The Cold War and Its Origins: History of the Soviet Union (1950-1960)
The Russian Revolution of 1917 terrified the capitalist world. In my last article based on the first volume of D.F. Fleming’s classic “The Cold War and It’s Origins 1917-1960” I traced the story of the attempt to destroy the world’s first communist revolution.
14 Nations attacked the Soviet Union attempting to carve out territory and crush the revolution. They also launched a massive wave of repression at home.
Then they attempted to isolate the USSR while they built up Hitler’s Germany as a bulwark against Communism. This lead to World War 2 and an alliance between the USSR, Britain and the US.
The Soviet Union managed to almost singlehandedly defeat Nazi Germany. However before World War 2 had even ended “the cold war” had already begun with the British allying with fascists in Greece to crush the Communist lead partisans in late 1944.
And America allying with Japan to crush the Hyuk Resistance in the Philippines. During the war Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin made a deal carving Europe into spheres of influence. Greece was in the British sphere of influence it was key to their control of the mediterranean. Thus the Soviets did nothing to aid their Greek comrades while the British waged a brutal war on the country. In exchange the Soviets were granted most of eastern Europe. This deal was formalized at Yalta in the Crimea during the war in a meeting with Franklin Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. The United States wanted to bring Russia into the war against Japan and the Soviets already controlled eastern Europe which they had liberated from the Nazis.
From Roosevelt to Truman
However Roosevelt died and his new Vice President Truman who had replaced the more pro-soviet Henry Wallace at a rigged convention the year before became president. The day after the Nazis had invaded the Soviet Union back in 1941 Senator Truman had declared “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible. He quickly abandoned Roosevelt’s efforts to maintain friendly relations with the Soviets. Instead Truman and his hawkish advisers decided to attempt to destroy the Soviet Union which had suffered huge losses during the war with 27 million dead and thousands of factories, villages, farms, hospitals and schools destroyed.
The United States was largely undamaged, had the worlds largest economy and had developed the atomic bomb. They hoped to force the Soviet Union to abandon control of Eastern Europe and to eventually destabilize and destroy the USSR itself. Thus a massive propaganda scare campaign was launched attempting to convince the world that the Soviet Union was out to conquer the world. This propaganda campaign completely turned reality on it’s head. The soviets wanted only to rebuild their country not plunge themselves into another war especially since the United States had the Atomic bomb and they didn’t.
At the same time the Soviets were being falsely branded aggressors they were actually the victims of a covert war waged by the west using Ukrainian SS veterans and other fascists managed by British and American Intel through their German proxy Reinhard Gehlen.
In Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Albania and other countries the west would wage a secret war against the soviets largely unknown to this day. Another red scare was launched on the home front crushing dissent against this aggressive policy and purging Communists both real and imagined from the government, labor unions academia, and the media. Anyone questioning this propaganda campaign anyone working for peace, or for an end to America’s “Jim Crow” apartheid system, anyone trying to improve the lives of everyday Americans was likely to be labeled a communist and blacklisted. Fascist war criminals and collaborators on the other hand had their records whitewashed and received prominent positions in the government, the churches, the media, corporations. They were hailed as freedom fighters by the media.
The Nuclear Threat against the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union was under constant threat of nuclear attack and were also targeted with covert and psychological warfare. They countered these dangers by tightening their control over Eastern Europe to guard against these destabilization schemes by what would become the CIA and the OPC which later merged.
This tightening of control was portrayed in the media as if it were an invasion the steady march of communism across Europe ignoring the fact that they already controlled these countries as a result of their victories during World War 2. Even today this cold war propaganda is parroted as if it was history. One has to read a book like D.F. Fleming’s to learn the actual story.
At the same time the Soviet Union was frantically working on developing nuclear weapons of it’s own. The west was shocked in 1949 when the USSR finally succeeded in building it’s own nuclear weapon.
Now it was not merely the Soviet Union that faced destruction but potentially the world. America and Britain’s aggressive policies had brought the world to the brink of nuclear war where it remains today. Ironically America was so arrogant that it had refused to share their nuclear secrets with even their close allies Canada and Britain whose help had been invaluable in the creation of the atomic bomb. Britain which was so instrumental in starting the cold war was forced to develop the bomb on it’s own playing catch up to the Russians.
The Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine pledged not only to encircle and destroy the Soviet Bloc but to prevent revolution anywhere in the world. Thus what is commonly called the “Cold War” quickly evolved into what I prefer to call World War 3 a war on the entire third world. For centuries the countries of Western Europe had conquered the world turning the entire planet into colonies and semi-colonies and killing hundreds of millions of people in the process.
Their imperial rivalries had lead them into World War 1 and they had been forced to bring in recruits from through out their empires to help them fight. Now in 1945 exhausted after two World Wars and having unleashed nationalist forces around the world their empires were on the verge of collapse. Truman had basically pledged to wage war on the entire planet to prevent this inevitable process from occurring.
Africa and Asian countries had already begun to fight for their independence and the United States was now on the side of colonialism and counter-revolution around the world. The Philippines, China, Korea, Vietnam, Algeria, would be the scene of incredibly bloody and brutal wars aiming to either preserve old empires or bring them into the newer American empire. It would be an empire of bases, an empire of corporations and an empire of US imposed military dictatorships. It would stretch across the world from Latin America long under US domination to Africa and Asia. The US allied with the fascists of Italy, Germany, Japan, plus fascist exiles from places like Croatia, Ukraine, Hungary, and Romania. At the same time the former imperial powers of western Europe like Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Britain quickly became little more then pawns of the Americans, terrified that their insane new American masters would embroil them in a Nuclear War.
D.F. Fleming begins his second volume with an event equally shocking to the explosion of the Soviet “A-bomb” to the west that occurred that same year of 1949. This was the victory of the Chinese Revolution which meant the liberation of China after more then a century of foreign domination. The empires of Europe the British, the French, the Germans, and Russians along with the Americans and Japanese had all invaded China at will carving out spheres of influence and demanding humiliating concessions. China once the richest and most powerful nation on the earth had become poor and helpless under the brutal imperialists.
Of course the full history of China’s revolution is too complicated to fully explain in a short article although Fleming does a masterful job of trying to condense the story into a single chapter. He traces the origins of the Chinese revolution back to the 1851 Taiping rebellion, through the fall of the Ming dynasty and the declaration of a Chinese republic which was still under foreign domination and which quickly broke down into warlordism. It was World War 1 that was to prove a pivotal event fueling economic growth and modernization in China.
World War 1 lead to the Russian Revolution and many around the world especially in China were inspired by this event. The soviets declared their opposition to Colonialism and Imperialism Lenin and Stalin realized that in the wake of World War 1 the western empires hold on the rest of the world would begin to slip. Faced from hostility from the west they turned to the global south both to make new allies and to cause trouble for their enemies. As a friendly gesture to the Chinese they renounced their Russian empires holdings in China. The Chinese nationalists the KMT formed an alliance with Russia and with the Chinese communist party.
Up until 1927 this alliance was a success the tiny Chinese communist party grew rapidly and increasingly became independent of their soviet advisers. It is a lesson all successful revolutionaries must learn they cannot simply imitate the last revolution but must adapt what they learn to entirely different conditions. Of course this is what makes one of the most beloved myths of the cold war so absurd Revolutions could not be directed from Moscow because to be successful they had to be locally directed only the Chinese understood China.
This lesson was brought home in 1927 when the KMT grew frightened of the rise of communist influence. The KMT base of support were the landowners and big Chinese capitalists. The communists were organizing labor unions and undertaking land reforms. Chiang Kai-Shek the head of the KMT who had Ironically trained in the Soviet Union decided to make an alliance with the British, the French and the Americans against both the Chinese communists and the Russians. The Russians had tried to prevent a break and this only contributed to the coming disaster. Chiang’s forces were marching to take Shanghai the people were mobilized by the communists to support his advance with strikes and protests. Chiang deliberately delayed his advance so they could be crushed then when he finally arrived he used his KMT forces in alliance with drug dealing gangsters to massacre the communists.
