The Cold War defined almost every major aspect of international politics over 45 years. When it started is debatable. It could have been at any of the Big Three conferences between Roosevelt (later Truman), Churchill and Stalin at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Churchills' 1945 Iron Curtain speech is as good a starting point as any. America's secretive breaking of the "sound barrier" by Chuck Yeager in 1947, followed by the Berlin airlift of 1948, and "losing" China to Communism in 1949 cinched it. The Korean War was a distinctly "hot" war.
The question is, Would the Cold War have existed if not for World War II? The United States opposed Communism from its inception. Wilson sent troops to the Soviet Union in 1919 to fight it. The U.S. backed Chiang Kai-shek instead of the Communists against the Japanese before Pearl Harbor. But Russia was Communism Central. Stalin's backward country was little threat to America prior to the war. It was in defeating Germany that the Soviets rose to superpower status and became our great rival.
The roots of American involvement in the Cold War go back to the Spanish-American War, however. After the war in Cuba, Theodore Roosevelt aggressively used American military might to turn the U.S. into a modern global power. In so doing, the United States was accused of being a colonizer and an imperialist country. Imperialism was a phrase that defined Communist ideology. The Communists of Russia were fighting to getting out of the yoke of Czarist imperialism.
The Russians were technically allied with the Democracies of France and Britain during World War I, but after the Bolsheviks took over they withdrew. This occurred around the time the U.S. was entering the war, a fact of symbolic significance. The opposition to Communism went hand in hand with the end of isolationism forced upon the U.S. by World War II. As a partner in the Grand Alliance, diplomatic dealings with the Soviet Union inevitably sowed the seeds of the Cold War.
It is impossible to separate the international politics of the Cold War from the domestic. The Red Scare had started with immigrants coming to America. It had become associated with the anarchist movement. "Red Emma" Goldman had been deported back to Russia. The Sacco and Vanzetti case had inflamed passions. The Great Depression ushered in the union movement that many capitalists feared was stirred by the Reds. Communist parties across the globe sought to forge anti-Fascist alliance with liberals. The American C.P. swung its support behind the New Deal, which it saw as the best bulwark against the spread of Fascism in America. During the "United Front" period, the C.P. was not revolutionary, but reformist. At C.P. rallies in the late 1930s, one found pictures of FDR hung beside posters declaring, "Communism Is 20th Century Americanism." C.P. membership among Democrats skyrocketed in the late 1930s. Seattle and San Francisco were widely considered to be the strongest bases of C.P. support west of the Mississippi River.
During the United Front, Communists were elected to leadership positions in a handful of Left wing organizations. These groups were called "Communist fronts" because many members did not know the leaders were Communists. The American Communist Party suffered a tremendous setback in August, 1939, when Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Later that year, as Germany conquered western Poland, the Soviets invaded eastern Poland and all of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Soviet Union, once the most avowedly anti-Fascist nation in Europe, was now openly allied with Hitler. The fact that a large percentage of American Communists were Jewish created a conundrum in their ranks. After several weeks of confusion, the American Communist Party reversed its "line." Their previous support for war was changed to accusations of FDR's "war-mongering" and "imperialism." They denounced FDR's efforts to assist during the Battle of Britain. Many Communist-influenced unions lost many members but survived. C.P. membership declined by more than half in 1939 and 1940 as most party members could not stomach the new tolerance of Hitler and were repulsed by the C.P.'s willingness to follow a "party line" dictated in Moscow.
These were the people who left the party so embittered that they later testified against the C.P. during the late 1940s and 1950s. They welcomed the persecution of Communists. But the ones who stuck it out were genuine anti-Americans. The Nazi invasion of the U.S.S.R. in 1941 revived the C.P.'s call for a "United Front" and restored some of the party's popularity. Suddenly they urged FDR to increase aid to the U.S.S.R. and Britain. Many were disgusted by the C.P.'s second reversal of policy in two years. However, many Americans were impressed with the resolve of the Russians against Hitler. In those desperate times they welcomed any ally they could find.
The American C.P. toned down its social demands and concentrated on wartime production. They cooperated with employers to put down strikes and urged people to work long hours without pay increases. C.P. membership in Washington state rose, for example, but never again reached the plateau of the late 1930s. The Communist Party once again became influential in the Democrat party. Its efforts led to the election of a half-dozen Communists to the Washington state legislature on the Democrat ticket in the early 1940s. They had similar "success" in other states.
After the war, the C.P. resumed its advocacy of social reform and reclaimed its role as the Left wing of the Democrat Party. The strategy became untenable as the American-Soviet rivalry developed.
The Second World War ended the old diplomatic system of "great powers," replacing it with a polarized world of two superpowers. Germany, Japan, and Italy were occupied and demilitarized. France, Britain, and China were too weakened by the war to assume major roles. Much of the world's economies were a disaster. The Soviets had suffered over 15 million casualties and witnessed the burning and bombing of much of European Russia. But they had three things. One was the most powerful infantry in the world. The other was the indomitable spirit of Mother Russia. The third was virtually unlimited land and natural resources.
The U.S. was the world's most powerful nation, with the largest navy and air force, and a thriving economy. The U.S. had the atom bomb, but more importantly, they had demonstrated the willingness to use it. This fact cannot be stressed enough when considering relations between the "old" superpower (America) and the "new" one (the Soviets). It was part of George Kennan's containment policy, which worked in many ways because the Soviets were just plain scared of the United States.
FDR and Stalin's decision to partition Germany at the end of the war served as a model for the division of all of Europe into Eastern and Western "blocs." When the Soviets banned dissent against their Communist satellites, it was obvious that they they would not uphold the promises for free elections they had made to Roosevelt, Churchill and Truman. Roosevelt's former Vice-President Henry Wallace, who represented the Communist wing of the Democrat party, argued that the Soviets had been justified in snuffing out freedom in Eastern Europe. His theory was that they had been invaded from the West in the past three centuries, and their desire to create buffer zones was rational.
President Truman disavowed Wallace and accused the Soviets of expansionism. Many on the Left assumed the French perspective after World War I. Tired of war, they chose isolation and appeasement. Stalin had simply replaced Hitler in seeking world domination. Appeasement and isolationism had paved the road to World War II, and Truman understood that it would lead to Wold War III.
Truman accepted Senator Arthur Vandenburg's advice to "scare the hell out of the country" and tell the truth about Communism. In March, 1947 he spoke to Congress to request $400 million in aid for Greece and Turkey, which were fighting civil wars against Communist rebels. The Truman Doctrine was born, shaping U.S. foreign policy for the next 40 years. Truman saw no difference between Communism and Fascism. It was all "totalitarianism," he said. The world was divided between countries dominated by the "will of the people" and those based on the "will of a minority" enforced by "terror and oppression." In other words, good vs. evil. Sometimes the simplest concepts are the most brilliant. The Left had a difficult time with this concept, stating that it failed to understand the "enemy." The right replied that the Jews had understood the Nazis who sent them to the gas chambers, which of course did not save their lives.
America faced an uncertain world in which their allies were not perfect. Greece and Turkey had corrupt governments, Truman argued, but they were not dictatorships and they fought Communists. Therefore, he said, they deserved to be part of the "Free World" and worthy of American aid. The Truman Doctrine also gave birth to the "Domino Theory": "If Greece should fall, . . . disorder might well spread throughout the entire Middle East" and "free peoples" throughout Europe would be "discouraged and demoralized."
The Truman-Kennan containment policy initially relied on economic means. Truman sent rifles and money to Greece, not soldiers. The $20 billion Marshall Plan followed the Soviet blockade of West Berlin in 1948. This act "militarized" containment polices, and led the U.S., Canada, and 10 European nations to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Soviet explosion of an atom bomb and the Maoists' takeover in China in 1949 prompted the U.S. State Department to state that "this Republic and its citizens . . . stand in their deepest peril." In 1950 the State Department drafted NSC-68, persuading Truman that the "fundamental design of those who control the Soviet Union and the international Communist movement is . . . the complete subversion or forcible destruction of the . . . countries of the non-Soviet world." It recommended raising taxes and cutting spending on social programs in order to build hydrogen bombs, expand conventional forces, and the "intensification of . . . covert operations . . . with a view to fomenting and supporting unrest and revolt in selected strategic satellite counties."
While mulling over these proposals, North Korea invaded its southern neighbor. Truman assumed that Stalin had ordered the attack, and dispatched troops to South Korea. NSC-68 more than tripled its military budget during the Korean War.
Communist conspiracies masterminded by the Kremlin led the U.S. to further militarize its containment policy and allowed Senator Joseph McCarthy to rise to power. In February, 1950 McCarthy announced that Communists had infiltrated the State Department. For four years he made these charges until the Senate censured him in 1954. McCarthy was popular because he offered convenient explanations for the U.S. falling behind in the Cold War when in fact they were not losing the Cold War. But traitors were betraying them. In 1951, Ethel and Julius Rosenburg sold atomic plans to the Soviets. They were convicted and put to death. The Rosenberg revelations gave McCarthy credibility and standing. Truman's administration had used simplified international rhetoric in defining the "Free World" and evil Communists.
Fear of domestic subversion built to a head in the first half of the 1950s. The Supreme Court overturned many of the McCarthyist restrictions on Communists' liberties in the late 1950s and early 1960s. McCarthy's lack of personal credibility, which had been built on partisan politics as much as genuine fear of subversion, had the dangerous effect of "humanizing" Communism. In fact it was never any less dangerous than McCarthy had said it was. McCarthy, by acting like a buffoon and a demagogue, did great damage to America and helped the Soviets.
The Korean War started a period in which the U.S. interpreted every Communist insurgency as being under Kremlin control. The result was a strategy of fighting Communism wherever it was found. This in many ways played into the Russians' hands. American intervention became seen as heavy-handed interference with the "will" of small Third World countries. While the Soviets were in control of all Communist movements, it is also true that there was much homegrown Marxism.
America's view of "international Communism" made every nation vital, since failure to contain Communism would make America appear weak. Moscow respected only strength and became aggressive at any sign of weakness. The U.S. backed repressive anti-Communist governments in Iran, Pakistan, and most of Central America. American diplomats misinterpreted nationalist and anti-colonialist movements as Soviet-led ploys.
The Left identified these strategies as mistakes, and would charge that "propping up dictators" was wrong and led to the "quagmire" in Vietnam. These people fail to recognize that in Cuba, for instance, Fidel Castro actually was a Communist. For some reason, they sympathized with Vietnam as a country merely trying to form their own government. This of course failed to recognize that they invaded semi-Democratic South Vietnam, and were financed by Peking and Moscow. It is utter sophistry to characterize North Vietnam as an "independent" country.
That being said, the average North Vietnamese regular and Viet Cong was more dedicated to Ho Chi Minh than Mao or Kruschev. Failing to recognize this was a major failure of U.S. intelligence.
Many questioned whether there should even be a Cold War after the Tet Offensive in 1968. The Vietnam War eroded confidence in U.S. military and political leadership, reducing public willingness to support repressive regimes or to deploy U.S. troops abroad.
Vietnam convinced Richard Nixon that diplomacy could reduce America's dependence on military force. Nixon was the first to recognize chinks in the Communist armor. He understood that the Kremlin was not capable of achieving world domination as a monolithic force. The growing Sino-Soviet rift had been papered over while America dealt with Castro and his missiles, Berlin, Chinese hydrogen explosions, Vietnam, and the "Prague Spring" of 1968. But Nixon realized that the Cold War could be won over time by extending the Communists beyond their normal diplomatic and economic comfort zones. Nixon's deals with China placed pressure on the Soviets, making them more willing to seek détente - general relaxation of Cold War rivalries. In 1972 the U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed a treaty limiting the size of their nuclear arsenals and agreements re-opening trade between the nations. Both sides took advantage of détente by reducing their military budgets.
The Soviets were not easily dissuaded from their old ways, however. In the 1970s, they backed repressive Middle Eastern regimes against Israel, and became "adventurous," often using Cuban troops, in Africa. These policies did not have the result they had hoped for, however. They ran up against Fundamentalist Islam and African dictatorships that were too backward to even "benefit" from Marxism. Jimmy Carter was so different from Nixon that the Soviets convinced themselves they could regain their old glory. The result was the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan's defense build-up in the early 1980s temporarily ended American-Soviet cooperation. After Reagan called the Soviets an "evil empire" in 1983, the Soviets realized they could not compete in a direct superpower confrontation with the U.S. Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika was the first major concession in Soviet-American relations. The Cold War finally ended in 1989, formalizing in 1991, when pro-Democracy uprisings in Eastern Europe and pro-independence movements in many Soviet republics led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence. The Berlin Wall fell and Germany became re-unified.
The U.S. fought the 1991 Gulf War with Russian approval. The power vacuum left in the wake of the Cold War created rival ethnic groups in the Balkans that resulted in various small wars in the 1990s. The U.S. and the U.N. took action. Today, the old Communist bloc is in the process of emerging as viable Democracies and economic powers. The reality of the 21st Century is that the old Soviet satellites are now counted among America's strongest friends. They understand better than most (who forget with time) what living under Communism means, and that it was the U.S. that saved them from it.
Time-line of the Cold War and Red Scare
Date International and National Events
1917 U.S. enters World War I; Bolshevik Revolution brings Communists to power in Russia.
1918 The Allies win World War I.
1919 Nationwide "Red Scare."
1920s Politically conservative climate.
1929 Stock market crash; start of Great Depression.
1933 Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany; Franklin Roosevelt becomes President of U.S.; unemployment reaches 30 percent; Communist Party grows slowly.
1935-36U.S.S.R. seeks "United Front" with capitalist nations; Communists in U.S endorse FDR's "New Deal" reforms; Communists begin cooperating with liberal wing of Democrat party; Communist Party grows rapidly.
1937-38Nearly 500,000 Americans join Communist Party; Communists have little power in national politics; Communists elected to various state legislatures.
1939 Hitler and Stalin sign Nazi-Soviet Pact; Germany and U.S.S.R. both invade Poland, starting World War II; American Communists oppose U.S. entry into war; disgusted by Communists' cooperation with Hitler, thousands leave Communist Party.
1941 Germany invades USSR; bombing of Pearl Harbor brings U.S. into war; U.S. and U.S.S.R. are allies in fight against Nazis; Communists wholeheartedly cooperate in U.S. war efforts; Communist Party grows again.
1942-43U.S.S.R wins important battles against Germany; U.S. wins important battles against Japan.
1945 Big Three Conference; U.S.S.R. and U.S. defeat Germany; U.S. defeats Japan; two atomic bombs dropped.
1946 U.S.S.R. blocks free elections in Eastern Europe; relations between U.S. and U.S.S.R. grow tense; Republicans win landslide victory with anti-Communist campaign theme; Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.
1948 President Truman declares active role in Greek Civil War; Marshall Plan
announced; "Truman Doctrine" commits U.S. to contain world Communism Congressman Richard Nixon convicts Alger Hiss for lying about being Communist.
U.S.S.R. blockades West Berlin; Truman orders airlift of supplies into West Berlin to prevent Communist take-over of city; Truman wins surprising re-election victory; Communists take over Czechoslovakia.
1949 U.S. begins prosecution of Communist Party leaders for conspiracy to overthrow government; Communists identified on college campuses, in Hollywood, etc.; NATO ratified; U.S.S.R. explodes its first atomic bomb; Communists win Chinese Civil War.
1950 Communist North Korea invades South Korea; U.S. enters Korean War; Senator Joe McCarthy gains national attention by claiming Communists have infiltrated the government.
1950s McCarthyism at high tide - hundreds of actors, teachers, government officials identified as Communists, many lose jobs; increased military spending as U.S. fights Korean War; state legislatures require loyalty oaths for state employees and outlaws Communist Party.
1953 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg executed for selling atomic secrets to U.S.S.R.;
Korean War ends; various exposed Communists commit suicide.
1954 KGB established; CIA helps overthrow unfriendly regimes in Iran and Guatemala; Communists attack French at Dien Bien-phu; Army-McCarthy hearings lead Senate to strip McCarthy of power.
1955 Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer identified as having provided secrets to Soviets and is prohibited from speaking on some college campuses; professors challenge legality of loyalty oaths.
1956 Warsaw Pact formed; rebellion put down in Communist Hungary.
1956-59Anti-Communist fervor subsides; U.S. Supreme Court strengthens First Amendment protections; U.S.S.R. launches Sputnik satellite, "space race" begins. Kruschev demands withdrawal of troops from Berlin, visits U.S.
1959 Fidel Castro takes over Cuba and declares it Communist country.
1960 Kruschev announces "We will bury you" with shoe in hand at U.N.; U.S. spy plane shot down.
1961 Bay of Pigs.
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratified; John Kennedy assassinated by American
Communist Lee Harvey Oswald.
1964 Vietnam War begins; China explodes hydrogen bomb; "backlash" against
McCarthyism takes root in American media.
1965 U.S. Marines sent to fight Communism in Dominican Republic.
1966-76Cultural Revolution in China.
1967 Che Geuvara killed.
1968 Czechoslovakia's "socialism with a human face" met by "Prague Spring" of
Soviet tanks; North Korea captures USS Pueblo.
1970s U.S. invades Cambodia, virtual "civil war" anti-war protests on U.S. streets, colleges; U.S. withdraws from Vietnam War; era of "détente" begins as U.S. normalizes relations with China, signs arms control treaties with U.S.S.R.
1973 U.S. keeps Chile from becoming Communist.
1975-79Communists take over Saigon; Pol Pot's "killing fields" in Cambodia; Soviets
back terror in Middle East, "adventurism" in Africa.
1979 SALT II signed; Détente ends as U.S.S.R. invades Afghanistan.
1983 Communist/Cuban take-over of Grenada thwarted by U.S.; Ronald Reagan calls Soviets "evil empire;" Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initiative alarms Soviets, U.S. builds up military.
1980s Détente resumes as U.S. and U.S.S.R. sign more arms control agreements; Mikhail Gorbachev begins perestroika and glasnost; Soviets pull out of Afghanistan.
1986 Iran-Contra affair uses Iranian money to fund Nicaraguan freedom fighters.
1988 U.S.-U.S.S.R. sign major missile reduction treaty.
1989 Tiannenmen Square riots put down by force by Chinese; Polish solidarity
successfully opposes Communism.
1989-90Berlin Wall falls; U.S. wins Cold War; collapse of U.S.S.R. as Soviet republics and Eastern European nations seek independence.
1991 Boris Yeltsin puts down "last gasp" Communist uprising in Moscow; U.S.S.R dissolves; Russia supports U.S.-led Coalition Forces in Persian Gulf War.
1990s U.S . cuts military spending, but continues global role in Persian Gulf, Bosnia, etc.; Chinese "copy" U.S.; re-unification of Germany.
2003 Former Soviet bloc countries back U.S. in Iraq War.
Glossary of Cold War terminology
An economic system in which the means of production (factories, printing presses, etc.) are owned privately and operated for profit. Under capitalism, prices and wages are generally determined in the market rather than by voters or government officials.
1. A system of political beliefs which advocates the abolition of most forms of private property and the creation of a society where property is owned in common, with all members of the community sharing in the work and the products.
2. The economic and political system instituted in the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Also, the economic and political system of several Soviet allies, such as China and Cuba. These Communist economic systems often did not achieve the ideals of Communist theory. For example, although many forms of property were owned by the government in the U.S.S.R. and China, neither the work nor the products were shared in a manner that would be considered equitable by many Communist or Marxist theorists.
The struggle between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. The Cold War began shortly after the end of the Second World War and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-90. The Korean War (1950-53) and the Vietnam War (1965-73) were part of the Cold War. The Cold War had both a military and an ideological component. The military component consisted of an "arms race" between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. and also American and Soviet intervention in numerous civil wars in smaller countries. The ideological component consisted of arguments over whose economic system was superior and competition to be the first nation to achieve various technological feats (such as landing a man on the moon).
1. Tending to preserve established political, economic, and social institutions; opposed to most forms of change.
2. A person who holds conservative ideas. American conservatives tend to favor the existing forms of American capitalism and Democracy and tend to oppose efforts to modify or reform them substantially. American conservatives are usually strongly anti-Communist.
Although there is no single body of political theory associated with Fascism, it tends to include a belief in the superiority of one national or ethnic group over others, insistence on national unity under a powerful leader, and hostility toward Democracy. Fascism developed in Italy in the early 1920s. It became quite influential in several European nations in the 1930s, most notably in Germany under the Nazi Party.
A person who, although not a member of a given political group, cooperates with that group. This phrase was most commonly applied to the non-Communist supporters of the Communist Party.
A political organization which is dominated by another political organization; a political group that is a "puppet" of another group. This phrase was most commonly applied to political groups whose leadership included Communists. Such groups were also called "fronts."
Left wing; right-wing
Terms used to define political ideas or people who hold such ideas. If the variety of political beliefs is thought of as a spectrum, the more liberal or radical ideas are Left wing, while the more conservative ideas are right wing. A direct correlation, and in fact historical cooperation, occurred between members of the American and Soviet Communist Parties and ordinary "liberals" and "Left wingers." No such trend was ever discovered between American or German Nazis, or European Fascists, with ordinary "conservatives" or "right wingers," with the exception of such tiny numbers of "crackpots" as to be dismissed. Efforts were made by the Left to associate conservatism with Fascism, Nazism and the racial politics of Adolf Hitler. This is a lie of. The political spectrum looks like the following:
Therefore, one could say that Communism is to the left of liberalism, and so forth.
The political and economic doctrines of Karl Marx as interpreted and applied by Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1924. Lenin stressed the need for a violent revolution to bring Communists to power. He developed specific strategies and tactics for bringing about such revolutions. Lenin also argued that Communist governments should not tolerate political opposition. Leninism is often used combined with other terms. Marxism-Leninism means the same thing as Leninism. Leninism-Stalinism means Lenin's doctrines as interpreted and modified by Joseph Stalin.
1. Tending to favor Constitutional or legal reforms in the direction of greater freedom or Democracy. Favorable toward social and cultural change.
2. A person who holds liberal ideas. American liberals approve of many features of capitalism, but believe that government action is needed to regulate some aspects of the capitalist system. Specifically, American liberals tend to favor programs designed to guarantee individuals a minimum standard of economic security. American liberals generally prefer gradual reform to dramatic political or economic changes. American liberals also tend to believe that all groups should have full political and civil rights. In the 1950s, however, American liberals were divided over the issue of whether Communists deserved full political and civil rights.
A system of thought based on the writings of Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx claimed that all wealth was really created by workers, not capitalists. He argued that capitalism was wrong because capitalists controlled and profited from the products of workers' labor. He advocated a communist economic system where the working class would own and control the means of production (factories, printing presses, etc.). Marx believed that history followed a set pattern and that the working class would inevitably overthrow the capitalist class in a series of revolutions. Marxism and communism are not entirely identical terms. Many Marxists (followers of Marx) accept Marx's criticisms of capitalism, but reject his plan for a communist economic system. Thus some Marxists are not communists. Similarly, some communists are not familiar with or do not accept Marx's theories.
1. A series of political attitudes and tactics associated with Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin from 1946 to 1958. McCarthyism is characterized by vehement anti-Communism and the use of tactics involving publicizing accusations about individuals thought to be subversive.
2. The "persecution" of Communists and suspected Communists in the United States after the Second World War. When used in this broader sense, McCarthyism is a synonym for Red Scare.
A treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union signed in August, 1939. The two nations promised not to attack one another and agreed to cooperate in a simultaneous invasion of Poland. This invasion triggered the start of the Second World War. The Nazis broke the Pact by invading the Soviet Union in July of 1941. The American Communist Party was very unpopular while the Pact was in effect because Communists were seen as allies of Hitler. The Nazi-Soviet Pact is also known as the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
The program of reforms advocated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. These reforms included the construction of Federally owned hydroelectric dams as well as the creation of social security, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, and many other programs of economic security.
"Pinks" or "pinkos"
Derogatory terms for Communists and socialists.
1. Extreme; outside the mainstream; favoring sweeping political or social changes. When used in regard to American politics from the 1930s to the 1960s, radical most often refers to extreme Left wing views.
2. A person who holds radical views. In the United States, Communists, socialists, and anarchists are generally thought of as radicals.
A slang term for Communist ideas or policies.
A derogatory term for Communists.
1. A derivative of Marxist-Leninist philosophy often associated with liberal government policies (such as in Sweden) that do not advocate or use crushing Communist-style repression or completely disassociate private property and capitalism.
2. A theory or policy which advocates or aims at public ownership of land, factories, and a few other types of property. Most forms of socialism rely on a government to manage and distribute the property in the common interest of the community. American socialists have generally favored giving Democratically elected governments greater control over major industries. Socialism differs from Communism in its willingness to allow more forms of private property and in its greater commitment to achieving economic change through democratic means.
1. Support for the policies of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s until 1953. Stalin was known for absolute intolerance for internal political opposition. Many thousands of Soviet citizens who opposed Stalin's policies were killed in "purges" during the 1930s and 1940s.
2. A particularly ruthless form of Communist theory or practice.
An alliance of Communists, socialists, liberals and Democrats during the late 1930s and early 1940s. These groups formed a United Front in order to oppose the spread of Fascism and to attempt to pass economic reforms to end the Great Depression. The American Communist Party supported the New Deal and reached the peak of its popularity during the United Front period. The United Front is also referred to as the Popular Front.
The gulags: Communism's holocaust
There are many names for them: Relocation centers, detention centers, labor camps, concentration camps, death camps, re-education camps. They were always cruel, and in the 20th Century they became the de riguer way of totalitarianism. They were found wherever the Nazis, the Soviets and the Red Chinese went. The sycophants of these evil empires, such as Pol Pot, enthusiastically made copies of the mold. In the Soviet Union, the camps were collectively known as the gulag (an acronym in Russian for the Main Directorate of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies).
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn alerted much of the world to the horrors of the U.S.S.R.'s gulags in the 1970s. It had no effect on the Democrat Party's decision to withdraw funding to prevent the ones that were being built at that time from going into operation. Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" was masterful, but perhaps the West was just tired of fighting these evils. In succeeding years, Russian, French, and German scholars have added to Solzhenitsyn's work.
Oddly enough, American researchers have not led the charge of gulag research. It is a strange but noteworthy that the Holocaust fills the imagination. Books, movies and documentaries are constant reminders of the near-extermination of European Jewry abound. The gulags and the millions of ghosts they produced are almost forgotten. The Jewish memorialists, in fact, do as much to remind the world of the gulags as anybody, since they are in the business not simply of reminding people of their plight, but of similar plights. If ever we have found the way Satan does things, it is in these near-forgotten genocides and holocausts.
The Left in America and Great Britain went so far as to justify the gulags. The Right has failed to do the necessary work of real scholarship that these crimes deserve. Henry Wallace, the leader of the Communist wing of the Democrat party during the Roosevelt/Truman era, visited the brutal Magadan Soviet penal camps. Of the sadistic commander, Ivan Nikishov, Wallace said he was "idyllic."
The gulag's were under the control of the secret police (successively, Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, and KGB). A fair number of political figures in charge of modern Russia come from the KGB and therefore were part of the gulag administration. This would be the same as leading Hitler henchmen surviving the fall of the Nazis only to re-invent themselves as statesman in a new, socialist Germany. The founder of the Soviet secret police was Feliks Dzerzhinsky. His policy for the Cheka was expressed in 1918.
"We represent in ourselves organized terror - this must be said very clearly," he said.
Soviet exile in Siberia was much worse than it had been under the Czars. The Soviet Union had hundred of these camps, far more than the Nazis operated. They had thousands of work camps, and 500 were considered ITL (for "ispravitel'no-trudovoy lager"), which were corrective labor camps and penal colonies. The first opened in 1917. They were geographically spread out from the Arctic to Central Asia.
"…From the Cold Pole at Oy-Myakon to the copper mines of Dzhezkazgan," wrote Solzhenitsyn.
It was an integral part of the Soviet economy, responsible for railroad construction, road building, canal building, forestry, mining, agriculture, and construction sites. The conditions were no better than Auschwitz or Dachau. Women shared the work with no social regard. Children, mothers with babies, homosexuals, retarded people, the sick, the deformed and others were put to work, too. Psychiatrically disabled were labeled as "enemies of the people."
When the "Great Patriotic War" began, the Communists introduced "katorga" (hard labor camp) within the ITL system. Prisoners assigned to a katorga were given extra hard work with almost no rations or medical attention. (The word "katorga" is a Czarist term). The katorga's were virtually identical in purpose to labor camps run by the Nazis.
Slogans were posted in the camps.
"Work is a matter of honor, fame, courage, and heroism." "Shock work is the fastest way to freedom." "No work, no food."
The daily ration was 400 to 800 grams of bread. Productive workers received some fish, potatoes, porridge, or vegetables. The U.N. World Health Organization sets the minimum requirements for heavy labor at from 3,100 to 3,900 calories per day.
Inmate were Christians, Muslim clergymen, "kulaks" (or independent farmers), political dissidents, common criminals, "economic criminals," former "elitists," Communists with a following, ethnic minorities, homeless, "unpersons," "hooligans," tardy workers, and others.
Political prisoners or counterrevolutionaries were "58ers" for having violated Article 58 of the criminal code. Common criminals were called "urki" or "blatnyaki." Less violent criminals accused of violating some aspect of the civil code were categorized as "bytoviki." Individuals accused of undermining Soviet economic laws were referred to as subversives or pests - "vrediteli" in Russian. Trustees or "pridurki" in the camps, those most likely to survive their imprisonment, acted as camp service personnel. All inmates were referred to as "zeki," the acronym for the Russian word for prisoner.
Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel was a Jew born in Turkey in 1883. After the Bolshevik revolution he moved to the Soviet Union. In Odessa he was an agent of the State Political Administration, responsible for the acquisition and confiscation of gold from the wealthier classes. Frenkel was arrested in 1927 for skimming gold. He was sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp (SLON) in the Arctic. Frenkel had a talent for work efficiency and explained his ideas to Stalin personally. He linked food rationing to production and concluded that a prisoner was valuable for three months after captivity, but debilitated after that. The most effective thing was to kill them and replace them with fresh inmates. It was the opposite of the American treatment of African slaves in the Old South, which is why slavery thrived as an institution instead of literally "dying off." The Soviets did not have to worry about attrition; they always found slaves from among their huge population base.
When prisoners were called to fall into line, the last man to line up would be shot as a laggard ("dokhodyaga"), which created a constant flow of fresh labor, pleasing Stalin. Frenkel was made construction chief of the White Sea Canal project, and later of the BAM railroad project. In 1937 he was named head of the Main Administration of Railroad Construction Camps (GULZhDS), where he provide railroad transport facilities to the Red Army in the 1939-40 "Winter War" against Finland, and during the Second World War. He was awarded the Order of Lenin three times, named a Hero of Socialist Labor, and promoted to the rank of general in the NKVD.
Frenkel's became standard operating procedures in the BAM (Baltic-Amur Magistral) railroad project, the Dalstroy (Far East Construction), Vorkuta, Kolyma, Magadan, and countless other hellholes. Workers noted that the rails were marked "made in Canada," since they were part of aid given by the West.
300,000 prisoners were in Soviet labor camps in 1932, 1 million in 1935, and 2 million by 1940. Roosevelt extended the "hand of friendship" while millions starved in the Ukraine and Russia. 1 million inmates "served" in the Red Army, clearing minefields by walking through them at gunpoint. After the war, the camp population went up. Most soldiers who had fought or were imprisoned by the Germans were imprisoned for being exposed to Western thought.
The gulags filled with USSR's enemies: Finns, Poles, Germans, Italians, Romanians, and Japanese. Many of them were held for years after 1945. German prisoners were treated the worst. The death rate of POWs was excessively high. Most German POWs were shot out or mutilated. 95,000 German POWs were captured at Stalingrad, but 5,000 returned home. 40,000 died marching from Stalingrad to the Beketovka camp. 42,000 died there of hunger and disease. S.S. POWs and Vlasov forces imprisoned on Wrangel Island had almost no chance of survival.
