GR Editor’s Note: This incisive article was written on April 30, 2003, by historian and political scientist Jacques Pauwels. A timely question: Why Does the Trump administration want war,
Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen… Why has the US been at war for more than half a century … ? And why do Americans support the US military agenda?
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Wars are a terrible waste of lives and resources, and for that reason most people are in principle opposed to wars. The American President, on the other hand, seems to love war. Why? Many commentators have sought the answer in psychological factors. Some opined that George W. Bush considered it his duty to finish the job started, but for some obscure reason not completed, by his father at the time of the Gulf War; others believe that Bush Junior expected a short and triumphant war which would guarantee him a second term in the White House.
I believe that we must look elsewhere for an explanation for the attitude of the American President.
The fact that Bush is keen on war has little or nothing to do with his psyche, but a great deal with the American economic system. This system – America’s brand of capitalism – functions first and foremost to make extremely rich Americans like the Bush “money dynasty” even richer. Without warm or cold wars, however, this system can no longer produce the expected result in the form of the ever-higher profits the moneyed and powerful of America consider as their birthright.
The great strength of American capitalism is also its great weakness, namely, its extremely high productivity. In the historical development of the international economic system that we call capitalism, a number of factors have produced enormous increases in productivity, for example, the mechanization of the production process that got under way in England as early as the 18th century. In the early 20th century, then, American industrialists made a crucial contribution in the form of the automatization of work by means of new techniques such as the assembly line. The latter was an innovation introduced by Henry Ford, and those techniques have therefore become collectively known as “Fordism.” The productivity of the great American enterprises rose spectacularly.
For example, already in the 1920s, countless vehicles rolled off the assembly lines of the automobile factories of Michigan every single day. But who was supposed to buy all those cars? Most Americans at the time did not have sufficiently robust pocket books for such a purchase. Other industrial products similarly flooded the market, and the result was the emergence of a chronic disharmony between the ever-increasing economic supply and the lagging demand. Thus arose the economic crisis generally known as the Great Depression. It was essentially a crisis of overproduction. Warehouses were bursting with unsold commodities, factories laid off workers, unemployment exploded, and so the purchasing power of the American people shrunk even more, making the crisis even worse.
It cannot be denied that in America the Great Depression only ended during, and because of, the Second World War. (Even the greatest admirers of President Roosevelt admit that his much-publicized New Deal policies brought little or no relief.) Economic demand rose spectacularly when the war which had started in Europe, and in which the USA itself was not an active participant before 1942, allowed American industry to produce unlimited amounts of war equipment. Between 1940 and 1945, the American state would spend no less than 185 billion dollar on such equipment, and the military expenditures’ share of the GNP thus rose between 1939 and 1945 from an insignificant 1,5 per cent to approximately 40 per cent. In addition, American industry also supplied gargantuan amounts of equipment to the British and even the Soviets via Lend-Lease. (In Germany, meanwhile, the subsidiaries of American corporations such as Ford, GM, and ITT produced all sorts of planes and tanks and other martial toys for the Nazi’s, also after Pearl Harbor, but that is a different story.) The key problem of the Great Depression – the disequilibrium between supply and demand – was thus resolved because the state “primed the pump” of economic demand by means of huge orders of a military nature.
As far as ordinary Americans were concerned, Washington’s military spending orgy brought not only virtually full employment but also much higher wages than ever before; it was during the Second World War that the widespread misery associated with the Great Depression came to an end and that a majority of the American people achieved an unprecedented degree of prosperity. However, the greatest beneficiaries by far of the wartime economic boom were the country’s businesspeople and corporations, who realized extraordinary profits. Between 1942 and 1945, writes the historian Stuart D. Brandes, the net profits of America’s 2,000 biggest firms were more than 40 per cent higher than during the period 1936-1939. Such a “profit boom” was possible, he explains, because the state ordered billions of dollars of military equipment, failed to institute price controls, and taxed profits little if at all. This largesse benefited the American business world in general, but in particular that relatively restricted elite of big corporations known as “big business” or “corporate America.” During the war, a total of less than 60 firms obtained 75 per cent of all lucrative military and other state orders. The big corporations – Ford, IBM, etc. – revealed themselves to be the “war hogs,” writes Brandes, that gormandized at the plentiful trough of the state’s military expenditures. IBM, for example, increased its annual sales between 1940 and 1945 from 46 to 140 million dollar thanks to war-related orders, and its profits skyrocketed accordingly.
America’s big corporations exploited their Fordist expertise to the fullest in order to boost production, but even that was not sufficient to meet the wartime needs of the American state. Much more equipment was needed, and in order to produce it, America needed new factories and even more efficient technology. These new assets were duly stamped out of the ground, and on account of this the total value of all productive facilities of the nation increased between 1939 and 1945 from 40 to 66 billion dollar. However, it was not the private sector that undertook all these new investments; on account of its disagreeable experiences with overproduction during the thirties, America’s businesspeople found this task too risky. So the state did the job by investing 17 billion dollar in more than 2,000 defense-related projects. In return for a nominal fee, privately owned corporations were permitted to rent these brand-new factories in order to produce…and to make money by selling the output back to the state. Moreover, when the war was over and Washington decided to divest itself of these investments, the nation’s big corporations purchased them for half, and in many cases only one third, of the real value.
How did America finance the war, how did Washington pay the lofty bills presented by GM, ITT, and the other corporate suppliers of war equipment? The answer is: partly by means of taxation – about 45 per cent -, but much more through loans – approximately 55 per cent. On account of this, the public debt increased dramatically, namely, from 3 billion dollar in 1939 to no less than 45 billion dollar in 1945. In theory, this debt should have been reduced, or wiped out altogether, by levying taxes on the huge profits pocketed during the war by America’s big corporations, but the reality was different. As already noted, the American state failed to meaningfully tax corporate America’s windfall profits, allowed the public debt to mushroom, and paid its bills, and the interest on its loans, with its general revenues, that is, by means of the income generated by direct and indirect taxes. Particularly on account of the regressive Revenue Act introduced in October 1942, these taxes were paid increasingly by workers and other low-income Americans, rather than by the super-rich and the corporations of which the latter were the owners, major shareholders, and/or top managers. “The burden of financing the war,” observes the American historian Sean Dennis Cashman, “[was] sloughed firmly upon the shoulders of the poorer members of society.”
However, the American public, preoccupied by the war and blinded by the bright sun of full employment and high wages, failed to notice this. Affluent Americans, on the other hand, were keenly aware of the wonderful way in which the war generated money for themselves and for their corporations. Incidentally, it was also from the rich businesspeople, bankers, insurers and other big investors that Washington borrowed the money needed to finance the war; corporate America thus also profited from the war by pocketing the lion’s share of the interests generated by the purchase of the famous war bonds. In theory, at least, the rich and powerful of America are the great champions of so-called free enterprise, and they oppose any form of state intervention in the economy. During the war, however, they never raised any objections to the way in which the American state managed and financed the economy, because without this large-scale dirigist violation of the rules of free enterprise, their collective wealth could never have proliferated as it did during those years.
