Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do



If our democracy is to flourish
it must have criticism,
if our government is to function
it must have dissent.
Only totalitarian governments
insist upon conformity and they—
as we know—do so at their peril.

United States Constitution is a fascinating document. It has within itself the rules by which it can be changed, modified, or eliminated altogether. This flexibility allows the United States to have one of the oldest continuing governments in the world.

Some people, however, believe that the Constitution needs to be "protected" from even the idea of another system of government. Ironically, those who, in order to "defend the Constitution," suspend people's constitutional right to advocate another form of government are the ones who destroy the Constitution. That the people may someday vote out our current form of government and replace it with another is a risk inherent in our form of government. Those who try to eliminate the risk are, simultaneously, destroying the present system.

It has always amazed me that the people who claim the greatest allegiance to the Constitution and our form of government should trust either so little. Why do people seem to think our system of government is so fragile that it can't stand on its own among other ideas of government? Why do they assume a system of government that's been able to flourish for more than 200 years is some fragile butterfly? It is, in fact, an iron butterfly, a system that becomes stronger by being challenged, just as we become stronger through exercise. When not challenged, our government—like our bodies or our minds—becomes flabby, self-indulgent, and complacent.

Their point of departure
is different and their paths diverse;
nevertheless, each seems called
by some secret design of Providence
one day to hold in its hands
the destinies of half the world.
on Russia and America

Now that the "communist menace" has been safely laid to rest, I trust I can make a few frank observations about communism, the United States' reaction to the "communist threat," and how great a menace or threat there really was. Prior to 1989, as someone accurately observed, the only state-sponsored religion in the United States was anti-communism. One of the tenets of this religion was that if you did anything but denounce communism in the most virulent terms, you were a communist. Now that it's all over, however, and we can use the word communist without prefacing it with dirty or goddamn, let's take a look at the growth of anti-communism—and thus the growth of state-enforced political conformity—in the United States.

We never really hated communism as much as we hated the way communism was practiced in the Soviet Union, which was totalitarianism. Understandably, we especially hated Stalin's brand of totalitarianism.

It was hard not to hate Joseph Stalin. Of few people in history can one say, "He was personally responsible for the death of millions." Countries have been responsible for the death of millions, but individuals who can claim this distinction are few. Stalin's politics in a nutshell: Kill those who oppose you; terrorize those who support you. Using this method, Stalin succeeded, by 1924, in gaining total control of Russia. He rounded up millions of dissidents, put them in prison camps (the Gulags) and, essentially, starved them to death.

That Stalin was a monster may not have been good for the Russian people, but historically, it was good for the United States. If Stalin had been a weaker leader (like Mussolini), he probably would have joined ranks with Hitler in the 1930s (like Mussolini) and Hitler would have won World War II.

A reactionary is someone
with a clear and comprehensive
vision of an ideal world
we have lost.

Although communal societies have existed throughout history, what we now call communism was first proposed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-1800s. Suggesting that everything be owned in common was, naturally, a threat to those who already owned everything. Marx and Engels's book, The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, began:

A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police spies.

For the next seventy years, communism made for stimulating political discussion. In 1918, however, the communists won the Russian Revolution—under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin—and the world's first communist state was established.

In the United States by 1918, communism, socialism, anarchism, or any ism other than Americanism was soundly denounced. In early 1920, for example, a national "Red Scare" resulted in the arrests of 2,700 "communists," "anarchists," and other "radicals." The most famous case during this time was that of Sacco and Vanzetti. They were arrested in Massachusetts in 1920, found guilty in 1921, and executed in 1927, primarily because of their unpopular political beliefs. (They were vindicated on July 19, 1977, in a proclamation by the governor of Massachusetts.)

Prior to his execution, Nicola Sacco wrote in a letter to his son Dante:

Help the weak ones that cry for help, help the prosecuted and the victim . . . they are the comrades that fight and fall . . . for the conquest of the joy of freedom for all the poor workers. In this struggle for life you will find more love and you will be loved.

If Karl,
instead of writing a lot
about capital,
had made a lot of it
it would have been much better.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Hitler won the support of the powerful bankers and the industrialists with his virulent anti-communist stance.
In Russia, along came Stalin. After three years in a seminary, Stalin saw the light and became a politician. By 1922, Stalin was the general secretary of the Communist Party. Even though shortly before his death in 1924 Lenin had written a "testament" urging that Stalin be removed from his post for inappropriate and arbitrary conduct, Stalin succeeded Lenin as leader of the Soviet Union in 1924.
Throughout the remainder of the 1920s and the 1930s, Stalin repeatedly sought European and American support in forming an alliance against Adolf Hitler. England, France, and America, however, were not interested in dealing with a "communist," forcing Stalin to enter into a nonaggression pact with Hitler in 1939. While this did not make Hitler and Stalin allies, each agreed not to interfere with the military aggression of the other. This gave Hitler the green light to attack Poland, which he promptly did. World War II was underway.
In 1911, at the age of twenty-nine, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "There is nothing I love as much as a good fight." Roosevelt got what he loved: he was assistant secretary of the Navy during World War I; ran a losing vice-presidential race in 1920; was stricken with polio in 1921, leaving him permanently disabled; successfully ran for president in 1932; battled the depression during the 1930s; and led the Allies to victory in World War II.

