A Two Way Iron Curtain
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 5 Mar 1956, p. 258-273


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Smith, I. Norman, Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
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A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
Some introductory remarks about Russia and the speaker's recent trip there. Response to the speaker's reports from Russia. Knowledge and ignorance: a two-way iron curtain. A summary of what the speaker reported from Russia. The reader's focus of response to the speaker's reporting. The facts; the speaker's observations in Russia, accompanied by figures and statistics. NATO's reports on Russian military strength. Sir Winston Churchill's warning about growing Russian strength, along with others. Some of the things that a Canadian, James Duncan, has observed about Russia as a result of his recent visit. The lack of effect on Canadians of this information. Mr. Pearson's remarks and impressions of Russia. What should concern us about the Khrushchev-Bulganin trip. The speaker's view of Canada's contribution to the Colombo Plan. Warnings about losing Southeast Asia and the Middle East to Russia, with reported reasons. The speaker's sense of excitement in Russia. The odds against us.
Date of Original:
5 Mar 1956
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
"A TWO WAY IRON CURTAIN"
An Address by MR. I. NORMAN SMITH Associate Editor of The Ottawa Evening Journal
A Joint Meeting with The Canadian Club of Toronto
Monday, March 5th, 1956
CHAIRMAN: The President, Dr. C. C. Goldring.

MR. JOHN GRAY: It is a privilege to welcome again at this table our speaker, Mr. I. Norman Smith, Associate Editor of the "Ottawa Journal". Mr. Smith spoke to the Canadian Club here two years ago and that was an occasion which many of us remember with great pleasure.

Norman Smith was educated at The Grove School, at Lakefield, and then served a long apprenticeship in newspaper work. During eight years with the Canadian Press he lived in most of the cities of Canada, in New York and in London.

Subsequently, with the "Ottawa Journal", he began to develop a growing interest in international relations, and a growing reputation for observing them with a clear eye and commenting on them in an arresting way.

When the United Nations was formed he attended the charter meeting and has attended every General Assembly since. On related occasions he has travelled extensively in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. By now he is certainly one of Canada's most travelled as well as most quoted commentators on world affairs.

Last year he completed a trip around the world, so that it seems to me he has little left to do except to speak to us today, take up space travel, and persuade John Gunther to write a book entitled "Inside Norman Smith."

Mr. Smith's views on his Russian trip about which he will speak now have been regarded as an important and challenging statement, and I assure him on your behalf that we shall hear him with the keenest interest: Mr. Norman Smith.

MR. SMITH: May I say at once that I am uncomfortably aware that there is some gall and presumption in the fact that I, a reporter from Ottawa, should venture to talk to a joint meeting of The Canadian Club and the Empire Club about Russia.

You may well ask, what can I possibly know about Russia! I am encouraged to hold my ground because you could have asked a Russian 20 days ago what he knew about Russia and the next morning his answer would have been very cold bortsch indeed. The man at whose-tomb he worshipped on Tuesday was Wednesday read out of the party.

Clearly it is a country where a fellow has to choose his saints carefully and be prepared to review the bidding. Little wonder that a people of such agility took quickly to hockey; stick-handling between truth and untruth, specially when true becomes untrue and then retrue, must be one of the fastest games in the world. I must say that when I saw Lenin and Stalin in that joint tomb of theirs in aspic under glass they both looked very settled indeed and there was no sign of any eviction order. But that granite honeymoon is over and any day now they'll be told to lie separately.

In such a league of uncertainties, then, how does a passing reporter venture to call the score?

Well, presumably he should try to report just what he saw with his own eyes. But there's an odd thing about that-since coming home I have learned that what I saw with my own eyes I didn't see with my own eyes.

Many who read my Russian articles here or in other Canadian papers just smiled knowingly and put them aside. "Smith's been taken in", they declared. They gave my reports and Mr. Pearson's trip to Russia scarcely another thought.

Gentlemen, I would like to talk to you about this today. I refer not to any personal pique that I am not accepted as a poet or prophet. I speak of the fact that since returning I have found from letters on my desk and at my home, and from phone calls and personal conversations with friends and strangers, that Canada is full of people who know infinitely more about Russia than I do. Almost without exception none of them has been there.

