Canada and NATO
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Mar 1956, p. 293-305
Smith, Major-General J.D.B., Speaker
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Item Type
Canada and NATO. Some of the highlights of the historical background leading up to NATO. Some of the motivating international actions which brought about its organization. How NATO is different from the classic alliances of the past. Defining NATO. Article 5 as the "hard core" of NATO. Details of NATO's forces and operations. Canada's participation in NATO. The frustration experienced by the Soviet veto. A quote from Mr. Khrushchev, with an analysis following. A quote from Lenin on peaceful coexistence. Reference to Marx. Some of the political, economic, and social approaches that are being made by the Soviets. Directing our attention to the struggle against Communism. The danger of being lulled into a false sense of hopefulness by the Soviet Union. Being honest and sincere about defending our way of life.
Date of Original
22 Mar 1956
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Full Text
An Address by MAJOR-GENERAL J. D. B. SMITH, C.B.E., D.S.O., C.D. Commandant of the National Defence College of Canada
Thursday, March 22nd, 1956
CHAIRMAN: Dr. C. C. Goldring, President.

DR. GOLDRING: Three months ago, the representatives of the fifteen member governments of NATO met in Paris, and at the conclusion of their work, the council declared that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains the essential foundation of the security of the fifteen associated nations. The following is an extract from the Monthly Bulletin of the Department of External Affairs, referring to this conference:

"There was a general awareness that the Soviet leaders were exploiting in their current diplomatic offensive all situations that could give rise to difficulties for the members of NATO in an attempt to break up the unity of the Alliance. There was unanimous agreement that greater unity is the only possible answer to these tactics. The exchange of views on the international situation gave further evidence that NATO is becoming increasingly important as a forum in which members hear each others views and, where possible, try to achieve an agreed approach to outstanding international issues."

It is important for Canadians to know more and more about NATO, its objectives, and its accomplishments. The Empire Club of Canada is fortunate in having as its guest speaker today, a gentleman well qualified to talk on this subject. Major-General Smith joined the Canadian Army nearly twenty-three years ago. During World War II he served in England, Italy, and in Northwest Europe, and at various times he commanded the Fourth Canadian Armoured Brigade, the Fifth Canadian Armoured Brigade, the First Canadian Corps and the First Canadian Infantry Brigade. Since the conclusion of World War II, he has served in various capacities, among them being as Commandant of the Royal Military College, Kingston, as a member of the General Staff Branch, Army Headquarters, Ottawa, as Chairman of the Canadian Joint Staff, London, and as Military Advisor to the permanent Canadian representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Council. At present, General Smith is Commandant of the National Defence College of Canada.

On behalf of the Empire Club of Canada, I extend a warm welcome to Major-General J. D. B. Smith, C.B.E., D.S.O., C.D., who will address us on the subject "Canada and NATO".

MAJOR-GENERAL SMITH: Dr. Goldring, My Lord Bishop, Your Lordship and Members of the Empire Club of Canada: It is indeed a very real and a great privilege for me to be here today. I indeed welcome this opportunity of coming here today and speaking to you for a short time on "Canada and NATO".

In the time that is available what I would like to do, if I may, is to give you some of the highlights of the historical background leading up to NATO because I think it is important that we should know the reasons, the basic reasons, behind NATO and some of the motivating international actions which brought about its organization.

You will probably recall that in 1945, when the nations of the world met at San Francisco there was great hope that throughout the world we would set a new pattern which would ensure continuing peace and security and which would provide freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live as sovereign nations.

But you also remember that even while we were meeting in San Francisco, the Soviets showed their first intention of not wanting or desiring to live with the West.

That took place when the sixteen members of the Lublin Government who had been living in exile in London journeyed to Moscow to discuss with the Soviet Government ways and means by which the legitimate Polish Government could be returned to Warsaw. You know the sad story of the events. On arrival in Moscow the sixteen members of the Polish Government were immediately placed in prison and despite the entreaties and pleas made by the leaders of the West, nothing more was heard of them.

Within months of that incident we had in our own country the Igor Gouzenko defection and when that story broke, Canadians immediately became aware of the fact that our so-called Allies had been plotting against and spying on the nations with whom they were supposedly working to bring about a final victory in Europe.

