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Table of Contents
Canada’s anti-Red, Cold War
propaganda in context
Lester B. Pearson:
For centuries, self-righteous myths have depicted Canada as a champion of democracy and human rights. Despite Canada’s long record of genocide, land plunder and war profiteering, official narratives about noble ‘Canadian values’ still reign in our imagined ‘peaceable kingdom.’ Canada’s ethnonationalist propaganda demonized First Nations as hostile subhumans to be enslaved, imprisoned on reservations and made Christian in residential schools. This White-Power racism served imperialist containment policies designed to turn ‘Red Indian’ enemies into captive nations.
In the early 1950s, then-External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson pioneered a new containment policy. During the transition to the new world order of the Cold War, he rallied his powerful allies in Canada’s racist old-boys’ clubs. In 1951, Pearson compared the new Red Menace to what he called "savages lurking in the woods." These "savages," he declared, had violently threatened the peaceful lives of innocent white Europeans whom he lovingly called "our forefathers." (See quotation below from his speech to the Empire Club of Canada and Toronto's Canadian Club.) By conjuring up unsettling images of a Red-Indian bogeyman, Pearson helped manufacture consent for a brand-new, politically-Red enemy to meet the needs of NATO’s capitalist powers.
"Pearson enthusiastically supported a Cold War against any Canadians suspected of viewing the world outside the newly hegemonic framework of the American imperium."1
Targeted for abuse by Canada’s Cold-War elites were "peaceniks," radical unionists and others branded as too leftwing for Canada's established elites. "Pearson had become an ever-more-aggressive accomplice," said Swift and MacKay, "in government attacks on dissidents."2
As chief architect of Canada’s postwar anti-Red foreign policy, Pearson demonized the Soviet Union as the centre of global evil. The USSR was still reeling after 27 million of its citizens had been killed by Hitler’s anti-communist crusade. After the Red Army liberated Eastern Europe and led Germany’s defeat, the US replaced the Nazis as global leaders in the war on communism. NATO efforts to destroy the USSR used Cold-War "containment" strategies: surrounding the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, isolating it with political and economic sanctions, and vilifying it with propaganda. Pearson had a central role in this new phase of the West’s war on communism.
For decades, Canada and other Western powers had fought to contain the left. Canada even ran slave labour camps (1914-20) that interned thousands of single immigrant men, mostly Ukrainians, who had been laid off from rural work camps. Elites feared that their growing protests in urban centres might spark a revolution.3 In 1919, Canada was among 13 countries that invaded the newborn state of Soviet Russia with 150,000 troops to reverse the Bolshevik revolution. One means of dismantling Canada’s self-righteous myths is to examine this country’s support for US militarism throughout the Cold War. This study leads to the conclusion that little if anything has yet changed. Always a stalwart NATO warrior giving solid allegiance to US-led military, political, economic and propaganda wars, Canada has taken on leading roles in a new Cold War now being waged by the American empire.
Facing Canada’s history of duplicity is especially difficult because it means facing the villainous hypocrisy of some of this nation’s most-beloved leaders. It also means confronting the powerful, political descendants of Canada’s much-glorified cult heroes.
Collaboration in the Vietnam War
Noam Chomsky is among those scholars who debunk the national myth that Canada is a "peaceable kingdom" promoting high, moral values. To do this, Chomsky tags Canada’s most iconic peacemaker as a virulent warmonger. "Lester Pearson," said Chomsky, "was a major criminal, really extreme." For example, "Pearson’s support for the war in Vietnam," Chomsky notes, included Canadian government collaboration in "spying, weapons sales, and complicity in the bombing of the North."4 (For details on Canada’s role, see Victor Levant’s Quiet Complicity.5)
As early as 1951, Chomsky noted, one of Pearson’s many tirades against what Canadian elites saw as the evils of communism clearly affirmed his blind-eye support for the US-backed, French war in Vietnam: "If the valiant efforts now being made by France ... were to fail," said Pearson, all of
South-East Asia, including Burma, Malaya and Indonesia, with their important resources of rubber, rice and tin, might well come under communist control.
