The First Cold War: A Little History

Anyone who thinks Vladimir Putin is going to be intimidated by economic sanctions by the United Nations, NATO, or the U.S. and her Western allies needs to take a look at the Russian uniforms.  Flouting the Geneva Convention, they are stripped of all insignia, making the military force unidentifiable by nation.

If Putin doesn’t care about the Geneva Convention, he’s certainly not going to take economic sanctions by the West seriously.  All he has to do is call his allies in China and have them call in their markers from the United States.

Oh wait – he just did that today; he called China, to whom we owe somewhere around $5 trillion dollars (our total debt is $17 trillion).  We could just tell China where to go – default on our debt to them.  But just as we have no more military to challenge Russia, we have no more credit to borrow money to build up a new military.  In fact, last Friday, the Secretary of Defense slashed our military budget to pre-World War II levels.

Pundits have various opinions about Obama’s handling of foreign policy:  he’s incompetent; he’s inexperienced; he’s naïve; he’s an idiot.  In fact, they’re willing to lay any disparaging adjective to his actions except the real one:  he’s duplicitous.  He’s a traitor.  He knows exactly what he’s doing and intends to destroy the United States of America.

Historians can’t agree on when the Cold War really began or when it ended, or even if it has ended.  Like the periods between World War I and World War II, we may simply have been experiencing a lull in the war.  The lull between World War I and World War II allowed Nazi Germany to rebuild a new and more efficient navy and military, while Great Britain and the United States idled and sank their navies.

After World War II, the Soviet Union sought to increase its security by dominating the internal affairs of countries that bordered it.  During the war, Stalin created special training centers for Communists from different countries so that they could set up secret police forces loyal to Moscow as soon as the Red Army took control.  Soviet agents took control of the media, especially radio.  They quickly harassed and then banned all independent civic institutions, from youth groups to schools, churches and rival political parties. Stalin also sought continued peace with Britain and the United States, hoping to focus on internal reconstruction and economic growth.

In the American view, Stalin seemed a potential ally in accomplishing their goals, whereas in the British approach, Stalin appeared as the greatest threat to the fulfillment of their agenda. With the Soviets already occupying most of Central and Eastern Europe, Stalin was at an advantage and the two western leaders vied for his favors. The differences between Roosevelt and Churchill led to several separate deals with the Soviets. In October 1944, Churchill traveled to Moscow and agreed to divide the Balkans into respective spheres of influence, and at Yalta Roosevelt signed a separate deal with Stalin in regard of Asia and refused to support Churchill on the issues of Poland and the Reparations.

Following the A1lies’ May 1945 victory, the Soviets effectively occupied Central and Eastern Europe, while strong U.S. and Western allied forces remained in Western Europe. In Allied-occupied Germany, the Soviet Union, United States, Britain and France established zones of occupation and a loose framework for parceled four-power control.

The 1945 Allied Conference in San Francisco established the multi-national United Nations (UN) for the maintenance of world peace, but the enforcement capacity of its Security Council was effectively paralyzed by individual members’ ability to use veto power. Accordingly, the U.N. was essentially converted into an inactive forum for exchanging polemical rhetoric, and the Soviets regarded it almost exclusively as a propaganda tribune.

At the Potsdam Conference, which started in late July after Germany’s surrender, serious differences emerged over the future development of Germany and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe.  Moreover, the participants’ mounting antipathy and bellicose language served to confirm their suspicions about each other’s hostile intentions and entrench their positions. At this conference Truman informed Stalin that the United States possessed a powerful new weapon.

During the opening stages of World War II, the Soviet Union laid the foundation for the Eastern Bloc by directly annexing several countries as the Soviet Socialist Republics that were initially (and effectively) ceded to it by Nazi Germany in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  These included eastern Poland (which became two separated SSRS), Latvia (which became the Latvian SSR), Estonia (which became the Estonian SSR), Lithuania (which became the Lithuanian SSR), part of eastern Finland (which became the Karelo-Finnish SSR) and eastern Romania (which became the Moldavian SSR.

