Chapter 10 – Re-targeting the Soviet Union
by Peter Cohen
The USSR had always been perceived as a threat by the rulers of the capitalist system, and their efforts to destroy it prior to 1941 have already been described. The threat was political and ideological, not military.
The first duty of the ruling class is to maintain its ruling position, which it would not be able to do in a Communist society. Revolution, peaceful or otherwise, would put an end to “civilization as we know it”, i.e. the hierarchical class system that is supposedly ordained by natural law. If Communism were to spread, the rulers of the West would no longer enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor, a fate which for them is virtually beyond comprehension.
But by 1945 the Western powers had been allied with the Soviets for about four years, and among the working class and other non-rulers of society in the West there was a good deal of sympathy and admiration for the people of the USRR, not least because they had defeated history’s most powerful war machine.
The rulers of the West realized that while they made plans to renew the attack on the Soviet Union they would have to engineer a turnabout in public opinion in order to justify it. It was not advisable to announce that the Soviet Union had to be destroyed in order to protect the interests of the capitalist minority, which had been thwarted ever since 1918. A continuous campaign similar to the propaganda issued by the Nazis would have to be launched, although the Jewish element would have to be removed. “Judeo-Bolshevism” was not going to be part of the message.
As Hermann Göring said at Nuremberg,
Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
At the same time, military and intelligence organizations and operations that had been focused on winning the war against Germany and Japan would have to be rapidly reoriented to target the Soviet Union.
The Western Allies take aim
The British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, or M16) which had once attempted to assassinate Lenin, had devoted its energies to espionage and sabotage against the Soviet Union from 1917 until the summer of 1941, when it was ordered by Churchill to suspend such operations.
In 1944, the head of the SIS Sir Stewart Menzies indicated that when the war was over there would be open conflict with the Soviet Union in Greece, Turkey and Central Europe. He was aware in all likelihood that the British planned to attack the Greek People’s Liberation Army ELAS, which had been formed on the initiative of the Greek Communist Party and had fought the Nazis as well as Greek collaborators throughout the war. “ELAS and its political wing EAM cut across the entire left side of the political spectrum, numbering many priests and even a few bishops amongst its followers. The guerillas had wrested large areas of the country from the Nazi invaders who had routed the British in 1941” (William Blum, Killing Hope, 1995). Churchill had referred to ELAS as “those gallant guerillas”.
The British arrived in Greece in November 1944, while the war was still on, and were met by a sign: “We Greet the Brave British Army – EAM”.
One month later the British and the new Greek army they had formed were fighting ELAS. According to Blum, in 1946 British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin admitted that the new army included more than 225 members of the war-time Nazi Security Battalions that had hunted Greek partisans and Jews.
ELAS was forced to accept an armistice, and the British installed a government composed of representatives of the Greek ruling class, most of whom had collaborated with the Nazis.
In the UK, seven weeks after the Normandy landings the British military staff proposed a post-war alliance with Germany against the USSR. By October 1944 the staff’s analysis had been accepted by Churchill and the rest of the British government, which decided that “Contingency plans for future wars were to be projected with Russia as Britain’s only realistic enemy” (Tom Bower, BBC producer/journalist, Blind eye to murder, 1997). The SIS was ordered to set up a new anti-Soviet section, headed by a man named Kim Philby.
In April 1946 the Foreign Office circulated a memorandum called “The Soviet campaign against this country and our response to it”. It alleged that this campaign would be waged in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Persia, Manchuria and Western Europe, where the Communists would infiltrate trade unions and political parties to accomplish the downfall of the West. Britain should offer “all such moral and material support as possible” to support anti-Communists everywhere. SIS officers in a new Russia Committee were also convinced that there was a Soviet master plan for world revolution.
Work on the propaganda framework accelerated. Winston Churchill, a leading champion of the Western ruling class, addressed an audience at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri on 5 March 1946, less than one year after Nazi Germany surrendered. A key section of his speech reads (emphasis added):
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient (sic!) states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.
Churchill is generally admired for having coined the term “iron curtain”, but it was in fact used (not for the first time) by the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels on 23 February 1945 in the newspaper Das Reich:
If the German people lay down their arms, the Soviets will occupy all of eastern and southeastern Europe as well as a large part of the Reich. A genuine iron curtain (ein eiserner Vorhang) will soon descend over all these territories, which together with the Soviet Union comprise a vast area.
Given that Churchill had often echoed Nazi propaganda against Communism, e.g. with repeated references to “the plague of Bolshevism”, we may wonder whether issues of Das Reich were delivered regularly to 10 Downing Street.
Bower cites Churchill’s claim that he had ordered General Montgomery to stack captured German arms “so that they could be easily issued again to the German soldiers whom we should have to work with if the Soviet advance continued”.
US planning for a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union
At a conference held on 16 July – 2 August 1945 in Potsdam, near Berlin, the chief participants were the new British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin and US president Harry Truman. The goals of the conference included managing post-war Germany, establishing a stable world peace and defining new borders in Europe.
It was decided that:
- The occupation of Germany by the Allies was aimed at disarmament and demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decentralization, both political and economic, and decartelization.
- Germany, Austria, Berlin and Vienna were to be divided into four zones, each administered by one of the four allies (France, Soviet Union, UK and US).
- Germany was to be treated as a single economic unit.
- Nazi war criminals were to be identified and prosecuted.
- All German annexations in Europe, including Sudetenland, Alsace-Lorraine, Austria and the western parts of Poland were to be annulled
- Germany’s eastern border with Poland was to be shifted westwards to the Oder-Neisse line. Section 12 of the agreement stipulated that “the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof, remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, will have to be undertaken”.
- Reparations were to be paid to the Soviet Union from their zone of occupation in Germany. Stalin proposed that Poland should be given 15% of the compensation received by the Soviet Union.
- The German war industry would be dismantled or transferred to Allied control.
While the delegates to the conference discussed ways and means of ensuring a peaceful Europe, the US Chiefs of Staff held a series of meeting in the Pentagon at which they established a policy of preemptive nuclear attack. In July 1945 they produced a document known as JCS 1496, which stated that in case of disputes with other countries the US should aim for a diplomatic settlement “while making all preparations to strike the first blow if necessary”.
Some of the results of the strike on Hiroshima are shown below. I do not know whether the Joint Chiefs examined such photographs in the course of their meetings.
When Truman returned from Potsdam he ordered General Eisenhower to draft a top-secret battle plan for an all-out war with the Soviet Union, which was code-named TOTALITY. The British military historian John Bradley is cited in Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod, To Win a Nuclear War – The Pentagon’s secret war plans (1987): “TOTALITY was the first emergency war plan by one erstwhile ally against the other”. Much of the information below on US plans for nuclear war on the USSR and on US assessments of the Soviet Union’s military capabilities is taken from Kaku and Axelrod.
JCS document 1477/1 stated that
The advent of the atomic bomb and other new weapons puts a greater premium than ever before upon the value of surprise in the initiation of war…This emphasizes the importance not only of readiness for immediate defense, but also for striking first, if necessary, against the source of threatened attack… the element of surprise will be… the only assurance of success…
TOTALITY was soon complemented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Intelligence Committee in a secret study called “Strategic Vulnerability of the USSR to a limited Air Attack” (JIC 329/1).
The study stipulated a surprise nuclear attack on the Soviet Union either to stop Soviet aggression or if it appeared that the Soviets a) were capable of attacking the US, b) were capable of fending off a US attack.
The study targeted twenty Soviet cities for total destruction: Moscow, Gorki, Kuibyshev, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saratov, Kazan, Leningrad, Baku, Tashkent, Chelyabinsk, Nizhniy Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Molotov, Tbilisi, Stalinsk, Grozny, Irkutsk, and Yaroslavl.
One of the most interesting aspects of the “Strategic Vulnerability” study is the unambiguous assertion that the Soviet Union was not a military threat to the US:
The Soviet Union cannot attack the continental United States within the near future. With no navy of importance and with a second-rate merchant marine, Soviet overseas operations generally would be out of the question.
About a year later the US Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal noted that
…the years before any possible power can achieve the capability to effectively attack us with weapons of mass destruction are our years of opportunity.
Forrestal had been president of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. before he joined the government during World War 2. Many of his colleagues in the government and the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) also came from Wall Street and the highest levels of corporate America, such as John McCloy (Chairman of Chase Bank, later President of the World Bank, later US High Commissioner for Germany, later Chairman of the CFR), Robert Lovett (Brown, Harriman, later Secretary of Defense), Averell Harriman (Harriman, Co., wartime Ambassador to the USSR), John Foster Dulles (law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, later Secretary of State), Allen Dulles (Sullivan and Cromwell, later Director of the CIA), Paul Nitze (Dillon, Read, later Secretary of the Navy) and Dean Rusk (Rockefeller Foundation, later one of the architects of the Vietnam war). The firms above had been deeply involved with banks and industries in Nazi Germany before, and even during the war.
The CFR also included leading American industrialists as well as military officers. In other words, the Council was – and is – a committee for protecting and promoting the interests of capitalists in the US.
First nuclear battle plan
In June 1946 the JCS completed the first comprehensive nuclear battle plan, code-named PINCHER. It detailed the number of aircraft, army divisions and ships that would be required for a full-scale nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.
PINCHER also stated that
The Soviet economic potential for war is not now adequately developed and, at least for the next ten or fifteen years, the gains to be derived internally during peace outweigh the advantages of any external objective that might be attained at the risk of war. (Kaku and Axelrod).
Several high-ranking admirals and generals protested, on the grounds that the PINCHER plan violated the fundamental principles of American society because it advocated the wholesale slaughter of tens of millions of Soviet civilians. These officers were relieved from active duty by president Truman.
The question of what to do with the Soviet Union after it had been defeated and the Communist Party had been destroyed arose logically from the PINCHER plan. The answer was given in a revised version called BUSHWACKER, which was completed in 1948. It contained a plan for “occupation of the Soviet Union and the elimination of ’Bolshevik control’”. It stated that:
The U.S.S.R. is governed by a highly centralized dictatorship which includes specific direction of strategy, of actual military operations, and of industrial effort and constitutes the driving force behind the ideological war. The destruction of this core of these governmental and control facilities would be given high priority. The destruction of this core would have a very great immediate effect on the Integration of the enemy’s overall effort. The destruction of the remainder of the governmental and control facilities would be accomplished along with the destruction of the urban Industrial areas.
The precise meaning of the term “destruction” is unclear, as it is in National Security Council directive NCS 20/1, “U.S. Objectives with Respect to Russia, 8 August 1948, according to which (emphasis in original):
We must leave nothing to chance; and it should naturally be considered that one of our major war aims with respect to Russia would be to destroy thoroughly the structure of relationships by which the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party have been able to exert moral and disciplinary authority over individual citizens, or groups of citizens…
However, the JCS understood that a long-term US military occupation of the USSR was not a viable proposition. So NSC 20/1 suggested that
Our best course would be to permit all the exiled elements to return to Russia as rapidly as possible and to see to it, insofar as this depends on us, that they are all given roughly equal opportunity to establish their bids for power.
The Soviet Union was to be returned to the people who had ruled the empire of the Tsar, or to their heirs. This is one of the clearest indications that despite the endless accusations that the Soviet Union was undemocratic, Western capitalists were not interested in implanting democracy there, since they preferred to re-establish the pre-revolutionary autocracy.
This solution would naturally enable capitalists in the US and other Western countries to once again engage in exploiting the population and plundering the country’s raw materials, a process which had generated highly satisfactory profits for them prior to World War 1. As far as I know there is no reference in NCS 20/1 to the needs and/or aspirations of the Soviet people.
Fortunately for them, the Truman administration realized to its dismay that the US did not have enough nuclear bombs to implement the PINCHER plan. But by the summer of 1948 more and better bombs were being developed, and the JCS started revising PINCHER with the aim of developing battle plans for World War 3. The pretext was the blockade of Berlin which the Soviets had started in June.
Currency reform and nuclear war
In light of the developments that had led to World War 2, the Soviets were interested in establishing a denazified and demilitarized Germany that would be a neutral buffer zone between the USSR and the West, and in ensuring that the countries in Eastern Europe which had previously been in league with the Nazis were no longer governed by Fascists. During the war the Allies had agreed that settlement of “the German question” would be based on mutual agreement.
Denazification and decartelization were not assigned high priority in the Western-occupied zones of Germany, as we shall see in the next chapter. This was linked to the US decision that Germany would be divided.
It has frequently been argued that Germany’s postwar division was the logical – inevitable – basis for the postwar US-Soviet relationship in Europe. Far from being inevitable, however, Germany’s division resulted from deliberate policy choices in Washington. Between 1946 and 1953, the United States and the Soviet Union might have agreed on German reunification, but the United States closed the door on a reunified Germany (Christopher Layne, The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present, 2006; Layne is Associate Professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University).
By the time the UK and US-governed zones had been fused into the so-called Bizone on 1 January 1947, friction between the West and the Soviet Union was increasing. This was ultimately traceable to the basic contradictions between Communism and capitalism, which had never disappeared.
At a conference of foreign ministers in Moscow in March-April 1947 Molotov repeated that the Allies had previously agreed to treat Germany as a single economic unit. He also repeated that the Soviet Union wanted Germany to be reunified and demilitarized. The US refused. Transforming the Western zones of Germany into a separate country and reviving its economy were the top priorities for the US government and the capitalists it served.
After the Moscow summit, the United States did not formally renounce the goal of German reunification, but from then onward US German policy gathered momentum step-by-step, each step confirming the basic US decision that a divided Germany was preferable to a reunified one. Fundamentally, that decision was not driven by US-Soviet tensions but reflected that the United States ‘had developed a quite independent preference for German partition’…The Marshall Plan confirmed that Western European economic reconstruction – and perforce German economic revival – was the paramount objective of U.S. European policy.
Early in 1948 the Western occupying powers implemented a currency reform within their zones and established the Deutsche Mark (“D-Mark” in German usage). The reform generated a significant increase in wealth for the German ruling class.
A uniform currency is a prerequisite for establishment of a separate state (see Chapter 15 for a discussion of the EU and the euro) and was part of the plan to divide Germany. It was obvious to the Soviets that preparations were under way for transforming the three Western-occupied zones into a new Germany, irrespective of previous agreements to settle the German question unanimously.
In an attempt to counter the new Western strategy for Germany, the Stalin government set up a blockade that cut off land access to Berlin, which was in the Soviet zone. The Allies responded with an airlift.
The Americans quickly produced a plan called BROILER, which called for nuclear strikes on 24 Soviet cities. At the end of July Secretary of Defense Forrestal was asked by Secretary of State George Marshall and Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley whether BROILER should be executed. He answered that he would give top priority to a plan that would involve use of the atomic bomb.
In September the National Security Council decided that the president had sole authority to order a nuclear assault, and stated that the Soviets “should never be given the slightest reason to believe that the US would even consider not using atomic weapons against them if necessary”.
In May 1949 the Western powers established a new country, Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD, or West Germany), which showed that the Soviet suspicions had been correct. The process of reinstating Nazis in West Germany accelerated immediately, as shown in the next chapter.
During the period before the Soviets lifted the blockade at the end of September 1949, presumably because it was ineffective, the Truman administration repeatedly discussed implementing BROILER but was astonished to once again discover that a nuclear strike on the USSR was not feasible, this time because so many US bombers were dysfunctional.
On 4 April 1949, one month before West Germany was created, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established under the leadership of the US. It was described officially as a defense force that was to protect Western Europe against the Soviet threat, which did not exist.
Making the world safe for the United States of America
Imperialism results from the need to expand the capitalist system beyond national borders. During the inter-war period, German capitalists understood that the Soviet Union was the chief obstacle to expansion. After 1945 it was the chief obstacle for American capitalists, who had started planning for global dominance before World War 2 broke out. The political and ideological support provided by the USSR to anti-colonial movements for national liberation in Asia, the Middle East and Africa was particularly alarming.
Starting in 1939 the US State Department and the Council on Foreign Relations held a series of meetings at which the future international role of the United States of America was discussed and defined. It was clear that the British Empire would be replaced by a new American Empire.
Kaku and Axelrod:
The minutes of the Council’s Security Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Post-War Foreign Policy set the likely parameters of U.S. post-war foreign policy: ‘…the British Empire as it existed in the past will never reappear and… the United States may have to take its place…’ The U.S. ‘must cultivate a mental view toward world settlement after this war which will enable us to impose our own terms, amounting perhaps to a Pax Americana.’
In 1942, the Council’s director, Isaiah Bowen, wrote, ‘The measure of our victory will be the measure of our domination after victory… [The U.S. must secure areas] strategically necessary for world control’.
Edwin Gay, one of the editors of the Council’s influential magazine Foreign Affairs, wrote, ‘When I think of the British empire as our inheritance, I think simply of the natural right of succession. That ultimate succession is inevitable’.
On 24 February 1948 an analysis by the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff (PPS/23) prepared under the supervision of George F. Kennan stated that:
…we have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive (sic!) detriment to our national security.
Kennan made it clear that the US was under no obligation to promote the official goals of securing democracy, prosperity and human rights:
We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism… We should cease to talk about vague and – for the Far East – unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts… [We] should concentrate our policy on seeing to it that those areas remain in hands which we can control or rely on.
PPS/23 acknowledged that the appeal of the Soviet Union and the Communist movement to people throughout the world was definitely a problem:
It is not only possible, but probable, that… many peoples will fall, for varying periods, under the influence of Moscow, whose ideology has a greater lure for such peoples, and probably greater reality, than anything we could oppose to it (cited in Kaku and Axelrod).
As usual, President Eisenhower was quite clear about the goals of US foreign policy. In a private letter to Earl Schaefer, the President of Boeing Aircraft he wrote:
From my viewpoint, foreign policy is or should be based primarily upon one consideration; that consideration is the need for the U.S. to obtain certain raw materials to sustain its economy and when possible to preserve profitable markets for our surpluses. Out of this need grows the necessity for making certain that those areas of the world in which essential raw materials are produced are not only accessible to us, but their population and governments are willing to trade with us on a friendly basis. (Cited in Kaku and Axelrod, emphasis added.)
This echoes Eisenhower’s comments on supporting French efforts to maintain their colonies in Indo-China, cited in Chapter 8. It also prefigures a placard displayed at an anti-war rally in the US during the run-up to the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq in 2003: “How did our oil get under their sand?”
Constructing the myth of the Soviet threat
Soon after the end of World War 2 it became an article of faith in the West that not only was the Soviet Union determined to enslave Eastern Europe, as Churchill had pointed out, but that “the Kremlin” was also threatening Western Europe, aimed to dominate the entire world, and would use any possible means to achieve its goal, including armed aggression.
However, establishing this received truth in the public mind was not going to be easy in view of the assessment in the “Strategic Vulnerability” study that the Soviet Union was incapable of attacking the US, and of reports by US Army military intelligence that as late as the summer of 1946 the Red Army was “under-equipped, overextended and war weary” (Christopher Simpson, Blowback, 1988).
Moreover, the US Army had reported in 1945-46 that the Soviets were ripping up the railroad network in their zone of Germany and shipping the hardware eastward to the USSR. Since the Red Army was highly dependent on rail transport, this was “clearly not the behavior of a military power contemplating a blitzkrieg attack”.
Even an anti-Communist warrior like George F. Kennan, architect of the policy that was to “contain” the Soviet Union, identified the “threat” embodied by the USSR as political and ideological, not military. But it was a mortal threat nevertheless.
On February 22, 1946 Kennan sent the so-called Long Telegram to Secretary of State, James Byrnes. In the telegram and a later article in the journal Foreign Affairs, Kennan pointed to the Soviet Union as the implacable foe:
In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with the US there can be no permanent modus vivendi, that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure.
Like many other such statements, this text reflects the recognition by US capitalists that the Soviet Union was now the chief obstacle to achieving their goal of global dominance:
US assessments of the Soviet Union from 1946 onward had less to do with Moscow’s intentions and aspirations than with Washington’s… Washington did not come to view the Soviet Union as ‘a threat’ because of Moscow’s intentions or capabilities – or its actions… For the United States, the Soviet Union came to be seen as a threat simply because it existed (Layne, emphasis added).
In an address to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, Truman asked for $400 million in military and economic assistance for Turkey and Greece, arguing that without this aid these countries would inevitably fall to Communism. Among other things, he said that “The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the government’s authority at a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries.” He also said that “The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms”, which is shorthand for “We must roll back the influence of the Soviet Union”. Known as the Truman Doctrine, this address contained the first public declaration of Kennan’s policy of containment.
The corrupt proto-Fascist government that the British had installed in Greece ran a terror campaign against the Greek working-class movement that included imprisonment and torture, and ignored the needs of the majority of the people. “There are few modern parallels for government as bad as this”, said CBS chief European correspondent Howard K. Smith (Blum).
In 1946 the Greek Communists led a revolt against the government. Early in 1947 the British realized that they could not bear the costs of combating a guerilla war, and asked the US to take over, which it did. Truman’s speech implied that the revolt was being directed by Moscow, which was untrue.
But the American and other Western ruling classes were not particularly eager to let facts obstruct the required propaganda campaign. A nuclear attack was one of the options for destroying the Soviet Union and the Communist movement that threatened private property and private profits. As Göring had pointed out this meant that fear had to be implanted in the hearts of the Western population. Targeting the Soviet Union required describing it as a military as well as an ideological menace. Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of a former Nazi general and his assistants in the SS.
The Gehlen organization
Major-General Reinhard Gehlen had been head of Nazi Germany’s intelligence operations on the Eastern Front. As such he was deeply involved in the torture, interrogation and murder of about 4 million Soviet prisoners.
By 1944 it was clear to Gehlen and other high-ranking army officers that Germany was going to lose the war. They began preparations for saving their skins by offering to make themselves useful to the Western Allies.
Gehlen’s unit had developed a large store of information about the Soviet Union, e.g. its infrastructure, industry and military organization. It also claimed to have comprehensive contacts with underground anti-Communist espionage agents. In the spring of 1945 Gehlen instructed his aides to pack the archives in metal boxes and bury them in a forest in Austria. In May 1945 he and his chief aides surrendered to the American Counterintelligence Corps in the US zone of Germany.
He quickly identified a US Army captain who shared his views about the USSR, and then offered to turn over his archives and contacts to the US. The captain bypassed standard channels and went directly to the top. According to Christopher Simpson, within a few months the idea of using Gehlen was supported by the General Edwin Siebert, head of US Army intelligence in Europe, and General Walter Bedell Smith, chief of Staff of the Supreme (Western) Allied Command. Allen Dulles, head of the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, was also informed.
Gehlen and three assistants were secretly taken to Washington in August 1945 for a so-called de-briefing. Gehlen’s offer obviously harmonized with the US government’s view of the Soviet Union. Before the end of the year, Gehlen and virtually all his high-ranking officers had been freed and the new “Gehlen Organization” had been created. It was installed by the US Army in a former Waffen SS training facility near Pullach, Germany and was based there for many years afterward.
The Gehlen organization was staffed by many former Nazis, including two particularly bestial figures, SS Brigadeführer Franz Six and SS Standartenführer Emil Augsburg, who had worked under Adolf Eichmann and headed some of the death squads known as Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern front.
Six was one of the many well-educated middle-class university graduates who eagerly served the Nazi Party, which he had joined in 1930. He was a professor in Law and a dean of the law faculty at the University of Berlin. After he joined Gehlen in 1946 he was denounced to an American de-nazification commission and tried by an American military tribunal in 1948, at which he was sentenced to twenty years in prison for war crimes. General Siebert could not intervene publicly, of course.
But like many other Nazis who were imprisoned after the war, Six was quickly released. After four years he was given clemency by none other than the Wall Street banker John McCloy, then the US High Commissioner for Germany. Six was only one of a large number of Nazis who received clemency from McCloy, as shown in Chapter 11.
The clemency decision for Six specifically approved him for service under Gehlen, and within a few weeks he was back at work in the Pullach facility. In 1961 Six testified as a defense witness in the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel.
As a leading expert in the Gehlen organization, Six’ murderous past became irrelevant. Simpson quotes CIA Director Allen Dulles: “He’s on our side, and that’s all that matters”.
SS Standartenführer Dr. Emil Augsburg had obtained “extraordinary results” in terms of the mass murder of Jews in the Soviet Union, according to his dossier in the SS files. Under Gehlen he maintained post-war contact with so-called émigré groups, i.e. Fascists from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He was highly regarded as an expert on foreign policy, according to Simpson.
Gehlen’s organization fulfilled the expectations of his US handlers, churning out endless reports on the imaginary threat comprised by the Soviet Union, After Truman established the CIA in 1947, Gehlen’s reports and analyses were “simply retyped onto CIA stationery and presented to President Truman without further comment in the agency’s morning intelligence summaries”.
The “information” from Gehlen was directly contradictory to the previously mentioned US Army appraisals of the Soviet Union as a non-existent threat. By 1948 the input from Gehlen had provoked a reversal of these assessments, so that the Soviet Union was now said to be preparing for an attack on the West.
The input from Gehlen was used in Washington to justify not only the aggressive US policy toward the USSR, but also decades of huge appropriations of money to feed what is often called the US military-industrial complex.
In the opinion of Victor Marchetti, a former CIA chief analyst of Soviet strategic war plans and capabilities,
Gehlen had to make his money by creating a threat that we were afraid of, so we would give him more money to tell us about it… In my opinion, the Gehlen Organization provided nothing worthwhile for understanding or estimating Soviet military or political capabilities in Eastern Europe or anywhere else (cited by Simpson).
Arthur Macy Cox served in the secret intelligence branch of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. After the war he helped organize the CIA, and worked for it until 1961. He is quoted in Simpson’s book regarding the information from Gehlen that the Soviet Union was about to attack the US: “[That was] the biggest bunch of baloney then, and it’s a bunch of baloney today.”
National Security Directive 68
But truth-seeking was not the function of the Gehlen organization. Its purpose was to legitimize the mythology of the Soviet threat, and it succeeded. The definitive statement of the mythical threat is National Security Council Directive 68, April 1950, which amounted to a declaration of war on the Soviet Union. The principal author of the directive was Paul Nitze, a vice-president in the Wall Street investment banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co.
NSC 68 was officially a response to a presidential directive of 31 January 1950:
“That the President direct the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to undertake a reexamination of our objectives in peace and war and of the effect of these objectives on our strategic plans, in the light of the probable fission bomb capability and possible thermonuclear bomb capability of the Soviet Union.”
In language reminiscent of the apocalyptic visions of the Judeo-Bolshevik threat that were central to Nazi propaganda, Chapter 1 of NSC 68 stated that the world was now polarized between two great powers, and (emphasis added)
…the Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. Conflict has, therefore, become endemic and is waged, on the part of the Soviet Union, by violent or non-violent methods in accordance with the dictates of expediency. With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction, every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war.
On the one hand, the people of the world yearn for relief from the anxiety arising from the risk of atomic war. On the other hand, any substantial further extension of the area under the domination of the Kremlin would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled. It is in this context that this Republic and its citizens in the ascendancy of their strength stand in their deepest peril.
The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself. They are issues which will not await our deliberations. With conscience and resolution this Government and the people it represents must now take new and fateful decisions.
As Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler often said, civilization was at stake. The basic conflict was between the alleged slave society that had been established in the Soviet Union and the free society in Hitler’s Third Reich, and subsequently, the United States of America, on which the role of chief defender of The Free World had been imposed.
The United States, as the principal center of power in the non-Soviet world and the bulwark of opposition to Soviet expansion, is the principal enemy whose integrity and vitality must be subverted or destroyed by one means or another if the Kremlin is to achieve its fundamental design.
The USSR was the aggressor, as Hitler had pointed out, and the task of the US was to defend the world against it. Like Hitler, NSC 68 turned the truth upside down. Although the US consciously intended to destroy the Soviet Union, it was the latter which was described as the aggressor.
USC 68 clearly implies is that if the people of a nation currently dominated by the capitalist system were to attempt to break out of it and establish an alternative society, or even to change a government supported by the US, this would be immediately attributed to the evil machinations of the Kremlin and would justify intervention by the US and/or its allies, as in Greece. For to the Western ruling class it was and is inconceivable that anyone would consciously choose an alternative to capitalism.
The text of NSC 68 does not provide any evidence for the claim that the leaders of the Soviet Union wanted to rule the world, nor does it explain how the repeated Soviet proposals for a unified, denazified and demilitarized Germany would help achieve their goal. As late as 1952, the Stalin government proposed once again that Germany be reunited and demilitarized. The Western allies and West German conservative chancellor Konrad Adenauer ignored the proposal.
The policies of the Soviet Union after 1945 bore no resemblance to the fantasy created by NSC 68. Christopher Layne:
Simply put, in World War II’s aftermath Soviet behavior across the chessboard did not reflect the orthodox/neo-orthodox caricature (shared by many U.S. decision makers following World War II) of the Soviet Union as a predatory, aggressive, ideologically motivated state bent on attaining world domination.
West Germany had already been created by the time NSC 68 was written, and the directive states that “The idea that Germany or Japan or other important areas can exist as islands of neutrality in a divided world is unreal, given the Kremlin design for world domination”. The nations which had recently been defeated and were still dominated by the capitalists who had run them in the 1930s were now to become allies of the US in the inescapable conflict with the Soviet Union.
The fundamental purpose of the United States “…is to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.” In plain English, this means that a favorable climate for investment by US capitalists must be maintained, both domestically and abroad.
The directive explained that the Soviet threat must be contained by every possible means, including diplomacy. But force must be used if necessary, as the Joint Chiefs had already decided. Falsely claiming that US military power was declining relative to the increasing strength of the Soviet Union, NSC 68 went on to explain that a massive program of investments was needed to expand the military capabilities of the US, which must be prepared for a nuclear war that would probably be started by the USSR. Effective defense and containment required
a build-up of military strength by the United States and its allies to a point at which the combined strength will be superior…both initially and throughout a war, to the forces that can be brought to bear by the Soviet Union and its satellites.
After a detailed examination of present and future capabilities for nuclear war in the USSR and the US, NSC 68 concluded once again that
The gravest threat to the security of the United States within the foreseeable future stems from the hostile designs and formidable power of the USSR, and from the nature of the Soviet system…The risk of war with the USSR is sufficient to warrant, in common prudence, timely and adequate preparation by the United States.
The US must therefore act
by means of a rapid and sustained build-up of the political, economic, and military strength of the free world, and by means of an affirmative program intended to wrest the initiative from the Soviet Union, confront it with convincing evidence of the determination and ability of the free world to frustrate the Kremlin design of a world dominated by its will.
The text ends by recommending that president Truman approve NSC 68, and that he should
Direct the National Security Council, under the continuing direction of the President, and with the participation of other Departments and Agencies as appropriate, to coordinate and insure the implementation of the Conclusions herein on an urgent and continuing basis for as long as necessary to achieve our objectives.
The US must prepare for a protracted conflict with the Soviet Union which should end in the elimination of the Communist threat. The directive asserted that “…we must with our allies and the former subject peoples seek to create a world society based on the principle of consent”. During the 52 years since the directive was written, the US and its allies have demonstrated repeatedly that consent means subordination to capitalist interests, which must be imposed by wars of aggression if necessary, most recently in Libya.
Remilitarizing West Germany
By the time the Western powers established the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, the subject of German rearmament was already being discussed.
Implementation of the strategy outlined in NSC 68 required remilitarizing West Germany. In 1949 US Secretary of State Dean Acheson announced that “no really valid plan for the defense of Western Europe” – against the nonexistent Soviet threat – could be developed without West Germany. The British and French were initially opposed, rather halfheartedly, but after a good deal of discussion they eventually agreed. In 1955 West Germany became a member of NATO.
As far as I know, the NATO charter does not include any reference to Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Potsdam agreement, which begins: “The purposes of the occupation of Germany by which the Control Council shall be guided are: (i) The complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany and the elimination or control of all German industry that could be used for military production”.
According to the mainstream version, the decision to remilitarize West Germany was largely a result of the Korean War, which was proof of Soviet aggression. It supposedly began on 25 June 1950 when a Communist puppet government in the northern zone attacked the Republic of Korea (ROK), which the US had established in the southern zone. However, the war was basically the outcome of US policies in South Korea.
Korea had been a colony of Japan since 1910. During World War 2 the US and the USSR had agreed that Korea would temporarily be divided into two zones until elections could be held. But the people of Korea were intent on establishing their own democracy, and they showed alarming tendencies that included organizing a spontaneous movement which aimed at building a nation-wide socialist economy.
Shortly before US troops arrived in Korea in September 1945, commanding general John Reed Hodge told his officers that Korea “was an enemy of the United States” (cited in Martin Hart-Landsberg, Korea: Division, Reunification & US Foreign Policy, Monthly Review Press 1998). Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and his book is a well-documented exposure of the standard mythology on Korea.
The US Army suppressed the popular movement and set up a military government that cooperated with Korean capitalists and major landowners, most of whom had collaborated with the Japanese colonial administration. The governmental departments were staffed largely by the same Koreans who had worked for that administration.
Trade unions were repressed and a political purge was initiated. Hart-Landsberg: “…the number of prisoners in the south rose from 17,000 in August 1945 under the Japanese to more than 21,000 in December 1947 under the US occupation. By the end of 1949, political prisoners numbered around 30,000, of these approximately 80 percent charged with being Communists”.
Although the vast majority of the Korean people did not want their country divided, the US military government arranged elections within the southern zone in May 1948. The elections were restricted to candidates approved by the US, which established the Republic of Korea (ROK) on 15 August 1948. The division of Korea was a fact. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established on 9 September. The pattern of events was remarkably similar to those in post-war Germany. Hart-Landsberg shows that the government of the DPRK was by no means a puppet of the Soviet Union, with whom it was often in conflict.
The people in the south rebelled, but the rebellion was crushed by the ROK army, under the direction of US commanders. Fighting between the armed forces of the two Koreas was initiated by the south in May 1949. Clashes continued over the following twelve months.
On 25 June 1950 the US ambassador to the ROK informed Washington of “partially confirmed” reports that North Korean forces had invaded the South. The partially confirmed reports were treated as fully confirmed by Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who persuaded the UN Security Council to give the US unrestricted permission to initiate a war on the Korean peninsula. The Soviet Union was boycotting the council sessions in protest against its refusal to admit a representative of the People’s Republic of China, which had been established in 1949 following the successful Communist-led revolution.
Even before the resolution was adopted, president Truman had announced that the Communist movement was intensifying its efforts to achieve global domination: “The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war” (cited in Hart-Landsberg). He then ordered US air and naval forces to enter the battle.
In contrast to the mainstream version, Hart-Landsberg writes “Hard evidence linking the Soviet Union to the June 15 fighting is lacking…The best explanation of what happened on June 25 is that Syngman Rhee [ROK president and a fervent promoter of capitalism] deliberately initiated the fighting and then successfully blamed the North”.
This view is confirmed by I. F. Stone, I.F. The Hidden History of the Korean War, Monthly Review Press 1971. Using only publicly available documentation, Stone shows that the US had been planning to ignite a conflict on the Korean peninsula.
A cease-fire was arranged on 27 July 1953, but the US has never signed a peace treaty with the DPRK and continues to oppose reunification. In the course of the war the US and the ROK unleashed a holocaust on the people of North Korea, as shown in Chapter 13.
Fuelling the growth of the US military-industrial complex
The Korean War was a tailor-made confirmation of the Soviet menace described in NSC 68. It not only served as a pretext for remilitarizing West Germany, but also contributed vigorously to the growth of the Japanese and West German economies on the basis of large-scale US orders for military supplies and industrial products.
It also enabled the Truman administration to win support from a previously reluctant public for a gigantic long-term armaments program within the US that was in line with the strategy defined in NSC 68. As in Nazi Germany, the continuous propaganda about the Soviet menace facilitated the rapid growth of a war industry, which became the mightiest in world history.
“On its own merits, NSC 68 could not generate the funds to restore American conventional power or revitalize NATO’s military structure. Historian Paul Hammond and others have argued that without the spark of the Korean War, the most that the supporters of NSC 68 could expect was only an additional $3,000,000,000. This was a negligible sum by NSC 68 standards. After the outbreak of the Korean War in June, however, virtually all debates were set aside. Truman, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and the Army relied on NSC 68’s arguments to guide its decisions on budget supplements while it was still unapproved as a formal policy. In early September, the JCS submitted and Congress approved the first supplement of $11,600,000,000. Within weeks, the JCS asked for a second supplement of $16,800,000,000 which the President signed into law on 6 January 1951. Truman finally approved NSC 68 as a national security policy on 30 September 1950. By 31 May 1951, the military budget swelled to $48,000,000,000, nearly quadrupling the prewar authorization…
“By 1955, five years later, the Army had expanded from 600,000 soldiers and ten divisions to 1,500,000 soldiers and twenty divisions. Army appropriations nearly tripled, from $6,000,000,000 before Korea to $17,000,000,000 by the end of the war. The Army did not drop much below 900,000 men during the Cold War and annual budget allocations fluctuated between $9,000,000,000 and $10,000,000,000. Equally important, the core of the Army’s Cold War force structure, embodied in the Seventh Army, was adequately “sheltered” overseas in NATO and away from the budgeteers.” (David T. Fautua, The ‘Long Pull’ Army: NSC-68, the Korean War, and the Creation of the Cold War U.S. Army, Journal of Military History, Vol. 61, no. 1, January 1997, available at http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/longpull.htm).
As the US military establishment expanded, the remilitarization of West Germany continued, relying on experienced Nazi war criminals. By 1950, the leaders of the US ruling class had established the financial, military and ideological framework for the next four decades of the war on Communism. The champions of capitalism had the Soviet Union squarely in their sights.