As a leading Cold War zealot, Pearson justified the genocide in southeast Asia (which eventually killed 3.5 million civilians) as a war to protect the "free world" from communism. As Chomsky noted in 2005, Pearson called Vietnam’s independence struggle an example of "communist aggression." Chomsky also noted that Pearson claimed the "‘Soviet colonial authority in Indochina’ appeared to be stronger than that of France." Considering, said Chomsky, that there was "not a Russian anywhere in the neighborhood ... [o]ne has to search pretty far to find more fervent devotion to imperial crimes than Pearson’s declarations."7
While state myths have helped to create an institutionalized cult around Pearson, Canada’s beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner was actually a vociferous Cold Warrior. Besides using hateful anti-Red rhetoric to whitewash war crimes in Vietnam, Pearson rallied public support for other crimes against peace. These included many covert actions to squash anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America.8
Canadian political, corporate, religious and media elites shared with their Western allies a fierce loathing for anyone who could be labelled communist. Their global crusade maligned all individuals, groups, parties, movements and governments that dared to threaten the freewheeling reign of predatory corporations. In Lester Pearson, these fear-mongering elites found a capable voice whose skillful devotion to Cold War tropes served their shared, vested interests.
Pearson’s subservience to the moneyed interests of empire helped ensure his rise to power through the Department of External Affairs. After joining that bureaucracy in 1928, Pearson worked his way up through Ottawa’s ranks to receive top postings in the capitals of Canada’s two imperial masters. At WWII’s onset, he served Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s Liberal government at the High Commission in London (1939-42). After transfer to Washington, Pearson was Canada’s ambassador and "envoy extraordinaire" to the US (1942-46), and then became Canada’s foreign minister (1948-57).
Pearson was very useful to both British and American power elites because he leveraged Canada’s well-crafted reputation as a neutral "middle power" to cheerlead their imperial, neocolonial adventures. This included lending Canada’s voice to such Cold War excesses as the ousting of elected, socialist-friendly governments that tried to limit the exploits of foreign corporations.
Captivated by the era’s anticommunism, Pearson ignored Western war crimes. In fact, these crimes were glorified with phobic, Cold War narratives that painted US assaults on democracy as if they were part of a noble war to wipe out communism. Pearson played a key role in leading Canada’s support for these anti-democratic, regime-change coups. Here are but a few examples:
Pearson’s government supported the coup that installed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as Iran’s dictator in 1953. This CIA/MI5-led coup ousted Mohammad Mosaddegh’s elected government after it dared to nationalize Iran’s UK-owned oil industry. Although not a socialist, Mosaddegh worked with Iran’s communist party, Tudeh, which had played a key role in Iran’s struggle to gain control of its own oil resources.
As historian Bill Blum noted: "To the likes of [US Secretary of State] John Foster Dulles," Iran was "the epitome of all he detested in the Third World: unequivocal neutralism in the cold war, tolerance of Communists, and disrespect for free enterprise." To this "apocalyptic anticommunist ... Mossadegh was indeed a madman."9 Dulles’ utter contempt for democracy was shared by the AntiBolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a notorious US/UK-backed network of Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe. In 1954, it printed that "Red Moscow" had tried "to take over all of Persia ... during the rule of the mad Mossadegh."10
Iran’s duly-elected government also angered Pearson. "In their anxiety to gain full control of their affairs by the elimination of foreign influence," he said, Iran had exposed itself "to the menace of communist penetration and absorption ... into the Soviet sphere."11
After the coup, with Iran safely absorbed into the Western sphere, its CIA- and Israeli-trained secret police used mass arrests, torture and murder to decimate Tudeh and other popular, democratic forces.12
A CIA-led coup toppled Guatemala’s elected rulers and ushered in decades of dictatorships that killed about 200,000 people. As a US State Department official said, Guatemala’s elected President Jacobo Arbenz had a "broad social program" to aid "workers and peasants in a victorious struggle against the upper classes and large foreign enterprises." This, he admitted, had "strong appeal to the populations of Central America."13Arbenz was not allowed to pose the threat of a good example.
US and Canadian politicians, bureaucrats and the mass media painted Arbenz as a communist, although he was not. Even before Arbenz’s 1950 election, Ottawa’s trade commissioner in Guatemala reported that:
"businessmen and landowners do not have any cause to view the prospect of Arbenz as future president with any optimism. He is unscrupulous, daring and ruthless, and not one to be allayed in his aims by bloodshed or killing.
Canadian elites embraced this anti-left narrative. In 1953 and 1954, Arbenz’s Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello asked Canada to allow embassies to open in their two countries. Pearson’s department refused. "At external affairs and in Canadian board rooms," said reporter Peter McFarlane, "the coup was chalked up as another victory of the Free World against the [Red] Menace."15
In his speech to the Organization of American States' conference in 1954,16 Toriello denounced Cold Warriors for branding
"as ‘communism’ every manifestation of nationalism or economic independence, any desire for social progress, any intellectual curiosity, and any interest in progressive liberal reforms."
The "real and effective reason for describing our government as communist," Toriello said, was "simple." His government’s
"plan for national liberation ... affected the privileges of the foreign enterprises that are impeding the progress and the economic development of the country."
When Brazil elected a left-wing party by a huge margin in 1960, President John F. Kennedy’s US government backed a coup that overthrew it. Brazil's elected government had certainly not been communist. Active in the NonAligned Movement, it tried to remain neutral in the Cold War. The coup—which led to a series of brutal, business-friendly, US-backed juntas that held power until 1985—was justified by wild claims that Brazil’s elected government might turn communist.
Although ludicrous, this fake-news fearmongering was pushed as the truth by zealous Cold Warriors. As Blum put it:
It was only by ignoring facts...during the cold war that the anti-communist propaganda machine of the US could preach about the International Communist Conspiracy and claim that the coup in Brazil saved the country from communism.
The coup was actively supported by Brazilian Admiral Carlos P.Botto who, having backed fascism in WWII, then helped to lead the ABN. He and ABN leader Yaroslav Stesko, were influential in creating the World AntiCommunist League.
Canadian officials, both Liberal and Tory, also feared the rising popularity of communism in Latin America. After a 1961 government mission to South America, Progressive Conservative MP Pierre Sevigny told parliament that in Brazil, Canada’s
"allies want to cooperate with us and to prevent ... the birth of subversive movements in that country where huge illiterate populations are living, which, if they were to be subjected to communist influence, could easily cause a social and economic revolution.
The Liberals shared this rightwing mindset. "Canadian reaction to the military coup," said historian Rosana Barbosa, "was careful, polite and allied with American rhetoric." Barbosa, a Brazilian-Canadian, says Pearson, who became prime minister the year before the coup "did not publicly criticize the new regime. Pearson’s foreign policy ... was supportive of the United States."20
Pearson’s pro-coup stance was good for business, especially the Brazilian Power and Light Co. (Brascan), one of Canada’s biggest profiteers in Latin America. As revealed in Let Us Prey (1974), there was a revolving door between Brascan and Liberal cabinets of St. Laurent, Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. For example, Robert Winters, who held two cabinet posts under St. Laurent and was Pearson’s trade minister, became Brascan’s president. Winters praised Brazil’s coup regime, saying it "was dedicated to the principles of private enterprise" and "create[d] a climate friendly to foreign capital." Jack Nicholson, Brascan’s CEO in Brazil in the 1950s, had three cabinet posts under Pearson. Mitchell Sharp, whose career began under St. Laurent in 1947, held the trade and finance posts in Pearson’s cabinet. After a stint as Brascan’s VP, Sharp returned to politics to become Trudeau’s foreign minister.21 Another Brascan executive in Trudeau’s cabinet was Anthony Abbott,22 who held three finance-related posts in the late 1970s.
Dominican Republic, 1965:
Pearson showed support for the 1965 US invasion of the Dominican Republic, when 20,000 Marines propped up the army junta that ousted a pro-Castro government after it won a landslide election victory in 1963. Popular attempts to restore this leftwing government were described in the ABN's magazine, as "the attempted overthrow of the government ... saved only by the decisive actions of US Marines."23 Pearson too defended the invasion, intoning in parliament that
it is well known in international law... that a government has responsibility for protecting its own citizens in situations of insurrection and disturbance when those citizens are in danger and when the forces of law and order seem to have temporarily disappeared.24 (Emphasis added.)
Supporting US nuclear war policies
From the Cold War’s earliest days, Pearson was a strong voice for the idea that the moral forces of what he called the "democratic West" had to amass a vast arsenal of weapons for a possible world war against "the totalitarian East." This, ironically, is why Pearson saw his key role in creating NATO as one of his most valuable gifts to global peace. From its inception in 1949, before the Soviets had tested a single nuclear bomb, US nuclear weapons have been a cornerstone of NATO’s "defence" policies. From the Soviet perspective, they had already been under attack by Western forces obsessed with their containment and annihilation since 1917. (They responded to the NATO pact’s creation by forming the Warsaw Treaty alliance in 1957.)
In 1950, left-leaning peace groups around the world were busy supporting the Stockholm Peace Appeal. This petition campaign, promoted by the communist-led World Peace Congress, called for "the unconditional banning by all countries of the atomic weapon as an instrument of aggression and mass extermination of people..." The appeal also asked governments to declare that they would "regard as a war criminal that government which first uses the atomic weapon against any country." By February 1950, this "petition for peace," bearing the signatures of 500,000 Canadians, was presented to government officials in Ottawa. In a letter to a Vancouver paper, to correct "a false report by an Ottawa reporter," Rev. James Endicott, chairman of the Canadian Peace Congress, said "We are proud that this petition, which originated in Canada, was circulated to all countries in the world, gaining the endorsation of 450 million men and women."26
Not surprisingly, this successful campaign, which rallied widespread public opposition to NATO's bellicose "first use," nuclear-weapons policies, also enraged many Cold Warriors, including Lester Pearson. In a March 1950 address to 500 civil servants, about a week after Endicott's letter was published, Pearson said Canada would "take every ... measure to find and root out treason and sedition in our midst."27 (Sedition and treason carry penalties of 14 years and life imprisonment, respectively.) Pearson’s speech, quoted in an Ottawa paper, singled out the Canadian Peace Congress for a moralizing rebuke:
[B]e on guard against the more immediate menace of the individual who beneath the mask of loyal service to the country, or wearing the mantle of the Peace Congress has knowingly or unknowingly sold his soul to Moscow.28
In response, Peace Congress activist Edith Holtom wrote to the paper saying,
If enough Canadians, including civil servants, would protest against selling the soul of Canada to American militarism, there would be no need for Mr. Pearson to refer to peacemakers as a menace .... [H]ow dare Mr. Pearson call a person a menace who joins ... with thousands of others to warn our government of what might happen if changes are not made in policy-making?29
Later, in a 1951 speech to the well-heeled Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club, Pearson even called the Canadian Peace Congress an agent of "foreign aggressive imperialism."30
Besides the Liberals and Conservatives, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), forerunner of the New Democratic Party, also saw the Peace Congress as a menacing threat. The CCF executive forbade members from joining the Congress and threatened disciplinary action against CCFers who signed the Stockholm Appeal.31
Pearson had such hate for the Congress that when 50 engineering students made a coup-like effort to destroy its University of Toronto chapter, he said in their support:
"If more Canadians were to show something of this high-spirited crusading zeal, we would very soon hear very little of the Canadian Peace Congress and its works. We would simply take it over.
Pearson himself became prime minister in a constitutional coup. In 1962, CIA and State Department staff, the US ambassador to Canada and the US general who lead NATO, worked with Canadian allies to spark a political crisis to oust Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. US officials, George Ball and McGeorge Bundy, skilled in planning coups, bragged that they had "knocked over the Diefenbaker government." Dief’s crime was refusing to base US nuclear weapons in Canada. After Diefenbaker’s removal, Pearson immediately brought US warheads into Canada to arm Bomarc missiles. So blatant was his role in aiding the US nuclear-weapons agenda that future Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau refused to run in the election and derided Pearson as the "defrocked priest of peace."33
Imperialist proNATO propaganda
Pearson was groomed for political power by another loyal Canadian servant of imperial interests. In 1948, before Pearson was elected to office, Mackenzie King made him foreign minister. King’s own ascent to power had been aided by his work as "labour advisor" for J.D.Rockefeller Jr., America’s richest, anti-union, robber baron, fascist financier and Nazi collaborator.34 King, who praised JDR Jr., was also a dreamy-eyed admirer (until 1939) of that century’s leading antiRed crusader, Adolph Hitler. King’s suggestibility was clear from his use of séances and crystal balls to get advice from dead relatives and political heroes. From his unelected cabinet post, Pearson was well placed to guide his gullible boss.
An example of Pearson’s early pro-US advice occurred in 1946, when King was considering whether to take Canada along a middle path between the hardened Cold-War extremes of the US and the USSR. To convince King that he should hitch Canada securely to America’s anti-Soviet wagon, Pearson wrote a memo telling him 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.
With this prediction, said historian Joe Levitt, "Pearson seemed to be asserting that a war with the Soviet Union was virtually inevitable." Levitt noted that, "Pearson may have worded the memo... to play on ... King’s fears of the Soviet Union" so that he would bow to US demands for greater military access to Arctic regions claimed by Canada.36
Pearson’s fearmongering was clear from his first speech to Parliament. "There is no doubt that fear has gripped the world again," he said, "fear arising primarily out of ... the brutal domination of revolutionary communism, based on the massive and expanding militarism of totalitarian Russia."37
Pearson’s anti-Red hyperbole knew few bounds and smacked of racism: "[T]he crusading and subversive power of communism has been harnessed by a cold-blooded, calculating, victoriously powerful Slav empire for its own political purposes."38 (Emphasis added.)
To Pearson and other Cold Warriors, the world was torn apart by a battle between pure good and utter evil. Describing these mortal foes in 1951, he said "there are two sides whose composition cuts across national and even community boundaries." These forces, led by the US and USSR, Pearson said, represented "freedom vs. slavery."39
Pearson also warned that a war between freedom and slavery would take place for one of only two reasons. World War III, he said, would result from an accident, or "a deliberate and controlled explosion brought about by the calculated policy of the hard-faced despots in the Kremlin, men hungry for power and world domination."40
Hypocrisy and doublethink:
Pearson’s bombast also exaggerated Soviet control over what he slurred as their "completely servile" "puppet regimes."41 When discussing nonaligned Yugoslavia, he referred to the "unquestioning and slavish obedience that the Kremlin demands." With regards to Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and "the subjugation of states by soviet communism," Pearson spoke of "communist pressure to liquidate every element of national independence and every trace of opinion or feeling which is not abjectly subordinate to Soviet Russia."42
But Pearson was blind to the subservience of Canada and its NATO allies to the US. Pearson had such faith in Western morality that he declared in 1959 that "western democratic governments have no aggressive or imperialistic designs." Similarly, he said "Americans ... are perhaps the least imperialistically minded people that have ever achieved great power in the world."43
As Canadian Dimension founder, Cy Gonnick, explained in 1975, "Canada’s role, as devised by Pearson, was to assist the United States to achieve its goals, which were by definition the same as Canada’s." Canada’s servility to the US was summed up by a top Pearson colleague: "We can tell our neighbour when we think he is wrong," said John Holmes, "but we know that in the end we will, in our own interest, side with our neighbour right or wrong."44 After a career as Canada’s chargé d’affaires in Moscow (1947-48) and a top bureaucrat at the UN (1950-53) and External Affairs (1953-60), Holmes continued neighbourly support for US politics as president of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA)45 (1960-73) and as a counselor for it (1973-88).
In a speech to CIIA-Vancouver in 1948, Pearson expressed faith that "democracy" in the US-led "free world" had, by its treatment of the global poor, proven "its superiority as a form of government and a way of life." Pearson then boiled everything down to the West’s existential struggle with evil. In one corner of the globe was America’s "free, expanding progressive democracy." In the other, was the USSR’s "tyrannical and reactionary communism."46 The so-called free world countries, said Pearson, being "strong, healthy and progressive," had to "protect themselves from the threat of a sudden attack by an aggressor communist state." Pearson also believed the US-led free world must "remove the menace of aggressive communism, at home ... [and] abroad."47
To "remove" the Red Menace, Pearson said Canada and other "free" nations had to "pay tribute" to the US by foregoing their own independent foreign policies. He outlined this strategy to the elitist Empire Club of Canada and Toronto’s equally affluent Canadian Club, saying:
"we must recognize and pay tribute to the leadership being given and the efforts being made by the United States in the conflict against Communist imperialism, and realize that if this leadership were not given we would have little chance of success in the common struggle. Secondly, we must never forget that our enemy gleefully welcomes every division in the free democratic ranks and that ... there will be times when we should abandon our position if it is more important to maintain unity in the face of the common foe."
Vive le Ukraine libre
The hypocrisy of Cold-War "doublethink"49 is illustrated by Pearson’s indignant reaction to Charles de Gaulle’s "Vive le Québec libre" speech in 1967. During his visit to Montréal for Canada’s centenary celebrations, the French president’s allusion to an independent Quebec outraged Prime Minister Pearson. De Gaulle’s reference to a "free Quebec" was nothing compared to the onslaught of "free Ukraine" propaganda that Canada had beamed at the USSR for the past 15 years.
Under Pearson’s guidance, CBC International had long provoked ethnonationalist schisms in the USSR. From its very first Ukrainian-language broadcast, on Canada’s 85th birthday (July 1, 1952), the CBC’s Voice of Canada had collaborated with Canada’s far-right Ukrainian émigrés to drive a political wedge into the USSR. Canada’s Cold War propaganda broadcasts were part of a US-led political/psychological warfare campaign to exploit internal Soviet conflicts and to foment the break-up of that extremely multicultural country.
Canada’s mass media decried de Gaulle’s call for a free Quebec. In covering the French president's speech, most newspapers across Canada quoted from Pearson’s speech at a huge July 31, 1967 rally of anti-Soviet Ukrainian youth on Parliament Hill.50 (See photo below.) This rally of 1,500 uniformed, anticommunist Ukrainian youth marching in formation, was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).51 It had been created by King’s government in 1940 to unify Canada's rightwing Ukrainian groups. While the UCC regularly meddled in Soviet politics by demanding a "free Ukraine," it was happy to be used as a backdrop for Pearson to condemn de Gaulle’s meddling in Canadian politics.
In Pearson’s speech he acknowledged only "two founding races and languages and cultures in Canada, British and French." Ignoring Canada’s genocide of First Nations, he also left out Britain’s conquest of New France in 1760. "In our country," Pearson claimed, "we have required neither revolution nor civil war nor outside intervention to settle our differences."52
Canada’s amnesic, state myths were echoed by Yuri Shymko, who told the crowd:
Canada is one of the few countries of the world that can proudly and justly say it has maintained throughout its young history the principle that men [sic] of all races and nationalities shall live and prosper in peace, liberty and equality.
Shymko was described in 1967 news stories as "a leader of the Ukrainian Youth Organization." Then 26, he went on to become an MPP and MP. Shymko continues to lead Ukrainian nationalists who glorify Stepan Bandera, a WWII fascist leader whose armed movement massacred Jews, Poles and communists. (See more on Bandera's Nazi-collaborating Ukrainian Insurgent Army, here, and the Canadian government's financial support for Banderite front groups and other far-right, Ukrainian ultranationalist organizations in Canada, here and here.)
Pearson’s anti-Red crusade:
Pearson said the global war against communism had to be fought on all fronts, using weapons from all fields of culture. To amass the arsenal needed for this full-spectrum war, Pearson tailored his rhetoric to suit his audience. To his allies in Canada’s old boys’ clubs, he said the anti-communist struggle
has not yet become a shooting war, except in Korea, but ... goes on in the field of economics, finance, and public opinion, and extends far beyond any military or even political operation.
"Strength," he reminded this wealthy audience of corporate movers and shakers from the Empire Club of Canada and Toronto’s Canadian Club, should not "be interpreted in military terms alone, but has also its economic, financial and moral aspects."54
On becoming chancellor of the University of Toronto’s Victoria College, which included a theological school, Pearson focused on the need to fight the Reds using "intellectual and spiritual weapons":
It would be a mistake to believe we can ... defeat communism by force. Among other things, communism is an idea. No idea, however perilous or noxious, as communism is, can be killed by bayonets or even by an atomic bomb. As an idea, it must be resisted by intellectual and spiritual weapons....
To fight the Cold War crusade against communism, Pearson often wielded Christian rhetoric. For instance, when promoting the creation of NATO in early 1949, he said "Canada should not remain aloof" because
aggressive forces outside Canada allied to subversive forces within it .... [could] lead the world into war between totalitarian Communism and the Christian democratic way of life.