Many Germans captured by the United States were held in Alabama, where they lived comfortably and were allowed many privileges.
The U.S.S.R. held 3.4 million German POWs at war's end. The Yalta Agreement (orchestrated by Alger Hiss) agreed to the use of German POWs in the Soviet gulag as "reparations-in-kind," instead of repatriation to their homeland. Germans were more productive than the other "workers." In an effort to get the most out of them, Stalin ordered that they be given food rations proportionate to their work. Still, almost a million German POWs died in the camps. The last of 10,000 survivors were released from the Soviet Union in 1955, after 10 years of forced labor. 1.5 million German soldiers are still "missing in action." 875,000 German civilians were abducted and transported to the camps. Half of them died.
After the war, British and U.S. authorities ordered their military in Germany to deliver to the Communists former residents of the U.S.S.R. This included men who had taken up arms with the Germans against the Soviets, prisoners of war, forced and voluntary workers in the German wartime economy, and numerous persons who had left. 4.2 million ethnic Russians and 1.6 million Russian POWs from defeated Germany were augmented by German POWs and civilians abducted or deported from Germany and Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands of Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians were sent to Soviet camps, replaced in their homelands by Soviet invaders. Most ethnic Russian women and children were reincorporated into the Soviet system. Russian POWs and the Vlasov men were put under the jurisdiction of SMERSH (Death to Spies), which sentenced about a third of a million to serve from 10 to 20 years in the gulag. In 1947, the gulag's held 9 million souls.
Under the direct supervision of secret police chief Lavrenty Beria, thousands of gulag inmates supported the Soviet nuclear bomb project, mining uranium and preparing test facilities on Novaya Zemlya, Vaygach Island, Semipalatinsk, and dozens of other sites. The Soviet Navy used gulag prisoners to rid decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines of radioactivity.
In 1953, the gulag's held 2.7 million prisoners. Danchik Sergeyevich Baldaev, an MVD major who worked in the Gulag from 1951 until his retirement in 1981, published a book depicting the post-Stalin Gulag - tortures, cruelties, sex, food and housing, climatic conditions, common and political criminals. The KGB allowed the barracks to be run by common criminals (murderers, rapists, and psychopaths of every variety), abusing the women and the weak. They called themselves "vory v zakone" (thieves within the law, an installed criminal leader deciding disputes and dividing spoils).
Women in the gulag were raped on the transport ship and in the railroad cars, then paraded naked in front of camp officials, who selected "promising" ones for easier work in exchange for sex. The officials preferred German, Latvian, and Estonian women, who would never see home again, over native Russian women, who might. Women not selected by the camp officials were left over for the barracks or lesbians. Starvation, work exhaustion, exposure to the cold, physical abuse, isolation, impalement, genital mutilation, and bullets in the back of the head were other common events in the gulag.
30 million prisoners entered the gulags during the Soviet era. Most who served their time were not allowed to return homes. They lived the remainder of their lives near the camps. Robert Conquest, a Western scholar, estimated that one out of every three new inmates died during the first year of imprisonment. Only half made it through the third year. Conquest estimated that during the "Great Terror" of the late 1930s alone, there were 6 million arrests, 2 million executions, and another 2 million deaths from other causes. By 1953, at least 12 million died there. The figure, according to Andrei Sakharaov, is much higher. Unlike the Germans, the Soviets were not as efficient at keeping records.
Wooden markers with the deceased's identification number were affixed to the left leg. Gold teeth or fillings were pried out. To ensure that the death was not feigned, the skull of the inmate was smashed with a hammer, or a metal spike driven into the chest. The corpses were buried in an unmarked grave.
Aleksandr Gutman produced a documentary film in which he interviewed four German women from East Prussia who as young girls had been raped by Red Army troops. They were then sent to Number 517, near Petrozavodsk in Karelia. Of 1,000 girls and women who transported to that camp, 522 died within six months of their arrival. These women were deported, with the acquiescence of the Western powers, as part of "reparations-in-kind" language, possibly written by Hiss, in the post-war charters.
"While the diary of Anne Frank is known throughout the world, we carry our memories in our hearts," one of the women remarked. When Gutman attempted to show the documentary in New York City, liberals were quoted as saying (and this is not made up), "He should be killed for making such a movie."
The U.S. Justice Department maintains the Office of Special Investigations, dedicated to the investigation, prosecution, and deportation of former Axis soldiers and officials. Most of those prosecuted were low ranking guards at wartime German camps. No American office was ever created to hunt out the officials who headed and ran the Communists' camps, even though Smirnov's "System of Corrective Labor Camps" lists more than 500 camps with their administrative officers through the 1960s.
Soviet gulags were mostly destroyed, and attempts to create museums, shrines and memorials have failed.
"People simply do not equate the ethical and moral horrors and shame of Nazism with those of Communism," said Yuri Pivovarov, director of the Institute of Social Science Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Many formerly high-ranking Communist officials are still in charge of modern Russia, including Vladimir Putin.
The Venona Papers
In February of 1943, the U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service, a forerunner of the National Security Agency (NSA), initiated a very secret program, later code named Venona. The object of the Venona program was to decrypt, examine and exploit Soviet diplomatic communications. The Venona Papers are the documents from this project. These papers are deciphered, intercepted secret Soviet communiqués between the United States and Moscow.
The Venona documents link the Rosenbergs and their Russian spy rings. The cover name for Julius Rosenberg was LIBERAL. Venona is the treasure trove of information that was uncovered in Soviet archives after the U.S. victory in the Cold War. The announcement for the Venona conference was a “scholarly conference on Soviet intelligence efforts to penetrate the United States Government during the 1940s and 1950s and U.S. counterespionage against such efforts.”
The Venona Papers were given short shrift by the liberal media when they came to light in the 1990s, because they revealed that despite McCarthy's blunderings, the essence of his argument was true. There were Soviet espionage agents and traitors to the United States infiltrating every aspect of life in the 1940s and '50s. Many were identified and exposed. Many were protected by liberal Democrats and the media. They knew that the truth about them would indicate so many cases of treason against members of their political party that the effect would be even more disastrous than it was.
The Blacklist has been made out to be one of the worst events in American history. High school and college students are taught without question that it was a "witch hunt" with no basis in reality. Hollywood, the industry most effected by it, along with college professors, have engaged in a systematic campaign to discredit the Blacklist. The fact is, the Hollywood Blacklist meant little more than a relative handful of untalented writers and directors, who had failed to renounce Communism even after they found out that Stalin was a butcher (many of whom were spies or knew of spying activity), losing plumb jobs for a couple years. The dominant media culture would have us believe it was an "American Holocaust."
It is true that some lives were destroyed unnecessarily. It is true that not everybody accused was a Communist. But the backlash against the Blacklist has rent this great nation with a media culture that swung so far to the left in retaliation for it that there was, for years, little semblance of reality in the dissemination of information about it. Pure free market forces in recent years have created a balance to these media forces. For this reason Truth is no longer the casualty of liberalism it was for so many years.
For 60 years Left wingers said all the evidence of the infiltration of Communists into the American government was trumped up and fake. Helen Gahagan Douglas, for instance, had been described as a "victim" of the "lies" of Richard Nixon. The textbooks of any public school in the U.S. routinely proclaim that McCarthyism was nothing more than a right wing political ploy. As the Left became the dominant voice of education, the universities, television, the print media, and most of all the film industry, this fiction has become accepted "fact" by a population of people who do not care enough about history to identify and expose these lies. If ever a historical lie has been foisted on the world, the Blacklist, McCarthyism and the Red Scare are it. The Venona files, corroborated by Soviet files, help identify these lies.
The papers show that traitors were passing top secret American information to the Soviet Union as well as American atomic secrets. Lauchlin Currie was the personal aide and advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a proven Soviet espionage agent by both the Venona files and the FBI
Albert Einstein, the famous mathematician who advised FDR of the possibility of building an atomic bomb was not a Communist, but his personal staff was Communist Party members. They were involved in espionage against the United States. It was all known by Einstein. In 1947 Einstein told the FBI that he had made a mistake coming to the United States! Time magazine liked this attitude so much they named him "Man of the Century."
Harry Hopkins was the most important assistant to FDR and in actual fact the "assistant President" while he lived. Against the advice of the entire American government he personally approved and demanded the shipment of 40 tons of uranium to the Soviets. Atomic bombs are derived from uranium.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was the head of the (Manhattan) atomic bomb project. He is mentioned frequently in the Soviet clandestine wireless transmissions as being a Soviet agent. They had a nickname for him. He was always suspected and his security clearance was removed when he was deemed a security risk! Before the release of the Venona files none of those suspicions were verified. Most of what is known about Oppenheimer leaves some doubt. At the very best, he was a "fellow traveler."
Their espionage, passivity in the face of knowledge of espionage, and the espionage of many others, resulted in the divulging of American secrets directly responsible for 45 years of the Cold War. Without such treason the Cold War might have been won without having to fight in Vietnam. Millions might have been saved in the U.S.S.R., Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. None of the traitors were Republicans. Res ipsa loquiter.
Both Lauchlin Currie and Harry Hopkins influenced the Yalta and Teheran agreements. FDR was sick and dying. Alger Hiss wrote much of the Yalta agreement. Many Americans always said about Yalta, "How could Roosevelt have been so dumb?"
As a result of the Yalta agreement the United States stopped its penetration of Eastern Europe 90 miles away from the Soviet troops. The Soviet filled that 90-mile vacuum to seize the eastern nations.
The accumulated message traffic of Venona comprised a collection of thousands of Soviet diplomatic telegrams that had been sent from Moscow to certain of its diplomatic missions, and from those missions to Moscow. During the first months of the project, Arlington Hall analysts sorted the traffic by diplomatic mission and by cryptographic system or subscriber.
Initial analysis indicated that five cryptographic systems, later determined to be employed by different subscribers, were in use between Moscow and a number of Soviet overseas missions. It also became apparent that one system involved trade matters, especially Lend-Lease. The other four systems appeared to involve the Soviet Foreign Ministry in Moscow in communication with its missions abroad.
Further analysis showed that each one of the five systems was used exclusively by one of the following subscribers (listed in descending order according to the volume of message traffic which had been collected):
1. Trade representatives - Lend-Lease, AMTORG, and the Soviet Government Purchasing Commission;
2. Diplomats - i.e., members of the diplomatic corps in the conduct of legitimate Soviet embassy and consular business;
3. KGB - the Soviet espionage agency, headquarters in Moscow and Residencies (stations) abroad;
4. GRU - the Soviet Army General Staff Intelligence Directorate and attaches abroad;
5. GRU-Naval - Soviet Naval Intelligence Staff.
In October of 1943, Lieutenant Richard. Hallock, a Signal Corps Reserve officer who had been a peacetime archaeologist at the University of Chicago, discovered weaknesses in the cryptographic system of the Soviet trade traffic. This discovery provided a tool for further analytic progress on the other four cryptographic systems.
During 1944, the skills of other expert cryptanalysts were brought to bear on this Soviet message traffic to see if any of the encryption systems of the messages could be broken. One of these cryptanalysts, Cecil Phillips, made observations which led to a fundamental break into the cipher system used by the KGB, although he did not know at the time used the system. The messages were double encrypted and of enormous difficulty. Two years later, KGB messages could be read or even be recognized as KGB rather than standard diplomatic communications.
In 1945, in response to Venona amplifications, the FBI carefully questioned Whittaker Chambers, whose earlier efforts to disclose details about Soviet espionage in the U.S. in the 1930s had gone unheeded. Igor Gouzenko, a GRU code clerk, defected in Ottawa. In late 1945 Elizabeth Bentley, a veteran KGB courier and auxiliary agent handler, went to the FBI and named names. Gouzenko's revelations had no bearing on the Venona breakthroughs, but decrypts show the accuracy of Chambers' and Bentley's disclosures.
In the summer of 1946, Meredith Gardner, an Arlington Hall analyst, began to read portions of KGB messages that had been sent between the KGB Residency in New York and Moscow Center. On July 31, 1946, he extracted a phrase from a KGB New York message that had been sent to Moscow on August 10, 1944. This message proved to be a discussion of clandestine KGB activity in Latin America. On December13 Gardner was able to read a KGB message that discussed the U.S. Presidential election campaign of 1944. A week later, on December 20, 1946, he broke into another KGB message that had been sent to Moscow Center two years earlier. It contained a list of names of the leading scientists working on the Manhattan Project.
By 1947, Gardner was able to show that someone inside the War Department General Staff was providing highly classified information to the Soviets. U.S. Army intelligence, G-2, became alarmed at hundreds of covernames, many of KGB agents, including ANTENNA and LIBERAL (later identified as Julius Rosenberg). One message mentioned that LIBERAL's wife was named "Ethel."
General Carter W. Clarke, the assistant G-2, called the FBI liaison officer to G-2 and told him that the Army had begun to break into Soviet intelligence service traffic, and that the traffic indicated a massive Soviet espionage effort in the U.S.
In October, 1948, FBI special agent Robert Lamphere joined the VENONA Project full time as the FBI's liaison and case controller for the VENONA espionage material. The British joined the effort that same year, and the two agencies cooperated with each other.
The most alarming trend of the Venona amplifications was not that the Soviets were spying on the U.S. This was part of the "great game" of the Cold War. Rather, the most alarming revelation was that American and British citizens were spying for them for pure political reasons. They were people who loved Communism, hated America, or both. Their motivations were not money or blackmail. If they were not members of the government, they tended to come out of the academic world, were writers, artists or filmmakers. They used their positions to subvert the American Way and promote Communism. In America, they tended to be Jewish. All of them emerged from the liberal wings of the British Labor party or the American Democrat party.
While there were numerous people who fell into this category, there were many thousands more who were not active Communist spies, but they either were or had been members of Communist cells. They were people who loved Communism, hated America, or both. Their motivations were not money or blackmail. If they were not members of the government, these people tended to come out of the academic world, were writers, artists or filmmakers. They used their positions to subvert the American Way and promote Communism. In America, they tended to be Jewish. All of them emerged from the liberal wings of the British Labor party or the American Democrat party.
There were many thousands more who were not active Communist spies, and were not members of Communist cells. They were people who loved Communism, hated America, or both. They wrote articles and books, or made movies, glorifying Communism and depicting America as racist and capitalism as evil. Their motivations were not money or blackmail. If they were not members of the government, these people tended to come out of the academic world, were writers, artists or filmmakers. They used their positions to subvert the American Way and promote Communism. In America, they tended to be Jewish. All of them emerged from the liberal wings of the British Labor party or the American Democrat party.
These facts infuriate the Left, who are appalled at the fact that people possess knowledge of these activities. Of course, none of this changes the fact that it is true.
The Venona messages are filled with hundreds of covernames (designations used in place of the real names to hide identities of Soviet intelligence officers and agents - i.e., spies or cooperating sources - as well as organizations, people, or places discussed in the encrypted messages). A number of public figures were also designated by covernames. Others in that category appear in the text of the messages by their true names. The following are examples of covernames recovered from the Venona corpus:
Covername: True Name
KAPITAN: President Roosevelt
ANTENNA, later changed to LIBERAL: Julius Rosenberg
BABYLON: San Francisco
THE BANK: U.S. Department of State
ARSENAL: U.S. War Department
ENORMOZ: Manhattan Project/A-bomb
ANTON: Leonid Kvasnikov, KGB Chief of A-bomb espionage in KGB's New York City office
Arlington Hall and the FBI studied the covernames for leads to identities, grouping them into families of covernames. Some covernames came from mythology Some were Russian given names, and others were names of fish, etc. KAPITAN was easily identified from the context as a good covername for President Roosevelt, but his covername was, nevertheless, outranked by those persons of lower station, including KGB operatives covernamed PRINCE, DUKE, and GOD. Other KGB assets were just plain BOB, TOM, and JOHN. Elizabeth Bentley had the covername GOOD GIRL. Very rarely, the KGB was careless in choosing a covername. For example, the covername FROST was used for KGB agent Boris Moros. The Russian word for "frost" is "moroz."
There were about 2,200 Venona messages translated. The Venona translations are now released to the public. Almost all of the KGB messages between Moscow and New York, and Moscow and Washington in 1944 and 1945 that could be broken at all were broken. To a greater or lesser degree, between 1947 and 1952, this led to the uncovering of Communist activity in the U.S. in the 1950s. The serial numbers of the VENONA messages indicate that the KGB and GRU sent thousands of messages between Moscow and the overseas recipients. Arlington Hall made the VENONA breakthroughs through hard work and analysis. This is a direct reflection of America's superior intelligentsia. The people who performed these tasks are heroes.
Information in the Venona materials reveals KGB tradecraft (i.e., the practical means and methods of espionage and counterespionage) of the time in great detail. Most Venona messages concern operational/tradecraft matters. The sheer volume of data collected by KGB stations abroad was too great to be reported by telegram. The Venona messages indicate that photocopies of classified documents went to Moscow by courier. In one translation, which is currently undergoing declassification review, KGB in New York informed Moscow that it had 56 rolls of film from their agent, covernamed ROBERT. This trove of classified material was to be sent off by courier to Moscow Center.
Information in Venona translations describes the KGB's modus operandi in arranging meetings with their agents, with much attention given to the security of these secret meetings. Other messages describe KGB countermeasures against the FBI - countersurveillance, detection of bugging devices, and ensuring the loyalty of Soviet personnel in the United States. A particularly fascinating set of Venona messages described the KGB's efforts to locate Soviet sailors who had deserted from merchant ships in San Francisco and other U.S. ports. Some of the most interesting messages detailed KGB assessment and recruitment of American Communists for espionage work.
Over 200 named or covernamed persons found in the Venona translations, persons then present in the U.S., were claimed by the KGB and the GRU in their messages as their clandestine assets or contacts. Many of these persons have been identified. Many have not been. The majority of unidentified covernames in the New York KGB traffic appear three or fewer times. This means that a large number of "heroes" of the Left, "ruined" by McCarthyism only to be rehabilitated by Hollywood, the media or the academic community, may have been bona fide Communist spies. This would not have been known throughout their lives. In some cases these people are still alive, claiming to be "victims" of the right; still trotted out by the New York Times or The Nation for sympathetic reminiscences of the "American Holocaust."
These approximately 200 persons are separate from the many KGB and GRU officers who also appear in VENONA. ROBERT is found in Venona translations several dozen times. Other covernamed persons were found only a few times. Information derived from the Venona translations shows the KGB's extensive contacts with the American Communist Party. Many of the espionage activities by members of the American Communist Party are reflected in the Venona translations.
A number of sources outside of signals intelligence reveal that the KGB learned early on that the U.S. had begun to study Soviet communications. In late 1945, KGB agent Elizabeth Bentley told the FBI that the KGB had acquired some limited information about the U.S. effort in 1944. Kim Philby, while assigned to Washington, D.C. from 1949-1951, occasionally visited Arlington Hall for discussions about Venona; furthermore, he regularly received copies of summaries of Venona translations as part of his official duties. But if the Soviets knew something about what Arlington Hall was accomplishing, they could not, at any rate, get the messages back.
Venona translations that have been identified as associated with atomic bomb espionage messages are being released first. All but two of this group of 49 messages was KGB traffic; one is a GRU and one a Soviet diplomatic message.
These messages disclose some of the clandestine activities of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Harry Gold, Klaus Fuchs, David and Ruth Greenglass, and others such as the spy known by the covername MLAD or the equally important, but still unidentified PERS. The role played by the person covernamed VEKSEL remains uncertain but troubling. A number of other covernames of persons associated with atomic bomb espionage remain unidentified to this day.
Venona messages show that KGB officer Leonid Kvasnikov, covername ANTON, headed atomic bomb espionage in the U.S., but that he, like the Rosenbergs, who came under his control, had many other high-tech espionage targets such as the U.S. jet aircraft program, developments in radar and rockets. As with most Venona messages, the Rosenberg messages contain much information relating to KGB net control and tradecraft matters.
The Venona program concerned KGB and GRU messages that were available to Arlington Hall codebreakers. Most of the messages which were collected were not successfully decrypted, and, short of a release of the KGB and GRU archives from the period, full disclosure of KGB and GRU activities represented in the VENONA corpus of messages may never be known.
Eastern Europe under Stalinism
It is generally agreed that Joseph Stalin was not just paranoid, violent and power hungry, but mentally unstable. The threat of opposition and his need to suppress it offer some explanation as to why he cracked down on every aspect of Soviet society and turned all of Eastern Europe into satellites. The crackdown on any form of freedom is very much an aspect of Communist ideology, but the personal characteristics of Stalin himself offer as much historical explanation as Hitler's unique imprint on Nazi Germany.
Stalin was interested, first and foremost, in his own personal power base. Therefore, any good efforts by anybody else that might be recognized by the people was a "threat" to him. Unless it could be directly attributed to him, it did not exist. Since anything that the people liked was indicative of freedom, almost nothing they liked happened. Absolute control of all the countries surrounding the U.S.S.R. was necessary, in Stalin's view, since they were all a threat to his power. The history of Russia must be taken into account. The country has always been attacked by neighbors who cover its natural resources, and view its wide-open spaces as indefensible, therefore easy to take.
Stalin feared an invasion by the United States. The West usually considered this an unreasonable fear, but was it? The U.S. had the strongest military in history and possessed the most powerful weapon ever conceived. U.S. troops had occupied part of Russia after the Communist Revolution. The U.S. was a known expansionist power, having moved inexorably Westward in the 19th Century. Teddy Roosevelt had enthusiastically used U.S. military might to expand in the 1900s.
Stalin's brutality began with his use of the Soviet secret police. It was started by Lenin but expanded by Stalin. He used it to eliminate the slightest opposition or criticism to his leadership in the 1920s and '30s. In the 1930s, opposition of the kulaks to the collective farm system resulted in slaughtering their animals in protest of the first five-year plan. Stalin decided to eliminate the kulaks as a class. He "purged" all anti-Stalin or anti-Communist views, through expulsion but mostly by murder.
Stalin 's psyche explains his schizophrenic opposition to the Nazis, followed by his alliance with them, followed by his opposition to them, followed by his alliance with the West, followed by his opposition to the West. Alliance was impossible with Stalin, because it required power sharing. All of his foreign policy decisions were based on the "lesser of two evils" concept. Nazi Germany offered him something he could not refuse when they took control of areas of Soviet interest. They were willing to give the Baltic states and part of Poland to Russia. Russia moved into these areas quickly. Only when Germany reclaimed control of these areas did Stalin renegotiate with the West and form an alliance along different lines.
Stalin sided with whoever would help him. These alliances always split up when Stalin was asked to share military information with the West. After the war, Stalin wanted the world divided into spheres of interest with Eastern Europe and the Balkans under Russian control. The United States wanted Democracy in all of the states that Hitler had occupied. Russia promised Truman that this would occur and initially allowed a few moderate parties in the countries of Eastern Europe. But it quickly became obvious that would not square with the "world revolution" that was the goal of Communism. Stalin chose not to pursue Communism in Italy and France because it would have strained his resources. Instead he expelled "moderate" parties in Eastern Europe.
Stalin's "smartest" move was his alliance with the West. Because of the military alliance between Britain, America and the Soviet Union, he was given the imprimatur of statesmanship. This had the effect of legitimizing Communism with elements in the West. Consequently, he was given a "pass" for several key years after the war to impose his totalitarian expansion upon Eastern Europe, before America could mobilize against him.
Had Germany not invaded Russia, Stalin would have been marginalized. Germany still would have lost the war, and Russia would have been seen as their ally, not ours. As a victim of the Germans, the Soviets were able to make demands based on their contributions.
Economic turmoil was Stalin's greatest advantage. He found that it would be relatively easy to set up Communist regimes in the re-building countries. Stalin set himself up as a "big brother" and severed all previous ties with the anti-West propaganda.
Stalin had gone went into the Potsdam Conference hoping to be re-paid for the losses sustained during the war, and for Russia to have a barrier between the East and West, thus wresting control of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Eastern Poland, Bucovina, Besarabia, East Germany, and other smaller pieces of territory to the Soviet Union. He viewed these territories as a "shield" for Communism. Russian leaders had historically tried to create this for time immemorial. Weakened by the war and "abandoned" by the West as pawns in the Great Game, Eastern European fell to Communism.
Eastern Europe initially saw appeal in Stalin's promises after the tyranny of Hitler. Stability was the main hope of these peoples. In this regard, Machiavelli's theory, that man prefers security to freedom, comes closest to ringing true in the few years after the war, prior to their realization that Stalinism was as bad as Fascism.
At first, the Nazis were Stalin's great "ally," because they had been so atrocious that it did not seem possible that anything could be worse. It is a major "testament" to Stalinism and Communism that they actually managed to equal if not surpass the Nazis as an evil force. Redistribution of wealth held great appeal, and Stalin's persecution of Jews "justified" the crimes committed by many in Eastern Europe who had aided the Nazis in their efforts in this regard. Stalin's own hatred of Jews was transferred to the people of Eastern Europe.
This leads to an amazing fact of history. People who live in the West take it on faith that the Holocaust occurred, they have knowledge of the details of it, and are constantly admonished to "never forget." However, an enormous portion of the world knows almost nothing about the Holocaust. This includes Eastern Europe and East Germany. People who lived there after World War II were never taught about the Holocaust. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, information about it became more readily available, but even today it is treated almost as a rumor, an aside, or an exaggeration.
Stalin did not emphasize the Holocaust in his administration of Eastern Europe. East Germans were kept especially in the dark about it. He preferred to emphasize the atrocities committed by the Germans on the non-Jewish survivors of Eastern Europe. He needed to make a "new Germany" out of people who were all too glad not to be reminded of their crimes against humanity, given instead a chance to re-make themselves in the Communist model. He preferred to remove Jews because their peculiar religious habits could not be allowed to thrive in his atheistic society. The same of course goes for Christianity, but there were simply too many "Christians" to kill. The fate of Jews under Communism is a great irony, since Jews were the early advocates of it. Jews in the West tended to associate with the liberal concepts that gave tacit "support" to it. Meanwhile, Stalin had Jews killed in a manner that approached Hitler. If ever sheep were led to the slaughterhouse, it was the Jews of Communism.
Stalin was good at propaganda. He used the "useful idiots" of the West by portraying the facade that Russia had "seen the light" and was willing to join them in an effort to sustain world peace. Humanitarian forces drove Stalin's supporters in the West, who forgave him the gruppe, the collectivist farms, the murders, the gulags, the Siberian death camps, the Jewish exterminations, and the famines of the 1930s.They were convinced that in battling Hitler he would be transformed into a kind of "forced morality." What these people did not realize was that Hitler and Stalin always admired each other.
What many do not realize is that Stalin felt strongly that Germany should never be re-unified. The unification of Germany under Bismarck had started their nationalistic and militaristic period. Stalin felt that a recovered Germany would again arm themselves and generate aggressive war.
In 1944, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill went to Moscow and offered Stalin the Balkans, in an ill-fated effort at "balancing" Soviet power. Roosevelt had gotten along quite well with the man dubbed "Uncle Joe," believing that pragmatic tactics would allow latitude at war's end. Roosevelt's strategy was to allow the Soviets control of the territory surrounding Russia. In maintaining friendship with the Soviets, goodwill could help maintain post-war order.
FDR's pragmatism was not blindness to Soviet power. The peace agreement at Yalta lacked specifics while laying the foundation for control of the United Nations. The hand of Alger Hiss is unmistakable in this regard. The British and Americans thought the U.N. would provide a forum for post-war cooperation, not confrontation.
Stalin was adamant in his demand for German reparations, but Churchill opposed the idea since he had seen how the Versailles Treaty had set back the peace after 1919. In the spirit of compromise, Roosevelt determined a sum of $20 billion, with half going to the Russians, to be made in materials, production, and provisions rather than gold.
The German and Austrian questions were resolved with designated zones assigned to each power. The framework of the Soviet "occupation" plan was based on their national security requirements, necessitating friendly governments along the western border. With the exception of Greece and Tito's Yugoslavia, Russian troops were positioned in the Balkans, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and an eastern segment of Austria, in addition to the division of Germany.
At first, troops returning to their native countries were greeted with thoughts of displacement and unemployment. The "guaranteed provisions" of employment offered by Communism were alluring, despite the strings attached. In the end, the U.N. was turned against the West, and the concessions made by Roosevelt and Churchill made Stalin's plunder of Eastern Europe possible.
As the 1940s turned into the 1950s, Soviet domination of all countries in their sphere of influence became total. Hungary's revolution was put down, as were all efforts at reform or resistance in East Germany and the entire East Bloc.
The U.N. was supposed to be neutral meeting ground. Each nation would send a permanent delegation to debate international issues, and, in the failure of diplomacy, a security council made up of the allied victors of World War II would be able to marshal economic and even military force to contain a war. It was supposed to enhance peace and national sovereignty.
Democrat Communists sell out Eastern Europe
The first Secretary General of the U.N. at its founding conference in San Francisco, June 26, 1945, was Soviet espionage agent Alger Hiss. His appointment had been approved by Stalin at the Yalta Conference. Hiss had served as "international organization specialist." Many Communists were among the American delegation. They drew excellent salaries from the U.S. taxpayers.
Harry Dexter White was the assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Laughlin Currie was the Special Assistant to President Franklin Roosevelt. Lawrence Duggan, Noel Field, Harold Glasser, Irving Kaplan, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Victor Perlo, and Julian Wadleigh were pro-Communist operatives who played major roles in planning the U.N. structure, along with Solomon Adler, Frank Coe, Abraham G. Silverman, William H. Taylor, William L. Ullman, John Carter Vincent and David Weintraub.
It was agreed that the Undersecretary-General for Political and Security Council Affairs, with direct control over military operations, would always be a Soviet. The U.N. was virtually overrun by Communists, according to Senator James O. Eastland's testimony to a Senate Committee in 1952
"I am appalled at the extensive evidence indicating that there is today in the U.N. among the American employees there, the greatest concentration of Communists that this committee has ever encountered," Senator Eastwood told the committee. "These people occupy high positions. They have very high salaries and almost all of these people have, in the past, been employees in the U.S. government in high and sensitive positions."
The U.N. has been described as a "Trojan horse" for Left wing ideology. In 1915, Lenin proposed a "United States of the World". In 1936, the Communist International proclaimed:
"Dictatorship can be established only by a victory of socialism in different countries after which the proletariat Republics would unite on federal lines with those already in existence, and this system of federal unions would expand...at length forming the World Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."
The 1950 conviction of Hiss is a seminal event in American history. The fact that it occurred in the middle year of the century is symbolic. It served to divide the U.S. in a way that few events, if any, ever had. In some ways, the Hiss case was more divisive even than the Vietnam War. In fact the divisions in Vietnam can be traced to Hiss. Hiss and Nixon are inexorably linked. Nixon and Vietnam are, too. The entire nature of anti-war protest and media manipulation during Vietnam intensified upon Nixon's ascendancy to the White House. The prosecution of Vietnam by a Republican, in particular by Nixon, made the issue unbearable for the American Left. It all starts with Hiss.
The Hiss case changed everything. It preceded the Rosenberg executions and gave impetus to McCarthyism. McCarthyism, in turn, created the greatest backlash this nation has ever experienced. The backlash was so vitriolic because it had to be, in order to paper over the fact that McCarthy, for all his faults, was right. In disproving McCarthy, the biggest albatross around liberalism's neck is Hiss. To further infuriate the Left, the specter of Nixon never went away. The Left was forced to grind its teeth and watch "Tricky Dick" ascend to the Vice-Presidency, alongside the greatest hero of the century, if not since the birth of Christ - Eisenhower. Just when they thought they were rid of him after the Kennedy election and his "last press conference," Nixon reemerged, won an election after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, and then to their horror was put in charge of an anti-Communist crusade. The Left had done extraordinary work in discrediting McCarthy and seemed to have succeeded in this effort. In so doing, they put themselves between a rock and a hard place, which was to conclude the fiction that the Communism Nixon and McCarthy opposed was not so bad, after all. LBJ could be excused as an overzealous Texan, but Nixon threatened to explode all their myths. Therefore, it became imperative to discredit Vietnam. Between Hollywood and the press in the 1960s and '70s, they came pretty close. Again, their greatest enemy is the simple, inexorable availability, and ability, of Truth to rise above all lies in America. This is precisely what is happening as you read these words.
