28 December 1950: The View from Pretoria
The High Commissioner for Canada to South Africa Terence MacDermot also responds to Reid, both formally and informally. In his formal response, MacDermot critiques Reid’s “disproportionate emphasis” on the inadequacy of Western actions thus far but agrees that they have now reached a new stage in Cold War planning. The emphasis now needs to be on “a radical reorganization of western authority” and “the more executive necessities of a warm war.” This reorganization would involve make all Western forces answerable to a single authority, and streamline planning and collaboration. What MacDermot considers to be even more important, however, is a consideration of the psychological aspects of Western operations. He points out the “unrealistic kind of superiority, and assumption of rightness and righteousness which […] sets up a very difficult barrier.” In his view, the Western powers have failed to consider how other countries might react to a military escalation.
Also attached is a personal letter to Reid from MacDermot, dated 15 January 1951, which he used as a cover sheet for his official comments. In the letter, MacDermot makes some of his other considerations clear. He is convinced that “today the white man, that means really, the Anglo-Saxon much like the Romans of the first three or four centuries AD face the fact that they are not only in a minority, (they were always that), but that those of the majority are now equipped with the physical resources, a conscious fire of inspiration, and some unmatchable organiz[ing] action.” In general, he is concerned how Western action in Asia and the Pacific will be perceived by local populations.