During the Second World War, the wealthy owners and top managers of the big corporations learned a very important lesson: during a war there is money to be made, lots of money. In other words, the arduous task of maximizing profits – the key activity within the capitalist American economy – can be absolved much more efficiently through war than through peace; however, the benevolent cooperation of the state is required. Ever since the Second World War, the rich and powerful of America have remained keenly conscious of this. So is their man in the White House today [2003, i.e. George W. Bush], the scion of a “money dynasty” who was parachuted into the White House in order to promote the interests of his wealthy family members, friends, and associates in corporate America, the interests of money, privilege, and power.
In the spring of 1945 it was obvious that the war, fountainhead of fabulous profits, would soon be over. What would happen then? Among the economists, many Cassandras conjured up scenarios that loomed extremely unpleasant for America’s political and industrial leaders. During the war, Washington’s purchases of military equipment, and nothing else, had restored the economic demand and thus made possible not only full employment but also unprecedented profits. With the return of peace, the ghost of disharmony between supply and demand threatened to return to haunt America again, and the resulting crisis might well be even more acute than the Great Depression of the “dirty thirties,” because during the war years the productive capacity of the nation had increased considerably, as we have seen. Workers would have to be laid off precisely at the moment when millions of war veterans would come home looking for a civilian job, and the resulting unemployment and decline in purchasing power would aggravate the demand deficit. Seen from the perspective of America’s rich and powerful, the coming unemployment was not a problem; what did matter was that the golden age of gargantuan profits would come to an end. Such a catastrophe had to be prevented, but how?
Military state expenditures were the source of high profits. In order to keep the profits gushing forth generously, new enemies and new war threats were urgently needed now that Germany and Japan were defeated. How fortunate that the Soviet Union existed, a country which during the war had been a particularly useful partner who had pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for the Allies in Stalingrad and elsewhere, but also a partner whose communist ideas and practices allowed it to be easily transformed into the new bogeyman of the United States. Most American historians now admit that in 1945 the Soviet Union, a country that had suffered enormously during the war, did not constitute a threat at all to the economically and militarily far superior USA, and that Washington itself did not perceive the Soviets as a threat. These historians also acknowledge that Moscow was very keen to work closely together with Washington in the postwar era.
Indeed, Moscow had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from a conflict with superpower America, which was brimming with confidence thanks to its monopoly of the atom bomb. However, America – corporate America, the America of the super-rich – urgently needed a new enemy in order to justify the titanic expenditures for “defense” which were needed to keep the wheels of the nation’s economy spinning at full speed also after the end of the war, thus keeping profit margins at the required – or rather, desired – high levels, or even to increase them. It is for this reason that the Cold War was unleashed in 1945, not by the Soviets but by the American “military-industrial” complex, as President Eisenhower would call that elite of wealthy individuals and corporations that knew how to profit from the “warfare economy.”
In this respect, the Cold War exceeded their fondest expectations. More and more martial equipment had to be cranked out, because the allies within the so-called “free world”, which actually included plenty of nasty dictatorships, had to be armed to the teeth with US equipment. In addition, America’s own armed forces never ceased demanding bigger, better, and more sophisticated tanks, planes, rockets, and, yes, chemical and bacteriological weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. For these goods, the Pentagon was always ready to pay huge sums without asking difficult questions. As had been the case during the Second World War, it was again primarily the large corporations who were allowed to fill the orders. The Cold War generated unprecedented profits, and they flowed into the coffers of those extremely wealthy individuals who happened to be the owners, top managers, and/or major shareholders of these corporations. (Does it come as a surprise that in the United States newly retired Pentagon generals are routinely offered jobs as consultants by large corporations involved in military production, and that businessmen linked with those corporations are regularly appointed as high-ranking officials of the Department of Defense, as advisors of the President, etc.?)
During the Cold War too, the American state financed its skyrocketing military expenditures by means of loans, and this caused the public debt to rise to dizzying heights. In 1945 the public debt stood at “only” 258 billion dollar, but in 1990 – when the Cold War ground to an end – it amounted to no less than 3.2 trillion dollar! This was a stupendous increase, also when one takes the inflation rate into account, and it caused the American state to become the world’s greatest debtor. (Incidentally, in July 2002 the American public debt had reached 6.1 trillion dollar.) Washington could and should have covered the cost of the Cold War by taxing the huge profits achieved by the corporations involved in the armament orgy, but there was never any question of such a thing. In 1945, when the Second World War come to an end and the Cold War picked up the slack, corporations still paid 50 per cent of all taxes, but during the course of the Cold War this share shrunk consistently, and today it only amounts to approximately 1 per cent.
This was possible because the nation’s big corporations largely determine what the government in Washington may or may not do, also in the field of fiscal policy. In addition, lowering the tax burden of corporations was made easier because after the Second World War these corporations transformed themselves into multinationals, “at home everywhere and nowhere,” as an American author has written in connection with ITT, and therefore find it easy to avoid paying meaningful taxes anywhere. Stateside, where they pocket the biggest profits, 37 per cent of all American multinationals – and more than 70 per cent of all foreign multinationals – paid not a single dollar of taxes in 1991, while the remaining multinationals remitted less than 1 per cent of their profits in taxes.
The sky-high costs of the Cold War were thus not borne by those who profited from it and who, incidentally, also continued to pocket the lion’s share of the dividends paid on government bonds, but by the American workers and the American middle class. These low- and middle-income Americans did not receive a penny from the profits yielded so profusely by the Cold War, but they did receive their share of the enormous public debt for which that conflict was largely responsible. It is they, therefore, who were really saddled with the costs of the Cold War, and it is they who continue to pay with their taxes for a disproportionate share of the burden of the public debt.
In other words, while the profits generated by the Cold War were privatized to the advantage of an extremely wealthy elite, its costs were ruthlessly socialized to the great detriment of all other Americans. During the Cold War, the American economy degenerated into a gigantic swindle, into a perverse redistribution of the nation’s wealth to the advantage of the rich and to the disadvantage not only of the poor and of the working class but also of the middle class, whose members tend to subscribe to the myth that the American capitalist system serves their interests. Indeed, while the wealthy and powerful of America accumulated ever-greater riches, the prosperity achieved by many other Americans during the Second World War was gradually eroded, and the general standard of living declined slowly but steadily.
During the Second World War America had witnessed a modest redistribution of the collective wealth of the nation to the advantage of the less privileged members of society. During the Cold War, however, the rich Americans became richer while the non-wealthy – and certainly not only the poor – became poorer. In 1989, the year the Cold War petered out, more than 13 per cent of all Americans – approximately 31 million individuals – were poor according to the official criteria of poverty, which definitely understate the problem. Conversely, today 1 per cent of all Americans own no less than 34 per cent of the nation’s aggregate wealth. In no major “Western” country is the wealth distributed more unevenly.
The minuscule percentage of super-rich Americans found this development extremely satisfactory. They loved the idea of accumulating more and more wealth, of aggrandizing their already huge assets, at the expense of the less privileged. They wanted to keep things that way or, if at all possible, make this sublime scheme even more efficient. However, all good things must come to an end, and in 1989/90 the bountiful Cold War elapsed. That presented a serious problem. Ordinary Americans, who knew that they had borne the costs of this war, expected a “peace dividend.”
