"AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY"
An Address By MAX FREEDMAN
Washington Correspondent, Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday, March 22nd, 1951
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. Sydney Hermant.
MR. HERMANT: Members and Guests of The Empire Club of Canada: We are to hear an address today by Mr. Max Freedman, Washington Correspondent of the Winnipeg Free Press, contributing Editor to the Manchester Guardian, and special C.B.C. Commentator. Born in Winnipeg, Mr. Freedman attended public school and Collegiate there. To quote his own biography, he says: "I grew up on the streets of Winnipeg. The biggest single event of each day was my study of the editorial page of the Winnipeg Free Press. The greatest single influence in my life at that time was the genius of that great Liberal, Mr. J. W. Dafoe, the Editor of the paper." Although he did not complete his formal education at any University, Mr. Freedman has been guest lecturer at three; in History at the University of Alberta, Literature at the University of Manitoba, and Journalism at Carlton College, Ottawa. After a short time spent in teaching school in Winnipeg, Mr. Freedman joined the staff of the Edmonton Bulletin which in its earlier years was a colourful crusading partisan Liberal daily. The Bulletin ceased publication several months ago, however this was long after Mr. Freedman left. At the outbreak of World War II Max Freedman enlisted as a sapper with the Engineers arriving in England with the Canadian troops in August, 1940. He served throughout the War, following which he had a brief interlude on Fleet Street with the News Chronicle.
Returning to Canada he became Executive Assistant to the Hon. James A. MacKinnon, Minister of Trade & Commerce. In 1946 he joined the Winnipeg Free Press as Ottawa Correspondent, and is now Washington Correspondent for that great newspaper. The subject of Mr. Freedman's address today is: "American Foreign Policy", one with which he is thoroughly familiar and on which he has deep rooted convictions.
MR. FREEDMAN: Perhaps I can best begin my review of American foreign policy, in speaking to the members and guests of the Empire Club, by discussing the attitude of the American government towards India. We should be very proud within the British Commonwealth of peoples, that we have brought into our community the staid wisdom of the East, to reinforce our independence of the Commonwealth.
As you know, India's policy has not always been easy to understand or easy to follow; and at Lake Success, during the great debate on Chinese aggression in Korea it seemed for a time that India had cast herself for the role, perhaps inadvertently, of acting as an umpire between Moscow and Washington. That role naturally brought India into some temporary disagreement with the policymakers in Washington, and perhaps equally important with public opinion in the United States.
While that debate was still unresolved, when it was still uncertain whether the Indian initiative or the American initiative would prevail, the government at New Delhi formally requested aid from Washington to bring emergency help to the starving people of that great country. It asked, not for a gift, but for wheat and other food grains on what the Indian government described as "special and easy terms".
After an examination of the Balance of Payments position of India, it was decided in Washington that a loan to India would likely complicate her future international economic position. If India paid the loan back, she would come into a new train of difficulty with the government of London in making increased drawings on her sterling balances there.
After this review, the American government decided that they would go beyond the Indian request; they would not give India a loan on easy and liberal terms; they would propose to Congress an outright unqualified gift--and I emphasize the fact that this decision was made before the debate at Lake Success had been concluded, and when it appeared to the whole world that the antagonist to American policy was India herself.
So that when President Truman, in his message to Congress, said, that "it is the beneficent tradition of the American people never to allow differences on politics to influence any decision connected with human welfare and human suffering", I think he was speaking, not in the dialetic Party manner but in the universal language of American kindness that unites members of all parties.
And I think it is worth remembering that the decision of the United States in respect to its own supply of food grains was not an impregnable one. The Secretary of Agriculture has suggested that it is essential to the United States, during this period of continued international tension, to have reserve supplies of wheat running to about 500 million tons. If this gift was to be made to India the reserve would be cut to 375 million tons, and fall short of what is considered to be an adequate reserve. But Mr. Brannan himself joined with the President in saying that "if we were not making any sacrifice, then we would deserve little thanks for our act of generosity." This gift would cost the American people, when all administrative costs are added to the price of the wheat, $190 million dollars. It would be made in two instalments--half of it as soon as Congress has given its approval, and the other half by arrangement of the E.C.A. at a later date to suit the convenience of the Indian people. All wheat imported into India is purchased by the Indian Government, but the Indian government has agreed to set up a fund from the revenue derived by selling this wheat to the Indian people, and this money will be devoted to the advancement of Indian agriculture, so that the recurrent threat of famine in India may possibly be lightened.
Congress has not yet given its final approval, though the overwhelming sentiment in both parties is unmistakably in favour of the President's message. A small group of honourable Republicans have dissented from the American proposal of an outright gift, and have suggested that India should at least make token payments in return by increasing her shipments of certain strategic raw materials into the United States. The Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, has said such procedure is not desirable and "we hope that the House of Representatives will join the Senate in allowing the noble moral initiative of the American people to shine forth unblemished and unqualified," and that perhaps this would be a useful instrument in the work of reconciling the differences of the government of India with that of the United States, if any such differences still exist, and if not, to strengthen the co-operation which had always existed between the two peoples.
I thought it best to begin with this, not central aspect of American foreign policy, because it seems to me to lead with some naturalness into the discussion of the current Korean problem.
I speak with some restraint on this subject, because events are moving so swiftly, and at the moment the paramount influence in shaping the policy is the course of the military conflict itself rather than the formulas which are devised in the various chancellories of the world.
I would like to suggest, if I may, that a great deal of unnecessary bitterness, based on incomplete knowledge of the record, has crept into the public discussions of this whole problem. We are now wondering, and worried, what will happen at the 38th Parallel. May I most respectfully suggest two or three things for your consideration.
In the very first place, the 38th Parallel has never, since 1946, been recognized by the United Nations as having any validity in international law.
In the second place, due to the lie of land at that particular spot, it is an operation of enormous military hazard to try to hold that particular line. It is, I am told by military people in Washington, much easier to hold a position some miles back of the 38th Parallel or some miles in advance of the 38th Parallel; nothing would be worse than to remain stationary at the Parallel.
There is some talk in this country, as well as elsewhere, that it would be serving the cause of peace if the American government, which is the instrument charged by solemn referendum by the United Nations, to enforce the policies of Lake Success, to tell the world that it had agreed to stop at the Parallel and not move beyond. I am told--and I speak on this military subject with the enormous authority of a former corporal--I am told that it would be helping the Chinese to make their own military decisions if such a pledge were given to the free world. And that is the ultimate factor which has made the American government keep secret the decision which has already been reached in the patient, courteous, diplomatic negotiations that have been continued for some weeks now between the members of the coalition in Washington. We know what is to be done, but there is no reason why we should tell, the enemy.
Now may I just, for purposes of clarity, remind you of the two reasons why we crossed the 38th Parallel last fall.
The first reason was to establish the principle that the territory of the aggressor was not to be treated as immune from attack. We had driven the North Koreans back to the stop from which they had launched their invasion of South Korea. If we had stopped then, we would have given the North Koreans the chance to regroup, at their own convenience, and to advance in a new attack on South Korea when our attention had been directed elsewhere.
It was in many diplomats' minds that it was the judgment of history that in 1918 we had erred in stopping short of Germany, just as I think it will be the judgment of history this time, that, remembering that error and anxious not to repeat the mistakes of the past, we went I suggest to the opposite extreme and perhaps inflicted too much damage on the soil of Germany. No one would expect me, Sir, in discussing the German problem, to speak the language of revenge, or to detect in my accents a plea for retribution. The problem is not to keep Germany down, but to let her recover, on terms of equality with the free world. But that is a digression.
The first principle, as I have said, was to see to it that the territory of the aggressor was made to smart beneath the judgment of international law.
But the second, and more important, principle was not one of punitive action: it was to establish a new principle in world affairs. I will never forget, I hope, the moving speech in which Sir Gladwin Jebb stated the high accents of British policy, when he reminded the Assembly that the war that had been fought in South Korea was a war without precedent, we had tried to marshall the moral resources and the material power of the free world, to make sure that aggression would be resisted by collective action. If this attempt succeeded, the future of the world might be transformed, and just as the war itself had been without precedent, so we were charged with the task of trying to make it certain that the best settlement which we arranged would also be without parallel. It was, in Sir Gladwin's words, to be a righteous peace, and therefore one that would abide, an exemplary peace.
And we saw to it, by resolution of the Assembly, that North Korea as well as South Korea was to participate in equal terms in the work of re-construction, that was to proceed under the auspices of the United States. We limited the power of the South Korean government to act on behalf of the whole peninsula until the work of reconstruction had become an actual reality.