We must especially beware
of that small group of selfish men
who would clip the wings
of the American Eagle
in order to feather their own nests.
In the 1930s, while enacting and administering some of the most sweeping socialistic programs in American history (the New Deal), Roosevelt remained, in speeches, violently anti-communist. While running for presidential re-election in 1936, for example, he made this speech:

I have not sought, I do not seek, I repudiate the support of any advocate of Communism or of any other alien "ism" which would by fair means or foul change our American democracy.

Note "by fair means or foul." What Mr. Roosevelt was saying—and as practiced by American politicians before and since—is that communism should not be tolerated even if it were introduced by "fair means."
In other words, even if the communists were legally voted into office, it would be unacceptable to President Roosevelt. That the successful 1936 presidential candidate (and the liberal candidate at that) could make such hostile statements, indicated the tenor of the times—a tenor which became increasingly shrill as the years went by.
When the discussion turned to Stalin, Roosevelt applied the nastiest word one could use in 1940, dictatorship:

The Soviet Union, as everybody who has the courage to face the fact knows, is run by a dictatorship as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world.

Roosevelt was saying Stalin was another Hitler. Roosevelt even had trouble with the Russian people:

I don't know a good Russian from a bad Russian. I can tell a good Frenchman from a bad Frenchman. I can tell a good Italian from a bad Italian. I know a good Greek when I see one. But I don't understand the Russians.

The Marxist analysis
has got nothing to do
with what happened
in Stalin's Russia:
it's like blaming Jesus Christ
for the Inquisition in Spain.
In a radio broadcast on October 1, 1939, Churchill shared Roosevelt's uncertainty of Russia:

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

In addition to being the leader of the Soviet communists, financing communist movements in America, murdering millions, and other distastefulness, the former seminary student had also become an outspoken enemy of all religion. When it was suggested he might want to make a political alliance with the pope, Stalin replied, "The pope? How many divisions has he got?" Stalin was responsible for the adjective godless being grafted onto communism, a phrase which did not help Stalin's—or communism's—standing in American popularity polls.
Anti-communism may have been a national religion in the United States before World War II, but it became a national hysteria after the war. During the cold war, the general public labeled Russia, who had been our vital ally only a few years earlier, our vilest enemy. If the American people had remembered some details about World War II and its peace settlement, we might have seen the "communist menace" in a more realistic perspective, and we might not have spent as much money and destroyed as many lives fighting communism.
In the 1930s, the mood of America was isolationist. We had fought the first world war "to keep the world safe for democracy," and here it was, less than twenty years later, and those quarrelsome Europeans were about to go at it again. The conflict was referred to as the coming "European war" and Americans wanted none of it. With the depression, Americans had enough troubles of their own. In 1937, we were about as likely to return to fight in Europe as we would return to Vietnam today. Various politicians attempted to tell the American people that this war was different—there was this man named Hitler, but the American people, for the most part, were not buying.

I have been forced
to the conclusion
that we cannot win
this war for England,
regardless of how much
assistance we extend.
In a campaign speech on October 30, 1940, President Roosevelt, campaigning for an unprecedented third term, said:

And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.

No less an American hero than Charles Lindbergh visited Germany and returned to inform the American people that there was no comparison between the air power of England and the air power of Germany: Germany would win the European war. Unless we wanted to go over and fight for ourselves, Lindbergh suggested the path of strict neutrality. His voice was persuasive. He was a realist, but did not take into consideration two factors: first, the tenacity of the British people; and, second, their good sense in making in 1940 Winston Churchill their prime minister.
Far from being neutral in the European conflict, Roosevelt leaned heavily toward England. Churchill said, "Give us the tools," and Roosevelt did. Through a program known as lend-lease, the United States supplied Great Britain with ships, airplanes, and armaments. The resulting surge in industrial output, more than any other single factor, helped bring America out of its depression. Although America was not sending fighting men into the European conflict, the United States was no longer officially neutral.

Mistreatment of Jews
in Germany may be considered
virtually eliminated.
U.S. Secretary of State
April 3, 1933
Throughout the 1930s, Winston Churchill, though not holding a public office, had made repeated warnings to England about Nazi Germany. The warnings were ignored. In Churchill's 1936 book, While England Slept, he wrote:

I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf.

Once Hitler's tanks rolled into Poland, then captured Paris, England saw Churchill had been right all along. They made him prime minister, and he sailed to America where he charmed the armaments out of the United States.
The only alliance that could possibly beat Hitler would be one between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. As much as these three differed, they enthusiastically agreed on one crucial subject: their loathing for Herr Hitler.
From a radio broadcast on September 11, 1940, Churchill purred:

This wicked man Hitler, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatred, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shame.

When Hitler without warning broke the nonaggression pact and attacked Russia in June of 1941, Churchill found himself defending Russia.

Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder. Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorized into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia. The terrible military machine, which we and the rest of the civilized world so foolishly, so supinely, so insensately allowed the Nazi gangsters to build up year by year from almost nothing, cannot stand idle lest it rust or fall to pieces. . . . So now this bloodthirsty guttersnipe must launch his mechanized armies upon new fields of slaughter, pillage and devastation.

No matter what happens,
the U.S. Navy is not going to be
caught napping.
U.S. Secretary of the Navy
December 4, 1941
Secretly, of course, Churchill was thrilled. He knew Hitler's invasion of Russia would take the pressure off England and provide additional proof to the United States that Hitler respected no treaty, territory, or bounds of decency. Hitler would not take over Europe and leave America alone: Hitler's goal was world domination. The attack on Russia made it no longer a European war, but a world war. On July 14, 1941, Churchill said,

We will have no truce or parley with you [Hitler], or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst—and we will do our best.

In December 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States was officially in the war. This achieved, Churchill paused for a moment of self-congratulation with a touch of British wit:

When I warned [the French] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their prime minister and his divided cabinet, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken." Some chicken; some neck.

Like Churchill, Stalin was vindicated in his warnings of Hitler's danger. On November 6, 1942, with Hitler's army only fifty miles from Moscow, Stalin did not flinch:

The Hitlerite blackguards . . . have turned Europe into a prison of nations, and this they call the new order in Europe.

If Stalin had learned
to play cricket
the world might now be
a better place to live in.
In late 1943, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met in Teheran. Although still holding the weakest hand, Stalin was in a better negotiating position than anyone had previously thought possible: he had received a gift from Mother Russia. As she had done with Napoleon in 1812, the worst Russian winter in recent memory attacked Hitler's finest army with a fierceness Hitler had not anticipated. Although the newsreels sent back to Berlin showed naked German soldiers rollicking in the snow and having a jolly good time, the reality was far more somber. The snows of winter and the mud of spring made either advance or retreat impossible. Tens of thousands died, the army was demoralized, and Hitler was faced with his first defeat in the war. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin became, if not comrades, certainly allies.
In his 1943 Christmas Eve Fireside Chat, President Roosevelt assured the people of the United States:

I believe that we are going to get along very well with [Stalin] and the Russian people—very well indeed.

By early 1945, as an allied victory was in sight, all was not so rosy. In February, the "Big Three" gathered in Yalta in the U.S.S.R. Roosevelt had been elected to a fourth term of office. He was very ill. Stalin found Roosevelt's weakened condition disgusting: born rich, well-educated, a lawyer, disabled in adulthood by a disease that struck mostly children, and now in perpetual ill health. That Americans would elect this man as their leader only four months before indicated the pathetic condition of capitalism and the West. Stalin, three years older than Roosevelt, was still robust. A leader, Stalin felt, must be strong, and strength begins with physical power. The very name Stalin—which he chose for himself when he became a revolutionary—meant "man of steel."

You can no more win a war
than you can win an earthquake.
Stalin was feeling strong politically, too. What he brought to the conference table was not insignificant: Stalin had lost 20 million people in the war, compared to Roosevelt's 407,000, and Churchill's 378,000. There was no doubt that had Stalin given in to Hitler in 1941, the war would be over and Hitler would be the winner. Stalin considered himself, then, a full partner in the war and, as an equal victor, was entitled to a full share of the spoils.
Roosevelt and Churchill had other ideas.
It wasn't that Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to take more of the spoils than Stalin; Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to give them back to the Germans. Stalin was incensed. When you lose a war, you lose your land: that's what wars were about. If you win a war, you win the land—especially when you are the one attacked. Stalin had not lost 20 million Russians for nothing: he had every intention of expanding the Soviet empire, and that was going to include his fair share of Germany and the lands conquered by Germany earlier in the war.
Roosevelt and Churchill had no designs on Europe—particularly Germany. Germany, they felt, still belonged to the German people: had they not been taken over by Hitler and his SS, they would never have gone to war. Besides, argued Roosevelt and Churchill, Stalin was playing by the old rules of war: Stalin wanted material booty; Roosevelt and Churchill were fighting for ideology, not land.

The arts of power and its minions
are the same in all countries
and in all ages.
It marks its victim; denounces it;
and excites the public odium
and the public hatred,
to conceal its own abuses
and encroachments.
Stalin had never heard such nonsense. He maintained that all Germans seriously opposed to Hitler had left Germany, been eliminated, or were in concentration camps. The vast majority of the people Roosevelt and Churchill wanted to give Germany back to were firmly behind Adolf Hitler, and had been since at least the first military victories. Besides, this is what happened at the end of World War I: Germany was given back to the German people, who, within two decades, had rearmed and started another world war.
Stalin thought Roosevelt and Churchill's claim that the United States and England fought wars for ideological reasons was particularly ironic: America had declared war on millions of Native Americans, taken their land, and built a country using the forced labor of African Americans who were savagely taken from their homeland. Less than a hundred years before the Yalta Conference, the United States had still been actively involved in the "relocation" of millions of Native Americans and the "migration" of millions more Africans. How, wondered Stalin, could Roosevelt—less than fifty years after the last Indian surrender, which happened not just within Roosevelt's lifetime but within Roosevelt's memory (he would have been sixteen at the time)—have the nerve to tell Stalin that the rules of war had now been "civilized"? Only three months before the Yalta Conference, on November 4, 1944, while campaigning in Boston, Roosevelt acknowledged:

All of our people all over the country—except the pure-blooded Indians—are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, including even those who came over here on the Mayflower.

Politics is the art
of looking for trouble,
finding it whether it exists or not,
diagnosing it incorrectly,
and applying the wrong remedy.
And how dare Roosevelt criticize Stalin's prison camps (the Gulags)? Didn't Roosevelt have more than 110,000 American citizens of Japanese descent rounded up and, without trial, sent to prison camps in the United States? And, speaking of Japan, why was Japan in this war?
Until the mid-1800s, Japan was a fiercely isolationist "floating kingdom." It was content to be completely uninvolved with the rest of the world and remain "floating in the middle of the sea." In 1853, Commander Perry arrived with his gunboat diplomacy. He was intent not on conquering, but on opening trade routes. (Much more civilized than war.) If, however, the United States had left Japan in its 1853 feudal, shogun-dominated state, it would have been about as formidable in the 1940s as, say, Guam. Only eighty-eight years after the American gunboats forced Japan to become a trading partner, who was surprised that Japan would take its revenge by dropping bombs on the modern-day American gunboats at Pearl Harbor?
In a speech to the United States Congress nineteen days after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill asked indignantly, "What kind of people do [the Japanese] think we are?" They think, Sir Winston, that we are a pushy people who used gunboats to open up trade with a country that wanted nothing more from the world than to be left alone. "They want to be left alone, do they? FIRE!"
And as for England, although Churchill gave speeches which included lines such as, "We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect," Britain was still, in fact, an imperialist nation: England dominated several countries and had absolutely no intention of giving up control of them after World War II. Although by 1945 the sun occasionally set upon the British empire, it was not sundown for long. India was the perfect example. England had occupied and exploited the country for hundreds of years, and it was not about to stop. Let us not forget Winston Churchill's words about the man who would eventually force England to leave: Mahatma Gandhi.

It is . . . nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal Palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King . . .

I can retain neither respect
nor affection for a Government
which has been moving
from wrong to wrong
in order to defend
its immorality.
on Britain
So, perhaps Germany would be Russia's India, or, perhaps it would be Russia's Africa, supplying slave labor for Russian agriculture, or, perhaps Russia would populate Germany and "relocate" the Germans as the United States had the Native Americans.
Stalin maintained, whatever he planned to do with his portion of Germany after the war was his business, and it was not that of either England or the United States.
To add insult to injury, Roosevelt and Churchill wanted to bring France in as a full partner in the postwar division of Germany. France! Its "impregnable" Maginot line was a joke: Germany simply took Belgium and went around it. France fell in six weeks. France had refused an alliance with the Soviet Union when Stalin offered it in the 1930s. Why should Stalin give away any of Germany to them? By rights, France should be part of the spoils to be divided: it had lost to Germany, and now Germany was about to lose to the Allies. In Stalin's view, France had surrendered its sovereignty in 1940.

Religion may
in most of its forms
be defined as
the belief that the gods
are on the side
of the Government.
Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin reached a compromise: Russia would agree to remain in the war until the victory in Japan was won; Germany would be occupied by four countries, including France; Russia would have full control of the countries east of Germany, but Poland would be guaranteed a representative form of government; and a United Nations would be formed as soon as the war was over.
And so, back to war.
President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, the victory of the largest battle in his career—World War II—clearly in sight: Germany surrendered less than a month later. Vice-president Truman took over as president and the nation simultaneously mourned the loss of Roosevelt and celebrated the victory in Europe. Harry S. Truman was, if nothing else, a realist.

My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth there's hardly any difference.

In his first message to Congress on April 16, 1945, he gave his view of the post-war world:

The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.

This concept was directly counter to Stalin's, who believed that three powers had won the war and three powers should divide the world. When Truman, Churchill, and Stalin gathered at Potsdam in mid-summer 1945, the chill of the coming cold war was in the air. As at Yalta, Stalin brought the same trump card: war casualties. In terms of the dead, Stalin paid a higher price than all the Allied countries combined. (Roughly half of all World War II casualties were Russian.)

For in politics as in religion
it is equally absurd to aim
at making proselytes
by fire and sword.
Heresies in either
can rarely be cured by persecution.
The Federalist
To the Potsdam Conference, however, Truman (whose favorite game was poker) came to the table holding a wild card that would guarantee him the winning hand again and again: the day before the conference began, on July 16, the first atomic bomb was successfully exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Although Roosevelt may not have been strong physically, he was smart. When Roosevelt took office in 1932, he organized what was called the Brain Trust. He sought the power of intellect, ideas, and creativity to help solve the formidable problems facing the country. World War II was won because, at the beginning of the war, the West, inferior in armaments, had a slight technological advantage. Although Britain did not have the air power (brute force) of Hitler's Luftwaffe, England had radar, giving it information. Before a British plane left the ground, Air Command knew where the German planes had entered English airspace, how many there were, and at what speed they were flying. Without radar, England would have lost the war.
Another example of brain over brawn was the British mathematical genius who, early in the war, broke the Nazi code. By intercepting radio communications, Britain knew of German ship and submarine movements, as well as other vital military information. Germany was quite certain it was protected by its "unbreakable" code. One brain unlocked the information without which England would have fallen.
Hitler appreciated brains and technology, too. His "flying bombs" brought untold destruction to British cities. When his rocket bomb, the V-1, was first dropped on England toward the end of the war, the devastation was so great and the potential devastation so awesome that the news was kept from the British people.

Do you mean to tell me
you are actually going to eat
that corpse soup?
A frequent chide to dinner guests
about to eat soup containing meat.
Hitler was a devout vegetarian.
What cost Hitler some of his best technology—and the war—was his pathological antisemitism. The finest Jewish scientists, mathematicians, and inventors either died in Hitler's concentration camps or fled the country. One was Albert Einstein. On August 2, 1939, relocated to America, he wrote a letter to President Roosevelt discussing the wartime possibilities of E=mc2:

This new phenomenon [atomic energy] would also lead to the construction of bombs. . . . A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port, together with some of the surrounding territory.

Stalin, in direct contrast to the technological West, fought the war in the time-honored tradition of "throw more troops at the enemy." In creating the love of country and fear of retribution necessary for whole towns and regiments to fight to the bitter end, Stalin was unmatched. When it came to ideas, well, let's just say that Stalin would never have been part of Roosevelt's Brain Trust.

We have grasped
the mystery of the atom
and rejected
the Sermon on the Mount.
And so the hot war, for all practical purposes, ended with the hottest-ever manmade flash in the New Mexico desert on July 16, and the cold war began on July 17 as Truman and Stalin sat down at the poker table in Potsdam.
"Deal," Truman said coolly.
With the atomic bomb, the United States no longer needed Russia's support in the invasion of Japan. The atomic bomb also neutralized Stalin's implied threats concerning Europe that "There are 20 million more Russians where those came from." Stalin knew that England and the United States were not willing to risk high casualties in order to have their way on post-war Germany. England and the United States had this funny quirk: they actually cared about how many troops they lost. Stalin found this a weakness in war: as a general, he only cared if there were more troops available. Stalin mercilessly exploited what he saw as the West's weakness. At Yalta it had worked. At Potsdam it did not. The West now had the power to, with one bomb, succeed where both Napoleon and Hitler had failed: to destroy Moscow.
With the bomb, the West did not just have the winning hand: it owned the casino. Stalin backed off, licked his wounds, and began making other plans. Some say we should have continued the war until Stalin was eliminated; others say Stalin should have been given the Germany he wanted. One side said destroy him; another side said make him a friend. The United States did neither. Stalin left Potsdam humiliated but not weakened.
The cold war had begun.

A really good diplomat
does not go in for victories,
even when he wins them.
Publicly, the Potsdam Conference was labeled a success. U.S. Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson issued the following statement:

Never in the past has there been any place on the globe where the vital interests of American and Russian people have clashed or even been antagonistic . . . and there is no reason to suppose there should be now or in the future ever such a place.

Truman immediately began a plan to rebuild Europe and give it back to the Europeans—including the Germans. Congress approved the spending of—in today's dollars—the equivalent of $100 billion. This rebuilding of Europe has usually been couched in humanitarian terms and, from one point of view, it was a humanitarian venture. Stalin, however, saw it as a military action against Russia and an insult to him personally. The rebuilding of Europe was even administered by a U.S. general and named after him: the Marshall Plan.
Here was the West, returning German control to Germany. Russia shared a border with Germany. England was across the English Channel, and America was across the Atlantic. Just as Hitler had not invaded England or the United States, Stalin reasoned, so, too, Germany's next leader would invade Russia first.
On a more immediate level, Stalin perceived the United States as "buying" the favor of the European people. These were the enemies. Where was the money for the allies? The United States would have a strong presence in Europe—perhaps strong enough in a few years to take over Russia. Stalin began rebuilding Russia, but always with a cautious eye on the West.

When the tyrant has disposed
of foreign enemies by conquest
or treaty, and there is nothing
to fear from them,
then he is always stirring up
some war or other,
in order that the people
may require a leader.
The United States had dictated that Japan, only 25 sea miles from the Soviet Union across the LaPerouse Strait, would not be included—even in part—in the Soviet spoils of war. And if you're not happy with this ultimatum, Comrade Stalin, allow us to show you the photographs of Hiroshima. (Some say Truman dropped the bombs as much to intimidate Stalin as to win in Japan.)
Soon, practically all contact between the East and the West was cut off. This rapid deterioration was, officially, kept from the American people, but rumors abounded. After meeting with President Truman at the White House on February 12, 1946, Churchill joked with the reporters,

I think "No Comment" is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.

By the time Churchill addressed Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, however, the lines of the cold war were drawn—and given a name:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

At Nuremberg, only a handful of Nazis were punished; in Japan, the emperor not only got to live, but got to continue as emperor. Germany and Japan were now our friends. Russia, on the other hand, was the new enemy. Anti-communism grew into a frenzy.
In 1949, Stalin exploded a bomb: the same bomb Truman had exploded at Potsdam. Russia now had The Bomb.
Russia's atomic bomb lit a fire under the already overheated Senator Joseph McCarthy. The McCarthy witch hunts began.

The greatest dangers to liberty
lurk in insidious encroachment
by men of zeal,
but without understanding.
Had this era not produced so much tragedy, it would be a good theme for a comedy. Looking back, Joseph McCarthy was absolutely ridiculous. Take, for example, three statements made by him on February 9, 10, and 20, 1950. From these statements, can you answer the question, "How many communists are there in the State Department?":

I have here in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.

Last night I discussed Communists in the State Department. I stated that I had the names of 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Now, I want to tell the Secretary this: If he wants to call me tonight at the Utah Hotel, I will be glad to give him the names of those 57 card-carrying members.

There is a serious question whether I should disclose names to the Senate. I frankly feel, in view of the number of cases—there are 81 cases—that it would be a mistake to disclose the names on the floor. I should be willing, happy and eager to go before any committee and give the names and all the information available.

McCarthy made statements that were so illogical any child should have been able to see through them. In 1951, for example:

The Communists within our borders have been more responsible for the success of Communism abroad than Soviet Russia.

They'll nail anyone
who ever scratched his ass
during the national anthem.
McCarthy was, in fact, a raving paranoid. Consider this quote from Richard Hofstadter's book, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, taken from a speech given by McCarthy on the Senate floor, June 14, 1951:

How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.

Although Truman later claimed, "I've said many a time that I think the Un-American Activities Committee in the House of Representatives was the most un-American thing in America!" he was remarkably silent about it while he was president and while it was happening. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who took over the presidency on January 20, 1953, gave speeches (such as this at Columbia University on May 31, 1954):

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels—men and women who dared to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

Nevertheless, Eisenhower did little to interfere with the House Un-American Activities Committee. It took individual citizens, refusing to cooperate with the committee, to slow the committee from the Stalinesque purge it so desperately wanted. On May 16, 1953, Albert Einstein wrote:

Every intellectual who is called before one of the committees ought to refuse to testify, i.e., he must be prepared . . . for the sacrifice of his personal welfare in the interest of the cultural welfare of his country . . . . This kind of inquisition violates the spirit of the Constitution.

If enough people are ready to take this grave step they will be successful. If not, then the intellectuals of this country deserve nothing better than the slavery which is intended for them.

The highest proof of virtue
is to possess boundless power
without abusing it.
Those who failed to cooperate by "naming names of known communists" were fired, blacklisted, and jailed. To give you an idea of the sort of power the committee thought it had, consider this from Representative J. Parnell Thomas during a House Un-American Activities Committee hearing to a witness who claimed a constitutional right:

The rights you have are the rights given to you by Committee. We will determine what rights you have and what rights you have not got.

The United States was so caught up with its own internal anti-communist witch hunt that it failed to notice the most important event of 1953: the death of its enemy. With Stalin's passing in 1953, the cold war could have been over. All this witch hunting was, apparently, too much fun (and there were darker motives, which we shall get to shortly), so it continued. In 1956, when the Soviet Communist Party denounced Stalin's "policies and personality" (and there's not much more about a political leader you can denounce than that), once again the door was wide open for a warmer relationship with Russia: we could blame the cold war on Stalin, declare the hostilities over, and get on with our lives. Although Stalin's replacement, Nikita Khrushchev, pursued a policy of "peaceful coexistence" and even toured the United States in 1959 (visiting Disneyland and the set of the film Can-Can), he canceled a 1960 Paris Summit Conference when a United States reconnaissance plane was shot down over Russia. The flying of illegal spy planes over Russia was hardly a gesture that would help end the cold war.

If we maintain our faith in God,
our love of freedom,
and superior global air power,
I think we can look to the future
with confidence.
February 1956
To prove that Khrushchev was another Stalin with world domination on his mind, one phrase was repeated over and over: "We will bury you." Khrushchev said this at the end of a longer speech given at the Polish Embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956. The speech ended:

About the capitalist states, it doesn't depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come and see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.

The last two sentences, however, do not appear in either Pravda or the New York Times, both of which printed the complete text of the speech. How did these lines get added? And why? Even the translation, "We will bury you," is inaccurate: a better translation would be, "We will walk on your graves," which only implies disrespect; "We will bury you" implies aggression.
In the artificially heated American environment, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover became a bestselling self-help author. In his 1958 book, Masters of Deceit: The Story of Communism and How to Fight It, Hoover tells us how to spot a communist—and why communists are so difficult to spot:

Once lead this people into war
and they will forget there ever was
such a thing as tolerance.

The communist official will probably live in a modest neighborhood. His wife will attend the corner grocery store, his children attend the local school. If a shoe store or butcher shop is operated by a Party member, the official will probably get a discount on his purchases.

Most Party officials drive cars, usually old-er models. They are generally out late at night, attending meetings. Except for special affairs, communist activity is slight early in the morning. The organizer, coming in around midnight or one o'clock, will sleep late. But that doesn't mean all day. One Southern official was severely censured for sleeping too late; to solve the problem the Party bought him an electric alarm clock.

The questions, "Who perpetuated the U.S. religion of anti-communism?" and "Why?" were answered by President Dwight David Eisenhower on January 17, 1961. During his televised farewell address to the American people, three days before turning over the presidential reins to John F. Kennedy, he said:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. . . .We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Eisenhower spilled the beans—and then went off to play golf. Ike slipped the truth into his speech and slipped out of town. His warning went right over the heads of the American public, where, for the most part, it dangles even today.

All through history
it's the nations that have given
most to the generals
and the least to the people
that have been the first to fall.
Without the threat of communist aggression, the cold-war build-up of the military—with its blank-check policy with industry—would have been entirely unnecessary. If Russia was our friend, who would be our enemy? There was none. A wartime economy, however, is terrific for industry. In a wartime economy, industry makes guaranteed profits with no fear of competition or need for efficiency. The typical defense contract reads: "Spend what you need, deliver it when you can, pay the executives of your company whatever you like, and add a 15 percent profit." What industry wouldn't want that kind of contract rather than competing for profits in a free marketplace? Capitalism is work. Defense Department contracts are play.
Just as a wartime economy does not require industry to follow the precepts of capitalism, so, too, in time of war, the military is not required to follow democratic principles. The military structure, of course, is precisely the opposite of a democracy; the will of the people is not communicated from below: orders are passed down from above. For those who love power, democracy is inconvenient. The military is the power seeker's paradise.
So, the profit-hungry industrialists and the power-hungry militarists were busy destroying capitalism and democracy in the name of defending capitalism and democracy.
John F. Kennedy knew of the military-industrial complex's power—his father made quite a lot of money with a more primitive form of this economic system. President Kennedy did what he could to work within it. He attempted, for example, to switch from war production to space production. The "space race" was not sold to the American public as a way of advancing humanity's scientific knowledge, but as a way to "beat the Russians to the moon." Kennedy hoped to redirect the anti-communist sentiment into a peacetime activity that would keep the military-industrial complex happy. Alas, a race to the moon was not enough. The military-industrial complex needed a war. The military-industrial complex thought Vietnam held all the delicious possibilities of Korea. Kennedy resisted. Many assassination buffs maintain that this resistance is what got Kennedy killed.

If the United States gives up
[in Vietnam] the Pacific Ocean
will become a Red Sea.
October 15, 1965
Within weeks of the assassination, according to Stanley Karnow's book, Vietnam: A History, at a 1963 Christmas party, President Lyndon Baines Johnson told some military-industrial complex types, "Just get me elected and you can have your damn war."
Poor Johnson. Here was a man who passed more civil rights legislation than any president in history, and the people he thought would praise him for his agenda of social change were the very ones who attacked him for Vietnam. By 1968, Johnson was fed up and chose not to run again. By this time, however, as one commentator noted, "Our fear that communism might someday take over most of the world blinds us to the fact that anti-communism already has."
The perfect military-industrial presidential candidate? Richard Milhous Nixon. Here's the man who had, as vice-president, successfully defended American industry against none other than Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow in the Kitchen Debates. He was also prone to making such statements as, "What are schools for if not indoctrination against communism?" (Not that his opponent, Hubert Horatio Humphrey, could for a moment be considered soft on communism. Humphrey said, "The greatest risk is communist aggression, communist conquest, and communist advance.")

The belief in the possibility
of a short decisive war
appears to be one
of the most ancient and dangerous
of human illusions.
As a staunch pro-capitalist Republican with strong anti-communist credentials, Nixon could do some things that no liberal democrat would dare to do. For example, as Gore Vidal described it, "Nixon sort of wandered over to Communist China one day in 1972 and made friends with them all." Well, at least that was a billion fewer communists to worry about. But those Russians. We still had to worry about the Russians.
After the Vietnam War was lost in 1973, the domino theory fell, too. One country after another in Southeast Asia did not fall to communist aggression. U.S.-Soviet relations entered into a period of detente, which is Russian for, "We're both really tired; why don't we rest for a while?" Presidents Ford and Carter were happy with this policy. So, apparently, were most of the American people. Ronald Reagan was not. He found pockets of subversive communism in South America, Central America, and, of course, North America. The cold war heated up.
But Russia was not ready for another round. It was bankrupt. As the Iron Curtain came crashing down in the late 1980s and early 1990s, what we found was not a political superpower, but a near-third-world country without roads, industry, communications, or a viable economy. If Russia hadn't been Russia, we would have been giving it foreign aid for decades. As it turns out, Russia was just "putting on a show." (Even the film of Russia's first space walk was later proven to be shot in a film studio.)

Mr. President, would your view
of Communism have been different
if you had gone to Russia
twenty years ago and saw how they
laughed, cried, and were human?

No.  They've changed.
Commentators differ as to when the cold war could have ended. Some say Stalin could have been made a friend in 1945. Others say it could have ended after Stalin's death in 1953. Others say after Stalin's denouncement by even Russia in 1956. John Chancellor's theory, as reported in his book, Peril and Promise: A Commentary on America:

The cold war was a necessity when it began, when the Soviet regime posed a genuine threat to democratic governments. It was a necessity at least until Khrushchev put missiles in Cuba in 1962. After that, its own momentum kept the cold war going until it was stopped by the internal contradictions of the communist system. But while it lasted, life in the U.S. was shaped by it.

If Chancellor's analysis is correct, the Vietnam War was completely unnecessary. Some commentators say after the fall of Vietnam and the failure of communism to spread throughout the Mideast, there was no need for the massive nuclear and military build-up that continued taking place. Looking back, few except the extreme right accept the necessity for the multi-trillion dollar military build-up during the Reagan-Bush years.
Who (or what) kept the fact that Russia was bankrupt from the American people for so long? It wasn't Russia—U.S. intelligence knew it well. Why weren't we told? Do you suppose the initials M-I-C had something to do with it?
What did the cold war cost us? We can start with the 118,000 American military deaths and 256,000 injuries suffered since 1945—most of which resulted from various anti-communist military conflicts. We can add to that a good portion of the accumulated Defense Department budget from 1945 to 1993: a mere $20 trillion. If we hadn't wasted much of this amount in unnecessary defense, the national debt—currently dragging us down—would be a national surplus. In this country alone, the Defense Department has left behind 11,000 sites which are contaminated either by radioactive materials or toxic chemicals. And then there are the all-but-forgotten Vietnam veterans, a disproportionate number of whom fill the ranks of the homeless.

The tendency to claim God
as an ally
for our partisan values and ends
is the source
of all religious fanaticism.
One more thing: these military-industrial people are still in charge. Maybe not the same people, but the same organizations. The Military-Industrial-Complex Playhouse plays on. They're just having a little trouble finding a new leading player: Bush failed. Casting, however, continues in earnest. The religious right keeps the campfires burning, and liberals who worry more about stomping out drug use and gun ownership than preventing others from stomping on the Constitution throw napalm on those campfires.
Meanwhile, the war on drugs is being sold to the American public with the same techniques and even the same terminology as the war on communism. "What's next?" one wonders.
What may be next is any political thought that doesn't fit into the conservative Democrat/Republican range. Libertarians, for example—even though their basic philosophy seems completely in tune with the Constitution—are routinely characterized as kooks who want to let vicious criminals run free, machine guns in hand.
The solution to the cold war—or any other war against unpopular political views, including the war against selected consensual activities—was given in 1961 by George F. Kennan in his book, Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin:

If we are to regard ourselves as a grown-up nation—and anything else will henceforth be mortally dangerous—then we must, as the Biblical phrase goes, put away childish things; and among these childish things the first to go, in my opinion, should be self-idealization and the search for absolutes in world affairs: for absolute security, absolute amity, absolute harmony.

I think one of the by-products
of the communications explosion
is a sort of "corruption fatigue."
We've lost our ability to be shocked
or enraged by the machinations
of politicians. We've been battered
with such frequency that we've
become indifferent.
We're punch drunk with scandal.
John Chancellor talks about the end of the cold war:

The cold war was won by the west, but there were no victory celebrations, no ticker-tape parades. For Americans, the cold war didn't have a real ending. It just stopped, like a movie projector that had run out of film.

There's a lot more film available for that projector, however, and we must be careful to know a movie when we see one. A consensual crime—drug use—currently monopolizes that projector. Other reels are being edited and, if sufficiently menacing political enemies cannot be found, consensual criminals will have to do. Note the horror films the Pentagon (not to mention Jerry Falwell) had ready when it was suggested the military acknowledge the gays already in its ranks. Films are available for all the other consensual crimes, as well. For them to surface, all it takes is someone in power—or a sufficient number of the American people—to seriously suggest legalization.
For a preview, call your favorite bigoted person and suggest that your favorite consensual activity be legalized. Before you can say "United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights," the projector will be threaded, the house lights dimmed, and the next show begun at the Military-Industrial-Complex-Cineplex. Let the good times roll.

Tyranny is always better
organised than freedom.
Concerning the question of our current military spending—several hundred billion borrowed dollars just to keep this behemoth in place—one fact should by now be obvious: Future American wars will be fought against terrorists, not armies. The battles will be fought over which organization seeking dominion over the United States can assemble an atomic bomb in America first—and whether we find out about it in time. Impeccable intelligence, not brute force, is what will be necessary to defend our sovereignty in the twenty-first century.
And what are our intelligence-gathering forces doing? Tracking down drug runners, drug users, pot growers.
As Joni Mitchell wrote in her song, "Marching Toward Bethlehem," based on a poem by W. B. Yeats:

Turning and turning within the widening gyre.
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.
Things fall apart.
The center cannot hold.
And a blood-dimmed tide
is loosed upon the world . . .
The best lack conviction,
given some time to think,
and the worst are full of
passion without mercy.


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