The Central and Eastern European territories liberated from the Nazis and occupied by the Soviet armed forces were added to the Eastern Block by converting them into satellite sates, such as East German, the People’s Republic of Poland, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the People’s Republic of Hungary, The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the People’s Republic of Romania, and the People’s Republic of Albania.

The Soviet-style regimes that arose in the Bloc not only reproduced Soviet command economics, but also adopted the brutal methods employed by Joseph Stalin and the Soviet secret police to suppress real and potential opposition.  In Asia, the Red Army had overrun Manchuria in the last month of the war, and went on to occupy the large swathe of Korean territory located north of the 38th parallel.

As part of consolidating Stalin’s control over the Eastern Bloc, the NKVD, led by Laventiv Bervia, supervised the establishment of Soviet-style secret police systems in the Bloc that were supposed to crush anti-communist resistance.  When the slightest stirrings of independence emerged in the Bloc, Stalin’s strategy matched that of dealing with domestic pre-war rivals: they were removed from power, put on trial, imprisoned, and in several instances, executed.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was concerned that, given the enormous size of Soviet forces deployed in Europe at the end of the war, and the perception that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was unreliable, there existed a Soviet threat to Western Europe.

In February 1946, George F. Kennan’s “Long Telegram” from Moscow helped to articulate the U.S. government’s increasingly hard line against the Soviets, and became the basis for US strategy toward the Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War. That September, the Soviet side produced the Novikov telegram, sent by the Soviet ambassador to the U.S. but commissioned and “co-authored” by Vyacheslav Molotov.  It portrayed the U.S. as being in the grip of monopoly capitalists who were building up military capability “to prepare the conditions for winning world supremacy in a new war.”

 

A few weeks after the release of this “Long Telegram,” former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Mo.  The speech called for an Anglo-American alliance against the Soviets, whom he accused of establishing an “iron curtain” from “Stettin” in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.”

In February 1947, the British government announced that it could no longer afford to finance the Greek monarchical military regime in its civil war against Communist-led insurgents.  The American government’s response to this announcement was the adoption of containment, the goal of which was to stop the spread of Communism. Pres. Harry Truman delivered a speech that called for the allocation of $400 million to intervene in the war and unveiled the Truman Doctrine, which framed the conflict as a contest between free peoples and totalitarian regimes. Even though the insurgents were helped by Tito’s Yugoslavia, U.S. policymakers accused the Soviet Union of conspiring against the Greek royalists in an effort to expand Soviet influence.

In September 1947, the Soviets created Cominform, the purpose of which was to enforce orthodoxy within the international communist movement and tighten political control over Soviet satellites through coordination of communist parties in the Eastern Bloc.  Cominform faced an embarrassing setback the following June, when the Tito-Stalin spit obliged its members to expel Yugoslavia, which remained Communist but adopted a non-aligned position.

Enunciation of the Truman Doctrine marked the beginning of a U.S. bipartisan defense and foreign policy consensus between Republicans and Democrats focused on containment and deterrence that weakened during and after the Vietnam War, but ultimately persisted thereafter. Moderate and conservative parties in Europe, as well as social democrats, gave virtually unconditional support to the Western alliance, while European and American Communists, paid by the KGB and involved in its intelligence operations, adhered to Moscow’s line, although dissent began to appear after 1956.

Stalin believed that economic integration with the West would allow Eastern Bloc countries to escape Soviet control, and that the U.S. was trying to buy a pro-U.S. re-alignment of Europe. Stalin therefore prevented Eastern Bloc nations from receiving Marshall Plan aid.  The Soviet Union’s alternative to the Marshall plan, which was purported to involve Soviet subsidies and trade with central and Eastern Europe, became known as the Molotov Plan (later institutionalized in January 1949 as the Comecon). Stalin was also fearful of a reconstituted Germany; his vision of a post-war Germany did not include the ability to rearm or pose any kind of threat to the Soviet Union.

In early 1948, following reports of strengthening ‘reactionary elements,” Soviet operatives executed a coup d’état in Czechoslovakia, the only Eastern Bloc state that the Soviets had permitted to retain democratic structures. The public brutality of the coup shocked Western powers more than any event up to that point, set in a motion a brief scare that war would occur and swept away the last vestiges of opposition to the Marshall Plan in the United States Congress.