They thought that the money the state had spent on military expenditures might now be used to produce benefits for themselves, for example in the form of a national health insurance and other social benefits which Americans in contrast to most Europeans have never enjoyed. In 1992, Bill Clinton would actually win the presidential election by dangling out the prospect of a national health plan, which of course never materialized. A “peace dividend” was of no interest whatsoever to the nation’s wealthy elite, because the provision of social services by the state does not yield profits for entrepreneurs and corporations, and certainly not the lofty kind of profits generated by military state expenditures. Something had to be done, and had to be done fast, to prevent the threatening implosion of the state’s military spending.
America, or rather, corporate America, was orphaned of its useful Soviet enemy, and urgently needed to conjure up new enemies and new threats in order to justify a high level of military spending. It is in this context that in 1990 Saddam Hussein appeared on the scene like a kind of deus ex machina. This tin-pot dictator had previously been perceived and treated by the Americans as a good friend, and he had been armed to the teeth so that he could wage a nasty war against Iran; it was the USA – and allies such as Germany – who originally supplied him with all sorts of weapons. However, Washington was desperately in need of a new enemy, and suddenly fingered him as a terribly dangerous “new Hitler,” against whom war needed to be waged urgently, even though it was clear that a negotiated settlement of the issue of Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait was not out of the question.
George Bush Senior was the casting agent who discovered this useful new nemesis of America, and who unleashed the Gulf War, during which Baghdad was showered with bombs and Saddam’s hapless recruits were slaughtered in the desert. The road to the Iraqi capital lay wide-open, but the Marines’ triumphant entry into Baghdad was suddenly scrapped. Saddam Hussein was left in power so that the threat he was supposed to form might be invoked again in order to justify keeping America in arms. After all, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union had shown how inconvenient it can be when one loses a useful foe.
And so Mars could remain the patron saint of the American economy or, more accurately, the godfather of the corporate Mafia that manipulates this war-driven economy and reaps its huge profits without bearing its costs. The despised project of a peace dividend could be unceremoniously buried, and military expenditures could remain the dynamo of the economy and the wellspring of sufficiently high profits. Those expenditures increased relentlessly during the 1990s. In 1996, for example, they amounted to no less than 265 billion dollars, but when one adds the unofficial and/or indirect military expenditures, such as the interests paid on loans used to finance past wars, the 1996 total came to approximately 494 billion dollar, amounting to an outlay of 1.3 billion dollar per day! However, with only a considerably chastened Saddam as bogeyman, Washington found it expedient also to look elsewhere for new enemies and threats. Somalia temporarily looked promising, but in due course another “new Hitler” was identified in the Balkan Peninsula in the person of the Serbian leader, Milosevic. During much of the nineties, then, conflicts in the former Yugoslavia provided the required pretexts for military interventions, large-scale bombing operations, and the purchase of more and newer weapons.
The “warfare economy” could thus continue to run on all cylinders also after the Gulf War. However, in view of occasional public pressure such as the demand for a peace dividend, it is not easy to keep this system going. (The media present no problem, as newspapers, magazines, TV stations, etc. are either owned by big corporations or rely on them for advertising revenue.) As mentioned earlier, the state has to cooperate, so in Washington one needs men and women one can count upon, preferably individuals from the very own corporate ranks, individuals totally committed to use the instrument of military expenditures in order to provide the high profits that are needed to make the very rich of America even richer. In this respect, Bill Clinton had fallen short of expectations, and corporate America could never forgive his original sin, namely, that he had managed to have himself elected by promising the American people a “peace dividend” in the form of a system of health insurance.
On account of this, in 2000 it was arranged that not the Clinton-clone Al Gore moved into the White House but a team of militarist hardliners, virtually without exception representatives of wealthy, corporate America, such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice, and of course George W. Bush himself, son of the man who had shown with his Gulf War how it could be done; the Pentagon, too, was directly represented in the Bush Cabinet in the person of the allegedly peace-loving Powell, in reality yet another angel of death. Rambo moved into the White House, and it did not take long for the results to show.
After Bush Junior had been catapulted into the presidency, it looked for some time as if he was going to proclaim China as the new nemesis of America. However, a conflict with that giant loomed somewhat risky; furthermore, all too many big corporations make good money by trading with the People’s Republic. Another threat, preferably less dangerous and more credible, was required to keep the military expenditures at a sufficiently high level. For this purpose, Bush and Rumsfeld and company could have wished for nothing more convenient than the events of September 11, 2001; it is extremely likely that they were aware of the preparations for these monstrous attacks, but that they did nothing to prevent them because they knew that they would be able to benefit from them. In any event, they did take full advantage of this opportunity in order to militarize America more than ever before, to shower bombs on people who had nothing to do with 9/11, to wage war to their hearts’ content, and thus for corporations that do business with the Pentagon to ring up unprecedented sales. Bush declared war not on a country but on terrorism, an abstract concept against which one cannot really wage war and against which a definitive victory can never be achieved. However, in practice the slogan “war against terrorism” meant that Washington now reserves the right to wage war worldwide and permanently against whomever the White House defines as a terrorist.
And so the problem of the end of the Cold War was definitively resolved, as there was henceforth a justification for ever-increasing military expenditures. The statistics speak for themselves. The 1996 total of 265 billion dollar in military expenditures had already been astronomical, but thanks to Bush Junior the Pentagon was allowed to spend 350 billion in 2002, and for 2003 the President has promised approximately 390 billion; however, it is now virtually certain that the cape of 400 billion dollar will be rounded this year. (In order to finance this military spending orgy, money has to be saved elsewhere, for example by cancelling free lunches for poor children; every little bit helps.) No wonder that George W. struts around beaming with happiness and pride, for he – essentially a spoiled rich kid of very limited talent and intellect – has surpassed the boldest expectations not only of his wealthy family and friends but of corporate America as a whole, to which he owes his job.
9/11 provided Bush with carte blanche to wage war wherever and against whomever he chose, and as this essay has purported to make clear, it does not matter all that much who happens to be fingered as enemy du jour. Last year, Bush showered bombs on Afghanistan, presumably because the leaders of that country sheltered Bin Laden, but recently the latter went out of fashion and it was once again Saddam Hussein who allegedly threatened America. We cannot deal here in detail with the specific reasons why Bush’s America absolutely wanted war with the Iraq of Saddam Hussein and not with, say, North Korea. A major reason for fighting this particular war was that Iraq’s large reserves of oil are lusted after by the US oil trusts with whom the Bushes themselves – and Bushites such as Cheney and Rice, after whom an oil tanker happens to be named – are so intimately linked. The war in Iraq is also useful as a lesson to other Third World countries who fail to dance to Washington’s tune, and as an instrument for emasculating domestic opposition and ramming the extreme right-wing program of an unelected president down the throats of Americans themselves.
