Canada and the vietnam war essay

For more information on accessing this file, please visit our help page. For Canadians, the Cold War was a matter of great importance—some of the time. For them, it began in September with the defection of Soviet embassy cipher officer Igor Gouzenko and revelations of major Soviet spy rings in Canada. These and economic concerns led to a newly internationalist Canada being an enthusiastic supporter of a North Atlantic Treaty, and the first peacetime stationing of troops abroad. Again Canadians participated with troops.

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Concepts of the Vietnam War - Words | Essay Example

Defence spending rose sharply in a booming economy, but very soon, pressures began to arise. There were widespread concerns about U. By and the advent of Pierre Trudeau as prime minister, the calls for foreign policy change had become unstoppable, and until the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev and the subsequent demise of the Cold War, Canadian policy was one of limited cooperation with Alliance partners, defence spending cutbacks, and planned military obsolescence.

The Canadian view of the origins of the Cold War was stark and focussed. Americans are not by nature or desire wandering empire builders…. Pearson had been shaped by his personal experiences. He had served overseas in the Great War, and as a young diplomat during the disillusioning s. He had watched the democracies crumble in the face of the dictators, and, as a senior official, he had cheered as the United States had stepped forward—with substantial help from the British Commonwealth, and, especially, the Soviet Union—to save freedom and democracy.

To him, to his generation of Canadians, the only way democracy could be saved from the new totalitarian threat was if the Americans, sometimes much too reluctant in Canadian eyes, could be encouraged to accept their responsibilities for world power. If they could, Canadians and others would participate in helping to create a Pax Americana. The involvement of the United States was the sine qua non in preserving the free world—that was an article of faith. Canadians knew this, but as neighbours of the United States, they had their concerns. That meant that the growing Canadian armed forces could put all their efforts into the defence of Britain, sure that the United States would protect their home base.

The result was much the same. Nor could Canada any longer rely upon Britain for protection. Canada had to be aligned with the United States. The Gouzenko case made this clear.


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Igor Gouzenko fled the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa with a sheaf of carefully- selected documents just weeks after the atomic bombs brought the Second World War to its ghastly end. His telegrams and memos made evident that the GRU, Soviet military intelligence, had spies in Parliament, the Canadian civil service, and the military, in the British High Commission, and in scientific establishments, including those working on atomic research. Gouzenko knew of additional spy rings run by the NKVD , he told his interrogators what he knew of rings in the U.

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Gouzenko mattered. First, his defection and his documents, made public in February , and the subject of an extraordinary Royal Commission investigation, demonstrated that the wartime friendship between the Soviets and the West was over. Third, his documents showed that the assumptions of loyalty and trust that had been assumed to bind those working for government had been misplaced. Now, ideas and ideology had to be probed; now, positive vetting had to be put in place; now, character weaknesses began to be rooted out.

All had been targeted by the KGB , apparently with only limited success. The revelations of spying had been manipulated to point to a Communist and Soviet threat. To be sure, the Royal Commission report on the Gouzenko case was written in a reader-friendly way by an officer from External Affairs , the press making much of it, and anti-Communists and anti-socialists using it as a weapon. But Gouzenko was not a Canadian creation. Moscow had committed the espionage—and it publicly admitted this, however unlikely that might seem. Those in Canada who had anticipated that the new United Nations could enforce collective security on an unruly world had seen most of their hopes shattered within a few years by Soviet obstruction and the wielding of the veto in the Security Council.

The first stage in this process was the Marshall Plan.


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  8. The European economies lay in ruins, their cities shattered, food scarce and rationed, and the will to re-establish pre-war patterns of life not much in evidence. Only the Communist parties flourished, and the view in the U. State Department - and in Ottawa - was that only American aid could turn the tide. The United States had already stepped in to assist Greece, proclaiming the Truman Doctrine as the way to help a faltering government and to replace Britain, economically too impoverished by war and reconstruction, to continue its efforts there.

    Marshall told a Harvard University convocation that the European countries should create a collective plan for reconstruction, and he put a proposal for assistance before the United States.

    Like the U. The government had tried hard to re-build its British and European markets. In Canada, the developing crisis was precipitated by soaring imports of everything from jukeboxes, to oranges, to consumer goods, as Canadians tried to spend the money that wartime wages and unlimited overtime had let them save.

    In , Canada had no choice except to impose import restrictions upon American products to try to conserve its dollar supplies. The Marshall Plan, if the U. France, say, which had too few dollars to buy Canadian goods, could pay with Marshall funds, and Canada would both sell trade goods and increase its holdings of American dollars. But for a superpower supposedly poised to step in to save the world and scoop up the rewards, the U. Senators and congressmen objected to bailing out the Europeans, and, if they had to do that , then, they said, every penny must benefit American farmers and workers, not Canadians.

    Still, events drove the agenda. The Communists seized control in Prague in February The next month, General Lucius Clay, commanding the U. Zone in Germany, sent a message to Washington that seemed to suggest war with the Soviet Union was imminent. The Berlin Airlift soon began, with Canada declining to provide either aircraft or crews.

    The first preliminary discussions for a North Atlantic Treaty began. The drumbeats for war with the Russians were increasing in tempo.

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    Certainly, such excesses were useful. Blake, U. In , John W.

    Draft Dodgers, Canada and the Vietnam War

    Blake made the decision to enlist in the American army. Canada was not at war with Vietnam, but it did support the United States and South Vietnam by providing military supplies, materials, and so on. Both John and David believed deeply in the need to stop the growing Communist threat in Asia. Their decision to enlist would change our little family forever. Our mother retreated into a depression for three days before finally surfacing from her bedroom.

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    During that time, we all felt a cloud of sadness hovering over our little home. But it was tempered with pride, because our boys were about to do just as our deceased father, a Great War veteran, had done — journey to a faraway land to fight in a war that was intended to free the oppressed. David trained and served as a mechanic, working on helicopters in Vietnam, but John — he was a warrior. He spent his time in the war zone, doing extremely dangerous work that brought him in direct contact with the enemy and the many atrocities of war.

    John lost far too many good friends in Vietnam. A gifted writer, he used his poetry and journals to memorialize the lives of his fellow soldiers. Thoughts of those brave men followed John every day of his life.

    Canada and the Vietnam War

    In , John, like many other soldiers, returned home suffering from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. He moved to the United States in and quickly realized that his fellow veterans were suffering, too. The general public had little sympathy for the Vietnam veterans who struggled with PTSD, until they began to fill American emergency rooms. All of them were suffering from the same symptoms. He headed to Seattle, where he launched a one-man march across America to raise awareness of Vietnam veterans.

    Blake launched the first ever "awareness" walk with the American flag. Courtesy of Cathy Saint John.