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The Dulles Brothers Get Down to Work

Posted on January 25th, 2015 in Government,Politics,War by Robert Miller
Mossadegh was the "Man of the Year" for Time Magazine in 1951

Mossadegh was the “Man of the Year” for Time Magazine in 1951

If there was a beginning to the American hysteria over Soviet Communism within the U.S. Government, it probably started in the Truman administration, when he accepted the new policy paper generated by the National Security Council known as NSC-68, which guided American foreign policy for the next decade and beyond. Paul Nitze was primarily responsible for NSC-68. He was a rabid anticommunist who had been brought up under the tutelage James Forestall, the first secretary of the Department of Defense (who later committed suicide). Both men had made their fortunes on Wall Street and brought their distrust of the Soviets with them when they entered government: anticommunism was in their DNA and they helped to insure that a good sound business plan accompanied their rage against Communism. The central premise of NSC-68 was that the Soviet Union “is inescapably militant because it possesses and is possessed by a world-wide revolutionary movement, because it is the inheritor of Russian imperialism, and because it is a totalitarian dictatorship” (NSC-68 was not declassified until 1975). Truman adopted this new policy without any debate or discussion, though he never referred to it in public and, as a consequence it remained secret for a very long time. It did however stimulate the anticommunist hysteria that would characterize American society for more than a decade. Our government allowed and assisted in lubricating McCarthyism because it helped turn the country to conform with NSC-68 and for that reason, neither Truman nor Eisenhower ever criticized McCarthy in public, even when he (McCarthy) accused George Marshall of being a traitor for losing China, when Marshall was Secretary of State under Truman. Both leaders despised McCarthy in private, but never criticized him in public in order to galvanize the country into despising the Soviet Union, which had been, just a few years earlier, a vital ally in the war against Fascism; FDR had referred to Stalin as “Uncle Joe.”

NSC-68 concluded that the only plausible way to deter the Soviet Union was for President Harry Truman to support a massive build-up of both conventional and nuclear arms. More specifically, such a program should seek to protect the United States and its allies from Soviet land and air attacks, maintain lines of communications, and enhance the technical superiority of the United States through “an accelerated exploitation of [its] scientific potential.” In order to fund the substantial increase in military spending this conclusion demanded, the report suggested that the Government increase taxes and reduce other expenditures.

It never occurred to any member of Truman’s inner circle that with 27 million Russians dead as a result of WW II, and facing an uncertain recovery from the scorched earth policies of the retreating German army, the last thing on Stalin’s mind was to create a global revolution: in rebuilding his country, he was ever mindful of the fact that twice during the twentieth century, the Germans had invaded Russia through the Polish corridor. Stalin’s obsession with Germany and Poland generated much of the postwar friction over what to do about each of those countries.

Americans were spoiled by the competency of FDR and the vision he had for the future of America. FDR’s leadership, through the three plus terms of his Presidency had deluded the American public into thinking that all Presidents in the post-New Deal era would show the kind of guiding wisdom that FDR had maintained, with fireside chats and good, witty advice, emanating, not only from the President, but also from his wife Eleanor; there was something reassuring about FDR that no one else could replicate. Unfortunately, for the American public, they would never again see the kind of leadership that FDR provided, although hints of those qualities would emanate from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, when he was President, but his Presidency didn’t last long enough to make a sufficiently palpable impression; instead the American political system would substitute the projection of American power in place of gifted leadership and, with the help of the Dulles brothers, knots in that leadership began to produce the kind of Blowback that we experienced on 9/11 and 1979 when the Shah was overthrown by the anti-Western clerics.

The tragedy for Americans is that we don’t learn from our mistakes. We seem to double down and try to do it again rather than put our heads together and rationally evaluate what went wrong. Most of the wars in which we have been engaged since WW II have been like that—Korea—Vietnam—Iraq—Afghanistan. We do not learn the right lessons from our war experiences because we blame our failure on the leftists back home who favored surrender rather than victory, or inadequate troop numbers to finish the job. And then too we were victimized by our own “bomb culture” into believing that the Russians didn’t have enough smarts to build one of their own—and when they showed that they did have the smarts to build one, we fell obligingly into our own trap door without ever pausing to ask ourselves how we got to this strange new place? And we quickly opened the door of the arms race and closed it behind us while barely catching our breathe. A single paper, like NSC-68 did that to us: where was the debate? The other very disturbing feature of the post-war choices we made was that the decisions we arrived at were largely initiated by non-elected officials, like James Burns, James Forestall, Paul Nitze and of course the Dulles brothers.

Yet, perhaps the overarching reason we didn’t ask the right questions is that we eviscerated the left under the influence of McCarthyism, the Red Menace and the Lavender scare that flourished during the Truman and Eisenhower administration [the Lavender scare was a drive to eliminate homosexuals from government—they needed to be stamped out because they were susceptible to exploitation by Communists; many were fired from the State Department in that era; if you were gay or lesbian during that period you needed to be ultrasilent about your sexual preferences to protect your job]. We were opposed to labor unions because they were infiltrated by Communists and we did this without realizing that the left provided a vital counter weight to right-wing extremism.

Scientists for example became a very leftist group: the 1938 election for the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the group that publishes Science Magazine—the largest body of scientists in the country) were all leaders of the left-wing science and society movement and the winner, Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon was one of the most openly left-wing scientific activists in the country.

During the 1935-39 Popular Front, when the Communists garnered their greatest support, Norman Thomas’s Socialists were often to the left of the Communists who deliberately toned down their posture in hopes of building a broader coalition against fascism. We must always remember that fascism had a strong appeal for American businesses, many of whom supported Franco during the Spanish Civil War [1936-1939: Roosevelt put an official ban on supporting either side in the Spanish War, but this did not prevent many industrialists from supporting Franco. In the end he regretted his decision as he saw that Hitler and Mussolini support Franco, allowing him to overwhelm the forces of the Republic].  In this period hundreds of thousands of Americans joined the Communist Party or one its many affiliates, including Ernest Hemingway, Erskine Caldwell, Edmund Wilson, Sinclair Lewis, Langston Hughes, Lilian Hellman, Theodore Dreiser and Thomas Mann to name just a few of the many. Several thousand Americans fought in the Lincoln Brigade against the forces of Franco and many died as a result. As the 1930s continued on however enthusiasm for Russian Communism began to wane as news filtered out of Russia about Stalin’s brutal tactics. Nevertheless, to eviscerate the left during the purges of the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s was hugely damaging to the political balance of the country. During this period we made a bunch of disastrous right turns without the counterbalance needed to steer a more balanced ship of state. Our purge of the left during this period continues to impact on the conduct of our foreign policy.

The future leader of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh was a law student at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland in 1919, when Britain announced that it had imposed an agreement on the Iranian monarchy wherein it took control of Iran’s army, treasury and transport system. Mossadegh was outraged by this imposed arrangement and began communicating with Iranian leaders; he was determined to restore the dignity of Iran even if it cost him his life.

In 1949, the ruling leader of Iran was Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (the Shah)—he was thirty years old. Allen Dulles attempted to recruit the Shah into an agreement with eleven large American engineering firms (Overseas Consultants Inc.; OCI) who were eager to change the world by making poor countries—and themselves—rich. The visionaries that ran OCI had settled on Iran as their target country. Iran was also viewed as a strategic prize by the United States, primarily because of its oil. At that time Iran was already receiving $ 50 million each year in oil royalties. The elaborate development program proposed to Iran involved big ticket items, like hydroelectric plants, rebuilt cities and new industries.

