The Dulles brothers attempt to overthrow Sukarno in Indonesia

Posted on March 8th, 2015 in Politics by Robert Miller
Diego Rivera's Glorious Victory depicts the Dulles brother's coup in Guatemala: the Dulles brothers are in the center. Foster is being thanked by his Guatemalan lackey; Allen Dulles stands behind Foster with a satchel full of cash and Eisenhower's face in the foreground is on a bomb. Allen Dulles was so delighted with this painting that he handed out small format reproductions

Diego Rivera’s Glorious Victory depicts the Dulles brother’s coup in Guatemala: the Dulles brothers are in the center. Foster is being thanked by his Guatemalan lackey (Castillo Armas—trained in the U.S.); Allen Dulles stands behind Foster with a satchel full of cash and Eisenhower’s face in the foreground is on a bomb. Allen Dulles was so delighted with this painting that he handed out small format reproductions

In November, 1956 Frank Wisner, the CIA’s deputy director, gave Al Ulmer, head of the CIA agency’s Far East division an assignment when he said “I think it’s time we held Sukarno’s feet to the fire” [Frank Wisner eventually became paranoid and pyschotic and was institutionalized many times;  in 1965 blasted his own head off with a shotgun]. Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia and was the leader in the struggle to free Indonesia from control by the Netherlands. During the Japan’s invasion and control of the region, Sukarno collaborated with the Japanese in exchange for Japanese assistance in spreading nationalist ideas. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Sukarno declared the independence of Indonesia and became its first president, though he would struggle for nearly ten years with the Netherlands, who tried to recover their colonial control after the war. But the date of November 1956 began the official date marking the beginning of the Dulles brothers plot against him.

[What follows is extracted from The Brothers by Stephen Kinzer]

  •   “With that Foster and Allen launched one of the largest covert CIA operations of the decade. Using the resources of the State Department, the CIA, and the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, they armed and trained a rebel army numbering more than ten thousand fighters; requisitioned transport vessels, cruisers. submarines and a fleet of fifteen B-26 warplanes fitted with .50-caliber machine guns; directed a sustained bombing campaign and even produced what may have been the first CIA-made pornographic movie.” [the pornographic movie had a likeness of Sukarno as the lead player, but the movie fell flat in terms of its influence]
  • “Less than a year after Americans thronged to welcome Sukarno [during his celebrated visit to the U.S.], he became the fourth monster Foster and Allen went abroad to destroy.”
  • “”During the late 1950s, the Eisenhower administration provoked and strongly abetted a major rebellion and civil war in Indonesia that tore the country apart” begins one of the few accounts of this operation, published forty years later. “Both the available documentary evidence and the consensus among State Department and CIA members interviewed indicate that among the top leaders of the Eisenhower administration, John Foster Dulles was the most aggressive and consistent in forwarding this policy.””
  • “The campaign against Sukarno, which became known as “Archipelago,” remained secret for longer than most others Foster and Allen waged. By the mid-1950s, their involvement in overthrowing Mossadegh and Arbenz was an open secret in Washington, clear to anyone who read the Saturday Evening Post. Press reports about their campaign against Ho Chi Minh appeared periodically as the Vietnam War escalated. Archipelago, however, went almost entirely unreported, and remained virtually unknown for decades afterward.”
  • “If the hidden story of the Dulles brothers is the covert war they waged against six enemies, their anti-Sukarno operation is its most hidden episode.”

Sukarno was a strong advocate of neutralism, meaning that he tried to steer towards a balance between the right and the left. He felt that movements such as Communism must be allowed to express itself if it had popular support. Foster on the other hand felt that neutralism was a cowardly way to address the evil forces of Communism, and claimed that neutralism was “immoral.” Foster felt that the American way should the guide for all nations and that America, leader of the free world, was locked into a life or death struggle with Communism. What the Dulles brothers liked best was a post-colonial, capitalist-aspiring country that could be manipulated, and if necessary, through the overthrow of democratically elected leaders and install someone more compliant with U.S. interests: this always meant converting the country to a dictatorship—-there are no examples when we promoted a democratic outcome.  Those people thus installed would be beholding to the Americans that put them a position of authority. Those individuals could also prosper at the expense of their own people, as long as the United States had free access to the resources of the country. Foster always worried that neutral countries might eventually fall into the Communist camp and nationalize American companies.

