James R. Bennett
See Change No. 255 (Sept. 1998) pp. 10-16 for Part I on causes.
The United States (US) and the Soviet Union (SU) mirrored each other in creating and expanding the Cold War. The destructive consequences of that long ideological and economic competition were caused by both countries. What follows is a chronological account of the consequences wholly or partly attributable to the US, whose propaganda system (the government-corporate-military-media-education complex) for forty-five years attributed all wrongdoing to the SU.
Various dates or events have been cited by various scholars for the beginning of the Cold War: Pres. Truman’s cancellation of Lend Lease to the SU the day after Germany surrendered (May 8, 1945); Truman’s secrecy at the Potsdam Conference (July 17-August 2, 1945) about the successful test of the atomic bomb on July 15; the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9; Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton , MO, March 5, 1946; Truman’s threat (March 1946) to send battleships to the Mediterranean if the SU did not remove its troops from Iran; the civil war in Greece (1946-49) and the resulting Truman Doctrine (1947) supporting anti-Communist forces there and around the world; etc. In these origins lie many of the consequences of the Cold War, which are often inseparable from its causes: the arms race, the secrecy, the bellicosity, the organizing into belligerent camps, the good-evil dichotomies.
(Words in bold denote specific consequences of the Cold War.)
Two patterns particularly become evident in the following history, which one historian has called global and domestic McCarthyism. Underlying and energizing both are widespread ignorance, unrelenting bigotry, and intense hostility, the familiar three bully brothers of war.
March 12, 1947: The Truman Doctrine formalizes the Cold War: Marshall Plan money for Western Europe only (1947); Four Point Program aid for the rest of the world (1948); NATO Western Europe anti-Soviet military alliance (1949).
March 21, 1947: Domestic repression intensifies, one of the worst of the consequences of the Cold War. Truman requires loyalty investigations of all federal employees and forbids government employment to Communists and Communist sympathizers, bot h ironically Stalinist, anti-democratic, unconstitutional actions. Taft-Hartley Act denies use of the National Labor Relations Board to unions with Communists.
July 26, 1947: National Security Act signed by Truman creating the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council (NSC). The National Security State (NSS) is another disaster of the Cold War, setting the US on a path of international interventions.
Another major event in the intensification of witch hunting: October 20, 1947, the House committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), under J. Parnell Thomas, conducts its first hearings concerning alleged Communist influence within the Hollywood film industry. The Hollywood Ten –writers and directors mostly—were imprisoned for refusing to testify. Then the film industry began its blacklisting of Communists, Communist sympathizers, and associates.[In 1947-48 Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, North Korea, and Czechoslovakia go Communist; Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) links Communist parties in E. and W. Europe; Berlin Airlift begins in 1948.]
May 16, 1948: U.S. journalist George Polk’s body is found in Salonika Bay. His murder by the brutal pro-U.S. anti-communist Greek government is another example of how questionable were so many of our despotic “free world” allies.
July 20, 1948: Leaders of US Communist Party arrested under the Smith Act; convicted in 1949.
Arms race heats up: September 23, 1949, SU’s atomic bomb explosion announced.
February 9, 1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy first gains national prominence for claiming to have a list of 205 Communists within Truman’s State Dept. (the claim was false).
Right-wing attacks Truman’s State Dept. for “losing China” after Mao’s victory. US refuses to recognize the People’s Republic of China (until 1979).
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg arrested on June16, 1950 for spying, convicted in 1951, and executed in 1953.
Korean War begins June 25, 1950.
Repression widens: McCarran Internal Security Act passes Congress over Truman’s veto: established concentration camps for Communists, required all Communist-dominated organizations to reveal their members and contributors.
1951: More global anti-communist alliances: with the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand; Greece and Turkey join NATO; military assistance to Yugoslavia. US military bases in Britain.
Arms race expanding with dire consequences for an open democracy. April 22, 1952: largest atomic bomb explosion by US. Oct. 3: Great Britain explodes its first atomic bomb; US explodes first hydrogen bomb. From 1953 to 1961 the US alone produced some 28,000 nuclear weapons, from 1,200 to 30,000, one of the most perilous of all Cold War consequences and a history difficult to fathom. One explanation is the spying, secrecy, and deceit on the part of our leaders, their propaganda and disinformation, intended to sedate the public. The FBI infiltrated peace groups and, for example, collected 49 volumes on the Women’s Strike for Peace alone. Eisenhower in 1953 urged the omission of the word “thermonuclear” from Atomic Energy Commission press releases, to keep the public “confused as to fission and fusion.” In 1958 the Administration kept its Pacific atmospheric nuclear tests secret from the public. The government suppressed studies showing relationships between leukemia in southwestern Utah and nuclear testing. These examples can be duplicated in the thousands. Yet there was a large and active peace movement. Despite its achievements (the negotiation and ratification of numerous “arms-control” treaties, and restraint in the use of nuclear weapons in war since 1945), however, the nuclear race continues today.
Repression expands: 1951-52 HUAC enlarged investigation of film industry forcing witnesses to name alleged communists; appeals to the Fifth-Amendment resulted in blacklisting. Senator McCarthy’s aides, Roy Cohn and David Schine tour US European libraries, claim to have found some 30,000 pro-Communist books, removed and in some cases burn books by about 40 authors.
US global empire justified May 31, 1953 by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ application of “domino” metaphor to S.E. Asia, leading eventually to the Vietnam War.
June 19, 1953: Sovietphobia causes Rosenbergs’ execution, the first civilians ever put to death for espionage.
Arms race. August 14, 1953: SU explodes its first thermonuclear bomb.
Repression/Subversion of Bill of Rights: October, 1953: Senator McCarthy opens hearings on U.S. Army allegedly harboring Communists at one base. Pres. Eisenhower orders firing of federal employees who invoke the Fifth Amendment before a congressional committee.
Total War. Jan. 11, 1954: Dulles announces US war policy now massive nuclear retaliation; long development of US air war policy reaches unrestrained climax.
Nuclearism. March 1, 1954: Radioactive debris from Pacific Bikini atoll nuclear testing sickens crew of Japanese fishing boat.
Empire. Following Communist-led Vietminh defeat of the French Army May 7, 1954, US agrees to national elections but then refuses to sign the accords and blocks elections.
Fanaticism of domestic anti-communism reaches another high point when J. Robert Oppenheimer loses his security clearance, June 1, 1954.
Fanaticism of global anti-communist empire reaches another peak in June 18, 1954, with CIA coup in Guatemala, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán.
August 17, 1954: Mutual security pact with Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China.
Repression deepens. August 24, 1954: Communist Control Act strengthens the 1950 McCarran internal security Act: 1) severely penalized “Communist-dominated” organizations that failed to reveal members and supporters, 2) revoked collective bargaining rights of Communist-dominated unions, 3) stripped Communist Party of its legal rights. August 27: Communist Part outlawed. Sept. 3: citizenship revoked of anyone convicted of conspiracy to overthrow government by force. (The catch: Smith Act already used to convict followers of Lenin, who [like Jefferson] advocated the violent overthrow of illegitimate government.) Individual states pass “little Smith Acts” requiring loyalty oaths of state employees and denying communist candidates place on election ballots.
Empire alliances. Sept. 8, 1954: Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (US, UK, Aus., Fr., NZ, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand).
Militarization. SU, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania May 14, 1955, create Warsaw Pact to counter remilitarization of West Germany and militarized NATO. E. Germany remilitarized 1956.
Empire threats. Feb. 1, 1956: US and UK issue Declaration of Washington warning Africa and Asia against receiving aid from the SU.
Repression. March 28, 1956: Internal Revenue Service seizes Communist Party headquarters in several cities for nonpayment of taxes.
Nuclear threatening. May 21, 1956: US explodes airborne hydrogen bomb, demonstrating its capacity to bomb cities/civilian mass targets. Oct. 1956: Suez Canal war leads to nuclear threats between US and SU.
Nuclear War, deluding the public. .July 20, 1956: nationwide Alert tests readiness for atomic attack.
Eisenhower Doctrine. March 9, 1957: Congress approves military and economic aid to any Middle Eastern country that opposes Communism.
Nuclear defense. April 22, 1957: U.S. Army Air Defense Command prepares protection for cities against nuclear missiles as part of the total war policy.
Nuclear proliferation. UK explodes its first hydrogen bomb. Despite SU appeals to halt testing, US and UK continue.
US joins Baghdad Pact versus Communism in the Middle East.
Intensified nuclear threatening. In response to our land-based missiles in Europe, which had long enabled us to strike the SU, the SU successfully tests an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Aug. 26, 1957. Now both countries can threaten global ruin.
Proliferation. NATO decides to establish a European nuclear missile force under US command, Dec. 19, 1957.
1958-59: Cold War diminishes slightly: SU and US moratoriums on nuclear testing, travel eased, exchange agreements. In the US, the Supreme Court struck down some of the worst Red Scare legislation as unconstitutional.
Jan. 13, 1958: Some 9,000 scientists worldwide petition UN to halt nuclear testing. Feb. 17: Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) begun in UK.
Proliferation and threatening. Feb. 22, 1958: US agrees to supply UK with ballistic missiles capable of reaching the SU.
Unpopularity of US. May 1958: VP Nixon attacked by demonstrators in Peru and Venezuela.
July and August, 1958: Under Eisenhower Doctrine, US Marines sent to Lebanon to support pro-US president Chamoun.
Nuclear threatening. August-, 1958: Eisenhower determined to defend contested islands between Taiwan and China by force if necessary.
Nov. 4, 1958: US, SU, UK agree to stop nuclear testing.
Nov. 27, 1958: Second Berlin Crisis begins, to last four years.
Jan. 1, 1959: Castro defeats Batista.
Sept. 15, 1959: Khrushchev visits US.
Dec. 12, 1959: UN adopts resolution advocating peaceful use of outer space.
Jan. 14, 1960: SU reduces armed forces 33%.
May 5, 1960: In response to repeated US violations of SU airspace, SU shoots down US U-2 spy plane, captures pilot, and cancels Paris summit with UK, France, and US.
Oct. 19, 1960: US imposes trade embargo against Cuba in retaliation for Castro’s nationalizing of US property done in retaliation for US “economic aggression” done in retaliation for Castro’s alliance with the SU. Jan. 3, 1961: US breaks diplomatic ties with Cuba.
Empire, Monroe Doctrine. Nov.-Dec. 1960: Eisenhower orders Navy in Caribbean to prevent possible Communist takeover of Guatemala or Nicaragua.
Jan. 25, 1961: Coup in El Salvador overthrows government US disliked.
Empire and anti-Communist fanaticism. April 17, 1961: CIA Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, which failed.
Summer and fall 1961: Berlin Crisis escalates, Kennedy v. Khrushchev.
Exaggerating enemy. Contrary to Kennedy’s claims of a missile gap and need for US to catch up, evidence there was no gap.
August, 1961. SU and then US resume nuclear testing.
Dec. 11, 1961: Pres. Kennedy increases military support to S. Vietnam.
1961-1975: Civil war in Laos between US-backed government and Communist Pathet Lao.
Nuclear threatening. June 16, 1962: Massive retaliation policy replaced by “flexible response.”
Cuban Missile Crisis, October 14-28: US and SU threaten all-out nuclear war.
Dec., 1961: US will arm UK with US Polaris nuclear missiles.
August 5, 1963: US, SU, and UK ban atmospheric nuclear testing, which had for 18 years polluted the planet with radioactive dust.
Empire, intervention. Nov. 1-2, 1963: US supports assassination of S. Vietnam ruler, Ngo Dinh Diem, and leaders of coup.
December 1963: US military in S. Vietnam now about 16,000 over 685 at beginning of 1962.
August 7, 1964: Tonkin Gulf Resolution authorizes Pres. Johnson to commit US forces to any SE Asian nation to fight Communists.
Oct. 16, 1964: China explodes its first atomic bomb and then calls for a summit to ban nuclear weapons and destroy nuclear stockpiles, which the US rejects.
Vietnam War escalates, Feb.-July 1965: Pres. Johnson orders bombing of N. Vietnam, sends 2 Marine battalions, the first US combat troops, then a buildup from 75,000 to 125,000 combat troops, and calls for a doubling of the military draft..
Invasion of sovereign nations. April-May, 1965: Pres. Johnson sends 20,000 Marines into Dominican Republic against an alleged Communist coup. The anti-communism and Sovietphobia of the Cold War provided the rationale for repeated imperialistic military invasions: Guatemala, Libya, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Iraq.
Alienation and strife in US. October, 1965: Massive anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, and again March 26, 1966: International Day of Protest against the Vietnam War.
Total War (brutal massacre without constraint). June 19, 1966: US bomb N. Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Haiphong, for first time. UK disassociates itself from bombing civilian centers. (See James R. Bennett, “United States Violence: The History of Air War.” Change No. 244 [January 1996] 6-10). Air war on cities raises the issue of war crimes: In WWII, in retaliation for the assassination of one of their officers allegedly by the French Resistance, the Reich Division of the Waffen SS, assisted by the Gestapo, killed 642 men, women, and children of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, France, and burned the town to ashes. The people of the village were not responsible for the killing. After the war, some of the German enlisted men (but not the officers!) were prosecuted and executed. Most of the people killed in the Hanoi and Haiphong bombings were, like the Oradour victims, civilian men, women, and children.
Massive invasion. Jan. 1, 1967: US troops in S. Vietnam reaches 380,000.
US wealth squandered on war: taxes. Pres. Johnson introduces a 6% surcharge on taxable income to pay for the war, Jan. 10, 1967, and raised it to 10% in August.
Domestic strife. April 15, 1967: Over 100,000 demonstrators protest the war before UN headquarters in NYC.
Nuclear proliferation. China explodes its first hydrogen bomb June 17, 1967.
Jan. 4, 1968: About 486,000 US troops now in Vietnam.
Belligerence breeds belligerence. US intelligence ship SS Pueblo intruded into N. Korea’s territorial waters and is seized; Pres. Johnson calls up Navy and Air Force reserves to Korea.
Jan. 31, 1968: N. Vietnamese Army and Vietcong partisans commence Tet Offensive, temporarily capturing Hue and other S. Vietnamese cities. The “light at the end of the tunnel” credibility gap grew from that time.
Atrocities, war crimes. March 16, 1968: My Lai massacre, some 347 unarmed S. Vietnamese men, women, and children killed by US troops under command of Lt. William Calley.
Domestic McCarthyism. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr., assassinated. FBI Director Hoover had pursued King for his alleged Communist affiliations and anti-war activities. King was only one of hundreds of thousands placed under surveillance by Hoover for their opposition to the war.
June 5, 1968: Senator Robert Kennedy assassinated. He was running for the Democratic Party’s candidacy with a strong anti-war challenge to Sen. Hubert Humphrey. Later, during the Democratic convention in Chicago, anti-war protests resulted in what a grand jury ruled a “police riot.”
Mirror image. Aug. 20-21, 1968: SU and four E. Europe countries invade Czechoslovakia, which had instituted democratic reforms. Brezhnev issues the Brezhnev Doctrine to justify the invasion with language and arguments interchangeable with US rationalizations for its invasions.
Nuclear arsenals expanding. Aug. 25, 1968: France explodes it first hydrogen bomb.
Nov. 5, 1968: Richard Nixon becomes Pres. of the US, having run on a “peace” platform. He will maintain the war for five more years and drop more bomb tonnage than did Johnson. Ironically for the public, Johnson had withdrawn because of the public protests against the war.
Cold War into space. July 20, 1969: Apollo 11 Astronaut’s Armstrong and Aldrin walk on moon, a major early step in the future struggle for control of outer space.
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty ratified by US and SU.
Feb. 20, 1970: US and N. Vietnam begin “peace negotiations” in Paris.
April 30, 1970: US and S. Vietnamese forces attack neutral Cambodia, setting off massive anti-war demonstrations in US. Many universities closed down
Air war violence.Nixon resumes bombing of N. Vietnam, May 2, 1970.
Repression: killing students. National Guardsmen kill four students and wound nine others at Kent State U. in Ohio, May 4, 1970; most of the victims were not involved in protests against the war. May 14, 1970: State police kill 2 students and wound 11 students at Jackson State U. in Mississippi . The President’s commission on Campus Unrest accused the police with “unjustified overreaction.”
Invasions. Nov. 25, 1970: N. Vietnam boycotts peace talks because of US attacks on Laos, Cambodia, and N. Vietnam.
April 23, 1971: Begins week of antiwar protests in Washington, DC.
1971-72: Nixon withdrawing troops from S. Vietnam while intensifying air war to force N. Vietnam to negotiate favorably. Antiwar protests continue.
Totalitarian allies. Jan. 17, 1973: Philippines’ Pres. Marcos, an ally of the US in the “free world,” institutes permanent martial law.
Feb. 21-17, 1972: Nixon and Kissinger to China. May 22, 1972: Nixon to SU. He and Brezhnev sign a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) May 26.
June 17, 1972: “Watergate” constitutional crisis begins.
Air War atrocities. December 18, 1972: Nixon orders 11 days of intense Christmas bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong and the mining of N. Vietnames harbors.
March 29, 1973: Last US troops leave S. Vietnam. Over 3 million US troops fought there, with over 50,000 killed. Some 4 million Vietnamese, N. and S., were killed or wounded between 1961 and 1973, about 10% of the total population.
Coups. Sept. 11, 1973: US/CIA backs overthrow of Chile’s Pres. Allende, and brutal dictatorship of General Pinochet Ugarte is established.
Aug. 9, 1974: Nixon resigns presidency and is pardoned by Pres. Ford.
April 30, 1975: Vietnam civil war ends, N. and S. become one country, concluding long war for national liberation, beginning in 1941 when Ho Chi Minh formed the Vietminh to fight both French colonialism and the Japanese invaders.
Nuclear threatening.Dec. 9, 1976: NATO rejects Warsaw Pact proposal that each side renounce first use of nuclear weapons.
1977-78: Coups in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and S. Yemen set up pro-Soviet governments.
Nov. 3, 1978, Jan. 1, 1979: Vietnam/US friendship treaty, China/US formal relations.
Anticommunist intervention. July 17, 1979: Insurrection in Nicaragua deposes Somoza dictatorship and US ally by pro-socialist Sandinistas, beginning long effort through administrations of Reagan and Bush to expel them.
Totalitarian allies. Oct. 16, 1979: Military coup in El Salvador begins long civil war between ruling oligarchy and peasant rebels, with US supporting the wealthy landowners/military government.
Nuclear threatening. 1979: SU and NATO deploy intermediate-range, nuclear armed missiles.
Second Cold War begins. SU invades Afghanistan, Pres. Carter withdraws SALT II, boycott’s 1980 Olympics, and cancels grain sales to SU. Especially the terrifying buildup of nuclear weapons will be repeated in the 1980s, with their inevitable malignancies and genetic deformities. Corporate executives, politicians, scientific advisors, military officers—all played destructive roles within an ideology of nationalism, patriotism, and male-bonding.
Opposes indigenous revolutions. Dec. 1981: US gives $161 million to El Salvador to combat rebels. Pres. Reagan directs CIA to support Nicaraguan exiles (Contras) to overthrow Sandinista government.
Nuclear Proliferation. US sells Trident missiles to UK, March 11, 1982. Nov. 22: Reagan decides to deploy MX intercontinental ballistic missile.
1983: Reagan Cold War Doctrine. Vows to oppose Communist regimes, insists on SU troop reductions, etc.
March 23, 1983: Reagan proposes Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), known as “Star Wars,” and considered to be a first-strike “Offense Initiative” by the SU. Reagan begins to speak publicly about winning a nuclear war.
Oct. 23, 1983: 241 soldiers sent to Beirut as part of the Reagan Doctrine killed by a bomb.
International Bully. US invades Grenada because government allegedly pro-Commuinist, Oct. 25, 1983.
Nov. 14, 1983: First US Cruise missiles arrive in England, are met with violent resistance from the Greenham common women protesters.
Old Tit for Tat. Nov. 22, 1983: US/SU arms limitation negotiations cease, and SU announces intention to increase nuclear forces.
Anti-communist Empire against international law. Jan. 1984: CIA mines Nicaraguan harbors in violation of US and international laws and OAS treaties. Congress passes Boland amendments to try to restrain Reagan’s interventions. Reagan turns to secret, private methods and funds to finance his anti-Sandinista obsession, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986.
May 1, 1985: US imposes total embargo on Nicaragua.
June 12, 1985: House of Representatives votes $27 million in “non-military aid” to assist Contras to depose Sandinista government.
March 24, 1986: Bully invades again. US bombs Tripoli and other targets in Libya, killing Gaddafi’s child.
Nov. 3, 1986: Reagan’s illegal, secret arms deal to Iran revealed (the Iran-Contra Affair of selling arms to Iran and giving the profits to Contras). During 1988 presidential campaign, George Bush lies that he knew nothing about the deal.
1986-: Cold War dissolving. Reagan and Gorbachev meet in Reykjavik; they sign INF Treaty to eliminate intermediary-range nuclear missiles from Europe; Namibian independence, Cuban withdrawal; SU to withdraw from Afghanistan; Reagan visits Moscow; perestroika and glastnost in SU; SU to unilaterally reduce armed forces by half a million; Cuba withdraws from Angola; June 4, 1989: Democratic elections in Poland; Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria abandon one-party elections; East Germany dismantles Berline Wall; Romania’s Ceausescu overthrown and executed, etc.
Leaders of Central American countries sign Latin Accord to disband Contra armies, but US opposes.
August 2, 1990: Although the US and Iraq had been allies (against Iran) for many years and our ambassador had assured Hussein the US would not interfere,Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait initiates 1991 Gulf War.
Oct. 3, 1990: E. and W. Germany unite.
Nov. 17-19, 1990: Non-aggression agreement between NATO and Warsaw Pact.
1998: US permanently wounded by the Cold War: the anti-democratic institutions established as a consequence of the Cold War still dominate.
Our government operates on a feeble moral foundation because its past actions place us constantly in hypocritical positions. For example, Pres. Clinton denounced the “cowardly” bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in Aug. 1998, but those atrocities were minuscule compared to our own (from the massive bombings of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to the mining of Nicaraguan harbors).
Our democracy is undermined by the enormous power of the military, the military-industrial complex, the secrecy, and other dysfunctions caused by the Cold War.
The arms bazaar, conventional and nuclear continues, with the US the leading merchant. According to the Center for Defense Information, the Pentagon plans a 25% increase in its procurement budget for new weapons, assuring higher military spending for years to come. Purchasing new tactical aircraft alone will add $350 billion or more to future budgets just for the F-22, the JSF fighter, and the Super Hornet. In addition, the Pentagon plans a new Attack Submarine, the Comanche Helicopter, and Crusader Artillery Howitzer even though in the Pentagon’s own words we have “no near peer” militarily.
The military-industrial complex that Pres. Eisenhower warned us against continues as strong as ever. In fact, it was and is today the military-industrial-presidential-educational-media complex, motivated and unified by greed, ambition, bureaucracy, and constantly manufactured threats from abroad (the drug war, Iraq and other villains requiring invasion, space “defense,” etc.).
The National Security State continues, with the National Security Council arbitrarily making major decisions without popular approval or even our knowledge.
The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and other secret agencies continue to carry out covert operations without adequate oversight in a democracy.
Massive secrecy continues. For example, the CIA has again refused to release records on Cold War covert actions 1940s-1960s. Democratic oversight is impossible because millions of data are classified secret.
Atomic “diplomacy” continues (initiated by Byrnes and Truman at Potsdam): against Iraq in the Gulf War; our refusal to pledge not to be first to use nuclear weapons; our hypocritcal sanctions against India and Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons; etc.
Yet the nation is perpetually fearful: as the result of the “Manhattan Project” that created the atomic bomb, we fear the boomerang destruction of Manhattan, NYC. Other ironies abound; for example, US opposition to Red Cross efforts to persuade nations to sign a convention forbidding the bombing of cities now makes it vulnerable—and desperate to make more anti-rocket-rockets.
Our nationalistic and imperialistic disregard of international law and order when it suits so-called national interests (as defined by super-nationalists/imperialists), a central Cold War behavior, continues unabated. Our subversion of the United Nations by our unilateral actions and refusal to pay our debt to it is only one example. The latest example is our rejection of the landmark treaty negotiated in Rome in July, 1998, setting up a war crimes tribunal.
US continues to assert its right to intervene anywhere in the world by force (armed, economic, etc.) against governments whose policies our leaders oppose.
Creation of an imperial propaganda system anchored in the corporate news media and supported by a well-financed right-wing political machine (foundations, think tanks, media) and by the religious right to control information.
The effective transformation of the US government into a plutocracy, run for the benefit of the rich and powerful.
Underlying the conflicts of the US battle against the “communist menace” is not the nurturing of democracy around the world but the defense of its privilege as the dominant power in an unjust international system of tremendous disparity of wealth. George Kennan’s assertion of US foreign policy in 1948 applies today. The US, at that time a nation with only 6.3% of the population in possession of over half of the world’s wealth, should pursue a world order which maintains that “position of disparity,” regardless of global “living standards, human rights, and democratization.”
In these, and in numerous other ways, the legacy of the Cold War remains with us.
These are only some of the consequences. The author welcomes correspondence regarding others.
End of Bennett’s essays on the Causes and Consequences of the Cold War, part of the US permanent war from the beginning of WWII.
COLD WAR CONTINUES TODAY by William Blum
The Cold War is over. Long live the Cold War.
I recently attended a showing of Oliver Stone’s new documentary film, “South of the Border”, which concerns seven present-day government leaders of Latin America -– in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Paraguay, Cuba and Brazil — who are not in love with US foreign policy. After the film there was a discussion panel in the theatre, consisting of Stone, the two writers of the film (Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbrot) and Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington; the discussion was moderated by Neal Conan of National Public Radio.
It perhaps was not meant to be a “debate”, but it quickly became that, with Arnson leading the “anti-communist” faction, supported somewhat by Conan’s questions and more vociferously by a segment of the audience which took sides loudly via applause and cries of approval or displeasure. Twenty years post-Cold War, anti-communism still runs deep in the American soul and psyche. Candid criticism of US foreign policy and/or capitalism is sufficient to consign a foreign government or leader to the “communist” camp whether or not that term is specifically used.
In the late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev was steering the Soviet Union away from its rivalry with the West in a bid for a “new thinking” foreign policy, Georgiy Arbatov, director of the Soviet’s Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, declared to the United States: “We will do the most horrible thing to you; we will leave you without an enemy.” 21
The American military-industrial-intelligence complex understands the need for enemies only too well, even painfully. Here is U.S. Col. Dennis Long, speaking in 1992, shortly after the end of the Cold War, when he was director of “total armor force readiness” at Fort Knox, Kentucky:
For 50 years, we equipped our football team, practiced five days a week and never played a game. We had a clear enemy with demonstrable qualities, and we had scouted them out. [Now] we will have to practice day in and day out without knowing anything about the other team. We won’t have his playbook, we won’t know where the stadium is, or how many guys he will have on the field. That is very distressing to the military establishment, especially when you are trying to justify the existence of your organization and your systems. 22
Arbatov was right about the United States fearing a world without an enemy, but wrong about the United States actually being left without one. In addition to all the enemies produced in the Middle East by military interventions and the War on Terror, the US has had a continuous supply of “communists” challenging Washington’s militant hegemony – from Yugoslavia, Cuba and Haiti to the present large crop in Latin America. We should realize that the Cold War was essentially not a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was more a struggle between the United States and the Third World. The US sought to dominate the Third World and intervened in many countries even when the Soviets were not playing any significant role at all in the political tumult in those places, albeit Washington propaganda routinely yelled “communist”. There existed a strong push in the United States to stand tall against communism, particularly communism of the invisible variety, since that was the most dangerous kind.
In actuality, Bolshevism and Western liberalism were united in their opposition to popular revolution. Russia was a country with a revolutionary past, not a revolutionary present; and the same could be said about the United States.
In the post-film discussion, Stone replied to a charge of the film being biased by stating that the US media is generally so slanted against the governments in question that his film is an attempt to strike a needed balance. Indeed, it must be asked: How many of the 1400 American daily newspapers or the numerous television stations even occasionally report on Washington’s continually ongoing attempts to subvert the governments in question or present the programs and policies of their leaders in a positive light? Particularly Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, the two main focuses of the film; not forgetting of course that American journalists accuse Cuba of violating human rights first thing upon their awakening each morning.
While we no longer hear about the “international communist conspiracy”, American foreign policy remains profoundly unchanged. It turns out that whatever Washington officials and diplomats at the time thought they were doing, the Cold War revisionists have been vindicated; it was not about containing something called “communism”; it was about American supremacy, expansion and economic interests.
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman 2009.
Soviet paranoia, Gorbachev’s heroism.