Forty Years On
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jan 1985, p. 241-254
Carrington, The Rt. Hon. the Lord, Speaker
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A review of the events of 40 years ago and the several anniversaries occurring in 1985. A message of determination that such wars and battles will occur "never again." New relations through the European Community and the North Atlantic Alliance. Less successful east-west relations, and with the Soviet Union. The lack of real progress in the field of arms control. The role of Canada. The military support from Canada. The role of NATO.
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23 Jan 1985
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January 23, 1985
The Westin Hotel, Room "Toronto I"
The President Catherine R. Charlton, M.A., Chairman

C.R. Charlton

Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is a privilege for the Empire Club, in the presence of the Lieutenant Governor, to host this special luncheon marking Lord Carrington's first visit to Canada as Secretary General for NATo. It is equally a pleasure to welcome our guests and friends from the Loyal Societies and other clubs sharing our interest in hearing today's speaker. Welcome to the meeting.

In introducing Lord Carrington, I note that there are many stories told about this international celebrity. But the one that seems to me to best typify our guest's disarming diplomatic talents, is the one concerning his meeting with a rather self-important Middle East princeling. Angered by critical articles about him in the British press, the Arab dignitary complained bitterly to Lord Carrington, who was at the time British Foreign Secretary. After patiently hearing the complaints, Lord Carrington responded: "My dear fellow, you ought to see what they say about me."

A basic aptitude for hard, clear thinking, mixed with uninhibited courage, and seasoned with wit and urbanity, have enabled him to perform some historic miracles in the area of international politics and diplomacy.

He was the man who achieved what many of his contemporaries had found impossible - a virtually bloodless transfer of power that led to the end of Rhodesia as colony, and the birth of Zimbabwe as nation. As Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary, he achieved this by persuading several warring black leaders to sit down in London, along with Prime Minister Ian Smith, to negotiate a new constitution.

He became active in politics after the War, when he took his seat in the House of Lords. His first government job was a post in the Churchill cabinet at the age of thirty-two. Besides having had innumerable and important jobs in international and national politics, he has also a business background - for example, his term as Chairman of Britain's General Electric Company.

Finally, I should note that it was during Lord Carrington's term as Foreign Secretary that the British North America Act was patriated. As such, he is already a lively part of this country's history. His presence today representing NATO promises a continuing participation in Canada's destiny.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Peter Alexander Rupert Carrington, 6th Baron Carrington, Privy Counsellor, holder of the Military Cross and Secretary General for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Lord Carrington

You may recall that Franklin Roosevelt was once persuaded to speak at a meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution, apparently to help diminish the suspicion with which he was regarded by members of the conservative establishment -a suspicion which was, I fear, reinforced by his decision to address that formidable assembly as "dear fellow immigrants". I am very grateful to the Empire Club for having invited me to speak today to an audience which is at least equally distinguished; and I shall resist the temptation of addressing you as dear fellow imperialists.

I have chosen the title "Forty Years On" partly because I am trying to put off the evil day when one of my speeches is christened "Son of whither NATO". But I have a more serious reason too, because it is important that we learn the right lessons from the fortieth anniversaries which fall due this year. In particular, that of Yalta next month; of victory in Europe in May; and of victory in the Far East in August.

Forty years ago today, the Battle of the Bulge was being fought - nearly five months after the liberation of Brussels, but only a hundred miles away as the crow flies. That alone should serve to remind us of the pain and horror of what is now, sometimes almost dismissively, referred to as conventional war. Conventional war which twice in this century brought Canadians to fight and to die in Europe; which killed over fifty million people in the two World Wars; and which has killed over eleven million more outside the NATO area since 1945.

The anniversaries will be for some a painful reminder of those they lost. The bereaved - and the disabled - will have a special claim on the consideration of those who may be planning public commemoration of events which have lost little of their power to arouse controversy. This is certainly true of the anniversaries I have mentioned: Yalta, as the symbol of the post-War settlement; VE Day, which the Soviet Union rightly sees as an occasion to recall the immense suffering of its people, and their no less significant contribution to Allied victory; but which Soviet propagandists cheapen by their groundless and self-serving attacks on the Federal Republic of Germany. And, finally, VJ Day: inevitably linked in the mind to the first - and we must all hope the last - uses of a new and terrible weapon.

The message which I hope will emerge is one of determination that such wars should never happen again. That, in turn, means that the emphasis should be on reconciliation; and on working together to prevent what our common interest requires us to prevent. That was very much the spirit in which an earlier generation of leaders in North America and Western Europe worked to lay the foundations of the post-War world. We tend to forget how well they built; partly, no doubt, for the very good reason that our interest is focussed on the many things which are still to be done. But partly also because we do not always look at things in the right perspective. We tend, for example, to see the European Community too much in terms of the butter mountains and wine lakes of popular journalism; and to see NATO in equivalent light, as an organization given substance only by recurring crises.