The America of wealth and privilege is hooked on war, without regular and ever-stronger doses of war it can no longer function properly, that is, yield the desired profits. Right now, this addiction, this craving is being satisfied by means of a conflict against Iraq, which also happens to be dear to the hearts of the oil barons. However, does anybody believe that the warmongering will stop once Saddam’ scalp will join the Taliban turbans in the trophy display case of George W. Bush? The President has already pointed his finger at those whose turn will soon come, namely, the “axis of evil” countries: Iran, Syria, Lybia, Somalia, North Korea, and of course that old thorn in the side of America, Cuba. Welcome to the 21st century, welcome to George W. Bush’s brave new era of permanent war!
Jacques R. Pauwels is historian and political scientist, author of ‘The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War’ (James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002). His book is published in different languages: in English, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian and French. Together with personalities like Ramsey Clark, Michael Parenti, William Blum, Robert Weil, Michel Collon, Peter Franssen and many others… he signed “The International Appeal against US-War”.
From the International Press on Saturday, March 22, 2003:
The cost to the United States of the war in Iraq and its aftermath could easily exceed $100 billion…Peace-keeping in Iraq and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure could add much more…The Bush administration has stayed tightlipped about the cost of the war and reconstruction…Both the White House and the Pentagon refused to offer any definite figures.
(The International Herald Tribune, 22/03/03)
It is estimated that the war against Iraq will cost approximately 100 billion dollar. In contrast to the Gulf War of 1991, whose cost of 80 million was shared by the Allies, the United States is expected to pay the entire cost of the present war…For the American private sector, i.e. the big corporations, the coming reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure will represent a business of 900 million dollar; the first contracts were awarded yesterday (March 21) by the American government to two corporations. (Guido Leboni, “Un coste de 100.000 millones de dolares,” El Mundo, Madrid, 22/03/03)
The Cold War and Its Origins. The Inception of the Soviet Union
Part 1 (1917-1950)
The media is currently in the midst of an anti-Russian hysteria that many have dubbed Cold War 2.0. Of course the first cold war never really ended as the wars in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and even Afghanistan were aimed at Russia as was the relentless NATO expansion. This manufactured panic is a form of psychological warfare that went into high gear during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as the US was working to launch a fascist coup in Ukraine.
Since most ordinary people would be shocked to discover that Nazis had been installed in power in Ukraine an anti-Russian hysteria was launched to discredit and intimidate any possible critics of this criminal policy. Of course this was also the moment that I decided to launch my blog for the purpose of exposing the history and methods of the American Empire from the “Cold War” (or World War 3) to World War 4 (which goes by many names.)
The fascist coup in Ukraine resulted in a genocidal civil war when the people of Novorossia (the Donbass region of Ukraine) seceded from Ukraine and to the amazement of the world managed with Russian assistance to smash the NATO backed Ukrainian army and their fascist death squad allies attempt to crush the Novorossiyan revolt. Four years later the new cold war has only intensified and frankly gotten so absurd I feel as if I am living in a satire. Only a few courageous voices like Robert Parry have dared to question the current madness. For a discussion of this new cold war I recommend the excellent “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia” by Dan Kovalik.
This article however will examine the origins of the first “Cold War.” I will be relying on a forgotten classic on the topic “The Cold War and It’s Origins” By D.F. Fleming which he wrote to oppose the madness of his own time which like today threatens to plunge the world into a nuclear war which it is unlikely anyone will survive.
His book was published in 1961 shortly before the Cuban missile crisis nearly ended the world and also shortly before John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the national security state in broad daylight in front of cheering crowds in Dallas Texas. JFK’s crimes were to avoid a nuclear war over Cuba, resisting a massive escalation in Vietnam, and attempting to halt the cold war with Russia. D.F. Fleming actually began writing his monumental work as the post-world war 2 cold war was starting in the late 1940’s and was doubtless risking career suicide for daring to write an objective account of events at the height of McCarthyism. Thus it is my pleasure to rescue his name from obscurity.
The Myth of the Cold War is that the Soviet Union was attempting to conquer the world while freedom loving America was forced to stop them.
Yet as we shall see the last thing the Soviet Union wanted was another world war they had suffered 27 million dead during world war 2 and their only goal was to rebuild after the enormous destruction the nazis wrought.
America on the other hand was undamaged save the 250,000 soldiers they lost in the war (7 million Soviet soldiers were killed) and they had just acquired the atom bomb. Far from defending freedom America was busy allying with every fascist it could find and would overthrow countless democracies installing brutal military dictators in the years to come. America’s main goal was to stop the people of the world from doing anything to combat the terrible poverty and oppression they lived under. America fought on the side of the rich against the poor and dared to call this democracy despite the fact that the poor are the vast majority of the world and the rich a tiny minority of the planet.
The myths of the original cold war live on and are accepted as true despite the mountains of evidence discrediting these myths. Americans prefer to remember the comforting lies rather then to face the awful truths of their own history.
The cold war was in retrospect one of the most successful psychological warfare campaigns in history it aimed to crush dissent at home and revolution abroad. It unleashed fascism at home and abroad. By purging communists from American society it did great damage to the labor, peace, and civil rights movements and created a toothless cowardly american left that slowly but inevitably lead to the completely bankrupt politics of today where no one in the public eye dares to oppose capitalism, imperialism, or even fascism. A world where al Qaeda terrorists receive Oscars and Ukrainian fascists are celebrated as champions of democracy.
But let us turn our attention to the origin of this “Cold War” D.F. Fleming begins his history not with the end of World War 2 but much earlier in Tsarist Russia in the years before 1905.
He outlines the utter misery and ignorance that the vast masses of Russians were forced to live in. The dirt, the disease, the crowding, the cruelty of those times is difficult for us to imagine. Most Russians had no access to health care or education. Any attempt to demand better pay or working conditions was met with brutal reprisals. Unions were illegal. A spirit of revolution born of utter desperation began to spread. Lenin had only recently split his Bolshevik faction off from the other marxists because he foresaw that only a tightly organized revolutionary party would stand a chance against the Tsar’s secret police.
The Tsar’s expansion of his empire into China and Korea lead to a war with the expanding Japanese empire. The Russian government was so corrupt the troops supplies never seemed to arrive and the war resulted in a humiliating defeat. The secret police created their own fake opposition so that they could control it. However conditions were so bad one of their agents a priest Father Gapon was forced to disobey orders and lead a massive demonstration begging the czar for help in a petition. Instead of help the Tsar ordered a massacre. This sparked the 1905 Revolution.
Western “Democracies” sent the Tsar Billions in loans so that he could brutally suppress this revolution since they owned much of the Russian economy and didn’t want Russia’s people interfering with their profits. The Tsar unleashed his proto-fascist “Black Hundreds” death squads who massacred the workers and the peasants along with any jews or “subversives” they could lay their hands on. The Tsar was forced to allow a parliament but broke most of his promises for democratic reform. On the eve of world war 1 nearly ten years later revolution again threatened as the country was paralyzed by massive strikes. However the Tsar foolishly entered the war despite the fact his regime was already tottering.
