THE COLD WAR: PART II
James R. Bennett
See Change No. 255 (Sept. 1998) pp. 10-16 for Part I on causes.
The United States (US) and the Soviet Union (SU) mirrored each other in creating and expanding the Cold War. The destructive consequences of that long ideological and economic competition were caused by both countries. What follows is a chronological account of the consequences wholly or partly attributable to the
, whose propaganda system (the government-corporate-military-media-education complex) for forty-five years attributed all wrongdoing to the SU. US
Various dates or events have been cited by various scholars for the beginning of the Cold War: Pres. Truman’s cancellation of Lend Lease to the SU the day after Germany surrendered (May 8, 1945); Truman’s secrecy at the Potsdam Conference (July 17-August 2, 1945) about the successful test of the atomic bomb on July 15; the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9; Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton , MO, March 5, 1946; Truman’s threat (March 1946) to send battleships to the Mediterranean if the SU did not remove its troops from Iran; the civil war in Greece (1946-49) and the resulting Truman Doctrine (1947) supporting anti-Communist forces there and around the world; etc. In these origins lie many of the consequences of the Cold War, which are often inseparable from its causes: the arms race, the secrecy, the bellicosity, the organizing into belligerent camps, the good-evil dichotomies.
(Words in bold denote specific consequences of the Cold War.)
Two patterns particularly become evident in the following history, which one historian has called global and domestic McCarthyism. Underlying and energizing both are widespread ignorance, unrelenting bigotry, and intense hostility, the familiar three bully brothers of war.
March 12, 1947: The Truman Doctrine formalizes the Cold War: Marshall Plan money for
Western Europe only (1947); Four Point Program aid for the rest of the world (1948); NATO Western Europe anti-Soviet military alliance (1949).
March 21, 1947: Domestic repression intensifies, one of the worst of the consequences of the Cold War. Truman requires loyalty investigations of all federal employees and forbids government employment to Communists and Communist sympathizers, bot h ironically Stalinist, anti-democratic, unconstitutional actions. Taft-Hartley Act denies use of the National Labor Relations Board to unions with Communists.
July 26, 1947: National Security Act signed by Truman creating the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Council (NSC). The National Security State (NSS) is another disaster of the Cold War, setting the
on a path of international interventions. US
Another major event in the intensification of witch hunting: October 20, 1947, the House committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), under J. Parnell Thomas, conducts its first hearings concerning alleged Communist influence within the
Hollywood film industry. The Ten –writers and directors mostly—were imprisoned for refusing to testify. Then the film industry began its blacklisting of Communists, Communist sympathizers, and associates. Hollywood
Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, North Korea, and Czechoslovakia go Communist; Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) links Communist parties in E. and W. Europe; Berlin Airlift begins in 1948.]
May 16, 1948:
U.S. journalist George Polk’s body is found in . His murder by the brutal pro-U.S. anti-communist Greek government is another example of how questionable were so many of our despotic “free world” allies. Salonika Bay
July 20, 1948: Leaders of US Communist Party arrested under the Smith Act; convicted in 1949.
Arms race heats up: September 23, 1949, SU’s atomic bomb explosion announced.
February 9, 1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy first gains national prominence for claiming to have a list of 205 Communists within Truman’s State Dept. (the claim was false).
Right-wing attacks Truman’s State Dept. for “losing
” after Mao’s victory. US refuses to recognize the People’s Republic of China (until 1979). China
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg arrested on June16, 1950 for spying, convicted in 1951, and executed in 1953.
Korean War begins June 25, 1950.
Repression widens: McCarran Internal Security Act passes Congress over Truman’s veto: established concentration camps for Communists, required all Communist-dominated organizations to reveal their members and contributors.
1951: More global anti-communist alliances: with the
Philippines, Australia, New Zealand; Greece and Turkey join NATO; military assistance to . Yugoslavia US military bases in . Britain
Arms race expanding with dire consequences for an open democracy. April 22, 1952: largest atomic bomb explosion by US. Oct. 3:
explodes its first atomic bomb; US explodes first hydrogen bomb. From 1953 to 1961 the Great Britain alone produced some 28,000 nuclear weapons, from 1,200 to 30,000, one of the most perilous of all Cold War consequences and a history difficult to fathom. One explanation is the spying, secrecy, and deceit on the part of our leaders, their propaganda and disinformation, intended to sedate the public. The FBI infiltrated peace groups and, for example, collected 49 volumes on the Women’s Strike for Peace alone. Eisenhower in 1953 urged the omission of the word “thermonuclear” from Atomic Energy Commission press releases, to keep the public “confused as to fission and fusion.” In 1958 the Administration kept its Pacific atmospheric nuclear tests secret from the public. The government suppressed studies showing relationships between leukemia in southwestern US and nuclear testing. These examples can be duplicated in the thousands. Yet there was a large and active peace movement. Despite its achievements (the negotiation and ratification of numerous “arms-control” treaties, and restraint in the use of nuclear weapons in war since 1945), however, the nuclear race continues today. Utah
Repression expands: 1951-52 HUAC enlarged investigation of film industry forcing witnesses to name alleged communists; appeals to the Fifth-Amendment resulted in blacklisting. Senator McCarthy’s aides, Roy Cohn and David Schine tour US European libraries, claim to have found some 30,000 pro-Communist books, removed and in some cases burn books by about 40 authors.
June 19, 1953: Sovietphobia causes
’ execution, the first civilians ever put to death for espionage. Rosenbergs
Arms race. August 14, 1953: SU explodes its first thermonuclear bomb.
Repression/Subversion of Bill of Rights: October, 1953: Senator McCarthy opens hearings on U.S. Army allegedly harboring Communists at one base. Pres. Eisenhower orders firing of federal employees who invoke the Fifth Amendment before a congressional committee.
Total War. Jan. 11, 1954: Dulles announces
US war policy now massive nuclear retaliation; long development of air war policy reaches unrestrained climax. US
Nuclearism. March 1, 1954: Radioactive debris from Pacific Bikini atoll nuclear testing sickens crew of Japanese fishing boat.
Empire. Following Communist-led Vietminh defeat of the French Army May 7, 1954, US agrees to national elections but then refuses to sign the accords and blocks elections.
Fanaticism of domestic anti-communism reaches another
when J. Robert Oppenheimer loses his security clearance, June 1, 1954. high point
Fanaticism of global anti-communist empire reaches another peak in June 18, 1954, with CIA coup in
, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. Guatemala
August 17, 1954: Mutual security pact with
Taiwan against the People’s Republic of . China
Repression deepens. August 24, 1954: Communist Control Act strengthens the 1950 McCarran internal security Act: 1) severely penalized “Communist-dominated” organizations that failed to reveal members and supporters, 2) revoked collective bargaining rights of Communist-dominated unions, 3) stripped Communist Party of its legal rights. August 27: Communist Part outlawed. Sept. 3: citizenship revoked of anyone convicted of conspiracy to overthrow government by force. (The catch: Smith Act already used to convict followers of Lenin, who [like
Jefferson] advocated the violent overthrow of illegitimate government.) Individual states pass “little Smith Acts” requiring loyalty oaths of state employees and denying communist candidates place on election ballots.
Empire alliances. Sept. 8, 1954: Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (US,
UK, Aus., Fr., NZ, Pakistan, Philippines, ). Thailand
Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania May 14, 1955, create Warsaw Pact to counter remilitarization of and militarized NATO. West Germany E. Germany remilitarized 1956.
Empire threats. Feb. 1, 1956: US and
UK issue Declaration of Washington warning Africa and Asia against receiving aid from the SU.
Repression. March 28, 1956: Internal Revenue Service seizes Communist Party headquarters in several cities for nonpayment of taxes.
Nuclear threatening. May 21, 1956: US explodes airborne hydrogen bomb, demonstrating its capacity to bomb cities/civilian mass targets. Oct. 1956:
Suez Canal war leads to nuclear threats between US and SU.
Nuclear War, deluding the public. .July 20, 1956: nationwide Alert tests readiness for atomic attack.
Eisenhower Doctrine. March 9, 1957: Congress approves military and economic aid to any Middle Eastern country that opposes Communism.
Nuclear defense. April 22, 1957: U.S. Army Air Defense Command prepares protection for cities against nuclear missiles as part of the total war policy.
explodes its first hydrogen bomb. Despite SU appeals to halt testing, US and UK continue. UK
US joins Baghdad Pact versus Communism in the
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman 2009.