Alger Hiss was the Establishment Man from Harvard Law School and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He had the looks and erudition of Kennedy, wore perfectly tailored suits. His resume was backed by testimony from a "Who's Who of American Government".
His social class heard Jekyll-and-Hyde stories of a double persona of underground treachery. It seemed impossible to believe.
"If Alger could be a Communist, anyone could be," was a typical reaction. As the Kim Philby case and Venona proved, almost anyone could be. Unless they were Republican.
Res ipsa loquiter.
The Communists particularly went after people like Hiss precisely because they offered the perfect elegant image. It was in this elegance that the peculiar nature of guilt was found to be an exploitable personality flaw. There are different kinds of guilt. In the West, there is Jewish guilt, Christian guilt, white guilt and American guilt. Together, any one of these hybrids of guilt was benign, and even good. Judeo-Christian guilt, for instance, is one of the foundations of morality and conscience. It manifests itself in different ways. Men refrain from insulting their mothers or cheating on their wives. White guilt is the foundation for racial equality, operating as the voice in the back of men's minds telling them to treat black people as brothers, because racism is a sin. American guilt has its purpose, too. It provides the political framework that tells our politicians to use U.S. power to do good in the world, and not as a conquering force.
But combined together, all these guilts could be twisted and turned into something terrible. The right Communist handler could twist it into an argument that the Americans were too fortunate, their history tinged more by luck than accomplishment; a nation of rich white racists who improperly "used" God to convince themselves of their violent Manifest Destiny.
In the years since, many Americans discovered college friends, husbands, lovers, colleagues, and business associates who turned out to be Communists. Nobody ever failed to feel shock. The Communists did not go after the Whittaker Chambers' of the world - frumpy, inelegant fellows who looked they might just be Red. They went after men like Hiss.
Many Communists were good looking men and women leading double lives during the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations. Most people who succeed in Hollywood are good-looking, too. After Hiss, when the House Committee on Un-American Activities was exposing the Communist virus, liberals in and out of government, especially in the media, counterattacked against the anti-Communists.
In so doing, liberals placed themselves in jeopardy. Even if they were not Communists, spies or even sympathizers, in defending those who were they became tacit "fellow travelers" and "useful idiots." The chaos of uncovering who was a Communist and who was not created a split in the U.S. that was exactly what the Communists wanted.
The Hiss case, the issue of Communist subversion and espionage, all combined to assign culpability to the Left. The threat of this culpability cannot be understated. If Communism turns out to be what is it is suspected to be, and if an easily defined political ideology of the U.S. and the West is readily assigned to it, then that ideology, liberalism, is in grave danger. Therefore, consequently and as a result thereof, the Left put themselves through every possible gyration to prevent this. It required downgrading the threat of Communism, and discrediting the work of the right.
Martin Dies, the founder and first chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, wrote in "Martin Dies' Story", "Without exception, year in and year out, the American liberals have defended, protected, encouraged, and aided the Communists, both in the United States and abroad." Dies said that there is a "sympathetic tie between the ultra-liberals and the Communists. Actually, the ultra-liberals have always been socialists at heart."
Rooseveltian liberals were soulmates of Communism. It is only because of World War II that events shaped themselves in such a way that the military came to an appropriate place of leadership. This created a jingoistic, patriotic mindset that worked against the tacit, underhanded alliance between the American Left and Communism. American liberals simply decided that they would influence Communism, to "humanize" it, to bring it into the modern world. All they needed was time.
At the heart of this mindset was Alger Hiss, who is defended year after year to this day by political elements desperate to shed doubt on his guilt, because his guilt is their guilt. He exhausted his appeals and spent four years in prison. Subsequent revelations confirmed his guilt, proving that treachery and subversion were real. Still the liberals labor on his behalf.
Hiss drafted the United Nations Charter at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, giving the Soviet Union three votes in the U.N., while every other nation had only one. Poland, the first country to resist Hitler and supposedly the reason why the West entered World War II, was barred from the U.N. until Communists approved by Moscow replaced the legitimate anti-Communist government of Mikolajczyk. As this was not accomplished until the fall of 1945, Poland's seat was empty in San Francisco.
At Yalta Alger Hiss had been the chief aide to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius. In the telephone system set up for the U.S. delegation, Roosevelt was number one, Stettinius number two, and Hiss number three. Photos of Yalta indicate the hovering presence of Hiss.
Hiss's resulted in the New York Times headline, "Alger Hiss, Divisive Icon of Cold War, Dies at 92." He was an icon of the New York Times and the liberals, but an enemy of America.
Res ipsa loquiter.
An interview with Alger Hiss
They called him Communist chic long before Castro and Che. Allen Weinstein was a liberal who set out to prove his innocence in 1978. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Weinstein exhausted the evidence. He failed in any and all attempts to exonerate Hiss. Hiss's guilt was re-confirmed in 1993 by the release of the files of the Interior Ministry in Budapest, and again in 1996 by the release of the Venona Papers.
While Hiss's guilt is not in doubt, he did continue to live in America for many years. It is part of America's tradition of freedom of speech that he was allowed to defend himself. In the spirit of fairness, I present this excerpt of a Hiss interview conducted by Judah Graubart and Alice V. Graubart for their book, "Decade of Destiny" (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1978):
"Few people held as wide a variety of sensitive government positions during the '30s (and '40s) as Alger Hiss. Serving in the Justice Department, on the Nye Committee and in the State Department, he was witness to and participant in much of the formation of America's pre-war foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, it is Mr. Hiss's belief that it was because he was so integral a part of the New Deal era that he became the personification of it for Roosevelt's posthumous enemies.
"I think the extent, the depth, the fury of the Depression caught most people of my generation by surprise and taught us, more than anything else, the importance of politics. When I graduated from college, I paid very little attention to such matters; those who were in politics seemed to me rather grubby and corrupt people. But while at law school, and then immediately after, the Depression began, and it indicated that things were not right with our country. The collapse, the whole economic picture, was widespread devastation.
"In New York, the Hoovervilles were on Riverside Drive, in Central Park, everywhere. One couldn't move around without seeing them. On Wall Street, where I worked, the famous men who were too proud to beg were selling apples for a nickel apiece. Once employed, sometimes running their own businesses, they got steadily more and more threadbare. The soup kitchens were much too inadequate.
"In '33, after Roosevelt became President, I was invited by Jerome Frank, the general counsel to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, to come to Washington. I was not carried away by the idea, because I had only very recently come to the job I had in New York and was in the middle of a case. But a telegram from my former teacher, Felix Frankfurter, who had influenced me in law school, sparked my decision to go. The telegram read: 'On basis national emergency, you must accept Jerome Frank's invitation.'
"Well, it was like a call to arms, being told that the nation was in danger. I think many of us who went down in those first few weeks thought of ourselves as civilian militia going down for the duration of a real emergency, as if we were going to war. Roosevelt, in his Inaugural Address, used the sacrifices of war as an analogy. I think we believed that in a few years the emergency would be met; I know I always expected to go back to civil law. Practically none of us were in the civil service. We were going to be there only a short time and certainly weren't interested in a government career as bureaucrats. Therefore, the furthest thing from our thoughts was retirement benefits at the end of lengthy bureaucratic lives, and all the people in government - the civil servants - recognized that in us.
"We formed a good working relationship with the civil servants, who, we soon realized, were as much in favor of personal self-sacrifice and of working long hours for the public good as we were. Whereas we found them to be invaluable because of their knowledge and experience, many of them regarded us as reinforcements, to use the military analogy, since all their bright ideas, not unlike ours, had been refused by the Republicans. Now came people who would be sympathetic, and they were cheered up.
"When the New Deal came in, we pretty much had a free hand. Things were not working out the way business leaders had been led to believe they would; so we had public support. Roosevelt said he would experiment and if one thing didn't work, he would try another. The whole thing was improvised. We had some success and we had some failures, but certainly the bitterness of the Depression was for millions of people ameliorated by the benefits paid to the small farmers by the Works Progress Administration, by the relief funds and by the Federal Emergency Relief Act. The whole spirit of the New Deal, of such people as [Harry] Hopkins, [Harold] Ickes and Miss [Frances] Perkins, was so idealistic, so humanitarian, I think the public as a whole felt as it has not felt since - that the government cared about its duties and about individual citizens. There was a genuine sense of participation in the farm program where I worked. There were county committees set up for the farmers that not only handled a great deal of the administration - checking the acreage and so on - but also sent recommendations for improvements. It was an extraordinary period of public confidence in the government.
"The incident with Senator 'Cotton Ed' Smith occurred while I was with the Department of Agriculture in an official capacity. I helped draft the cotton contract for reducing cost on acreage, and we had provided that some of the payments made in exchange for reduction of the acreage should go to tenant farmers when the farm involved had tenants as well as an owner. Senator Smith had expected that all those payments would go to him as the owner. He came to see me in my office and was very angry because the payments, as we had drafted them, applied to him as well as to his tenants and were to be made directly to them. He said something to the effect, 'You can't send checks to my niggers,' as if they were hardly human and sending payments to them would be like sending them to his horses or mules, who wouldn't know how to handle checks. I explained that this was what was required under the statutes and that I assumed that my superiors accepted this view or they wouldn't have approved it in the first place. I was as polite to him as I could be, but I was in no way frightened. It wouldn't have meant much to me if I had been fired; I could have gone somewhere else or back to practicing law, and this was a matter of principle. It just seemed to me to be no big deal. The New Deal was the big deal.
"I should add that a year later, when the purge over the cotton contracts occurred, not only Senator Smith but also the cotton producers and their representatives in Congress changed things. In the second cotton contracts, we insisted not only that the payments go to the tenants but also that the same number of tenants be kept on the farm. It wasn't going to help the country, and it wasn't going to be fair, if the owner, in order to get the payments himself, dismissed some of the tenants. This we lost out on.
"During the purge, Jerome Frank, my boss, was asked to leave, as were Lee Pressman and a number of others, much to their shock, for they thought Secretary Wallace was supporting their position. But, when push came to shove, Wallace felt that there was too much opposition to his position in Congress and, in effect, backed down and jettisoned them. They became not scapegoats but something pretty close to it. Other people didn't resign but were fired only a few days later. Since I was then mostly on loan to the Nye Committee on the Munitions Industry as their counsel, I had no occasion to get involved in the purge. Nevertheless, my interest in the Department of Agriculture lessened from day to day, since the people I had worked with were gone, as were the idealism and innovation they had supplied.
"The reason I had been sent to join the Nye Committee was that at least two of its members were on the Senate Agricultural Committee and so Secretary Wallace tried to do them a favor. The objectives of the former committee were twofold. The first was to limit the actual trade in arms, something that is of interest again today, though on a much broader scale. The arms trade was considered then, as now, immoral. It was also thought that the arms trade maximized the danger of warfare between small countries. We found, for example, that the salesmen for a great arms firm would do their best to convince the officials of, let's say, a Latin American country that a neighboring rival country had military designs against them, and would encourage them to buy. They would then run to the neighboring country and say, 'Look, your rival has just bought this much.'
"I remember a particular letter that came out in the hearings, in which a local representative of one of the American munitions companies complained that the State Department was 'fomenting peace.' We had always thought of the word 'fomenting' as being used for war, not for something desirable, like peace.
"The committee's second objective was to take profit out of war. In that effort, it was supported by the American Legion and other veteran associations, which felt that it was unfair for businessmen to make big profits while the individual soldier should be expected to give up a job, in which he might have been receiving increased pay, to run the risk of being injured or killed.
"We explored that. We found that after every major American war, even the Civil War, there had been Congressional investigations into the wastes, the corruption, etc. We found that war does tend to encourage and promote corruption, and certainly extravagance. After all, when the issue is possible defeat, money doesn't seem so important. On the other hand, a lot of people benefit corruptly and greedily at such a time. But we were unable to figure any way to take the profit out of war, and the reports I helped write said this just wasn't very likely.
"Yes, I was approached by one of the DuPont lawyers who told me that 'whatever you're earning here, you could earn more,' or something like, 'Your talents would be useful.' Certainly it was an indication that I could get a job and I suppose that they preferred that I got the job early, rather than after I'd continued. No, I never doubted that it was an attempt, as you put it, to 'bribe me'
"Senator Nye? He was a friendly man with Midwestern gusto, vigor and simplicity. Not terribly sophisticated, not very learned, easy to work with, and a man of a good deal of conscience. He came from the Dakotas, where isolationism was strong. Therefore he was a spokesman for what he grew up with. He felt that Europe was less noble, beautiful, and pure than the American Middle West. That part of Washington's Farewell Address that went "Do not get involved with evil designs of foreign powers" must have been inculcated in his own thinking. In that sense, of course, he was oversimplifying the view. I found him to be very pleasant, conscientious and well meaning, though he was not of the stature of Senator Vandenberg, nor did he have the intellectual quickness and charm of Senator Bone or the dignity of Senator Pope.
"The committee came to be known primarily as the Neutrality Committee after the period I was with it - the isolationists believed in neutrality - and it began to recommend that the United States should, particularly if war broke out abroad, refuse to trade with either side. Although when the Spanish Civil War broke out, the terms of that Neutrality Act, which were not meant to apply to a civil war, did seem to apply to Spain, and Nye was willing to revise his own act, because he did not think it was proper to refuse to ship to the Loyalist government, the legal government of Spain. I think the reason was that he came from a region where populism was strong, and most populists are liberals. They cared about the little man, about the underdog and about decency. And Nye had some of this populist tradition himself.
"In '36, I went into the State Department because of Francis Sayre, the assistant secretary in charge of the whole economic aspect of foreign affairs, including trade. I had been working in the Department of Justice to protect the trade agreements from attacks, alleging they were un-Constitutional. When his assistant, John Dickey, left, Mr. Sayre asked me to come and work on trade agreements in the State Department and continue to supervise the litigation aspect, which I did.
"Concerning the Spanish Civil War, I would say that the State Department was short-sighted. It was difficult for them to sense what that war meant to Italy and Germany. They took more seriously than I think was warranted the efforts of the British and French in the nonintervention treaty. And the British, and the French, too, I think, were weak-kneed. They did not foresee that this would be the first victory of the Axis, that this was the beginning of World War II. Now, of course, the State Department had the excuse of simply trying to help the British and French carry out nonintervention. That's why the neutrality approach toward Spain was allowed to continue, even though Senator Nye was so sympathetic to the Loyalists, he was willing to work for removal of the embargo.
"Regarding what was happening in Germany then, the State Department officials did not think that it was their duty to chastise the Germans. Any professional foreign office tends to feel that the domestic procedures of foreign countries are less important than the governmental relationships. From my own point of view, they were not aroused enough. I saw Nazism as a mortal danger. They tended to minimize the reports of what was going on in Germany. Of course, things were not as bad as they became later, but there was a tendency with State Department officials to say that the press was exaggerating what was happening there. The reason for my attitude was that I was more New Dealish than many people in the State Department. The New Dealers used to say that the writ of the New Deal ran everywhere except the State Department, which was more conservative and cautious. For example, if you look at the memoirs of George Kennan, who's almost exactly my twin in age, you'll see that he went immediately into the Foreign Service, and the Depression seems to have made no impact on him. His only complaint about it was his expression of annoyance with Roosevelt that the expense accounts of Foreign Service officers should be reduced as an economy move. Well, this was not the way people of the New Deal felt. We felt that this was a time of great suffering for the American people and everybody should pitch in and try to help. But the State Department was basically conservative; they came from a different medium. They had been protected all their lives.
"There were very few Jewish people in the State Department. Herbert Feis was the only one I can remember. I do not think the State Department favored Hitlerian anti-Semitism. The State Department's anti-Semitism may have been snobbish. That's possible. It was that kind of social fabric. But that's quite different from implying that the State Department as a whole or any official within it condoned the kind of brutality that Hitlerian anti-Semitism meant. Is that the idea of 'While Six Million Died'? I think that idea's very exaggerated.
"I also worked with Mr. Sayre in the Far Eastern Division. The American position was that Japan's aggression against China should not only not be rewarded, but that we should not continue our shipping of scrap iron to Japan, thereby facilitating Japan's access to the oil reserves of the Dutch East Indies, almost all of which were owned by American companies. So in order to free ourselves for discriminatory action - and it would take discriminatory action to say they could not get scrap iron but other countries could - we terminated the trade treaty guaranteeing equal practices.
"I always believed that war with Germany was inevitable, but not at all with Japan. I was conscious early in '35, certainly in '36, that we had reached a pre-war instead of a post-war era. I spoke to my college fraternity in Baltimore, saying that I thought war was coming in Europe. I saw that Hitler lived by expansionism, that this was the only way the Germany economy could keep going, and Hitler's power depended on his being a militarized and militaristic leader. So I thought we would be drawn into a war because Germany was strong and we would have to protect England and France, as we had in World War I.
"I felt quite the contrary about Japan. We never considered them a match for us, and they weren't. I don't think anybody in the State Department had anticipated the attack on Pearl Harbor. It seemed suicidal when it happened. If anybody would have said it would happen, we would have discounted it.
"No, I wouldn't say the New Deal ended abruptly with Pearl Harbor. It was under wraps, minimized in many respects, particularly those where it would come into conflict with business, as in wartime production. But those aspects of the New Deal that would facilitate production, such was the morale of labor, were treated with liberalism. I would say that the New Deal didn't really end until the Cold War began, and this was one of the functions of the Cold War and of McCarthyism - to discredit the New Deal.
"I never had any doubt as to the fact that McCarthyism was to attack Roosevelt indirectly. He was too popular, even when dead, to be attacked directly. If the New Deal could be attacked, if Yalta and his other policies could be attacked, then this was one way of removing the stigmata of Roosevelt from those policies. I've never doubted that one of the accomplishments of McCarthyism was to diminish sympathy for Roosevelt, sympathy for the New Deal, sympathy for the United Nations.
"But the New Deal will be needed when conditions get bad again. It only came to light when the traditional business hierarchy of leadership couldn't function anymore. That time will come again. Another Depression? I wouldn't go so far as to say that. But what I would say is that the serious malformations in the American economic and social structure with which the New Deal tried to deal, when not cured or corrected, were obviated by the war. The New Deal as an improvisation, as an experiment, never succeeded in making the major changes necessary to avoid the disasters of the Depression. Had it been thoroughly successful, we wouldn't have had the kinds of things that went on in the '60s, when the rigidity of American culture came up against the demands for major changes. The New Deal represented the same kind of attempt to break out of the rigidity that had led to the Depression and to the inability to change the format under which American culture had grown. I think the New Deal era and the '60s had some things in common, except that the New Deal was more restrained, had a better sense of history and was more practical. But the time will come again, I think, when those things will have to be combined for major changes, though I'm not sure that many people would agree with me."
"Disbarred from the practice of law, Hiss took a job as a salesman and wrote 'In the Court of Public Opinion', in which he rebutted the government's case point by point. He and his wife separated in 1959. He continued to assert his innocence, and over the years evidence surfaced to back his claim, including some 40,000 pages of FBI documents released to him in the 1970s. Based on information in the documents which indicated that the FBI hid evidence that would have helped clear him, Hiss filed a petition of coram nobis, asking that the verdict be overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct. The petition was turned down in Federal Court. Appeals were unsuccessful. In 1975, however, Hiss was readmitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
"Hiss married his second wife, Isabel Johnson, in 1986. Two years later, he wrote his autobiography, 'Recollections of a Life'. His grandson, Jacob Hiss, was born in 1991. Alger Hiss died at the age of 92 on November 15, 1996, still fighting for vindication. The release of information from Soviet and Hungarian archives disputed his claims, and the release of the Venona Papers, occurring near the time of his death, is the final nail in his proverbial 'coffin.'"
Hiss is a tragic figure. Why he did what he did is not well explained beyond the usual conjecture. It is sad that a man of such talents, education and ability did not make use of the opportunities available to him. One can only speculate the agitation Hiss must have felt when the U.S.S.R. dissolved, and he knew that, inevitably, espionage secrets would be made public. Then, what despair did Hiss experience when, after rehabilitating his image for decades, word came that the Venona Papers were discovered in the Soviet archives confirming his guilt?
East German uprising of 1953
On June 16, 1953, East Berlin newspapers printed a story about the poor handling of workers' rights by government officials. A rumor spread that quotas would be raised. Workers gathered to discuss their next meal, next paycheck, or day off. Construction workers marched to the Council of Ministers. Chanting, “We are not slaves,” they carried a banner reading, “We demand lower quotas.” They demanded to see Walter Ulbricht and other top leaders personally. These actions in Berlin led similar actions throughout East Germany. Soon, a full-scale protest of Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist ideology was underway.
The Russians immediately blamed the CIA. They were right and they were wrong. The CIA indeed was all over Eastern Europe in the 1950s, fomenting revolution, protest, and distrust of the Soviets. However, they were dwarfed by actual people, numbering in the millions, who quickly discovered that Stalin's promises were empty. They soon came to hate Communism.
In Germany, Fascists, Communists, fighters for Democracy, and Nationalists march in the streets with the workers, who protested their lack of representation in labor disputes, collectivist agreements, and at party conferences.
“Socialization” had pushed the country to the edge of economic destruction. The failure of Communism as an economic system in East Germany was the first true chink in the armor. Russia had always been a poor country, its peasant serf classes living in squalor while a small number of elites enjoyed luxury in the cities and in their dachas. China, similarly, was a rural nation of uneducated peasants. But Germany was a different story.
Germany had been an economic power and an industrial powerhouse with a highly educated, efficient, hard-working populace. They had natural resources and an infrastructure. East Germany, and in particular East Berlin, was the "test case" of Communism.
By 1953, West Germany and West Berlin were starting to show distinct signs of life. With the advent of the Marshall Plan, Democracy and economic progress was proving to be a successful combination. If East Germany failed in direct competition with the West, the failure of Communism would be exposed.
Now, workers had no rights. Living conditions were abominable. Anybody who complained was deemed made political prisoner with no civil liberties. Life was intolerable. The unfortunate citizens of East Germany had gone directly from Hitler to Stalin. Seeking lower living costs, higher wages, and reasonable quotas, thousands poured into the streets against the Soviets.
The Communist Party (KPD) was unpopular, not just because of Stalinism but because the Socialists were still blamed for abandoning Germany in World War I. Red Army abuses during the end of World War II were impossible to forget. The only way to quell East Germany was to crush resistance beyond all possibility of success. Any hope that Communism would be accepted by a willing populace was discarded by the brutal reality that only force could keep freedom from emerging.
Support for socialization had begun in 1946, when the Russians called for the merger of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the KPD. The SPD was a Leftist party with large popular support, but was also a party that would not corroborate with the introduction of Communism. In March of 1946, 80 percent of SPD members voted no against a planned merger of the KPD and SPD. Moscow then announced “in the interests of working-class solidarity” that the KPD and SPD had been combined to form “a single proletarian movement” with the creation of the Socialist Unity Party, or the SED. The SED quickly developed into the sole political party of the German Democratic Republic. By June of 1953, the party was as unpopular as the KPD had been in 1946.
The Christian Democrat Union and the Liberal Democratic Party, although not officially outlawed, were officially noted as “bourgeois” parties and monitored by the state. In 1952, Foreign Minister George Dertinger of the CDU was arrested for “hostile activities,” and Minister of Food Dr. Hamann of the LDP was imprisoned as a “saboteur." They were forced to sign dispositions backing the states' claims of their "treachery." Opposition to socialization became a virtual capital offense with party’s outlawed and individual opposition prosecuted in show trials. Free will and political choice were eliminated. The workers had no alternative but the streets to express themselves.
The Second Party Conference employ Soviet-like five-year plans. In July of 1952, at the Second Party Conference in Berlin, Ulbricht declared the “establishment of socialism." Increased output without parallel increases in wages were demanded of industry. In 1936, production of ingot steel hit 1.2 million tons. Plans announced at the Second Party Conference called for production to reach 3.4 million tons in 1955 when it was almost at its capacity at 1.9 tons in 1952.
Quotas replaced incentive, with individual laborers ordered to reach a certain level of productivity. Retroactive enactment of the quota system resulted in smaller paychecks. Stores remained empty of the bare necessities. High reparations for damages incurred during World War II had sapped the economy. Heavy industry "replaced" consumer production, turning the country into a near-slave state working strictly for the Soviets, not unlike a giant concentration camp. No economic exchange between East Germany and Russia occurred, as it would in a normal, capitalist trade economy. Factories were completely disbanded and sent to Russia. The industrial capacity of East Germany was pushed to its capacity while consumer goods were not produced, resulting in food and clothing shortages. The GDR lacked basic essentials because all German goods traveled to the Soviet Union.
The political system stressed class destruction and "equality," resulting in East Berlin workers’ pleas “to live like humans.” Historian Rainer Hildebrandt described the life of Horst Schlafke, pushed into combat as a Hitler Youth at age 16. He was placed in Soviet re-education camps at 18, then pressed into three years of forced labor in the Ukraine. Waking up at 4:30 A.M. for the workday, he would be lucky to have a roll and a cup of coffee before a 10-hour shift on the Stalinallee construction projects. "Breakfast" might be "butter" on a roll. He "volunteered" on Saturdays to clean up rubble. He struck, along with others, in 1953. Berliners already resented the Russians because Soviet troops had rampaged the city for three days at the end of the war in what they called “the Great Rape.” Life for East Berliners had become so bad that the threat of death did not deter them.
East Germans saw high-ranking party officials driving in the few cars of the GDR. They knew that the party officials had separate clothing and food stores available at their disposal, which contrasted with propaganda disparaging Western “class warfare” and “bourgeois ways”. Communist lies were so obvious that the entire system would have been a big joke, if not for the deadly seriousness of it.
Party officials were dragged out of their cars and beaten on the streets during the uprising. Arrests followed, but when word spread a quasi-rebellion continued. It lacked a political cause or leadership, however. Instead, worker committees from cities attempted to individually bargain with local officials without an actual understanding of what others were attempting to attain. Solidarity failed to capitalize on the backing of the public by not addressing Ulbricht and the Soviets with one voice. No solid plan emerged and the strikers were left with no tangible goal to demand.
The workers believed that the demand for “freedom” would prompt America to assist the revolutionaries. Rhetoric from West Berlin was thought to be the approach of the Western Allies. Aside from low-level CIA covert operations, however, the hoped-for liberation did not occur. Kennan's containment policy was the order of the day, and besides, the U.S. was still handling Korea in 1953.
Concessions were made by the SED. The workers were not trust because they followed a history of lies. When it was obvious the Americans were not coming, workers returned to their work sites, loitered in the streets, or beat up party members, but nothing was accomplished. Realizing the SED had gotten the best of them, riots ensued.
Agitated workers emerged as "leaders" of small revolts. Without a central plan, the riots were spontaneous but sporadic. RIAS broadcasts advocated a workers' uprising.
Soviet tanks and troops soon rolled into the capital city and other areas where protests were taking place. All of East Germany came under martial law as the Soviets regained control. A sense of schizophrenia permeated the bizarre atmosphere. Individual Soviet Army soldiers fraternized and encouraged the workers, since the soldiers were intimately aware of how bad the Communist system was. But the military commanders put an end to that, ordering the crowds to be fired upon. 21 people died the first day. The crowds spotted and killed moles or supposed government spies. Immediate concessions were made such as lowering of quotas and releasing of some political prisoners, but the SED did not live up to its promises. The workers on Stalinallee who started the revolt were brought to trial the following year for sedition. The SED hardened its policies, and from that point forward, there was no chance that East Germany would be a real, autonomous nation.
McCarthyism created a fear and loathing of the Communism system, but the hysterical nature of the attacks failed to allow for a clear policy on how to handle it. Stefan Brant's critique of the East German system states, “The Plan demands great effort. Still man is but the means. And still achievement lags. The system fails…It has often attained the seemingly impossible. Yet it has failed. It has never achieved its end. It has changed the world but not man; it has transformed conditions of life but not life itself. The Plan has never conquered the individual."
Western historians used the uprising to make it out, cartoon-like, into what fit the Western model of "anti-Communism." The East German uprisings indeed were "anti-Communist," but they were complicated by side issues. For instance, the uprising did not gather into a mass revolt. Students were the only other group to consistently join in the uprising. Most people were too intimidated by the Soviets to join. Democracy and unification were what the West was told the workers wanted, fitting a romantic vision that failed to understand the more specific nature of their demands.
The middle class and farmers, for instance, did not strike. The workers made up the most adamant Communists, as they always had. Ella Sarre was a political instructress whose job was converting and propagandizing of local workers to Communist doctrine. As a member of the Free German Youth (FDJ), she had welcomed the Russian occupation. She worked on Stalinallee. Agreeing with the workers on many issues, she decided to join them on their excursion to the Council of Ministers.
Greeted by an ovation after tossing her blue FDJ jacket to the protestors and saying that the workers must unite to gain their demands, she evaded the secret police (Stasi) and was one of the few women protestors the next day at the Brandenburg Gate. A devoted Communist, she rose against the regime because she viewed it as having corrupted socialism. Her case is just one example of the vagaries of history, because her protest, like others, was not due to the "failure" of Communism, but regarded the failure to providing decent living conditions. The argument then comes down to whether the failure to provide decent living conditions is in and of itself the failure of Communism.
Western estimates of the revolt are that it took place in 274 towns, with 372,000 protesters encompassing about seven percent of the workforce. Eastern sources say it was in 270 towns, with 300,000 workers encompassing five percent of the workforce. Eastern estimates placed the non-work force involvement in the uprising at 40,000; Western estimates placed it between 70,000 and 80,000.
Certainly, unlike many events in the Iron Curtain, the East German uprising was viewed more closely because of the vantage point of West Berlin. Berlin remained the hotspot for the most intense activity; 61,000 protestors poured through the streets of East Berlin. Approximately one-fifth of the people revolting in the GDR did so in East Berlin. Leipzig had 20,000 protestors. Berlin was a town of great political activity - calls for government resignations, reunification, and parliamentary government. The rest of the GDR was more apolitical.
The strategy to make the strike a nationwide affair led radical workers to West Berlin and reached the Radio in American Sector (RIAS). "Thousands" were waiting to take down the government. The concept of an armed revolution was inspiring and frightening to U.S. policy makers. According to the RIAS East Germans had “city squares where they could meet.” An interview airing on the RIAS encouraged workers not in Berlin to revolt in a violent and political manner, thinking that the Americans would come if there were “a crisis for freedom” (a term Willy Brant, West Berlin's Mayor, used).
Propaganda was undoubtedly a major part of the East German uprising. Extreme perspectives make it hard to create a balanced picture of life behind the Curtain. Surrounded by portraits of Stalin and Ulbricht, bombarded with Communist crap, German identity and culture failed to exist after 1945. East Germans had seen all the propaganda that any people could ever see. Between the Kaiser, Hitler and Stalin, they had lost hope. The natural sense of German patriotism and love of the Fatherland led many to hate the SED for "betraying" them more than the Soviets for occupying them.
The East Germans were the first in a succession, including the Hungarians and the Poles to rise up against the occupying forces of Communism. The Russians learned nothing from it, because the lessons were not what they wanted them to be.
Hungarian revolt of 1956
Hungary is bordered by Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. Approximately 36,000 square miles, it has an arid climate with cool winters and hot Summers. Most Hungarians belong to ethnic groups known as Magyars. Magyars originated in the 800's A.D. from members of Turkish tribes mixing with Slavic Tribes. Budapest is Hungary's capital and largest city. It is divided into two parts: Buda and Pest, and visitors to these cities are stunned to discover some of the most beautiful women on the face of God's Earth. People in Hungary are mainly Roman Catholic. Since the fall of Communism religion has returned to Hungary. Years of repression have not zapped from the people their zest for life. Budapest has some of the best nightlife and most engaging people anywhere. That a country like this could have been held under Stalin's yoke is an unspeakable evil.
Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed on Stalin's "buffer zone" requirement, and Hungary fell under their control along with Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Congress voted on the Policy of Containment. In 1953, Stalin died. The intense power struggle that followed produced Nikita Khruschev; rural, uneducated, moderate, and a war hero. The satellite countries thought Stalin's death meant more freedom and power. Hungary's citizenry was educated, erudite, somewhat aristocratic, and above all others in the orbit, they wanted complete freedom.
Hungary had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, chafing at Vienna's control. After World War I, they enjoyed a brief period of independence, but barely had time to recover from the Great War when Hitler went on the move.
In 1953, due to Stalin's death, the wave of protests and strikes, originating in Eastern Germany and going through to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland, took fire in. Hungary protested even more than the other nations.
Imre Nagy was appointed as the Hungarian premier. Nagy was a moderate reformer, popular with the people. Kruschev, however, was trying to establish himself with a hard-line Politburo and rebellious satellites. The Stalinist crimes were being disavowed by all the same people who made them happen.
With the advent of nuclear weapons, the Western powers formed NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). The Soviets made the Warsaw Pact with its satellite countries. The treaty dragged Hungary into a pact for mutual defense they did not want.
On October 23, 1956, students and workers gathered near the statue of General Bem in front of the Polish Embassy, boycotting and demanding. They advocated for "A socialist Hungary, truly independent; Imre Nagy reinstated in his former office; the state established on a new economic basis; new leaders for the Party and government; those responsible for mistakes held accountable at a public trial…" (Radio Budapest).
Premier Hegedus lost control and the secret police, known as the AVO, tried to stop them with tear gas. Arrests were made, but the crowd tried to free the insurgents. The secret police opened fire on them. The Hungarian Police arrived, but gave up their weapons to the protesters after hearing of the AVO shooting. Now, armed students outnumbered the secret police. The Soviets were called in, declaring martial law.
The Soviet Army met resistance. Some soldiers even joined the resistance. The new Hungarian flag hung over their tanks as they fought with the people of Hungary.
On October 24, Nagy was named premier of Hungary in place of Hegedus. Nagy took the students and workers side. On October 27, Nagy announced a new government. On October 30, it went into operation. Nagy abolished the one-party system, in favor of something called The National Peasant Party. It was later renamed the Petofi Party. Their plank was economic reform with free elections, no Soviet troops, withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and Hungarian neutrality.
The Soviets played along, took their tanks out of Budapest, and withdrew their troops. But withdrawal is not retreat. They did not go all the way back to the Soviet Union like they had promised. On November 3, reinforcements arrived on the Hungarian border. On November 4, 1956, the Soviet Army crushed the revolt.
"Soviet troops attacked our capital with the obvious purpose to overthrow the legitimate Hungarian Democratic government," Nagy announced on the radio. "Our troops are fighting. The government is in its place." It was his last speech to the Hungarian people.
Radio signals were broadcast all over the world pleading to "HELP HUNGARY!" The Eisenhower Administration, holding to the containment policy, did not intervene.
Many Soviet soldiers were told nothing about their mission. Some thought that they were in East Germany, or even the Suez Canal Zone. Only when they came in contact with the Hungarians did they know they were crushing a revolt against Communism. Once this happened, they lost intensity. Their intensity was "restored" when the Soviet generals ordered the executions of soldiers who did not carry out orders. A tank driver who took a detour to avoid driving over women and children blocking the street was murdered on the spot.
The Soviets captured the airports and major buildings, quickly installing their new government. The insurgents were determined to rid their country of Communism. Women, children and the elderly fought the Communists. The Hungarian people of 1956 proved themselves to be some of the most courageous the world has ever seen. Their "failure" is no more a failure than America's efforts in Vietnam. It was all part of the long struggle to victory in the Cold War. The Hungarian resistance never ended until 1989.
Over 20,000 Hungarians died and 200,000 rebels fled to the West. Those who could not escape were arrested and executed. Nagy fled to the Yugoslav Embassy where he was offered protection, but he was on a bus that was taken over by Soviets. Janos Kadar, Nagy's party secretary, replaced him as premier. No free elections or economic reforms were made. In 1958, Nagy was secretly tried and executed. The U.S.S.R sent natural resources into the country to keep the people "happy."
"We shall shut their mouths with goulash," Khruschev said.
Fall-out of the East German uprising in Poland and beyond
The East German workers' strikes were the first real chink in the Communist armor. The Hungarian Revolution was one of the most vociferous efforts at resisting it. The Communists needed scapegoats. Western agents were a favorite target. Open dialogue with the West was shut down. A period of isolated secrecy cloaked the 1950s. Walter Ulbricht emerged as the man in charge of East Germany, and subsequent "runaway socialists" taught Moscow that only trusted hardliners should be placed at the top of their satellite governments.
After Stalin's death, the West hoped for some thawing in the relationship, but there was little if any. The Soviets may have wanted to open dialogue, but they had too many "secrets" to contend with. They were dealing with open rebellions, and the public airing of Stalin's tyranny created a closed, "keep it in the family" mindset.
Germany's division was not intended to be permanent, because the Soviets at first deluded themselves into thinking the West would tire of defending West Berlin. Berliners wanted reunification, but only absorption of the east into the west, not the other way around. In 1953, Eisenhower suggested a possible détente. Winston Churchill followed up with a speech to the British House of Commons requesting a summit conference between the four great powers, "To resolve all matters of dispute between East and West."
On March 10, 1952, the Soviet Union had offered to discuss German reunification and rearmament, but the U.S. rejected it. When the West made offers, the Soviets and East Germans said no. Shifts in Soviet leadership had created paranoia in their relations outside the bloc. The West was accused of "warmongering" and sabotaging the GDR. There is some truth to this, since the CIA was actively working against the Communists night and day.
"In its capacity as the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist party the Politburo made its findings known in an official announcement, drew attention to the errors committed in the past year and recommended to the government a number of measures designed to correct those errors," was the official Communist statement. "…And at that very moment the Western agencies decided to mount their D-day in order to frustrate this initiative for improving living conditions in the German Democratic Republic."
The Allies wrote to their East Berlin counterpart, "You and the rest of the world are well aware of the true causes of the disorders which have recently occurred in East Berlin, and it is…unnecessary to tell you that the three powers in West Berlin had no responsibility whatever for instigating them." Eisenhower, in his July 23 letter to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, declared that the actions of the East German leaders showed, "The political bankruptcy of the SED," while the Secretary of State declared the uprising, "Demonstrates that the people…want to run their own affairs and not be run from Moscow."
Ulbricht was compromised in the post-Stalin period since he was seen as part of the "hard line errors" of the past. In looking back at the 1950s, it is now possible to see that what was considered "hard line," or "secretive," was really an examination of what was obviously a failed system, and the desperate attempt to maintain it. Communism might not succeed, but the men in power did not for a second want to lose their power base.
Ulbricht defied both the Kremlin and his enemies by continuing the hard line as long as possible, claiming the East German economy was being destroyed by, "Sabotage, arson, and theft of documents." He faced a threat from Franz Dahlem. Two SED leaders rivaled Ulbricht, too. Minister of State Security Wilhelm Zaisser, and Rudolf Herrnstadt, editor-in-chief of Das Neue Deutschland, the official Communist newspaper of East Germany, both favored a new line and were close to Moscow, particularly the notorious Lavrenti Beria, Stalin's right-hand man.
"The majority of the Politburo sympathized with Zaisser and Herrnstadt," said Erich Honecker, who supported Ulbricht openly.
Ulbricht's survival is indicative of how difficult reform was to achieve in the Communist world. Realpolitik always took a backseat to survival, but when the rubber hit the road, sometimes politicians in this "Alice in Wonderland" world did the craziest things.
When East Berlin construction workers demonstrated at a time when the Politburo was meeting, it was reported that there were workers outside demanding the new quotas be revoked. A few hours later they agreed to take that action.
"The party is abandoning an admittedly mistaken road and taking the right one," Ulbricht said. Moscow did not like insubordination, which Ulbricht showed in his prior actions. Beria's post-Stalinist removal gave Ulbricht the "out" he needed, and kept his nose above water in his rivalry with Zaisser and Herrnstadt. In the "up is down, down is up" world of Communism in the days after Stalin, Moscow could rehabilitate and discriminate almost on a moment's notice. Shortly after the uprising, Zaisser and Herrnstadt suddenly were "Beria people." The death of a tyrant was their bad luck.
"The workers' revolt did not overthrow Ulbricht - it saved him," said Carola Ahern. "They had good reasons for doing this. His ouster was one of the workers' major demands, but after initial wavering the Kremlin decided that to surrender to this demand would involve great loss of face and might be interpreted as a concession made from weakness, leading in turn to new disturbances with even more far-reaching demands. The Soviet leaders imposed certain conditions together with their decision, of course: Ulbricht was to engage in 'self-criticism' of his previous conduct and he was to support the New Course wholeheartedly. Ulbricht was in no position to continue his resistance to the New Course after what had happened in the preceding weeks. He had learned only too well -from the revolt and from the fate of Beria - what was at stake."
"Ulbricht did not survive in spite of the weakness revealed by his government on June 17," said Baring. "He survived because of that weakness, because Moscow could not afford to take the risk of having him replaced. Instead of bringing about his downfall the protesting workers and conspiratorial SED functionaries unwittingly contrived to prevent it."
Ulbricht held power until 1971. He had the complete support of Moscow. Erich Honecker, who led East Germany until 1989, was his handpicked successor. If any lesson can be gleaned from the uprising in East Germany and other satellites, it is that it solidified Moscow on the concept of putting people they could easily predict in positions of power, and keep them there a long time. Not exactly a party of term limits.
Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, and Poland all picked up on the East German rebellion, and all felt the crackdown. Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha attended a meeting with the Presidium of the Soviet Communist Party and determined that there was unity, with Malenkov and Beria trying to establish a dominant position. Molotov held his peace. Mikoyan shouted. Bulganin swore. Each of these men found himself picked off in the struggle to succeed Uncle Joe.
When Lavrenti Beria was executed, it could have been a major moment in Soviet history, but the demise of the "monsters" was not an honest attempt at reform. Instead, it was nothing more than scapegoating in a society that needed a lot of scapegoating. Real reform went down the drain. Some scholars argue that Beria's "mistake" was arguing for a new understanding with America. The ascension of the greatest military leader in history to President of the U.S. made the Soviets feel very uneasy. It was threatening to them. In retrospect, Ike was a moderate who was less likely to use military force than most and was very happy to hold the Kennan containment line. But in "talking tough," which was a requirement of the conservative wing of the G.O.P., Ike had the Soviets scrambling. The Communists attacked at Dien Bien-phu the next year, which could have been a calculation on their part to test Eisenhower in a place that seemed relatively "safe."
In this atmosphere, the Soviets were dealing with their own "blacklist." The SED claimed to have a Russian memorandum showing Beria had carried "his desire for compromise to such lengths that his policies might have led to the abolition of East German socialism." These charges were reported in 1965. In 1991 it was determined that Beria, and possibly Molotov and Malenkov, had been "ready to virtually concede East Germany to the West." Khruschev acknowledged as much.
This is an extraordinary prospect. Is it possible that Beria, a man who rightfully goes down in history with people like Josef Mengele as one of the most evil human beings ever, was willing to "give back" the "hard won" enclave of socialist paradise that was East Germany? Mao, the man Nixon called a "monster" in 1950, opened China. Global politics makes for some strange bedfellows. It is also ironic that Kruschev, who emerged as the Politburo's hard-liner, later was purged for not being hard-line enough against the "boy Kennedy." The one thing that was a constant in Moscow was a hard-line Politburo.
The East and West just ended up digging in. It is probably a little unrealistic to believe they ever would have given up Communism in East Germany. Even if they had, Vietnam and the "space race" would have kept the Cold War going. East Germany was, in the end, too important. It was a symbol of the conquering Red Army, and contained all those smart, productive Germans (as opposed to the various Slavs that made up much of the bloc). The fact is, the Soviets had their own "domino theory" to worry about. East German independence would have fed a hunger for freedom that not only would have fueled the rest of the Warsaw Pact, but might have lit the American fire enough to get beyond Kennan's edict.
"America immediately placed her bets on Germany and made efforts to unite it, and if she had succeeded, a victorious Germany would have been created…10 times worse than it is now," former Polish Deputy Premier Jakub Berman remembered his party's opinion at the time. East Germany's Communist rulers were the most adamant against reunification, which is telling.
All politics aside, Beria had enemies, which happens when you kill a lot of people and spread terror for years. His demise without Stalin was inevitable. The shakeups in Hungary were the next crisis. When the Soviets invited a Hungarian delegation to Moscow, Jozsef Revai was not asked to attend. He was not a major player in Hungary, but his absence made it plain that Moscow was asserting its total control. Beria had welcomed Mátyás Rákosi, the President, secretary-general, and "wise father" of Hungary, by asking him, "Well, now, are you still around? Are you still the head of the Hungarian government?"
The Soviets informed Rákosi their economy was collapsing, which is indicative of central planning. Budapest apparently only could know what was going on in Budapest by being informed by Moscow. Industrialization was too rapid and collectivization of agriculture was to blame, they were told. Hungarians were "committing crimes against socialist law," ironically by following the Moscow line. The Politburo fired Rákosi, Revai, Mihaly Farkas, and Ernö Gerö, although Rákosi kept the title of General-Secretary (but not President). Economic Minister Gerö remained a party leader with no office. Nagy replaced Rákosi. Agricultural collectivization was a disaster. Nothing had been learned from past mistakes. Five-year plans just led to more five-year plans.
Nagy's attempted reforms were the genesis of the 1956 uprising and Soviet military intervention. East Germany was the "lesson" that led to action against Rákosi.
"The Soviet leaders could not believe the official explanation that these [East German] events were set in motion by 'provocateurs in the pay of the imperialists'," Meray states. "They must have been fully aware of the fact that the discontent of the masses…was the result of their own policies." Adam Ulam argued that Rákosi had to resign because the Soviets "insisted on the local Stalins being brought down a notch and on at least the appearance of collective leadership."
The Soviets wanted to avoid the "East German mistake" by making necessary changes in Hungary and elsewhere. The theory behind their largesse was to avoid repeated revolutions in other countries. They were partly successful. Czechoslovakia's uprising was in part the result of the East German strike, years in the making. Hoxha, Polish leader Edward Ochab, and Romania's Nicolae Ceauçescu all gave lip service to Moscow.
Czechoslovakia had a reasonable standard, as far as Communist countries go. Hard-liner Antonin Novotn was still in power as recently as 1967, with a statue of Stalin prominently displayed in Prague. Alexander Dubcek replaced him. Dubcek was the man who believed in "Socialism with a human face." He was vague, but by his time vagueness was the best the people could hope for.
Romania was the country most directly governed by Moscow, and therefore they were not as effected by the East German situation.
"There is no greater crime against the workers than that committed by Nagy and his accomplices…at the time when the Hungarian people had to stand the great trial of a counter-revolutionary rebellion," was the official Romanian line regarding Hungary, during the time of Nagy's trial.
Romania's Gheorghe Dej was not of an independent mind, but he was somewhat unpredictable.
"A chameleon," Enver Hoxha said of him. In the 1950s, Moscow was unpredictable, and therefore so was Dej. Nicolae Ceauçescu, who would go down with the wall and be a symbol of hated Communism, was actually an individual. He replaced Dej when he died in 1964, declaring "the international policy of our country is based on…the principles of…non-interference in internal affairs." He criticized the "Prague Spring" four years later.
"Since when have the principles of socialist Democracy, of socialist humanism, the perfecting of socialist relations…become a counter-revolutionary threat?" he asked. Ceauçescu's "independent streak" was actually just what Moscow needed, since it proffered the fiction to the Romanian people that they had a leader who did not toe the line. In 1953, however, the country was a mere puppet regime.
Albania was a tiny, isolated Stalinist country. Albanian leader Enver Hoxha made little reference to the East German situation in his memoirs. They broke with Yugoslavians, the Russians, and the Chinese, all because they were too moderate. Hoxha had respect only for Wilhelm Pieck. Of Ulbricht he said, "He was a haughty, stiff-necked German, not only with small parties like ours, but also with the others…However, while he received great aid…he was never ready to help others."
Hoxha ruled Albania with a steel hand. Ceauçescu would eventually use him as his model in Romania when trouble appeared on the horizon. Hoxha urged putting down Hungarian agitators four months before the situation came to a head in 1956. Hoxha opposed any reforms that came about because of East Germany or Hungary. He pulled his country from the Warsaw Pact in 1961, committed to Stalinism.
Bulgaria was staunchly loyal to the Soviets. Vulko Chervenkov and later Todor Zhivkov were Moscow's faithful servants. Zhivkov was named their leader in 1961 on the strength of his personal relationship with Kruschev. He ran Bulgaria for over 20 years.
He was "a worthless person, a third-rate cadre, but one willing to do whatever Khruschev, his ambassador, or the KGB would say," Hoxha said of him. Bulgaria, however, had little effect on much of anything. Ceauçescu never refereed to Zhivkov in his writings. Ulam's book does not mention any Bulgarian leaders, including Zhivkov. East Germany had no bearing on Bulgaria's place in the Soviet sphere.
Leaders in the Polish Communist Party were concerned about their economy.
"We had no guarantees [the imperialists] would not leap down our throats at any moment…" former First Secretary Edward Ochab explained. "The ones who organized the 1953 putsch in the GDR, for example. That's why, for all our poverty, we had to spend considerable amounts on national defense. We tried to explain to our allies that our situation at home was dangerous, but we did not always, or fully, succeed in cutting military spending. That was why even wage increases were not always sufficient."
Deputy Premier Berman estimated "around 15 per cent" of the national revenue went to the military. Poland dealt with strikes similar to East Germany. "In its passion for rapid industrialization-second only to that for power for the Communists - the Polish regime…placed heavy burdens on the working class: [including] The constant raising of work norms." Major strikes were common in Poland during Communism. The national character in this country yearns for freedom and independence. They were willing to strike any deal for it during the days of Napoleon, and sent their most beautiful maiden to his bedroom in an effort to secure it sexually.
In 1956 at Poznan, several protesters died when the Polish military fired on them. Ochab refused to blame the Poznan strike on the West, which was what Moscow had told him to say.
"I told them there was no proof, and that I could not make a claim of that kind at the Central Committee Plenum," he said. Polish leadership played a difficult game. They needed the U.S.S.R. to "legitimate" them, but as Jakub Berman said, "The Soviet delegation will always get its own way…Maybe they did not lord it over us as blatantly as they did elsewhere because we were more familiar with their little tricks, but we still preferred not to shoulder all the blame…"
In adhering to Moscow, Poles felt their government was weak, but in the atmosphere of the times, the alternative was anarchy. There is no evidence that the Americans were going to foment and finish any Polish revolutions. Party leaders were subject to miscalculation. After Poznan, strikes ensued in 1970, 1976, and 1980, all shadowed by the East German strike of 1953.
"December 1970, and in a much more massive way August 1980, witnessed revolutions in the classical Marxist sense…" Ulam wrote, "the only comparable action in recent time, and on a much smaller scale, had been the uprising of the East German workers in June 1953."
Poland faced recession in the 1950s, causing tensions over their contribution to the other Bloc nations. In 1956 a Warsaw Pact economic meeting was held. Hoxha recalled Ochab refusing to accept raising quotas in the Polish coal industry unless further investment in Poland was made. Arguments ensued. The nine East European countries, from Moscow to Tirana, were affected by the 1953 uprising, which created instability with a lasting effect. In the mean time, the Central Intelligence Agency was stirring up trouble every chance they could, God bless 'em. The East German strikers had demanded "free elections…free government…and a freely negotiated peace with [West Germany]." They finally got their wish 36 years later.
The "church of America": The CIA's covert actions in Guatemala, 1954
Oh, the Central Intelligence Committee. The statement "you either love 'em or hate 'em" is often used in describing their role in the life of America, America's enemies, and the world. To some, they were Ivy League supermen, willing America's greatness on the rest of the Earth, foiling those nasty Communists at every turn. To others, they were bigoted right wing zealots sticking their big snout where it did belong and was definitely not welcome. Some say they are a bunch of old white guys who let America down when she needed them the most on 9/11. Or they were demonic supremacists, desperate to stay relevant and willing to paint a portrait of enemies that only they could fight. Bad intel. Unsavory characters. Too secretive. Not reliable. Too insulated. Patriotic. Sanctioned by God. Take your pick.
The CIA, like America, is often a "bull in a China shop"; clumsy, too big, too obvious, unwanted, unneeded, and absolutely necessary. Like America, The Company reflects the basic premise of American foreign policy, which is engagement. There are many in the intelligence community who love to be engaged. Teddy Roosevelt talked about being in "the arena." While this statement referred to elected public figures, it also applied to U.S. foreign policy. He decided we should "walk softly and carry a big stick."
Over time, Roosevelt's "big stick" policies resulted in an America that became all-powerful. With that power came responsibilities. Many criticize America for our covert wars, black ops, propping up dictators, teaching the art of torture, sanctioning mass killing, subverting Democracy, and all the other things we do. Fine, criticize away. There is much to criticize. The rumors are true. The worst you do not even know about. But all of these underground adventures are not engaged in because somebody at Langley watched too many James Bond movies. The fact is, the responsibility is ours. There is a God and there is a Satan, and they are at war. It happens every day, 24/7. It would be nice if somebody else could handle our responsibility. Great Britain's MI6 does a fine job. So does Israel's Mossad. But in this world, that is not so much dangerous as it is evil, nobody else is capable of dealing with all the forces of chaos arrayed against goodness and order. It requires getting our hands dirty, "dealing with the devil," and sometimes propping up dictators.
From the safety of a Capitol Hill hearing room, the editorial suites of the New York Times, or the cafes of Paris, it is easy to criticize, hate and blame. To cry for the innocent victims of American over-indulgence. In "A Few Good Men", Jack Nicholson as Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jessup says, "We live in a world that has walls, son. Whose gonna guard those walls, you?…Deep down in places you don't want to talk about at parties, you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!
"…You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, which is that…death, while tragic, probably saved lives, and that my appearance here, while grotesque, saves lives! We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something…
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who sleeps under the very blanket of freedom that I provide, then criticizes the way I provide it…"
It is completely instructive to note that in the perfect world of director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Aaron ("The West Wing") Sorkin, before the audience can say, "Right on, Jack," Tom Cruise immediately exposes his character as a criminal. Reiner and Sorkin make a valid point in "A Few Good Men", the same point that Plato made in "The Republic" when he talked about tempering the warrior spirit with civilian caution. There is no doubt that there are Marine officers who sacrifice enlisted men in order to advance their careers. The point is that it does not happen much and is overshadowed by the sacrifice, honesty and sheer integrity of all the unsung heroes that they choose not to portray. Scandals and screw-ups are sexy.
The CIA was flying high in the 1950s. A new agency, they were born out of the swashbuckling OSS run during World War II by "Wild Bill" Donovan. These were the real "best and brightest." Most were recruited right out of Yale's "Skull 'n' bones," Harvard's frat row, or Wall Street's elite law firms. Young men, white, not just WASP in the traditional sense but believing Christians, wearing tweed sweaters, smoking pipes, readers of Nietzsche and Shakespeare.
These guys had broken the codes that beat Hitler and Tojo. Now they were in a full-scale jihad against international Communism. While the gulags were rumors to some, not believed by others, unimportant to most, these were the people who interviewed the survivors, the defectors and the true believers of Communism and anti-Communism. They knew about the death camps, the forced marches, the torture chambers. They knew these people were out to win. The CIA was the last line of defense, at least in their minds.
One of the early and successful CIA-orchestrated operations occurred in 1954. The Company overthrew Guatemalan ruler Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. This act is still viewed by America's detractors to explain why the U.S. goes too far. It caused unrest in Latin America and much hatred towards America, a country said to prop up "Banana Republics," that did little more than make it possible for U.S. business interests in the region. There is truth to this premise, but the flip side deserves its due, too. Communism was spreading. Wherever it spread, death, destruction, horror descended upon the people enveloped by it. Its greatest export was refugees. In trying to prevent it, topple it or undermine it, the CIA was not just making the road safer for capitalism (which, by the way, is a perfectly noble goal), but also improving the lives of ordinary people. Sometimes these operations went very smoothly, and other times they did not. Sometimes errors in the plan were identified and used by opponents for political purposes, years after the fact. The critics, for the most part, are those timid souls and countries that have stood on the sidelines of history, accepting a fatherly role when things turn out just right, and orphaning the inevitable failures, screw-ups and botches.
The overthrow of the Arbenz regime led to Civil War in Guatemala, a war that lasted 36 years and created more than 100,000 casualties and 1 million refugees. Many mistakes were made in Guatemala, but the CIA still used it as a "text book" example of how to run future operations. Critics point to Cuba a few years later as a repeat of errors, although the Cuba case is significantly different. The CIA believed that the Soviets were using the Democratically elected government of Guatemala to establish Communism in the Americas. Subsequent intelligence indicates that this may not have been the case, which does not mean it was not the case. However, the Left seized upon "evidence" that the Soviets were not fomenting Marxism-Leninism in Latin America and accepted it. Considering what their goals were, it was not unreasonable to assume they were, and in fact they may have been. The archives revealed much, but not everything. Much of the Cold War is likely to remain murky forever. Regardless of whether the CIA had "noble" intentions or not, the political reality of Guatemala was semi-disastrous. The overthrow of Arbenz resulted in worldwide political condemnation, and the damage to the U.S. in the region has had a lasting effect. All of this is for public consumption. Behind closed doors, America's strong stance against Communistas caused many a Latin American political and business leader to breathe a sigh of relief and say to Americans at cocktail parties, "By the way, I can't be quoted saying in the newspaper, but we appreciate what you did." The Alger Hiss-built United Nations howled in shocked indignation that the U.S. would try to remove an ideology responsible for more deaths than Hitler.
The battleground of the Cold War in the late 1940s, 1950s and beyond was the Third World. This was the undeveloped middle territory that was neither Communist nor Democratic. If it was Democratic it was so corrupt that it perverted the Jeffersonian ideals of Democracy. The Third World could be found in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and on native-populated islands. The people were brown-skinned, black, or some other variation thereof. They were never white, as in Western or Eastern Europe. The Third World was the perfect place to exploit. The Communists had all the cards. They could argue that the native people had been exploited and were the victims of racism. Colonialism had left ugly wounds, and the charges did not lack truth. Huge numbers of people lived in the Third World. They represented potential armies. Many natural resources were prizes of the Third World. Leaders in this part of the world tended to be corrupt to the gills and backed by Western business interests.
On March 12, 1947, President Truman told Congress "…that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." In August, 1949, the U.S.S.R. became a nuclear superpower and China was "lost." The U.S.S.R. backed the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean Army in 1950. Many thought war was inevitable with the Soviets. Considering this danger, revisionists who look back at this period and excoriate efforts to prepare for war, root out spies, create allies and gain an edge must be considered sophists at best.
In 1944, Guatemalans overthrew dictatorship. Jacobo Arbenz was a military hero in the Guatemalan Revolution. In 1949, he helped put down a rebellion led by Major Francisco Arana. In 1950 he detained Arana's protégé, Castillo Armas, for his role in a coup attempt. Armas used bribes (possibly paid by The Company) to get out of prison and fled for Honduras. In 1950, Guatemalan elected Arbenz.
The CIA then began planning Operation PBSUCCESS, a paramilitary and psychological campaign designed to overthrow the popular, elected Arbenz and replace him with the exiled Armas.
The results were disastrous. A peace treaty establishing a constitutional Democratic Republic was not ratified by the government until 1996. In the years in between, Guatemala suffered countless dictators and casualties. Armas was assassinated in 1957, after reversing many of Arbenz' progressive reforms implemented to help the people. After Armas, chaos reigned until the legislature appointed General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes president in 1958. Two years later, Fuentes faced rebellion when Fidel Castro tried to export his revolution to the rest of Latin America. The rebellion was put down and the fighters escaped into the mountains. They created the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR). Fuentes was kicked out in 1963, replaced by General Enrique Peralta Azurdia, who held the presidency for three years. Azurdia reigned over a when a terror group waged war against the FAR guerillas.
A puppet civilian government "ran" Guatemala from 1966 to 1970, but the military continued to prosecute their "dirty war" against FAR. The military controlled Guatemala from 1970 to 1982, while the FAR and PGT (Communist Party) coalesced into the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG). In 1982, a military coup installed General Efraín Ríos Montt as leader of the country. Montt offered amnesty to the URNG. URNG refused it and launched an intense campaign, ratcheting up the civil war, with disastrous consequences. The indigenous people were forced into labor in support of the military campaign. In the process more than 400 indigenous villages were destroyed.
Montt lasted until his military ouster in 1983. In 1985, civilian leadership (again "allowed" by the military) took over in Guatemala. Civil war did not end, and the military's terror campaign continued. In 1990, the U.S. cut off most of their military aid to Guatemala. Jorge Serrano Elías became president in 1991. He seized dictatorial control in May of 1993, but was forced to resign. In 1996, the government and the rebels signed a peace treaty ending the civil war. Now, there is a stable Democracy in Guatemala.
CIA Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell was the mastermind of the original Guatemala operation. He felt that it was a success when outlined against the larger battle with global Communism, and used it as a model for Cuba. The many mistakes in Guatemala were viewed from the short range, not the long view. In this respect, it might be considered a Pyrrhic Victory. On the other hand, despite the suffering, wars and torture in Guatemala, it is fair to ask what would have happened had the U.S. simply stayed out. A comparison with Cuba helps answer that question. Cuba under Castro has for 44 years been an "orderly" society, a country without civil war. Despite this, more people have died in Cuba. More people were tortured in Cuba. More people were imprisoned in Cuba. Today, Democracy is in place in Guatemala, and Cuba continues to torture and imprison another generation of political prisoners. In other words, the worst possible "anti-Communist" country is still better than a "model" Communist one.
The question is not whether the worst of something else is better than Communism. That is not a valid question. The question in Guatemala is whether the fear of it becoming a Communist puppet regime was real, and therefore whether the CIA's drastic actions were warranted. The bottom line argument behind so many individual "excesses" is whether Communism was the real threat. If it was, then anything to combat it is justified, and nobody else was equipped to do it. All the other nations could stand on the sidelines and keep their hands clean while the U.S. was rolling in the mud with one helluva an alligator.
"The language, arguments, and techniques of the Arbenz episode were used in Cuba in the early 1960s, in Brazil in 1964, in the Dominican Republic in 1965, and in Chile in 1973," said Marlise Simons. Years later, the CIA recognized flaws in the Guatemala model. A 1992 classified report published an in-depth look PBSUCCESS.
In Cuba, civilian uprisings twice counted on to overthrow Castro. Bissell expected the amphibious landings of Brigade 2506 to inspire them, followed by mass defections, combined with paramilitary support to the exile brigade and a follow-up force to topple Fidel. It was Bissell's understanding that this had been the model for Guatemalan "success." He therefore incorporated it into the permanent Company "playbook."
Later CIA reports showed, however, that while recruits joined the rebels, they did so only where they were not in danger of meeting military resistance. Once combat started, recruits were loath to put their lives on the line. This is an important lesson that to this very day is not understood well, and possibly never will be.
The United States itself was a country formed by rebellion, and thus revolutionaries had willingly put their lives in danger en masse to further an ideal. In the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops did the same thing. Two world wars had created a romanticized "hero," a "freedom fighter" who was willing to die for a "cause." In the Cold War, it was much more complicated than that. The Communists were a dirty, filthy lot. Because of that, American intelligence saw a continuation of the "freedom fighter" mentality. This meant that those fighting for Communism would not have their
heart in it, while those fighting against it would be willing to sacrifice in the noble effort to defeat it.
