FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

WE’RE ARMING FOR THE WRONG WAR

December 16 1961
FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

WE’RE ARMING FOR THE WRONG WAR

December 16 1961

WE’RE ARMING FOR THE WRONG WAR

FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT

I RECENTLY RETURNED to Ottawa after a 40,000-mile journey around the earth. In eleven key countries where the cold war is being fought I talked to people at many levels of responsibility, from the worried prime minister of Iran and the suave secretary-general of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, to the bow-backed driver of a Laotian cyclo, one of the three-wheeled bicycles that serve as taxis on the muddy streets of Vientiane.

I have come home convinced that we in the West are blindly arming for the wrong war.

At a time when most of us in Canada still calculate our chances for national survival according to the failure or success of the latest American missile shoot, I believe that the Communists are becoming increasingly preoccupied with a totally different kind of warfare. It's a war of subversion, of infiltration and propaganda; and it's being executed everywhere wfith glittering success, because few of us in the West are fully aware of its implications.

THEY’VE EVEN HIRED THE CAB DRIVERS

At any other time in history, as outrageous a split as has existed between East and West for the past fifteen years would long ago have set off a global shooting war. Such a war hasn't broken out for one reason: The Communists can see no advantage in waging it.

War Lan only be justified by calculating the benefits to the winning side. In a nuclear exchange, there wouldn't be much in the way of

spoils for either side. The very fabric of Communist society would be threatened, even in victory.

While still carrying on the arms race, the Communists are relying more and more on victory by subversion. The West is meanwhile frittering away its real strength by continuing to arm exclusively for a war that will never be fought—unless, as a last resort, we are forced to start it ourselves.

I am persuaded that the world is at this moment witnessing one of the great historic turns in Communist strategy. Subversion is nothing new, of course. But instead of being used as it w'as formerly (in the fifth column sense), merely to soften the enemy before an attack, subversion itself has now become the major Communist weapon.

In Bangkok. Pote Sarasan. the cultivated former prime minister of Thailand who now serves as secretary-general of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, told me: “Even in Laos, the Communists always make certain that they stop just short of the ultimate provocation that might bring in American troops.” He used a term to describe the conflict in Laos which fits the East-West contest the world over: he referred to the Laotian situation as "a physical cold war."

In waging this physical cold war. the Communists don’t emphasize the crude cloak-anddagger methods that most of us associate with subversive doings. They have turned instead to

Maclean’s Ottawa Editor recentín visited 11 countries on the perimeter of the Communist world. He reports that these countries are the prize in a war the West scarcely knows is under way — a war of sedition, in which Communism’s budget for propaganda alone is SO times as great as the West’s. By arming for the wrong hot war, Newman says, we’re frittering away our chances of prevailing in the cold one

the much more potent policy of subtly exploiting domestic forces of dissent. In Iran, for instance. where the Communist Party is outlawed. I was told by a high foreign ministry official that many of the taxi drivers in Tehran, the capital city, receive weekly stipends from the Communists, simply for grumbling to their fares about government policies, and poking fun at American aid.

THE RETREAT FROM CHAOS TO COMMUNISM

The Communists' initial objective in the youthful nations of Africa and Asia is to separate them from all western associations. They support nationalistic aspirations, even when these are anti-Russian. The leaders of nationalist parties usually believe that they can cooperate with Communism only as long as it suits them. They learn too late that this is impossible. The Leninist law' still applies: agreements between the Party and outside groups are nothing more than the preliminary step in the ultimate liquidation of such groups.

The final Communist objective is to push the internal political situation in as many of the emerging nations as possible into such an intolerable mess that, as a last resort, the country falls into the Communist orbit. Laos probably provides the classic successful example of these tactics. As I've attempted to show in the article that starts on the next page, that unhappy little country is now well past mkhvay in the journey from ideological isolation, through neutralism, to becoming part of "the glorious camp of world socialism."

CONTINUED ON RAGE 57

Overleaf: Laos-the West's most recent, most telling tragedy in the quiet war

continued from page 19

“I believe the West is losing at a truly frightening pace in almost ail underdeveloped countries”

From our own limited attempts at countersubversion. it's obvious that this is a technique for which the West has a depressing lack of talent. In Bangkok 1 was told a harrowing story about a well-meaning U. S. embassy official who gave a Christmas party last year, open-heartedly invited all the Central Intelligence Agency operatives in the country, and then unknowingly hired a Communist agent to check the attendance list at the door.

In nations where political consciousness remains underdeveloped, the ideology which has the most chance of success is one that employs the most effective propaganda techniques. The Russians and the Chinese operate the best and largest propaganda apparatus in history. They rank their propaganda agencies at the same level as the foreign service and defense departments. One recent estimate places their

annual expenditures on pure propaganda at about three billion dollars, roughly thirty times what the West allocates to such activities. Intellectuals in Japan are being wooed by having their works translated into Russian and glowingly reviewed, and then by being paid royalties for often nonexistent sales. The propaganda offensive is planned down to such detail that when President Nasser of Fgypt went for a walk during his visit to Moscow a few years ago. the bookshop he entered (and every other bookshop within walking distance of his hotel) was featuring a Russian translation of his speeches, catalogued as “a masterpiece. When I was in 1 ehran, the most popular attraction in town was a visiting Russian circus. The show contained no overt propaganda, but the performers’ tent was dominated by a sputnik-shaped trapeze device, and everybody got the point.

I believe that the West is losing the cold war at a truly frightening pace in almost all of the underdeveloped nations, because we're still proceeding on the naïve assumption that even primitive societies ought to recognize instantly that "our way of life" is superior to Communism.

But how do you explain the advantages of democracy to the uncommitted world when, according to surveys of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, at least half of humanity is chronically hungry? Just because the idea that Communism appeals to empty stomachs has become a cold war cliché, doesn't make the proposition any less potent. I he rise in total food stocks is not even keeping up with present birth rates, and world population is expected to double in the next forty years.

The average urban inhabitant of the emerging nations has only recently awak-

ened to the realization that a better life can be had. By looking at the habits of westerners — either through Hollywood films or. heaven help us. American tourists—he has suddenly grasped the fact that misery is not inevitable. We have provided him with the vision of an escape from squalor and hunger, but are failing to give him any reasonable expectation of

attaining his newly implanted ambitions.

This is one. perhaps the greatest single one. of the many obstacles facing the West in the ideological contest. The Communists have a doctrine to sell; we of the West have none. The catch-phrases that pass for doctrine in western countries, especially in the United States, don't mean much on either side of the world, but

whatever meaning they have is quite different in the poverty-stricken Fast and in the affluent West.

Take "free enterprise," for instance, America’s best-loved cliché. To us it suggests the freedom to run your own business in your own way. within a set of rules that may be largely unwritten, but are mutually acceptable on the whole to both w'orkers and employers. In a place like Hong Kong “free enterprise” has more the connotation of the phrase “free fight,” as it was used in the old North American wild west — meaning a fight in which evegouging, groin-kicking and biting were allowed. Free enterprise in Hong Kong will produce a tailor-made suit for you in thirty-six hours, because the tailors start work at five a.m.. continue to work until nine pan., and then make up their beds on the floor of the shop where they work.

Men who have to make a living in that kind of economic jungle are easily persuaded that Communism will make them, if not rich, at least a little less unjustly poor. In this belief they are probably wrong—the actual record of Communism, even in very poor countries where the rich were very rich, is not a good one. Living standards, even of the miserably poor, are more likely to go down than up.

This fact is well known, if not publicly admitted, among the highly intelligent and sophisticated men who lead the Communist movement in backward countries. It does not discourage them in the least. On the contrary, it is part of the very thing that makes Communism attractive to an intelligent and sophisticated Asian or Afri-

can. He can see that the only hope for his country, the only possible means whereby it can be brought quickly into the industrial age, is a program of forced saving— an accumulation of the necessary capital that must be wrung out of people who arc living near the edge of starvation. The comfort and ease of the generation now living must be sacrificed for the benefit of the next. To achieve this difficult but necessary feat, a country must have an efficient machinery of coercion. Communism offers this machinery, democracy does not. Until the affluent nations find other means of providing for the urgent capital needs of the poor nations. Communism will be able to make even its harshness and cruelty look like an asset.

The gap between the rich and poor in Asia is sickeningly wide. In Hong Kong I spent an evening in the fabulous castle of a Chinese millionaire who was feasting some two hundred guests on his terrace. For supper we had to choose among curried pheasant, fresh lobster and suckling pig. The party was a whirl of beautifully gowned women and slightly seedy men. prancing to the music of two orchestras. Later, when I walked home to my hotel. I stumbled over some of the refugees from Communist China, sleeping on the street. There was literally nothing I could think of to comfort them, or me.

Most suggestions for bolstering western cold war strategy involve a massive multiplication of our foreign aid contributions.

1 agree. But I'm absolutely convinced that merely to pump more money into existing aid schemes would be useless extravagance.

Even a hurried tour through a few of the world’s emerging nations makes the obvious point that present aid efforts are based on a false assumption. The Americans and Russians both use their handouts mainly to foster their cold war strategies, then expect thanksgiving in return. Westerners, especially, don't seem to realize that whatever gratitude exists is quite naturally outweighed by local resentment over having to be beholden to anyone. Besides. the goods contributed rarely match the needs of receiving countries. In Laos, for example, out of American aid totaling $34.200,000 last year, only $590,750 went into agriculture—this, in a country where ninety-three percent of the people are farmers desperately in need of assistance.

1 believe that foreign aid must be removed entirely from the cold war context. By taking for granted the capability of existing defense establishments to mutually deter physical aggression, the "have" nations of both sides should begin immediately to contribute, say. ten percent of their defense expenditures to a new world development fund, under United Nations administration. 1 he dividing line between donating and receiving states might be a per capita income of a dollar a day: half the world's inhabitants now live on an individual income of less than $365 a year.

Only a neutrally administered scheme like this could do much to advance the living standards of the underprivileged nations. Although the plan I'm suggesting wouldn’t arbitrarily attempt to impose the ideology of either side on the uncommitted nations, it’s not too much to hope that it might naturally tend to swing at least some of these countries toward the West. Largescale. impartially distributed aid would allow the orderly evolution of a strong middle class. Such a group could become a potent anti-Communist force, because its members would probably discover that a capitalist society can best prosper under democracy.

Having the United Nations distribute aid of course is not a new suggestion. It soumis fine, but why should Russia and the U. S. accept an arrangement specifically designed to thwart their cold war strategies?

To force the two main international protagonists into such a scheme. 1 believe that the majority of less powerful developed nations would first have to give it their full support. Then, if the big powers refused to join, they would be exposed before uncommitted world opinion as not being interested in helping their fellow humans, unless it brings accompanying political benefits.

That’s why this is one of the few remaining possibilities for C añada to provide badly needed leadership in the cold war. By recognizing that the size of our armed forces is not going to matter in deciding the outcome of a war which most likely will never be fought anyway, we should, at the next session of the United Nations offer to initiate a world development fund by allocating to it at least ten percent of our defense budget ($160 million). At the same time, we should withdraw from the Colombo Plan and all unilateral and bilateral aid plans, applying the saving to the w'orkl development fund as well.

Is such a scheme politically realistic? Could any Canadian politician, daily subjected to urgent and in many cases justified demands from his constituency, sup-

port the massive giving-away of federal funds?

• 1 think so.

The United Nations grows no food, owns no factories. Much of the money contributed to a world development fund would have to be spent for foodstuffs and capital goods shipped to the needy countries. As an incentive to enlist more nations, the UN could spend at least part of its money in the donor countries, thus creating some badly needed extra manufacturing jobs in C añada.

The successful administration of such a

world development fund by the UN would also solve the current problem of making certain that receiver nations use their funds wisely. In Laos, for instance, which badly needs economic aid of all kinds, 1 was told that the Americans last year filled an urgent government request for two million dollars to build a new justice building. When no construction had started six months later, enquiring American aid officials were told that the funds had been diverted to the erection of a statue to the unknown soldier.

If local governments misappropriated

money out of the UN development fund, they could be condemned in front of their own electorates by the impressive censure of the world organization.

1 realize all too well that the kind of UN operation I’m suggesting would be incomparably difficult to implement in today's international atmosphere. But my journey around the periphery of the Communist world has convinced me that unless we very soon discover some way to combat Communist subversion, the democratic way of life will lose the global contest once and for all. ★