This was the start of the Chinese civil war. It was also the start of the massive heroin empire the KMT would use to get rich, buy weapons, wage war, and buy American politicians eventually bringing them into alliance with the CIA. It discredited those Chinese communists close to Moscow and led to the rise of Mao Tse Tung who began his long march to escape the KMT. Under the able leadership of Mao Tse-Tung the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) concentrated their efforts on winning control of the countryside.
The Chinese peasants lived under even worse conditions then the Russians. Landlords had total control over their lives and they were virtual slaves kept in ever growing debt. They could not even marry without the landlords permission and their wives and daughters were forced to endure their landlords lusts without complaint. Hunger, disease and ignorance reigned. The Chinese communists brought land reform and the rule of law winning them the love of the people. The KMT on the other hand made themselves hated wherever they seized control with their corruption and cruelty. In addition to this Civil War China was soon to face a new threat as the Japanese set out to conquer China. However the KMT viewed the Communists as the real danger further discrediting themselves in the eyes of the Chinese people.
China was hugely important to a large sector of Americans. As Europe’s power declined these Americans believed that all of China would soon fall under their control. Many future top level OSS and CIA officers had been recruited out of the families of American missionaries who had served in China. American Gangsters also had close ties to the KMT who supplied America’s heroin. Many west coast businessmen relied on the China trade. There were also media figures like Edward Luce owner of Time and Life Magazines.
These forces would coalesce into the “China Lobby” and overlapped strongly with those Americans allied to the fascists. They strongly backed the KMT which began to receive huge amounts of money and weapons from the US. Claire Chennault would supply the KMT with a private air force the AVG which would evolve into CAT and later Air America both infamous for their role in heroin smuggling.
This aid would escalate once America was at war with Japan as well after Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941. However the KMT remained determined to avoid fighting the Japanese and concentrated on trying to destroy the Communists. Their American adviser General Stillwell got so fed up he tried to arm the communists and force reforms on the KMT but instead he was fired. The Communist Guerrillas on the other hand fought constantly to liberate their country. They fought with arms captured from the KMT and the Japanese. The role of these Chinese communists in waging a massive Guerrilla warfare campaign against the Japanese is even more completely ignored by most histories then the Russian Role in winning World War 2. Also forgotten is the massive suffering and murder that imperial Japan unleashed in China killing at least 20 million people.
Most infamous was the Rape of Nanking in which a whole city was systematically raped, looted and slaughtered hundreds of thousands dying in a manner of days. The KMT made a secret deal with the Japanese during the war and many openly joined the Japanese side. The deal was to protect the Japanese war criminals and the Chinese traitors after the war.
The people of China had a choice between the KMT corrupt, brutal, and treacherous or the communists who promised land reform and who had heroically resisted the Japanese. When the war ended in part due to the Red Army’s crushing defeat of the Japanese in Manchuria America hoped it could by supporting the KMT achieve their dream of gaining control of China. Of course as usual they were completely ignoring the will of the Chinese people who for obvious reasons preferred the communists and certainly had no desire to become America’s colony under General Chiang Kai-Shek.
Still the US did everything it could to prop up Chiang and his KMT. They flooded the country with money, but the KMT stole most of it since they were already planning their exile. They flooded the KMT with weapons but the KMT sold them to the guerrillas to make cash. The Americans had 100,000 troops and a huge air force it used to try to help the KMT seize control of communist held areas but the Communists fought on. The American troops began to complain about being stuck in the middle of a Chinese civil war long after World War 2 had ended. When the KMT forces began to collapse in the face of a long series of communist advances the Americans and the KMT were forced to flee the country. Mao was victorious and the American empire and the China Lobby were in a state of rage.
They demanded to know how China could be “lost” and decided it could only be explained by communist treachery within the government. For decades they would foolishly attempt to take back China nearly embroiling the US in a nuclear war on several occasions. In the media it was implied that somehow the Russians had managed to conquer China rather then admit to the painful truth that America had failed to conquer it. Of course even if the U.S. had poured all of it’s resources into trying to hold China it would probably have brought a catastrophic defeat upon itself as the war in Vietnam would later prove given China’s much greater size and population one can imagine how much more disastrous this attempt would have been. For decades they would refuse to recognize China instead claiming that the island of Formosa was the “real China” a former Japanese Colony that the KMT had brutally conquered with a Massacre in 1947 after it’s people rebelled against their corrupt rule. Formosa would become known as Taiwan and the United States is still willing to wage a nuclear war to keep China from taking back it’s island.
The Korean War
The “loss” of China would lead the next year to a massive escalation of the war in Korea. Most people believe that the Korean War began in 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. This is another example of cold war propaganda becoming enshrined in mainstream history. In reality South Korea (spurred on by the Dulles brothers, General Macarthur and the China Lobby) probably attacked North Korea in 1950 provoking a North Korean counter attack. South Korea had been launching military offensives against North Korea aimed at seizing a foothold and also sending small bands of terrorists to wreak havoc.
More importantly however the Korean War actually began in 1945 when the Americans were permitted to occupy the Southern Half of the country. For a thousand years Korea had been a unified and independent country until it was conquered by Japan and used as a springboard for the invasion of China. Koreans like Kim Il Sung had gone to join the Chinese Guerrillas fighting the Japanese. Others stayed in Korea and fought the Japanese occupiers. Others choose to serve the Japanese fighting in their army and forming a Japanese run police force. However by the time the Americans arrived Korea was unified and liberated.
It was ruled by people’s committee’s combing nationalists and Communists. America decided to crush these people’s committees and put those Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese in charge. They brought in Syngman Rhee who had lived in exile in the US for 20 years and installed him as a dictator. They cancelled plans to reunify the country. To suppress the people’s committees they unleashed a brutal counterinsurgency war on the South Koreans. Long before 1950 they turned south Korea into a massive war zone as peasants often armed with nothing more then bamboo spears tried to resist this illegal occupation of their country.
Even South Korean troops began to join the rebellion sick of being used to slaughter their own people. Thus the Korean War began long before North Korea counterattacked and Rhee’s unpopularity and the poor morale of the troops explains why the South Korean Army nearly collapsed making a panicked retreat south when the North Koreans entered the war. This effort by the North Koreans to liberate and reunify their country has absurdly been termed an invasion. The invaders were the Americans.
In North Korea on the other hand the Russians allowed the people’s committees to remain in power and the war hero Kim Il Sung became the leader. He was fiercely independent and the Russians maintained a hands off policy until withdrawing their troops. Contrary to myth the Soviets were caught completely by surprise at the start of the Korean War and did not order “the invasion” as the American press pretended to believe and as historians continue to repeat. They had supplied no extra weapons to the DPRK and were boycotting the UN when the war began over it’s failure to recognize China.
Instead like I.F. Stone before him (who Fleming admired) Fleming sees the war as a product of a scheme by Rhee,MacArthur, John Foster Dulles, and Chiang Kai-Shek to provoke a war in order to save both Rhee and Chiang’s tottering regime. John Foster Dulles (brother of future CIA director Allen Dulles) who would later become Secretary of State under Eisenhower is the major villain in Fleming’s second volume with his insane brinksmanship nearly leading the world into Nuclear war time and again.
MacArthur like Dulles was a central figure in American fascism. It has since been revealed that if not for the outbreak of the Korean War Chiang would have been toppled by an American backed coup. Rhee had just suffered a humiliating electoral defeat and his people were in open rebellion. By starting the war Rhee brought in 250,000 American troops to his side while Chiang on Formosa was suddenly being protected by the US 7th fleet. Because the Soviets were boycotting the UN the US were able to label North Korea the aggressor and the whole thing was done under UN cover to disguise the imperialist nature of the war in defense of what amounted to an American colony. Most of the troops were Americans along with the British and America’s fascist allies Turkey, Greece, and the Philippines.
The war was one of dramatic reversals first the South Korean forces made a panicked retreat. American troops were transferred in from Japan but they also were soon in a panicked retreat. The North Korean army was tough, disciplined, and highly motivated they pushed the US and Korean forces back towards the southern tip of Korea the “Pusan Perimeter.” However the UN forces were soon flooding into the south an