The twin policies of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan led to billions in economic and military aid for Western Europe, Greece, and Turkey.  At the same time there was increased intelligence and espionage activity, Eastern Bloc defections and diplomatic expulsions.

Britain, France, the United States, Canada and eight other western European countries signed the North Atlantic Treat of April 1949, establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). That August, the first Soviet atomic device was detonated in Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR. Following Soviet refusals to participate in a German rebuilding effort set forth by western European countries in 1948, the U.S. Britain and France spearheaded the establishment of West Germany from the three Western Zones of occupation in April 1949. The Soviet Union proclaimed its zone of occupation in Germany, the German Democratic Republic that October.

Media in the Eastern Block was an organ of the state, completely reliant on and subservient to the Communist Party, with radio and television organizations being state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local Communist party.  Soviet propaganda used Marxist philosophy to attack capitalism, claiming labor exploitation and war-mongering imperialism were inherent in the system.

Along with the broadcasts of the BBC and the Voice of America to Central and Eastern Europe, a major propaganda effort begun in 1949 was Radio Free Europe, dedicated to bringing about the peaceful demise of the Communist system in the Eastern Bloc. Radio Free Europe attempted to achieve these goals by serving as a surrogate home radio station, an alternative to the controlled and party-dominated domestic press. Radio Free Europe was a product of some of the most prominent architects of America’s early Cold War strategy, especially those who believed that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means, such as George F. Kennan.

In 1953, changes in political leadership on both sides shifted the dynamic of the Cold War. During the last 18 months of the Truman administration, the American defense budget had quadrupled, and Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower moved to reduce military spending by a third while continuing to fight the Cold War effectively.

After the death of Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet leader following the deposition and execution of Lavrentiv Beriva and the pushing aside of rivals Georgy Malenkov and Vyacheslav Molotov. On Feb. 25, 1956, Khrushchev shocked delegates to the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party by cataloging and denouncing Stalin’s crimes. As part of a campaign of de-Stalinization, he declared that the only way to reform and move away from Stalin’s policies would be to acknowledge errors made in the past.

On November 18, 1956, while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow, Khrushchev used his famous “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you” expression, shocking everyone present. He later claimed that he had not been talking about nuclear war, but rather about the historically determined victory of Communism over Capitalism. In 1961, Khrushchev declared that even if the USSR was behind the West, within a decade its housing shortage would disappear, consumer goods would be abundant, and within two decades, the “construction of a communist society” in the USSR would be completed in the main.”

Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, initiated a “New Look” for the containment strategy, calling for a greater reliance on nuclear weapons against U.S. enemies in wartime. Dulles also enunciated the doctrine of “massive retaliation”, threatening a severe US response to any Soviet aggression. Possessing nuclear superiority, for example, allowed Eisenhower to face down Soviet threats to intervene in the Middle East during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 occurred shortly after Khrushchev arranged the removal of Hungary’s Stalinist leader Matya Rakosi. In response to a popular uprising, the new regime formally disbanded the secret police, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. The Soviet army invaded.  Thousands of Hungarians were arrested, imprisoned and deported to the Soviet Union, and approximately 200,000 Hungarians fled Hungary in the chaos.  Hungarian leader Imre Naby and others were executed following secret trials.

From 1957 through 1961, Khrushchev openly and repeatedly threatened the West with nuclear annihilation. He claimed that Soviet missile capabilities were far superior to those of the United States, capable of wiping out any American or European city. However, Khrushchev rejected Stalin’s belief in the inevitability of war, and declared his new goal was to be “peaceful coexistence.”  This formulation modified the Stalin-era Soviet stance, where international class struggle meant the two opposing camps were on an inevitable collision course where Communism would triumph through global war; now, peace would allow Capitalism to collapse on its own, as well as giving the Soviets time to boost their military capabilities, which remained for decades until Gorbachev’s later “new thinking” envisioning peaceful coexistence as an end in itself rather than a form of class struggle.