When put to the test, this theory did not play out down the line. First, Castro's revolutionistas fought hard. In Vietnam it was the Communists who were committed and the South Vietnamese who seemed not to have their hearts in it.
Exile forces in Guatemala had high desertion rates in combat, but Bissell's disregard of this factor played itself out again at the Bay of Pigs. The CIA was unable to maintain secrecy in the Bay of Pigs, a major public relations blow. Castro owes his early credibility to this. Castro had spies who reported to him on the training of anti-Castro exiles in Guatemala in the Fall of 1960. The New York Times, God bless 'em, ran a front-page story proclaiming "Anti-Castro Units Trained to fight at Florida Bases" a few days before the Bay of Pigs. Bissell, however, was not disturbed by the Times' exposure. In Guatemala, similar exposes had occurred. Bissell felt these stories worked in his favor by creating confusion and misinformation, since the stories were more often than not planted or incomplete. As part of PBSUCCESS, a double agent, for instance, gave details to Jacobo Arbenz. When Arbenz went to the press, Guatemalans thought it was planted to make Arbenz' reputation look like a sympathetic, besieged character.
The root of Operation PBSUCCESS was the CIA's belief that the Soviets were using the Democratically elected government of Guatemala as a Communist front.
The Guatemalan Communist party, Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo (PGT), had less than 4,000 members and less than 200 active members in a country of nearly 3 million. PGT members held only four of the 61 seats in the Guatemalan congress. They held no more than six or seven sub-cabinet positions, heading the state's media and social security administration. They held no major military positions. Although the PGT held no positions in Arbenz' cabinet, Arbenz was close personal friends with a number of the PGT's founding members.
The CIA believed the PGT had a conjunctive relationship with the U.S.S.R. The land reforms enacted by Arbenz were, in their view, influenced by the PGT. It is taken as a matter of faith now that the PGT did not have such influence, and land reform was merely a populist political ploy. There is a "clean break from Communism" aspect to this concept that really does not hold water. The CIA had infiltrated Guatemala, the government as well as the peasants, the military and the opposition. If after all the "humintel" that resulted in this infiltration they were proven wrong, it shows several possibilities. One is overenthusiastic hubris on the part of The Company (very possible). Another is that the Communists fooled them to make them look bad (not a likely scenario and certainly not one that resulted in the prescriptions the Communists wanted). The reality is probably somewhere in between, with resulting events not being predicted ahead of time, in part because the commitment Bissell thought the "freedom fighters" had could not be counted on.
The land reforms Arbenz implemented have been characterized as similar what the U.S. sponsored in Japan and Formosa after World War II. Subsequent PGT documents showed no evidence that the PGT were influenced by the Soviets.
CIA historian Nick Cullather wrote in the CIA's report on PBSUCCESS in 1992, "The overthrown Arbenz government was not, many contend, a Communist regime but a reformist government that offered perhaps the last chance for progressive, Democratic change in the region." Piero Gleijeses, professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies at The School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University and author of "Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States", wrote, "The Guatemalan revolution - Jacobo Arbenz above all, with his Communist friends - challenged this culture of fear. In 18 months, from January 1953 to June 1954, 500,000 people (one-sixth of Guatemala's population) received the land they desperately needed. For the first time in the history of Guatemala, the Indians were offered land rather than being robbed of it. The culture of fear loosened its grip over the great masses of the Guatemala people. In a not unreachable future, it might have faded away, a distant nightmare."
All of this might be true, but in 1954 the CIA did not think Arbenz was a populist land reformer. They thought he was a Communist. Certainly America did not intend to do harm. This is such a key point that it cannot be overestimated. The U.S. does not intend to do harm. The harm it inadvertently does cause is tragic, is condemned, and is exposed for the entire world to see. The covert operation in Guatemala was not kept secret, and much enduring resentment manifested itself throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
"The Guatemala intervention shaped the attitudes and stratagems of an older generation of radicals, for whom this experience signaled the necessity of armed struggle and an end to illusions about peaceful, legal, and reformist methods," wrote historian James Dunkerly. Newspapers in Britain and Germany attacked America's "modern forms of economic colonialism."
The U.N. Secretary General said the U.S. had operated against their charter. The CIA's Guatemalan campaign may have spurred Castro from borderline Communism to complete partnership with Kruschev. The air bombings preceding the Bay of Pigs preceded Castro's announcement that Cuba was a Communist state on April 16, 1961. He signed a military treaty with the Soviet Union in 1962 and accepted Soviet SA-2 missiles. Was Guatemala (and Cuba) a self-fulfilling prophecy, the result of paranoia in Langley? Many think it was. I think to believe that is delusional.
On June 29, 1940, Congress passed the Alien Registration Act, making it illegal for anyone in the U. S. to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government. The law prescribed that alien residents file a comprehensive statement of their personal and occupational status and a record of their political beliefs. 4,741,971 aliens registered in four months.
The Act's objective was to expose Communists and Left wing political groups. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was set up by Congress under Martin Dies in 1938 to investigate unpatriotic behavior. At a time when the world was at war, there was concern that people were trying to overthrow the government.
In 1947 HUAC, chaired by J. Parnell Thomas, began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. HUAC interviewed 41 people who worked in the industry. The original witnesses attended voluntarily as "friendly witnesses," and in the course of their testimony, 19 Communists were named.
Bertolt Brecht, an emigrant playwright, testified before departing for East Germany. Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson and Alvah Bessie refused to answer questions.
Known as the Hollywood 10, they claimed that under the First Amendment they were not required to answer these questions. The courts disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress, sentenced to between six and 12 months in prison.
Actor Larry Parks, who was not a star but was recognizable to the public, named 19 people. Parks gave evidence to HUAC, admitted that he had joined the Communist Party in 1941, leaving it in 1945. When asked for the names of other members of the Communist Party, Parks said, "I would prefer, if you would allow me, not to mention other people's names. Don't present me with the choice of either being in contempt of this Committee and going to jail or forcing me to really crawl through the mud to be an informer."
HUAC pressed Parks, and he gave the names of Communists. When this became public, Leo Townsend, Isobel Lennart, Roy Huggins, Richard Collins, Lee J. Cobb, Budd Schulberg and Elia Kazan revealed the names of people they knew to be Communists or members of Left wing groups suspected of being fronts for Communist or Soviet spy rings.
In 1950, three former FBI agents and Vincent Harnett, a television producer who did not like the rampant Communism he saw in his industry, published Red Channels. This listed 151 writers, directors and performers who they claimed had been members of subversive organizations before World War II but had escaped detection so far. The names had been compiled from FBI files, analysis of the Daily Worker, the Communist newspaper, and information culled from the American Communist Party.
Red Channels was widely read in the entertainment industry. American citizens did not want to spend money seeing movies starring, directed by, or written by Communists, any more than they would want to support the work of Nazis. The studios, recognizing the free market of public opinion, decided to identify and expose Hollywood's Communists. Those who were Communists did not want this fact to be known. A Communist could escape harsh treatment by appearing before HUAC and admitting that Communism was bad ("Stalin is not good," not unlike a Nazi saying something like, "I realize now Hitler was bad for Germany."). They were asked to identify other Communists. Those who did not cooperate lost for their jobs for a while.
Edward Dmytryk had been a Communist, one of the original Hollywood 10. Dmytryk decided that he was not a Communist anymore. On April 25, 1951, Dmytryk appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee and identified 26 people he knew to be Communists, or were members of Left wing groups thought to be fronts for Communism.
Dmytryk revealed that John Howard Lawson, Adrian Scott and Albert Maltz, among others, had pressured him to make films that glorified Communism. These facts justified much of the work and original suspicions of HUAC. It put the lie to the defense of most of the original Hollywood 10, who were suing their employers for firing them because of their Communist affiliations. The studios were in a difficult position. The public was aware that these people were Communists, and would boycott movies made by Communists, just as they would likely boycott movies made by child molesters, rapists, or any public figures who rely on their good reputations in the marketplace of expression.
People who refused to identify other Communists were added to a Blacklist drawn up by the Hollywood film studios. Over 320 people on the list did not work for awhile in the entertainment industry. This included Larry Adler, Stella Adler, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Joseph Bromberg, Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Copland, Hanns Eisler, Carl Foreman, John Garfield, Howard Da Silva, Dashiell Hammett, E. Y. Harburg, Lillian Hellman, Burl Ives, Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, Philip Loeb, Joseph Losey, Anne Revere, Pete Seeger, Gale Sondergaard, Louis Untermeyer, Josh White, Clifford Odets, Michael Wilson, Paul Jarrico, Jeff Corey, John Randolph, Canada Lee, Orson Welles, Paul Green, Sidney Kingsley, Paul Robeson, Richard Wright and Abraham Polonsky.
By 1949, after the Berlin Airlift, the formation of Red China, the creation of an Eastern Bloc and international Communist hegemony between Russia and China, and the explosion of the atomic bomb by the Soviets, it was now factually known that Communism was as much an enemy of the United States as Nazism had been a decade earlier. It was also factually known that the Soviets had an active program of espionage and propaganda intended to subvert the security of America. Consequently, it was now decided to use the Alien Registration Act against the American Communist Party. Leaders of the party were arrested and in October, 1949, after a nine-month trial, 11 members were convicted of violating the act. Over the next two years another 46 members were arrested and charged with advocating the overthrow of the government. The heart of the cases was the advocacy, overthrow or disruption of the government or other American institutions. To simply be a Communist was not illegal. To be a Communist who actively worked to hurt the U.S. was a chargeable offense. An easy modern correlation is to say that to be a white racist is not illegal, but to be a white racist who plots the bombing of a black church is illegal.
Other high profile spy cases involving Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg confirmed the fear that Communism was not merely a liberal social philosophy popular among Democrats of the far Left. Rather, a Communist conspiracy was under way. All who denied that this conspiracy was real, then or now, were and are doing the work of America's enemies.
On February 9, 1950, Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy made a speech in which he claimed to have a list of 205 people in the State Department known to be members of the American Communist Party. The term "McCarthyism emanated from this speech. Hollywood has long associated its "victim" status with McCarthy, comveniently forgetting that the House performed the aforementioned work. McCarthy was a Senator, not a member of the House. Communist espionage and subversion was an established fact long before his speech.
The list of names was not a secret. It had been published by the Secretary of State in 1946. These people had been identified as Communists, Fascists, alcoholics and sexual deviants during a preliminary screening of 3,000 Federal employees. Had McCarthy himself been screened, McCarthy's own drinking problems (and possibly sexual preferences) might have resulted in him being put on the list. However, his drinking did not become exacerbated until later, and questions about his sexuality appear to be pure Leftist smear jobs.
McCarthy had been a local political figure in Wisconsin. When World War II broke out, he decided that it would be politically beneficial to have a war record. This was a common practice with a long tradition. Politicians had accepted various commissions, or enlisted, in the military during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Sometimes the commissions were more honorary in nature and ensured that the recipient would not likely see real action. In other cases men put themselves in harm's way and some died. Military commissions were earned in varying manners up until World War II. Often, an officer's commission was awarded Democratically. Units were often made up of men from specific geographical locations. Thus was the case with Harry Truman, who despite no military training or a college degree, was elected by his fellow Missourians to lead his unit in World War I. Truman did so with great distinction.
Lyndon Johnson was politically connected and managed to "join" the Navy. His term of service consisted of little more than the usual Washington politicking and "fact-finding" morale junkets overseas. Johnson even decorated himself. He flew in a plane that briefly passed above a war zone and arranged for the Silver Star to be awarded to him. It has been described as the "least earned" medal in U.S. history. LBJ prominently displayed it throughout his Senate and Presidential tenure as if he was Audie Murphy.
McCarthy joined the Marines and went to the South Pacific. He was a tailgunner. His detractors wrote that he saw little or no real combat. The true story is that he sent reports of his exploits, puffed up and exaggerated, to newspapers in Wisconsin. They dutifully nicknamed him "Tailgunner Joe" and printed the reports with all the embellishments that McCarthy included. The embellishments, however, do not change the fact that he engaged in real combat and was in real danger.
With the war concluded, McCarthy returned to Wisconsin with the imprimatur of Marine war hero, along with the perfect macho nickname. He rode his popularity into the United States Senate. He was not an intellectual, but he was a bright man. McCarthy lacked the great intelligence, worldview and work ethic of another Republican of his era, Dick Nixon. He needed an issue. Anti-Communism suited him, his political convictions and Midwestern constituency perfectly.
McCarthy was a demagogue. What drove him or was in his mind is still a bit of a mystery. He seems not to be a man of great conscience. The fact that he was a Republican has done as much damage to the G.O.P. as anybody the party has ever had within its ranks. He was an alcoholic, although when this problem became acute is in some dispute. He certainly managed to drink himself to death quickly following his demise, but whether he was a genuine, full-blown drunk during all the years he was in the public eye is debatable. There is little real evidence, but some have suggested that McCarthy might have been homosexual or bi-sexual. This charge is based on the fact that two of his top lieutenants, David Schine and Roy Cohn, were supposed to be homosexual lovers. Cohn was gay, but Schine very likely was not. Others have speculated on McCarthy's sexuality because the anti-Communist FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, is reported (with much legitimate dispute) to be homosexual, too.
On the other hand, McCarthy debuted on the stage of anti-Communist politics at a time when Communism was one of the gravest threats this country has ever faced. Because Communism was eventually defeated, for all practical purposes, without fighting World War III, this threat has been downgraded by elements who benefit from downgrading it. But McCarthy had a real issue that indeed did need a leader, and he assumed that mantel. It was willingly handed to him and he was, for a while, extremely popular; seen as a hero. McCarthy is reputed to have "ruined" the lives of many people, but the truth of this statement is blurred by the facts. There is no doubt that Joe McCarthy hurt many Communists, some of whom hated the U.S. The fact that some of these Communists are considered heroes of liberalism is a fact that requires no real commentary beyond what it simply is. McCarthy does not have a long, distinguished record of great humanity, however, and in the end he lacked the reservoir of goodwill that comes with genuine good work, which he would have needed to overcome his critics.
J. Edgar Hoover began feeding McCarthy the names of Communists and suspected Communists.
"We were the ones who made the McCarthy hearings possible," said William Sullivan, one of Hoover's agents. "We fed McCarthy all the material he was using."
In Korea, U.S. troops were taking an early beating. Eastern Europe had all but fallen. China, the most populated country on the planet, had been "lost" by a Democrat administration. After supporting Chiang Kai-shek for so many years, and fighting to liberate their country from brutal Japanese repression, it was inconceivable that our good works and sacrifice had been rewarded with this kind of treachery. Many on the right wanted heads to roll. However, what drove the Red Scare and McCarthyism more than anything was the public. They felt genuine fear of Communism and internal subversion.
America in the early 1950s was not Heaven on Earth. It was a country with a long way to go. The South was roiling in terrible racial segregation, but Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier a few years before. In so doing he had opened the door for another, incredibly talented black player named Willie Mays, whose debut in New York was pending. Descriptions of 1950s America paint the portrait of a culture of unfulfillment. "The Man In the Grey Flannel Suit" starring Gregory Peck depicted a World War II veteran who is unable to find happiness despite achieving the outward American Dream of a wife, family, house and career. Women were expected to stay at home and raise children, which according to the "wisdom" left them yearning to do more. Communications were stilted, real conversations drowned out by the new invention of television. Culture became provincial, and a militaristic jingoism is said to have cast a black-or-white shadow of intolerance over America. Anybody who was "weird," wore their hair long, smoked reefer, enjoyed same sex couplings or expressed a pacifist viewpoint was easily labeled as a "commie." Promiscuous girls were called "sluts," as opposed to "good girls," and the worst part of it was they would get pregnant and go off to have illegal abortions. Family values and Christianity were in, at the "expense" of Judaism and experimentation. Books like "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Tropic of Cancer" were banned from schools by supposedly right wing zealots. A new form of music, rock 'n' roll, immediately had the clergy up in arms. They called it the work of the devil, designed to drive boys wild and, worse still, white girls into the arms of gyrating black men.
This is the Hollywood stereotype of 1950s America. This stereotype, like most stereotypes, was rooted in a certain amount of truth but was far from the entire, accurate picture. The fact is that Americans were very proud of themselves in the 1950s, and they had a right to be. American soldiers had fought bravely, stopping Hitler and Tojo. But there was more to it than that. By the 1950s, the "experiment" had shown itself to be successful. Democracy and the Constitution had survived all challenges. Other forms of government had been tried throughout the world. None of them held a candle to the American model. Monarchies, dictatorships and Fascism had all shown themselves to be no match for American Democracy. Now this "new thing" had come along. Communism. It seemed to hold the interest of a few fuzzy headed intellectuals in Hollywood and New York, but for the average American in the Midwest (or upstate New York, or suburban California, for that matter), it looked awful. The Communists had been our Allies, so we had cut them a break, but they had lied to "Give 'em hell Harry" at Potsdam. Now all of their lies and evil intent had been exposed. They had tried to starve the West Berliners, subjugated Eastern Europe, turned China Red, and attacked across the 38th Parallel in Korea. They had the bomb and they were dangerous sons of guns.
Americans in the post-war years enjoyed unprecedented prestige. Traveling in Europe, they were met by grateful Europeans. Dwight Eisenhower was a hero in every corner of the globe, a man of popularity that cannot be imagined in the modern era, when people think popularity is something attributed to Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Ike was a god to billions. No athlete, rock star or actor has ever approached such star quality.
There was another factor. Americans like capitalism. When Adam Smith was describing the new economics of an agrarian society moving into populated city-centers, capitalism still seemed a little bit experimental, like the political system it was being asked to support. But capitalism had fueled a mind-boggling Westward Expansion. It was the driving force behind utterly insane accomplishments, like the transcontinental railroad, the Industrial Revolution, and the Panama Canal. The astounding sight of not one but two bridges, the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge, that defied prior notions of engineering possibility, met visitors to San Francisco.
Capitalism, more than anything, had survived tests. It had survived, in fact thrived, through a series of wars. Wars in other countries left economies in shambles, created riots, depressions and wholesale revolutions. In America, the engines of commerce were unaffected. Furthermore, capitalism had survived the Great Depression. All the doomsayers had proven to be wrong. Capitalism, it had been said, was antiquated. Socialism and Keynesian economics were the only true safety nets. This frightened Americans, who saw the triumph of capitalism as justification for everything they held near and dear. Now, the system had produced an educated populace, with the finest colleges and universities in the world. The best medical research and the most innovative technological advances were almost exclusively taking place in America. Jet aircraft had been developed. The "sound barrier" had been broken by an American, and now we were talking about going into space, maybe even landing on the Moon. People thought about these concepts and their first reaction was that it was fanciful. Then, they thought about it for a second, and confidently told themselves that if Americans were put in charge of the effort, it was likely to happen, sooner rather than later. They were right.
So it was that Americans felt that this country was a pretty good place to live, to work and to raise a family. The idea that somewhere "out there" was a plot, a conspiracy, of foreigners who thought we had too much, and wanted to take what we worked hard for and spread it around to a mass of unwashed, undeserving peasants, was abhorrent. Americans had saved the world and were the most giving, charitable people on Earth. They would spread it around, but they would do it their way, not out of class envy or because some Communists told them they were bourgeois imperialists, which really frosted Main Street. Imperialists? We had gotten rid of the King. Money did not "get" to the needy in Communism. All of Stalin's collectivist-farm stories were well known by then. The best kind of program was run by the private sector, with the smallest amount of bureaucracy possible.
What McCarthy tapped into, however, went even beyond the fundamental principles of what Americans knew made their system better, or even the threat and the evil deeds of the Communists; their bombs, death camps and political crimes. Foreigners hating America was one thing, but McCarthy was talking about Americans! Red-blooded sons and daughters of America, born and raised in the heartland, recipients of all this great nation has to offer, often more privileged than most. These were people who had access to the information that Communism was evil, and tried to poison America with it anyway. It was the worst kind of treason. It was not even the usual treason. It was a new, insidious kind. Somebody who sells weapons or intelligence to an enemy, or takes up arms against his country, is indeed a traitor, but these Communists presumed to know what was best for us. They were a new form of elite, people who through education and a certain worldview that most of us could not understand, because we were too stupid and unenlightened, needed to be led like sheep to the trough of this liberalism and made to drink from it.
We were racists, of course, and only by subjugating ourselves to this Communist re-education could we purge ourselves of the old thinking. The blacks were told these new people were their "friends." Like characters in George Orwell's "Animal Farm", they only served a purpose because they would be dependent on an endless prescription of what would be doled out to them, piecemeal, by those and only those who knew what they needed. The Communists would tell them whom to worship and who to obey. God was evil, non-existent and little more than a drug for the masses. All things that emanated from Godliness, including respect for parents, family loyalty and traditional patriotism had to be re-taught from an internationalist point of view.
The Communists made two big mistakes in their effort to break into American society. First, it was too close to World War II. The Korean War increased our sensitivity toward the dangers of Communism and totalitarianism. But the biggest obstacle they could never overcome was that Americans are too smart, too well educated, and have too much access to Actual Facts to fall for the line that had pushed revolution in the streets of Europe.
In the beginning, McCarthy had an issue that resonated with millions. He was made chairman of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate, charged with investigating Communist subversion. McCarthy took on this task for two years. He had seen how it had propelled the career of Nixon. The Communist issue was big in the heartland, the Midwest and West, where people tended to be religious and/or ruggedly independent, two traits that do not lead people to Communism. He scored solid support from Joe Kennedy, who despised Jews and was appalled that such a large number of Communists and traitors were Jewish. McCarthy hired Robert F. Kennedy to work for him.
They investigated various government departments and questioned many people about their affiliations. Some lost jobs after admitting they had been Communists. The issue for accused people was clear. People knew that Communism was evil, and to be a Communist was to be, if not evil, part of an evil organization. This meant that Communists had to hide their Communism. Exposure meant that people would judge what they did to be wrong. Communists, like anybody who is involved in bad activity, i.e., child molestation, rape, bigotry, etc., prefer not to be exposed. There were three options for the Communists. One was exposure. It is legal to be a Communist, but the fact that it is bad is known by others, which is not good for Communists in high-profile jobs like the government or the movie industry. The second was to hide, which might work but if exposed, these Communists found themselves in trouble. Either way, folks just did not like those who hated and worked against America. Some people are funny that way.
However, America is a forgiving country. People in the U.S., probably because many have been inculcated with the redemptive message of Christ, tend to forgive the sins of others, but they have to admit the sin and ask for forgiveness. Scorn is heaped upon those whose guilt is known, but they refuse to admit it. This brought up the third option, which was to admit to the fault and come clean. This was what the government wanted, and in pursuing this end they achieved the purpose of exposing espionage and subversion. This was the ultimate aim, since the issue was about national security. The fact that it was also about politics clouds the historical perspective of the issue.
Virtually all the people accused from 1947 until the early '50s were involved with Communism in some form. Not all were "card-carrying Communists," or spies, or "fellow travelers," or "useful idiots," or fit any of the terms used to describe the scourge. Some were just caring people who in the 1930s were concerned about starving peasants in Russia, and went to meetings ostensibly to raise funds for food shipments. Many used aliases. The problem is that this description became the one that everybody used. People forgot names or made mistakes. Innocents were mixed with the guilty. However, an honest assessment of ones' involvement, complete with full cooperation with the committee and a little humility, was all a named individual needed to put it all behind them.
The lie perpetrated by the Left for 50 years is that people who chose not to name others were heroic, loyal, and self-sacrificing. If one was named, they were asked to cooperate and tell the truth. The people who were hurt were Communists who did not tell the truth, and Hollywood has rewarded them by telling a fantasy tale. This fact simply is what it is.
Res ipsa loquiter.
What McCarthy wanted was for Communists to renounce their Left wing views by naming other members of the party. This has been called a "witch hunt" and "anti-Communist hysteria," shortened simply to McCarthyism. At first, McCarthy had many actual Communists to identify. Many were New Deal Democrats. It infuriated Democrats that so many of them were being exposed as Communists, especially by a "yahoo" like McCarthy. McCarthy and the Republicans had a field day showing that many in the other party were un-American. What was required of them, however, was restraint, and the Republicans showed little of it. They had been denied the White House since 1933. The G.O.P. had made some gains in Congress after the war, but overall they were the minority party and were desperate to regain power.
Harry S. Truman was President. Nobody accused him of being a Communist, but China had gone Red on his watch and the feeling was that this occurred because there were subversive factions within his administration. George Marshall and Dean Acheson were accused of being soft on Communism. History has not identified any "smoking guns" on why China was lost. The most consistent answer to this question is that the West miscalculated the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, overlooked the personal faults of Chiang and his "dragon lady" wife, Madame Chang, and gave too much credence to the Nationalist movement in China. Mao's "Long March" had been operating against Chiang for many years, but U.S. officials either dismissed Mao or thought he could be made part of a coalition. In retrospect, the only thing that would have stopped Mao seems to have been a major military commitment, the purpose of which would have been to wipe him out completely. There was not enough political will to do something that drastic in China, a mysterious, forbidding land where Americans had long been made to feel unwelcome. In the post-war era, an anti-colonial movement was afoot. The U.S. had long pressured England to get out of India, and the kind of support Chiang needed in China to prevail would have had all the earmarks of colonial expansionism with an American face.
Nevertheless, the Venona Papers and other documentation revealed that a number of highly placed Roosevelt and Truman Administration Democrats, including but not limited to Alger Hiss, Harry Hopkins, and Harry Dexter White, had manipulated events and perceptions in favor of Mao, during and after World War II.
The U.S. was committed to supporting France in Indochina, which was colonial enough. The decision to do this, and to spurn the entreaties of Ho Chi Minh, lay less in practical politics and much in an effort to let France "save face" after its humiliations under Nazi Occupation. With the 1952 Presidential campaign looming, the Republicans played politics and accused Truman of being dangerously liberal. Truman was in a poor position and the Democrats were on the defensive in 1952. Truman, after firing MacArthur, was so unpopular that he chose not to run. The Republicans were holding all the cards. They ran the great Eisenhower, and swept in with a Congressional mandate.
The lessons of 1952, and other lessons, need to be learned by the G.O.P. It is not entirely clear that they have learned. The Republican party has an amazing ability to shoot itself in the foot. They seem to hate prosperity. Whenever it looks like they have "won" the war, attained their goals, and ascended to the mountaintop, they manage to slip up.
In 1912, they presided over a peaceful America, a modern power with an expanding empire, all orchestrated by Teddy Roosevelt. But Roosevelt himself mucked the works by splitting the party into the Bull Moose ticket, giving Woodrow Wilson the White House. With the pacifist Wilson at the helm, Kaiser's Germany felt it could start a war in France by marching through Belgium, without fear of American intervention.
In 1932, the Republicans had held office for 12 years, but in that time they had become isolationists and their laissez faire economics had proved disastrous. The result was 20 years of Democrat rule. In '52, the party seemed to have everything in place. They had an icon for President, and the brightest young star of the electoral West, Nixon, waiting in the wings. They presided over Congress for the first time in years. Ike orchestrated peace in Korea, and they had the issue of the day, anti-Communism. McCarthy managed to ruin it for them. Despite Eisenhower's attempts to reign him in, McCarthy and his supporters failed to manage the issue with the proper political perspective. The remaining years of Eisenhower's Presidency saw a decline in party support. If they had handled all the issues skillfully, the Republicans could have turned 1952 into the beginnings of a political dynasty lasting into the 1970s. Instead, Congress went back to the Democrats. In 1960 the heir apparent Nixon was seen as a Red-baiter in the McCarthy mold, and managed to "lose" the election. It is extremely unlikely that Vietnam would have gone the way it went under Nixon's leadership from the start.
In 1972, the Republicans seemed to have taken control of the country again, but the clumsy Watergate affair had all the elements of a college football team full of All-Americans managing to lose to a weaker, undermanned squad because of pure arrogance. The Republicans, who always have the better message, always use that message to regain power, and the Reagan Revolution was another example of that. Rarely has a party been better positioned than the G.O.P. was heading into 1992. Reagan had established himself as one of the most popular Presidents in history. The Cold War had been won under his watch. His successor, George H.W. Bush, basked in the glory of the Berlin Wall's collapse and victory in the Persian Gulf. There was a point in the Spring of 1991 when the question of the Democrats' future was very real. Somehow, almost by ironic fate, which is a theme that is returned to over and over again in this book, the G.O.P. managed to blow it in '92.
Now, it is 2004 and the Republicans are poised to take a position of power over and above anything they have ever known. Time after time, the American electorate has tired of Democrats and voted the Republicans back in. Time after time the G.O.P. has failed to close the deal. Now, the Democrats appear to be close to splintering into something other than the traditional party they have always been. The Republicans are riding high, winners of impressive military victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, and de facto winners in the War on Terrorism. They turned the tide of history by winning both houses of Congress for the President's party in the 2002 off-year elections. The all-important economy is on the comeback. 2004 has the potential of seeing the Republicans turn the House and Senate into 60 percent majorities. The President could win by a larger margin than Roosevelt in 1936, Johnson in 1964 or Nixon in 1972. The country, for the first time over half Republican, could become more solidly conservative than ever. As the 21st Century develops, conservatism has a chance to be the ultimate historical champion. The Democrats could find themselves splintering into various small independent parties, making the U.S. a country ruled, for all practical purposes, by the Republicans. A G.O.P. Dynasty, very possibly one "headed" by the Bush family for the next 25 to 30 years, is very likely.
All of this sounds good for Republicans, and as a card-carrying member of the G.O.P. I am not rooting against it. But as a student of history, I urge in the strongest possible terms against arrogance, and to learn from past mistakes. The potential splinter of the Democrats could have a bad effect on America, since the effect of a vigorous loyal opposition is something the Founding Fathers favored. Mexico for instance, under virtual one-party rule (the P.R.I.) throughout the 20th Century, became a corrupt, Third World cesspool.
Of all the lessons the Republicans must heed, the lesson of McCarthyism is the most prevalent. McCarthy has distorted the history of America. If one were to go into any school in America and ask students to describe "McCarthyism," a show of hands and responses would be that, "McCarthy accused a lot of innocent people of being Communists, but they weren't Communists and their lives were ruined."
The great danger of Communism has been swept under the rug. McCarthy was destroyed and the Republicans forced to go into a defensive posture, but worse yet, a dangerous ideology has been allowed to foment. By taking the edge off of American Communism, liberalism was allowed to grow into radical liberalism. In the 1960s and '70s, this way of thinking exploded into a counter-culture of drugs, sex and perversion. Out of this, the pacifist anti-Establishment anarchism of Emma Goldman has taken root. At the heart of this movement is a worldwide distrust and suspicion of America that gives hope to terrorists and despots, and makes it harder for the U.S. to use its enormous power as the last, best hope for a truly peaceful world. Considering where America was after World War II, the effects of McCarthyism cannot be overstated.
McCarthy's opponents in the 1950 elections were soundly beaten, leaving him with the false feeling of invulnerability that is the worst kind of cancer an American politician can have. His actions in the Senate received little criticism.
"Attacking him in this state is regarded as a certain method of committing suicide," the Boston Post pointed out. One exception was Connecticut Senator William Benton, the owner of Encyclopaedia Britannica. McCarthy and his supporters "smeared" Benton, claiming that while Assistant Secretary of State, he had protected known Communists and that he had been responsible for the purchase and display of "lewd art works." Benton was accused of disloyalty because of his company's work printed in England. In 1952 he was defeated.
That year, McCarthy appointed Roy Cohn as the chief counsel to the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate. Cohn came with Hoover's recommendation. Cohn had done impressive work in the prosecution of the Rosenbergs. Cohn brought his best friend, David Schine, on board. Schine became his chief consultant.
