Communism- How did it happen?
The Evolution of U.S. history during the rise of communism in the Soviet Union is the subject of this chapter. It is a story of a vast effort to delude and win a propaganda war in which the rule book for winning was stolen from the Nazi and perfected by the communists!
Ask almost any American during the decades of the 50's and 60's and into the 70's how well was the Soviet Union doing to take care of its people and it would have been hard to find any that knew anything to not think of it as a rather positive history. Surely the Russian people were perceived to be eating better and enjoying better health and education thanks to a benevolent government and liberal thinking leaders.
Set against the dark ages of the Czars and a prediliction to want to think good of all people, many were lured into thinking that the U.S. could not keep pace with the Russian accomplishments starting with Sputnik in 1958 and the inevitable efforts to win the Olympics- a point of contention that could be very telling to a U.S. population geared to respecting athletic prowess as a sure sign of important accomplishment.
Evolution of U.S. history during the rise of communism in the Soviet Union
To gain better insight as to how these changes were encouraged by the U.S. government, one needs to go back into the global history following WWI. Following the failure of the Wilson idea of a League of Nations, the U.S. retreated from global involvement, smugly comfortable in its ability to live separately.
The isolationism of the U.S. was spawned by the prosperity of the 20’s and the strength of the two ocean U.S. Navy. It left most Americans with a false sense of security. The European history of territorial wars was of little interest to our ancestors. The wild ideas of Marx, then Engles and Lenin got mixed up with the revolt against the Tsar, and nobody was too concerned that the republican revolution was stolen by the communists.
Not long thereafter the success of the roaring twenties seemed to have created an extreme prosperity and many fine estates and fortunes were built while the tide of immigration provided cheap labor to drive the wheels of industry. Nobody noticed any great success of the Russian system although its first set of purges following a bloody civil war were the inevitable consequence of the needs of the “New Class” of leaders that were so well described in the Djilas book.
The great depression began with the stock market collapse in Oct. of 1929 and it did not go away with the election of FD Roosevelt in the fall of 1932. By the time of his inauguration, the word was that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Eight years later we were still trying to “prime the pump” of an economy that seemed to lack any chance of recovery. Then the surprise attack put us into WWII and the wheels of industry were given orders to build not consumer goods, but war goods. That put money into people’s pockets while millions went to war! The accumulated demand was explosive when the war ended and we moved quickly into the decade of the new prosperity of the 50’s with a war hero named Dwight D. Eisenhower as our President.
However, we failed to perceive that the seeds of our destruction were being sown while we enjoyed the decade. Eisenhower reacted to the cold war that started when Truman was still in office. The Russian blockade of Berlin caused the 1948 airlift as the first example of how our State Department helped the Soviets. At that time we had already dismantled our major army battle units as everyone wanted the boys back home! However, we still had the only effective air force and the atomic bomb, which nobody else had yet obtained. The Russians with help from spies like the Rosenbergs were still several years away from building any effective military presence.
Pawley was among the first to see the Communist need for conquest
In the last days of WWII, it was the German propaganda minister Josef Goebbels who coined the phrase “Iron Curtain” when he wrote that if the Western allies let Russian troops occupy Eastern Europe, an “Iron Curtain” will descend to bring this territory into the Soviet system of communism. Churchill used the same term in 1946 at a speech in Fulton, Missouri. Both correctly saw what was coming, as did the patriot William D. Pawley. Thus the ‘cold war’ became a factual reality that Pawley, if he had the power to decide, would have avoided.
By this time many U.S. university campuses were full of young idealists anxious to see us move into a “One World” concept with a central government to care for everyone within the context of a Godless set of humanistic jargon that was known as communism in Russia and democratic humanism elsewhere. Not Pawley, he was too perceptive for his time but Americans were too overjoyed with victory to want to bother with trying to assert world leadership in ideology. Senator Joe McCarthy tried to exploit the subversive issue for his own personal ends and he only helped convince many that America was not full of card carrying communists out to destroy the greatest nation on earth- one that had just won a world war. So we ignored endless dirty deeds and drove McCarthy out of office. He deserved his fall, but we missed his point.