The real substance is very different. It is the building up over the years, in the Community and in the Alliance, of a new fabric of relations. Former enemies are partners and allies; and war between the nations of Western Europe has become inconceivable. We are following - and not before time - the example which Canada and the United States have set so consistently, in maintaining what it is much more than a cliche to describe as the longest unarmed frontier in the world. The process of reconciliation and co-operation goes wider than the Community and the Atlantic Alliance. We shall see a good example in the first week of May, when the leaders of the seven great industrialized countries of the free world meet in Bonn for what has become an annual summit - Canada and France; Germany, Italy and Japan; the United Kingdom and the United States. At the height of the war, they were split four and three. Now they are seven; and their working together is a powerful symbol of what has been achieved, as well as a basis for confidence in the future.

The picture is less satisfactory in the field of East/ West relations; though here too, there is a tendency to overlook the positive side. The overwhelming achievement here is that the North Atlantic Alliance has done what it was set up to do: it has kept the peace; and it has maintained a framework of security, within which the people of our countries have been able to go about their business in their own way, without interference from outside. That is a success by any standards; one of which we can be proud and one which we must be careful never to take for granted.

... the North Atlantic Alliance has done what it was set up to do: it has kept the peace ...

Where we have been less successful over the last forty years, is in establishing with the Soviet Union a better basis for that security; and I see that as a very important part of the job that we in NATO are there to do. How best we should do it is a question to which I do not have easy answers. I am sure that there are not any easy answers. But the West has by now had much experience in doing business with the Soviet Union; and it should be possible to draw at least some conclusions about what works and what does not.

Two points strike me as of particular significance. The first is that the Soviet leaders work to a political calendar which extends much further into the future than ours. The second is that the incentive for them to reach agreement on terms acceptable to the West, can only be a strictly practical one: the facts of life may work in favour of agreement; but ideology is there to warn us that appeals to abstract principles will not. Western policy must take both these factors into account. And that is nowhere more true than in the field of arms control and disarmament, where it is encouraging to hear that the Russians are now talking of the need for radical measures. That is what the Western countries concerned have been proposing for some time. For a start, very substantial reductions in nuclear weapons; the complete elimination of chemical weapons; reductions to equal and lower levels of forces in Central Europe; and a system of military confidencebuilding measures rigorous enough to do what the name implies.

The West is not asking for anything which would leave the Soviet Union at a disadvantage, and I have no doubt that business can be done to the advantage of both sides. I am also enough of an optimist to believe that business will be done; but there are some formidable difficulties, which it serves nothing to overlook. One such difficulty is the fact that the Soviet Union presently enjoys a significant advantage in many of the categories under negotiation. Another is the marked reluctance of the Soviet Union to agree to what is necessary to ensure effective verification. If we in the West want agreements which meet our concerns on these points, it will not be enough for our negotiators to say so to their Soviet counterparts. They will have to go on saying so, with firm, consistent and visible political support, for as long as it takes to convince the Soviet leadership that we will not settle for something which is less than fair and reliable.

Anything which serves to confuse or dilute that message will have one of two results: it will put off the day when we are able to register real progress in the field of arms control; or it will lead to our getting only the shadow of what we want, in the form of agreements which are unbalanced, unverifiable or both. The sources of such confusion and dilution unfortunately run deep. There are those who argue for a freeze on existing numbers - and thereby on existing imbalances - without concerning themselves too much about verifiability; or about the surely very real danger that the Soviet leaders might prefer to end up with a partial agreement tilted in their favour, than with a farther-reaching one which was properly balanced.

... These are not the negotiating techniques which people use at home, in their business or private lives ...

There are others who argue that we should make unilateral reductions: in the hope that this would make agreement easier to reach; or perhaps lead, without the need for formal agreement or prior understanding, to a virtuous circle of mutual disarmament. Others still, impatient at the lack of results, translate their understandable frustration into calls for further modifications to the Western negotiating position - before the Soviet Union has felt the need to address itself seriously to the previous one. These are not the negotiating techniques which people use at home, in their business or private lives; and there is nothing in the history of international relations to suggest that they will work any better abroad. What they will do instead is to convince the Soviet leaders that things are moving in their direction, and that they can afford to wait: for the next concession; for the next election; or for the next reduction in Western military spending.