McCarthy began making mistakes. Instead of doggedly going after the real subversives; the hardcore Communists and spies, he spread his accusations too wildly about. The result was that he made some non-Communists into sympathetic figures that allowed actual Communists to slip under the cracks. He went after anti-American library and schoolbooks. His researchers looked into the Overseas Library Program and discovered 30,000 books by "Communists, pro-Communists, former Communists and anti anti-Communists." A list was compiled and the books were removed from shelves, a terrible public relations disaster that reminded people of Hitler's book-burning rallies in the 1930s. A fair number of the 30,000 books were Communist propaganda, but they were mixed in with regular works that were just Left wing or irregular. Anything having to do with drugs, deviant sex, homosexuality or non-respectful attitudes towards God, family and country was lumped into the "anti-Communist" corner. Many authors and works that otherwise would have died in obscurity found enthusiastic new audiences because of McCarthy.
Instead of "discovering" 30,000 Communist books, McCarthy should have carefully picked out the real ones, then simply exposed them without banning them. Making them unavailable hurt his cause. Having ordinary people actually read them to understand what Communists were trying to accomplish would have had a much more positive effect. Various "hep cats", beats and others who espoused hypnotic new forms of creative behavior were gaining popularity. The accusers were starting to come off as staid, buttoned-up and uptight. It seemed incongruous to many that the new age modernists, jazz aficionados and rock 'n' rollers, were aligned with such distinctly uncool characters as Stalin.
McCarthy also tried to make the connection between homosexuality and Communism. While homosexuals have always gravitated to the liberal wing of the Democrat party, they were no more welcome in Stalinist Russia than they had been in Hitler's Germany. It was virtually common knowledge that Cohn was gay. Schine was described as his lover. He may very well have not been. Hoover's detractors have painted him as a gay cross-dresser, although this is far less substantiated than Cohn's sexual preference. In trying to connect the dots, some have suggested that Hoover and McCarthy had it goin' on.
The Hoover-McCarthy tryst is not an image most Americans care to fantasize about, but there are worthy psychological theories at play here. Some gays are known to assume a homophobic public stance in order to fend off the whiff of their own homosexuality. However, it goes beyond that. There may be some self-hating involved. Men like Hoover and McCarthy had grown up as "good boys" and "good sons," products of the Judeo-Christian ethic, promoters of patriotism, Mom and applie pie. It is true that these traits are not considered to be in sync with the gay lifestyle today, but in McCarthy's and Hoover's days they definitely were not. A man who otherwise buys the whole concept of America, God and family, but is tugged by homosexual tendencies, is likely going to search for a mechanism to dispute those tendencies. This mechanism could be the process of directly demonizing what they hate most about themselves. Without trying to get too Freudian, this is offered simply as a theory.
On the other hand, liberal claims about Hoover, Clyde Tolson and McCarthy have every conceivable chance of being damnable lies. In the case of McCarthy, they almost surely are. Furthermore, the Left missed something important. A straight McCarthy employed and entrusted gays and Jews on his staff at a time when conservative Republicans were "supposed" to disdain gays and Jews. McCarthy also employed blacks, and supported civil rights in Wisconsin. In many ways, he was progressive, to borrow a Leftist term. He gets zero credit for any of this.
Hank Greenspun published an article in the Las Vegas Sun of October 25, 1952, writing, "It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities."
McCarthy considered suing Greenspun for libel, but his lawyers advised that he would have to take the stand and answer questions about his sexuality. Forced to speak under penalty of perjury, even if McCarthy was straight, he may have had other peccadilloes that he would not have wanted to discuss. Maybe he liked to masturbate, dug pornography, hung out in the closet and watched two girls get it on, or any number of other charming things that the good citizens of Wisconsin would have been shocked to discover about their Senator. Of course, Greenspun knew McCarthy would have to take the stand if he were to prevail in a libel suit, so in some ways he had free reign to say what he wanted with little or no consequence. McCarthy's hiring of Cohn and (by implication) Schine, is offered as evidence of McCarthy's own lifestyle. If this is so, it tells much about his recklessness, since he must have known this would draw the kind of negative attention a conservative Midwestern Republican definitely did not need in 1953.
McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr. The couple adopted a five-week old girl from the New York Foundling Home. The homosexuality rumors could have had two effects. The first would have been a "wake-up call" for McCarthy, making him realize he was involved in a dangerous game that was played for keeps. He could have re-grouped, declared victory in his efforts to root out Communists, or just concentrated on the true, hardcore Communist cases that had not been investigated because McCarthy had veered so far from the original purpose.
The second effect is the one that he took. McCarthy decided to attack his enemies more relentlessly. In the process he made and invented enemies who started out as tacit allies. In October, 1953, McCarthy began investigating Communist infiltration into the military. He went after Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens, drawing the ire of President Eisenhower. Ike was very upset, not just because men he knew to be good, decent and honorable were being caught up in McCarthy's accusations, but because the man was drawing terrible publicity for the G.O.P.
It is instructive to note that in the many Hollywood depictions of McCarthyism, McCarthy himself is almost never shown. The incidents are usually fictionalized accounts and show tight-lipped, screw-faced mean Republicans hammering away at some poor, honest writer caught up in the witchhunt. The reason they are generally fictionalized, instead of showing the "actual" McCarthy, is because these kinds of confrontations did not occur. McCarthy did indeed go after Communists, but Hollywood is loathe to portray the actual people with their actual names, because the historical record, unfortunately for them, can be checked and demonstrates these people really and actually were Communists.
The fact is McCarthy got in trouble not for going after Communists or accusing honest liberals of Communism. He got in trouble when he went after Republicans. It started with the Army-McCarthy hearings. The Army leaked to the press the story of Schine. First, McCarthy and Cohn had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the young man from being drafted, but his number was called anyway. The story of Schine's basic training experience is as bizarre as anything that has ever occurred in the military, and for those of us who have actually gone through basic, it is the most preposterous set of circumstances imaginable.
Schine's "training" took place on a base near New York City. Schine was prominently seen, dressed in his Army uniform, at chic Manhattan nightspots in the company of beautiful showgirls. As Slim Pickens might have said, "What in the wide, wide world of sports is goin' on here?"
The first question is how a buck recruit could even get a weekend furlough, which is not a common practice. Apparently, some of his sightings were not even on weekends. Further reports indicated that Schine was staying off base, "commuting" to camp, or sleeping in at his leisure. The whole thing was as preposterous as a Bill Murray movie. Schine's publicized trysts with scantily clad glamour women added to the strange scenario. Could it have been staged to upset or embarrass the Army? Was Schine set up with these women in order to make him look like a heterosexual, off-setting the gay rumors swirling around the McCarthy-Cohn-Schine investigating team? Certainly there are many Army recruits who wish they could have spent weekends with girls who resembled Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Drew Pearson published details of the whole story in December, 1953.
Cohn was a story in and of itself. He was the son of a prominent Jewish New York liberal. His homosexual acts have been depicted in a TV movie called "Citizen Cohn" starring James Woods as occurring in his parent's house and with their knowledge. The FBI is supposed to have known about his sexuality, too. Supposedly Hoover subpoenaed him for the purposes of having lunch. He was said to be a brilliant attorney, but utterly blinded by crass ambition. He was a complete mercenary, not driven by ideology but willing to promote any cause that promoted his name.
These three men were a rogue's gallery of unrepentant ambition. In the film "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962), a man who might have been based on Connecticut Senator William Benton has a conversation with Angela Lansbury. She is married to a drunken fool Senator obviously based on McCarthy, right down to the infamous lines about having in his possession the names of known members of the Communist Party.
The Senator tells Lansbury that "Senator Iselin" and "Iselinism" is not the joke everybody makes it out to be, but rather that if "Johnny were a paid Soviet agent, he could not do worse harm to this country than he is doing right now."
The punditry of the Left thinks that statement is based on the concept that McCarthy was a drunken, homosexual boob who made up the Communist threat in order to make political gains. But the statement has more weight than that, and reflects the threat of Communism that the movie's producer, Frank Sinatra, believed was valid. The harm McCarthy did was in taking a deadly serious threat, and managing to deflect so much attention to himself that the threat was discounted. In this respect, while there is absolutely no proof whatsoever to back this up, there is little doubt that in the final two years of McCarthyism, the man did so much good for Communism that he could have been a Russian spy.
The McCarthy-as-spy theory is, of course, an outlandish one. It would have to answer to the fact that when he started out he was identifying real Communists in the name of national security. On the other hand, the real Communists that he did nail were usually small fish, easily sacrificed as part of the big "conspiracy" that was McCarthyism.
Unfortunately, McCarthy is a cross that the Republican party has to bear. Eisenhower wanted him excised, like a cancer. He instructed Vice-President Nixon to attack him.
"Men who have in the past done effective work exposing Communists in this country have, by reckless talk and questionable methods, made themselves the issue rather than the cause they believe in so deeply," said Nixon on March 4, 1954. It was clear whom he was talking about.
The media had long opposed McCarthy but were frightened to speak out. Writers George Seldes and I. F. Stone (later evidence indicates he probably was a Communist agent), and cartoonists Herb Block and Daniel Fitzpatrick, began a campaign against him. Broadcast pioneer Edward R. Murrow criticized McCarthy on his TV show, "See It Now". Newspaper columnists Walter Lippmann and Jack Anderson began vitriolic attacks on McCarthy.
Liberal attacks have become common place, but in 1954 the media was not the Left wing Fifth Estate that it later developed into. Despite its power, media attacks on conservatives have had mixed results. Many Americans have long recognized media bias and backed Republicans who they felt were unfairly branded. If McCarthy was smart, he might have tried to back off and lump himself in with this group, maybe playing the "victim" like Nixon had done with the "Checkers speech." Instead, it was his own actions that were his undoing. The new medium of his day, television, was his enemy. The Senate investigations into the United States Army were televised.
"In this long, degrading travesty of the Democratic process McCarthy has shown himself to be evil and unmatched in malice," wrote the Louisville Courier-Journal. McCarthy has been described as a bumbling demagogue whose political skills were not good. His instincts for the public appetite, it has been said, could not withstand real scrutiny. Unlike men like Nixon and Kennedy, who had the ability to navigate hazardous political terrain, McCarthy only knew how to attack. His performance on December 2, 1954 earned him a censure motion condemning his conduct by 67 to 22.
None of this takes into account exchanges McCarthy had on the Senate floor in which he comported himself well. Some of the footage that makes McCarthy look the worst is like the Rodney King video that described the L.A.P.D. beating the hell out of a black man. In the King case, the entire video shows King, out of control on PCP, menacing the cops with very real violence and threat. By the some token, viewing the entire McCarthy footage (not just what the media shows) demonstrates a man who had excellent repartee skills and kept his cool despite being unfairly attacked.
Few politicians have risen faster than McCarthy. Few, if any, fell faster. He lost the chairmanship of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate, which stripped him of power and access to the media. The Left jumped on him with everything they had, denouncing his "Communist conspiracy" theories as pure theatre.
"Most reporters just refused to file McCarthy stories," wrote Willard Edwards, "and most papers would not have printed them anyway."
Anti-Communist sentiment obviously did not end with McCarthy's demise, but the tide had turned. The McCarthy era (fueled by the Hiss case) produced a backlash that is the formation of the present political squabbles in this country. The divide created by McCarthy has thus far proven to be difficult, if not impossible, to bridge.
In 2003, Senate historian Donald Ritchie provided 4,000 pages of new data on McCarthy. Ritchie's editorial notes slam McCarthy, and the press picked up on them. But within the data are episodes that show how McCarthy was smeared. Annie Lee Moss was a famous "victim" of McCarthy. Mrs. Moss had been identified by FBI undercover operative Mary Markward as a member of the Communist Party in the District of Columbia. She had been a code clerk for the Army, handling sensitive information. Appearing before McCarthy in 1954, Mrs. Moss and others were identified as part of a spy ring. Mrs. Moss appeared frail and bewildered, denying it all. The suggestion played straight out of the Nancy Reagan story, in which she had been confused with a Communist who shared her then maiden name, Nancy Davis.
The Democrats all agreed Moss was the victim of mistaken identity. Edward R. Murow reported on CBS' "See It Now" that she was a pitiful little woman, smeared by McCarthy. Friendly Democrats asked Moss (who was black) if she knew who Karl Marx was. She scratched her head as if she was a plantation slave, trying to recall anybody she knew anybody named Marks or Carl. She played it ignorant, as scripted.
What history never told us (until now, really), is that she said one of the addresses she lived at was 72 R Street, S.W., in D.C. Four years later, the Subversive Activities Control Board found Communist Party records that described Annie Lee Moss of 72 R Street, S.W., District of Columbia as a member since the 1940s. While there were three Annie Lee Moss's in the D.C. phone nook at that time, only one was in the C.P.'s records, describing her accurately and providing her actual address. All Ritchie said about this is that it must be read with "caution" and that the SACB chose not to investigate, but he fails to mention that the SACB did not contemplate further investigation of Moss. They were investigating the veracity of Markward. They reached the conclusion Markward was credible regarding Moss's membership in the Communist Party. There was no evidence to charge her with espionage, but the "mistaken identity" ploy was shown to be a ruse. Simply being a Communist was not a crime. Identifying them was the key to the investigations.
Over time, however, history judged McCarthy as bearing "false witness" and accusing people out of mistaken identity on "flimsy" charges (like finding a person who worked with sensitive Army cables whose name, description and address are found in Communist Party records).
There had been a real name-identity confusion case regarding a Communist spy at a sensitive Army installation named Louis Kaplan. He took the Fifth Amendment rather than incriminate himself as a Red. Another Louis Kaplan was hounded by the FBI in the 1940s in a case that preceded and had nothing to do with McCarthy. When the case came to McCarthy's attention, he held hearings and cleared the innocent Kaplan's name. The Communist Kaplan had been involved in securing intelligence for Moscow that was part of the Rosenberg case. Nevertheless, Ritchie uses the Kaplan case as another example of the McCarthy "mistaken identity" allegations.
Aaron Coleman was a member of the Young Communists who worked with Rosenberg. McCarthy said agents had "raided" Coleman's abode. Coleman's roommate said it was not a "raid," but a "search." Ritchie says this is an example of "use of inappropriate or inflammatory words to characterize <witness'> testimony." Ritchie made no mention that Coleman had 43 documents stolen from the same facility where Kaplan had spied.
Regarding Communist espionage, Ritchie blithely stated that they had been our ally in World War II, which made subsequent espionage "superfluous." Apparently this is his attempt at making it on a par with Israeli espionage of the U.S. The FBI had investigated a number of employees at the Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey Army facility who signed petitions supporting the Communist Party. Ritchie dismissed them as "perplexed witnesses." This would be like Army personnel working at Strategic Air Command signing a petition supporting Al Qaeda, then being "perplexed" that they were being investigated for it.
Harry Hyman was found to be recruiting for the Communists through his union activities. He was involved at the Monmouth telecommunications lab, and was caught making 76 phone calls to another lab in order to get classified information. He took the Fifth repeatedly when questioned by McCarthy. Ritchie simply said that McCarthy unjustly questioned him about "union activities."
The fact is that "McCarthy convinced Middle America that FDR and Truman had been duped by 'Uncle Joe' <Stalin>," wrote Pat Buchanan, "had tolerated treason, and had blundered and lost in five years all the fruits of the victory won by the blood and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation in World War II."
McCarthy questioned witnesses in private before putting them on the stand, a standard Senate strategy designed to weed out the innocent from the guilty, and a tactic used by the likes of Watergate investigator Sam Ervin. He was pilloried for this practice as "secretive." Despite all the true facts we now know about McCarthy and heavy Communist subversion and espionage, the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that documents "do not support McCarthy's theories that, in the 1950s, Communist spies were operating in the highest levels of government." This would be like Allied investigators coming across documents relating to the Nazi's Wannsee Conference plotting the Final Solution, writing that the documents "do not support the Allies' theories that, in the 1940s, Nazi authorities were planning the extermination of European Jewry."
In a way, McCarthy was a victim of his own success. Through the Venona project, in alliance with Hoover's FBI and HUAC, many spies had already been rooted out by the time McCarthy was making much of it public. Among these were Hiss and Lawrence Duggan, high ranking State diplomats who were Communist traitors and spies, found to have helped sign away Eastern Europe at Yalta and shape the U.N. in a Communist image.
Harry Dexter White had already written the International Monetary Fund and the "Morgenthau Plan," designed to destroy German industry still standing after the war. It was a Communist plot to de-stabilize the capitalist vestiges of the country, leaving them starving and helpless to Communist "solutions." White House spy Lauchlin Currie had been found out, as had William Remington at Commerce and Judith Coplon at Justice. The Rosenbergs were convicted, and Robert Oppenheimer's brother and wife were found to have been working with them. McCarthy enjoyed 50-29 favorable ratings from the public in January, 1954. He was going after elite liberals who had sided with Communism while Mao Tse-Tung was murdering his own people and American boys in Korea. Harry Truman was driven out of office by a public fed up with his "soft" approach to Communism. A Gallup poll in the mid-1950s, the so-called "height" of "anti-Communist hysteria" and McCarthyism, overwhelmingly supported McCarthy. McCarthy dated John Kennedy's sister before getting married, but the Left tried to say he was a homosexual. Roy Cohn was. David Schine may have been, but it is not known for sure.
Joseph P. Kennedy supported McCarthy (probably the worst thing I can say about McCarthy). Bobby Kennedy worked for him. John Kennedy considered him a friend and a fine patriot. At the 1954 Harvard re-union, somebody stood up and toasted the class for not having produced any Alger Hiss's or Joe McCarthy's. John Kennedy, a member of the re-union class, stood up and said, "How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot <he meant McCarthy> with that of a traitor <Hiss>." When he was elected President, JFK was asked about McCarthy, and he again remarked that he thought he was a great patriot.
McCarthy's tactic of questioning witnesses in private was used against him. Instead of embarrassing himself and the witnesses in public by engaging in sessions that could lead to places he was unaware of, he rightly wanted to sort out information as best he could ahead of time. The Left just accused him of being "secretive." McCarthy also stated on many occasions that there "may be" Communists in a department or industry, but often did not name names. The Democrats accused him of scurrilous behavior, a "whispering campaign." That was not accurate. McCarthy did not name names until he was sure a suspect was a Communist, so as not to ruin them (as he is so often accused of).
Voices of the Left and not-so-Left
While my research concludes that McCarthy is at the least a misunderstood figure and not the ogre he is painted to be, I realize he is a divisive figure. Just as I printed the Hiss interview to balance the perspective, I offer the following excerpts from interviews, letters and articles written by various people on the subject of the Red Scare, anti-Communism, McCarthyism and the Cold War:
Freda Kirchwey, The Nation (October, 1939)
"Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of Democracy. We have not gone to war, and no excuse exists for wartime hysteria. Neither Communists nor even (German-American) Bundists are enemy agents. They deserve to be watched but not be persecuted. The real danger is that general detestation of Communists and Bundists will lead to acts of outright repression supported not only by reactionaries but by disgusted liberals. Democracy was not invented as a luxury to be indulged in only in times of calm and stability. It is a pliable, tough-fibered technique especially useful when times are hard. Only a weak and distrustful American could today advocate measures of repression and coercion, or encourage a mood of panic. Now is the time to demonstrate the resilience of our institutions. Now is the time to deal with dissent calmly and with full respect for its rights."
Freda Kirchwey, The Nation (April, 1940)
"At what moment does it become necessary to limit the freedom of everyone in order to suppress the danger lurking in a disloyal handful. The moment for drastic repression has not arrived, and the task of liberals in America is difficult but clear. They must fight to preserve the Democratic safeguards contained in the Bill of Rights, while applying to Nazis and their supporters the equally Democratic methods of exposure, counter-propaganda, and justified legal attack. Otherwise the Nazi invasion of Norway is likely to end in a victory for Martin Dies in America."
Jessica Mitford, "A Fine Old Conflict" (1977)
"The soil for the noxious growth of McCarthyism had been well prepared by the Truman Administration, and the anti-Communist crusade was well under way, long before the junior Senator from Wisconsin himself appeared on the scene. Joseph McCarthy was virtually unknown outside his home state until 9 February 1950, when he made his celebrated speech alleging that the State Department was in the hands of Communists, which catapulted him into the national limelight he enjoyed for the next five years.
"Some signposts on the road to McCarthyism: 1947, Truman establishes the Federal loyalty oath, barring alleged subversives from government employment. States and universities follow suit. The Attorney General, under authority of a Presidential executive order, publishes a list of subversive, proscribed organizations. 1948: 10 Hollywood screenwriters sentenced to a year's imprisonment for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about alleged subversion in the film industry. Mundt-Nixon bill introduced in Senate, requiring registration of Communists and members of 'Communist fronts'. Henry Wallace's campaign for the Presidency on the Progressive Party ticket, into which the C.P. had thrown all its energy and forces, ends in disastrous defeat. 1949: 12 top Communist leaders found guilty under the Smith Act of conspiring to advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence. Alger Hiss tried and convicted of perjury. Several of the largest left-led unions expelled from CIO.
"Four months after McCarthy's opening salvo, the Korean War broke out, bringing Truman's foreign policy into harmony with his domestic drive against the Left and furnishing McCarthy with more ammunition for his anti-Communist crusade. In this climate most liberals turned tail. Senator Hubert Humphrey proposed establishing concentration camps for subversives, and declared on the floor of Congress: 'I want them (Communists) removed from the normal scene of American life, and taken into custody.' The American Civil Liberties Union, supposed guardian of First Amendment rights, instituted its own loyalty purge excluding from membership those suspected of harboring subversive ideas."
Archibald MacLeish, letter to Paul H. Buck (January 1, 1953)
"My radio reports that various Congressional Committees plan to investigate colleges and universities to determine whether they are riddled with Communists. Senator McCarthy is reported as including 'Communist thinkers.' Since he has already told us that he regards Benny de Vote and young Arthur Schlesinger as Communist thinkers we have some notion of what that means.
"You will recall that I am to be away the second half year. You will recall also that Senator McCarthy has already attacked me as belonging to more Communist front organizations than any man he has ever mentioned. He - or one of the other committees - can be expected to attack me again when he or they get around to Harvard - should be early in the campaign. If I am away in the British West Indies at the time I should like you to have the facts.
"But before I set them down I should like to ask a question which must be in your mind and in the minds of many others. Has not the time come for the believers in the American tradition of intellectual liberty - above all the believers in positions of responsibility on the faculties of the free universities - to take a firm stand on the fundamental issue? There is no disagreement, I take it, on the issue of Communists in teaching. No man who accepts a prior loyalty to any authority other than his own conscience, his own judgment of the truth, should be permitted to teach in a free society. That view I take it, is held by those responsible for the selection of teachers in all colleges and universities in this country. It is also applied in the case of Communists at least - though it is notoriously not applied in certain cases at the other extreme.
"I have not been told what Communist-front organizations the Senator has in mind but I assume they include the League of American Writers and various other organizations of an anti-Fascist character to which I belonged at the time of the Spanish War and during the rise of the Nazi danger and from which I removed myself when I entered the Government as Librarian of Congress in 1939.
"My own personal position on the issue of Communism has been clear throughout, and the record is a matter of public knowledge. I was, I think I can say without immodesty, one of the first American writers to attack the Marxists. This was, of course, on the literary front since it was on the literary front I met them. In the early '30s the Marxist position was, as you know, a fashionable position among the critics. Attacks on Communism were not the pleasant and profitable exercises they are now when all politicians and most publicists fall all over themselves and each other to demonstrate their detestation of everything Communism is or stands for. In the early '30s, to attack the Communists was to bring the hornets out and the stings could hurt."
Lee J. Cobb was one of those who was originally Blacklisted but eventually agreed to do a deal with the HCUA.
"When the facilities of the government of the United States are drawn on an individual it can be terrifying. The Blacklist is just the opening gambit - being deprived of work. Your passport is confiscated. That's minor. But not being able to move without being tailed is something else. After a certain point it grows to implied as well as articulated threats, and people succumb. My wife did, and she was institutionalized. In 1953 the HCUA did a deal with me. I was pretty much worn down. I had no money. I couldn't borrow. I had the expenses of taking care of the children. Why am I subjecting my loved ones to this? If it's worth dying for, and I am just as idealistic as the next fellow. But I decided it wasn't worth dying for, and if this gesture was the way of getting out of the penitentiary I'd do it. I had to be employable again."
Arthur Miller, in his autobiography, "Timebends", wrote about the Blacklisting of Louis Untermeyer (1987)
"Louis Untermeyer, then in his 60s, was a poet and anthologist, a distinguished-looking old New York type with a large aristocratic nose and a passion for conversation, especially about writers and to become a poet. He married four times, had taught and written and published, and with the swift rise of television had become nationally known as one of the original regulars on "What's My Line?", a popular early show in which he, along with columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, publisher Bennett Cerf, and Arlene Francis, would try to guess the occupation of a studio guest by asking the fewest possible questions in the brief time allowed. All this with wisecracking and banter, at which Louis was a lovable master, what with his instant recall of every joke and pun he had ever heard.
"One day he arrived as usual at the television studio an hour before the program began and was told by the producer that he was no longer on the show. It appeared that as a result of having been listed in Life magazine as a sponsor of the Waldorf Conference (a meeting to discuss cultural and scientific links with the Soviet Union), an organized letter campaign protesting his appearance on "What's My Line?" had scared the advertisers into getting rid of him.
"Louis went back to his apartment. Normally we ran into each other in the street once or twice a week or kept in touch every month or so, but I no longer saw him in the neighborhood or heard from him. Louis didn't leave his apartment for almost a year and a half. An overwhelming and paralyzing fear had risen him. More than a political fear, it was really that he had witnessed the tenuousness of human connection and it had left him in terror. He had always loved a lot and been loved, especially on the TV program where his quips were vastly appreciated, and suddenly, he had been thrown into the street, abolished."
Lillian Hellman appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, willing to talk about her own political past, but refusing to testify against others.
"To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group."
Budd Schulberg was interviewed by Victor Navasky when he was writing his book, "Naming Names" (1982).
"These people (those he named), if they had it in them, could have written books and plays. There was not a Blacklist in publishing. There was not a Blacklist in the theatre. They could have written about the forces that drove them into the Communist Party. There was practically nothing written. Nor have I seen these people interested in social problems in the decades since. They're interested in their own problems and in the protection of the party."
Whittaker Chambers was one of those who helped provide evidence to support the idea of a Communist conspiracy. However, in a letter to Henry Regnery on January 14, 1954, he explained why he was having doubts about Joseph McCarthy.
"All of us, to one degree or another, have slowly come to question his judgment and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions, his tendency to sacrifice the greater objective for the momentary effect, will lead him and us into trouble. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come."
Max Eastman, "The Necessity of Red Baiting", "The Freeman" (1953)
"Red Baiting - in the sense of reasoned, documented exposure of Communist and pro-Communist infiltration of government departments and private agencies of information and communication - is absolutely necessary. We are not dealing with honest fanatics of a new idea, willing to give testimony for their faith straightforwardly, regardless of the cost. We are dealing with conspirators who try to sneak in the Moscow-inspired propaganda by stealth and double talk, who run for shelter to the Fifth Amendment when they are not only permitted but invited and urged by Congressional committee to state what they believe. I myself, after struggling for years to get this fact recognized, give McCarthy the major credit for implanting it in the mind of the whole nation."
Philip Reed, head of General Electric, after a tour of Europe in the summer of 1953, wrote to President Dwight Eisenhower (June 8, 1953).
"I urge you to take issue with McCarthy and make it stick. People in high and low places see in him a potential Hitler, seeking the Presidency of the United States. That he could get away with what he already has in America has made some of them wonder whether our concept of Democratic governments and the rights of individuals is really different from those of the Communists and Fascists.
Walter Lippmann, Washington Post (March 1, 1954).
"McCarthy's influence has grown as the President has appeased him. His power will cease to grow and will diminish when he is resisted, and it has been shown to our people that those to whom we look for leadership and to preserve our institutions are not afraid of him."
Harry S. Truman, New York Times (November 17, 1953).
"It is now evident that the present administration has fully embraced, for political advantage, McCarthyism. I am not referring to the Senator from Wisconsin. He is only important in that his name has taken on the dictionary meaning of the word. It is the corruption of truth, the abandonment of the due process law. It is the use of the Big Lie and the unfounded accusation against any citizen in the name of Americanism or security. It is the rise to power of the demagogue who lives on untruth; it is the spreading of fear and the destruction of faith in every level of society."
Dalton Trumbo, speech to the Screen Writers Guild when accepting the Laurel Award in 1970.
"The Blacklist was a time of evil, and that no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. Caught in a situation that had passed beyond the control of mere individuals, each person reacted as his nature, his needs, his convictions, and his particular circumstances compelled him to. There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides.
"When you who are in your 40s or younger look back with curiosity on that dark time, as I think occasionally you should, it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims. Some suffered less than others, some grew and some diminished, but in the final tally we were all victims because almost without exception each of us felt compelled to say things he did not want to say, to do things that he did not want to do, to deliver and receive wounds he truly did not want to exchange. That is why none of us - right, Left, or center - emerged from that long nightmare without sin."
Albert Maltz, one of the Hollywood 10, was interviewed by the New York Times in 1972.
"There is currently in vogue a thesis pronounced by Dalton Trumbo which declares that everyone during the years of blacklist was equally a victim. This is factual nonsense and represents a bewildering moral position.
"To put the point sharply: If an informer in the French underground who sent a friend to the torture chambers of the Gestapo was equally a victim, then there can be no right or wrong in life that I understand.
"Adrian Scott was the producer of the notable film 'Crossfire' in 1947 and Edward Dmytryk was its director. 'Crossfire' won wide critical acclaim, many awards and commercial success. Both of these men refused to co-operate with the HCUA. Both were held in contempt of the HCUA and went to jail.
"When Dmytryk emerged from his prison term he did so with a new set of principles. He suddenly saw the Heavenly light, testified as a friend of the HCUA, praised its purposes and practices and denounced all who opposed it. Dmytryk immediately found work as a director, and has worked all down the years since. Adrian Scott, who came out of prison with his principles intact, could not produce a film for a studio again until 1970. He was Blacklisted for 21 years. To assert that he and Dmytryk were equally victims is beyond my comprehension."
Archibald MacLeish, "The Conquest of America" (1949).
"Never in the history of the world was one people as completely dominated, intellectually and morally, by another as the people of the United States by the people of Russia in the four years from 1946 through 1949. American foreign policy was a mirror image of Russian foreign policy: Whatever the Russians did, we did in reverse. American domestic politics were conducted under a kind of upside-down Russian veto: No man could be elected to public office unless he was on record as detesting the Russians, and no proposal could be enacted, from a peace plan at one end to a military budget at the other, unless it could be demonstrated that the Russians wouldn't like it. American political controversy was controversy sung to the Russian tune; Left wing movements attacked right wing movements not on American issues but on Russian issues, and right wing movements replied with the same arguments turned round about.
"All this took place not in a time of national weakness or decay but precisely at the moment when the United States, having engineered a tremendous triumph and fought its way to a brilliant victory in the greatest of all wars, had reached the highest point of world power ever achieved by a single state."
Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution and the island's subsequent alliance with Communism and the Soviet Union offer a perplexing conundrum of the Cold War. It offers a glimpse at why the movement has not been as readily identified for what it truly is as would seem obvious to so many. Communism has many stories and sub-plots. In reviewing all of them it becomes more difficult to "cartoonize" its effect, and its personalities, with the kind of blanket evil that is easily draped over Hitler and Nazi Germany. What Communism is and was is somehow separated in the minds of some, therefore distancing it from Joe Stalin.
The best way to describe the phenomenon of Communist apology would be to imagine that World War II had ended differently. The scenarios are too many to try and compartmentalize here. The Joe Kennedy appeasement strategy is certainly one logical possibility. The point is, that war could have ended, or stalemated, without the U.S. and the Allies as clear victors. If Germany and the U.S. had developed the atomic bomb at roughly the same time, the two countries might have called it quits and settled into a different kind of Cold War. Perhaps the Germans might have obliterated London and the Americans returned the favor on, say, Dresden, or Munich, or even Berlin, and the result could have been a cease-fire.