World war 1 was a disaster for Russia it had some success against the Austro-Hungarian empire but was no match for the crack German troops. The Germans with their modern artillery were able to obliterate the Russian armies their guns were so powerful they could bury the Russians alive from a distance and millions of soldiers perished.
The Russian Officers were so cruel to their men that mutiny was rampant. Again because of corruption and industrial backwardness they were ill trained and poorly supplied. Despite this they did make an important contribution to the allied victory but by 1917 Russia was facing a complete collapse. The women of St. Petersburg sparked a revolution when they marched demanding bread and instead of massacring the people the troops mutinied. However this initial revolution was quickly hijacked by the new provisional government although the Tsar was forced to resign.
The people of Russia desperately needed peace and some relief for their incredible poverty. The new provisional government was committed to continuing the war and delayed putting any socialist reforms into place. It also faced competition from the “Soviets” which meant councils of soldiers workers and peasants.
Lenin newly returned from exile saw an opportunity to turn Russia’s liberal democratic revolution into a communist revolution willing to carry out the will of the people. He won over the Russian people with the slogans “Land, Peace, and Bread” and “All power to the Soviets” Even many in his own party thought this was impossible but of course by November 7 of 1917 only a few months later the Russian October Revolution had succeeded in seizing power.
This is when the cold war began both their former enemies the Germans and their former allies Britain, France, and the US along with 10 other countries were now bent on destroying the Russian Revolution. Luckily for Lenin World War 1 was still ongoing and the Germans’ main priority was to make peace with Russia so that it could send its forces to the western front. They knew Russia was weak and so demanded a large amount of Russian territory in exchange for peace.
Thanks to Trotsky’s bungling they were also able to seize huge amounts of extra territory that had belonged to Russian empire in the Baltic, Poland, and Ukraine which the Germans seized after Trotsky told them he would neither make peace nor war with them. Russia was forced to make peace with the humiliating treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Britain and France were momentarily distracted but provided funding to a series of would be fascist Russian dictators or “White Generals” as they were then called. Men like Generals Denikin and Kolchak. They committed horrendous atrocities and also brought untold disaster and suffering to the men under their command when each of them failed in turn. To give only one example imagine the disaster faced by the men who were forced to retreat without supplies back into Siberia. Once World War 1 Ended the whole world was free to unite in attempting to destroy Socialist Russia.
They not only hoped to destroy the Revolution each also sought to balkanize the country and seize huge territories as loot. The Japanese sought to seize Siberia. France sought to seize Odessa and Crimea. Britain Sought to seize the rich oil fields in the black sea region near present day Chechnya. Germany installed fascist puppets in the Baltic. Poland seized a huge portion of Russian territory. Encircled and invaded on every side amazingly the communists were victorious and regained control of most of their territory. It was one of the most glorious victories in human history.
I hope to revisit the topic of the Russian “Civil War” later this year. For now I’ll merely point out that the Cold War began with the imperialist world invading and attempting to conquer what would become the Soviet Union.
Nor did the west seem very concerned about freedom and democracy when they gave the Tsar billions of dollars to unleash his secret police and death squads on his own people in the failed revolution of 1905. Yet thanks to myth people believe that it is the Soviets who were out to conquer the world. For daring to withdraw from the war and for daring to build a new type of society that would benefit the vast majority of Russians the Soviet Union was targeted for destruction.
Their people were massacred their factories burned. American troops were part of this invasion and yet most Americans have no idea that their country ever invaded Russia. This is because not only was a conventional war declared but also from the start a psychological war a propaganda war. Newspapers printed the most absurd lies about the Soviet Union such as that all women were shared in common. The bolsheviks were portrayed as insane and sadistic killers and the papers were full of fake atrocity stories. The media also constantly portrayed the Soviet Union as being in complete chaos and on the verge of collapse.
Thus one of the most amusing parts of D.F. Fleming was a discussion by Walter Lippman (who coined the phrase the “Manufacture of Consent”) in 1920 printed in the New York Times discussing the terrible failure of the press to provide accurate news on events in Russia calling the coverage a disaster and admitting that the paper had wrongly predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union 91 times since November 1917. Yet of course this coverage was no accident but rather the result of the fact that the western media is owned by rich capitalists who always portray every revolutionary as an insane and cruel madman. The difference being that today they don’t even bother to apologize for their blatant lies.
Not only did America wage war on Russia it also waged war on itself shocking even the reactionary Europeans. American Capitalists were equally terrified of the majority of their own population who lived in dire poverty not to mention the Indians whose children they were kidnapping and brainwashing while the adults lived in concentration camps. They were especially terrified of the blacks kept under brutal apartheid rule and targeted at will by american fascist death squads like the KKK.
They were also suspicious of the new immigrants many who were Catholics or Jews and brought dangerous foreign ideas like socialism, anarchism, and communism. Thus in conjunction with their anti-Russian hysteria they launched a brutal attack on labor unions, blacks, and immigrants. People were held without charges like after 9/11 and many immigrants were deported for the crime of dreaming or organizing for a better world. Full scale war was launched on black communities who were forced to take up arms to defend themselves. These were part of a long pattern of “Race Riots” one of the most brutal was in St Louis in the summer of 1917 where thousands of blacks were murdered before the Russian Revolution had even occurred.
Lynch mobs were unleashed on catholics, jews, and of course blacks and even union members. Prior to world war 1 the Media had been organized to wage a massive propaganda war to convince people of the necessity of entering World War 1. Now with the start of the cold war the media would wage an unending propaganda war that continues to this day. Inspired by the example of the Russian Revolution the american communist party was formed demonized by the press erased from history they would play a vital if forgotten role in the creation of the civil rights movement, the passage of new deal social reforms, the creation of the 1st racially integrated unions, the fight against fascism, war, and imperialism. They would be imprisoned, beaten, tortured, murdered and blacklisted. American prisons are still full of communist political prisoners from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
After many humiliating and disastrous defeats the imperial powers were forced to give up their war on the Soviet Union. Their own war weary people demanded an end and staged strikes to halt the war. The next strategy the west pursued was one of demonization and isolation. They refused to recognize the new government for years.
The Soviets were desperate to rebuild their society. During the war they had built a form of “War Communism” but Lenin believed socialism must make a temporary retreat and trade restored. The era of NEP began and Russia was even willing to allow foreign trade to resume and foreign investment. Yet not even the prospect of being allowed to exploit the USSR’s rich natural resources could convince the west to relax tensions.
The US and UK refused to even recognize the government let alone resume trade. This turned out for the best since the soviet union would instead once again move the country towards socialism and a planned economy. In 1924 tired of being isolated by the west the Soviets signed instead a deal with the Germans who were also still isolated after loosing the war and being forced to pay massive reparations. Russia received vital industrial equipment in exchange for raw materials. It would be a faustian bargain which while helping the Soviets industrialize also helped the Germans to re-arm. However the British and Americans would soon be funneling billions of dollars into Germany to build up Hitler to attack the Soviet Union.
It was with the rise of Hitler and also the great depression that the next major phase of the cold war would begin. In America Franklin D. Roosevelt finally recognized the USSR in 1933 because the US now needed any potential trade and as a counter-balance to Hitler.