I gather, too, that this has been the discovery of others who went on Mr. Pearson's party and that the Minister's own revelations have been received with more than the traditional grain of salt allotted Cabinet Ministers' pronouncements.

Coming home I flew across Canada. In one airport a stranger began to talk to me when she learned I had been in Russia. She was a dear old lady and wanted to talk. But when I told her I had gone in with Mr. Pearson she said "Humph, and what a lot of rubbish he talked when he came home. I hope you know better."

Bernard Pares, in a book on Russia published in 1940 wrote of the massive ignorance of the rest of the world on Russia. Russia was just not on our curriculum, he said. Russia is still not on our curriculum and apparently we don't want her to be.

Mr. President, I am talking not about likes and dislikes but about knowledge and ignorance. I am talking about a two-way iron curtain.

Before I go on perhaps I should summarize here, in not more than two or three paragraphs, what I reported from Russia.

I found a country where the State is all and the individual nothing, where freedom is almost exclusively the freedom to do what you are told is in the interest of the State. I attended a pathetic service in a Roman Catholic Church that testified grimly to the persecution of religion. I was dealt with by an officialdom which though "correct" was machine-like, and whose arrogance to the unprivileged citizen could easily be though revoltingly imagined.

I told of the uncivilized "hospitality" of Messrs. Khrushchev and Bulganin when they so very crudely determined to make the Canadian foreign minister and his party become ill from the forced repetition of 20 Vodka toasts; and I depicted Khruschev as a man who perhaps from fear, ignorance and arrogance combined, might easily misinterpret some Western move and in what he thought was self-defence crush the push buttons at his elbow and send the world to atoms. I wrote that I despised communism with heart, mind and soul, and that there could be no mistaking that Soviet Russia and Soviet Communism aimed to rule the world, even as Pravda reminds us every day with its abiding slogan: "Workers of the world, unite."

But I also reported that I hadn't seen many underfed people in the crowded cities, nor inadequately clad people, nor shriven, beaten apathetic people. I had been amazed at the busy cities as I strolled around freely by myself, at the TV, at the book stores, at the signs all around of vitality and alertness, of pride in country and in work, and a longing for education. Train travel had been comfortable, shops had been full of goods and full of people freely buying, markets had been crowded, parks showed carefree gaiety, opera, ballet and theatre revealed exquisite, matchless beauty and artistry. I hinted at the dynamics of communism, at production and development running at full spate, at cleverness in propaganda and skill in mass psychology. I said I believed-and regretted-that Soviet Russia under communism was a going concern.

Now then, by some process or habit of thought it seems that the majority of readers ignored my criticism of Russian life and my indictment of Russian intent. Instead, they fastened exclusively and resentfully on everything I said about power and progress, about health and wealth and relative contentment.

Some heatedly contested my right to any view on Russia as I had been only in Moscow, Leningrad and down in the Crimea. Then they would give their own view with all the certainty enjoyed only by those who have never been in a place and scarcely ever read of it.

Others would ask why I hadn't written about Siberia or gone to the labor camps and the prisons or to the backward areas. "You couldn't have got to those places!" they'd exclaim, and then ride me for not having gone.

And a few, bless 'em, snuggled comfortably into their own conception of Russia by asserting that I was a "pink" and probably received free board and lodging in Moscow. If only they knew what it cost us to live in Moscow! Maybe $40 or $50 a day, but that's another story.

Now I am not just talking about a few crackpots or cranks. I have encountered an almost universal unwillingness to accept the Russian story which Mr. Pearson and his party - and the reporters along with them - brought back. The unwillingness varies in degrees, but it exists right here in this room, among my closest friends, in the reaches of my family. I believe it is a national failing of great potential danger and I raise it as such to this meeting.

Gentlemen, I didn't go to Russia to confirm that there are prison camps. We know that. I didn't go to Russia to confirm that there is oppression of religion. We know that (and Marshal Khrushchev has recently said himself that Russia should be atheist and that Russians should be discouraged from taking what he called the "opium" of religion). I didn't go to Russia to find out if there is what we call individual liberty. We know there isn't.