The events in Hungary produced ideological fractures within the Communist parties of the world, particularly in Western Europe, with great decline in membership as many in both western and communist countries felt disillusioned by the brutal Soviet response. The Communist parties in the West would never recover from the effect the Hungarian Revolution had on their membership, a fact that was immediately recognized by some, such as the Yugoslavian politician Milovan Dilas who shortly after the revolution was crushed said that, “The wound which the Hungarian Revolution inflicted on communism can never be completely healed.”

America’s pronouncements concentrated on American strength abroad and the success of liberal Capitalism. However, by the late 1960s, the “battle for men’s minds” between two systems of social organization that Kennedy spoke of in 1961 was largely over, with tensions henceforth based primarily on clashing geopolitical objectives rather than ideology.

During November 1958, Khrushchev made an unsuccessful attempt to turn all of Berlin into an independent, demilitarized “free city,” giving the United States, Great Britain, and France a six-month ultimatum to withdraw their troops from the sectors they still occupied in West Berlin, or he would transfer control of Western access rights to the East Germans. Khrushchev earlier explained to Mao Zedong that “Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”  NATO formally rejected the ultimatum in mid-December and Khrushchev withdrew it in return for a Geneva conference on the German question.

More broadly, one hallmark of the 1950s was the beginning of European integration—a fundamental by-product of the Cold War that Truman and Eisenhower promoted politically, economically, and militarily, but which later administrations viewed ambivalently, fearful that an independent Europe would forge a separate détente with the Soviet Union, which would use this to exacerbate Western disunity.

Nationalist movements in some countries and regions, notably Guatemala, Indonesia and Indochina were often allied with communist groups. In this context, the United States and the Soviet Union increasingly competed for influence by proxy in the Third World as decolonization gained momentum in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Additionally, the Soviets saw continuing losses by imperial powers as presaging the eventual victory of their ideology. Both sides were selling armaments to gain influence.

The United States made use of the CIA to do away with a string of unfriendly Third World governments and to support allied ones. In 1953, President Eisenhower’s CIA implemented Operation Ajax, a covert operation aimed at the overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The popularly-elected and non-aligned Mosaddegh had been a Middle Eastern nemesis of Britain since nationalizing the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951.  Winston Churchill told the United States that Mosaddegh was “increasingly turning towards communism.” The pro-Western shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, assumed control as an autocratic monarch. The shah’s policies included the banning of the communist Tudeh Party and general suppression of political dissent by SAVAK, the shah’s domestic security and intelligence agency.

In Guatemala, a CIA-backed military coup ousted the left-wing President Guzman in 1954.  The post-Arbenz government—a military junta headed by Carlos Castillo Armas—repealed a progressive land reform law, returned nationalized property belonging to the United Fruit Company, set up a National Committee of Defense Against Communism, and decreed a Preventive Penal Law Against Communism at the request of the United States.

The non-aligned Indonesian government of Sukarno was faced with a major threat to its legitimacy beginning in 1956, when several regional commanders began to demand autonomy from Jakarta. After mediation failed, Sukarno took action to remove the dissident commanders. In February 1958, dissident military commanders in Central Sumatera (Colonel Ahmad Hussein) and North Sulawesi (Colonel Ventje Sumual) declared the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia-Permesta Movement aimed at overthrowing the Sukarno regime. They were joined by many civilian politicians who were opposed to the growing influence of the communist Partai Komunis Indonesia party. Due to their anti-communist rhetoric, the rebels received arms, funding, and other covert aid from the CIA until Allen Lawrence Pope, an American pilot, was shot down after a bombing raid on government-held Ambon in April 1958. The central government responded by launching airborne and seaborne military invasions of rebel strongholds Padang and Manado. By the end of 1958, the rebels were militarily defeated, and the last remaining rebel guerilla bands surrendered by August 1961.

In the Republic of the Congo, newly independent from Belgium since June 1960, the CIA-cultivated President Joseph Kasa-Vubu ordered the dismissal of the democratically-elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the Lumumba cabinet in September; Lumumba called for Kasa-Vubu’s dismissal instead.  In the ensuing Congo Crisis, the CIA-backed Colonel Mobutu quickly mobilized his forces to seize power through a military coup d’état.