The directors of OCI needed a special envoy to close the deal for which they hired Allen Dulles. After meeting with the Shah in Iran, it was announced that Iran had agreed to pay OCI a whopping $650 million for a massive  project over a seven year period. It was the greatest triumph of Allen’s career and opened up a new world of possibilities for Sullivan & Cromwell, the international company he worked for at the time. A month later, Allen introduced the Shah to his colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations; the Shah reassured the group that “nationalization of industry is not planned.” It was just what these lords of corporate globalization wanted to hear. But Allen Dulles knew that the Shah was not in the best position to make such deals; the Shah had become the enemy of Iran’s fledgling democratic movement. When Allen visited the Shah in Iran, he came face to face with the democratic leader who was opposed to deals cooked up by the Shah—Mohammud Mossedegh. Born in 1882 Mossadegh enjoyed a privileged upbringing, attended a fine university and pursued graduate studies in Europe, earning a doctorate in law. He shared many beliefs in common with the Dulles brothers, including a devotion to democracy and loathing of Marxism. Thus the three of them should have been allies, but Mossadegh’s devotion to the affairs of Iran put him in the gun-sights of the Dulles brothers.

At the beginning of the 20th century oil was discovered in Iran, but British officials bribed a puppet monarch, Mozaffar al-Din Shah into signing it away so that the ocean of oil underneath the Iranian landscape became Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, owned principally by the British government. Mossadegh witnessed a series of humiliations against his country while growing up and this contributed to his sense of outrage against the perpetrators and now he had a new country to contend with in the form of the United States: Mossadegh chose the path of rebellion to restore a sense of autonomy for the future of Iran; he demanded full Iranian control of all Iranian assets. The Americans on the other hand claimed to have just won WW II [but remember that the Russians inflicted 94% of the  casualties on the German army and were in a far stronger position to claim victory over Germany]; the Americans had a swagger and a “cocky can-do” level of enthusiasm that was hard to resist—at least at first: Americans were possessed with a sense of manifest destiny and would not be denied. Mossadegh however had a more utopian view of how Iran should be run and he acted upon his vision.

[From “The Brothers” by Stephen Kinzer: (page 117)] “In his famous Independence Day Speech to the House of Representatives on July 4, 1821, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams proclaimed that the United States ‘goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ The Dulles brothers, however did. Six impassioned visionaries in Asia, Africa and Latin America became the monsters they went abroad to destroy. Their campaigns against these six were momentous battles in the global war the United States waged secretly during the 1950s. This war comprises a hidden chapter of American history. It shaped the world—and still does.”

After WW II Mossadegh became a leader of the nationalists in parliament. He gained fame for denouncing British ownership of Iranian oil, but in 1950, he found another burning issue that attracted his attention—the OCI development agreement that had been negotiated with the Shah. Mossadegh and his fellow nationalists denounced the deal as a sellout to foreign potentates. But OCI, encouraged by Sullivan & Cromwell pressed ahead. Mossadegh’s political alliance, the National Front, led the opposition to the OCI contract. The debate that took place aroused deep feelings of nationalism and in December 1950 the parliament refused to fund the OCI agreement, killing it in one stroke.

Parliament elected Mossadegh to be the prime minister on April 28, 1951; before he accepted the role, he asked for a vote on nationalizing the country’s oil industry which won unanimously. Both Allen and Foster lost other projects based on that unanimous vote. Mossadegh’s actions made him the first monster that the Dulles brothers wanted to slay, an opportunity that became available, once Allen became the head of CIA and Foster headed the State Department.

When Foster became the Secretary of State, he acquired a reputation for fire-and-brimstone Cold War speeches that gave him a national audience. His first speech as Secretary of State was delivered on January 27, 1953 on national television. In that speech he unveiled a map and said “from Kamchatka, near Alaska….right on to Germany in the center of Europe….which the Russian Communists completely dominate” He warned that the population of this region, totaling eight hundred million people, was “being forged into a vast weapon of fighting power backed by industrial production and modern weapons that include atomic bombs. We have enemies who are plotting our destruction. Any American who isn’t awake to that fact is like a solder who’s asleep at this post.” Imagine listening to that from the new Secretary of State. You would surely at least pay attention! The tragedy for America is that most citizens came to believe this over-exaggerated hype that had no relationship to what was really going on. But hoodwinked America fell into the trap door set by the Dulles brothers.

Unfortunately, Mohammad Mossedegh did not appreciate that his actions had aroused the attention of the new American foreign policy apparatus that was prepared to reverse what he had accomplished by violent means if necessary. Even before Eisenhower took office in 1953, members of his incoming administration had begun discussions on how to upend Mossadegh. Christopher Montague Woodhouse was a former chief of the British intelligence station in Iran. He made a secret trip to Washington after the election, where he argued that Mossadegh should be overthrown, not as a punishment for seizing Britain’s oil company, but because he had become too weak to resist a possible Soviet-backed coup. Here you see how the British had learned to play the Americans like a fiddle, by painting the situation as an anticommunist struggle. Initially, when Eisenhower first came into office, he showed little interest in Iran. But Foster kept insisting on the strategy and “over drinks in the evening Ike was brought around to accept a coup, providing America’s hand would not be visible.”

In February, 1953 the new chief of British Secret Intelligence Service, Sir John Sinclair, arrived in Washington. In his meeting with Allen Dulles proposed Kim Roosevelt Jr (grandson of Theodore Roosevelt) as the field commander for the coup. Roosevelt called the the coup attempt “Operation Ajax” presumably after the cleaning soap. The British tried to increase the pressure on Iran in 1951 and 1952—what they received in return from Mossadegh was closure of the British embassy and expelling all the diplomats, including secret agents. Prime Minister Winston Churchill reached across the Atlantic for help, but Truman rejected his invitation because he didn’t believe that the CIA should be toppling governments and Truman was an “anti-colonialist” who had no sympathy for what the British were trying to do. But when Eisenhower replaced Truman, with the emphasis of the Dulles brothers, planning proceeded full steam ahead. Foster had no interest in communicating with career ambassadors in the State Department, many of whom would be shocked to learn of his plans. After discussing the issue with Eisenhower and members of the NSC, plans were made to move against Mossadegh.  One month after Eisenhower endorsed Operation Ajax, Allen Dulles signed an order approving the expenditure of $1 million to be used any way that would bring the downfall of Mossadegh. This was the first time in history that a United States government official had given an order to depose a government. Declassified records show that on the same day, April 4, 1953, Allen set in motion another project: MKULTRA, a mind control experiment that would use drugs, such as LSD that could be used to discredit people, elicit information and mind control experiments by implanting suggestions that might be used to control of future events (“The Manchurian Candidate Syndrome”). A senate investigating committee (Church Committee) would later find aspects of this program “clearly illegal.”

Mossadegh had friends and supporters in America, one of whom was Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who emerged as a major antagonist to the Dulles brothers. He had traveled through Iran into the tribal lands on horseback. He wrote a book “Strange Lands and Friendly people.” He championed Mossadegh as a great popular hero who “was passionately Persian and anti-Soviet in his leanings” and “offers an alternative to Communist leadership.” This was opposite to the way that Foster and Allen Dulles thought of him; they saw him as an enemy to global capitalism. In April, 1952 writing in the New Republic, Douglas said  “if you and I were in Persia, we’d be for Mossadegh 100 percent.” The Dulles brothers were unmoved by any sentiment that deviated from that of their own.

Approval by the President Eisenhower and the Secretary of State (Foster Dulles) gave the green light to proceed with the overthrow of Mossadegh. By that time Allen Dulles had reason to believe that the CIA had a special license for the kind of covert actions that he was about to put into play and he had no problems executing the coup. Pressure applied through Vice-President Nixon insured that McCarthy would not touch the affairs of the CIA.

Kim Roosevelt crossed into Iran on July 19, 1953 using a passport that identified him as James Lockridge. When he arrived in Tehran he started working with a small number of American and Iranian agents, and set about to bribe journalists and newspaper editors to print anti-Mossadegh articles, paid mullahs to denounce Massadegh in their sermons and established a group of military dissidents and eventually got cooperation from the Shah. Meanwhile Foster tightened the diplomatic screws by issuing grave warnings from the State Department. On July 28 he told reporters “the growing activities of the illegal communist party in Iran, and toleration of that activities, has caused our government great concern.” It took the machinations of Roosevelt only a few weeks to throw Tehran into chaos. On the night of August 51, 1953 he sprung his trap by sending the Imperial Guard, loyal to the Shah, to Mossadegh’s house with orders to arrest him. But the operation was botched because Mossadegh got wind of the operation and had his own soldiers capture the Imperial Guard. On hearing the news, the Shah immediately fled to Rome. But Mossadegh, thinking the Shah was behind the coup, relaxed his guard and released his prisoners. Meanwhile Kermit Roosevelt decided to stay in Tehran and try again. Mossadegh had no idea that the CIA was behind the coup attempt, not the shah. On August 19, Roosevelt paid gangs to terrorize the city, marshaled dissident military leaders to assault Mossadgh’s home where 300 people were killed in a climactic battle; by dawn the Mossadegh government no longer existed. The Shah returned to reclaim the Peacock Throne and ruled with increasing repression for a quarter century and was then overthrown in a revolution that brought fanatically anti-Western clerics to power. Eisenhower wrote in his diary the Mossadegh’s fall had been a serious defeat for the Soviets. Apparently he genuinely believed that Russia was poised to enter Iran in 1953 and only the CIA prevented the invasion. So Eisenhower was fooled by the Dulles Brothers too. Seemingly there was enough Kool-Aid going around for even a President to have some. Mossadegh was imprisoned for three years, after which he was put in house arrest until his death in 1967.

[The NYT has a good article on how the CIA engineered the overthrow of Mohammud Mossedegh, written by James Risen which can be viewed here while a time line of this history can be seen here.]

Next: The Dulles brothers are just getting started


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The Damage Done to the U.S. by the Dulles Brothers

Posted on January 15th, 2015 in Culture,Government,History,Politics by Robert Miller
Dulles Brothers

John Foster Dulles (right) and his younger brother Allen Dulles; these brothers formed the template that we still use to depose governments and install those more favorable to our policies, even though time is running out when such behavior is acceptable

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 despised 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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Was Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine toppled by a coup?

Posted on January 11th, 2015 in War by Robert Miller

Ms Nuland and Mr Pyatt (centre) met Ukrainian opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko (L) and Arseny Yatsenyuk (R) on Thursday (from BBC intercept)

This past Sunday, the New York Times tried to paint the events in the Ukraine last year, in which the democratically elected President Viktor F. Yanukovych resigned, as if he suffered more from fatigue than anything else and was abandoned by members of his own government. This is a chicken and egg issue. I thought this was an odd article, but seemed to be stimulated by the need for the Times to try to set the record straight after botching its previous coverage of this subject. And, while the rhetoric of the article was more mild than previous reports, the article insisted that Yanukovych wasn’t topped by a coup, when just about everyone outside of the “US News Media Bubble” knows otherwise. It didn’t take long for good journalists to jump on the errors of omission in the article: Robert Parry, writing in his own “Consortium News” points out several errors—I will only emphasize one. To me the most obvious error in the NYTs story was their failure to refer to a phone call intercepted and reported on the BBC between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which appeared on YouTube on Thursday with the BBC version here. In that phone call Nuland suggested that “Yatz” would be an appropriate replacement, meaning “Arseny Yatsenyuk;” a few days later “Yatz” was invited to the White House and had dinner with President Obama, while being praised for restoring democracy to the Ukraine. Obama could get away with this because it was done inside the “US News Media Bubble.”


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