There is obviously no single explanation for the difficulties we have had in establishing a stable postWar relationship with the Soviet Union; and, of the several factors involved, I would not hold the West to blame for very many. But consistency has not been the most conspicuous of our virtues; and we have failed to give due weight to the consistency of policy on the other side. I would like to feel that we shall henceforth do rather better; and I am very much encouraged by the estent to which allied governments are agreed on what needs to be done. There is, in particular, general agreement on the broad lines of a political strategy towards the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe - a strategy which makes unmistakably clear our positive approach to negotiations on arms control and disarmament; and which makes equally clear our determination to work also in other fields for a more constructive relationship with the East.

... I am very much encouraged by the extent to which allied governments are agreed on what needs to be done. ...

These are points which Western leaders have been trying to get across to their Soviet and Eastern European counterparts for some time. They were given particular emphasis in a series of bilateral contacts last year; including, of course, those which President Reagan and Secretary Shultz had with Mr. Gromyko. These in turn led to the Shultz-Gromyko meeting in Geneva earlier this month, at which the two sides agreed to negotiations with the objective of working out what the joint statement describes as "effective agreements aimed at preventing an arms race in space and terminating it on earth, at limiting and reducing nuclear arms, and at strengthening strategic stability". Amen. That is surely the objective towards which we should all be working; with the two super-powers taking the lead. I have no doubt that the United States is ready to meet the challenge; and what seems to have been successful "talks about talks" at Geneva give grounds for hope that the Soviet leaders may now also be convinced that there is a need for a fresh start. A fresh start, while a necessary condition for the progress we want to see on disarmament and East/West relations more generally, will not in itself be sufficient. There are some formidably difficult problems to be solved, and patient and constructive diplomacy will be required from both sides.

... In the political field, Canada continues to make an impressive contribution. ...

Meanwhile, the Allies must continue to make it clear that we regard the search for arms control and disarmament as a part of our security policy, and not as an alternative to it. I am therefore glad to note also the consensus within the Alliance that our political and military strategy form two sides of the same coin; and that they must be seen together as an integrated whole. Neither can replace the other; and neither can be neglected without weakening the other. The fact that intermediate range nuclear weapons are being deployed in Europe on schedule, in the absence of an agreement which would have made this unnecessary, is, and remains, an important part of that integrated approach. So too are the decisions which we took at the NATO ministerial meetings in December, to strengthen certain aspects of our conventional defences and to do more in that respect in the future. It would be the height of irresponsibility to allow ourselves to drift, by neglect of our conventional strength, into a degree of dependence on nuclear forces which no one would consciously choose.

I hope that in all this we shall have the powerful support of Canada, in both the political and the military fields. In the political field, Canada continues to make an impressive contribution. I do not want to embarrass you by listing your virtues, but let me mention at least Canada's special knowledge of and insight into Soviet affairs; the leading part which Canada plays on questions of disarmament; and her wider diplomatic role in the United Nations and in the Commonwealth. We are trying in NATO not only to keep the peace, but to improve the quality of that peace; and, without seeking to extend the limits which the founding fathers placed on NATO as such, we must never neglect the role which individual allies have to play in the wider world.

The support of Canada is no less important in the military field. The Canadian brigade at Lahr and Canada's reinforcement role in Norway are obvious examples. The Atlantic and High Arctic Sea lanes remain of crucial importance to the Alliance as a whole. And so, of course, do the transpolar missile, air and submarine defences. There is in every Secretary General of NATO an element of Oliver Twist; and I will not pretend that I would not like to see Canada doing a bit more to contribute to our common defence. The Canadian government is obviously taking a close look at the matter in terms both of quantity and quality; and I need hardly say that the direction in which they have determined to move is very welcome to Allies on both sides of the Atlantic.

I shall not try to conclude even a speech with this title by looking forty years forward. I hope that by then the sun will still not have set on the Empire Club; I know that it will have set on me; and there is not very much else known of a period so far ahead. But let me express the hope, first that those who are then living in the great democracies of North America and Western Europe will be able to look back in freedom and prosperity at the second half of the 1980s; and, second, that they will see, in the recent meeting at Geneva, the beginning of real progress towards a system of security which meets the needs of East and West at much lower levels of arms and armed forces than those which face each other at present. That is what NATO is in business to do; that is why it is so important that it should remain strong, confident and united; and that, with the help of Canada, is what I am sure that it will remain.

The appreciation of the audience was expressed by MGen. Bruce J. Legge, Q.c., President of the Empire Club Foundation.

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Forty Years On

A review of the events of 40 years ago and the several anniversaries occurring in 1985. A message of determination that such wars and battles will occur "never again." New relations through the European Community and the North Atlantic Alliance. Less successful east-west relations, and with the Soviet Union. The lack of real progress in the field of arms control. The role of Canada. The military support from Canada. The role of NATO.