And it was during this period, when we were thinking of demonstrating what the reconciling mercies of international justice could do to a country which had repented of a crime, that China struck her blow, and it at once cast the scene into dark shadow.
What about the problem today? I think there are many misconceptions. Some people say there is great danger of a limited war with China. If the United States had wanted a war with the mainland of China it could have had it any time within the last four months. Its restraint demonstrates its great care to avoid such a major conflict with the Chinese people, linked over many generations in cordial friendship with the American people.
Then there is talk of the danger of a limited war. I suggest that the Korean War is a limited war, and the whole purpose of American policy is to see to it that if the United Nations' effort succeeds in this limited war, we may make it immeasurably more difficult for Russia and any other aggressive state, to create a general war.
Then there is chatter about the danger of sanctions, and we forget that for seven months the supreme sanction of all has been applied in Korea--we have applied the sanction of outright war against the aggressor, and the troops of the aggressor are suffering the consequences. There can be no sanction more ultimate than that.
And I rejoice that after a period of delay, Canada is now standing as a brave sentinel on that threatened frontier of human freedom and is adding a new chapter of which we Canadians will have every reason to be proud.
Now the immediate problem resolves itself into a question of closing the frontier by ground troops. We should remember that for seven months the territory of North Korea has been subject to attack from the air, by low-flying bombers and by bombardment from vessels at sea. Apparently there is no moral principle involved in attacking North Korea by air and sea power, but we reach a new philosophy when you contemplate crossing a natural frontier by the use of ground troops. I simply observe on that point that it would be well to remember that if we do, as a United Nations force, cross the frontier for a limited and agreed distance, under the right flank, into Korean territory but away from the border of Manchuria that what may appear to us on the outside as an act of incitement is really in the judgment of the responsible policy-makers who have agreed to that action, a contribution to a cease-fire and peaceful settlement.
If we do not cross the 38th Parallel, and there is a cease-fire, then the Chinese alone are compelled to withdraw their troops from North Korea. But if the United Nations are on the soil of North Korea for a limited distance, then we as well as the Chinese will have to withdraw military forces.
I do not press this argument too far: I simply suggest it is an American philosophy. It is designed to aid the achievement of an easy cease-fire, and is not intended to prolong the conflict or widen the area of unrest in Asia. I do not say the frontier will be crossed, that depends on the judgment of many phases.
I suppose it is in everyone's mind to ask what chance there is of detaching China from Russia.
There are at least three reasons why it was easier for Tito to revolt against Stalin than it will be for Mao. In the first place, Yugoslavia was the only satellite country that regained its freedom without the help of the Red Army; but the ultimate result of the Chinese War would not have been what it was had there been less military help from Russia, so the link is greater between Mao and Stalin than it was between Tito and Stalin. It was always very easy for Tito to get friends: all he had to do was to turn his neck the other way, and he saw the lifeline to the Free World. Where is that lifeline in Asia? India has no military power. Indo China is menaced. What can you rear up as a counter-balance to Russian domination? There is only one power, and that is Japan, and there you face two decisions: will you, as a matter of deliberate policy, decide to rearm Japan? And, secondly, in view of their history, how will you promote friendly co-operation between the Chinese and Japanese peoples?
Thirdly, Tito was able to make a great virtue out of the fact that he had quarreled with Stalin. He became the prophet of nationalism against Communism. But in China today you have not only a national revolution, but part of a Communist-organized revolt against what they call Western Imperial Powers, and Tito's speeches seem to suggest that he regards Russia as anything but an imperial power, and decides upon the Western world to discharge the burden of guilt for oppressing the coloured people in the Far East. That of course is a libel under the truth, a travesty of history.
We must wait until events demonstrate to the Chinese rulers that what Russia promises is very much different from what Russia performs, and that we are her friends, and it is our consecrated task in this generation which has a rendezvous with history to see to it that a world will be created in which racial immoralities will no longer exercise their influence, and in which all men of good will in all ranks can unite to create a new inheritance, a freedom and dignity for all peoples.
There was one great argument that was used during that debate which I thought had no place at all in this conference. There were many people, not altogether without company in Canada, who said the United States was drifting into an interminable conflict in Asia, and she would have no margin of reserve strength to employ in Europe, and Russia's chance for sudden and easy conquest would soon appear before the world. I suggest, most sincerely, it was a bit of patronage on our part, on the part of people outside the United States, to remind President Truman, General Marshall, and Mr. Acheson, the architects of the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty, of the primacy of Western Europe in the preservation of the Free World.
Look at what happened within a matter of days of the Assembly having adjudged China to be guilty of aggression in Korea? The Administration in Washington laid before Congress a plan unprecedented in American history to establish new American Divisions in Europe as part of an international army under the leadership of General Eisenhower. That will go through Congress easily.
So that today you have the United States, honourably inspiring the Free World to live up to the obligations of the charter in Asia, and at one and the same time, using its great strength to augment the resources of the Free World against Russian attack in Europe.
I do not wish to suggest that American policy is without blemish and without error. It has made many mistakes of timing, lack of finesse in proclaiming the policy, perhaps impulsive desire to seek a quick solution. I remember hearing Mr. Acheson, at one of the press conferences, say that he wished more Americans took to heart the warning of Ralph Waldo Emerson that they should not have "such a hunger for sudden achievement."
But, granted incidental mistakes, on the broad swing of policy, I think the verdict should be that America has her sights on the right target and is making a massive and indispensable contribution to the preservation of everything that the Free World cherishes.
There is of course much talk about Russia striking in Western Europe before we get sufficiently strong to make the men in the Kremlin think twice before they decide on a policy of military adventure. That is a very complicated subject, and it demands a clear and conservative analysis, which I can not now attempt; but I think there is no need of any detailed argumentation. There is one simple and decisive answer. All the men who have been writing in Europe about the danger of the new policy being an act of provocation to Russia are not the men who are charged with the responsibility of government in Western Europe. General Eisenhower has received the urgent request from these governments to send American troops, and to send them quickly, and to their judgment, this would not be an act of incitement to Moscow: it would be an invaluable contribution to the preservation of peace. So I think the men who should know most about this problem, the leaders of Western Europe, enthusiastically welcome American co-operation.
Since I have been in Washington, the most impressive thing I have seen and heard was the testimony of General Marshall before the Senate Committee. He said, It was not enough to say we would be liberating Europe after it had been enslaved; we would be liberating a corpse. We should remember we were the grateful heirs of a civilization created by Europe, and in this hour of tragic history, it was the duty of the United States not to have a precise mathematical calculus of what it can do, but an overwhelming moral mandate of what it was to do if something precious in the American conscience was not to wither.
He went one stage further. He said, simply to align ourselves with Europe by giving her a promise of air and sea power is not enough. In Korea, if one counts the marines as part of ground forces, 99% of the casualties have been suffered by ground troops and only 1% in the sea and in the air, and General Marshall said, "Unless we bear our proportionate share of that burden of responsibility in Europe, we will not be making an honourable division of labour in the endless task to achieve a righteous peace."
And I think that nothing was said in that debate which impressed the members of the Senate more profoundly. It is with reason that General Marshall was considered the greatest living American in the public service of his country.
I am temporarily exiled from Canada, and I have no desire to express an opinion on Canadian policy, but as I listened to General Marshall, I prayed devoutly if for at least one hour he could have been a Canadian.
I have talked much longer than I had planned, perhaps much longer than you had hoped. I would like to close by suggesting that there is one task which transcends all others, as we try to keep the ramparts of our civilization from falling beneath a Russian challenge. That task, inescapable, momentous, abiding, is to see to it that the members of the Commonwealth and the United States march in confidence, equality and good fellowship towards the horizon of a more assured future.
Great Britain came to her greatness through a cycle of the ages. She had time to learn the restraints of power, to realize that there are no short cuts to a successful settlement of a complicated problem, to learn that one can not force the judgments of history, that nothing is ever settled until in the end it is settled right, and that the ultimate mandate proceeds not from the battlements which proclaim a nation's military power but from the still small voice which speaks the conscience of a noble people.
America rushed into greatness almost overnight, and we should not be surprised if this young giant is not always active with the kind of judgment, balance of comprehension which older people, by exacting responsibilities over years, have demonstrated when they were at the helm of world affairs. There can be no greater contribution than an understanding and desire in our own hearts and minds. Let us not read our own fears into American policy. Let us, in this hour of difficulty, be a good neighbour. We surely, of all peoples in the world, have reason to understand the magnanimity, the noble purpose which animated the American people.
By such counsel, courage and comfort, America may rise even above herself and stand with the great architects of world history, the nations that gave us the blessing of a just and durable peace.
VOTE OF THANKS, moved by Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen.