Based on new research from documents in the National Archives of Canada and in the Foreign Relations of the United States series, this paper re - examines some of the key issues of Canadian - American diplomacy during the first seven months of the Korean War. Canadian foreign policy - makers faced several difficult decisions during that period. As Denis Stairs has observed, Canada wanted to restrict American actions in Korea; yet at the same time, Canada was itself constrained by the need to preserve unity among the Western allies, by the desire to safeguard Canadian influence in Washington for more vital issues, and by the shared Cold War assumptions which dominated both Canadian and American perceptions of events in Korea.
Cet article, base sur une documentation puisee dans les Archives Nationales du Canada et dans la serie Foreign Relations in the United States, examine de nouveau quelques - unes des questions cruciales de la politique canadienne - americaine durant les sept premiers mois de la guerre en Coree. Les responsables de la politique etrangere du Canada devaient faire face pendant cette periode a plusieurs decisions difficiles. Comme le fit remarquer Denis Stairs, le Canada voulait borner l'engagement americain en Coree mais en me@me temps le Canada fut contraint par le besoin de preserver l'unite des allies occidentaux, par le desir de sauvegarder l'influence canadienne a Washington dans des domaines d'importance plus cruciale, et par les positions partagees pendant la guerre froide qui influencerent fortement les perceptions canadienne et americaine des evenements en Coree.
It may seem carping and idle to concentrate on flaws in U.S. foreign policy when that of the U.S.S.R. can be damned practically in toto. But it is precisely the character of Soviet foreign policy that puts a premium on the soundness and wisdom of U.S. policy when the perils for the world in the struggle are considered.(f.1)
If you consider that the United States is proposing to do something unwise and dangerous, and not in the interests of world peace and world prosperity, how far do you go in standing Up to them and opposing them in public? You have to make this assessment, day after day, as you have to ask yourself: "Is the cost of opposition truly in the national interest of Canada?"(f.2)
Although the Korean War was fought under the banner of the United Nations, the ostensibly overwhelming predominance of American decision - makers has led most standard American history texts to treat the conflict as a purely American one. Even if one rejects this oversimplified American view, the central importance of US forces in nearly all aspects of the UN Korean effort is undeniable. For this reason, arty examination of why Canada entered the Korean War and the role our diplomats and foreign policy - makers intended Canada to play during the first seven months of the conflict cannot be isolated from the larger realm of Canadian - American relations. "Canada's relations with the United States are important enough at any time," wrote Blair Fraser in the fall of 1950, "but never in history have they been so important as now."(f.3) Despite Fraser's hyperbole, it was clear that Canada could not afford to look at the Far East without also looking south of the border.
The only book wholly devoted to the place of the Korean War in Canadian foreign policy contends that the most fundamental preoccupation of Canadian diplomacy during that period was to constrain or moderate American decisions concerning Korea, so that the conflict would not divert too much effort away from Europe, or degenerate into a full - scale world war.(f.4) The following brief essay is not intended to challenge directly or refute the central assumptions of this "constraint" thesis; instead, it seeks to limit or qualify the applicability of constraint as a theme of Canadian policy during the early war period. To be sure, Canada wanted to restrain the United States; at times, Canadian diplomats believed that they had to carp at the flaws in US policy in order to preserve world peace. But Canada was itself constrained by the costs of opposition - the risk of causing a dangerous split in the Western alliance that might permanently sour Canadian - American relations -- and also by the basic similarity of Canadian and American perceptions of the Cold War. Despite the real and considerable strain that the Korean War placed on Canadian - American diplomacy, there were such tight limits on Canada's ability and inclination to restrain the US that at times during the early war period the similarities of Canadian and American approaches to Korea outshone the differences.
Before directly examining the specifics of the Canada - US relationship during the Korean War, it is necessary to present an overview of the way in which foreign policy in Canada was handled in the early 1950s. Of course, it is not possible to paint an entirely comprehensive picture of the administrative intricacies of Ottawa's foreign policy apparatus within the limits of this brief study. Nevertheless, in order to understand more fully why the Canadian government reacted as it did, it is important to convey a general sense of the people who had a degree of influence on the framing of Canada's responses to the Korean crisis.
Any account of the shaping of Canadian foreign policy during this period must begin with the influence of Canada's External Affairs Minister, Lester B. Pearson. Pearson is of central importance to the study of the Korean War, at least in part because his memoirs provide one of the most detailed records of UN peace negotiations in 1950 - 51 and again in 1952 - 53.(f.5) Despite the views of those historians who have portrayed Pearson as nothing more than a "Corporal" in the service of "General [Dean] Acheson," whose "tougher, more brilliant mind" dwarfed the somewhat less able Canadian on the international stage,(f.6) it is apparent that in the early 1950s Pearson was at the height of his diplomatic career. Several of his colleagues have noted that his reputation for fair - mindedness earned him widespread respect and admiration among the global diplomatic community.(f.7) Since Pearson possessed a stature in world affairs that few Canadians could match, it was only natural that his opinions should have a considerable influence on government policy. According to Denis Stairs, the respect accorded Pearson by the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, members of the House of Commons, and officials in the Department of External Affairs, was such that Pearson's role in shaping Canada's Korean response was considerably amplified.(f.8)
Still, it would be less than accurate to create the impression that Pearson's control of Canadian foreign policy was absolute, for Pearson by no means had the luxury of determining Canadian responses in a political vacuum. His role in the process was important, but several other people had key parts to play as well. To begin with, there was the Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent. His reaction to the early Korean crisis has been obscured by some unfortunate comments he made to the press, creating the impression (at least in Washington's eyes) of an almost complete lack of interest.(f.9) According to the accepted historical account, St. Laurent played a nearly invisible and largely permissive role, serving only to add official dignity to the policies hammered out by Pearson.(f.10) To be fair to the Prime Minister, however, there appears to have been more to his role than the accepted version implies. St. Laurent retained a keen interest -- some observers argued a disproportionate interest -- in the operations of External Affairs, his former department.(f.11) Much of his early "disinterest" in the Korean problem stemmed from the acute lack of information Canada had received, and by August of 1950 his attention was diverted to the serious labour troubles plaguing the Canadian railway industry.(f.12) Although he tended to agree with many of Pearson's foreign policy presuppositions, St. Laurent was not always so invisible during the formulation of Canada's response to the Korean crisis. To be sure, Pearson and his department did much of the foreign affairs thinking, but the final decisions clearly rested with St. Laurent.(f.13)
One must also consider the influence of the rest of the cabinet. According to the somewhat fanciful account of Donald Creighton, the cabinet at large did not figure in Canadian foreign policy at that time because of the constant efforts of St. Laurent and Pearson to withhold information from those "maladroit ministers," who might needlessly interfere.(f.14) Taking a different and likely more accurate approach, Denis Stairs argues that the cabinet, with one notable exception (Brooke Claxton) was so uninterested in foreign affairs that it bowed to Pearson's obvious expertise.(f.15) Paul Martin was another minister who did not share the cabinet's habitual lack of concern for foreign relations. He took an active interest in the UN, and differed with Pearson's approach to the question of the recognition of China.(f.16) In general, it appears to be true that the cabinet as a whole tended to respect Pearson's Korean views; C.D. Howe, writing to an American at about this time, said that Pearson could be relied upon as representative of the cabinet's opinions in foreign affairs.(f.17)
However, cabinet respect should by no means be equated with constant or docile acquiescence. Brooke Claxton noted in his memoirs that Pearson's "relations with other members of the cabinet were not nearly as good as he could have made them by the exercise of a little restraint on his sharp tongue," and that his cabinet popularity was further lowered by his penchant for leaking information to the press.(f.18) Moreover, where Pearson's diplomacy touched on the United States, the cabinet could be seen as exercising a sort of unspoken restraint on Pearson's ability to oppose American actions. It is, wrote John Holmes, a very serious matter for a foreign minister to isolate Ottawa from Washington, "especially if he does so on a subject not specifically related to the kind of Canadian national interest that was closer to the hearts of his more political colleagues."(f.19) Clearly, Pearson could never discount cabinet sentiments in the foreign policy process.