Germany might have held Europe or most of it. Call it Germania. At some point, the West, or what was remaining of it, would have had to deal with Hitler, and the result might have been similar to the dealings with Stalin. This uneasy "peace" might have held, under the suspension of atomic, hydrogen and nuclear threat, for 50 years. Eventually Hitler would have retired or died. People in the U.S. would have advocated "peace," "understanding," "détente," "normalization," and all the other things the Left wanted during the Cold War with the Communists.
Liberals might view this scenario and say that under these circumstances they would have been the hard-liners fighting the good fight against Fascism, while Hitler's apologists would have been "right wing businessmen" vying to do business with the Germans. They would have "secretly and not-so-secretly" agreed that the Fuhrer was a bit extreme but basically "right" in his views about minorities.
Of course, like so much of liberal thinking, this scenario is utter hogwash.
First, there would be no reservoir of goodwill or admiration for a country we had fought a war with, with all the horrors that are associated with war. The Left might point to extremist organizations in the United States such as the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan, and say that from within these ranks would have emerged a groundswell of support for Hitler. This is incongruous. First, the American Nazi Party was a tiny, tiny group. George Lincoln Rockwell ran it out of his mother's house. It received attention because the press chose to spotlight it, but it was never a large movement. As for the KKK, the Left would have a hard time explaining these guys, who in the South were all members of the Democrat Party. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a longtime Democrat spokesman of major repute within party circles, was a Klansman. It is not a coincidence that the decline of the KKK in the South took place alongside the rise of the G.O.P. in the region. The old segregationist Dixiecrats were just spin-offs of the Democrats.
Southerners who made up the Confederacy and would be the presumed Hitlerites of this alternative Cold War would have been the highest percentage of those fighting against Hitler. That section of the nation always produces the most military personnel. Such circumstances would not produce friendship or kinship. The old Confederacy was still a Democracy, which revered the Founding Fathers, not just a few of whom were Virginians and other "sons of the South." These are not the kinds of people pre-disposed to accept and excuse totalitarianism, dictatorship or Fascism. The liberal analogy that conservatives are aligned with this kind of thought is simply that with which is false. They try over and over to do it. When Pat Buchanan advocates law 'n' order, some liberal columnist will surely say something stue-piidd like, "It sounded better in the original German."
No, the "party of Lincoln," freedom and peace through strength would have emerged as the last line of defense against Nazism in such a Cold War. One false argument is that the Nazis would have been opposed by the liberals more because a larger number of liberals are Jewish. Over time, however, thoughtful Jews would have transferred to the conservatives, which is what is happening in the real world anyway. The Left would have been taken over by the anarchist wing, as has happened, and they would be the ones appeasing instead of fighting. The Middle East situation is the best example, where strong American defense is the only thing protecting Israel. If the traditional Jewish wing of liberalism still held sway, the Left would not be appeasing Middle East terror. The bottom line is conservatives always have been the protectors of American values by protecting the world through a show of strength. Liberals always have been the blame-America crowd who would just as soon internationalize us.
The point of this Hitler/Cold War scenario, however, is to show that instead of the blanket condemnation of Nazism that is easily delivered from all, under different circumstances the view of Nazism would have been fuzzier. This explains why the view of Communism is fuzzier (on the Left; the right never wavered).
Hitler would have been portrayed by some as a "liberator." For instance, the survivors of Siberia, the gulags, and the collectivist farms had it so bad under Stalin that Hitler could have been made to look better. If you "do the math," it actually ends up this way, since in the "score" of murder, Stalin beat Hitler (Mao beat them both). Many tyrants, Communist and otherwise, might have been "replaced" by Hitler. Some Western pundits would have pointed out how Hitler and Fascism restored schools and health care. This leads us into the next point of discussion, Fidel Castro and Cuba.
No where is this example more obvious in the Communist world than Cuba. Cuba was a country of vast inequality and squalor, where a small segment of wealthy elites ignored the needs of the massive poor. It was corrupt and run by the mob. Havana was a virtual porn shop. Live sex shows were all the rage in Havana nightclubs.
Fidel Castro changed all of this. For these reasons he has been sensationalized by the Left, who for 45 years have tried to apologize for him. The only "explanation" of Castro is that he is a monster and an immensely evil human being. The people of Cuba, despite being in a very bad situation prior to Castro, were vastly better off then than they have been during his long dictatorship. That is not in any way an endorsement of Fulgencio Batista or the Mafia, but simply describes how brutal Communism is.
To an American who cannot comprehend such a thing, I offer that the poorest black person living in the worst, most violence-prone slums of Watts or Harlem, or in the most decrepit rural hovels of the old segregationist South, had it better than average people living in Communist Cuba. I have driven extensively through the slums of Los Angeles and other big American cities, and I have been to the old East Germany and seen it with my own eyes. There is no comparison.
The horrid slums of Latin America, where children prostitute themselves and are subject to the worst abuses, crimes, diseases and despair, approach but do not exceed Communism. In Chile, for instance, many live in squalor. In Cuba, everybody (except the Marxist elite) lives in squalor. The liberals somehow like the fact that all live in squalor instead of just some. As Dr. Zhivago (Omar Sharif) says to the apparatchuk when he returns from the front to find his beautiful apartment occupied by peasants, "It is more…just."
The Cuban Revolution did not just "happen." The U.S. is not an innocent by-stander of it. America propped up distasteful dictators there, just as they did in other countries. This was the result of a dangerous, imperfect world situation that we found ourselves engaged in. The balance between hegemony and justice, freedom and safety, political alliance and insecurity, can be difficult to maintain. There is a standard that the United States always strives for, every time. This standard is one in which people are free, politically and economically. Circumstances very often dilute our ability to uphold this standard. The result is that many people have found themselves to be pawns in an elaborate chess game. The line between intrusion and help is blurred. The Cold War combined with American military and economic power has made it easy to blame much of the world's woes on the U.S. In so doing, the "alternate Universe" is not seen. That is the Universe in which there is no United States. There are just these places, left to fend for themselves, subject to the whims of their own indigenous peoples, the "leaders" that emerge from whatever Darwinian systems they devise. They are at the mercy of whatever larger entities decide to take advantage of them, and must deal with issues like disease and overpopulation using whatever homegrown prescriptions they invent.
Is there some set of circumstances in which this alternate Universe, the one in which America is not a country, a system, an ideal, is a better place than the one in which America does exist? My contention is that the "alternate Universe scenario" is one that conjures up the continuing image of America sanctioned by God.
Doing "God's work" is not easy. The mistakes made are subject to plenty of criticism, some of it rightfully so. U.S. involvement in Cuba has seen its share of mistakes and successes. The struggle began against Spanish colonialism in the late 19th Century. According to some, "victory" was deprived from the people by a U.S. expeditionary force in 1898.
Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti visited the U.S. and wrote, "I have lived inside the monster and I know its entrails...Shall we bring the country dear to our hearts, virgin and fruitful, to this frenzied pack of rich against poor...white against black.... Shall we deliver it into this oven of wrath, into these sharp-toothed jaws, into this smoking crater?"
At the time of the Spanish-American War, colonialism was viewed much like Manifest Destiny had been; justification for expansion. The English poet Rudyard Kipling celebrated the event in a poem inviting the U.S. to "Take up the white man's burden." This is such a controversial concept, so easy to vilify today and yet, underneath its veil of racism and oppression, there is the nagging question, "What was the alternative?"
William Randolph Hearst led the jingoistic cheering for the Cuban war, but the free press did not fall in lock step with that way of thinking. Mark Twain wrote that the expedition's U.S. flags' stripes should be painted over in black and the stars replaced by a skull and crossbones.
Cuba became an economic colony of America. U.S. troops returned on several occasions to put down revolts. By 1920, U.S. business interests owned two-thirds of the arable land. In the 1930s, the Mafia moved in. Cuba became a playground, its beautiful women made available to fulfill the lustful fantasies of rich men. Prior to Las Vegas, Havana's gambling and tourist businesses were second to none. After World War II, Cuba became a way station for heroin shipments between Europe and the U.S., the infamous "French Connection."
In response to the economic inequities, Communism always had a foothold among the poor and the disenfranchised. Communists attacked the private homes of capitalists living in the country, away from the protection of the police and military.
Also, in the 1930s, Negro League baseball made its way into Latin America. Few people know that beisbol, which has gained wild popularity throughout the region, was started by black Americans who traveled south at the behest of Latin dictators. The Negro Leaguers, who needed to play year-round in order to make a living, took advantage of good offers and warm Winter weather. Dominican strongman Rafael Trujillo recruited Negro League all-stars, and warned them that if they lost any games executions would ensue. His team went undefeated. The teams often played for American companies operating in the region. Baseball found its way to Cuba, was a huge success, and soon excellent players emerged from the dusty fields of play.
Fidel Castro was a left-handed pitcher, reputed to have decent ability. According to some reports, the Washington Senators (an ironic twist) offered him a contract, but Castro was too involved in his law studies and radical politics to sign. What an interesting twist of fate this offers. If he had come to America and succeeded, his view of everything might have changed. Does former Senator southpaw Castro eventually attain American citizenship and get involved in the U.S. political scene? One can just picture Castro as a Democrat Congressman.
Castro did use beisbol to attract attention to his cause. As a young radical in Havana, he interrupted a game. Dressed in street clothes, he went to the pitcher's mound, took the ball from the pitcher, and motioned the batter to step up to the plate. The hitter was Don Hoak, who was a top third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the regular season. The legend has it that Castro threw one right at Hoak's head.
On July 26, 1953, 160 young militants attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago. Half of them died, most after being tortured. Many went to prison.
"It was not a putsch designed to score an easy victory without the masses," explained Raul Castro, Fidel's brother. "It was a surprise action to disarm the enemy and arm the people, with the aim of beginning armed revolutionary action it marked the start of an action to transform Cuba's political, economic and social system and put an end to the foreign oppression, poverty, unemployment, ill health and ignorance that weighed upon our country and our people."
Fidel himself was captured and imprisoned.
"History will absolve me," was his defense speech. Castro saw injustice in Cuba, and determined to change it with violence. Six years after the ultimate triumph of Gandhi, it seems that this educated man had learned little. Although he later held his Communist cards close to the vest, it seems clear even then that his role model was not the pacifist Gandhi, but the Stalinist Stalin. His goal was not equality for the masses, but power for himself. His early tenets are right out of the party line.
"The big landowners, reactionary clergy and transnational corporations represented by Batista," were the enemy in his eyes. "The national bourgeoisie, capitalists in contradiction with imperialism, but among whom only the most progressive would support a revolution." This statement indicates that Castro advocated class warfare against the successful; hoped to dilute faith in God; wanted to reduce international business; correlated making money with immorality; and tellingly implored the "useful idiots," or as he describes them "only the most progressive," to cheerlead for him.
The masses Castro hoped to reach were, "The 600,000 Cubans without work. The 500,000 farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, the 100,000 small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, the 30,000 teachers and professors, so badly treated and paid; the 20,000 small businessmen weighed down by debts; the 10,000 young professional people who find themselves at a dead end. These are the people, the ones who know misfortune, and are therefore capable of fighting with limitless courage."
The problem, as with all problems, is that while Castro effectively identified the problem, he never offered a solution. Were the "20,000 small businessmen weighed down by debt" better off when their small businesses were nationalized by Castro? Is it necessary to answer that question?
Cuba was run by a former Army Sergeant named Fulgencio Batista. Batista was a terrible ruler who was an open partner of the Mafia, who in turn co-existed with large corporations from the U.S. banking, telephone and agricultural industries. Batista saw that Castro had a following, and tried to evoke some "legitimacy" by releasing him, along with other Moncada survivors in May, 1955. Castro was more or less "exiled" to Mexico amid rising repression. In Mexico he met the Argentinean doctor, Che Guevara.
In November of 1956, Castro set sail by yacht for Cuba, proclaiming to his followers that, "We will be free, or we will be martyrs." 82 men waded ashore, and they were strafed by Batista's planes. Pursued by U.S.-supplied troops, there was betrayal within their ranks and they faced ambush.
12 partisans escaped and began guerrilla warfare in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. On August 21, 1958, Castro ordered Che and Camilo Cienfuegos to lead two columns down from the Sierra Maestra. The story of Castro and Che, their close calls with planes, pursuit by American-equipped forces, betrayal by a guide, eventual escape and revolutionary existence in the mountains, began to take on legendary status. They were like ghosts, rebel images in the minds of a repressed people. The revolucion grew among the poor and the peasants. Castro's fighters took the town of Santa Clara, and word of his successes created a frenzy of excitement among the Havana citizenry.
On New Year's Eve, 1958, while Havana partied, Castro's forces made their play, catching Batista's army off guard. It was brilliant, executed perfectly, took a lot of guts, and was popularly supported. Few major events have taken place so quickly.
Batista fled Havana at 2 A.M., on New Year's Day, 1959, replaced by a military junta. Camilo and Che continued to lead guerrilla columns into Havana. Workers and peasants heeded Castro's call for a general strike, and he was able to seize power.
20,000 died in the revolution. On January 8, 32-year-old Castro entered Havana. He ordered 50,000 rifles and machine guns to be imported to defend the revolution. The rural Cuban population had an average annual income of $91.25 per person. 11 percent of Cubans drank milk, four percent ate meat, two percent had running water, and 9.1 percent had electricity. Three percent had intestinal parasites, 14 percent had tuberculosis, and 43 percent were illiterate. These figures indicate that in Cuba, capitalism had not succeeded, and the long-term goals the U.S. had for the island when they fought the Spanish had failed.
Of course, the conditions in Cuba at its lowest point were considerably better than the conditions of Stalin's collectivist farm population in the 1930s, when millions died. Nevertheless, Fidel Castro and his supporters were willing to embrace that political system with the hopes that it would succeed. In the beginning, they masked their intent just enough to raise the question as to whether they really were Marxists. Mistakes? To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, we made a few. Castro "went Communist" under the Republicans less than a decade after China had gone down the road to hell under the Democrats (albeit, Castro did not "officially" go to the Marxists until after the Bay of Pigs, a little over two years later).
The decision was made, to back Batista. Considering what history tells us about Castro's political jails, torture chambers and willingness to allow global military instability in order to gather attention for his ego, it appears unquestionable that Batista was the better choice. To use the old saw, he was the "lesser of two evils." Make no mistake, Batista was a bad guy, but if he had stayed there might have been hope on the island. Money, which was the corrupting force in Batista's life, also has the power to do good. Cuba was not a foregone conclusion. In fact, with all the rich Americans who were going there, the chances are very good that over time the poverty of Havana's streets would have become a major outrage. The forces of good that drive America would have demanded a change on those streets.
The Philippines is a country that liberals might point to as one "exploited" by America. It has been exploited to the tune of billions and billions of dollars transferred by us to them. A lot of servicemen have had a lot of uncommitted sex with a lot of Manila bargirls, which has made a lot of Filipino men mad at American men. Poverty is still rampant on their streets. The U.S. propped up a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos and his shoe-buying wife. But America also fought alongside the Filipinos like blood brothers against the Japanese. The Filipino people had ample opportunity to see examples of other countries' "exploitation." Our Naval base was a major boon to their economy, and when for political reasons we were asked to leave, we did just that. The relationship is not perfect, but there is no other major power on Earth that would have made a better partner for the Philippines than the U.S. The bottom line is that the Filipino people have resisted Communism, and now they are resisting terrorism, and when all is said and done they are happy that America has been with them, not against them.
Other Latin countries have had legitimate complaints with the U.S. The nature of our relationships with Latin America would be all but impossible to avoid complaint, but they have had the common sense to resist the alternative. Castro did not resist the alternative. His political message was not based on a desire to help the people of Cuba. He thirsted for power like a drug. He lacks morals, and at the heart of his revolution was pure class envy. He wanted to put the "high and mighty" in their place. He hated wealth and American success. He saw in the poverty of Cuba's indigenous population suffering, and determined that such a thing had to be blamed on somebody. Disease and economic deprivation, in his view, simply had to be the sole responsibility of Fulgencio Batista and criminal gambling interests, as if such quirks in the structure of society had never been seen in the history of Mankind. 45 years later, he his utopian vision has managed to create the equality he so desired. Now everybody has nothin'.
The first announcement of the new government was that 50-60 perfect of the casino profits would be directed to welfare programs, which must have made Meyer Lansky's day. "Land reform" was scheduled for May. That term had been the great bogeyman term in Guatemala, where the CIA mistakenly thought it was blatant Stalinist-type redistribution from the wealthy to the people (which in Communism means some apparatchuk). The Leftists, who after Guatemala (were beginning to hate the CIA more and more) said "land reform" was just sound economic policy. This time, "land reform" really did mean stealing.
Large estates were expropriated and turned into state farms. The American-owned
United Fruit Company was taken over with no compensation. As if no lessons had been learned from the Soviet gruppe, farms were immediately collectivized. The new government offered to let the Americans buy back the property that was stolen from them. The Eisenhower Administration told Castro to take a hike.
As in China, the big question was, How could this have happened? How could the CIA have allowed it? Who was this bearded son of a bitch, anyway? Recriminations aside, The Company knew that that their hardest work was now ahead of them. In 1959, they began monitoring telephone conversations of Cuban leaders, and transmitted subversive radio messages to Cuba from Miami, the Bahamas and Central America. Thousands of Cubans escaped the island, and immediately formed up to take it back. The face of Miami changed immediately, from a Southern backwater to a salsa town filled with the most anti-Communist people this side of Budapest. By 1960, saboteurs were operating inside Cuba.
My mid-1960, the U.S. sugar quota from Cuba was cut off. Castro nationalized the mills. In response, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that Ike launch a military invasion. Visions of the Normandy beaches danced in their heads. Richard Nixon, thinking that he would be President when the invasion took place, backed it 100 percent. The CIA and the military went into full-scale operation, training dedicated Cuban exile forces. During the first Nixon-Kennedy debate, having been briefed on the plan but knowing Nixon could not comment on it publicly, JFK charged the administration with negligence in failing to do anything about Castro. Nixon chose not to violate national security, and "lost" the debate (although those listening on radio thought he had won, as opposed to TV viewers mesmerized by Kennedy's looks vs. Nixon's "five o'clock shadow").
When Kennedy "won" the election, he was presented with the invasion plan. He was skeptical of it, and in fact already had healthy doubts about the military rooted all the way back to his Naval career. His Presidential experience would increase his doubts about the armed forces, particularly the top leadership. Negative feelings about the military would become a Kennedy and a Democrat doctrine. It all started with the Bay of Pigs.
As the invasion approached the Cuban coast on April 16, Fidel Castro announced that in fact Cuba was a Communist satellite. At 2 A.M. on April 17, 1,500 Cuban counter-revolutionaries landed at the Bay of Pigs. Castro directed a counterattack, using Soviet-supplied weapons. The Committee for the Defense of the Revolution rounded up thousands of anti-Communists.
The invading force suffered from bad planning, compromised intelligence and poor leadership. Some day documents may surface showing what Americans were spying for the Communists. Landing craft found themselves on the wrong beaches. Forces were stranded in the water, facing strafing fire while they slowly disembarked. In the end, however, the operation failed because Kennedy refused to provide air cover, which would have demonstrated what everybody knew anyway, which is that it was an American operation. It was not thought through. The force was destroyed in less than 72 hours, and the U.S. suffered a major defeat in the Cold War.
Kennedy took responsibility, which is fair since he was the President. After all, he wanted the job. Since it was not his plan, and he was only in office three months when it was put into action, it is fair to say that the blame should not be put entirely on his shoulders. However, it was too important an event, with such wide-reaching consequences, to not assess responsibility. It went so badly for so many people (in particular millions of Cubans imprisoned to this day), because of his failure to use the jets that would have turned the tide and allowed the force to succeed, that he must be blamed.
"The anti-imperialist, socialist revolution could only be one single revolution, because there is only one revolution," Castro explained, confirming conservative suspicion and adding to the laundry list of things liberals are wrong about. "That is the great dialectic truth of humanity: Imperialism, and, standing against it, socialism. I am a Marxist-Leninist and I shall be a Marxist-Leninist until the last days of my life." Castro then thumped the table in front, imitating Kruschev, who took his shoe off to pound for emphasis when he told the U.S. (at the U.N.), "We will bury you."
Liberals look at the "mistake" of the Bay of Pigs and proffer the fiction that we "turned Castro into a Communist," as if he was not one until we ruffled his feathers. This is ridiculous, and is instructive towards the modern argument that militarists in the U.S. "brought on" terrorism. Just as Castro was a Communist all throughout the revolution, a fact confirmed by thousands of witnesses, terrorists were terrorists before and after 9/11.
It has never been successfully explained why Communists call the U.S. "imperialist," other than it sounds like a good put-down. This, of course, like 99 percent of things Communists ever say, is simply that with which is a lie. The fact that it is a lie is knowledge possessed by millions. They still use the term. Imperialism is another word for monarchism, which the U.S. fought against to become a country. Its framework, which rewards hard work with success regardless of title, name or ancestry, is a major reason why monarchism has all but disappeared as a political entity. England, influenced wholly by America, first abandoned its colonial ambitions and thus its Empire, while reducing its monarchy to a mere formality. The single greatest influence in this turn of events was the United States. Certainly the Mafia influence that so infuriated Castro was anything but imperialistic.
With the Bay of Pigs a failure, The Company then stepped its operations into higher gear. Plans for economic sabotage, bacteriological warfare, economic blockade and repeated attempts to assassinate Castro were put into place, some carried further than others. Backed by Russia, Cuba was able to stay solvent during the Cold War. There is no doubt that Castro proved to be a charismatic leader in the face of tremendous pressure. However, he remains an example of how difficult it is to find great men in politics. A study of Castro cannot help but increase the admiration of other leaders who overcame adversity; like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately for the beautiful island nation of Cuba, Castro is in the end just another tinpot dictator.
In 1999, about 1,000 of Cuba's ruling elite, foreign diplomats and cultural personalities gathered amid massive security to view Castro's return to the scene of the crime. The event was extremely telling. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs had saved Castro. Those two conflagrations between Communism and freedom, occurring in Kennedy's first two years in office, were the best things that could have happened to Fidel.
The invasion had failed, hurting American prestige and making Castro a sympathetic figure; the lonely beacon of "socialist humanity" fending off the imperialists. Regardless of the lack of truth behind this premise, it is a wildly intoxicating image, and many in and out of the U.S. are uncomfortable enough with American displays of power to buy into it.
The missile crisis was so grave in its consequence that both sides were willing to compromise. America's end of the bargain, along with removing Jupiter missiles from Turkey (which we planned to do anyway) was to promise not to invade again. This fact of history has been overlooked by too many.
America promised not to invade. It was accepted, then, that we would not, because America is a country that has a reputation for living up to its promises. In reality, especially in the past 15 years, there has existed no entity to stop the U.S. from invading and conquering Cuba. The only thing preventing this was the decision by America not to do it, based on the principle that they gave their word not to. Had the Communists made such a promise, it only would have been kept by the vigilance of the U.S. military seeing to it that breaking the promise would not be worthwhile. Otherwise, any promises they made were no more believable than Stalin's assurances that Eastern Europe would have free elections.
Res ipsa loquiter.
When the Berlin Wall came down, many thought Castro would go down with it. His survival in the intervening years is an accomplishment. Castro's "popularity" comes from that wing of liberalism identified earlier as "Emma Goldman anarchism." There remains in America and the world a strain of anti-establishment thought that chooses to protest everything.
When America went to war with Iraq in 2003, large demonstrations were organized. The mainstream press simply chose not to tell the public this, but the Workers' World Party, a Communist organization, organized the great majority of the protests. This organization is a relic of the old Communist Party USA. They no longer espouse the straight Communist line, which is simply been proven too false even for them. But the radicals who loved Communism, or thought it was just some kind of normal human grasp for freedom and quality that went too far, were driven not so much by an ideology but by hate for America. The hatred for America stems from simply feeling that America is just too strong, too powerful, and too successful. These kinds of accomplishments are glaring examples of why they were wrong and the right was right. They are not yet at the stage where they can freely admit they were wrong, so they search for things to get mad about.
In 1999, this sentiment manifested itself when protests were organized against globalization in Seattle, Washington. The patron saint of these people is Theodore Kaczynsky, the Unabomber, who protested progress and technology.
Some anti-war protesters are average citizens who wish to avoid war, and in this respect their opinion is worthwhile and even admirable, regardless of whether one agrees with them or not. But the majority of the protesters are of the "professional" variety, motivated solely by envy. To describe them succinctly is to identify people who are offended by success, because success makes their failures more obvious. There is nothing admirable about that.
These people are the ones who deify Castro and hang up posters of Che. If they lived in Cuba, their unorthodox lifestyles and desire to make their feelings loudly, publicly known, would make them the first to land in political jails. To this day, Castro imprisons anybody who attempts even the slightest criticism of him, or tries to achieve any political power. My attempt to outline why people still admire Castro is feeble, because in actuality the thinking behind it is so irrational that nobody can really explain it.
Talk show host Michael Savage goes so far as to say it is a mental defect, an actual sickness. This at first seems to be typical right wing bluster, but if one were to take away the names, personalities and politics, he might just have something. If a scenario were presented, in which a man leads a revolution and then becomes so corrupted by it that he becomes a mass murderer and prison warden, the average person would quickly identify his evil. Castro's Cuba was George Orwell's "Animal House" after the fact. People who admire him should be viewed as oddities, like women who pine for imprisoned serial killers. Yet some of these people include major figures of the art world, such as Nobel laureates Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Colombia and Jose Saramogo of Portugal. Recently, Oliver Stone went to visit Castro and make a documentary. He determined that Castro is one of the wisest men on Earth. His portrayal was so flattering that HBO refused to produce it, since it in essence glorified a mass murderer. There is obviously something hypnotic about Castro, a la Hitler, which makes one think that maybe the devil is involved in this whole thing. While Leni Reifenstahl has been reviled her whole life for making propaganda films for the Nazis, a guy like Stone goes right out and makes something far more blatantly political than her purely symbolic, quasi-innocent works of the mid-1930s.
Castro's 1999 celebration of the 40th anniversary of the revolution had the odd appearance of a rogue's gallery of Mafioso celebrating the Appalachia conference in prison, or a bunch of murderers celebrating their tradecraft. Wearing his olive-green military uniform, Castro described his victory on January 1, 1959.
"I felt for a moment a strange sense of emptiness," he said, to leave behind the "hard, pure and healthy" life of a guerrilla to take over Cuba.
"I am not interested in power nor do I envisage assuming it at any time," Castro had lied to the crowds in 1959. 40 years later, he held as firm a grip of power on his country as any despot on Earth. In the early 2000s, some private dissent was allowed in Cuba, but in 2003 Castro decided to end it. He rounded up political prisoners, and as those words were spoken they languished in jails, just as Stalin's prisoners did. There was no opposition.
For 38 years, the U.S. had imposed an economic embargo on Cuba. There are many demands to lift it. Every administration has wisely chosen not to. Castro is evil, his ideology is evil and defeated, and he deserves to fall, not be propped up by the United States. There is little evidence that his Communist economic policies would allow for foreign money to be used effectively for the benefit of his people anyway.
Castro's admirers point out that illiteracy has been wiped out in Cuba, health care is available, the country has "excellent physicians," and it is a sports power. These are all admirable things, but with all due respect this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Reports of literacy, health care and such have the potential of being lies. Maids in hotels that cater to wealthy foreigners make far more money than doctors, so how can it make any sense that the "health care system" is any good? Liberals want to believe that a shack with sign that reads "hospital" on it is available for all, meaning they have good health care. If the medicine is scarce, the tools archaic, the doctors poorly trained and the Hippocratic oath an empty promise, then it is not good health care. As for its sports powers, numerous great baseball players from Cuba have been willing to brave shark-infested waters to come to America and play there. The fact that the populace is close to perpetual starvation is a fact that even Castro's PR people have not hidden. Literacy and "national health care" in Cuba would be 800 percent better off under free market capitalism, as they have been throughout the world.
Right now, the country, despite excellent natural resources, produces little and relies on the tourist trade. Castro, who dressed women in fatigues and propped them up as symbols of Western exploitation, "saved" by his revolution, now oversees a country where tourists can get any kind of action they want at the drop of a hat. In certain hotels, gorgeous Cuban women (and this country is famous for them) dress in sexy outfits and, for the price of a beer and a hot dog, readily perform hardcore sex acts worthy of the most extreme porn movies for these men. The aforementioned "maids" at hotels all happen to be in their 20s and are mouth-watering. The "services" they provide go well beyond cleaning the bathroom. Those who have been there and done that describe it as being like a "kid in a candy store." Is this part of Castro's "success story?"
If Fidel Castro had any decency, he would step down and allow an economic system to take over in which an attractive woman could be educated and use her brains to succeed as an entrepreneur or valuable contributor to a company, instead of a Latina sex fantasy.
In 2000, a young child named Elian Gonzalez was with his mother, who wanted to escape the island, getting on a boat to come to America. The boat went down in the Atlantic, the mother died, but Elian was saved. Castro carted out his father and demanded the boy back, as if living in a Communist hovel was better than staying with successful relatives in Miami. Bill Clinton decided to do Fidel's bidding, and sent Federal forces in to retrieve Elian. The photo of the frightened boy staring into the barrel of a weapon pointed at his eyes remains a fitting symbol of Bill Clinton's legacy.
Cuban exile leaders in Florida have come to despise Castro with an intensity rarely seen this side of Shiite Muslim Mosques. Recognizing that the Democrats were Castro's toadies while the Republicans held the line, the Miami Cuban community is now one of the most solid Republican bases in the country. During the 1999 Castro "lovefest" in Havana, exiles scorned the anniversary of "blood and tears," while reminding the world to remember nearly 400 prisoners of conscience who were Cuban prisons at that time. Reportedly, Castro has greatly added to that number.
The Third World still supports Fidel, as do Russia, North Korea and China. He is a hero in France. The French apparently love dictators as long as they hold their boots to the necks of someone other than them. Portugal and the Vatican sent messages to the 40th anniversary.
In the early 1980s, Castro embarrassed Jimmy Carter, who was pleased when Castro agreed to release all his prisoners. After Carter agreed to take them Castro sent his worst drug dealers, rapists, child molesters and various other charmers in what was called the Mariel Boat Lift. It was not an example the Democrats like to use in their book, "Successful Hard Line Policies of the Liberal Left" (one-half page from Piss Poor Press). In 1994 tens of thousands of Cubans crossed shark-infested seas to Florida in flimsy boats. Four years later, Pope Paul II came to pay his respects, which in light of recent Catholic Church revelations should raise serious questions about that organization's leadership. Hollywood star Jack Nicholson and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien arrived to kiss Castro's ring. The King of Spain, still smarting apparently from Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, has given Castro whatever little credibility his throne bestows, along with other Spanish-speaking heads of state who think their nation's peasants will give them some points for it. Occasionally something like the Ibero-American Summit in Havana takes place and Castro is carted out to speak to people who have decided that the only reason there is pollution and disease in the world is because of America.
What is forgotten by many is that the people who backed Castro in the revolution wanted Democracy. Instead, they got the motto, "Socialism or death," which does not sound very Democratic. Many got their share of death. Castro actually was a believer in Truman's "Domino Theory." He thought Cuban Communism would influence the rest of Latin America.
A few years ago, a group of women and their young kids were attacked by the Cuban coast guard because they were against socialism. The women begged for the lives of their children. The coast guard took a high powered hose and washed the people off the deck of the boat and into the water to drown.
