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Ratified in April 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty emerged at the height of the cold war: formation of the Cominform (Communist Information Office) in 1947; Stalinism until 1953; Mao's seizure of power in China in 1949 and the Korean War in 1950. However, this initially military treaty, whose goal was to check the spread of Soviet control in Europe, did not explicitly mention information activities, either within the organization itself or in the signatory countries. (2) It was therefore considered necessary to establish an agency or service whose first task would be to publicize the goals of the NATO Treaty.
In September 1950, the NATO Council of Deputies appointed T.F.M. Newton, then Canadian consul in Boston, to the position of director of the Information Service. He was to carry out his duties in London and establish a small work team, composed initially of Geoffrey Parsons from the United States and Jean Beliar from France. (3) At that time, the Information Service saw itself as a co-ordination centre whose primary tasks were:
* to publicize, clarify and popularize NATO among North Atlantic member countries, by developing a feeling of belonging; and
* to prepare counter-propaganda against Soviet and Communist propaganda inside NATO countries.
In this perspective, it was decided to organize in London, April 12 to 14, 1951, a meeting bringing together the senior officers concerned with information policies in NATO countries. The purpose of this meeting, which was part of a reorganization of NATO structure, was to provide an opportunity to consider the question of information and "ideological warfare." This meeting may be considered the ideological and strategic crucible of the Information Service. (4)
If we set aside the military aspects, NATO was confronted during this brief period with the following problem: how to create a feeling of community within twelve countries whose historic and political traditions and socio-economic conditions were so different.
Several at that time thought that without the emergence of this feeling of belonging, NATO could not survive or victoriously confront the countries of the Soviet bloc. However, if the strategic objective implied appeared clear, the tactics to achieve it did not seem so obvious. The creation of a feeling of belonging certainly began with the dissemination of carefully selected information to the peoples of the organization's member countries, but the problem was to know what to choose, where to obtain it and to identify the right means of disseminating it. At the same time, a policy had to be adopted to combat the effects considered subversive of Soviet propaganda.
It was therefore in this context that the NATO Information Service was instituted. However, the following text is not a history of the NATO Information Service, but rather an attempt to present the ideological and political, essentially Canadian, discussions that surrounded its creation. We wanted to know how the question of propaganda had been approached. The birth of the NATO Information Service allows us to identify some questions that were then considered fundamental: what were to be the goals and means of the Information Service; how was it to operate in the field of propaganda, that is, to what point was it to be involved; how was it perceived and what specifically was the position of the Canadian government towards it? The NATO member countries and the Council of Deputies were to solve these questions on the basis of sometimes contradictory fundamental values, beliefs and ideological orientations. Thus, two main tendencies can be identified with regard to the limits that the propaganda activities were to have: some countries (including France and the United States) encouraged an information service clearly involved in "ideological warfare," as the texts put it. Other governments (such as Canada) took a much more cautious position and tended essentially to identify the "dangers" associated with this approach.
We will examine in turn the following aspects of the Canadian position: the various expectations created by the Information Service and the resulting contradictions and the confused discussions that took place on propaganda and related concepts (ideological warfare, psychological warfare and war of ideas).
In conclusion, we will attempt to examine the Canadian position with respect to the Information Service and propaganda. We will then see that the contradictions or ambiguities relating to the functions of the NATO Information Service are akin to the fears manifested with respect to ideological warfare.
FROM THE NATO PUBLICITY UNIT TO THE NATO INFORMATION SERVICE
This first part will be an attempt to throw light, within the limits imposed by our sources, on the observable tension between two confronting overall strategies to determine the structure and tasks of the Information Service. The first strategy, which could be termed "expansionist," tended to encourage the fast growth of the Service with respect to its responsibilities, staff and possible action. At the same time, it encouraged a more direct recourse to propaganda. The other strategy, adopted by the Canadian government of the time (5) and which could be called "minimalist," tried to promote progress in small steps and to propose mechanisms intended to control, monitor or avoid excess autonomy of the NATO Information Service.
In fact, the first documents available (only one year after the Treaty was signed in Washington) show that the Canadian government's position was based on a certain number of criteria that varied little over the following two years.
In a document that offered some ideas on the creation of a possible Publicity Unit, R.A. MacKay, chief of the 1st Defence Liaison Division of the Department of External Affairs, pointed out that in spite of the interest shown in the Treaty, and the numerous texts distributed by the press or other information channels, official publicity had been reduced to "innocuous (and therefore boring) communiques" and "factual (and often dry) presentations on the broad objectives of the Treaty." (6) He wondered whether the improvement of NATO publicity was founded on a real need and noted that ideas on the functions of this Publicity Unit were then "vague and hesitant." In order to clarify them, he attached to his memo a first draft of the Unit's responsibilities. These responsibilities can be divided into two categories: the operation and the …