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Historiography Canada And The Cold War

4470 words - 18 pages

Studies of the Cold War are numerous and expansive. The story of the war is much more than a story about the Soviet Union and the United States. There is a gap in the scholarship, namely Canada’s role in that war. Scholars like Denis Smith, Robert Teigrob, Franca Iacovetta, Reg Whitaker, and Steve Hewitt among others are filling that gap. In the relatively recent scholarship on Canada’s role in the war, there are a wide variety of opinions that have come forth. Questions addressed in the studies include, when did the Cold War begin in Canada? What was Canada’s role? Did anything change in Canada with the emergence of the war? Was McCarthyism worse than the methoda employed in Canada?. ...view middle of the document...

That to seek to gather information in any underhand way would make clear that we did not trust the Embassy…Robertson seemed to feel that the unformation might be so important both to the states and to ourselves and to Britain that it would be in their best interests for us to seize it no matter how it was obtained. He did not say this but asked my opinion. I was strongly against any step of the kind as certain to create an issue between Russia and Canada, this leading to severance of diplomatic relations and as Robertson pointed out, might have consequences on the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers which might lead even to the breaking up of that organization.”[6]

King was so scared of Canada being thrust into an international scandal that he is even reported to have wished that Gouzenko would follow through on his threat to committ suicide so that the documents could be seized from his apartment and the government could plead ignorance.[7]
Bothwell, disagrees with scholars like Whitaker, Hewitt and Teigrob in the emphasis that is placed on the Gouzenko incident. Bothwell says that traditional descriptions of the event have been misleading. He contends that the affair has even shed a false light on the early development of cold war policy in Canada because the wrong issues have been concentrated on and some digressive conclusions have been reached. He says that the significance of the Gouzenko case was not the espionage, but King’s reaction to it. He says that there is no evidence that the incident was a turning point or variation on Canadian policy. He says that this is because historians tend to look at issues in a tightly enclosed area. For example, economic historians look at economic policy, and social policy historians look at the emergence of the welfare state. Bothwell goes on to say that King’s consultations with the American and British leaders were not because King wanted to lead the charge on the investigation into widespread espionage, but because he wanted to be given some advice, some direction. Bothwell says that King did not want to believe that the world was headed into an esast versus the west war so soon after one had just ended. The reasons for this were many, including Canada’s domestic economic issues, and the sheer distance (geographically and psychologically) of the Soviet Union. He says that the Gouzenko case had virtually no significant effect.[8] While Bothwell’s account of the Gouzenko case was interesting and different, there is a sheer lack of evidence to back up his claims. There are very few footnotes or citations in the article, perhaps this is because most of his claims are opinions and not conclusions reached based on reasearch. Perhaps this article is better suited as an op-ed piece in a newspaper than in an academic journal.
A point that Bothwell touches on that is mentioned by several authors[9] is that the anti-Communism that was rampant in the Canadian government and other...

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