College, technical school and specialized education is all free in Cuba. The problem is that these skills cannot be used by citizens to make worthwhile careers for themselves under their system. Public libraries are available in Cuba, but thousands of great books by Western authors are unavailable because they promote ideas that do not square with the Communist ideal. Castro claims that nobody living in Cuba is living in poverty, and only five percent of Cubans are unemployed. However, since virtually everybody lives in poverty by Western standards, but the poverty is spread equally, he calls this "no poverty." "Employment" is a title, but there is no money and little future in most Cuban occupations.
Cubans do not have the right to travel in and out of the country, without special permission from the government. They do not have freedom of speech, freedom of expression, or the right to own electronic or print media. Industries are run or owned by the government. Outside of a few old school Leftists, they are an international pariah. The choice to make the United States an enemy has cost this country and its people beyond the stated value of money. Castro's horrid atheism, officially imposed on this once-Catholic country, has caused even more deprivation. Cuba is a nation almost without a soul, robbed of traditional family values. Its people live day-to-day, starving for food, opportunity, money, respect and freedom. They are told that because they can get a shot at some free clinic they live in paradise. Fidel Castro is everything that American has always stood against, and because of that the world, thankfully, has very few Fidel Castro's. But for the people of Cuba, this is an ironic joke played on them every day.
Bay of Pigs
Vice-President Nixon opposed Castro from the beginning, and in April of 1959 it was becomingly patently obvious that he was an enemy of the U.S.
“If he’s not a Communist,” Nixon told the American Society of Newspaper Editors, “he certainly acts like one.” Castro visited the U.S. as a guest, and was feted by Hollywood and Broadway celebrities and showgirls, surrounding him in Manhattan nightclubs, catering to his every need in one of the most disgusting displays this side of all their other disgusting displays. Castro's visit to America marks the real end of the McCarthy era and the beginning of a liberal backlash against it that continues to this day.
On March 17, 1960, President Eisenhower approved a CIA plan titled “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime.” Nine months later, official diplomatic relations were broken of.
The plan called for the creation of unified Cuban opposition to the regime; the development of a propaganda offensive for the Cuban people; the development of covert intelligence and action in country, in communication with the exile opposition; and a paramilitary of guerrilla fighters. The intent was to make all of it look like it was not part of a U.S. operation, which in retrospect seems to be the biggest mistake. Had the Eisenhower Administration identified him as a Communist, targeted him as an enemy, built support for an invasion, and gone in with a multi-national coalition, history would have been changed. Kennedy probably would not have been elected President, and there never would have been a Bay of Pigs or a Cuban Missile Crisis. But the CIA was golden in those days. "Covert Ops" was the new watchword. The feeling was that America could do whatever they wanted to in secret, without going through the process of creating Congressional or international support.
Eisenhower approved a $4,400,000 project; $950,000 for political action; $1,700,000 for propaganda; $1,500,000 for the paramilitary; and $250,000 for intelligence collection. The invasion would cost over $46 million.
On January 3, 1961, CIA Director of Plans Richard Bissell met with the President at the White House.
“The President seemed to be eager to take forceful action against Castro, and breaking off diplomatic relations appeared to be his best card," Bissell wrote in his memoirs. "He noted that he was prepared to ‘move against Castro’ before Kennedy’s inauguration on the 20th if a ‘really good excuse’ was provided by Castro. ‘Failing that,’ he said, ‘perhaps we could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable.’ …This is but another example of his willingness to use covert action - specifically to fabricate events - to achieve his objectives in foreign policy.”
Although the plan was not carried out in the succeeding 17 days, by the time JFK took office on January 20, the plan was a fait accompli. Serious commitments were made to the Cuban exiles, and the issue promised to have major political repercussions. There is little doubt that the general consensus on both sides of the aisle was that Castro had to be removed.
Denials of any plans were made, even though on October 31, 1960, Cuban Foreign Minister Raúl Roa, in a session at the U.N. General Assembly, detailed the plan. The Communistas referred to the exiles as mercenaries and counterrevolutionaries because they were paid the princely sum of $400 a month to train, with $175 for their wives and children.
Trinidad, a city on the southern coast of Cuba near the Escambray Mountains, was the original landing point. Kennedy did not like the location, and also changed it from daytime to a nighttime operation in order to mask U.S. involvement. The Bay of Pig had an airstrip on the beach from which bombing raids could be conducted. The bay would be turned into a provisional command post by the exiles, followed by a new government. This new government would request military support from the U.S. immediately, which Kennedy wanted to justify lending U.S. troops to the fray.
“It is hard to believe in retrospect that the President and his advisers felt the plans for a large-scale, complicated military operation that had been ongoing for more than a year could be reworked in four days and still offer a high likelihood of success. It is equally amazing that we in the agency agreed so readily,” Bissell stated.
An amphibious nocturnal landing, as opposed to a widespread daytime operation, reduced the possibility of a mass uprising, which was counted on and is considered one of the big mistakes of the plan. The Bay of Pigs location made retreat into the Escambray Mountains difficult if not impossible.
“Castro’s fledgling air force was to be destroyed prior to the invasion,” Néstor T. Carbonell described in his book, "And the Russians Stayed: The Sovietization of Cuba". “Enemy troops, trucks, and tanks would not be able to reach the brigade; they would be blasted from the air. To allay any fears of a Castro counteroffensive, the CIA briefer asserted that ‘an umbrella’ above would at all times guard the entire operation against any Castro fighter planes that might remain operational.”
Various JFK-influenced memos and notes kept from meetings prior to the invasion warned of legal ramifications and subtly discouraged the plan. This would fall in line with the Kennedy M.O., which is to cover both ends of the argument. As President, such a policy can be disastrous. An op like the Bay of Pigs required full support in every way.
On January 28 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Castro’s forces were too strong. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara questioned whether the plan would result in “the agreed national goal of overthrowing Castro.”
On March 29 Senator Fulbright memoed JFK.
“To give this activity even covert support is of a piece with the hypocrisy and cynicism for which the United States is constantly denouncing the Soviet Union in the United Nations and elsewhere," he wrote. "This point will not be lost on the rest of the world - nor on our own consciences.”
Fulbright's "conscience" never bothered him when he voted against civil rights and influenced his protégé, the "conscientious objector" Bill Clinton.
Under Secretary of State Chester A. Bowles wrote to Secretary of State Dean Rusk on March 31 citing moral and legal grounds in opposition to the plan. Arthur Schlesinger in "A Thousand Days" wrote, “Fulbright, speaking in an emphatic and incredulous way, denounced the whole idea. The operation, he said, was wildly out of proportion to the threat. It would compromise our moral position in the world and make it impossible for us to protest treaty violations by the Communists. He gave a brave, old-fashioned American speech, honorable, sensible and strong; and he left everyone in the room, except me and perhaps the President, wholly unmoved."
On April 12, Kennedy held a press conference, and in response to a question on Cuba said, “First, I want to say that there will not be, under any conditions, an intervention in Cuba by the United States Armed Forces. This government will do everything it possibly can, I think it can meet its responsibilities, to make sure that there are no Americans involved in any actions inside Cuba…The basic issue in Cuba is not one between the United States and Cuba. It is between the Cubans themselves.”
“One further factor no doubt influenced him," wrote Schlesinger, “the enormous confidence in his own luck. Everything had broken right for him since 1956. He had won the nomination and the election against all the odds in the book. Everyone around him thought he had the Midas touch and could not lose. Despite himself, even this dispassionate and skeptical man may have been affected by the soaring euphoria of the new day.”
In retrospect, both Bush Presidencies seem to have learned from JFK's mistakes. By making plans for foreign invasions well known ahead of time, they avoided the kind of secrecy that was said to discredit America during the Bay of Pigs operation. Perhaps because their idol Kennedy was such a profound liar, modern Democrats feel the need to inaccurately portray George W. Bush as one.
The counterrevolutionaries were known as Brigade 2506, assembled at Retalhuleu, on the west coast of Guatemala, where U.S. engineers fashioned a training base out of an airport. On April 14 six ships sailed from Nicaragua’s Puerto Cabezas. They were given a cheering send-off by Nicaraguan president Luis Somoza. He reportedly asked for some hairs from Castro’s beard.
Given the fact that the brigade departed from Nicaragua in a manner similar to Confederate troops leaving Charleston, it is not surprising that Castro knew an invasion was coming. The key in the planners' minds was not that he knew about it. The Germans knew about D-Day. The time and location were the operative factors in question.
U.S. B-26 bombers attacked four Cuban airfields at the same time on Saturday, April 15. The Cuban Air Force was dispersed and camouflaged, with unusable planes left out to draw the bombs.
The B-26s were disguised to look as if they were Cuban planes flown by defecting Cuban pilots. An exile Cuban pilot named Mario Zúñiga was photographed next to his plane, and the picture was distributed to the press. The "cover story" quickly unraveled. Many reporters had inside information and the truth was revealed.
CIA operatives had been sent to Cuba to prep for the operation ahead of time. They were supposed to aid the invaders, blowing up bridges and performing terrorist acts meant to spur the populace into supporting the exiles.
U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson rejected Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Raúl Roa’s report of the attack. He presented a copy of the newspaper photo, but in the photo, the plane shown had an opaque nose, whereas the model of the B-26 planes used by the Cubans had a Plexiglas nose. Stevenson, apparently not in the loop, was to be Kennedy's "official liar.”
Just before midnight on Sunday, April 16, a team of frogmen went ashore and set up landing lights to guide the operation. The force consisted of 1,500 men divided into six battalions, with Manuel Artime as the political chief.
Two battalions came ashore at Playa Girón and one at Playa Larga, but the razor-sharp coral reefs, identified by U2 spy photos as seaweed, delayed the landing. The air attacks the following morning were then exposed. Two ships sank 80 yards from shore. Heavy equipment was lost.
Cuban militia commander José Ramón González Suco was stationed in Playa Larga and he reported the invasion. On Monday, Secretary of State Rusk gave a press conference.
“The American people are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to do so in the future,” he said. “The answer to that question is no. What happens in Cuba is for the Cuban people to decide.”
Operatives in country, some posing as students home on vacation, were unsure when the invasion would take place and were surprised to hear news reports of its beginning. Lacking coordination, they failed to blow bridges or carry out other assignments. Some of them drove to Guantánamo, jumping the fence to the U.S. Naval Base for sanctuary.
By Monday morning Castro had ordered successful air responses. Cuban pilot Captain Enrique Carreras Rojas sank the command vessel Maropa and the supply ship Houston.
Ambassador Stevenson was so outraged at being duped that he publicly urged the attack be stopped.
“Cuba is not alone today," Soviet Ambassador Zorin said. "Among her most sincere friends the Soviet Union is to be found.”
Khruschev contacted JFK with a mid-day letter that read, “It is a secret to no one that the armed bands invading this country were trained, equipped and armed in the United States of America. The planes which are bombing Cuban cities belong to the United States of America; the bombs they are dropping are being supplied by the American Government.
“…It is still not late to avoid the irreparable. The government of the U.S.A. still has the possibility of not allowing the flame of war ignited by interventions in Cuba to grow into an incomparable conflagration.
“As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, there should be no mistake about our position: We will render the Cuban people and their government all necessary help to repel an armed attack on Cuba.”
Expected U.S. air cover never came. Amid all the confusion and "fog of war," Kennedy was utterly defenseless. When Rusk advised that additional strikes would tilt international opinion against the U.S., Kennedy agreed.
“At about 9:30 P.M. on April 16,” wrote L. Fletcher Prouty in "Bay of Pigs: The Pivotal Operation of the JFK Era", “Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President, telephoned the CIA’s General C.P. Cabell to inform him that the air strikes the following dawn should not be launched until they could be conducted from a strip within the beachhead.”
“From its inception the plan had been developed under the ground rule that it must retain a covert character, that is, it should include no action which, if revealed, could not be plausibly denied by the United States and should look to the world as an operation exclusively conducted by Cubans," wrote General Maxwell Taylor in his report. "This ground rule meant, among other things, that no U.S. military forces or individuals could take part in combat operations.”
JFK knew the hawks would have a field day judging his performance, so he decided to take some half measures. He authorized a limited air strike on April 19, but it resulted in the needless sacrifice of four American pilots. Most historians believe that the operation has been judged fairly, but it seems virtually impossible to believe that had Nixon been responsible for such a disaster, he would have avoided anything less than utter liberal piling-on. This is simply a fact of American life, identified and exposed to be what it is by those of us who have knowledge of it.
At 2:30 P.M., brigade commander “Pepe” Perez San Roman ordered radio operator Julio Monzon Santos to transmit a final message from brigade 2506.
“We have nothing left to fight with, “ San Roman said. He was heart-broken. “How can you people do this to us, our people, our country? Over and out.”
The survivors all felt the lack of air cover was the cause of their demise. 200 soldiers were killed and 1,197 were captured.
“There’s no question that the brigade members were competent, valiant, and committed in their efforts to salvage a rapidly deteriorating situation in a remote area,” wrote Bissell. “Most of them had no previous professional military training, yet they mounted an amphibious landing and conducted air operations in a manner that was a tribute to their bravery and dedication. They did not receive their due.”
“The reality,” wrote Schlesinger, “was that Fidel Castro turned out to be a far more formidable foe and in command of a far better organized regime than anyone had supposed. His patrols spotted the invasion at almost the first possible moment. His planes reacted with speed and vigor. His police eliminated any chance of sabotage or rebellion behind the lines. His soldiers stayed loyal and fought hard. He himself never panicked; and, if faults were chargeable to him, they were his overestimate of the strength of the invasion and undue caution in pressing the ground attack against the beachhead. His performance was impressive.”
On April 20 Castro went on Havana’s Union Radio and said, “the revolution has been victorious… destroying in less than 72 hours the army the U.S. imperialist government had organized for many months.”
“We have always been in danger of direct aggression,” said Castro in an April 23 speech, “we have been warning about this in the United Nations: That they would find a pretext, that they would organize some act of aggression so that they could intervene.
“The United States has no right to meddle in our domestic affairs. We do not speak English and we do not chew gum. We have a different tradition, a different culture, our own way of thinking. We have no borders with anybody. Our frontier is the sea, very clearly defined.
“How can the crooked politicians and the exploiters have more rights than the people? What right does a rich country have to impose its yoke on our people? Only because they have might and no scruples; they do not respect international rules. They should have been ashamed to be engaged in this battle of Goliath against David - and to lose it besides.”
The irony of the atheist Castro using a Biblical tale to describe his own story is just one of the humiliations that America suffered with this event. The Bay of Pigs operation goes to the very heart of America's role in the world. This book argues that throughout history, evil has run unchecked. Wars and struggles resulted in monumentally inhuman acts committed by man against man. The British Empire helped to modernize and Christianize indigenous populations, but one of the enduring questions is whether this is a good thing or not. This is the focus of questions that address America's Westward Expansion, Manifest Destiny, and eventually intervention in countries like Guatemala, Iran and Cuba.
Getting back to the British Empire and Kipling's "white man's burden," it breaks down, quite simply in the end, to whether there is greater benefit brought to the indigenous populations by whites than there is disadvantage. The disadvantages are well chronicled, and include disease, exploitation and racism. Only a fool would argue that these are not legitimate arguments. The benefits are Christianity, capitalism, trade, medicine, freedom, Democratic political structures as envisioned by Plato, roads, technology, communications, telephones, air travel, cars, irrigation, effective farming techniques, and about six million, five hundred thousand, sixty-three other things - too numerous to list here.
Some fools argue that these things are not benefits, but in so doing they identify their foolishness, therefore rendering their arguments nothing more than synapses in the air. The real question comes down to how these benefits could have been imparted on the native lands without the disadvantages (namely, the racism, exploitation and disease). This hypothetical was posed earlier in relation to America's Westward Expansion. The parameters were based on the "time travel" fantasy, which allows man to go back to other periods in history, knowing what we know now and able to apply it to what was happening then, so as to effect the better outcome. I put ex-President Clinton, the man who presided over the Politically Correct 1990s, in charge of this monumental venture. Remember, the group only has knowledge, not technology or later inventions, at their disposal. They have to make do with what is available at the time they venture to. My hypothesis is that even if Clinton entered the Indian Territories, or tried to resurrect some more peaceful resolution to the Mexican-American conflict than what actually happened, he would have found himself frustrated like modern politicians who cannot understand why they are unable to "talk sense" to Hamas, thus preventing their terrorism from disrupting the Palestinian peace process.
I could be wrong. Maybe Clinton is such a skilled negotiator that he could have established lasting frameworks of peace that would have prevented the U.S. from fighting a war with Mexico, brokering some kind of equitable deal over California, Arizona and Texas. Or he might have been able to prevent the Trail of Tears. Maybe he and Hillary could have created peace treaties that would have lasted. Perhaps the Americans and the tribes would have been able to co-exist without wars, battles like the Little Big Horn, and men like Chief George could have kept his Nez Pearce in his beloved Oregon instead of becoming a fugitive in Canada.
A hypothesis is a hypothethis; that is, an "educated guess." The "time machine" hypothesis can be applied to the British Empire just as easily. No doubt the Labor party could find some bleeding heart who could go back and broker English interaction in 19th Century India, the Orient and Africa, all done in such a way as to prevent violence, promoting understanding, and preventing the spread of disease.
The conclusion that the 19th Century Clinton, or his English counterpart, fails to successfully carry out these missions of understanding and inclusiveness, in the end becomes something that is some form of racism or bigotry. The hope here is that the realization that it would be called racism, and the desire for it not to be that, somehow fulfills that desire. That is as hopeless as Don Quixote's jousting at windmills. All that is left is an honest appraisal of history.
One cannot have the modern benefits brought by the white man without the problems brought by the white man. The expansion of empire and colonialism was an inevitable clash of cultures. The real question is whether the natives would be better off not having come in contact with whites. If Hawaiians, for instance, had never seen whites, would that island be better off today? Would native Africans, with no access to whites, ever have developed medicines, planes, cars and the like? Would they be in better shape without these things? This is a question that to many seem utterly stupid to even ask. I include myself among those who think there is not a question that the answer is "no!" However, there are those who think otherwise. They are free to think that, and we are free to identify the stupidity of that thinking.
Is it possible that delegations of whites could have been brought in to teach natives how to read, then left them books on curing cancer, building bridges, constructing phone lines, and then expected that if they came back 30 years later these things would have been accomplished? Again, there are some who might like to think that. The actual answer is, No, it is not possible. Not even Shakespeare's Horatio could have dreamt of such things in his philosophy. One story out of Africa concerns English engineers who constructed a dam and an irrigation channel to help the natives conserve drinking water and create fertile farmlands. They left, and years later came back. The Africans had torn down the wood planks, sharpened them, and used them as spears to kill each other.
Call it white arrogance and bigotry, but strip away all these notions and it becomes that with which is, as opposed to that with which some people hope would be. This by no means is to say that whites have the corner on morality. The more legitimate argument available to the Left is that the natives do less damage to themselves as simpletons than the whites do with all their technology. The Civil War, the Great War and the Holocaust seem to bear this out.
In the 20th Century, natives have gained access to "white" technology and done some terrible damage. The invention of gunpowder no doubt became a tool that allowed Orientals to kill lots of Orientals, Africans to kill lots of Africans, and so forth. The Left might say that left to their own devices, not introduced to machine guns, land mines and other weapons of (mass) destruction, native peoples never would have found their "inner killers," and simply existed as happy peaceniks.
The problem with that is several thousand years of evidence to the contrary. The Incas and Aztecs, for instance, are often cited as examples of enlightened native cultures. They created pyramids of great architectural achievement, and made breakthroughs in irrigation and water usage. They also enjoyed taking virgin girls and cutting their hearts out while the girl was still alive, as an offering to their "gods." The morally relativistic argument that breaking things and killing each other is okay because it is part of their "culture" is that with which is herein identified as a lie.
American Indians fought horrendous wars with each other for centuries before they heard of George Armstrong Custer. Ethnic, tribal and religious strife among native populations in Africa, the Middle East, the Orient and throughout the globe resulted in horrendous violence and cruelty. Many, many cases no doubt abound whereby nuclear weapons would have been used if available.
These are the facts. The Left likes to say that this is just their "culture." Fine, but if ones' culture includes breaking things and killing people, it deserves to be identified for what it is, and not excused under the guise of moral relativism. So, dear reader, by this time you must be wondering about the author, no doubt run amok still again. Off on a rant. A tangent. Not so fast. There is a point, and it goes back to the Bay of Pigs, which is as good a place to use the example as any. I am getting to it.
It all comes down to the idea that God sanctions America. If you are among those who believe that the natives would have been better off without those nasty white explorers, settlers and traders, then the argument will carry no weight. It survives only if the cost-benefit analysis of white intervention is weighed and modernity given the nod. Once this is established (and their really is no "question" about it), then the idea of America's place in this brave new world comes into view.
The premise is that after thousands of years, the world essentially consisted of Europe (with England being the dominant country), while the rest of the world was more or less a mess. Even England had so much baggage, after fighting various wars and dealing with tyrannical Kings, that they were not in the moral position to take the next big step.
In the humble opinion of Yours Truly, God in his wisdom decided that He needed a country that would be so big, so powerful, so good and so successful that it could help Him win the fight against evil. Call it a cartoon if you like, but events of the past 228 years make it difficult to totally dispute the premise. That country is America.
Such an undertaking is not something that happens smoothly. There are bumps in the road. The first was slavery. When America was finished fighting and writing laws, they banished that peculiar institution into oblivion, seen no more outside of some Russian whorehouses, Chinese massage parlors and a few Arab sheikdoms. The sex trade, however, is a heck of a lot different than blacks picking plantation cotton.
Then America, almost by force of divine will (or perhaps actually by force of divine will), rose from a few agrarian states into a transcontinental power, with a military that stopped the Kaiser. The first time had to be luck, or so it was thought in the Reichstag. After sending Hitler and Tojo to the Infernal Regions, the luck question was answered.
By 1950, something was driving U.S. foreign policy, and it was not mere diplomacy, "peace through strength," or containment. The emergence of atomic, hydrogen and eventually nuclear bombs changed the dynamic. Why, for instance, had America been the first country to successfully develop the A-bomb? Hitler had brilliant scientists working around the clock with the "heavy water" project at Pennemunde, Finland. If Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union or China had developed the weapon first, the world would be one big concentration camp. But America built it, and as a result, freedom reigned. But why? Is God not involved? Is it all just breaks? Believe that at your peril.
With all the responsibility of protecting the world during a time when Communism and hydrogen bombs hung over our Cold War heads, U.S. policymakers began to feel that they were ordained by a greater power. MacArthur had said he was called to "save the world for Christendom." The CIA adopted a Puritan stance, creating a church-like reverence for the work they were doing. Not everybody saw the seriousness of it all. The "useful idiots" who were proved wrong by history would have you believe that the Communism they wanted to "get along with" was not so bad anyway.
20 million dead in the Soviet Union. 65 million in China. Millions more in Eastern Europe, Vietnam, Cuba and Cambodia. Communism was no mystery to the policy-planners of the 1950s. McCarthyism had rent great destruction to its support base, but there were enough vigilant Americans around to open their eyes to this international atrocity.
Now, with Communism in our backyard, spreading through Latin America, the American government decided that Castro had to go. Adlai Stevenson and his ilk could not see the nobility in this. He only worried about the diplomatic ramifications, and made the morally relativistic argument that if we invaded Cuba, it made us no different than the Soviets taking over Eastern Europe. It would render future U.S. treaties invalid.
In reality, the Bay of Pigs was a part of America's ongoing Manifest Destiny. I use it to make this point not because it was a shining example of American success, but for precisely the opposite reason. The world was and is a dangerous place, and each step to the road of worldwide freedom forged by America is earned by blood and sacrifice.
Cuba remains a sore spot, but America survived it just as we survived and overcame Vietnam. It is beautiful irony, in fact, that the two countries that thought they got the better of America ended up impoverished because the ideology they put their money on died an ugly death. In so doing, not only was Communism defeated but the "victory" of the Left was denied them, as well. Satan is still out there, though, but like Middle Eastern terrorists, we have him on the run. He has dodged from Europe and Japan to the Soviet Union and China, but the U.S. has not allowed him to get a toehold. He put up a stand in the Middle East, but we have decided that enough is enough and are working on rooting him out of there, too. Now he roams freely in Africa, where AIDS and tribal wars have wrought the continent with some of the most awful horrors seen heretofore. When it is all said and done, it will be America who smokes him out of the Dark Continent. It was in this spirit that America was right to try to free Cuba, and for all the liberals who think Castro is a radically chic Robin Hood, put that in your pipes and smoke it.
What is left in Cuba is actually a parody, a joke. Free speech is a beautiful thing, but it works in odd ways. As Forrest Gump said, "Stupid is as stupid does." In this regard, America has reached the point where there is enough truthful information available. No longer do the biases of Walter Cronkite and Dan Blather influence the United States. Now, when liberals say unpatriotic or ignorant things, a large percentage of Americans have enough knowledge available to them to identify what they say as unpatriotic or ignorant. This beats heck out of being influenced by it.
The same thing applies to Castro. Whereby the Communist rulers of Vietnam and even China tend to keep their mouths shut on the international stage, knowing their Marxist slogans are the remnants of a defeated past, Castro has too much ego to go into his little corner. He and Kim Jong-Il do more to remind people of the stupidity of Communism by talking about it than by shutting it down. Both men are egomaniacs who are addicted to themselves
“Humble, honest blood was shed in the struggle against the mercenaries of imperialism," blurted Castro, still trying to identify a country that broke from imperialism in order to form themselves, as imperialists. "But what blood, what men did imperialism send here to establish that beachhead, to bleed our revolution dry, to destroy our achievements, to burn our cane? [In the account of the invasion published by Castro, it was estimated that the invaders and their families between them once owned a million acres of land, 10,000 houses, 70 factories, 10 sugar mills, five mines, and two banks.]
“We can tell the people right here that at the same instant that three of our airports were being bombed, the Yankee agencies were telling the world that our airports had been attacked by planes from our own air force. They cold-bloodedly bombed our nation and told the world that the bombing was done by Cuban pilots with Cuban planes. This was done with planes on which they painted our insignia.
“If nothing else, this deed should be enough to demonstrate how miserable are the actions of imperialism.
“No state or group of states has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatsoever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the state or against its political, economic and cultural elements.
“No state may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another state and obtain from it advantages of any kind.
“The territory of a state is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another state, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatsoever…”
Castro apparently forgot his own words when he sent Guevara to other Latin American countries to foment revolutions. He did the same thing in Africa in the 1970s, and in Grenada in the 1980s.
As for the Americans, the CIA and the Brigade, they were honorable men, not mercenaries. Interviews with former Brigade members indicate a very strong Christian identification. They knew first hand that Castro was performing vile acts on their country, and their decision to fight him was one that came from deep down.
The Americans who trained with them came to respect them immensely.
“We had lived with the Cubans for three months, and we were so close to them that their cause became our cause,” recalled Joe Shannon, a colonel in the Alabama Air National Guard, and a colleague of the four dead U.S. pilots.
On April 20, 1961, President Kennedy went before the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
“…This was a struggle of Cuban patriots against a Cuban dictator," Kennedy lied. "While we could not be expected to hide our sympathies, we made it repeatedly clear that the armed forces of this country would not intervene in any way.
“But let the record show that our restraint is not inexhaustible…if the nations of this hemisphere should fail to meet their commitments against outside Communist penetration - then I want it clearly understood that this government will not hesitate in meeting its primary obligations which are to the security of our nation.”
In "Cold War and Counter-Revolution: The Foreign Policy of John F. Kennedy", Richard J. Walton wrote, “Kennedy did not apologize; rather he issued threats. And he reiterated his amendment to the Monroe Doctrine; that Latin American nations were free to choose their own governments, but only as long as they were not Communist."
Castro ordered show trials for the 1,189 prisoners, sentencing all of them to 30 years in prison. "Negotiations" ensued. Ransom was more like it. In exchange for $53 million in food and medicine they were let go, another ironic fact, since if Castro had simply chosen not be a Marxist he easily would have gotten $53 million in food and medicine from a generous America. Two men, Ramon Conte and Ricardo Montenero Duque, were actually held for 25 years.
President Kennedy fired long-time CIA Director Allen W. Dulles, Deputy Director Charles P. Cabell, and Deputy Director Bissell. He then assumed full responsibility, but made sure his press handlers leaked his "secret" blame of the CIA. He ordered a full inquiry, which was written by CIA inspector general Lyman Kirkpatrick. Dulles' successor, a conservative Republican from San Francisco (how about that!) named John McCone, thought it was despicable. He ordered all but one of the 20 copies produced to be trashed. The report was classified until 1998.
According to Kirkpatrick, ignorance, incompetence, and arrogance were the hallmarks of the operation. While it was a flawed plan, the report seems intent on making The Company look bad and cleansing JFK's image. It paints a picture of a misinformed Kennedy and administration officials, poor planning, unverified intelligence and agency overreach.
“The agency reduced the exile leaders to the status of puppets,” it read.
Whatever it was, it set the table for the next great Cold War confrontation, which would take place one and a half years later.
Recent Kennedy historians have "revealed" that JFK was willing to discuss a form of détente with Castro. Whether this is part of the Leftist attempt to paint Castro as less evil than he is, is not really known. What is known is that JFK and Bobby Kennedy engaged in plans that looked like anything but détente.
Code-named “Operation Mongoose,” spurred by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, it was an attempt to eliminate Castro with "extreme prejudice." On the other hand, getting back to the Kennedy style of playing both ends, perhaps they were planning a "niceness" campaign in case the poisoned cigars and cyanide-laced liquor did not do the trick. It is also instructive to remember what and who the Kennedys were. The sons of Joseph P. Kennedy played to win. All the "moralism" that Bobby is credited with in advocating that the U.S. not invade Cuba to get the "missiles of October"; in helping Mexican farmworkers in California in 1968; or in giving peace a chance in Vietnam - all of this is strictly cold political calculation. The fact that they are is not a criticism of RFK. The fact is, being embarrassed by Fidel Castro made Castro an enemy of the first order, and in the Kennedy scheme of things they were going to see to it that the Cuban SOB got his. Castro knew this, and because he knows this, the argument that he was behind JFK's assassination is strengthened. Had Bobby been elected in 1968, the whole "get Castro" business would have started up again. Fidel blew a huge sigh of relief when Sirhan Sirhan killed Bobby, and he no doubt considers Mary Jo Kopechne to be a "hero of the Revolution." Politics works in strange ways.
“To understand the Kennedy Administration’s obsession with Cuba, it is important to understand the Kennedys, especially Robert," Dick Bissell wrote. "From their perspective, Castro won the first round at the Bay of Pigs. He had defeated the Kennedy team; they were bitter and they could not tolerate his getting away with it. The President and his brother were ready to avenge their personal embarrassment by overthrowing their enemy at any cost. I don’t believe there was any significant policy debate in the executive branch on the desirability of getting rid of Castro. Robert Kennedy’s involvement in organizing and directing Mongoose became so intense that he might as well have been deputy director for plans for the operation.”
An Army memorandum from March 1, 1962 titled, “Possible Actions to Provoke, Harass or Disrupt Cuba,” outlined Operation Bingo, a plan to fake an attack on the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, provide cover for a military strike on Havana. Operation Dirty Trick was to blame Castro if the 1962 Mercury manned space flight carrying John Glenn crashed. Operation Good Times included faking photos of “an obese Castro” with two voluptuous women in a lavishly furnished room “and a table brimming over with the most delectable Cuban food.” The caption would read, “My ration is different.”
According to U.S. News & World Report (October 26, 1998), an estimated 10,000 pages of previously secret documents were quietly declassified. Other CIA plots included hiring Mafia hit men to present a poisoned scuba suit to Castro. “Remember the Maine incident” was an effort to stir up a military attack, blame it on Cuba, and use it as an excuse for military intervention. Maybe that plan was kept around for the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, who asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their opinion on top-secret plans to eliminate Castro and concoct a military pretext, headed operation Mongoose. Records show that the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorsed the ideas as “suitable for planning purposes.” None of them were ever carried out.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism