John Foster Dulles served as Secretary of State under Eisenhower until his death in May, 1959. Allen Dulles, John Foster’s younger brother was the first civilian directer of the CIA. He was appointed to that position in 1952 and served as the director of the CIA into the early Kennedy administration: he was fired by JFK because of the bungled Bay of Pigs invasion in 1960, in which he played a major planning role. For a while Kennedy put the CIA under control of the State Department and threatened to shred the organization into little pieces. By the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the damage to the reputation of the United States, sullied by the Dulles brothers, had already been established and was irreversible: irreversible because, even today, we continue to use the template established by the Dulles brothers to conduct our foreign policy—deposing democratically-elected leaders and installing more dictatorial leadership that would help promote American hegemony and better serve the business interests of America. The most recent example of this behavior is the Ukraine where we participated in a coup that deposed a democratically-elected leader, Viktor Yanukovich and replaced him with our chosen leader Arseny Yatsenyuk (until elections were held). As the Dulles brothers saw it, democratically-elected leaders were more likely to nationalize American businesses; thus they viewed democracy, especially where the U.S. had strong business ties, with great suspicion. Whenever the brothers went to work to depose democratically elected leadership, they always had Eisenhower’s knowledge and approval, although he stipulated that he needed to have “plausable deniability.” By the mid-1950s hate towards America had two different elements, including our reputation for toppling governments and our military policies, adopted by the Eisenhower administration, in which nuclear munitions were regarded the same as ordinary explosives; hydrogen bomb testing in the 1950s gave rise to nuclear accidents in which the United States showed little regard for human safety. The hated America that we live in today was created in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, but with respect to regime change, that modification to our policies lies squarely with the Dulles brothers. Americans today don’t appreciate the degree to which we are dispised in other countries because, for one thing, the American public does not insist on a free, non-corporate press that could educate our citizens about what is done abroad in their name. For another, Americans have little interest in the policies of other countries, because, like the Romans who conquered the ancient world, but didn’t want to know anything about it, Americans can be similarly characterized as a people who have conquered the modern world, but have little interest in learning anything about it, though they are not opposed to visiting lots of places lying fallow with American rubbish.
With John Foster heading the State Department and Allen in charge of the CIA, the two brothers worked in tandem, to formulate the strategies that are still used today to spread American dominance in foreign policy by toppling democratically-elected governments and putting in dictators to more reliably serve America’s foreign policy interests. All of this was done in secrecy because the Dulles brothers knew that if the American public had carnal knowledge of their methods and outcomes, there would be a public outcry against their actions, certainly from the left. The cover for the Dulles brothers actions was that they were always fighting Communism, even if there was little evidence that Communists were involved. The real motivation behind their action was spreading American power for the purposes of financial gain for American business interests. That is why their collective actions were and are done in secrecy: it is the principal reason why today our government is so secretive and why everything is classified. The Dulles brothers quickly realized that their operations took place against the backdrop of an American Public that was the perfect foil for their actions—naive about the activities of their own country and willing to believe, in the absence of any information supporting alternative explanations, that America is a unique nation, the indispensable nation for operating in the interests of “global peace” through the spread of democracy. In reality it was just the opposite.
Unfortunately, America came face to face with the Blowback from our foreign policies on 9/11, though we have yet to look through that window with any sense of clarity, because GW Bush told the American public that “they hate us for our freedoms.” Blowback is the term coined by the CIA to indicate the unintended consequences of policies that go awry, such that the impact of Blowback is on the general population. While the Dulles brothers have faded from our memory, we still live in the world they created and we still promote the overthrow of democratically elected governments, with Ukraine being our most recent experiment, applying techniques we have perfected over the decades, beginning at the end of WW II, armed seemingly with nuclear capability that the world knew we wouldn’t hesitate to use. To fully appreciate this story, we have to begin during the latter events of WW II.
During WW II, then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had made a promise to Stalin—that the two of them would work together to try and reduce the tensions between their two countries and continue to act as the allies they had been during the war. It seems to be a poorly understood fact that, unlike Trotsky and Mao, Stalin was not interested in fomenting a world-wide Communist revolution. In fact he said, when Poland became such a contentious issue right after the war, that “Communism fits Poland, like a saddle fits a cow.” Indeed, Stalin wanted to maintain good relations with the West and hoped to receive financial support from the United States, to help rebuild his country which had been ravaged by the war with 27 million of its citizens killed. FDR appreciated the fact that Russia was the real victor of WW II, not the Allies who claimed victory in Europe based on the D-Day invasion. It is hard for most Americans to appreciate that when we invaded Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944), Russia had already defeated the great German army at Stalingrad in the fall of 1943 and were marching West; the Russian army was closer to Berlin than the allies were on D-Day. Before that, the allies had trivialized their own impact on the German Army with ineffective invasions in Africa and Italy, which inflicted little damage to Hitler’s forces. One reason for this peek and poke behavior by the allies was that Churchill was afraid to confront the German army directly and preferred to see the Nazis and Communists destroy each other; but while the Russians destroyed the German army, the Russian army didn’t weaken and miraculously grew in strength, and resolve, aided by more sophisticated weaponry that they manufactured themselves as the war progressed: now Churchill had a new worry—He worried that the Russian army was too strong and could be threatening to his plans to restore the British empire after the war. But if Russian troops had not inflicted a heavy cost on the German army, D-Day would have failed because Hitler would have been free to divert a larger force with which to greet the allies on that day. Roosevelt had a deeper understanding of the Russian contribution, whereas Churchill wanted to dismiss it. Roosevelt talked openly about providing financial assistance to Stalin for reconstruction after the war was over. In exchange for this commitment, Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan after the war in Europe was over, which he did.
During WW II Winston Churchill flew to Moscow and made a bargain with Stalin that gave Russia control over Poland and the Baltic states, while England received nearly full control over Greece, which Stalin did not contest even though Communists fought against the Nazis occupation in Greece during the war and one might have assumed that the aristocrats that Britain eventually put in place to rule Greece, would be a more natural adversary than the Communists who fought against the Nazi occupiers. At the end of the war, Stalin needed to demobilize, after suffering 27 million dead Russians during the war and, faced with a starving populous, he had more important things on his plate than conquering the world. Unfortunately FDR did not live long enough to put his stamp on such policies as he died a few months after he was elected for his fourth consecutive term.
And because the Democratic party had taken a very conservative turn by eliminating Henry Wallace as FDR’ s vice president in the Chicago convention of 1944 (Wallace was FDR’s vice president 1940-1944), the presidency of the United States fell into the hands of Harry Truman, who had little experience and had only met twice with FDR, after his election as Vice President. FDR believed that he would live long enough to enforce his policies and create the United Nations. Truman did not even know about the development of the Manhattan project that would lead, only a few months later, to his decision to drop two atom bombs on Japan, believing until his death that his use of the atom bomb had forced Japan to surrender, despite evidence that it was the Russian entry into the war against Japan that forced Japan to the peace table, as they feared the huge Red Army would destroy the Japanese Empire.
By the time Eisenhower was elected in 1952, Truman’s reputation had sunk to a level not reproduced (22% approval ratings) until the Presidency of George W. Bush. Truman’s low approval ratings were generated by a confluence of several issues, including the prolonged war in Korea, the fall of China to the Communists in 1949 and the detonation of an atomic bomb by the Russians, after Truman had declared that the Russians weren’t smart enough to successfully build such a device. Truman’s firing of Douglas MacArthur did not enhance his popularity, even though by dismissing MacArthur Truman might well have avoided WW III, which would surely have involved an exchange of nuclear arsenals. MacArthur, Truman and Eisenhower at different times suggested using atom bombs to win the war in Korea.
Most Americans do not know that it was our government that started the Cold War and not the Russians. When Truman began to search for his inner circle of advisers he had a natural proclivity to side with the views of Jimmy Byrnes, the Senator from South Carolina. Byrnes had fought against labor unions and had been instrumental in defeating the anti-lynching bill that Northern democrats tried to pass. He was a rabid anticommunist and helped steer Truman to confront the Russians at the close of the war. It was Henry Wallace that tried to steer Truman towards the policies that FDR would have preferred, but Truman was too weak and inexperienced and eventually he fired Wallace from his cabinet (Wallace was then Secretary of Commerce). Wallace was the last thread of hope to avoid the atom bomb culture that enveloped America and the irrational threat of Communism under McCarthyism that was used to begin dismantling labor unions in the United States. The Red Scare and Lavender Scare against homosexuals are sorry chapters in America’s postwar history.
Truman would later regret many of his actions, including his signing the bill that created the covert operations of CIA; after the JFK assassinated he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post exclaiming that the CIA should give up its covert actions and be relegated to collecting intelligence only. At that point he wondered whether the CIA might have been involved in the assassination of JFK through rogue elements in the organization.
John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen worked for the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, a corporate law firm with extensive international business connections. John Foster was deeply involved in promoting the interests of Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and, most notably, after Hitler came to power. The firm was deeply involved in promoting Germany’s financial interests after Hitler came to power—this was also true of many industrialists who supported Hitler because of his anticommunist commitments, but also because of the similarities in what industrialists wanted to achieve—form a partnership between industry and government; many of these same industrialists supported the dictator Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Allen Dulles saw what was coming and warned Sullivan and Cromwell to drop their support of Germany, but his brother John Foster Dulles refused to give up his promotional efforts that favored Germany, so much so that he became an apologist for Germany and, after the German invasion of Poland, which triggered the declaration of war by the allies, he insisted he continued to support Germany—he had a deep proclivity for Germany which blinded him to the coming of Hitler and Nazism: at one point he predicted that the future would belong to the “dynamic powers” of Germany, Italy and Japan. Foster became the preeminent salesman for German bonds in America. He thrived at the intersection of Washington politics and international business. He never expressed remorse for his dealings with the German government long after the point at which dealings with Germany were shunned by other nations, including our own.
In February, 1954 the American government prepared for a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific; unfortunately the bomb had twice the explosive power expected and a layer of white radioactive fallout from the blast reached Japanese fisherman in their boat, Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon). When the boat pulled into port thirteen days later, the fisherman were already showing signs of advanced radiation poisoning: one fisherman died several months later. The world was outraged against the U.S. shocking disregard for human safety. The outrage was compounded when the public learned that contaminated tuna from the boat had been sold in four major cities and had been eaten by many. Adding to the outrage, AEC chairman Lewis Strauss told the white house press secretary that the boat had really been a “red-spy outfit” and had been engaged in collecting espionage for the Soviet Union, an outrageous falsehood that the CIA quickly dispelled. Strauss went on to blame the fishermen for ignoring AEC warnings and downplayed the damage to their health. But the international community was appalled: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly stated that U.S. leaders were “dangerous self-centered lunatics” who would “blow up any people or country who came in the way of their policy.” Eisenhower said at a NSC in May 1954, “Everybody seems to think that we are skunks, saber-rattlers and warmongers” and Foster Dulles added, “we are losing ground everyday in England and in other allied nations because they are all insisting we are so militaristic. Comparisons are now being made between ours and Hitler’s military machine.”
News of the Lucky Dragon helped to catalyze a worldwide movement against nuclear testing and brought into our lexicon, a new word—“fallout.” Nowhere was the global reaction more intense than in Japan, as that country had directly experienced the devastating effects of nuclear bombs. A petition circulated by Tokyo housewives called for the banning of hydrogen bombs and was supported by 32 million signatures, about one-third the population of Japan. But of course the United States was insulated from all this and we did not change our policy of testing hydrogen bombs: we were dedicated to a mission for which the rest of the world would eventually thank us—the elimination of Communism from the face of the earth, provided that there were good business opportunities in doing so.
Response to the Lucky Dragon incident. To counter the pervasive international, anti-nuclear sentiment, the NSC proposed launching a vigorous campaign to emphasize the peaceful uses of atomic energy and offered to build Japan an experimental nuclear reactor. The Washington Post endorsed the idea and wrote “many Americans are now aware that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was not necessary….How better to make a contribution to amends than by offering Japan the means for the peaceful utilization of atomic energy. How better, indeed, to dispel the impression in Asia that the United States regards Orientals merely as cannon fodder!” Meanwhile, the Lucky Dragon crew members recuperated in the hospital for more than a year. While recuperating, one crew member issued a warning: “Our fate menaces all mankind. Tell that to those who are responsible. God grant that they may listen.”
Next: The Dulles brothers get down to work.
Sources: The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer (the photo of the Dulles brothers is the cover photo for Kinzer’s book)
The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (history companion to the Showtime Documentary Series)
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