Thanks to his upbringing, Pearson slipped easily into sermonizing. His father, and father’s father, were both staunch Methodist ministers. His dad, Rev. Edwin Pearson, was "a strong imperialist" whose "three boys shared his enthusiasm for sports and the empire."57 Having absorbed this family zeal for imperialism, Pearson equated anti-communism with "spiritual faith" and "Christian morality." These he saw as "the basis for the individual and for society."58 Within his black-and-white universe, the Cold War’s rivals were engaged in a mythic, existential battle between the evil darkness of totalitarian communism and the pure, radiance of civilized Western capitalism. This cartoon ethos left no room for grey areas in between. Canadians had to either embrace the enlightened "free world," or be damned and condemned as diabolic Reds.
In one parliamentary polemic, Pearson contrasted the "dark practice of government through tyranny and ignorance" behind "the shadow of the iron curtain," with the glowing "human spirit" that made Europe the "fountainhead of light and progress" for "a thousand years." Pearson’s melodramatic tropes shone when he said Europe’s "light still burns, and that eventually it will help lift the darkness that now surrounds it."59
Pearson and other Cold Warriors had zero-tolerance for communism. Their anti-Red phobia was akin to the "one-drop rule" that dominated racist societies. Apartheid regimes in South Africa and the US, institutionalized the hatred of their power elites’ in social systems that disempowered those alleged to have even a single drop of black African blood in their veins. Similarly, Cold Warriors like Pearson were intolerant of individuals, groups and foreign leaders said to be tainted by the dreaded "Red" political blood; "Pinkos" could not be abided.
Despite his commitment to supporting numerous US-led wars and regime change operations, Pearson is still glorified as an unblemished icon of world peace by many Canadians who view themselves as progressives.
In light of Pearson's life-long involvement in promoting the crimes of empire, his status as a much-heralded Canadian cult hero needs to be revoked. As a foreign affairs bureaucrat, diplomat and politician who spearheaded the warmongering, social phobia of extreme anti-communism in Canada, Pearson should finally be recognised as the political godfather of the Cold War and an ideological patriarch of its hate-filled, war-mongering propaganda.
References and notes
(Thanks to Eric Mills <firstname.lastname@example.org> for his work copyediting this article.)
1. Ian MacKay and Jamie Swift, Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety, 2012, p.128.
2. Ibid., 118.
3. Richard Sanders, "War Mania, Mass Hysteria and Moral Panics," Press for Conversion!, 2016, pp.5-14. http://bit.ly/RedScare-1
4. Noam Chomsky, Foreword, in Yves Engler, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, 2012, p.8.
5. Victor Levant, Quiet Complicity: Canadian Involvement in the Vietnam War, 1986.
6. Chomsky 2012, op. cit., p.9.
7. Noam Chomsky, "Imperial Presidency," Canadian Dimension, Jan/Feb 2005. http://bit.ly/CDchom
8. Engler op. cit., passim.
9. William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military & CIA Interventions since WWII, 2003, p.64. http://bit.ly/BlumKH
10. D.D. "What Kind of Diplomacy does Moscow Understand?" ABN Correspondence, May/Sep 1954, p.10. http://bit.ly/ABN-54
11. Lester Pearson, Hansard, Oct. 22, 1951, p.253, cited by Engler 2012, ibid., pp.75.
12. Ervand Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions: Prisons & Public Recantations in Modern Iran, 1999, pp.89-101. http://bit.ly/SAVAK-Tudeh
13. Cited by Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, 1991, p.419. http://bit.ly/Chomsky1991
14. J. Rochlin, Discovering the Americas: Evolution of Canadian Foreign Policy towards Latin America, 1994, p.35. http://bit.ly/Roch94
15. Peter McFarlane, Northern Shadows: Canadians in Central America, 1989, pp.98, 100, cited by Engler op. cit., p.79.
16. Guillermo Toriello's speech (in
Spanish), at the OAS conference, Venezuela, Mar. 5, 1954.
17. Guillermo Toriello, translated excerpts of speech at the OAS conference, Venezuela, Mar. 5, 1954, cited by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, 1982, pp.143-44. http://bit.ly/Bitter-Fruit
18. Blum, op.cit., p.170.
19. Pierre Sevigny, Hansard, Sept. 7, 1961, p.8083. http://bit.ly/Sevigny64
20. Rosana Barbosa, Brazil and Canada: Economic, Political, and Migratory Ties, 1820s to 1970s, 2017, pp.8-9. http://bit.ly/Cda-Brazil
21. Robert Chodos (ed.), Let Us Prey, 1974, pp.14-17. http://bit.ly/Brascan
22. Barry Buys, Canadians in Brazil,
Brascan and Brazilian Development, 1996, p.67.
