Wrecking Crew

In Caracas, Beirut and Algiers frenzied mobs have sought to damage the foreign relations of the United States; in Washington it is the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee that makes a specialty of wrecking jobs. The new report dredging up the case of the late E. Herbert Norman, the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt who committed suicide last year after the Subcommittee had pilloried him, is as needless as it is insensitive. It can hardly help but damage further the already disturbed relations between this country and its valued neighbor to the north; it will invite new Canadian criticism of American meddling.

Suppose that all the Subcommittee says about Mr. Norman’s Communist affiliations during his student days in this country until 1942 is true. Suppose, also, that the Subcommittee did not intentionally violate an understanding with Canada by making public in its hearings the name of the current secretary of the Canadian Cabinet. What useful purpose is served by repeating charges which have long been known to the Canadian government? Ambassador Norman was twice cleared for loyalty on the basis of investigations by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. What the Subcommittee seems to say, despite its disclaimer of interference in Canadian affairs, is that Canada is not competent to handle its own security cases through normal channels.

The Subcommittee’s intent is clear. It is interested in the Norman case primarily as a stick with which to beat Americans in its unending battle over “who lost China?” The Subcommittee is not content with the simple, obvious and truthful explanation that the Chinese lost it. Instead, it finds a

conspiracy which, through the Institute of Pacific Relations, was immensely successful in controlling and perverting the current of American thought with respect to China, and thus preparing the way for Communist conquest of that great nation.

Americans who knew Norman are perforce suspect, for the Subcommittee, with a flourish of McCarthyism, observes that

American Foreign Service Officers, by their erroneous reporting and by promulgating mischievous official papers, have contributed greatly to a state of confusion in our official thinking that has been most helpful to the Communist cause and most detrimental to our own declared policies.

In other words, by the Subcommittee’s criterion, henceforth Foreign Service Officers had better have the clairvoyance to look ahead a decade and anticipate the popular view—whether or not it squares with the facts as they see them—or refrain from reporting anything. But this is beside the immediate point. In order to carry on its vendetta, the Subcommittee has wantonly injected a new and wholly unnecessary irritant into Canadian-American relations. Not surprisingly, the Canadian Foreign Minister speaks of “intolerable” procedures and “misplaced” trust.

Perhaps the most objectionable of all is the Subcommittee’s unctuous comment that the domestic “emotionalism” over its charges in the Norman case last year

...arose in many instances from hatred of the Internal Security Subcommittee and what it stands for; hatred of all investigating committees which have communism as their target; hatred, in fact, of anticommunism itself.

There is, of course, another explanation which would not occur to the Subcommittee: that there are persons whose anticommunism and patriotism are just as firmly established as those of members of the Subcommittee, who believe that the way to fight communism is in the present rather than in the past, who reject scapegoating and the notion that error is equivalent to treason, and who condemn methods which divide Americans among themselves, alienate themselves, alienate them from their allies and promote the same sort of disruption that the Communists champion.

Source: No author, "Wrecking Crew," Washington Post, May 17, 1958

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