I did go to Russia to see what I could see, on the streets, in the country, in the cities, in the faces of the people, in the stores, the markets, and play-places and the work-places. And in due course I wrote that what I had seen had surprised me and had hurled my ignorance into my face.

This confession of ignorance sent a Toronto man into a very agony of scorn and he wrote a feverish letter to the Montreal Gazette - which kindly published my Russian pieces - about my childish naiveté and disgusting sycophancy.

I do not take back my confession nor my shame at my own ignorance. I suggest a capacity for surprise and shame is something that Canadians are a little short on. It seems to me we are far advanced to the point where we believe only what we want to believe; and to where we believe that only what we like can be successful.

Insofar as Russia and the Russians are concerned, because we deplore their ways we minimize them and belittle their achievements. On this opium we sit by in a kind of coma of ignorance, defying their success and indeed almost denying their existence.

Gentlemen, some of you hate all Russians and all their works. If you do, you should all the more want to learn about them and know what they are doing. Some of you believe with a fire-hot certainty that Russia is going to declare war on us when it suits her. You should then be vigilant in your study of her war-making potential. Some of you cling to the belief that somehow we can and must coexist. You then, above all, should be zealous in your efforts to know and to understand, to clear away the barriers of dark and of mutual mistrust, to base your hopeful policies upon facts rather than fancies and fears.

Mr. President, at this point someone might well ask "What are the facts?" Certainly I cannot answer the question satisfactorily. But let me have a go at it.

Is it not possible, before an intelligent audience, to take for granted what we may call the dark facts: the purges, prisons and oppressions, the inhumanity to man, the labyrinthine foreign policy? I do not ask that they be minimized; on the contrary, I state them first. But an inventory of Russia's wrongs would take us to teatime and there is another inventory I have in mind that may be equally important.

I have already summarized my own observations in Russia. Let me tell you of some other things.

The August issue of The Communist declared atomic energy to be the greatest discovery of the 20th century. Could there be more convincing evidence to us that the Russians feel they are near or at the head of atomic energy development?

The New York Times on January 24, 1956, reported that according to the new Soviet Five Year plan Russia by 1960 would be producing 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 kilowatts of atomic energy. Against this Great Britain plans to have 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 kilowatts generating capacity in 1965, and in the United States six major projects are scheduled to have a combined capacity of 689,000 kilowatts in 1960. In short, they will be ahead of us in 1960 and presumably further ahead in 1965.

The Kiwanis magazine recently presented the six page report of the 12 American farmers who toured Russia last summer, one of whom was a Kiwanian from Iowa. They found things back on the farm in Russia about as impressive as I found the cities of Moscow and Leningrad. Are we going to say the U.S. farm mid-west is pink? 1 was very impressed with the vast Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow, a permanant establishment that incredibly combines a farm fair, an agricultural college, an industrial exhibition, botanical gardens and amusement park. There are 276 buildings. It was tremendously impressive to us and must be more so to peasants from the Russian outback. I was telling someone of it the other day and he sneered that of course it was a lot of Soviet propaganda on its people. Well of course it is propaganda. What's more, it is skilful propaganda and effective propaganda. It instils pride in nation and achievement and these things beget themselves. However I have mentioned the exhibition here for reason of fact, not propaganda. As we walked through one of the buildings Mitchell Sharp (who was conducting the trade talks) and I noticed a kind of mural depicting the growth of Soviet agriculture. One of its claims was that 70.2 million acres of new land had been broken in the Soviet in the last year and one half. There are 60,188,000 acres under cultivation in Canada now. The Soviet claims to have added more than our entire acreage in a year and a half. Between 1941 and 1955 Canada increased acres under cultivation by 4,000,000. The Soviet added 70.2 million in a year and a half.

Now then you say that's hard to believe. Well. I've done some double checking on it and it is close enough to truth to be uncomfortable.

At its meeting in December NATO considered that Russia had 400 submarines, more than half of which are large and medium sized ocean-going types. NATO also considered with awe Russia's known advances in long-range missiles which may before long carry thermo-nuclear warheads.

Jane's "All the World's Aircraft" recently announced in London that Russian air strength was growing rapidly and will soon challenge Western air superiority. Planes are being made in 360 Soviet factories. General Twining, American Air Force Chief of Staff, said in October that the growth of American air strength had fallen far behind that of the Soviet Union. "They possess, he said, "thousands more combat planes than we do", and they were catching up in other categories.

At the last NATO meeting, too, General Gruenther said NATO's defence forces were lagging behind schedule. He spoke in terms of number of troops as well as quality and equipment. Lord Ismay told NATO that Russian armed forces remained at about 175 divisions; but the quantity and quality of their equipment had greatly improved. Admiral Wright, NATO's navy chief, said the Russian submarine fleet was larger than those of all other nations put together.

Hanson Baldwin, New York Times military expert, puts the armed forces of communism, not counting Asia, at 7,000,000.

Sir Winston Churchill, in his first major speech after the general election, said in December: "The behaviour of their leaders must not lead us to suppose that Russian power and capacity are not growing in many other directions. Technological education is an all-important subject in which Great Britain has allowed herself to fall behind. We are already surpassed by Russia on a scale which is most alarming."

In New York, former Congressman William Benton, back from Russia, asserted Soviet industrial production was increasing at the rate of six percent a year as against three percent for America.

In London Sir Robert Shone, executive member of the Iron and Steel Board who led a mission to the Russian steel industry recently, said that in Russia's modern steel plants output per man was equal to Britain's best rate but that the best rates in England and the United States would have to increase more rapidly than at present if they were to keep pace with the acceleration in Russia. He reported that financial incentives, propaganda and social rewards were increasing Russian workers' output. He spoke glowingly of new houses and labour communities built close to the mills. Gentlemen, this was not stated at a press conference but in a lecture to the British Iron and Steel Institute.

And, Sir, Canada has a distinguished industrialist adding his evidence to this story - a man not ordinarily known as a Communist nor even a Pink. I refer of course to Mr. James Duncan. May I remind you of some of the things he has said about Russia as a result of his visit there last October? I quote some of his observations:

"A vast, dynamic, forward-thrusting force which is still in the expanding phase . . . a robust, hard-working and vital people ... a great desire to learn . . . I believe this avidity to improve their education is due, in some measure at least, to a sense of dedication, a desire to be more useful citizens and to play a more valuable role in building up the State ... the industrialization of Russia is an impressive spectacle . . . I was left with the very definite impression that Russia's major industrial problems are already behind them . . . the tempo of work in the plants visited was good, and as far as I could judge, superior to that of either the U.S.A. or Canada . . . I am informed Russia turned out nearly twice as many graduate engineers last year as the United States did . . . the real threat to world peace as I see it does not spring alone from Communism. The real threat is the joining of the dynamic forces of Communist ideology with Russia's historical expansionism."

That is what Mr. Duncan says.

James Sinclair, our own Fisheries Minister, was loosely said to have disagreed with the remarks of Mr. Pearson on Russia's active scene. I think it was more about recognition of Communist China that the two skated around each other with caution. Hear what Mr. Sinclair has said about Russia.

He was impressed with the passion for learning he found in Russian people. He found nothing phony in the Russian fisherman's talk of longing for peace. He reported gigantic industrial strides in Russia. He was struck by their emphasis on science and technology. He saw a new and model fishing town better than any he had seen in the West. He heard short wave radio coming in from Ottawa clearer than he had ever heard radio at such a distance. He found Russia putting great emphasis on teachers and teaching. Teachers were being rated in the social scale next to Communist party bosses and the best buildings in many communities were the school buildings.

Well now I submit that when a Canadian Cabinet Minister reports in such tones about Russia we should stir ourselves. But I learn that Mr. Sinclair's remarks had little effect on Canadians.

Now suppose we examine Mr. Pearson's speeches. He too had to be careful of what he said. A Foreign Minister can't hop about the world shooting from the hip like a newspaper reporter, and Mr. Pearson had to bear in mind that any strong stuff he said about the progress or wellbeing of Russia might be used by Russian propaganda machines throughout the world.

I combed his speeches and broadcasts and press conference reports, and I have read an article he wrote for Look Magazine in the United States. Some have asked why he would write his rather outspokenly critical views on foreign affairs for an American publication. I suspect he wrote it to shake the Americans a bit. Hear what the manager of our external affairs, one of the most experienced men in the business of foreign policy, had to say:

"I have come back very worried that we may be failing to adapt our foreign policies to the changing conditions ... "Where there is a clearly defined Western policy it is too often concerned with the necessary, if limited and often inadequate goal, of containing communism by merely military means ...

"We will lose ground unless we readapt our tactics . . . "Time is perhaps no longer on our side, for the first time since the cold war started."

Now, those are all quotations from Mr. Pearson's article in a large-circulation American magazine. Don't think he didn't weigh them.

To the Women's Canadian Club in Ottawa Mr. Pearson also talked of Russia.

He made clear he was there only a short time and didn't see all Russia (we have all to make these sort of apologies before speaking to Canadians about Russia) but he said his eight days shook him. "Shook" is his word, and this is not a man who shakes easily.

"My abiding impression," said Mr. Pearson, "was one of great power on the part of the state, of massive power, massive strength, indeed great collective wealth and of inflexible purpose . . ."

Mr. Pearson also said this "One certainly does not get the impression after visiting Russia that they are a beaten, servile, lifeless people. One does not get the impression that they miss their freedom as we would miss it."

Gentlemen, I have quoted our Foreign Minister at some length because I get the impression these revealing-startling - statements had not nearly the impact on the Canadian mind that they should have had.

Really, how much warning do we need that Russia is a mighty and flourishing nation? Indeed, it is a galaxy of nations, sprawled over two continents and still expanding.

Think of what happened to Germany's Chancellor Adenauer last September. Remember, he went to Moscow amid much pomp and fanfare, on shining new German trains. He was going to assert Germany's ascendancy and champion Western demands. All that came out of his trip was a rebuke from Russia on all his demands and a statement from the German Chancellor afterwards that his defeat reflected the fact that - I use his words - "the Soviet Union extends over one sixth of the earth's surface and is at the moment one of the most powerful states in the world." He added that he found Russia chiefly interested in its own "mass of tremendous tasks in the interior . . . economic, social and cultural tasks" and he called on the free world (again I quote) "to take notice of this desire and with all necessary caution try to create a period of peaceful development."

Gentlemen, Chancellor Adenauer's words are the words of a man who has run up against something massive, something quite beyond expectations. The note of fear is not far beneath the surface. And remember this, when Chancellor Adenauer went in he was armed with a special and very unusual statement of support from the President of the United States.

And now I come to another fold of the Iron Curtain which seems to darken our thinking about Russia. Several people have said to me, in effect: "We thought your pieces about Russia were pretty good, but then Khrushchev and Bulganin went to India and Burma and called us all rude names and spoiled your argument." Similarly, I gather some people have been asking what was the point in Mr. Pearson's going to Russia if the Russians were just going to go on with their mischief and their ingenious exploitation of world discontent.

This is curious thinking.

What can a further display of Russian bad manners and Communist propaganda have to do with a report of the power and development of Soviet Russia except to give that report even greater meaning and urgency? I had not said a word about Russia's intentions except that she planned to rule the world. I did add that she was making physical progress towards that intent.

And let's think cautiously about that sort of travelling circus which the two Russian leaders staged in India and Burma. It is all very well for the Foreign Office chappie in Downing Street to say they spoke ludicrous nonsense, and for some of us to suggest that the Reds overplayed their hand with the sensitive Indian leaders. A circus isn't designed for intellectuals or for leaders but for masses. One diplomat I met in New Zealand told me he had never seen anything like India's reception of the Russians, and one bears that our own, External Affairs Dept. considers that the Russians made quite an impression.

What should concern us about the Khrushchev-Bulganin trip is not that they cavorted like clumsy elephants - in our judgment - but that they saw and were seen by millions.

Philip Dean wrote this for the London Observer-a most reliable newspaper-"The Indians with few exceptions went completely overboard. They adulated the Russians, turned out in crowds bigger than those that greet Mr. Nehru and refused to doubt the sincerity of the Russian leaders.

"Every anti-Western attack", goes on Philip Deane, "was played up in huge headlines and was echoed, analysed and backed up by editorial comment and background articles. Russian statements were taken completely at their face value; the assertion that the West were the aggressors was accepted, and Lenin's championing of anti-colonialism was compared time and time again with Ganhi's teaching."

That is Mr. Deane's report. Do you hesitate to believe a newspaperman? Well, let me tell you of the Reverend N. N. Bennett, a graduate of McMaster who is a Baptist Missionary and who has been in or around Asia since 1929. Mr. Bennett was in India when the Russians were there and has written an article for the current print of the International Journal, published by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. It is an article that should make your hair stand on end, and it concludes with these words: "In my opinion India has moved definitely further away from the no-communistic bloc in recent months. That she has moved into the communist bloc would be stoutly denied, but the effect is probably the same. Moscow has ceased to play around in India with a troublesome set of mischief makers calling themselves communist and has now changed her tactics to woo the nation as a nation. The result will probably be far more effective than anything yet applied."

There you have two men, one of the press and one of the cloth, looking at Asia through Asian eyes. Pay them some heed.

Mr. Pearson in one of his recent speeches said he wasn't sure that the revolution he saw going on in Asia and Southeast Asia wasn't even more important, historically, than what he saw in Russia. I have a few views on this myself, having been in Singapore during the Colombo Plan meeting.

Colombo Plan: I have before now belabored Canadian Clubs with my views on the feebleness of Canada's contribution to the Colombo Plan and of the inadequacy of the plan to meet its responsibility. And nothing I saw or heard in Asia or at the Colombo meeting makes me soften my charge.

Yes, I know, in December Canada announced an increase of eight million dollars a year. That announcement should have been made at the time of the meeting, in October, when its propaganda value would have been something. Indeed it should have been announced several years ago. But now that it has come, don't let anyone tell you we are now doing our bit. It means only that instead of the average Canadian giving $1.70 a year to stem the flow of communism in Southeast Asia he is now to give $2.20 a year.

I suppose I will have some argument on that. I will be told by the Finance Department or by some official apologists that Canada has given all she was asked for. I don't believe that; except insofar as our people have trained the Asians, who are subtle, in the unwisdom of asking for more than they know they are going to get.

In Singapore I talked with the leaders of most of the Asian delegations. Their stories were pretty much alike. Here is the way the leader of the Indian delegation put it. "The Colombo Plan achievements are very short of realities. We haven't long to wait in Asia to control discontent and preserve peace. The next five years is the most crucial period. We are in a position to absorb much more aid than has been granted."

Now if that seems to you only the view of one Indian let me tell you what was said in the small print of the annual report of the Colombo Plan committee. It told of some progress but added that "much more still has to be done and some of the tasks ahead will be even harder." The report warned of the rapid increase of population, perhaps by 10 millions a year, and declared per capita food consumption was not only below accepted nutrition standards but below pre-war levels. That is, in the fundamental of all fundamentals, eating, things are getting worse, not better.

Gentlemen, I cannot take the time to tell you of the conditions I have seen in some Asian countries. But if I could tell you I am sure you would wonder about that $2.20 you are going to give next year to the Colombo Plan-what is it, less than two-thirds of a cent a day? It is fantastically out of scale, whether you judge it as a compassionate grant or as defence against communism.

Yet the Colombo Plan is virtually all Canada is doing about Asia, the area Mr. Pearson says may be history's most important crucible at this time. The area which Sir Archibald Nye told us the other day was in precarious balance - an area he seemed to feel we were losing.

I don't relish saying what I am about to say, but I must say it. I have found that many Canadians seem almost to resent the poverty of Asian people. It embarrasses us, we look the other way if they beg, and say to ourselves that we can't stand beggars. But if they don't beg and instead seem to keep company with arrant nationalists or even Communists, then we call them fellow travellers and shut up our doors.

Some of you feel I exaggerate? I wish you had been in Australia and heard their Foreign Minister, just back from Southeast Asia, tell me of the way the Communists are flooding Asian book stalls with cheaply priced and very clever propaganda literature. I wish you had seen the Auckland Star devote six columns to the first of a series of stories from a newspaperman who had been in Southeast Asia for 10 years and who had concluded that in Asia we had won the war but lost the peace. I wish you could move overnight into the island of Java, the most crowded area in the world, and there, along Djakarta's streets and canal, decide whether you think communism could be a threat.

Do I bore you? And did I bore Canadians when I spoke in this same anxiety from Canadian Club platforms in 1950 after a trip to Asia. I said then that we were losing in Asia. Well, since then the vaunted world forces of UN have been held to a humiliating and unworkable stalemate in Korea, we've lost much of Indo-China, we've a most slippery hold on Malaya and Singapore, Japan is beginning to show signs of foment, Communist China has increased in power and stature and Formosa has become but an embarrassing and pathetic island; and in the important country of India neutralism has grown to the point where we foolishly and dangerously call it communism.

In the light of that last five years in Asia, I warn you, again, of the next.

And this is not just my say-so. Take a look, for instance, at the New York Times of February 2, a Tokyo despatch saying the Japanese Economic Planning Board had released a Japanese study made for it which said that the United States is losing the battle of economic aid to Southeast Asia and the Middle East; losing it, that is, to Russia.

It gave these reasons: Russia is offering easier terms and taking payment in surplus commodities; Moscow is not dictating how the money is to be spent nor linking its program to military commitments. Note: that report refers not merely to Japan but to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. A bleak report, a black report.

We may in our comfortable wisdom feel that Asian poverty is too big for solution. They don't. On Christmas Day Mr. Nehni in the course. of a speech referred to the enthusiasm of drawing India's Second Five Year Plan. "What more exciting task", he asked, "could there be for any people than to plunge themselves in this huge wave, to co-operate with millions of people and to raise the level of these millions, to fight the curse of poverty?"

We here don't think much of five year plans, chiefly because God in his infinite kindness has made them seemingly unnecessary. We scoffed at the Russian plans, you'll remember. Yet they worked; yes, they worked; and India means to make hers work, either with or without our help.

Mr. Nehru says it is "exciting" to work at such a plan. Imagine Mr. St. Laurent or Mr. Drew or Mr. Howe publicly applying that word to some Canadian economic or budgetary operation. How our sophisticates would chortle if they did, how our public would yawn.

And yet, - (and I am completing the cycle) - I sense an excitement in Russia too. The people seemed to feel involved in something, something they were doing or making. Something was afoot. They may not have known - or even liked - all the directions or the plans but the dynamic of something was at work on them.

We may laugh at their naivete, at their zeal and their excitement. Caring less and less about more and more is becoming the banner of our individual freedom.

But in the meantime, gentlemen, the processes of history are being fiendishly, energetically and efficiently aided by the forces of communism. And the odds are against us. The time could come when even if we cared more it couldn't matter less.

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A Two Way Iron Curtain


A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
Some introductory remarks about Russia and the speaker's recent trip there. Response to the speaker's reports from Russia. Knowledge and ignorance: a two-way iron curtain. A summary of what the speaker reported from Russia. The reader's focus of response to the speaker's reporting. The facts; the speaker's observations in Russia, accompanied by figures and statistics. NATO's reports on Russian military strength. Sir Winston Churchill's warning about growing Russian strength, along with others. Some of the things that a Canadian, James Duncan, has observed about Russia as a result of his recent visit. The lack of effect on Canadians of this information. Mr. Pearson's remarks and impressions of Russia. What should concern us about the Khrushchev-Bulganin trip. The speaker's view of Canada's contribution to the Colombo Plan. Warnings about losing Southeast Asia and the Middle East to Russia, with reported reasons. The speaker's sense of excitement in Russia. The odds against us.