During the two following years every action that took place in the United Nations to bring disarmament, to set up an international police force by which aggression could be checked anywhere that it might break out, in fact every attempt to reduce friction between the West and the East was nullified by the veto of the Soviet Union in the Security Council.

In 1947, with the economic conditions in Europe at their lowest, you will recall that the United States made what I am sure in history will be recorded as one of the most magnanimous and munificent gestures, a proposal to rehabilitate the countries of Europe through the Marshall Aid Plan. That Plan was not limited to West Europe. Indeed it was offered to all countries suffering from the chaos and destruction of war and was open to those countries behind the Iron Curtain.

There again we saw evidence of the Soviet wishes and desires when Czechoslovakia and Poland, who asked to participate in the Marshall Plan, were forced to withdraw through Russian pressure. You also remember the Paris Meeting on the Marshall 'Aid Plan, when Mr. Molotov left the meeting suddenly without any cause or reason. This action was clarified, however, a few weeks later when Stalin decried the Marshall Plan as further evidence of American Dollar Imperialism.

The Peace Treaties of 1947 which were signed with Bulgaria, Hungary and Roumania, meant nothing insofar as the Soviet Union was concerned, for scarcely had the treaties been signed when the Soviet Union immediately began to rearm these three countries, despite the fact that the USSR alone had a standing army of some fourteen and a half million troops at the time, whereas the United States, the United Kingdom and all other allied forces had demobilized as quickly as possible, Russia not only retained her armed strength on the ground but saw fit to rearm these countries which had come under her control as satellites.

On the 22nd of February 1948, the last light of freedom in Central Europe was extinguished when a Communist minority in Czechoslovakia, by coup d'etat, gained power. Czechoslovakia ceased to be a democracy and joined the group of hapless Soviet satellites.

It became obvious that unless some form of alliance could be brought about, one by one the countries of Western Europe by threat, by coercion or even by aggression, could be brought under the heel of Soviet domination.

To this end, the United Kingdom and France met with Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg and on the 17th of March, 1948 the Brussels Treaty Organization was formed in the hope that these five countries would be able to provide forces sufficient to deter aggression and maintain the security of their territorial boundaries.

But, as as you know, and as Lord Ismay has put it so nicely in his book, scarcely had the ink on the Brussels Treaty dried when the Berlin Blockade began. For the next 323 days Russia tested the West to see whether or not we would maintain our position vis-a-vis Berlin.

Meanwhile throughout the World, Soviet aggression was moving rapidly to make inroads on the war weakened countries. In Greece, Communist guerillas equipped and supplied by Moscow through Bulgaria were attempting to seize power. In Turkey, by way of intimidation, Russia attempted to gain entry into the Mediterranean. In Iran, Russia endeavoured to retain the northern part of the country which she had occupied as an ally during the war. In Korea one only has to think back to the situation that developed in that part of the world as a result of Russian support and Russian endeavours during the period concerning which I am speaking. Again, in Indo-China and Malaya communist imperialism was an increasing threat to peace and security.

It was quite obvious to the Western World that an alliance far greater than the Brussels Treaty and one far stronger, was required if the countries of Western Europe were not to succumb, one by one, to Soviet aggression. Such an alliance, obviously, must have as a member the United States of America. On the 11th of June 1948, one of the most important items of legislation in American history was passed by the U.S. Senate. It was listed as Resolution 239 and was sponsored by Senator Connally and by Senator Vandenberg, after whom it was popularly referred to as the Vandenberg Resolution. By this resolution the United States of America for the first time in its history, was authorized to plan for participation in area defence outside continental U.S.A. Immediately following the adoption of the Vandenberg Resolution, representatives of Canada and the United States met with representatives from the Brussels Treaty Powers in Washington, and there commenced to organize and to plan the NATO Treaty, as we know it today.

Throughout the Autumn of 1948 and the winter of 1949, work on these plans continued and finally, on the 4th of April 1949, twelve nations met in Washington and signed the North Atlantic Treaty.

In the Autumn of 1951 at a NATO Council Meeting in Ottawa, Greece and Turkey were invited to join and they acceded to the Treaty the following spring.

You will recall between 1952 and 1955 a great amount of discussion and negotiation took place in Europe concerning the position of Germany. The European Defence Community, which had been proposed as the most acceptable arrangement, underwent many changes to meet the requirements of all powers concerned. When it was finally rejected by France in September of 1954, Sir Anthony Eden made his historic whirlwind tour through the Capitals of Europe and brought about through his efforts the London Agreements which resulted in the organization of Western European Union. Through this and other related agreements Germany was granted her sovereignty and on the 5th of May last year acceded to the North Atlantic Treaty.

That, gentlemen, is a very brief picture to bring you up to date on the background of NATO.

This alliance is different from the classic alliances of the past in many ways. There was no question of developing power blocs by the founding nations. Nor was there any question of seeking territorial gains. This Treaty was brought about, as I have tried to indicate to you, through sheer necessity, to ensure the territorial integrity of the nations concerned. It was, and still is, a Treaty with no aggressive purpose whatsoever, and exists solely for the defence of the NATO countries.

Now, what is NATO? The most intriguing definition of NATO is one which Lord Ismay gives. He says, "perhaps this is the most constructive experiment in international relations that has ever been attempted". In practical terms, NATO is an alliance of fifteen sovereign nations, each of equal voice and status working together to produce those forces which are necessary to ensure the security of the NATO Area.

The hard core of NATO lies in Article 5, and this Article states that an attack on any NATO country is considered an attack on all and if such attack takes place each party will forthwith in concert with the other parties, take such action as is deemed necessary in order to restore and to maintain the security of the Area.

Gentlemen, there is certainly nothing aggressive in that Article and that is the basis of the Treaty. But that is a promise and in a world such as the one in which we live today, promises must be backed up by something a little stronger than the written word. So, Article 3 provides that each country, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop, not only their individual forces, but their collective forces, in order to resist armed attack.

Another interesting aspect which develops out of these two Articles lies in the fact that if the nations provide forces for collective security, these forces must be controlled by some form of unified command. I think again NATO is unique in this respect for to my knowledge this is the only Alliance in which in peace time sovereign nations have placed their forces under the operational control of an Allied Command.

In NATO we have two principal Supreme Commanders. We have the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and we have the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. We have another Supreme Commander who is concerned with the protection of the English Channel Area, but SACEUR and SACLANT as they are familiarly known, are the two principal Commanders. Under these Commanders, the countries of NATO have placed their assigned armed forces to these Commanders has been given the responsibility of defending the NATO area against aggression..

In terms of quantity, NATO represents 450 million people. The Organization of NATO is charged with the problem of ensuring the security of these peoples. These peoples have seen fit to spend in excess of $64,000,000,000 in order to provide the forces necessary to carry out this task.

I am not going to speak on the relative strength of our forces vis-a-vis the Russians, because only a week ago General Gruenther made that information available in Ottawa, and I am sure you have all read it. But I think for our purposes today it is sufficient to say that the development in the NATO forces since 1951 has been amazing and almost unbelievable, to the extent, as General Gruenther has put it, that in three or four years' time, when the German forces become effective, if all goes well, should aggression break out in Europe, and I quote General Gruenther, we shall be able to defeat it.

Now that, Gentlemen, gives you very briefly and quickly, an idea of what happened between 1949 and 1955. You can see that the peoples of the NATO countries have supported this Organization to the point where today our Supreme Allied Commander in Europe is able to make that statement.

I come now to Canada's participation in NATO. I am always pleased to be able to say that one of the first voices raised at the United Nations in favour of a collective Alliance, such as NATO, was that of our own Prime Minister who, when as Secretary of State for External Affairs in 1947, pointed out that there was rapidly developing a time when democratic and peace-loving States would be willing to accept more specific international obligations in return for a greater measure of national security.

You can understand the frustration that must have developed in those immediate post-war years in the United Nations, when every effort to bring about conditions where aggression could not survive was nullified by the Soviet veto.

It was in this frustrating atmosphere of Soviet intransigeance that Mr. St. Laurent first made the suggestion that an Alliance of the type of NATO was certainly required.

Again, in 1948 our senior government officials and Service Officers helped in developing the format of the Treaty, assisted in developing the defence organization for the various Commands and worked continuously with the United States, the United Kingdom and the other NATO representatives in bringing to the Council in Washington on the 4th of April, the final Treaty in the form in which it was signed.

One interesting point on the Canadian side is that when the Treaty was brought before the House of Commons for ratification on the 20th of April 1949, it was, I believe, one of the few occasions in Canada's history when a unanimous vote was made in Parliament.

On those three points alone, the sincerity of the Canadian people regarding NATO was quite evident. But since that time our sincerity has shown up in much more tangible ways. Since 1950 our country has seen fit to devote approximately fifty per cent of our national Budget each year in support of NATO. This very large expenditure has been made to meet the costs of providing the necessary defence for the Canada-U.S. region, which is a North Atlantic Treaty Region. It has enabled us also to provide in Europe an Air Division and an Infantry Brigade group. I might say that the morale effect of those two formations in Europe is out of all proportion to their size.

In addition, this defence expenditure has enabled Canada to provide through the mutual aid of which I spoke earlier, a sum approximating 1,100 million dollars. This can be broken down into equipment of all kinds which have gone to the other NATO countries .... ships, mine sweepers, jet aircraft, all nature of vehicles, ammunition, armaments, and the like. In addition, this aid has also included an Air Crew Training Scheme which has been of tremendous value to the countries of Europe who are only now able to build up the special facilities required for this type of training.

I think we can be justifiably proud of the efforts which we in Canada have made, but I would like to talk to you for just one moment on the future, because I do believe that, successful as we have been to date, we must look toward the future, particularly at this time when so much is being talked of by way of relaxation of tensions, the willingness of the Russians to work with the West, Treaties of Friendship, and the like.

If I may, I would like to quote to you what Mr. Khrushchev said at the last meeting of the Soviet Communist Party last month. This is what he said:

"The principle of peaceful coexistence is gaining increasingly wide international recognition and this is logical, since there is no other way out in the present situation. Indeed, there are only two ways-either peaceful coexistence or the most devastating war in history. There is no alternative."

Well, now, what does peaceful coexistence mean? I think we in the West could define it something along these lines: That the East and the West would live side by side, developing their economies in their own individual ways, and while not necessarily admiring or condoning the methods of the other, at least existing without the fear or the threat of our own system being undermined or destroyed by the other.

And, Gentlemen, with the so-called willingness of the Russians recently, and their many manifestations of friendship, without careful analysis we in the West could be lulled into a false understanding of the real meaning which the Soviets attach to peaceful coexistence.

But if there were any doubts in the West that perhaps peaceful coexistence which Khrushchev produces is in fact a real and a genuine effort to establish conditions in which Democracy and Communism can live side by side, let me quote from a speech which the same gentleman gave to an Eastern German delegation last September when they visited in Moscow. This is what he said on that day:

"We always tell the truth to our friends as well as to our enemies. We are in favour of the relaxation of tension but if anybody thinks that for this reason we shall forget about Marx, Engels and Lenin, he is mistaken. This will happen when shrimps learn to whistle. We are for coexistence because there is in the world a Capitalist and a Socialist system but we shall always adhere to the building of Socialism."

Let us go back to one of these distinguished gentlemen to whom Mr. Khrushchev referred. This is what Mr. Lenin said in 1920 on the subject of coexistence:

"We are living not merely in a state but in a system of states, and the existence of the Soviet Republics, side by side with Imperialist States for a long time is unthinkable. One or other must triumph in the end, and before that end supervenes a series of frightful collisions between the Soviet Republics and the bourgeois States will be inevitable." Mark you, Mr. Khrushchev is saying last September that anyone who thinks we shall forget Lenin is badly mistaken.

Marx, to whom he also refers, and who wrote the bible of Communism, has this to say about Democracy. He says, "The democratic concept of man is false because it is Christian. The democratic concept holds that each man has a value as a sovereign being. This is an illusion and a dream." So you see, Gentlemen, so long as Soviet Communism is directed at the overthrow and the destruction of Democracy there can be no real coexistence, let alone peaceful coexistence.

To the Soviets, peaceful coexistence is just a facade whose pleasant proportions they hope will be so appealing as to distract us from examining the basic structure. "We want peace," says Mr. Khrushchev," because we can win the conflict between the two Systems, yours and ours, without war." And it is in this area of peaceful activity that they are now bending their every effort toward their final goal of World Communism.

On the political side I would just like to run over some of the approaches that are being made by the Soviets. They are utilizing every opportunity to castigate the Western Alliances, such as NATO, as aggressive and warmongering. They are attempting to woo the so-called new nations of the world by blandishments and flattery, and to applaud Socialist movements in the hope of gaining Popular Front Governments in those countries where there is no clear cut government majority. They are quick to accentuate and to magnify any international difference, no matter how slight, between members of the Western Alliance, in an effort to split the Allies, one from the other.

As the Khrushchev-Bulganan visit to the United Kingdom approaches they are suggesting that only the U.S.S.R. and the United Kingdom, as the leaders of Europe, should be responsible for that area . . . . a clear attempt to get the United States and Canadian forces out of Europe, which of course, in my view, would bring about not only the collapse of NATO but the collapse of European Democracy.

In the economic and social field their approach has been ingenious. In those countries where economic assistance is necessary, they have cunningly attributed the present unfortunate stage of the masses solely to the government by former colonial powers, and although they, themselves, have done comparatively little by way of actual help or assistance, they have succeeded in discrediting, in considerable measure, Western aid, by associating it with colonialism and Dollar imperialism.

So long as we can retain our strength in NATO, our military strength in NATO, and in the West and other places to remove the temptation provided by the hope of an easy victory, the likelihood of military attack, in my view, is not great. Certainly, if we remain strong, militarily, there is not likely to be an all out aggression.

But in this new conflict in which we are continually engaged, we have now to direct our efforts toward the political, the economic and the social struggle against Communism, and in this direction, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is the strongest Alliance in the West, rates certainly a high priority on the Soviet target list. Mr. Pearson, on his return from Moscow, reported and I quote: "Mr. Khrushchev made no secret to me of their determination to weaken and to destroy our North Atlantic Organization as an aggressive anti-Soviet bloc."

When I referred just now to NATO being the strongest Alliance in the West, I was not thinking solely in terms of military strength. No, indeed. NATO, in my view, provides the greatest possibilities for real and determined action in the political, economic and social development of Democracy. And immediate action is required, for even within the NATO family, the depressing economic and social conditions of some member countries are such that promises of the local Communist party leaders have beguiled a large part of the electorate into supporting them and sending them to Parliament.

Now, should these local Communist parties in these countries gain a majority or even acquire such strength that the formation of a Popular Front Government develops, it is the beginning of the end of Democracy in those countries. An electorate that enables a Communist Party to form a Government has ceased to be an electorate. From that moment on, Communist control takes over, free elections end, and the will and the wishes of the people cease to have any effect on their respective governments.

Outside NATO area there are many countries where help, and help in large quantities is required, in order to reduce famine and disease and to make available to those countries a standard of living that will enable each human being to live in full freedom and with the dignity the Creator intended.

Unless this help is forthcoming and quickly, the inroads of Communism will rapidly spread and succeed. And while we must endeavour to meet every proposal put forward by the Soviet Government to bring about a relaxation of tension, and while we must examine each with care and with interest, we must continue, nevertheless, to remember that the basic philosophy of the present Soviet Government is to destroy Democracy. As long as Soviet Communism has the destruction of Democracy as its platform, there can be no such thing as peaceful coexistence.

I have endeavoured to point up the danger of being lulled into a false sense of hopefulness by the blandishments and smiles that are currently being made toward the West, and I have indicated to you the desire of the U.S.S.R. to see NATO weakened and destroyed as their immediate goal.

If we are honest and sincere about defending our way of life, and if we still believe in the freedom and the dignity of the individual, then we must be prepared, not only to maintain and to strengthen NATO, but also to accept, personally and nationally, any additional burdens which may be necessary in order to ensure that we are winning this conflict against Communism . . . this life and death struggle in which we are now engaged.

And, costly though our support of NATO may be, in my view it would be poor consolation for our grandchildren to read in their history books that in the last half of the twentieth century, Democracy died of a balanced Budget.

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Canada and NATO

Canada and NATO. Some of the highlights of the historical background leading up to NATO. Some of the motivating international actions which brought about its organization. How NATO is different from the classic alliances of the past. Defining NATO. Article 5 as the "hard core" of NATO. Details of NATO's forces and operations. Canada's participation in NATO. The frustration experienced by the Soviet veto. A quote from Mr. Khrushchev, with an analysis following. A quote from Lenin on peaceful coexistence. Reference to Marx. Some of the political, economic, and social approaches that are being made by the Soviets. Directing our attention to the struggle against Communism. The danger of being lulled into a false sense of hopefulness by the Soviet Union. Being honest and sincere about defending our way of life.