WARMING UP TO THE COLD WAR

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WARMING UP TO THE COLD WAR
Canada and the United States’ Coalition of the Willing, from Hiroshima to Korea
Robert Teigrob
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. 288pp, $55.00 cloth
ISBN 978-0-8020-9923-5

Robert Teigrob’s is hardly the first book-length study of Canadian politics and
foreign relations in the early years of the Cold War. The milestones he cites
are familiar: Igor Gouzenko’s defection and subsequent revelations about
Soviet atomic espionage, the formation of NATO, and the Korean War. So is
his preoccupation with the shift in Canadian attitudes, from expectations of
great-power harmony under UN auspices to acceptance of American
leadership in a bipolar world. Teigrob examines both the making of Canadian
foreign policy and the domestic impact of anti-Communism, and promises
a fresh combination of diplomatic and cultural history.
     But he largely misses the opportunity to advance a genuinely new
interpretation of the period. His present-mindedness, which the book’s
subtitle evinces, is one reason why. In Teigrob’s account, the creation of
NATO and the UN-authorized “police action” in Korea were exercises in
American unilateralism, much like the invasion of Iraq. In 1950 as in 2003,
he argues, the preservation of Canadian national sovereignty required
abstention rather than participation. But regardless of whether one agrees
with his recommendations in each case, the analogy between Korea and Iraq
is misleading.
     Teigrob’s is a variation on the argument that Donald Creighton and
George Grant advanced. Like them, he holds successive Liberal governments
culpable of betraying Canadian independence by military alliance and
economic integration with the United States. His additions to the original
argument, including a wider apportioning of blame, hardly strengthen his
case. He places less emphasis on direct American pressure than did
Creighton or Grant, and suggests that the Canadian public—which, under
the influence of American media and their Canadian auxiliaries, cloned
America’s Cold War consensus, albeit for “h
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: As for Korea, [Robert Teigrob] correctly notes that the St. Laurent government hesitated to send troops, largely because it anticipated opposition in Qubec. He highlights public and governmental unease over American actions that threatened to expand the war, including General Douglas Mac Arthur' s call to "unleash" Taiwanese forces against China, and President Harry Truman's unguarded public musings about the availability of nuclear weapons. But these were disagreements about strategy, not first principles. The levelling off of Canadian defence spending in Europe after 1951, in Teigrob's view, suggests Canada's growing disillusion with American Cold War policies. In fact, this budgetary decision was inevitable in the wake of the spending surge needed to meet NATO's ambitious rearmament goals. Defence expenditure remained the largest item in the federal budget through the decade, well above early postwar levels as a share of GDP, a fact that Teigrob ignores. There was no mainstream political discussion of major cuts to defence spending or Canada's NATO cornmitments until the 1960s, suggesting that Canadian-American disagreements in the early years of the Cold War pertained to means, not ends.Teigrob' s second modification of [Donald Creighton] and [George Grant] is chronological. He dates the great betrayal to the period between 1945 and 1950, not the Second World War. The nationalist revolt against American hegemony first became evident in objections to the direction of the Korean War. Subsequent disagreements over nuclear arms and Vietnam, Teigrob claims, intensified Canada's desire to escape American tutelage, but did not, as others claim, create it. He emphasizes the British connection's centrality to the traditional Canadian self-definition, with America the necessary foil, noting the coolness of many Anglo-Canadians to American anti-colonialism until Washington grew tolerant of empire as a bulwark against communism. Teigrob detects a fundamental change after th
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