The Limits of Constraint: Canadian-American Relations and the Korean War, 1950-51

By Prince, Robert S. | Journal of Canadian Studies, Winter 1992 | Go to article overview

The Limits of Constraint: Canadian-American Relations and the Korean War, 1950-51


Prince, Robert S., Journal of Canadian Studies


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. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Limits of Constraint: Canadian-American Relations and the Korean War, 1950-51
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.