Truman appointed Pawley as ambassador to Peru in July of 1945 and then Brazil in June of 1946 where he served until mid 1948, and this gave him opportunity to see communist subversion at work in a number of instances. The culminating event was the Bogotá revolt led by a group of ten revolutionaries bent on taking over Columbia with encouragement from Venezuela and a Cuban student named Fidel Castro. The revolution failed partly because Pawley for one, was able to help the locals win in spite of U.S. State Dept. efforts to prevent it. Yes, our government was convinced that the history of ‘banana Republics’ led by dictators should be replaced by communist style democracy! Even some parts of the Catholic Church in Central America agreed with this ‘liberation theology’ thinking. Even today, the latest computer Grolier encyclopedia still prints that Castro was not a communist long before the Cuban revolution started. The entry on the OAS makes no notice of the revolution that failed at the same time as the modern OAS was born. The entry for Bogota notes that in modern times this April 9, 1948 uprising following the assassination of a liberal leader lasted just 24 hours, and it makes no mention of foreign intervention or the record of young Fidel Castro. No wonder Americans do not know what happens or why!
But men like William D. Pawley, who by this time had been stationed in Peru and then Brazil as an Ambassador, knew that the time was right for American leadership to be upon the world stage, and to stand up and tell the Russians that they must take down the walls and stop the blockade or have us do it for them under the threat of nuclear attack, if they didn’t seem to understand that the free world would not tolerate their behavior. The State Department fought for a policy of 'containment' and the John Foster Dulles era began.
Pawley took several steps that helped get the military back to Bogotá and the ten communist leaders, without much in the way of local support, fled the city. To show how little the American public was paying attention, this writer personally heard and watched the famous American Sunday night entertainment leader named Ed Sullivan introduce his friend Fidel Castro as a hero of the revolution in Cuba against the tyranny of Juan Batista. Nobody learned of the revolt in Bogotá five years before! When asked, Castro denied being a communist and everyone was told that Batista was hated as an enemy of the people! So, millions contributed to Sullivan’s call for support. As Pawley noted about how the communists win... Lenin always told his supporters not to worry about their needs-” the enemy would always give them what they needed”. We Americans proved him right many times!
Our policy was reactive and aimed at finding ways to make peace in the same way that the Europeans dealt with Hitler- appease, appease, and appease. On January 12, 1950, when the U.S. still held its nuclear monopoly and a commanding control of the air, we let the Russians know that Korea was not part of the U.S. containment policy. The North and South had been partitioned in an effort to force a peace settlement between the communist dominated industrial North and the agrarian South. As soon as Pawley heard the news about a speech by Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in the Washington,D.C. National Press Club, he wrote Truman to advise that he would have a war on his hands within a year at most. It took just nine months for the North Koreans to launch a brutal attack that nearly swept the S. Koreans into the sea and the first American forces sent by Truman with it. We were down to the area around the port city of Pusan on the southern tip when relief arrived and not long thereafter, General Douglas MacArthur launched the decisive campaign with a surprise amphibious landing at Inchon that quickly threatened to cut off the supply lines to the N. Koreans in the deep south of Korea. They fled and were chased almost all the way to Pyongyang when the Chinese troops, lying in the sheltered land just over the Yalu River, protected by the U.S. State Department caution that we must not bomb over the Yalu or we will risk a bigger war with Russia, came to the rescue!
Our F-86 jets had swept the skies over Korea of the Mig 15 fighters, but pilots were forbidden chasing anyone North of the river! Again, we gave them what they needed! That winter, with massive human waves of Chinese fighting our troops we learned of the deaths of thousands of American boys who did not understand why President Truman lacked courage to let them fight to live by winning! Instead the fight was aimed at minimal loss while we negotiated a peace. The best we got was a halt to the fighting some 46 years ago. Even today the North Koreans are demanding that we feed them in the name of humanitarianism, so that they can use their limited resources to build atomic missiles, several of which have already been launched and flown over Japan, presumably without expensive nuclear attachments!