23. Eric Brodin, "‘1984’ for over 25 years in Cuba," ABN Correspondence, Jan/Feb 1985, p.27.
24. Lester Pearson, Hansard, May 3, 1965, p.831. http://bit.ly/R2P-1965
25. Richard Sanders, "R2P: Typecasting
Canada as Hero in Theatres of War," Press for Conversion!, Issue
60, Mar. 2007,
Issue 61 (Sept. 2007) CIDA's
Key Role in Haiti's 2004 Coup:
26. James G Endicott, (Chairman, Canadian Peace Congress), "That Peace Appeal," Vancouver News-Herald, Mar 21, 1951, p.4.
27. Lester Pearson, "Communism and the Peace Campaign," April 20, 1951, in John Price, Orienting Canada: Race, Empire, & the Transpacific, 2011, p.230. http://bit.ly/antiCPC
28. "Our Duty to Root Out Treason, L.B. Pearson tells CS Group," Ottawa Journal, Mar. 27, 1950, p.8. http://bit.ly/Pearson-CPC
30. Edith Holtom, "A Peace Congress View," Citizen, Apr. 4, 1950, p.32. http://bit.ly/Holtom
31. Mardiros, op.cit.
32. Reginald Whitaker and Gary Marcuse, Cold War Canada: The Making of a National Insecurity State, 1945-1957, 1996, p.375.
33. Richard Sanders, "A Plot ‘Made in the US,’" Press for Conversion! Jan. 2001, pp.23-25. http://bit.ly/Cda-Coup
34. Richard Sanders, "Rockefeller Assoc," Press for Conversion! Mar. 2004. http://bit.ly/JDR-2
35. Joseph Levitt, Pearson and Canada’s Role in Nuclear Disarmament & Arms Control Negotiations, 1945-1957, 1993, p.46. http://bit.ly/Levitt
37. Lester Pearson, Words and Occasions: An Anthology of Speeches and Articles Selected from his Papers, 1970, p.82. http://bit.ly/LBP-70
38. Ibid., p.70.
39. Lester Pearson, "Canadian Foreign Policy in a Two Power World," Apr.10, 1951. http://bit.ly/lp51
41. Lester Pearson, Hansard, Nov.16, 1949.
43. Lester Pearson, Diplomacy in a Nuclear Age, 1959, p.53.
44. Cy Gonick, Inflation or Depression, 1975, p.87.
45. This propaganda mill, now the Canadian International Council, formed by politicians, businessmen and press owners, was led by Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden (1911-20), who became its first president in 1928.
46. Pearson 1970, op. cit., p.75.
48. Pearson, April 10, 1951, op. cit.
49. "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both.... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient." George Orwell, 1984, 1949, p.220. http://bit.ly/1984-DT
50. Author’s collection of 51 news
articles from Jul. 31-Aug.3, 1967.
51. Aya Fujiwara, Ethnic Elites and Canadian Identity: Japanese, Ukrainians, and Scots, 1919-1971, 2012. http://bit.ly/UCC1967
52. Gordon Pape, "Full Acceptance of French a Requirement says Pearson," Montreal Gazette, Aug.1, 1967, p.2. http://bit.ly/Aug1-1967
53. "PM Stresses Political Unity to Ukrainians," Calgary Herald, Jul.31, 1967, p.9. http://bit.ly/ch-67
54. Pearson, Apr. 10, 1951, op. cit.
55. Pearson 1970, op.cit., p.112.
56. "Pearson Hits Prog. Cons.," Winnipeg Free Press, Feb. 5, 1949, p.6. http://bit.ly/Christ-vs-Reds
57. John English, "Pearson, Lester Bowles," Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 2003- http://bit.ly/EdwinP
58. Pearson 1970, op.cit., p.113.
59. Lester Pearson, cited by B.T.R., "Need we Fight the Russians?" Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 16, 1949, p.30. http://bit.ly/OC11-16-49
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