In British Guiana, the leftist People’s Progressive Party (PPP) candidate Cheddi Jagan won the position of chief minister in a colonially-administered election in 1953, but was quickly forced to resign from power after Britain’s suspension of the still-dependent nation’s constitution. Embarrassed by the landslide electoral victory of Jagan’s allegedly Marxist party, the British imprisoned the PPP’s leadership and maneuvered the organization into a divisive rupture in 1955, engineering a split between Jagan and his PPP colleagues. Jagan again won the colonial elections in 1957 and 1961.  Despite Britain’s shift to a reconsideration of its view of the left-wing Jagan as a Soviet-style communist at this time, the United States pressured the British to withhold Guyana’s independence until an alternative to Jagan could be identified, supported, and brought into office.

Worn down by the communist guerilla war for Vietnamese independence and handed a watershed defeat by communist Viet Minh rebels at the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the French accepted a negotiated abandonment of their colonial stake in Vietnam. In the Geneva Conference, peace accords were signed, leaving Vietnam divided between a pro-Soviet administration in North Vietnam and a pro-Western administration in South Vietnam at the 17th parallel north. Between 1954 and 1961, the United States sent economic aid and military advisers to strengthen South Vietnam’s pro-Western regime against communist efforts to destabilize it.

Many emerging nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America rejected the pressure to choose sides in the East-West competition. In 1955, at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, dozens of Third World governments resolved to stay out of the Cold War. The consensus reached at Bandung culminated with the creation of the Belgrade –headquartered Non-Aligned Movement in 1961. Meanwhile, Khrushchev broadened Moscow’s policy to establish ties with India and other key neutral states. Independence movements in the Third World transformed the post-war order into a more pluralistic world of decolonized African and Middle Eastern nations and of rising nationalism in Asia and Latin America.

The period after 1956 was marked by serious setbacks for the Soviet Union, most notably the breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, beginning the Sino-Soviet split. Mao had defended Stalin when Khrushchev attacked him after his death in 1956, and treated the new Soviet leader as a superficial upstart, accusing him of having lost his revolutionary edge.  For his part, Khrushchev, disturbed by Mao’s glib attitude toward nuclear war, referred to the Chinese leader as a “lunatic on a throne.”

After this, Khrushchev made many desperate attempts to reconstitute the Sino-Soviet alliance, but Mao considered it useless and denied any proposal.  The Chinese-Soviet animosity spilled out in an intra-communist propaganda war.  Further on, the Soviets focused on a bitter rivalry with Mao’s China for leadership of the global communist movement.

In Cuba, the July 26 Movement seized power in January 1959, toppling President Fulgencio Batista, whose unpopular regime had been denied arms by the Eisenhower administration.  Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States continued for some time after Batista’s fall, but Pres. Eisenhower deliberately left the capital to avoid meeting Cuba’s young revolutionary leader Fidel Castro during the latter’s trip to Washington in April 1959, leaving Vice President Richard Nixon to conduct the meeting in his place.  On April 21, 1959, Castro declared Cuba a communist nation, and Cuba began negotiating arms purchases from the Eastern Bloc in March 1960.

In January 1961, just prior to leaving office, Eisenhower formally severed relations with the Cuban government. In April 1961, the administration of newly elected American President John F. Kennedy mounted an unsuccessful CIA-organized ship-borne invasion of the island at Playa Girón and Playa Larga in Las Villas Province—a failure that publicly humiliated the United States.

The Berlin Crisis of 1961 was the last major incident in the Cold War regarding the status of Berlin and post-World War II Germany. By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to restricting emigration movement was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc.  However, hundreds of thousands of East Germans annually emigrated to West Germany through a ‘loophole’ in the system that existed between East and West Berlin, where the four occupying World War II powers governed movement.

The emigration resulted in a massive “brain drain” from East Germany to West Germany of younger educated professionals, such that nearly 20 percent of East Germany’s population had migrated to West Germany by 1961.  That June, the Soviet Union issued a new ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of Allied forces from West Berlin.  The request was rebuffed, and on August 13, East Germany erected a barbed-wire barrier that would eventually be expanded through construction into the Berlin Wall, effectively closing the loophole.

Continuing to seek ways to oust Castro following the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Kennedy and his administration experimented with various ways of covertly facilitating the overthrow of the Cuban government. Significant hopes were pinned on a covert program named the Cuban Project, devised under the Kennedy administration in 1961.

In February 1962, Khrushchev learned of the American plans regarding Cuba: a “Cuban project”—approved by the CIA and stipulating the overthrow of the Cuban government in October, possibly involving the American military—and yet one more Kennedy-ordered operation to assassinate Castro.  Preparations to install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba were undertaken in response.  Alarmed, Kennedy considered various reactions, and ultimately responded to the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba with a naval blockade and presented an ultimatum to the Soviets. Khrushchev backed down from a confrontation, and the Soviet Union removed the missiles in return for an American pledge not to invade Cuba again.  Castro later admitted, “I would have agreed to the use of nuclear weapons….we took it for granted that it would become a nuclear war anyway, and that we were going to disappear.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis (October–November 1962) brought the world closer to nuclear war than ever before. It further demonstrated the concept of mutually-assured destruction – that neither superpower was prepared to use their nuclear weapons, fearing total global destruction via mutual retaliation. The aftermath of the crisis led to the first efforts in the nuclear arms race at nuclear disarmament and improving relations, although the Cold War’s first arms control agreement, the Antarctic Treaty, had come into force in 1961.

In 1964, Khrushchev’s Kremlin colleagues managed to oust him, but allowed him a peaceful retirement. Accused of rudeness and incompetence, he was also credited with ruining Soviet agriculture and bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war.  Khrushchev had become an international embarrassment when he authorized construction of the Berlin Wall, a public humiliation for Marxism-Leninism.

In the course of the 1960s and 1970s, Cold War participants struggled to adjust to a new, more complicated pattern of international relations in which the world was no longer divided into two clearly opposed blocs.  From the beginning of the post-war period, Western Europe and Japan rapidly recovered from the destruction of World War II and sustained strong economic growth through the 1950s and 1960s, with per capita GDPs approaching those of the United States, while Eastern Bloc economies stagnated.

As a result of the 1973 oil crisis, combined with the growing influence of Third World alignments such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (OPEC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, less-powerful countries had more room to assert their independence and often showed themselves resistant to pressure from either superpower.  Meanwhile, Moscow was forced to turn its attention inward to deal with the Soviet Union’s deep-seated domestic economic problems. During this period, Soviet leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin and embraced the notion of détente – the easing of strained political relations.

The unity of NATO was breached early in its history, with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle’s presidency of France from 1958 onwards. De Gaulle protested at the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to Pres. Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on Sept. 17, 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the United States and the United Kingdom, and also for the expansion of NATO’s coverage to include geographical areas of interest to France, most notably French Algeria, where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.

Considering the response given to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began the development of an independent French nuclear deterrent and in 1966 withdrew from NATO’s military structures and expelled NATO troops from French soil.

In 1968, a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia called the “Prague Spring” took place that included an “Action Program” of liberalizations, which described increasing freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of movement, along with an economic emphasis on consumer goods, the possibility of a multiparty government, limiting the power of the secret police, and potentially withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact.[183]

In answer to the Prague Spring, the Soviet army, together with most of their Warsaw Pact allies, invaded Czechoslovakia.  The invasion was followed by a wave of emigration, including an estimated 70,000 Czechs and Slovaks initially fleeing, with the total eventually reaching 300,000. The invasion sparked intense protests from Yugoslavia, Romania and China, and from Western European communist parties.

In September 1968, during a speech at the Fifth Congress of the Polish United Workers’ Party one month after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Brezhnev outlined the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which he claimed the right to violate the sovereignty of any country attempting to replace Marxism-Leninism with capitalism.

Brezhnev stated:  “When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.”

The doctrine found its origins in the failures of Marxism-Leninism in states like Poland, Hungary and East Germany, which were facing a declining standard of living contrasting with the prosperity of West Germany and the rest of Western Europe.

In late April 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson landed some 22,000 troops in the Dominican Republic for a one-year occupation of the republic in an invasion codenamed Operation Power Pack, citing the threat of the emergence of a Cuban-style revolution in Latin America. Presidential elections held in 1966, during the occupation, handed victory to the conservative Joaquin Beleaguer. Although Balaguer enjoyed a real base of support from sectors of the elites as well as peasants, his formally running Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) opponent, former President Juan Bosch, did not actively campaign. The PRD’s activists were violently harassed by the Dominican police and armed forces.

In Indonesia, the hardline anti-communist Gen. Suharto \ wrested control of the state from his predecessor Sukarno in an attempt to establish a “New Order.  Allegedly, from 1965 to 1966, the military led the mass killing of an estimated half-million members and sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party and other leftist organizations.  It was at this time that Barack Obama’s communist mother married a pro-West Indonesian and went to live there, leaving Barack in Hawaii with his grandparents

Escalating the scale of American intervention in the ongoing conflict between Ngo Dinh Diem’s South Vietnamese government and the communist National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) insurgents opposing it, Johnson stationed some 575,000 troops in Southeast Asia to defeat the NLF and their North Vietnamese allies in the Vietnam War.  But propaganda and misinformation spread by the media in the United States undermined economic support for the war, ultimately resulting in the withdrawal of U.S. troops.   North Vietnam received Soviet approval for its war effort in 1959; the Soviet Union sent 15,000 military advisors and annual arms shipments worth $450 million to North Vietnam during the war, while China sent 320,000 troops and annual arms shipments worth $180 million.  At the time, the Soviet Union and China denied any involvement in any Vietnam insurgencies.

In Chile, the Socialist Party candidate Salvador Allende won the presidential election of 1970, becoming the first democratically-elected Marxist to become president of a country in the Americas.  The CIA targeted Allende for removal and operated to undermine his support domestically, which contributed to a period of unrest culminating in Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état on Sept. 11, 1973. Pinochet consolidated power as a military dictator, Allende’s reforms of the economy were rolled back, and leftist opponents were killed or detained in internment camps under the Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA).

The Middle East continued to be a source of contention. Egypt, which received the bulk of its arms and economic assistance from the USSR, was a troublesome client, with a reluctant Soviet Union feeling obliged to assist in both the 1967 Six-Day War (with advisers and technicians) and the War of Attrition (with pilots and aircraft) against pro-Western Israel.

Despite the beginning of an Egyptian shift from a pro-Soviet to a pro-American orientation in 1972 (under Egypt’s new leader Anwar El Sadat), rumors of imminent Soviet intervention on the Egyptians’ behalf during the 1973 Yom Kippur War brought about a massive American mobilization that threatened to wreck détente.  Although pre-Sadat Egypt had been the largest recipient of Soviet aid in the Middle East, the Soviets were also successful in establishing close relations with communist South Yemen, as well as the nationalist governments of Algeria and Iraq.  Indirect Soviet assistance to the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict included support for Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).  The Iraqi Ba’athist Coup of 1968 upset the US-sponsored security system established as part of the Cold War in the Middle East.  It appeared that any enemy of the Baghdad regime was a potential ally of the United States.”  From 1973 to 1975, the CIA colluded with the Iranian government to finance and arm Kurdish rebels in the Second Kurdish-Iraqi War to weaken Iraq’s Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.

In Africa, Somali army officers army officers led by Mohamed Siad Barre carried out a bloodless coup in 1969, creating the socialist Somali Democratic Republic. The Soviet Union vowed to support Somalia. Four years later, the pro-American Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown in a 1974 coup by the Derg, a radical group of Ethiopian army officers led by the pro-Soviet Mengitsu Haile Mariam, who built up relations with the Cubans and Soviets. When fighting between the Somalis and Ethiopians broke out in the 1977–1978 Somali-Ethiopian Ogaden War, Barre lost his Soviet support and turned to the Safari Club, a group of pro-American intelligence agencies including Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia—for support and weapons. The Ethiopian military was supported by Cuban soldiers along with Soviet military advisors and armaments. Pres. Carter remained mostly neutral during the conflict, insisting that Somalia was violating Ethiopian sovereignty.  He initiated military cooperation with Somalia in 1980.

The 1974 Portuguese Carnation Revolution against the authoritarian Estado Novo (“New State”) returned Portugal to a multi-party system and facilitated the independence of the Portuguese colonies Angola and East Timor. In Africa, where Angolan rebels had waged a multi-faction independence war against Portuguese rule since 1961, a 20 year civil war replaced the anti-colonial struggle as fighting erupted between the communist People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), backed by the Cubans and Soviets, and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA), backed by the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and Mobutu’s government in Zaire. The United States, the apartheid government of South Africa, and several other African governments also supported a third faction, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Without bothering to consult the Soviets in advance, the Cuban government sent its troops to fight alongside the MPLA.  Apartheid South Africa sent troops to support the UNITA, but the MPLA, bolstered by Cuban personnel and Soviet assistance, eventually gained the upper hand.

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnam invaded and occupied parts of Cambodia to use as military bases, which contributed to the violence of the Cambodian Civil War between the pro-American government of Lon Nol and Maoist Khmer Rouge insurgents. Documents uncovered from the Soviet archives reveal that the North Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1970 was launched at the request of the Khmer Rouge.  U.S. and South Vietnamese forces responded to these actions with a bombing campaign and ground incursion. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge would eventually kill 1–3 million Cambodians in the killing fields, out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million. Vietnam deposed Pol Pot in 1979 and installed Khmer Rouge defector Heng Samrin, only to be bogged down in a guerilla war and suffer a punitive Chinese attack.

As a result of the Sino-Soviet, tensions along the Chinese–Soviet border reached their peak in 1969, and Pres. Richard Nixon decided to use the conflict to shift the balance of power towards the West in the Cold War. The Chinese had sought improved relations with the Americans in order to gain advantage over the Soviets as well.

In February 1972, Nixon announced a stunning rapprochement with Mao’s China by traveling to Beijing and meeting with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. At this time, the USSR achieved rough nuclear parity with the United States.  Meanwhile, the Vietnam War both weakened America’s influence in the Third World and cooled relations with Western Europe.  Although indirect conflict between Cold War powers continued through the late 1960s and early 1970s, tensions were beginning to ease.

Following his China visit, Nixon met with Soviet leaders, including Brezhnev in Moscow.  These Strategic Arms Limitation Talks resulted in two landmark arms control treaties: SALT I, the first comprehensive limitation pact signed by the two superpowers, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which banned the development of systems designed to intercept incoming missiles. These aimed to limit the development of costly anti-ballistic missiles and nuclear missiles.

Nixon and Brezhnev proclaimed a new era of “peaceful coexistence” and established the groundbreaking new policy of detente (or cooperation) between the two superpowers. Meanwhile, Brezhnev attempted to revive the Soviet economy, which was declining in part because of heavy military expenditures.  Between 1972 and 1974, the two sides also agreed to strengthen their economic ties, including agreements for increased trade. As a result of their meetings, détente would replace the hostility of the Cold War and the two countries would live mutually.

For a brief period, the world was under the illusion of peace.  Pres. Jimmy Carter signed the SALT I Treaty.  But evidence was growing that neither Russia nor China were abiding by any of the treaties they had signed.

By the time Pres. Ronald Reagan took office, Cold War II was underway.

If the Wikipedia authors who posted the previous information thought the United States was weakened by the Vietnam War, that weakness is nothing compared to the utter fecklessness our nation is now enduring under a president born to an American mother who was Communist and a Kenyan father with communist-inspired anti-imperialist/colonialist tendencies.

Obama knows very well he is betraying us.  His blunt warnings mean nothing if we can’t back them up militarily.  He has our troops committed to a war in Afghanistan whose only purpose has been to divert the Taliban until the Chinese can complete construction of their rare-earth mining operations.

While it’s true that we can’t police the whole world, we also can’t fight off the whole word in order to protect our own freedom.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, many Americans were frightened.  But at least our president, JFK, gave the appearance of standing up for our country (even while he negotiated to close our bases in Turkey).

Today’s Ukrainian crisis is all the more frightening because our president is every bit as dangerous, untrustworthy, autocratic, and ambitious as our supposed adversary.

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Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

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