance to express itself and break through t he vicious chains of induced ignorance and false propaganda that now hind it. That is our best hope for peace.
FRASER: Should we support Tito’s Yugoslavia? Here apparently nationalism is operating in our favor.
TIIE MINISTER: Yes, apparently, but don’t forget that in another sense this is a family quarrel, and its violent and explosive character doesn’t alter the form of government in either country. However, the fundamental importance of this quarrel, so it seems to me, is that it demonstrates beyond any possible shadow of doubt that there is no room in the Communist International for any form of national autonomy; that every Communist state must become and remain the subservient agent of Russian policy, or it will be excommunicated by “hammer and sickle.”
Tito’s experience shows what happens when a Communist regime attempts to retain some independence of the dictates of Moscow; and it also throws an interesting light on the shrill disclaimer of Communists in this country that they are Canadian patriots whose views and actions are not determined by Moscow. Let them ask Tito about that.
This struggle going on between Tito and Moscow is also of critical importance in the light it throws on the aggressive menace of Russian Communism at this time. The policy of Moscow in regard to Yugoslavia is a good example of the new form of indirect aggression which Russia hitherto has applied only to nonCommunist states but is now trying out on a Communist one.
IRWIN : That’s interesting, but it does occur to me, Mr. Minister, that you haven’t really answered the question.
THE MINISTER: Well, at least I’ve gone a long way around it.
FRASER: What do we do if Stalin goes to war against Yugoslavia?
THE MINISTER: If this dispute were submitted to the United Nations as a threat to peace, then we would have to follow the same procedure as we would if it were submitted by any other member state.
FRASER: You don’t think that the West should take more direct action?
THE MINISTER: I don’t think so. I think that Yugoslavia is the best judge of what constitutes a threat to her.
Trade With Russia
IRWIN: Do you think we should try to open up trade with countries behind the Iron Curtain?
THE MINISTER: We certainly should welcome any change in the political climate which would make that possible. But as long as there is a bitter and suspicious feeling between the East and the West, you can’t expect trade to flourish; nor can you expect us to strengthen economically those Powers who we think are menacing us.
In the old days this didn’t matter so much, because the economic strength of a country in relation to its ability to wage war wasn’t nearly so important as it is now. But would you expect us to send nickel to a country which might use that nickel in the form of armament against us?
IRWIN: Isn’t there considerable difference between what you have said and the position taken by Great Britain? I’ve talked with people at the British Foreign Office who said they were very anxious to develop trade through the Iron Curtain.
THE MINISTER: But I am talking about that kind of trade which would immediately increase a country’s capacity to wage war. That doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t export tea in return for, say, canned crab.
IRWIN: In other words, you feel that we should go after that kind of
THE MINISTER: Well, that is a difficult question for me to answer because if we go after it we may be misunderstood. However, I think it would be unwise to cut off all trade with countries with whom our political relations are not friendly.
FRASER : Coming back to the question of political relations. Do you think that we ought to give support to Franco Spain?
THE MINISTER: I was afraid you might bring that up. What do you mean by support?
FRASER: Full support and recognition.
THE MINISTER: Of course, we recognize the Franco Government as the legitimate government of .Spain. We have given Franco that kind of recognition. But we have not appointed a Canadian diplomatic representative to Madrid. We never have had a Canadian diplomatic representative in Spain.
IRWIN: We haven’t supported their attempt to get into the United Nations?
THE MINISTER: No, we haven’t. Certainly relations lie tween the two countries, Spain and Canada, cannot be on as friendly a basis as should be while the memory of Franco’s relations with the Nazis and the Fascists during the war remains so fresh, and while so many people in Canada feel that this government in
Spain does not derive authority from the Spanish people, and does not admit freedom of speech, religion and assembly.
And yet, having said that, I should add that we have not agreed at the United Nations with certain proposals, some of them made by Communist governments for purely selfish and subversive purposes of their own, that action should be taken against the Franco regime; in any event such action probably would only result in rallying the Spanish people more firmly around that regime.
F'RASER: You mean we are just paying out rope and hoping he will hang himself?
THE MINISTER: I can’t accept that as a statement of Canadian policy.
IRWIN: What is our policy in Asia?
THE MINISTER: The same as that in Europe: to bring about stable
relations among the Pacific countries, based on mutual respect and the maximum amount of trade. We should also stand together to resist any threat to peace in that area. That threat can arise out of weak and reactionary governments or, more likely, out of Communism.
FRASER: Stand together with whom, against whom?
THE MINISTER: What you are trying to make me say is that we should have a Pacific pact, like the Atlantic pact.
IRWIN: Okay, should we have a Pacific pact?
THE MINISTER: Well, I’m one of those people who believe in collective security and I can’t believe in it for one area without believing in it for another. In a sense we already have a collective security arrangement for the Pacific through the United Nations, but just as the UN arrangement doesn’t now operate effectively in the Atlantic, it would not operate in the Pacific.
Yet it would be far more difficult at the present time to work out a Pacific pact than it was to conclude the Atlantic one, because of the disturbed political situation in the Far East. You have to have a certain amount of stability in an area before you can work out a collective security pact for that area. We certainly haven’t got that in the Far East at the present time.
FRASER: Let’s look at China for a moment. When the Communists set up a government for all China, should we recognize it?
THE MINISTER: I don’t think you expect me really to answer that question except by saying that, whether we recognize it or not will be determined by the circumstances at the time recognition is requested.
It is interesting, however, to note some of the tests established by international law before recognition is usually given. You must be certain of the external independence of the new government. You must be certain that it exercises effective control over the territory which it claims. And that territory must be reasonably well defined. If any government of China or any part of the world is able to convince us that it qualifies under those three headings, then consideration should be given to recognition.
FRASER: At the moment India looks like the most stable democratic government in the Orient. Have we any specific plans for co-operating with India, either political or economic?
THE MINISTER: We are working closely with India as well as Pakistan and Ceylon. At the Commonwealth conference in London last April we participated very actively in working out a solution which would enable a republic of India to remain in the Commonwealth. We wouldn’t have been so anxious to do that if we hadn’t thought India was a valuable member of the Commonwealth, particularly in its role as a bridge between the East and the West. That may be one of the most valuable contributions India can make.
The fact that there are now three completely independent Eastern nations in a Commonwealth which originally was Western is of very great significance to the world.
IRWIN : What would you think of the suggestion that following Prime Minister Nehru’s visit to Canada in the autumn we send to India a really strong business mission, which might be supported by Government officials, with the idea of developing trade between our two countries? THE MINISTER: That might be a very good idea but before reaching any conclusions we had better wait to see how sterling-dollar problems are worked out in the weeks ahead. India is a very important element in those problems.
India, as you know, is a member of the sterling area with a lot of sterling credits which are taking a lot of exports from Great Britain. Until we work out some kind of solution to that immediate difficulty a mission of the kind you suggest wouldn’t be as valuable and as important as it should be.
Socialism and Dollars
IRWIN: Do you think that Britain’s switch to Socialism has altered the nature of Commonwealth relationships?
THE MINISTER: If the Commonwealth relationship depends on the politics of the party form of government freely chosen by the voters of its member nations, that relationship would not have lasted as long as it has. My answer to your question is to point out that there has been a Socialist government in New Zealand for a long time and nobody has ever asked whether its establishment years ago altered the nature of Commonwealth relations. Why, then, should we ask the same question about the United Kingdom?
IRWIN: Do you think the British dollar crisis contains any threat to the Commonwealth?
THE MINISTER: Well, economic influences bear on political relationships and anything that prevents the United Kingdom trading with Canada would naturally force us to readjust our economic relationships. Certainly we hope that won’t be necessary. But trading difficulties with the United Kingdom which are not solved by some form of action, co-operative action, might force us to face some far-reaching decisions.
That’s one reason, a very important reason, why I hope the financial crisis in the United Kingdom will be solved to hasten the return to multilateral trading and prevent the freezing of sterling and dollar blocs.
Canada, don’t forget, is the only member of the Commonwealth in the dollar area and wre naturally feel a little uncomfortable, in our Commonwealth relationships, as long as there is this separation between trading areas.
FRASER : To change the subject completely, do you think we should treat Western Germany as an ally? Or should we continue to regard all Germany as an enemy to be feared?
THE MINISTER: I can’t give you any categorical answer to that question. I think we should certainly do anything we can to help build up a German—an all-German— democratic state on a federal basis as a peaceful and progressive member of the European community. That’s our policy.
It seems to me it is essential to try to do this because you can’t have a political vacuum in the middle of Europe of 65 million German people. And there won’t be a vacuum. Those people will work with either East or West, and we must do our best to make sure that it is with the West.
And yet (there is always an “and yet” to these questions) it is hard to forget, hard especially for some people in Europe to forget, harder than it is for us to forget, what Germany has done to Europe and to the world in the last 40 years. Therefore we must have sympathy with the fears of Germany’s neighbors who have suffered so much from German action in the past. That means we should put the emphasis on the building of a stable and democratic German state, and do what we can do to defeat those forces which probably still exist in Germany, and which twice led Germany and the world into so much trouble and tragedy in the last 40 years.
I hope, however, we’ll avoid the mistakes of the interwar period where we were too often inclined to discourage and at times bully a German democratic government and then to allow a Nazi government to do practically whatever it pleased.
IRWIN: Do you think there ought to be a United States of Europe? Whether desirable or not, do you think it is practical politics?
THE MINISTER : I certainly think it is desirable. However, whether il is practicable or not at this time is another question. The translation of such an ideal as a United States of Europe into fact is hound to he a highly complex and slow process. It is going to take patience and effort and we don’t help the process very much if we on this side of tin; water try to press it too fast and too far.
CertiTînly, however, we should encourage and support, the movement as much as we can.
FRASER: What, exactly, is our commitment under the North Atlantic Pact? Does it hind us to go to war?
THE MINISTER: The most serious commitment under the pact is contained in article 5. Under this we are pledged—let me read it, “to take forthwith, individually and in concert with the other parties such action as is deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
That means, in a word, that in the future we consider an armed attack against any signatory of the North Atlantic Pact as an armed attack against our own territory. Hut that doesn’t mean that we automatically go to war if one of our allies should be attacked. What we have to do is, in company with the other members of the alliance, take promptly the action necessary to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
We are the judges of what action will be required by us for that purpose, but in making that decision we have to consult with our allies under the pact. We decide whether the Canadian action which will be necessary will be warlike action, or whether it might be limited to economic action or something else.
IRWIN: Do you still regard the United Nations as an effective means of securing world order or is it simply a propagandist debat! ing society yelling at the dark?
THE MINISTER: It certainly has been used asa propagandist debating j society and that aspect of its work too often gets the headlines; hut this shouldn’t obscure the fact that the United Nations in the last two or three years has done some very useful practical things. I’m not thinking about economic and social matters now. I’m thinking of political activities.
1 think that the intervention of the United Nations in the Kashmir dispute, in Indonesia and in Palestine limited and localized trouble which might otherwise have spread with disastrous resulta.
FRASER: Is it fair to say, though, that all three of these disputes that you have mentioned were fundamentally disputes among what we would call the nations of good will —that is to say the nations who genuinely accept the United Nations and who have a common basis among themselves?
THE MINISTER: That’s true. Yet there were other people of ill will trying to muddy the waters in these disputes. They might have been more successful than they were if the United Nations hadn’t been j there to act as a mediating influence in bringing things out into the open.
All I’m trying to say is that it has real achievements to its credit. It would lie ridiculous to dispense with this essential piece of international machinery. What we should do is to try, as I have said so many times, to strengthen it and make it ! more effective.
At the same time, as realists, we j have got to admit that the United ; Nations in present circumstances cannot guarantee anybody’s security. It could not prevent war, as I see it, if some big Power were determined to commit an aggression; though it might be of inestimable value in mobilizing force and opinion to defeat that aggression.
Now, when you say that, you’re not condemning the United Nations,
you are merely stating that the United Nations reflects the division of the world into East and West, and because of that division is unable to carry out its primary purpose of guaranteeing peace.
IRWIN : What should we do about the atomic bomb? Are we depending too heavily on it as a weapon?
THE MÍNISTER: What do you mean by “we”? Canada hasn’t an atomic bomb. We’re not making them. The Western world is, no doubt, depending to a great extent in its concept of strategy on the fact that the United States has the atomic bomb, and we don’t think anybody else has.
Iam not a strategist, so whether we are depending too much on the atomic bomb, I don’t know.
IRWIN : Do you think we can develop atomic energy properly under military secrecy, as we’re trying to do now? Is there any safe alternative? THE MINISTER: I think it is deplorable that we have to develop atomic energy under conditions of military secrecy, but I see no alternative as long as it is impossible to bring this new agency of progress and destruction under some form of effective international control.
FRASER : If we had an effective international control, would Canada accept the necessary invasion of national sovereignty?
THE MINISTER: It would be a major invasion of national sovereignty, all right, but in my view we would be foolish if we didn’t accept it. If we had a system of international control in whose effectiveness we had confidence, then we should—if you want me to use a concrete illustration—then we should submit our plant at Chalk River to that control.
FR ASER : Do you think we’d like having a Russian inspector go through Chalk River?
THE MINISTER: He wouldn’t be a Russian inspector. He’d be a control inspector of the United Nations. And how would the Russians like a Canadian control inspector of the United Nations going through their atomic development plants wherever they may be, if they have any?
FRASER: Do you think we’ll ever lick the atomic problem until we achieve this situation?
THE MINISTER: We’ll not lick the atomic problem or any other problem of this kind until there is greater confidence between nations than there is at this time, because without that confidence you won’t get the kind of international control I have mentioned. Until you get that kind of international control we have to take the best course we can, and that is to prevent people we don’t trust from sharing our knowledge of this new development.
FRASER: What I’m really driving at is this: When you consider atomic
control carefully you see that it is such a major invasion of national sovereignty that if you could control the atom you could control arma| ment generally, you could wipe out national sovereignty in its threatening aspects. Do you agree with this?
THE MINISTER: Well, I agree that before we can have any assurance of peace in the world, we will have to give up, all of us, certain aspects of national sovereignty. The world is too small and the possibility of its destruction is too great for us to find security and comfort in old, worn-out 18th - century concepts of national sovereignty. Those concepts are based on the fact that a country could to a large extent determine its own safety by its own actions.
That’s not the case now. We’re beginning to recognize it and draw the necessary conclusions. The Atlantic Pact is an example of what I mean. That process has to be continued, but it can only go so far while there is this bitter division of the world which exists at present.
Any further stages, as I see it, in giving up national sovereignty will be restricted to groups within the United Nations, not to the United Nations itself, so long as it includes aggressive Communist states.
Stars and Satellites
IRWIN : It is sometimes said that there are only two leviathan Powers left in the world. Would you agree with this, and if that is the case, that what they do, really determines our fate?
THE MINISTER: I would agree with that up to a point, as I agree with most of what you say—up to a point! There are really only two super Powers now in the world, the U. S. S. R. and the U. S. A., and there is undoubtedly a tendency in the world for other states to group themselves around these super Powers. That doesn’t mean, however, that those two Powers wholly determine our fate or control our policy.
Surely it would be absurd to say that the United Kingdom and France have no international influence or power. After all they are still great Powers in the world.
Also it is an exaggeration to say, as 1 have tried to point out earlier, that we have no control over our fate or no influence over the conduct of the policy of one of those leviathans you mention—the U. S. A. We have. United States policy does not operate in a vacuum. It is co-operative, especially with Canada. This country and the United States have developed over the years the habit of consultation and discussion. So have other countries with Washington.
Out of all this comes a sort of collective policy, based not by any means only on the domination and dictates of one Power, even if it is a super Power. Pan-Americanism, for instance, has influence on U. S-
policy. So has Great Britain and France.
IRWIN: But isn’t the hard, cold fact that even the United States can’t go it alone and be sure of her security? THE MINISTER: That’s about the first thing I said. Even the United States cannot guarantee its safety solely by its own action.
ERASER : What about the U. S. S. R.? Would you say they are trying to do so, or assuming they could do so? THE MINISTER : No. The U. S. S. R. is not influenced by its satellite states. It dictates. It doesn’t discuss. A very good example of that is to he found in the conduct of the satellites at United Nations meetings. They are not given even the shadow of independence. They are not allowed any freedom of action.
IRWIN: Canada became a nation by learning to strike a balance between opposing forces. She has had to learn this at home, and so far she has been able to use this skill to safeguard her position in the world. Do you think we can continue to play this historic role of “the man in the middle” in a world dominated by these two leviathans? Or do we have to tumble into the American camp?
THE MINISTER: Well, the man in the middle can, of course, be in an uncomfortable position. It depends on whom he has on either side of him. This middle position, if we apply it to our relations with the United States and the United Kingdom, is a position of some opportunity and some responsibility. Our role of interpreter (that’s another way of putting it) between the United States and the United Kingdom is often exaggerated, hut we can at times he of real service in this regard.
You see we speak in this country English with an American accent, and we can sometimes say things to London and Washington, without stirring up a hornet’s nest, that neither can say to each other. That does give us an opportunity to play at times a useful role in international matters; especially in U. S.-U. K. relations.
However, that doesn’t mean that we can play any middle role in the East-West conflict, because we certainly have no standing of any kind with one side there. There is no possibility of us doing much mediating there!
But they do listen to us in Washington and in London. They know there, I think, that we have no axe to grind. We can, for instance, very frankly tell them in Washington or in London when we think they are going too far or not far enough in their leadership of the Western world in the struggle against Communist tyranny and despotism.
That doesn’t mean, as I see it, that we have to tumble right into anybody’s camp. If we did, then any influence we may now have in Washington or London would very soon disappear. Our influence, in other words, depends to a great extent on our reputation for objective independent judgment, and the frank and friendly expression of it.
IRWIN: In other words, our effectiveness on the international scene depends on our be:.ng vigorously Canadian.
THE MINISTER: You bet. Be Canadian, and nobody’s camp follower, because a camp follower is very seldom a person who commands either influence or respect.
IRWIN: Thank you, Mr. Minister.