The following morning, however, we could read: "No War With Russia, Allies To Trade With
7 Feb. 1920: "Reds Raising Army To Attack India"
11 Feb. 1920: "Fear That Bolsheviki Will Now Invade Japanese Territory"
Readers of the New York Times were asked to believe that all these invasions
were to come from a nation that was shattered as few nations in history have been; a
nation still recovering from a horrendous world war; in extreme chaos from a
fundamental social revolution that was barely off the ground; engaged in a brutal civil
war against forces backed by the major powers of the world; its industries, never
advanced to begin with, in a shambles; and the country in the throes of a famine that
was to leave many millions dead before it subsided.
In 1920, The New Republic magazine presented a lengthy analysis of the news
coverage by the New York Times of the Russian Revolution and the intervention.
Amongst much else, it observed that in the two years following the November 1917
revolution, the Times had stated no less than 91 times that "the Soviets were nearing
their rope's end or actually had reached it."10
If this was reality as presented by the United States' "newspaper of record", one
can imagine only with dismay the witch's brew the rest of the nation's newspapers were
feeding to their readers.
This, then, was the American people's first experience of a new social
phenomenon that had come upon the world, their introductory education about the
Soviet Union and this thing called "communism". The students have never recovered
from the lesson. Neither has the Soviet Union.
The military intervention came to an end but, with the sole and partial exception
of the Second World War period, the propaganda offensive has never let up. In 1943
Life magazine devoted an entire issue in honor of the Soviet Union's accomplishments,
going fat beyond what was demanded by the need for wartime solidarity, going so far as
to call Lenin "perhaps the greatest man of modern times".11 Two years later, however,
with Harry Truman sitting in the White House, such fraternity had no chance of
surviving. Truman, after all, was the man who, the day after the Nazis invaded the
Soviet Union, said: "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, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious in any circumstances."12
Much propaganda mileage has been squeezed out of the Soviet-German treaty of
1939, made possible only by entirely ignoring the fact that the Russians were forced
into the pact by the repeated refusal of the Western powers, particularly the United
States and Great Britain, to unite with Moscow in a stand against Hitler;13 as they
likewise refused to come to the aid of the socialist-oriented Spanish government under
siege by the German, Italian and Spanish fascists beginning in 1936. Stalin realized that
if the West wouldn't save Spain, they certainly wouldn't save the Soviet Union.
From the Red Scare of the 1920s to the McCarthyism of the 1950s to the Reagan
Crusade against the Evil Empire of the 1980s, the American people have been subjected
to a relentless anti- communist indoctrination. It is imbibed with their mother's milk,
pictured in their comic books, spelled out in their school books; their daily paper offers
them headlines that tell them all they need to know; ministers find sermons in it,
politicians ate elected with it, and Reader's Digest becomes rich on it.
The fiercely-held conviction inevitably produced by this insidious assault upon
the intellect is that a great damnation has been unleashed upon the world, possibly by
the devil himself, but in the form of people; people not motivated by the same needs,
feats, emotions, and personal morality that govern others of the species, but people
engaged in an extremely clever, monolithic, international conspiracy dedicated to taking
over the world and enslaving it; for reasons not always clear perhaps, but evil needs no
motivation save evil itself. Moreover, any appearance or claim by these people to be
rational human beings seeking a better kind of world or society is a sham, a cover-up, to
delude others, and proof only of their cleverness; the repression and cruelties which
have taken place in the Soviet Union are forever proof of the bankruptcy of virtue and
the evil intentions of these people in whichever country they may be found, under
whatever name they may call themselves: and, most important of all, the only choice
open to anyone in the United States is between the American Way of Life and the
Soviet Way of Life, that nothing lies between or beyond these two ways of making the
This is how it looks to the simple folk of America. One finds that the
sophisticated, when probed slightly beneath the surface of their academic language, see
it exactly the same way.
To the mind carefully brought to adulthood in the United States, the truths of anti-
communism are self-evident, as self-evident as the flatness of the world once was to an
earlier mind; as the Russian people believed that the victims of Stalin's purges were
truly guilty of treason.
The foregoing slice of American history must be taken into account if one is to
make sense of the vagaries of American foreign policy since the end of World War II,
specifically the record, as presented in this book, of what the US military and the CIA
and other branches of the US government have done to the peoples of the world.
In 1918, the barons of American capital needed no reason for their war against
communism other than the threat to their wealth and privilege, although their opposition
was expressed in terms of moral indignation.
During the period between the two world wars, US gunboat diplomacy operated
in the Caribbean to make "The American Lake" safe for the fortunes of United Fruit and
W.R. Grace & Co., at the same time taking care to warn of "the Bolshevik threat" to all
that is decent from the likes of Nicaraguan rebel Augusto Sandino.
By the end of the Second World War, every American past the age of 40 had been
subjected to some 25 years of anti-communist radiation, the average incubation period
needed to produce a malignancy. Anti-communism had developed a life of its own,
independent of its capitalist father. Increasingly, in the post-war period, middle-aged
Washington policy makers and diplomats saw the world out there as one composed of
"communists" and "anti-communists", whether of nations, movements or individuals.
This comic-strip vision of the world, with righteous American supermen fighting
communist evil everywhere, had graduated from a cynical propaganda exercise to a
moral imperative of US foreign policy.
Even the concept of "non-communist", implying some measure of neutrality, has
generally been accorded scant legitimacy in this paradigm. John Foster Dulles, one of
the major architects of post-war US foreign policy, expressed this succinctly in his
typically simple, moralistic way: "For us there are two sorts of people in the world:
there are those who are Christians and support free enterprise and there are the others."14
As several of the case studies in the present hook confirm, Dulles put that creed into
The word "communist" (as well as "Marxist") has been so overused and so abused
by American leaders and the media as to render it virtually meaningless. (The Left has
done the same to the word "fascist".) But merely having a name for somethingâ€”witches
or flying saucersâ€”attaches a certain credence to it.
At the same time, the American public, as we have seen, has been soundly
conditioned to react Pavlovianly to the term: it means, still, the worst excesses of Stalin,
from wholesale purges to Siberian slave-labor camps; it means, as Michael Parenti has
observed, that "Classic Marxist-Leninist predictions [concerning world revolution] are
treated as statements of intent directing all present-day communist actions."15 It means
"us" against "them".
And "them" can mean a peasant in the Philippines, a mural-painter in Nicaragua,
a legally-elected prime minister in British Guiana, or a European intellectual, a
Cambodian neutralist, an African nationalistâ€”all, somehow, part of the same
monolithic conspiracy; each, in some way, a threat to the American Way of Life; no
land too small, too poor, or too far away to pose such a threat, the "communist threat".
The cases presented in this book illustrate that it has been largely irrelevant
whether the particular targets of interventionâ€”be they individuals, political parties,
movements or governmentsâ€”called themselves "communist" or not. It has mattered
little whether they were scholars of dialectical materialism or had never heard of Karl
Marx; whether they were atheists or priests; whether a strong and influential Communist
Party was in the picture or not; whether the government had come into being through
violent revolution or peaceful elections ... all have been targets, all "communists".
It has mattered still less that the Soviet KGB was in the picture. The assertion has
been frequently voiced that the CIA carries out its dirty tricks largely in reaction to
operations of the KGB which have been "even dirtier". This is a lie made out of whole
cloth. There may be an isolated incident of such in the course of the CIA's life, but it has
kept itself well hidden. The relationship between the two sinister agencies is marked by
fraternization and respect for fellow professionals more than by hand-to-hand combat.
Former CIA officer John Stockwell has written:
Actually, at least in more routine operations, case officers most fear the US
ambassador and his staff, then restrictive headquarters cables, then curious,
gossipy neighbors in the local community, as potential threats to operations. Next
would come the local police, then the press. Last of all is the KGBâ€”in my twelve
years of case officering I never saw or heard of a situation in which the KGB
attacked or obstructed a CIA operation.16
Stockwell adds that the various intelligence services do not want their world to be
"complicated" by murdering each other.
It isn't done. If a CIA case officer has a flat tire in the dark of night on a lonely
road, he will not hesitate to accept a ride from a KGB officerâ€”likely the two
would detour to some bar for a drink together. In fact CIA and KGB officers
entertain each other frequently in their homes. The CIA's files are full of
mention of such relationships in almost every African station.17
Proponents of "fighting fire with fire" come perilously close at times to arguing
that if the KGB, for example, had a hand in the overthrow of the Czechoslovak
government in 1968, it is OK for the CIA to have a hand in the overthrow of the Chilean
government in 1973. It's as if the destruction of democracy by the KGB deposits funds
in a bank account from which the CIA is then justified in making withdrawals.
What then has been the thread common to the diverse targets of American
intervention which has brought down upon them the wrath, and often the firepower, of
the world's most powerful nation? In virtually every case involving the Third World
described in this book, it has been, in one form or another, a policy of "self-
determination": the desire, born of perceived need and principle, to pursue a path of
development independent of US foreign policy objectives. Most commonly, this has
been manifested in (a) the ambition to free themselves from economic and political
subservience to the United States; (b) the refusal to minimize relations with the socialist
bloc, or suppress the left at home, or welcome an American military installation on their
soil; in short, a refusal to be a pawn in the Cold War; or (c) the attempt to alter or
replace a government which held to neither of these aspirations; i.e., a government
supported by the United States.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that such a policy of independence has been
viewed and expressed by numerous Third World leaders and revolutionaries as one not
to be equated by definition to anti-Americanism or pro-communism, but as simply a
determination to maintain a position of neutrality and non- alignment vis-a-vis the two
superpowers. Time and time again, however, it will be seen that the United States was
not prepared to live with this proposition. Arbenz of Guatemala, Mossadegh of Iran,
Sukarno of Indonesia, Nkrumah of Ghana, Jagan of British Guiana, Sihanouk of
Cambodia ... all, insisted Uncle Sam, must declare themselves unequivocally on the side
of "The Free World" or suffer the consequences. Nkrumah put the case for non-
alignment as follows:
The experiment which we tried in Ghana was essentially one of developing the
country in co-operation with the world as a whole. Non-alignment meant exactly
what it said. We were not hostile to the countries of the socialist world in the
way in which the governments of the old colonial territories were. It should be
remembered that while Britain pursued at home coexistence with the Soviet
Union this was never allowed to extend to British colonial territories. Books on
socialism, which were published and circulated freely in Britain, were banned in
the British colonial empire, and after Ghana became independent it was assumed
abroad that it would continue to follow the same restrictive ideological
approach. When we behaved as did the British in their relations with the
socialist countries we were accused of being pro-Russian and introducing the
most dangerous ideas into Africa. 18
It is reminiscent of the 19th-century American South, where many Southerners
were deeply offended that so many of their black slaves had deserted to the Northern
side in the Civil War. They had genuinely thought that the blacks should have been
grateful for all their white masters had done for them, and that they were happy and
content with their lot. The noted Louisiana surgeon and psychologist Dr. Samuel A.
Cartwright argued that many of the slaves suffered from a form of mental illness, which
he called "drapetomania", diagnosed as the uncontrollable urge to escape from slavery.
In the second half of the 20th-century, this illness, in the Third World, has usually been
Perhaps the most deeply ingrained reflex of knee-jerk anti- communism is the
belief that the Soviet Union (or Cuba or Vietnam, etc., acting as Moscow's surrogate] is
a clandestine force lurking behind the facade of self-determination, stirring up the hydra
of revolution, or just plain trouble, here, there, and everywhere; yet another incarnation,
although on a far grander scale, of the proverbial "outside agitator", he who has made
his appearance regularly throughout history ... King George blamed the French for
inciting the American colonies to revolt ... disillusioned American farmers and veterans
protesting their onerous economic circumstances after the revolution (Shays' Rebellion)
were branded as British agents out to wreck the new republic ... labor strikes in late-
19th-century America were blamed on "anarchists" and "foreigners", during the First
World War on "German agents", after the war on "Bolsheviks".
And in the 1960s, said the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of
Violence, J. Edgar Hoover "helped spread the view among the police ranks that any
kind of mass protest is due to a conspiracy promulgated by agitators, often Communists,
'who misdirect otherwise contented people'."19
The last is the key phrase, one which encapsulates the conspiracy mentality of
those in powerâ€”the idea that no people, except those living under the enemy, could be
so miserable and discontent as to need recourse to revolution or even mass protest; that
it is only the agitation of the outsider which misdirects them along this path.
Accordingly, if Ronald Reagan were to concede that the masses of El Salvador
have every good reason to rise up against their god-awful existence, it would bring into
question his accusation, and the rationale for US intervention, that it is principally
(only?) the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies who instigate the
Salvadoreans: that seemingly magical power of communists everywhere who, with a
twist of their red wrist, can transform peaceful, happy people into furious guerrillas. The
CIA knows how difficult a feat this is. The Agency, as we shall see, tried to spark mass
revolt in China, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Albania, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe with
a singular lack of success. The Agency's scribes have laid the blame for these failures
on the "closed" nature of the societies involved. But in non-communist countries, the
CIA has had to resort to military coups or extra-legal chicanery to get its people into
power. It has never been able to light the fire of popular revolution.
For Washington to concede merit and virtue to a particular Third World
insurgency would, moreover, raise the question: Why does not the United States, if it
must intervene, take the side of the rebels? Not only might this better serve the cause of
human rights and justice, but it would shut out the Russians from their alleged role.
What better way to frustrate the International Communist Conspiracy? But this is a
question that dares not speak its name in the Oval Office, a question that is relevant to
many of the cases in this book.
Instead, the United States remains committed to its all â€” too- familiar policy of
establishing and/or supporting the most vile tyrannies in the world, whose outrages
against their own people confront us daily in the pages of our newspapers: brutal
massacres; systematic, sophisticated torture; public whippings; soldiers and police firing
into crowds; government supported death squads; tens of thousands of disappeared
persons; extreme economic deprivation ... a way of life that is virtually a monopoly held
by America's allies, from Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador to Turkey, Pakistan and
Indonesia, all members in good standing of the Holy War Against Communism, all
members of "The Free World", that region of which we hear so much and see so little.
The restrictions on civil liberties found in the communist bloc, as severe as they
are, pale by comparison to the cottage- industry Auschwitzes of "The Free World", and,
except in that curious mental landscape inhabited by The Compleat Anti- Communist,
can have little or nothing to do with the sundry American interventions supposedly in
the cause of a higher good.
It is interesting to note that as commonplace as it is for American leaders to speak
of freedom and democracy while supporting dictatorships, so do Russian leaders speak
of wars of liberation, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism while doing extremely little
to actually further these causes, American propaganda notwithstanding. The Soviets like
to be thought of as champions of the Third World, but they have stood by doing little
more than going "tsk, tsk" as progressive movements and governments, even
Communist Parties, in Greece, Guatemala, British Guiana, Chile, Indonesia, the