In the Soviet Union they immediately recognized the danger Fascism posed and would try desperately to unite with the imperialist democracies to oppose this new threat. D.F. Fleming spends a whole chapter on Litvinov’s repeated attempts to create an alliance to oppose wars of aggression to keep the peace. Yet as D.F. Fleming demonstrates at great length the west would turn down the Soviet Union’s offers of alliance again and again. The British hoped that Hitler would smash the Soviet Union and it’s policy of appeasement was meant to clear the path east for Hitler while evading it’s treaty commitments in Eastern Europe. During these same years the Germans and Italians invaded republican Spain in aid of the fascist General Francisco Franco who fought to seize power.
The west including FDR banned the shipment of weapons to aid the Spanish loyalists resisting these fascists. It was the Soviet Union alone that sent weapons troops and advisers to preserve democracy in Spain. The USSR also encouraged communists and anti-fascists from around the world to volunteer to aid Spain. The US and Britain on the other hand prosecuted these volunteers as criminals. American newspapers demonized the Spanish republic just as it had demonized the Russian Revolution. Many papers openly supported the fascists. France doomed Spain by barring Russian weapons or supplies from entering the country. The west deliberately insured a fascist victory in Spain and seldom is the Spanish civil war even mentioned in discussing the origins of World War 2.
The fall of Spain was greeted with horror and disgust in Russia. It was increasingly clear that the west would do nothing to stop the march of fascism. Despite this obvious fact the Soviets continued to try to form an alliance against Hitler at every step of the wests appeasement. It offered to fight to defend Czechoslovakia the UK on the other hand rejected this offer and forced the Czechs to surrender. It offered to send troops defend Poland (which had signed a nonaggression pact with Hitler in 1935) Poland denied them permission. The UK attempted to get the USSR to sign a unilateral defense agreement with Poland while turning down their offer of a mutual defense pact. This would have embroiled the USSR into war with Germany as soon as they invaded Poland. In the final months before war began the British and French did their best to delay forming an alliance and insult the soviets by sending low level negotiators with no power to make a deal. American and British capitalists had spent billions of dollars arming the German war machine. Germany was poised to invade Poland. Thus Stalin was forced into his brilliant but infamous gamble of the non-aggression pact with Germany. With this move he forced Britain and France to enter the war against Germany. He also managed to regain the Russian territory Poland had won during the “Russian Civil War” and got a free hand to take back the baltic. Of course from a geo-political perspective it was a smart move but politically it was an embarrassing disaster. Communists around the world had been at the fore front of the fight against fascism and were now in the embarrassing position of having to explain this devils bargain. It would be used to blacken the reputation of the Soviet Union until our own time despite the fact that the west had already signed similar deals with Hitler long before. However it bought the Soviet Union one year in time and a valuable buffer zone that would prove vital in managing to survive the war. It should be remembered that Russia stopped the Germans less then 16 miles from Moscow without this non-aggression pact they could easily have lost the war.
Stalin had hoped Hitler would be bogged down for years on the western front. Unfortunately many in the french military feared communists and socialists far more then Fascism of which they were openly sympathetic. Thanks to their treachery France would collapse quickly and the British would be forced to flee back to Britain. The Nazis forces were the best trained and equipped in the world. They were masters of tactics and strategy. Hitler had always dreamed of conquering Russia enslaving and massacring it’s people and seizing it’s valuable natural resources. He dreamed of the conquest of Eurasia. Thus June 22 1941 he launched his invasion of the Soviet Union. If he had been delayed an extra year he would have faced a much harder war because the soviets were just starting to mass produce their next generation of tanks and planes. Most Soviet forces were armed with obsolete equipment in 1941 and were no match for the battle hardened germans in the first months of the war. It was only in 1942 that the Soviets famous T-34 Tanks and Illuyshin bombers would be produced in enough numbers to give the Soviet Union a fighting chance.
The Soviets suffered defeat after defeat and the world doubted it would survive more then a couple months. Luckily Stalin managed to transfer the more experienced troops from the east in time to save Moscow under General Zhukov’s command. For the first time the Nazis were not only stopped but pushed back hundreds of miles. It was the winter of 1941 and the Americans had finally entered the war making it an ally. Churchill who had been in charge of waging war on Russia during the civil war seemingly put his hostility on hold and allied with Russia. However as D.F. Fleming make clears this change was only an illusion and Churchill would play a sinister game during the war. FDR promised Stalin a second front against Hitler in 1942 to take the pressure off Russia. Churchill instead manipulated them into invading North Africa and then Italy. America and Britain would play an only minor role in the war. Instead it was the Soviets who did the vast majority of the fighting and dying. 90% of German troops died on the eastern front. Sadly thanks to textbooks, hollywood and the media the average American doesn’t even realize Russia fought in World War 2 let alone that they nearly single handedly won the war.
In 1942 Hitler launched his summer offensive to capture the Baku oil fields the British had once tried to steal (and nearly bombed at the start of the war which would have insured a Nazi victory.) However the Nazis had to cover their flank by taking Stalingrad and in the most epic battle in history met their doom. Against all odds the Soviets refused to surrender the city which German bombers quickly reduced to ruins. The Soviets defended every house every block to the death. While the Germans were bogged down in the city; Stalin once again moved in reinforcements from the east the Germans didn’t even suspect existed. Under General Zhukov’s able leadership they launched a counter attack smashing thru the Romanians assigned to guard the german lines. Soon the Germans were completely surrounded and were forced to surrender. It was the the most decisive victory in the war. The Summer of 1943 Hitler Gambled on one last major counter-offensive at Kursk. It was the greatest Tank battle in history and the soviets managed to smash the germans. Now the Red Army began the massive task of liberating eastern Europe. It was only in 1944 that the Western Allies finally opened a second front. Even then Churchill had wanted to invade the Balkans to counter the Russians instead of landing at Normandy. The Soviets had to race the allies to liberate Berlin. A secret deal had been cut and the Germans were offering only token resistance in the west while fighting to the last man on the eastern front against the soviets. Finally after an epic battle the Red Army finished off the nazis in the battle of Berlin. As D. F. Fleming points out the Russians saved countless american and British lives by taking the brunt of the fighting. They suffered untold suffering at the hands of the Germans. Americans who have not known any real war or invasion since the war of 1812 have no idea what it is like to suffer a war let alone what Russia suffered at the hands of Germany. They had no sympathy for the Russians just like they have no sympathy for the Yemenis, Iraqis or the Syrians. America will never understand the horror and folly of war until the instant it is obliterated in a nuclear war by which time their will be no one left to understand anything.
Thus with the arrogance born of their spoiled ignorance America wasted no time after the end of world war 2 to claim the Russians were the new nazis. They choose to ignore the huge debt it owed Russia in defeating Fascism. It was of course the American fascists like the Dulles brothers who would shout loudest about this absurd claim. The Dulles brothers had represented the nazi business interests (a fact Fleming only dares hint at) and Allen Dulles cut a secret deal with the Nazis. They would go to work for the american empire. While the Soviets were still fighting hard against fascism during the war the British were already fighting on the same side as the Fascists. Churchill was at it again in one of the most disgraceful chapters of the war. Greece had long been a de facto British colony. Before World War 2 It’s newly returned corrupt king King George II would appoint a fascist dictator General John Metaxas earning the king the hatred of the greek people. While a fascist Metaxas was allied to Britain and so resisted an Italian invasion before dying. The British sent troops to help but were forced to flee and a pro-german fascist puppet was installed. However in one of the heroic chapters of the War the greek people fighting under communist leadership of EAM-ELAS were able to singlehandedly liberate their country. British troops returned and were greeted with cheers they did not have to do any fighting as the greek guerrillas had already won the war. Churchill however wanted his colony back he also wanted to reinstall the king who was hated for installing the Metaxas dictatorship. In December 1944 Churchill ordered the British to protect and reorganize the fascist death squads while ordering the greek Guerrillas of the to disarm. Stalin had made another devils bargain with Churchill. Stalin was promised control in eastern Europe in exchange for British control of Greece they would divide Influence over Yugoslavia (The British broke their deal and Yugoslavia would later become a secret NATO partner ironically Yugoslavia would become NATOs first victim after the cold war and has ceased to exist) Here were the seeds of what would become the cold war. Stalin kept his end of the deal allowing the British to wage a brutal war on the Greeks without coming to their aid. This war was the beginning of the cold war and Britain allied with the fascists against the greek republicans many who were not necessarily even communists but merely fighting against monarchy and fascism. Ironically the British would basically loose this war. FDR had been disgusted by Churchill’s treacherous treatment of his Greek allies who were massacred (some while chanting FDR’s name) or sent to prison camps on remote islands or to north Africa. However Truman would use the greek civil war as the excuse to launch his Truman Doctrine which committed America to a constant encirclement of and covert war upon the soviet union. More importantly it committed the US to battle any revolution anywhere in the world which shocked D.F. Fleming but confirms yet again the brilliance of Gerald Horne‘s discussion of the Counter-Revolution of 1776. In Greece the US would back fascist death squads as they terrorized the greeks while the American’s napalmed the people of Greece in the name of freedom and democracy a pattern that would repeat from Korea, to Vietnam, to El Salvador, and scores of other unlucky countries.
The soviets were always being accused of being untrustworthy and as a result could be overzealous in fulfilling their promises and Greece was one of the most tragic examples of this. At Yalta they made the deal with Churchill Official and the Americans signed on as well. They agreed to install democracies but as we shall see and as D.F. Fleming points out rather brilliantly the soviets had their own view of democracy. For the soviets democracy was impossible so long as the old elites dominated society. History has proved them correct as in America we are given a choice solely between evil billionaires never in it’s history has an ordinary person been allowed to become president of The United States and run things for the benefit of ordinary americans. To become a politician one must first sell oneself to rich backers. Yet strangely even though everyone knows this everyone forgets everything they know about this corrupt system whenever someone begins to praise the blessings of democracy and the need to murder millions to bring it’s benefits to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Ukraine or Russia. Even if what is labeled democracy is obviously genocidal terrorism or fascism. Thus even today when discussing the cold war or the Truman doctrine no one dares mention that we installed fascism not democracy in Greece. Truman was also backing the Fascists of Turkey who were planning to ally with the Nazis if they had won at Stalingrad. Nor do they seem to mention that the Soviets were actually providing no support instead people parrot the lie that america intervened in Greece to stop soviet “expansionism” As if this wasn’t bad enough once Greeks returned to democracy the CIA backed a fascist coup there in 1967 20 Years after Truman had sent in the troops to Napalm the entire country Greece would suffer at the hands of yet another fascist dictatorship. Today Greece is a poster child for the undemocratic nature of the EU.
However before turning our attention to the postwar Cold War we should discuss the soft coup that took place in the United States. In 1944 FDR’s pro-Russian vice president Henry Wallace was forced off the ticket in a rigged convention and replaced by the racist Russia hater Harry S. Truman. On April 12 1945 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would die. D.F. Fleming is convinced that had FDR lived the Cold War could have been avoided. In my view it could at most have been delayed. However by replacing Wallace with Truman the corrupt forces that stage manage our democracy insured that whatever Roosevelt had accomplished in winning the trust of the Russians would quickly be completely reversed. The people of Russia mourned FDR far more then then many in the US where he was hated and constantly red-baited by the Capitalists and many media outlets. Truman was a lot like George W. Bush stupid arrogant and always trying to act tough. Both Presidents would leave office with the lowest approval ratings in history having embroiled their countries in lost wars that would nonetheless kill millions of Koreans (Truman) and Iraqis (Bush II). Both would unleash hysterical panics destroying the very freedoms they claimed to be fighting for (McCarthyism & the Patriot Act.) Both men were put in power undemocratically.
Now to turn to the causes of this second Cold War that began in 1945. The Soviets were motivated by one single goal security. Having suffered two catastrophic invasions in less then 30 years, as well as suffered constant economic and political warfare they required neighbors who were not hostile and would not join the next potential invasion of their country. Initially they installed popular front (an alliance of communists and socialists) governments in Eastern Europe contrary to myth these governments were democratically elected. However once they realized the west was intent on breaking their Yalta agreements they installed communist governments. In Hungary for example there was a danger that the fascists would come back into power democratically. They openly conspired being arrogant aristocrats and were foiled by the soviets. They decided to install a Communist government in the process killing one person and imprisoning a couple hundreds. This was long after Churchill’s war in Greece had killed tens of thousands and locked hundreds of thousands of people in prison camps on isolated islands or even in the North African desert. Still what happened in Hungary was blasted across the headlines as an example of monstrous Communist Tyranny while when George Polk wrote critically about the Fascist government in Greece he was murdered by Greek Fascists and his death was blamed on the communists. In Czechoslovakia the Communists seized power when it looked like they were loosing influence in the Government they mobilized the masses and forced the government to resign. This was after after Truman declared his Truman Doctrine allowing him to wage covert war on the USSR while waging war on revolutionaries worldwide whether they were nationalists or communists. However these defensive moves by the Soviets were hyped by the politicians and the media as proof that the Soviets were out to conquer the world. I should mention that the Soviets greatly improved the lives of the people in their zones of influence where huge feudal land owners had brutally oppressed and murdered their people. They carried out land reform, provided free education, free health care and guaranteed employment. Food and housing were subsidized to make them affordable. Western visitors at the time to these countries often joked that they could see no iron curtain and people seemed free and happy.
In reality of course it was the United States that was out to conquer the world. It hoped to force the Soviets out of Eastern Europe and was waging a covert war with exile armies of fascists to destabilize the governments and roll back communism. George Kennan who was in charge of this program and was the architect of the Truman Doctrine of “Containment” called it Counter-force. The Massive Propaganda campaign was waged as part of the effort to force the soviets out. It was not fear of the Soviet Union as myth would have it but rather their knowledge of how damaged the Soviet Union was that motivated the empire. America had the Atom Bomb. It had turned the former fascists of Germany and Japan into it’s proxies ready to wage war. Britain and France with their mighty empires had become American pawns desperate for loans and America was confident it would inherit their empires. In the meantime it funded the British and french in their anti colonial struggles. Back then it also dominated the UN.
Above all it had invented the Atom Bomb. It timed the dropping of this bomb for the day before the soviet union was due to join the war with Japan which Stalin had agreed to launch three months after. Thus almost no one remembers the crushing blow the Red Army dealt Japan in Manchuria which would have caused a Japanese surrender without the A-Bomb being dropped. It was done to send a message to the Soviets. Luckily the Soviets had spies within the American Nuclear Program but as D.F. Fleming points out this only sped up their nuclear program by a few months. With the Atom Bomb the US thought it could threaten the USSR into abandoning Eastern Europe. It Surrounded the USSR with bomber bases. American papers openly boasted about plans to launch a pre-emptive Nuclear War. Thus this was the beginning of that arrogant hubris that has characterized the American attitude ever since. The Richest and most industrialized country on the planet with the former great powers as it’s pawns and a monopoly on the Atom Bomb it saw no reason why it should honor it’s Yalta Agreements simply because the Red Army had managed to singlehandedly liberate eastern Europe.
I Call the Cold War World War 3 and view it as primarily a war on the Third World. America’s cold war planners were from the start far more worried about the inevitable collapse of the european empires. There was a danger that newly liberated countries might seek to fight poverty and exploitation threatening the profits of western corporations.
However the US saw that by hyping up the soviet threat it could label any liberation movement or even mild reformers as communists or tools of the kremlin. Thus America’s aggressive war on the planet could be sold as defensive. Revolutions and Anti-colonial struggle would be blamed on communist subversion and western publics were trained to believe that they had to battle communism everywhere in the world. Guatemala, Iran, The Congo, the list went on and on of Nationalist governments overthrown and replaced by brutal dictators. In Guatemala alone 200,000 people would be killed as a result of one of these fascist coups sold in the name of anti-communism. As the Cold War began in 1945 the US was already waging war in The Philippines, Korea, and China. Fascist coups would occur in the 1940’s in Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru. The US was already defending fascist governments in Spain and Argentina.
In West Germany America was allowing most of the Nazi deep State to hold onto power and had formed an alliance with Reinhard Gehlen which terrified the Soviets and was used to run armies of fascists from Ukraine, Latvia, and Estonia and all of eastern Europe. The US was helping fascist war criminals escape justice all over eastern Europe from places like Croatia, Hungary, and Romania. These fascists would settle in the US and Canada seize control of their ethnic communities often violently and throughout the Cold War would lobby constantly for the need to “liberate” not just eastern Europe but the soviet union as well.
The western Media trumpeted these fascist war criminals as heroic freedom fighters never telling the western public about their well documented crimes and atrocities. This pattern remains to this day of course from Syria’s genocidal terrorist death Squads aka the “moderate rebels” to newly reinstalled Ukrainian Fascists both are sold as heroic freedom fighters to the gullible western public. These fascist exiles would form the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of nations along with the “white” Russian exiles the (ABN) branch of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) which I wrote about last year.
Of Course the Cold War had domestic causes as well. The American capitalists hated the “New Deal” reforms that cut into their profits. During World War 2 America had the greatest number of strikes in it’s history. The Capitalists feared the power of the labor unions and this new red scare offered them a chance to crack down on the unions who were forced to expel all real or suspected communists often their most radical and committed members. Unions became tools of organized crime and the CIA.
Southern Segregationists also had long been the chief actors in the anti-communist witch hunts which they used to attack enemies of Jim Crow like Paul Robeson or later Martin Luther King. The NAACP expelled it’s founder W.E.B. Dubois as part of this new red scare. A permanent climate of fear and self censorship survives to our own day. Needless to say any peace movement in the West was also viewed solely as dangerous communist subversion. Some of America’s most brilliant journalists were forced into silence for contradicting the cold war hysteria or for exposing fascists.
Honesty became a crime lies became sacred, propaganda became history. Above all daring to dream of a better world became a crime. Tens of thousands of civil servants, teachers, union members lost their jobs. People were forced to shun old friends lest they be labeled communist as well. The FBI collected every rumor and slander they could find into secret files. Even high level state department officials could be hounded into retirement especially if they had spoken honestly about America’s corrupt Chinese fascist ally Chiang Kai-Shek who’s “China Lobby” was funded by heroin profits and owned Joe McCarthy (he was also backed by the nazis) who was used to carry out their vendettas on their critics in the US state department. Obsessed with rooting out Russian influence in America no one cared that tiny Taiwan had been allowed to completely corrupt the American political process (which was already corrupt enough ) Just as today the west is in a panic about Russian influence but cares little about the stranglehold the Israel lobby has over American, French, and British middle east policy.
These were the early years of the Cold War. The public were told that the Soviets would invade western Europe at any moment even though this was utter nonsense. When Churchill made his famous Iron Curtain speech in Truman’s hometown with Truman in the audience, Churchill was actually stealing nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels phrase. Everywhere there were anti-communist witch hunts. The American military were eager to nuke Russia and were only restrained by the danger that the Red Army might wreak a terrible revenge and by the practical details of occupying the radioactive waste land of the soviet union after it had been bombed to smithereens.
They planned to parachute in their fascist exile armies and seize control but realized that might be impossible in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where every major city had been destroyed. Thus D.F. Fleming ends Volume One of his monumental book with the explosion of the Soviet Bomb in 1949 which may have saved the USSR from annihilation. The west thought it was impossible until at least 1951 but yet again the USSR had surprised the world. America would continue to threaten nuclear war for decades but were now restrained by the Soviet Nuclear capability. Fleming writes of the hopes that America would seize the moment for diplomacy but it refused. Within nine months the Korean War broke out and the “Cold War” turned “hot” although it had been hot all along in places like Greece and even in Korea itself. I will discuss the Chinese Revolution, Korean War and the origins of the Vietnam War in my next article dealing with Volume 2 of D.F. Fleming’s “The Cold War and It’s Origins” The same west that had harshly criticized the Soviet Union for taking relatively mild steps to insure their control of eastern Europe would proceed to murder millions of people to prevent Communist governments from coming to power democratically worldwide.
My main source was of course the classic “The Cold War and It’s Origins 1917-1960 Volume 1 1917-1950” By D. F. Fleming. However it was written at a time when the history of the CIA was largely unknown, so I also recommend “Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War” By Christopher Simpson. For a discussion of Cold War 2.0 read “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia” by Dan Kovalik. I also rewatched America’s Hidden History by Oliver Stone which is a powerful documentary but also fails to question certain crucial cold war myths about Stalin and the USSR.
My article on Lenin and the Russian Revolution
My Article on Black Bolshevik which contains a vivid discussion of the Red Scare and the racist violence of the times as well as the role Communists played in the struggle for Civil Rights
My Article on Stalin and the Soviet Union from the Revolution to World War 2 and the “Cold War”
America’s alliance with Nazi’s was a major reason for the “Cold War” based on Christopher Simpson’s excellent book “Blowback”
America allied with nearly every fascist group on the planet as part of the World-Anti-Communist League