Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
The thing that really bothered me though, that I found worrisome, was that they had to write an evaluation on every student. The Brits have the inconvenient tradition of writing honest evaluations, they can say critical things and at that time they could say critical things about one's wife. They didn't hesitate: Mr. Jones cannot spell, Mr. Jones writes very badly, Mr. Jones's tie is always crooked. They could say whatever they thought relevant to his career prospects, but it would not be damaging to the extent it is in ours. If Mr. Smith is a promising candidate but cannot spell he would be yanked out and taught to spell and put back into the stream to go on. So the thought of them writing a candid evaluation of their American student was not something I welcomed; I much would have preferred that they write an American style one. The fact that I sometimes didn't make it to the morning lecture before 10:10, as the commandant remarked one day when I arrived, I thought might be something that they would choose to observe. But they didn't; it worked out okay. Nonetheless, that was always a little cloud on the horizon. Fortunately they were not as honest as they might have been.
Q: Was there a British military mindset that you found interesting or that gave you help later on in understanding how another power looks at things?
BARBOUR: One thing was that I did not really know what a class society the British society is. The group I was with was a class group; they represented a certain class. Some of them represented a higher element within it, very society oriented, but those who came from working class backgrounds were no longer working class. One with whom I became very good friends, an admiral, was born into a very poor family but somehow a wealthy man took an interest in him as a boy and saw to it that he went to a good public school. The result was that when he left there with the right accent, the right education, the right formation, he was more or less alienated from his family, they no longer spoke the same language. The other thing was that these were people who had a very broad perspective, they could converse, and they did converse, some of them quite eloquently, on the subjects of interest to them. Although I said that they didn't read after a certain period they had enough of a basic culture, a deep and very broad cultural endowment, so that they were very impressive individuals.
Q: How did they view the United States and our role?
BARBOUR: So far as I could tell the United States was for them a given, their closest ally, a country with which they were accustomed to working, some had been on exchange programs and in joint headquarters. We were a given; I did not detect any time snide remarks. We were viewed as a friend and ally.
Q: I assume at the time you were looking at the Soviet Union as the enemy?