By 1999 President Clinton forged a way for us to feed North Korea in response to a pledge that they would not build and sell missiles to others with a range that would endanger other parts of the world if put into the hands of renegade nations like Iran and Iraq, just to name two. Once again, we prove that Lenin was right! "They will give us whatever we need" to avoid a showdown and to promote an evidence of peace. We still have no final Peace agreement with N. Korea, only an Armistice that has lasted for almost fifty years. South Korea, the inferior agricultural part of the old Korea is not a mighty industrial powerhouse while its cousins up North are starving and living with a centrally planned everything. Very little is working.
Writings of communists condemn the system
But back in 1956, we were able to stand by and watch the slaughter of thousands in Hungary as the Russians moved in tanks and proclaimed that Hungary is now a communist state within the Soviet sphere behind the “Iron Curtain”. This wall was built not to keep people out, but in! Many died trying to escape the Soviet tyranny produced by the communist system, but nobody on this side of the wall was ready to fight to take it down.
Strangely, Khrushchev and Mao not only failed to unite in a common effort to lead to world domination, they actually grew to distrust each other to the point of several 'border wars' being fought over worthless land positions! This communist failure is well documented in Khrushchev's memoirs, "Khrushchev Remembers" that was somehow allowed to be written and published after he was thrown out of office in 1964. The strangest combination of doctrinaire Communists from Albania working with the Chinese contributed to some of the early signs of the notion that communism was not a global feature being nurtured by all with Russian leadership in command!
The writing of Milovan Djilas in this period added a confirming note to the idea that all was not as uniformly accepted in the communist world as its thought control police tried to suggest. When freedom finally came to Eastern Europe in 1991, many old timers were surprised to learn that they had the same questions and thoughts as their neighbors, but both were afraid to ask for fear of reprisal from the government!
Pres. J. F. Kennedy may have gone to Berlin and claimed himself a Berliner, but he had no courage or way to force the Soviets to take down the wall. Nor did he have the courage in 1961, upon taking office, to launch the attack support aircraft to aid the freedom fighters that wanted to land at Trinity beach in Cuba. Rather, after the State Department had managed to delay the invasion until after Eisenhower was out of office, Kennedy allowed the Cuban invaders to ship out for the attack without telling them that he ordered all American B-26 pilots to stay out of Cuba.That left only nine of the 25 bombers able to go with Cuban pilots. Several had mechanical problems, were diverted or lost to the small defense. Half of the Cuban air force was destroyed on the ground, but the lack of the U.S. pilots on the first mission left several T-33 jets supplied by the U.S. to Batista to fly and they knocked down many of the second wave of bombers.
The plan to have them land at the Trinity airport was destroyed when Kennedy demanded that the attack be moved to the Bay of Pigs, where it would be mired down in the swamps that were well know as a boy to Fidel Castro. The coral reefs seen by aerial recon pictures were identified as sea weed and the freighter that sank on that patch caused the loss of much vital equipment and material.
The U.S. Navy planes watched the battle from flights from the carrier group stationed a few miles to the south with orders to not engage the enemy. So the liberators were only able to last a few days before they were out of ammunition and Fidel was proclaimed the winner and great military genius to boot! The captives were later ransomed at great cost to the U.S. and eventually they came to realize that Kennedy was not their hero and supporter, but the weak-kneed tool of the State Department’s fear that winning would destabilize the Russian equation! Again Pawley’s advice was thwarted and we are still watching the Cuban people suffer because of this man Castro who should have been imprisoned after he was captured in Bogotá.
After suffering the Bay of Pigs loss in a way that left the U.S. looking stupid but not as an aggressor to be condemned by the UN, what other victories were still waiting for the time to be presented to the communists?
Another Pawley experience resulted from his bilingual skills in Spanish. The aftermath of WWII gave the communists and socialists in Europe a field of opportunity. In England, Churchill was thrown out of office in 1946 and the socialistic labour party took over and began nationalizing all of the basic industries of Britain- coal, steel, communications including phones, radio, and TV to come; in Italy the communists ran several governments and ruined others; in France the same resulted in a disaster for the early efforts of NATO to build a defense against the Russian military threat. Air bases were needed and France was the logical place to put them. The French communists agreed, but the prices paid were several multiples of what it should have cost and after building a few of the bases, the French dropped out of NATO!
Pawley came to the rescue by visiting Spain where he ‘broke the ice’ with Gen. Franco, dictator of Spain and leader of the opposition to the communists that were supported by the Russians in the so-called civil war of 1937-38. The Germans aided Franco and tested equipment later used against the U.S. and other allies. FDR and more importantly, Eleanor, tried very hard, after Franklin died, to keep the U.S. and NATO out of Spain. She failed in part because William D. Pawley managed to get the job done and U.S. air bases in Spain are still in use.
The litany of how the communists continued to look like they were winning the war against the Western ideas of democracy within a God connected set of guidelines. The Cuban blockade in 1963 lead to a nuclear showdown where Khrushchev refused to give Castro the keys to launching nukes against the U.S. when he learned that Castro was willing to destroy the world if he could first destroy NY and Washington.
It continues with the wars in Angola, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and of course, the most wonderful campaign in Vietnam where the Russians managed to get us enmeshed in an Asian land war against Asia again. The Korean ‘police action’ wasn’t enough. We had to be lured into the trap in S.E. Asia. Eisenhower warned Kennedy as they drove down Pennsylvania Ave to the Kennedy inauguration that this corner of Asia was his only concern when he knew that he was leaving office. He should have included Cuba!
Many books have been written telling how badly we managed the Vietnam war. It was fought with all significant decisions being made by politicians in Washington, not military men in the field. We had to fight to lose! We managed to do it while encouraging Nobel peace prizes in the process.
By the 1970’s the political policies were stalemated by the MAD (mutually assured destruction) circumstance of the two super power military machines. The end to the cold war was still a ways off, but no more major dumb plays were needed to make it look like the communists had almost won the day!
By 1970 the world was still struggling with the Vietnam mess and it took the Nixon election in 1972 to set in motion the agony of defeat and withdrawal with a weird dance in Paris aimed at covering our mistakes to stop the bleeding. The Russians were not really the only power involved in Vietnam. The Chinese had their own agenda and almost invaded N. Vietnam once or twice, but they stopped short of it.
By the time that William D. Pawley stopped writing in 1976, very little had changed to prevent him from concluding that the Americans were losing and the Russians were winning. With such tight control of the media in Russia, the rest of the world knew little and the Russian people even less of the history of the Communist party struggles for power by different factions. The 1956 speech by Khrushchev to the party Congress revealed how Stalin had systematically murdered his opponents and the ‘cult of personality’ was seriously debunked among the members. More importantly, Khrushchev gained power that lasted until 1964 when his mistakes in Cuba and bombast in the UN combined with the envy of others to unseat him.
Of course, Khrushchev provided a more progressive brand of leadership than any of his predecessors. His six hour secret speech at the Congress showed that Stalin was an autocratic dictator that murdered his opponents while dazzling his sycophants with intellectual footwork. One might argue that his willingness to kill opposition was needed to assure that all followed the one true path! The committee that tried to follow his death had to sort itself out until one emerged as the real leader. That was Khrushchev, who didn't survive because he was not as ruthless and he inevitably had to fail with his program. Central planning could not keep up with the needs of a world in which technology moves too fast for bureaucrats to know what chances to take.
Those that took over from Khrushchev also lacked the absolute power needed by a command system of socialism. They were no match for the growth that happened in the U.S. once the major mistakes of Vietnam and the Great Society were out of the way. The growth of the 80s continued into the 90s after a short economic breather in 1991-92 that ended just before the election of Clinton.
The short lived leadership of his successors gave the world to suspect that all was not well with the Soviet supreme leadership’s group called the Politburo that met in the Kremlin, but getting to the facts was all but impossible. That didn’t really change until technology made it possible for the truth to get over the 'iron curtain'. Censorship died when the fax technology allowed words to be converted into dots that could cross the borders unread.
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