Yet much of the developing world favored a neutral foreign policy and once Stalin died (1953), his eventual replacement, Nikita Khrushchev, had a very different attitude towards non-Soviet style countries: he began to make investments in the third world. One of his first investments was to provide the Egyptian leader, Colonel Gamal Abdel Nassar,  a low-interest loan of $1.1 billion to begin construction of the Aswan High Dam. In addition, Russia provided tanks and MiG jet fighters to Nassar, which bothered the Dulles brothers without end. Together they formed a plot to unseat Nassar called ‘Omega,’ but after Eisenhower returned from a trip he called off ‘Omega’ by saying the Nassar was too popular to be upended. They argued that the same was not true of Sukarno and Indonesia.

With approval from Eisenhower, the CIA actively supported a coup hatched in 1957 by rebel officers. But Sukarno’s forces easily contained the rebellion whose army consisted mostly of high school students who didn’t want to shoot their fellow Muslims. Undaunted, the Dulles brothers continued to fund and support the insurrection.

Then in May 1958 a CIA pilot by the name of Allen Pope flew a B-26 bomber into Indonesia from the Philippines, as he had done many times before. This time however he was opposed by another airplane that shot him down. His plane crashed as he parachuted to safety. He was subsequently captured and when his plane wreckage was examined they found many incriminating documents, including copies of his assignment to the Archipelago plot. His log was also found which provided details of his past bombing escapades indicating that his record included bombing military bases, ships, warehouses a bridge and, quite accidentally, a church. All this indicated that he had already caused considerable casualties constituting the most visible, identified atrocity of the war. When Sukarno confronted American ambassador to Indonesia, Howard Jones, he angrily demanded,  “tell me why!”  Jones replied it was “because he heard you were a Communist and he wanted to contribute to the fight against Communism.”

News of the crash quickly arrived at Allen Dulles’ door step and after consulting with his brother they agreed to pull the plug on Archipelago. The next day Allen sent the bad news to his men in the CIA by writing “this is the most difficult message I have ever sent; it is sent only under impelling necessity and in what we all view here as the highest national interest.” Suddenly Allen Dulles who had been feeding Eisenhower optimistic reports on the progress with Archipelago, now had to face defeat, equally as great as when the CIA failed to set off a civil war in the Soviet Union a decade earlier.

Sukarno survived the first American attempt to remove him from office, but he would not survive the second, done when Lyndon Johnson was President. The toppling of Sukarno the second time around led to the extermination of a half million to a million Communists and leftists in Indonesia. By then the idea of a life and death struggle against Communism was so ingrained in America that everyone celebrated the human slaughter as if the only good Communist was a dead Communist. Humanity had been utterly drained from the American human spirit.

RFM

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Back the future written for us by the Dulles brothers

Posted on March 2nd, 2015 in War by Robert Miller
Foster Dulles was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1955

Foster Dulles was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1955

In 1955 Time Magazine chose Foster Dulles as “Man of the Year” and put him on the cover of the first edition. He seemed to be a good choice: after all he was leading the nation in the hot pursuit of Communism, dedicated to destroying the system wherever he found it. Time referred to him as “a practical missionary of Christian politics” who had given Americans “a feeling of firm confidence in the U.S. economy and in dynamic capitalism as a way of life.” The same issue described some of the challenges that Foster would face in the coming years and showed a picture of a man they labeled as “Indo-China’s Ho.” Unfortunately for America by that time both Allen and Foster Dulles had misunderstood relations in the Communist world. This was undoubtedly due to bad intelligence from the CIA who took their intelligence responsibilities less seriously than their covert operations. This has been one of the great enduring failures of our national intelligence system: we approach foreign intelligence as an ideology. Allen Dulles for example, was far more interested in toppling governments in his efforts to realign the landscape of nations by overthrowing democratically-elected governments and replacing them with dictators who were indebted to the United States. But the lack of good intelligence information robbed the Dulles brothers of a more accurate view of the world of Communism at the time. They believed that China was a pawn of the Soviet union and Ho Chi Minh was a puppet of both. Indeed, when I was an officer in the Navy in 1968, we were indoctrinated with the view that the ongoing Vietnam War was a war to stop Russian expansionism—and prevent the so called “domino affect” from becoming a reality. That view, which the Dulles brothers held, prevented them from seeing Ho Chi Minh as a nationalist who merely wanted to unite his country. Ho Chi Minh would have his way, but it would come at a heavy price: the death of more than 3 million citizens of his country and the deforestation of large sectors of his country with Agent Orange. When you come to appreciate that one of the reasons we were committed to Vietnam was because of its natural resources and our intention to exploit them, you can understand why the anti-Communist philosophy sold well at home, like the “Kool-Aid” for the masses in the U.S. but in reality we pursued a very different strategy abroad. It is one of the prime reasons why we have so much secrecy in government, why so many documents we receive through the “Freedom of Information Act” usually come heavily redacted sometimes to the point that you can’t understand the document that you spent so much effort to retrieve.

Our failure to understand the true nature of the Vietnam War was passed onto  Lyndon Johnson who had swallowed the “Kool-Aid” as much as any President did. Johnson was pursuing the war based on his perception that he didn’t want to be the first President who lost a nation to Communism: that distinction of course would fall to Richard Nixon. What follows is a quotation from one of my previous postsCommander in Chief Part 2: Buckle up America!” in which I describe warnings that Truman and Johnson received from China during their Presidency:

“Like Truman, LBJ also got a note from Mao, delivered this time through Chen Yi, who had a long intense conversation with a British Charge d’affaires in Beijing. Chen Yi was an old comrade of Mao’s and participated with him in the “long March.” He was a heroic Chinese military leader during the civil war and commanded great respect internationally. He spoke specifically to give the Americans a clear understanding of what China’s intentions were in the Vietnam conflict. His message was simple: China did not want a war with the United States, but if forced, they would open up an all out war against the U.S. that would have the widest possible front and the U.S. would no longer have the luxury of fighting a “limited war.” In essence the war that China threatened would occur across a 2000 mile front from North Korea to India. He pointed out that such a war will cause the Chinese to suffer greatly, with the loss of much of their industrial power, but in their mind the sacrifice would be worth it, to hold down the U.S. and ultimately win the war, which they predicted would be the unavoidable outcome of such a conflict. Put simply, America did not have the staying power of China, not even close. Chen Yi pointed out that if the U.S. pushed the war in Vietnam into China, the life and death struggle would begin. Behind his words stood the frightening prospect of an army of 4.5 million Chinese in the People’s Liberation Army and a growing nuclear arsenal. Yi went on in his communication to point out that when the war with the Americans broke out, North Vietnam wondered whether they should engage the powerful U.S. military. But Ho Chi Minh decided that they were poor enough that it really didn’t matter and the stakes to them seemed high: their promised national sovereignty was at stake. So they engaged the Americans not knowing what to expect. But in the early years of the Vietnam War with the Americans as their adversary, they had come to appreciate that they would eventually defeat the Americans: it was inevitable. The Vietnamese entered the war with the Americans, knowing that millions of their own country men would die (probably more than three million did). But, in the end, they expected to win their liberation from tyranny and gain independent control of their country. Chen Yi emphasized that China did not push the Vietnamese into the war with the Americans. It was their decision. But having made that decision, China was going to provide aid and insure that North Vietnam would not capitulate in the conflict. China was prepared to endure a struggle for however long it would take to win and for them winning was certain. With China offering a secure base at its rear and the Chinese army waiting in the wings, North Vietnam knew that they could not lose a conventional war. It would be a war of attrition with only one possible outcome. Yi’s communication also mentioned that if the U.S. pushed, the conflict in Southeast Asia could become a global war…take your pick.”

Truman did not adhere to the warnings he received from the Chinese, but when Johnson fully digested the information sent to him by Yi he must have realized that the war was lost: yet his instincts drove him to continue to wage war in Vietnam. By then there was too much momentum to stop. Here again America’s failure to understand the nature of our adversary, through the lack of sound, believable intelligence, forces us to act out of an irrational ideology.

RFM

 

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