The same could not be said to apply to the rest of the members of the House of Commons. Canadian political scientists have frequently observed that the Commons' tendency to act as a rubber stamp for government actions is at its most pronounced in the areas of foreign and defence policies. It was evident in the early 1950s that while the average MP may have been more "external - minded" than the public in general, he was much less so than the average cabinet minister.(f.20) When Claxton announced to the House in the spring of 1950 that he had reached an arms - sale agreement with the United States, "he wasn't asked a single question by anybody though it [was] probably the biggest Canadian defence story since V.J. day."(f.21) Consequently, at the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, even the opposition MPs were content to voice support for the government's plan of action.(f.22) One small group of Quebec MPs did raise concerns over Canada's potential involvement in Korea, but these worries were not shared by most MPs in Quebec, and were by no means backed by significant public sentiment within Quebec.(f.23) Pearson faced several internal constraints on his Korean response, but evidently the House of Commons was not chief among them.
The one final piece of the policy - making puzzle which must be considered is the Department of External Affairs itself. Of course, administration was never Pearson's forte; consequently, his department appeared to many contemporaries to be rather oddly organized and less than well integrated with other departments. Still, this point seems moot when one considers the tightly knit social circles within which most Canadian diplomats and DEA officials moved in that era.(f.24) Despite the number of highly talented and opinionated individualsin the DEA, it was not about to dissolve into chaotic disagreement, nor was it ready to "capture" its minister, Pearson, who possessed a level of expertise that precluded reliance on departmental opinions.(f.25) Pearson was solidly at the helm of the DEA ship. Nevertheless, individuals within his department were not at all times in perfect accordance with his views, and will be shown to have occasionally acted as sources of pressure on Pearson to change his mind.
It becomes clear that Canadian foreign policy during this period was not the product of a one - (or two - ) man cabal, as Donald Creighton liked to suggest. Although not quite as complex as the tangled mess of opinions that made American foreign policy so difficult to follow, the Canadian foreign policy process was not without its own subtleties.(f.26) That Pearson was predominant cannot be disputed, but at the same time he did not exercise anything approaching complete policy hegemony during the Korean crisis. He may have been the star player, but other Canadians were always in the game too, reminding him that he had to play by their rules as well as his own.
In order to comprehend more completely how these decision - makers responded to North Korea's invasion of the South on June 25, 1950, it is also necessary to include some background on the Canadian perceptions of Korea as they stood at that time. Claxton recalled that at least until the fall of 1947, "for most of the cabinet, Korea was an obscure place on the western side of the Pacific, a place of indeterminate status, best known because the people were known to wear strange hats."(f.27) But by December of that year, Korea had become the source of a cabinet crisis that Claxton remembered as the most painful after the Ralston resignation, and that Jack Pickersgill described as "the biggest crisis I have seen in all my experience of government over the smallest and least important question."(f.28) The problem centred on whether Canada should accept an American request to serve on the United Nations Temporary Commission On Korea (UNTCOK) designed to supervise potential re - unification elections. St. Laurent, J.L. Ilsley, and Pearson (at that time St. Laurent's Deputy Minister) all viewed the matter as largely insignificant; in the absence of Prime Minister King, St. Laurent authorized Canadian acceptance. However, King was outraged by this decision, for he viewed the problems of Korea in a much more serious light. Consequently, King took the opportunity to express his anger toward those in his cabinet who would entangle Canada in dangerous foreign situations; in fact, he informed St. Laurent that he wanted the Canadian position reversed. According to Claxton, "these were the last bellows of the leader of the herd before he cashed in his cheques."(f.29) The resignations of St. Laurent, Ilsley, and possibly Pearson as well were narrowly avoided by King's reluctant acceptance of Canada's seat on the commission. It is entirely likely that this incident remained in the back of some ministers' minds when the Korean hostilities broke out a little less than three years later.
For the rest of the 1948 - 1950 period, however, Canada's concern over Korean affairs could hardly be called extensive. Canada served for a year on UNTCOK, then stepped down just before the commission was made permanent, offering as an explanation the fact that the resulting seven - member commission would be less prone to tie votes than it would be if Canada continued to serve.(f.30) Thereafter, Canada's remaining link with Korea was rather more nebulous. US State Department documents show that in January 1950, the Republic of (South) Korea, acting through private American sources, purchased ten AT - 6 trainer aircraft in Canada, and had them shipped to the US to be armed.(f.31) Unfortunately, these documents do not indicate whether the Canadian government was ever aware of the nature of this transaction. Even if Canadian officials were involved, they could hardly have considered it to be a serious matter, because the US government was not giving Canada any indication that it considered Korea to be an area vital to American national security. Pearson recalled that, in February 1950, General MacArthur told him, "no, it would be very difficult, it would be embarrassing, it would be disappointing, it would be worrying if an enemy took Korea; but it is not vital to our security."(f.32) Although Dean Acheson spoke at the same time in vague terms about invoking UN collective security principles against any aggressor who might attack South Korea, he also made it clear that the US did not consider Korea to be inside its vital defence perimeter. For this reason, Canadian officials were as much surprised by the fast American response to North Korea's June 25,1950 invasion as they were by the invasion itself.(f.33)
The reason the US changed its mind and decided to intervene in Korea is thus an integral part of any explanation of Canada's reaction to the outbreak of war. On the surface, American intervention was motivated by a desire for the very sort of UN collective response to aggression that Secretary of State Acheson had touched on in February. The dominant memory for most of the US foreign policy elite was the failure of appeasement as a response to aggression in the 1930s. President Truman, for example, wrote afterwards that he had been thinking of Korea in precisely that manner when he had made the decision to intervene:
In my generation, this [Korea] was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria. I remembered how each time that the democracies failed to act it had encouraged the aggressors to keep going ahead.... If this was allowed to go unchallenged, it could mean a third world war.(f.34)
Furthermore, US public opinion still held out much hope that the United Nations could succeed where the League of Nations had not; before the outbreak of war in Korea, 42 percent of Americans polled generally approved of the UN, and 41 percent saw it taking a stronger role in the future.(f.35)
Nevertheless, UN collective security provides at best only a superficial explanation of American intervention. Although such reasoning may well have been in the back of a number of American minds, the form of the initial American response was not collective at all. US policy - makers first decided unilaterally to intervene in Korea, and only afterwards decided to bring the matter to the attention of the UN.(f.36) George Ignatieff recalled that when a Canadian official present at the first US Korean briefing asked if the UN was being "consulted" about American intervention, the Americans bluntly replied that the UN was only being "informed" of American actions already taken.(f.37) Most American historians now agree that the US decision to involve the UN at all was made primarily to add legitimacy to its cause, rather than to further the concept of collective security.(f.38) In addition, a conflict fought under UN auspices needed no formal Congressional declaration of war, thus offering Truman the chance to free his actions from close Congressional scrutiny.(f.39) There must have been, therefore, another reason apart from the simple notion of collective security behind the US decision to intervene in Korea.
This other reason was the desire to respond to the Cold War challenge that most American experts believed Korea represented. In this context, the American Cold War mentality warped the concept of collective security in order to make it fit into a bi - polar world. The aggressor in the Far East was not simply North Korea, according to Truman, but the monolithic power of global communism. Acheson -- along with most of the State Department, Defense Department, and the Joint Chiefs -- believed that the US had to respond to this Soviet - led challenge in order to preserve the credibility of America as leader of the free world.(f.40) The predominance of this kind of thinking among US policy - makers reveals the critical weakness of revisionist history where the Korean conflict is concerned. Revisionalist historians may be correct in regarding Korea as essentially a civil war with its own indigenous causes, but few Americans at that time were prepared to acknowledge that Korean nationalism, not international communism, was at the root of the problem.(f.41) Lester Pearson himself later picked up on this very point when he observed that "it's all very well now to see the Soviet Union as a conservative, status - quo power, but you have to put yourself in the position of Western decision - makers in the 1940's...."(f.42) Consequently, one cannot ignore the role that the communist menace -- whether or not it actually existed -- played in convincing the US to intervene in Korea.
Furthermore, some American policy - makers believed there was far more to meeting this communist challenge than simply holding the line in Korea. For these Americans -- Acheson, Paul Nitze, and eventually President Truman among them -- Korea was only a sideshow in the main struggle to roll back the more important communist menace in Western Europe. Of course, US involvement in Korea amounted to a considerable risk, as entanglement there, they realized, might weaken the ability of the Americans to come to Europe's defence. But at the same time, the outbreak of conflict in Korea was a tremendous boost to the arguments of those who wanted not only to convince Congress to increase America's military presence in Europe, but also to convince reluctant NATO members to permit the re - arming of West Germany. For this reason, Acheson came to believe that US involvement in Korea was vital to save his strategy in Europe from its Congressional enemies; in this sense, Korea was perceived as a war "for both Asia and Europe."(f.43)
Was the thinking behind Canada's response to Korea significantly different from these American patterns of viewing the crisis? Basing his argument on a meticulous set of interviews with key Canadian participants, Denis Stairs contends that it was. In Stairs' view, Canada's first priority (unlike the US) was the survival of the UN; for this reason, the major concern of Canada's policy - makers as the Korean crisis unfolded was to constrain American actions through the UN apparatus. George Ignatieff recalled that Canada supported American intervention neither because of Cold War fears nor because of the desire to stick up for an ally, but rather because of the fear that the UN could suffer the same fate as the League of Nations if collective security were not upheld.(f.44) "We had to keep the US action within the framework of the UN," remembered Pearson, since Canada couldn't "let the Americans take this over to the point where the United Nations was simply a screen."(f.45) Even if the UN proved an imperfect method of blunting US Cold War rhetoric, any effort in this direction was held to be beneficial. And even if the Americans could never be fully constrained, it was thought important to slow, at least partially, American entanglement in a conflict that was peripheral to the most significant of Canada's concerns, the defence of Europe.(f.46) In this respect, however, it should be remembered that Canadian officials were only echoing the Euro - centric views of Nitze, Acheson, and Truman; it was hardly surprising that those Americans grew tired of Canada's constant "insisting they do what they were already trying their damnedest to do [focus on Europe]."(f.47)
Although there is no reason to deny that this motive of constraint existed for many Canadian officials at the time, it is possible that their memories may have been a trifle selective, and that this motive was only one among several behind Canada's support of South Korea. Certainly, the documentary evidence of Canada's initial response, especially as that response was perceived by the Americans, does not fully support the argumentthat constraining the US was Canada's paramount or sole concern.
Canada's first response to the Korean crisis was conveyed to the Americans by John Holmes, the head of the UN division of External Affairs, and at the time acting Canadian representative at the UN. The American receipt of his information on June 26 is worth examining: "Although he had no word from his government on Korean developments, Holmes (Canada) expressed view that SC [UN Security Council] might conceivably give its blessing to any military action which US was willing to take. He agreed some action would be necessary June 27 or 28."(f.48) To be sure, Holmes spoke of a role for the UN. But clearly, his UN reference was couched in terms of giving a seal of approval to whatever unilateral military moves the US might have been planning, rather than in terms of constraining or limiting America's initial unilateral action.
The Americans received Pearson's first reaction to the situation three days later, on June 29. Despite Pearson's professed concern for constraint, the tone of his message to the US ambassador in Ottawa does not appear to have differed significantly from Holmes' earlier remarks. Again, the American report merits close examination: "Am Emb Ottawa [Stanley Woodward] reports enthusiastic applause greeted statement by Fon Min [Foreign Minister] Pearson that US had recognized its special responsibility in Korea and discharged it with admirable dispatch and decisiveness. Pearson said privately Canada wld not 'let US down.'"(f.49) It is extremely difficult to read much in the way of a constraint into Pearson's private remarks to Woodward. In fact, he sounded very much as if he were trying to reassure his ally of Canadian support rather than warn that ally of Canadian concerns.
The first documented indication of a Canadian effort to place UN limits on American actions does not appear until July 6. Even then, the Canadian concerns with US policy were couched in extremely mild, almost apologetic terms. H.H. Carter, one of John Holmes' advisors, informed a member of the American UN delegation that the Canadian Ambassador (Hume Wrong) "had underlined great importance to Canada of having it clear this was UN operation." Here at last was direct expression of the notion of UN constraint of US actions in Korea. However, when Carter went on to outline the specific ways in which Canada wanted to strengthen the UN role, he certainly did not indicate any great urgency behind his suggestions. Once again, the American reaction to Carter's message is interesting:
he [Carter] indicated Canada might prefer unified commander [MacArthur] be requested to make reports to SC [UN Security Council] but he realized there were reasons why US chain of command must be respected. Carter seemed quite content that resolution [to be presented to the UN on July 7] contained no reference to SC committee.(f.50)
Certainly, Carter went to no great length to stress Canadian objections. Furthermore, Canada's strongest objection to the proposed July 7 UN Resolution -- the fact that it didn't spell out geographical limits to allied support of US actions in the Far East -- was apparently not conveyed to the Americans at all.(f.51) Evidently, Canada wanted a stronger role for the UN, but was not willing to pressure the Americans very hard at all in order to obtain that role.
Why was Canada so reluctant to present its case more forcefully for stronger collective UN restraint of American actions? And why did Canadian officials devote no greater effort to ensure that the Americans fought for true global collective security against aggression, instead of Western collective defence against the Soviet threat? One answer to these questions is that the Canadians, too, were not merely thinking in terms of collective security, but shared many of the American Cold War assumptions about the Soviet Union and the nature of the challenge in Korea. Like the US, Canada was looking at collective security through the lens of the international communist menace.(f.52) Since Canada depended on US intelligence reports for its views of the conflict in Korea, it was hardly surprising that Canadian officials should conclude that North Korea invaded the South with "full knowledge and consent of the Soviet Union and probably at the latter's direct instigation," and that "there is an increased danger of the Soviet Union precipitating a major war during the next twelve months in order to take advantage of the passing weakness of the Western Powers."(f.53) Without question, Canadian officials viewed the Korean conflict in bi - polar rather than simply collective security terms.
Moreover, it appears that Canadian Cold War thinking solidly pre - dated this reliance on US intelligence reports of the Korean conflict itself. A few months prior to the North Korean invasion, Jules Leger informed Jack Pickersgill that he believed DEA policy had become too ideological "by joining too often the anti - communist bandwagon." Although this critique might have been somewhat exaggerated, it is easy to see why someone who had followed Canadian perceptions of Soviet attitudes might arrive at such a conclusion. "My own view," wrote Pearson in 1946, "... is that without some fundamental change in the Soviet state system and in the policies and views of its leaders, the USSR is bound to come into open conflict with Western democracy...." Speaking in less ideological terms, C.D. Howe echoed the same fear when he wrote that "our Russian friends will go ahead with their own plans for expansion at any length short of war," and that although the Soviets wouldn't deliberately start a war, their expansionism could inadvertently provoke one. When US intelligence reports estimated that the USSR could take over all of Europe in only a few weeks, Canadian officials concluded that while the threat was not immediate, it was certainly real, and that "whatever the risks of firmness [toward the USSR], the risks of weakness are greater."(f.54)
Of course, Canada did not perfectly mirror the Cold War concerns of the Americans on every issue. Canada, after all, came very close to extending recognition to Communist China shortly before the outbreak of fighting in Korea. Still, this divergence with US policy was chiefly tactical in nature, as Canada felt no degree of trust in Communist China; it simply didn't accept the American notion that non - recognition could be used as a sort of diplomatic weapon. Pearson himself later came to admit that in general terms, he shared American Cold War fears perhaps to an excessive extent in the years before 1955.(f.55)
This shared Cold War ethos was clearly one reason why Canadian officials did not press harder to limit the initial US response to Korea at the UN, since Canada's bi - polar view of collective security closely parallelled American thinking on that subject. A second reason why Canada was unwilling to place greater emphasis on the more purely collective security aspects of the Korean conflict concerned the embarrassment that Canada felt in supporting collective security more with words than actions. The fact that Canada's solid support of the three UN resolutions on Korea (June 25, June 27 and July 7) was matched only by a promise of Canadian air support and the sending of three destroyers to Korea, proved acutely and embarrassingly contradictory to Canadian collective security rhetoric.(f.56) Certainly, American officials were capable of pointing out the irony of the Canadian position when they privately derided Pearson's supposedly "no mere token" contribution.(f.57) Given that the Americans were upset over Canada's hesitancy to send ground combat troops, Canadian officials could not step up the rhetoric of UN collective operations limiting American actions without making Canada's contradictory stance seem even more hollow. To hammer at a collective security theme without supplying some of the tools of that security was to risk damaging whatever influence Ottawa could hope to exert on Washington.(f.58)
One must consequently examine the thorny question of why Canada waited so long (until August 7) to make a commitment to send ground troops to Korea. On the surface, this delay seems to imply a more fundamental split between Canadian and American policy, even if only in the realm of means rather than ends of Korean intervention. There is no denying that real friction existed between the two countries on this question, and that the Canadians were extremely annoyed at what they perceived to be unwarranted US pressure. Pearson recalled having tersely informed the Americans "that we were giving earnest consideration in Ottawa to these matters [of ground troops] but that we did not like to be needled about them from Washington."(f.59) What proved especially bothersome to Pearson and other Canadian diplomats were the questionable tactics that the Americans were willing to employ to accomplish this needling. For example, the Americans drew Canada's attention to reports that Pakistan intended to send ground forces to Korea, though Canada had already heard from the Pakistani government that those reports were entirely false.(f.60) Even worse in Canadian eyes was an apparent US effort to use Trygve Lie (the UN Secretary - General) to give official UN approval to a ground forces request that actually came from Washington; a UN request proved much more embarrassing for Canada to refuse.(f.61) Many Canadian officials were so upset at these American tactics that they advocated a course of making the US wait for its ground troop support -- just as the Americans had made Canada wait inthe last two World Wars.(f.62)
However, this negative reaction to American pressure was far from the only reason why Canada was taking its time making the ground forces decision. A more basic cause of Canadian hesitancy was the simple fact that Canada didn't really have any ground troops to send, because of the spartan nature of post - World War II defence budgets. In 1945, Canada's defence expenditures totalled $2.94 billion, or 57.3 percent of total federal government expenditure; by contrast, over the four - year period of 1946 - 49, annual defence expenditures averaged only $310 million, or just 13.1 percent of average annual expenditures. Of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about that trend, as even the US used the post - war period to make extensive cuts in nearly all aspects of its military spending.(f.63) And Canada had by no means cut its defence budget all the way back to its pre - war size, which in 1938 had been just $35 million and only 6.3 percent of total expenditures. Nonetheless, Brooke Claxton noted with concern that "Canada's defence appropriations in proportion to national income or national budget are about one - third of the U.S. or U.K. and considerably less than practically all of the countries under the Treaty [NATO]."(f.64) Of the small amount that Canada did spend on defence, much was earmarked for the research and development of weapons rather than maintaining large numbers of troops. And the money spent on troops was used to maintain a home defence force rather than to train or equip any sort of expeditionary forces.(f.65) Thus, by 1950, it was no simple matter for Canada to dispatch ground troops to Korea without completely revising existing Canadian policies on military spending.
Before attempting the major defence policy revision that sending Canadian troops to Korea would entail, Canadian political leaders would have liked the solid support of public opinion. However, given that Canadian public opinion was "in a confused state," the cabinet could work with no sense of certainty about public support should troops be sent.(f.66) Canadian editorial opinion - even in the allegedly isolationist bastion of Quebec -- was substantially in favour of a Canadian contribution of troops for Korea. But public opinion was another matter. The first major CIPO poll on this subject, released on August 4, revealed that while 34 percent wanted Canada to send both men and equipment to Korea, a further 39 percent believed Canada should either send nothing at all or should send only equipment, not troops.(f.67) Thus, Canadian leaders found themselves in the position of having to act on the Korean troops question without any degree of reassurance that the public would follow their lead.
Given the nature of the government's predicament, it is hardly surprising to find some evidence that the cabinet split sharply on the Korean troops question when it finally came to a head in late July. On the one hand, Denis Stairs believes that when the cabinet discussed this question on the King funeral train to Ottawa, "the ministers without difficulty now agreed in principle to the idea of contributing a Canadian army unit," and differed only on the question of when this new policy should be made public. In this interpretation of events, Stairs echoes the account of Jack Pickersgill, who remembered that once the UN had established control of Korean military operations in July, "St. Laurent and the Cabinet had shown no hesitation about deciding to send Canadian troops to fight in eastern Asia...."(f.68) On the other hand, there is considerable reason to doubt that the troop decision in cabinet was reached as easily as Pickersgill later recalled. By as late as July 19, both Pearson and Claxton stated in cabinet that it was obviously not feasible for Canada to send ground forces to Korea. One week later they began to stress that Canada had no choice but to send troops; however, it appears that the rest of the cabinet was not so quick to accept this new position.(f.69) Memoranda in the Grant Dexter papers indicate that continued opposition to sending troops came from J.G. Gardiner, Paul Martin, and possibly C.D. Howe; according to these memos, Pearson came close to resignation until St. Laurent took his side in the argument and opted to send troops. Although Martin placed himself among Pearson's supporters on the troops question, his account of events also recalled a considerable amount of friction created in cabinet by the vociferous opposition of Labour Minister Humphrey Mitchell. Similarly, Pearson wrote in his memoirs that the decision to send troops provoked cabinet opposition from those ministers who recalled Mackenzie King's continual fear of foreign entanglements. In this respect, the 1950 troops decision was highly reminiscent of the 1947 cabinet crisis over UNTCOK.(f.70)
In the end, the cabinet overcame its memories of 1947, its distaste for US pressure tactics, its fears of Canadian public uncertainty, and its hesitation toincrease defence spending; the announcement of its decision to raise a special volunteer force to be sent to Korea was made on August 7. It appears that the earlier decisions of Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand to commit troops to Korea were of crucial importance in convincing first Pearson and Claxton, and then other cabinet members, that Canada had to act. Canada would risk international ridicule if it remained the only vocal supporter of collective security not to make a tangible contribution; moreover, the longer Canada held out, the greater the danger that Canada would damage irreparably its chances of exerting any modicum of influence at all on US policy.(f.71) Here was the classic dilemma for those in Canada who desired to restrain the United States: if Canada did not place limits on its immediate divergence with US tactics, it ran the risk of losing the Americans' patience to listen to any future -- and potentially more serious -- disagreements Canada might have. Even as it was, Canada had come perilously close to that risk; recent evidence indicates that long after Canada's August 7 announcement, American officials viewed Canada's commitment to troop support in Korea as lukewarm at best.(f.72)
These limitations on Canadian desires to restrain the US emerged again over the issue of whether UN forces should cross the 38th parallel into North Korea. To a certain extent, Pearson did try to convince the US that crossing the 38th was not such a good idea; Dean Rusk recalled afterwards that "Mike Pearson was very cautious about this notion of going beyond the thirty - eighth parallel."(f.73) Believing that sending troops into North Korea would unduly provoke the Chinese and create the risk of entangling UN forces in a prolonged war in this less - than - vital theatre, Pearson suggested that the Americans should either delay crossing the parallel until North Korea had been given a few days to reply to a cease - fire offer, or should at least go no further than the 39th parallel so as not to upset China. But Pearson did not pursue the tougher approach suggested by Escott Reid, who advised Pearson to urge the US not to cross the 38th atall, unless North Korea clearly "continued aggressive action against South Korea."(f.74) When the Americans rejected both of Pearson's compromise solutions, Reid and Norman Robertson pressured Pearson to oppose the UN resolution approving the 38th parallel crossing, but he replied, "Norman, you have no idea what the pressure is like down here. I can't."(f.75)
The answers to the question of why Pearson believed he couldn't go any further toward restraining the US on this issue illustrate the limits that were placed on Canadian constraint in general. To begin with, Pearson likely understood, as did a few other opponents of the 38th parallel crossing, that the unusual degree of unanimity in official Washington -- and in American public opinion -- would make it extremely difficult to dissuade the US from crossing. "It would have taken an almost superhuman effort to say no," remarked Averell Harriman, who added, "psychologically it was almost impossible not to go ahead and complete the job [of deteating North Korea]."(f.76) Despite the later contention of Acheson that the 38th parallel crossing was almost entirely the product of the wanton and reckless schemes of General MacArthur, most American historians now agree that Acheson, Truman, Marshall, Bradley, and most of the Joint Chiefs were all overwhelmingly in favour of the crossing.(f.77) The administration could also count on solid public support, as an AIPO poll revealed that 64 percent of Americans wanted to continue fighting into North Korea, whereas only 27 percent wanted to stop at the border. Consequently, the administration was willing to ignore the presence of Chinese troops in the field and the persistent warnings of Indian Ambassador K.M. Panikkar that China would respond should the US cross the parallel. Given that such American critics of the 38th crossing as John Foster Dulles believed that they could not make their criticism public without jeopardizing their political careers, it was hardly surprising that Pearson decided not to persist in his objections.(f.78)
Apart from the obvious risk to future Canadian influence in Washington if Canada stood against the tide of US opinion in favour of crossing the 38th, there was a second reason why Pearson would go no further than urging the Americans to delay. Quite simply, Canadian officials shared the US desire that Korea should ultimately be reunified. Pearson himself made this point abundantly clear in his September 27 speech to the UN, when he spoke of the need "to fulfil now the purposes which have repeatedly been stated at previous Assemblies -- a united Korea, a free Korea...."(f.79) Consequently, when the Americans decided to press for the establishment of the United Nations Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea (UNCURK), they believed that one of the best ways to ensure it would work well with the US toward the goal of unification was to offer Canada a seat on it.(f.80) Even more interesting was the Canadian response to the request about UNCURK participation, as discussed by the American UN delegation: "While Pearson had been personally inclined to accept a place for Canada [on UNCURK], St. Laurent had refused on the basis that this was predominantly an Asian problem, although if India were not included, Canada might accept."(f.81) In refusing to serve on UNCURK, Canada had by no means revealed any fundamental divergence from US desires to unify Korea. Pearson had, in fact, wanted to serve, and St. Laurent's refusal was more conditional than it was definite. Thus, when Americans argued that crossing the 38th parallel presented a golden opportunity to those who wanted to see Korea reunified, Canada, although less than enthusiastic about the tactics, had no real inclination to disagree strenuously with the goal.
As the UN forces drove across the 38th parallel and neared the Chinese border, another problem arose -- should the US Air Force be allowed to pursue enemy aircraft into Chinese airspace? This "hot pursuit" issue is cited by one historian as a clear example of the Americans having restrained their policy in the face of vociferous pressure from their allies -- including Canada.(f.82) There is no denying that the Americans backed away from their plans to conduct hot pursuit, and that the allies played a key role in that decision. Still, Canada's particular part in this episode appears to have been less than vital, as recent evidence shows. Far from leading allied opinion on the hot pursuit question, Canada was in fact following the lead of other allies in restraining the United States. Australian officials told the Americans of their "extreme worry" about permitting hot pursuit on November 10; similarly, the British indicated their opposition to the idea on November 13.(f.83) But as late as November 14, Canada's official reaction to the idea of hot pursuit -- and possibly other US military moves into Manchuria -- was still favourable, as the following note from US Ambassador Woodward indicated:
In absence of Fon Min Pearson I called on Under Secretary Heeney this morning and left him with note verbale ... regarding use by enemy of Manchuria as sanctuary.... Heeney said this serious military development had been foreseen by Canadian government which recognized its inevitability and gravity.... Henney [sic] stated Canadian Government would recognize justification of hot pursuit [of] enemy aircraft across Manchurian border and would find this limitation placed on UN forces admirable restraint, although he did not discount altogether future possibility of further military action beyond border.(f.84)
By the next day, Pearson had a chance to speak to Heeney about hot pursuit, and Canada's position on the matter "stiffened considerably" in American eyes.(f.85) Still, based on the initial reaction, Canada can hardly be considered to have played a leading role in allied opposition to hot pursuit.
Even in areas where the Canadian position did not waffle, it must be conceded that Canada had little success in convincing the Americans that Canadian views ought to be considered before American decisions were made. A perfect example of this problem concerned the question of consultations on the American use of nuclear weapons in Korea. Canada had long been concerned about American control of nuclear weapons, and months before the Korean conflict had been trying -- without much success -- to get the Americans to re - open atomic energy talks with the USSR.(f.86) What transformed these general Canadian concerns on the nuclear question into a more urgent worry was President Truman's implication at a November 30 press conference that the US was considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons to win the war in Korea. Most American historians now accept Truman's later contention that this impression was inadvertent, as prior to the November 24 offensive, the Joint Chiefs had already considered and rejected the use of tactical A - bombs as too risky to their potential value as a deterrent.(f.87) Since this fact was not known outside the US administration at the time, the British and the Canadians pressured the Americansat least to agree to consult the allies prior to reaching decisions on the use of nuclear weapons. Canadian officials did succeed in getting the US to agree to afford Canada the same treatment on this nuclear question as it gave Britain. However, this was a rather empty victory, as the Americans had made it abundantly clear to the British that while they would try to keep Britain informed of atomic weapons decisions, they would never agree to prior consultation.(f.88) "In the opinion of the officials of this Department at least," wrote a discouraged Arnold Heeney in early 1951, "the US government have not as yet been very forthcoming in describing frankly and fully their plans and intentions, and still less in giving us any assurance that we will be adequately consulted...."(f.89) In the face of such US attitudes, even the mild constraint of American policy could prove frustrating indeed.
Following the massive intervention of the Chinese into Korea in November - December 1950, the mood at the UN and in Washington grew more bleak; even the usually optimistic MacArthur was forced to admit that "we face an entirely new war."(f.90) It was at this point, Denis Stairs contends, that a great divergence in Canadian and American attitudes toward the Korean conflict could be found. While Pearson worked through December and January on a three - man UN committee to negotiate a cease - fire with the Chinese and bring peace to Korea, the Americans, argues Stairs, paid only lip service to the idea of a negotiated settlement, and pressured the UN to condemn the Chinese as aggressors.(f.91) Thus, despite the US government's public support of the Cease - Fire Committee's efforts, Stairs contends that Pearson and the Americans were fundamentally working at cross - purposes.
Unfortunately, Stairs' view of the events of December and January appears to be a less than accurate interpretation of both American motives and Pearson's own actions. There is much evidence to suggest that American officials did in fact support the idea of negotiating a cease - fire, and had very good reasons for doing so. US public opinion was at the time turning sharply against the administration's continued involvement in Korea. In August 1950, only 20 percent of those polled believed that US involvement in Korea was a mistake; by January 1951, fully 49 percent thought it was a mistake, and just 38 percent (compared to 65 percent earlier) believed the US had been right to enter Korea. Even more ominous for the administration was the fact that 66 percent of Americans polled wanted some way to pull US forces out of Korea once China had entered, and only 25 percent wanted to stay in the conflict.(f.92) In part as a response to this shift in national mood, the American administration decided that a prudent policy of negotiations was probably the best way out of the Korean dilemma. Naturally, the degree of American enthusiasm for these talks tended to waver when UN forces suffered battlefield reverses, since the Americans didn't want to negotiate from a position of weakness; American officials were exaggerating to a certain extent when they told Canadian R.G. Riddell "that as cease - fire group knew, we have constantly wanted in every way to facilitate their effort." Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that in its basic conception, the three - man Cease - Fire Committee was originally the product of an American idea, and was seen by American officials as furthering their own interests.(f.93)
Although it is not possible within the limits of this article to present a day - by - day account of the course of the December - January activities of the Cease - Fire Committee, a brief look at some of those actions reveals that Pearson was never far from basic American assumptions of how the committee should operate. Pearson had no difficulty in accepting the Americans' view that the negotiations should not take the form of an equal mediation between two conflicting parties, but rather should recognize that an aggressor (China) was involved. He also completely accepted the Americans' assumptions about their own behind - the - scenes role in the cease - fire process; he recorded in his diary on December 15 that in a meeting with members of the American UN delegation, "I took the position that we would not confront the Chinese formally with an agreed plan submitted to us by the Americans, but that we should indicate to the Chinese that we had received information from the Unified Command about a plan that we thought reasonable and on which they might want to comment...."(f.94) This statement may well have been true, but if Pearson meant to imply that this position was his alone, or in any way different from the American view on the subject, he was mistaken. After all, Acheson had written to his UN delegation on the same day to stress the following:
Dept [US State Department] believes it tactically important that terms cease - fire set forth ... not be identified by Entezam comite [UN Cease - Fire Committee] in their conversations with Chi Commies asUS terms. Hence, strict secrecy shld be preserved as to fact that US Del [US Delegation to the UN] has handed these terms to Entezam comite. Dept recognizes that Entezam comite will handle this problem in accordance with its own views but USUN shld stress with them tactical desirability of adopting terms set forth ... as its own rather than those of US.(f.95)
Thus, Pearson's proposal perfectly encapsulated Acheson's own desire that the negotiators should stand for the UN, not the United States.
In addition, even where Pearson did not entirely share US policy desires, he often found himself arguing on behalf of American positions at Cease - Fire Committee meetings in order to preserve the committee's efficacy. There were a few occasions when Pearson did have to apply pressure on American officials to get them to see things the committee's way; Pearson recalled that the Americans told Hume Wrong that they could tolerate such "arm - twisting" only from Canadians. But more frequently, Pearson found he had to work the other way, to stop the Cease - Fire Committee from moving so far away from US policy that the Americans would repudiate its efforts. Pearson worked behind the scenes to convince Sir Benegal Rau that the Chinese had to be treated as aggressors during the negotiations; to urge the Committee not to postpone submitting its final report, as the US would not tolerate such delay; and to convince the British UN delegation not to abandon the idea of a cease - fire as a necessary pre - condition to wider talks with the Chinese, another move the Americans were sure to reject. "It is, of course, easy to understand the American position...," wrote Pearson at this time, "even though we may not approve of it." Given this understanding of US policy positions, Pearson was perfectly suited to apply limits on the constraining actions of his Cease - Fire Committee colleagues.(f.96)
In the end, the efforts of the Cease - Fire Committee petered out by mid - January 1951. Canadian officials blamed this failure, quite naturally, on the intractability of the Chinese who had not proved as willing to negotiate as Canada had hoped. Pearson lamented to US Ambassador Woodward that the committee "had not only leaned over backwards but had practically fallen over backwards in offering cease - fire terms" to the Chinese.(f.97) As the negotiations collapsed, the Americans decided to draft a motion for the UN to brand China as an aggressor. On February 2, a few days after the motion had been approved by the UN, Pearson explained to the House of Commons why Canada had decided to support it. He noted that he believed the aggressor motion to be "both premature and unwise," since he hoped to leave the door open for further negotiations with China, and explained that his reluctant support only came because China was, in point of fact, an aggressor.(f.98) That public statement may well have accurately represented Pearson's own views on the subject, but it was certainly not a reflection of what he had told the Americans. US Ambassador Woodward had recorded the Canadian reaction in the following manner: "I have today discussed with External Minister Pearson ... the outline of the resolution to be submitted to the UN. Pearson is familiar with our position and said that so far as Canada is concerned, action should be taken immediately by UN to condemn Chinese Communist aggression."(f.99) In Woodward's opinion, the sticking - point for Canada was the precise wording of the proposed resolution; he was left with the impression that Canada preferred the milder phrase "guilty of aggression," to the more blunt term, "aggressor." In fact, C.D. Howe observed shortly afterwards that Pearson's role in moderating the language of the resolution met with the approval of at least some important officials in Washington.(f.100) In this respect, Pearson was hardly an obstacle or restraining force to the passage of the condemnation.
Why did Pearson acquiesce and at times encourage the Americans to pass an aggression resolution which he believed was accurate but unwise? Once again, the answer to this question reveals much about the limits of Canadian constraint of US foreign policy. John Holmes (who himself disagreed with Pearson's decision to vote for condemnation) recalled the chief reason why he thought Pearson had been more supportive of the American initiative: Pearson's desire to preserve Western allied unity. According to Holmes, Pearson wanted to send a message that "We don't agree with this tactic of the Americans, and I'll go on record as saying I don't agree with the tactics. But, in case you chaps on the other side misunderstand, this is our leader and we stick with them and we'll be solid and don't get any ideas you're splitting us."(f.101) Pearson himself echoed this theme in a book he wrote in 1955. He explained that the smaller states in international partnerships had to learn to:
recognize and try to understand the burdens and difficulties of leadership. It is legitimate to be anxious, but not to be morbid about the power of one's big friends. Criticism from smaller states can be wise, constructive, and helpful. It can also be carping and hurtful. It is also important to be able to discern when the public expression of one's critical views will be advisable and necessary and when it will serve to foster disunity and, therefore, weakness inside the group. Backseat political driving in a crisis can be both distracting and dangerous.(f.102)
It is entirely likely that the events of December and January 1950 - 51 represented for Pearson a serious global crisis, wherein continued Canadian criticism of American tactics would be counterproductive and even dangerous. He had always reasoned in cabinet that "Canada had every interest in strengthening the US position as leader in the struggle against Communism."(f.103) When that reasoning was combined with his existing tendency to view China as an aggressor, it was not surprising that he should support the UN aggression resolution.
The need to preserve allied unity, the desire to safeguard Canadian influence in Washington for future use, and the basic similarity of Canadian and American views of Korea's place in the Cold War context formed a tight set of limits within which Canadian constraint of US policy had to operate. Canadian officials did not always agree with American policy, and at times hoped to use Canada's special relationship with the US to exert some degree of constraining influence on its policy - makers. But given that Canadian differences from the US approach to Korea were often in the subtle area of tactics rather than more broadly defined goals, the costs of persistent constraint were perceived by Canadian policy - makers as outweighing the potential benefits. Although there were moments of considerable friction between Canadian and American officials, at the most critical stages of the early Korean conflict those officials managed to find room for agreement. The limits of Canadian constraint ensured that no serious or permanent damage could be inflicted on Canadian - American relations in general. Indeed, it appears that Sir Thomas White's 1918 comment on the Canadian - American relationship at least partially applies to the Korean War period as well. White explained to an American colleague that "We have in your time and in my time always been good neighbours. Occasionally a verbal brickbat has been thrown across the fence but we have always sympathized with each other when brickbats have come from any foreign source.... The struggle in a common cause will I am sure greatly cement our friendship for each other."(f.104) The limited brand of Canadian constraint practised during the early Korean War period may not have drawn Canadians and Americans any closer together than they already were, but at the same time it by no means served to drive the two countries apart.
The author would like to thank Professor Robert Bothwell for his assistance and advice on earlier drafts of this article.
(f.1) Hume Wrong, cited in L.B. Pearson, "Memorandum for the Prime Minister," 17 January 1948. National Archives of Canada (NAC) King Papers, vol. 334,
(f.2) Escott Reid, cited in Peter Stursberg, Lester Pearson and the American Dilemma (Toronto: Doubleday, 1980), 94.
(f.3) Blair Fraser, "Backstage at Ottawa," Maclean's Magazine 15 January 1951, 3.
(f.4) Denis Stairs, The Diplomacy of Constraint: Canada the Korean War and the United States (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974), x - xi.
(f.5) See Lester B. Pearson, Mike: The Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson vol. 2, John Munro and Alex Inglis, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), 279 - 335.
(f.6) R.D. Cuff and J.L. Granatstein, Ties That Bind: Canadian - American Relations in Wartime from the Great War to the Cold War 2nd ed. (Toronto: Hakkert, 1977), 113 - 16. Interestingly, in keeping with his frequently self - deprecating wit, it was Pearson himself who coined the phrase "Corporal Pearson and General Acheson," although he didn't likely intend it to be used in this sense. See Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 184.
(f.7) See, for example, Brooke Claxton, "memoir notes: political," N.A.C. Claxton Papers, vol. 224; George Ignatieff, The Making of A Peacemonger. The Memoirsof George Ignatieff (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), 111; John W. Holmes, The Shaping of Peace. Canada and the Search For World Order, 1943 - 1957, vol. 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), 61 and 301.
(f.8) Stairs, Constraint, 316 - 21.
(f.9) St. Laurent, who was on vacation when the Korean crisis first broke, responded to reporters' initial questions on Korea with the remark, "Well, gentlemen, I hope to be out fishing again the day after tomorrow." See Fraser, "Backstage," I September 1950, 4.
(f.10) Stairs, Constraint, 316; Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 301.
(f.11) Jules Leger, "Memorandum for Mr. Pickersgill," 22 March 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 175.
(f.12) George Ignatieff, interview, Toronto, 25 November 1988; J.W. Pickersgill, My Years With Louis St. Laurent: A Political Memoir (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975), 124 - 27. Pickersgill believed the railway strike caused St. Laurent more stress than even the 1944 conscription crisis.
(f.13) Ignatieff, interview, 25 November 1988.
(f.14) Donald Creighton, The Forked Road: Canada, 1939 - 1957 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 1976), 148 - 49. Unfortunately, Creighton provided no solid evidence outside of Mackenzie King's suspicions to show that St. Laurent or Pearson ever thought that way.
(f.15) Stairs, Constraint, 316 - 17.
(f.16) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 302; Paul Martin, A Very Public Life, Vol. II: So Many Worlds (Toronto: Deneau, 1985), 274 - 75. Shortly before the Korean conflict, Martin felt Pearson was too close to recognizing China; ironically, by 1954 - 55 Martin had come to favour such recognition while Pearson had backed away from it.
(f.17) C.D. Howe to Howard C. Sykes, 8 February 1951, N.A.C. Howe Papers, vol. 178.
(f.18) Claxton, "memoir notes: political," N.A.C. Claxton Papers, vol. 224.
(f.19) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 155 - 56.
(f.20) See, for example, R.B. Byers, "Perceptions of Parliamentary Surveillance of the Executive: The Case of Canadian Defence Policy," in The Canadian Political Process, rev. ed., O. Kruhlak, R. Schultz, and S. Pobihushchy, eds., (Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973) 382 - 99; Leger, "Memorandum for Mr. Pickersgill," 22 March 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 175.
(f.21) Fraser, "Backstage," 1 July 1950, 2.
(f.22) See R.A. MacKay, Canadian Foreign Policy, 1945 - 1954. Selected Speeches and Documents (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), 296 - 97; Stairs, Constraint, 55.
(f.23) At the time, Blair Fraser believed that most people in Quebec did not support the four MPs who spoke out against involvement in Korea. Although the Gallup poll of July 1950 did not confirm Fraser's hunch (66 percent in Quebec opposed sending Canadian troops), a later study of Quebec poll results found that within a few months, opinion in Quebec on Korean questions became far more divided, and would remain that way over the course of the next two years. See Fraser, "Backstage," 1 November 1950, 52 - 53; Stairs, Constraint, 111 - 12, J.I. Gow, "Les Quebecois, la guerre et la paix, 1945 - 60," Canadian Journal of Political Science vol. III, no. 1 (March 1970), 107, 110, and 117.
(f.24) Claxton, "memoir notes: political," N.A.C. Claxton Papers, vol. 224; Leger, "Memorandum for Mr. Pickersgill," 22 March 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 175; Ignatieff, interview 25 November 1988; see also Escott Reid, Time of Fear and Hope: The Making of the North Atlantic Treaty, 1947 - 1949 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977), 62 - 69.
(f.25) Stairs, Constraint, 317.
(f.26) See, for example, George F. Kennan, Memoirs, 1925 - 1950 (Toronto: Little, Brown and Co. 1967), 500; Fraser, "Backstage," 15 February 1951, 46.
(f.27) Brooke Claxton, "memoirs," vi, 1124 ff., N.A.C. Claxton Papers, vol. 221.
(f.28) Ibid.; J.W. Pickersgill, cited in Stursberg, Pearson, 81. The account that follows is condensed from three excellent chronicles of the events surrounding the 1947 Korean crisis: Fraser "Backstage," 15 September 1950, 66; Stairs, Constraint, 3 - 28; Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 135 - 45.
(f.29) Claxton, "memoirs," vi, 1124 ff., N.A.C. Claxton Papers, vol. 221.
(f.30) Fraser, "Backstage," 15 September 1950, 66.
(f.31) John M. Allison (Director of Office of North - East Asian Affairs, Dept. of State) to Najeeb Halaby (Director of Office of Foreign Military Affairs, Office of Secretary of Defence), 31 January 1950, in Foreign Relations of the United States (hereafter cited as FRUS) 1950, vol. VII, Korea (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976), 24.
(f.32) Douglas MacArthur, cited in Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 147.
(f.33) Rosemary Foot, The Wrong War. American Policy and the Dimensions of the Korean Conflict, 1950 - 53 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 58; Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 147.
(f.34) Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, vol. 2. Years of Trial and Hope (New York: Doubleday, 1956), 333.
(f.35) By contrast, just 19 percent disapproved of the UN, and only 28 percent predicted a weaker role for it. AIPO polls, 22 October 1949 and 4 June 1950, Public Opinion Quarterly, Spring 1950, 190 and Fall 1950, 609.
(f.36) See Walter LaFeber, America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945 - 1984, 5th ed. (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1985), 103 - 5; Martin, A Very Public Life, Vol. Il, 92; Stairs, Constraint, 49 - 51.
(f.37) Ignatieff, interview, 25 November 1988.
(f.38) See, for example, Stephen E. Pelz, "When the Kitchen Gets Hot, Pass the Buck. Truman and Korea in 1950," Reviews in American History 6, 4 (December 1978), 553; George T. Mazuzan, "America's U.N. Commitment, 1945 - 53," The Historian 40, 2 (February 1978), 319.
(f.39) Walter LaFeber, Richard Polenberg, and Nancy Woloch, The American Century. A History of the United States Since the 1890's, 3rd ed. (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1986), 368.
(f.40) Truman, Memoirs vol. 2, 333; Dean Acheson, Present At the Creation. My Years in the State Department (New York: W.W. Norton, 1969), 405; Clay Blair, The Forgotten War. America in Korea, 1950 - 1953 (New York: Times Books, 1987), 85 - 86.
(f.41) See, for example, LaFeber, Cold War, 99 - 101; Robert W. Swartout, Jr., "American Histonans and the Outbreak of the Korean War: An Historiographical Essay," Asia Quarterly 1, 1979, 67 - 70.
(f.42) Lester Pearson, cited by Peyton V. Lyon and Bruce Thordarson, "Professor Pearson: A Sketch," in "Freedom and Change": Essays in Honour of Lester B. Pearson, Michael G. Fry, ed. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975), 4.
(f.43) See LaFeber, Cold War, 99, 108 - 10; Foot, Wrong War, 39 - 42; Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 150.,
(f.44) Stairs, Constraint, 39 - 43; Ignatieff, interview, 25 November 1988.
(f.45) Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 147; Pearson, cited in Stursberg, Pearson, 88.
(f.46) Martin, A Very Public Life, Vol. Il, 140 - 41; Homes, Shaping of Peace, 150; Stairs, Constraint, xi.
(f.47) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 150.
(f.48) Warren Austin to Secretary of State, 26 June 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 190. In this and subsequent diplomatic telegrams here reproduced, the original abbreviations have been retained.
(f.49) US Secretary of State to All Diplomatic Missions and Certain Consular Offices, 29 June 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 232.
(f.50) Warren Austin to Secretary of State, 6 July 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 323.
(f.51) Ibid. See also Stairs, Constraint, 68. The omission of this Canadian objection appears to have been one instance where Canadian diplomats (John Holmes and Hume Wrong) successfully pressured Pearson to change his mind.
(f.52) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 161.
(f.53) Paper #31 (50) approved by the Chiefs of Staff Committee, 21 November 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 277.
(f.54) Leger, "Memorandum for Mr. Pickersgill," 22 March 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 175; Lester Pearson to Norman Robertson, 12 November 1946, N.A.C. Pearson Papers, vol. 2; C.D. Howe to Austin Taylor, 22 March 1948, N.A.C. Howe Papers, vol. 172, file 90 - 91; John W. Holmes to L.B. Pearson, 9 April 1948, N.A.C. Pearson Papers.
(f.55) See, for example, External Affairs memorandum for the minister, "Policy Toward Communist China," 4 November 1949, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, vol. 174; Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions, Record Group 2, Series 16, Vol. 20, Meeting of 21 June 1950; Stursberg, Pearson, 83; Lyon and Thordarson, "Professor Pearson," 4.
(f.56) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 145.
(f.57) "Okay," responded an unidentified State Department wag to Pearson's contribution of the three destroyers, "let's call it three tokens." Fraser, "Backstage," 1 September 1950, 4.
(f.58) Stairs, Constraint, 65.
(f.59) Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 153.
(f.60) Fraser, "Backstage," 15 September 1950, 66. In fact, all the US really knew about Pakistan was that the Pakistan Army had asked the government to send troops. For the US to have implied otherwise was indeed a questionable tactic. See Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic and Consular Offices, 21 July 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 441.
(f.61) Pearson told the cabinet on July 19 that he believed Lie had bowed to political pressure from the US State Department. Lie's own record of events was that he reacted to U.S. pressure for an official UN ground troop request only because the Americans reassured him that they would make it clear to all allies that this request was an American initiative, not Lie's. However, the Americans only partly delivered on that promise, as they failed to contact other UN missions before Lie's request for troops was made. Certainly, the Americans were aware that this situation could prove embarrassing for Canada; earlier, an American UN delegate had observed "that Lie's communication should be drafted so as to permit Members [of the UN] not in a position to contribute assistance to refrain from replying to Lie's communication without embarrassment." See NAC, Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions, Record Group 2, Series 16, Vol. 20, Meeting of 19 July 1950, 2; Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 154 - 56, Fraser "Backstage," 1 September 1950, 4; TrygveLie, In the Cause of Peace (New York: Macmillan, 1954), 336 - 37; James Barros, Trygve Lie and the Cold War: The UN Secretary General Pursues Peace, 1946 - 1953 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1989), 28285; Memorandum of Conversation by the Deputy United States Representative on the United Nations Security Council (John C. Ross), 28 June 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 221.
(f.62) Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 148.
(f.63) The Canadian budgetary data have been calculated from Historical Statistics of Canada, 2nd. ed. (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1983), series H 19 - 34; for a discussion of American military spending during this period, see Blair, Forgotten War, 6 - 29.
(f.64) Brooke Claxton, "Defence Meetings November 26 to December 14, 1949," N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 175.
(f.65) Fraser, "Backstage," 1 September 1950, 4; Lieutenant - Colonel Herbert Fairlie Wood, Strange Battleground: The Operations in Korea and Their Effects on the Defence Policy of Canada (Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966), 15 - 16.
(f.66) J.L. Granatstein and J.M. Hitsman, Broken Promises: A History of Conscription in Canada (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977), 252.
(f.67) Stairs, Constraint, 81 - 83; CIPO Poll, Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 1950 - 51, 804. Twenty - seven percent were undecided or expressed qualified opinions.
(f.68) Stairs, Constraint, 84; Pickersgill, My Years with St. Laurent, 129.
(f.69) The matter of sending troops was discussed in five cabinet meetings between July 19 and August 7. While the minutes of these meetings do not reveal any specific opposition to ground forces, they clearly indicate that the decision was by no means reached easily or quickly. Following "further discussion" on July 27, the matter had to be deferred; the final decision to send troops came only after "considerable further discussion" during the three cabinet meetings in early August. See NAC, Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions, Record Group 2, Series 16, Vol. 20, Meetings of 19 July, 28 July, 2 August, 3 August and 7 August 1950.
(f.70) See Memoranda by Ken Wilson, 12 August 1950, and by Bruce Hutchison, 24 - 25 August 1950, cited in Granatstein and Hitsman, Broken Promises, 261 - 62; Martin, A Very Public Life, Vol. II, 93 - 94; Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 148 - 49. Unfortunately, Pearson did not specify whoor how many in the cabinet opposed him.
(f.71) Wood, Strange Battleground, 22 - 24; Holmes, Shaping of Peace, 148; Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 151. In cabinet meetings both Claxton and Howe cited the decisions of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand to send ground forces as important factors forcing Canada to do the same. See NAC, Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions, Record Group 2, Section 16, Vol. 20, Meeting of 28 July 1950.
(f.72) At the October Wake Island conference of US military and government officials, some two months after Canada's commitment of ground forces, American Ambassador - at - large Philip Jessup informed his colleagues that "Mr. Pearson, the Canadian Minister of External Affairs has said that the Canadians would prefer not to send troops to Korea...." In one sense, this American perception was quite accurate, as even in late October the Canadian cabinet was discussing the possibility of having most of Canada's special force sent to Western Europe instead of Korea. See "Substance of Statements Made at Wake Island Conference," 15 October 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 959; NAC, Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions Record Group 2, Series 16, Vol. 21, Meeting of 25 October 1950, 4.
(f.73) Dean Rusk, cited in Stursberg, Pearson 91.
(f.74) Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 158 - 60; Escott Reid to L.B. Pearson, 28 September 1950, cited in William Stueck, "The Limits of Influence: British Policy and American Expansion of the War in Korea," Pacific Historical Review 55 (1986), 85 - 86. This article also observes that Pearson's request for the US to delay crossing the parallel was actually Prime Minister St. Laurent's idea.
(f.75) Pearson, cited in Stursberg, Pearson 89.
(f.76) Averell Harriman, cited in Blair, Forgotten War 237.
(f.77) See Acheson, Present at the Creation 451 - 55; Blair, Forgotten War 325 - 27, Clarence Y.H. Lo, "Civilian Policy Makers and Military Objectives: A Case Study of the U.S. Offensive to Win the Korean War," Journal of Political and Military Sociology 7, 2 (Fall 1979), 233 - 37 Barton J. Bernstein, "The Policy of Risk: Crossing the 38th Parallel and Marching to the Yalu, "Foreign Service Journal, March 1977, 16 - 22.
(f.78) AIPO poll, 13 October 1950, Public Opinion Quarterly. Spring 1951, 170, Stairs, Constraint 126 - 27; Barton J. Bernstein, "New Light on the Korean War," International History Review 3, 2 (April 1981), 258 - 61.
(f.79) Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 158.
(f.80) Minutes of the Twelfth Meeting of the US Delegation to the U.N., 3 October 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 846.
(f.81) Minutes of the Thirteenth Meeting of the US Delegation to the U.N., 4 October 1950 FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 862.
(f.82) Foot, Wrong War 90 - 91.
(f.83) Warren Austin to Secretary of State, 14 November 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1156; Stueck "Limits of Influence," 91.
(f.84) Stanley Woodward to Secretary of State, 14 November 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1155 - 56.
(f.85) Stanley Woodward to Secretary of State, 15 November 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1159.
(f.86) See "Memorandum of Conversation by Mr. Philip C. Jessup, Ambassador - at - large," 3 April 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. I, National Security Affairs, 60 - 61.
(f.87) Truman, Memoirs vol. 2, 395 - 96; Blair, Forgotten War 436.
(f.88) See Louis St. Laurent to Stanley Woodward, 11 December 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers box 174; George Ignatieff, "Korea and the Atom Bomb," memorandum of conversation with R.G. Arneson (US atomic energy assistant to Dean Acheson), 11 December 1950, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 174.
(f.89) Arnold Heeney, "Consultation Between Governments on the Possible Use of the Atomic Bomb," 8 January 1951, N.A.C. St. Laurent Papers, box 174.
(f.90) Douglas MacArthur, cited in Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 164.
(f.91) Stairs, Constraint 156 - 58. The others on the UN Committee were Nasrollah Entezam of Iran and Sir Benegal Rau of India.
(f.92) AIPO polls, August 1950 and January 1951, Public Opinion Quarterly (Summer 1951), 386 - 87.
(f.93) See Blair, Forgotten War 423, 466, 525 - 26; Warren Austin to Secretary of State 5 January 1951 FRUS 1951 vol. VII (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983), 23; Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, John Hickerson to Ambassador Ernest Gross, 11 December 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1517. It is interesting to note that the American three - man plan was adopted over the competing plan of those who wanted Benegal Rau alone to negotiate with the Chinese, and over an earlier Canadian suggestion to let Trygve Lie approach the Chinese. See also Ernest Bevin to Sir Oliver Franks, 17 November 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1174.
(f.94) Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 279, 280.
(f.95) Dean Acheson to the U.S. Mission at the UN, 15 December 1950, FRUS 1950 vol. VII, 1554.
(f.96) See Pearson, Mike vol. 2, 285, 287, 289, 292, 295.
(f.97) Stanley Woodward to Secretary of State, 18 January 1951, FRUS 1951 vol. VII, 101.
(f.98) L.B. Pearson, Statement to Canadian House of Commons, 2 February 1951, in MacKay, Canadian Foreign Policy, 307 - 9.
(f.99) Stanley Woodward to Secretary of State, 18 January 1951, FRUS 1951 vol. VII, 101.
(f.100) "I have reason to believe," wrote Howe, "that his [Pearson's] success in toning down the U.S. Aggression resolution met with favour in high places in Washington." C.D. Howe to Howard C. Sykes, 8 February 1951, N.A.C. Howe Papers, vol. 178.
(f.101) John Holmes, cited in Stursberg, Pearson, 93 - 94.
(f.102) Lester B. Pearson, Democracy in World Politics (Toronto: S.J. Reginald Saunders, 1955), 48 - 49.
(f.103) NAC, Privy Council Office Cabinet Conclusions, Record Group 2, Series 16, Vol. 20, Meeting of 28 July 1950, 2.
(f.104) Sir Thomas White to W.G. McAdoo, 2 June 1918, cited in Cuff and Granatstein, Ties That Bind. 42.
Robert S. Prince is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto.…