Freedom and Empire in America – A Cold War Identity Crisis

The Rule of Freedom (Courtesy of theruleoffreedom.wordpress.com)

The Rule of Freedom (Courtesy of theruleoffreedom.wordpress.com)

Four decades of Cold War wanderings around the world yielded a few answers to the important questions of life for this itinerant engineer, but one vital query went wanting. Why did the people I meet in Africa, Australia, South America, the Pacific, Europe, and Asia love and embrace me, a lowly American, but hate the country I loved?  Starving under various socio-political-economic systems drove iterations of learning and deepened my belief in the underlying truth and integrity of the governance wrapped by ideals that the founding brothers attempted to frame during the development of the Constitution of the United States.  When did the U.S. stop being the ‘good guys’ and join the roster of ‘bad guys’?

In WWII, the U.S. played the good guys rescuing the world from the nightmares of Hitler and Japan.  U.S. soldiers from farms, factories and villages across the country fought and died in places they did not know existed. There are American soldiers buried in cemeteries in

American Military Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands

American Military Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands

France, Belgium, England, Italy, Luxembourg, Philippines, Netherlands, and Tunisia. In 2012, the Times- Herald’s Alex McRae wrote, “When Netherlands resident Marco Weijers adopted the grave of Newnan’s Albert Partridge, he became one of 8,301 local residents who adopted the grave of an American soldier at the American Military Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.”[1]  The U.S. was far from angelic during WWII, but the overall review was good. Following WWII, the American public pushed to ‘restore its natural order’.  They expected the soldiers to come home, the war machine to be trimmed down smartly and the business of making a living and a life to resume.  Surprise! Peace was a dream and, for a while, it was an illusion.   The Cold War clicked on and the nation’s long journey to the ‘dark side’ began with unsteady first steps. 

Entry into the Cold War (1947-1991) meant that the U.S. viewed the world as either Communist or democratic. The Cold War also fundamentally changed how the U.S. would

conduct business. The National Security Act of 1947 established the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, and the National Security Council, NSC. These two key groups offered the president a forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters and the ability to gather global intelligence (note that there is not a sanction for covert activity at this point).  In the early years, the CIA added a healthy number of employees from Donovan’s old Office of Strategic Services, OSS, the WWII intelligence service, which had been disbanded in 1945.

In 1948, President Truman ordered a review of the CIA’s progress and it is where lawyer and former OSS operative, Allen Dulles debuts for the Cold War. The political dynamics

Col. L. Fletcher Prouty  (Jan 24th 1917 - June 5th 2001)

Col. L. Fletcher Prouty (Jan 24th 1917 – June 5th 2001)

surrounding the CIA are tortured. During a May 6, 1989 interview with Fletcher Prouty regarding his book The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World, Ratcliffe records:[2]

This committee of three men — primarily Allen Dulles — made an extensive study of the activities of the CIA, and in their report to the President, they recommended a move more into the clandestine operations area, and more into the traditional deep intelligence area than the law had visualized.

There was a very interesting aspect about this committee. It was appointed by President Truman in his final year as president, as the successor to Roosevelt. Roosevelt died in ’45 and Truman was the Vice-President, so he hadn’t won an election yet. He was going to run for re-election in late ’48 for a new term beginning in ’49. His opponent was Thomas E. Dewey.

Interestingly, Thomas Dewey’s speech writer during the 1948 campaign against Truman was Allen Dulles. So you see Dulles was riding two horses across this stream. He was technically Truman’s advisor with respect to intelligence matters — he and Jackson and Correa while at the same time he was writing speeches for Thomas E. Dewey strongly opposing the re-election of Truman.

I don’t know whether Truman knew he was writing speeches for Dewey or whether Dewey knew he was working for Truman. I have no way to solve that little problem. But it’s important to understand the effect of that, and it helps you understand the mind of this man Dulles. Dulles would see nothing wrong in that sort of thing. He would see nothing wrong in working for Truman and trying to undercut him by helping Dewey or vice versa.

The result of the Dulles report was National Security Council directive NSC 10/2; the go-ahead for broad-based covert activities. The directive was on the first CIA Director Hillenkoetter’s desk a short nine months later.  The directive created the Office of Special Projects within which it placed covert activities. The Chief of Special Projects, who reported to the CIA director, was appointed by the Secretary of State and approved by the National Security Council. The CIA covert operations authorization was simple: 1. coordination with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2. National Security Council approval of any plans, and 3. provided for action ” against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them.”[3]  It was envisioned that small covert operations might be necessary but it proved to be the birth of nation building in countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Iran as well as wars like Vietnam, Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, the beginning of the empire.

During the Eisenhower administration the brothers Dulles had a cozy little arrangement.

Allen W. Dulles, DCI,  and a shareholder of United Fruit

Allen W. Dulles, DCI, and a shareholder of United Fruit

Allen Dulles headed the CIA and John Foster Dulles was the Secretary of State.  The Dulles brothers were lawyers from a banking family who, when they weren’t working for the government, spent their time at the largest law firm in New York City, Sullivan and Cromwell.   Sullivan and Cromwell’s expertise was and is in representing corporate interests in foreign countries like United Fruit in Guatemala and the antecedent of British Petroleum Company (BP) in Iran.  The Dulles brothers had the means to build a U.S. empire and a definition of freedom that was limited to corporate interests.  In overthrowing governments and waging war, the Dulles brothers were protecting the interests of their former clients.

Left-leaning Mosaddeq was appointed as Iran’s premier in 1951 and immediately began attacking the predecessor of British Petroleum and other British oil companies operating in his country and clients of Sullivan and Cromwell.

Monarchist demonstrators in Tehran downtown, August 26, 1953. (AFP Photo)

Monarchist demonstrators in Tehran downtown, August 26, 1953. (AFP Photo)

Mosaddeq wanted the confiscation and nationalization of the oil fields.

…While British intelligence backed away from the debacle, the CIA continued its covert operations in Iran. Working with pro-Shah forces and, most importantly, the Iranian military, the CIA cajoled, threatened, and bribed its way into influence and helped to organize another coup attempt against Mossadeq. On August 19, 1953, the military, backed by street protests organized and financed by the CIA, overthrew Mossadeq. The Shah quickly returned to take power and, as thanks for the American help, signed over 40 percent of Iran’s oil fields to U.S. companies….[4]

In Guatemala, the story is nearly the same. President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán , also classified as left-leaning, initiated agrarian reforms, which seized unused, prime farmlands and distributed them to the peasants.  As you might expect, this action threatened the agricultural monopoly of the United Fruit Company (UFC) that owned 42 per cent of the arable land of Guatemala.  Before you scream about the commandeering of private property, only a portion of the land was actually purchased by United Fruit; the remainder had been given to the UFC by the military dictatorships that had preceded the Árbenz Government (1950–54).

United Fruit asked both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations for diplomatic, economic, and military help to stop the Guatemalan Decree 900 land reforms.  According to Stephen Kinzer, Truman refused to authorize the overthrow of countries. However, a more receptive audience was found in the Eisenhower administration’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, and his brother, Allen W. Dulles, DCI.  Called Operation PBSUCCESS, the coup d’état was executed between 18th and 27th of June 1954 with a paramilitary invasion by an anti–Communist army of liberation.[5] It was a CIA covert operation.  United Fruit was a client of Sullivan and Cromwell and, after Kennedy fired him, Allen Dulles served on their Board of Trustees.

Stephen Kinzer’s article about Iran and Guatemala[6] quotes Stephen Rabe:

“The C.I.A. intervention began a ghastly cycle of violence, assassination and torture in Guatemala,” said Stephen G. Rabe, a historian from the University of Texas at Dallas and author of ”Eisenhower and Latin America: The Foreign Policy of Anticommunism.”

”The Guatemalan intervention of 1954 is the most important event in the history of U.S. relations with Latin America,” Mr. Rabe said. ”It really set the precedent for later interventions in Cuba, British Guiana, Brazil and Chile. The tactics were the same, the mindset was the same, and in many cases the people who directed those covert interventions were the same.”…

Gasoline depot bombed by CIA rebel air force.

Gasoline depot bombed by CIA rebel air force.

Stephen Kinzer’s new book, The Brothers[7] provides an in depth look at John Foster and Allen W. Dulles.   As I listened to Kinzer being interviewed by Coast to Coast AM’s John B. Wells last Sunday, October 13, 2013, I knew I had one answer to the question of why the U.S.

John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State

John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State

is so soundly hated; the many definitions of freedom.  While I continue to define freedom in the context of Natural Law, the U.S., within three years of the declaration of the Cold War, allowed the Dulles brothers to redefine freedom to mean the protection of select corporate assets in foreign countries.  I had analyzed around it and through it and I even knew to follow the money.  Yet, for sixty years, I held tight to a definition of freedom that had been lost on the U.S.’s trip to the ‘dark side’.

Thank you, Stephen Kinzer, for the blinding flash that pulled me off dead center.  That simple change in freedom’s frame of reference fanned the flame of empire building and destroyed the moral capital of the country that changed the world through the celebration of the individual.  The U.S.’s stellar rise to superpower status during WWII has faded now.  Perhaps the fading of the superpower star grants us time to revisit who we are and what we want to become as a nation.

 


[1] The Times-Herald; January 23, 2012; ALEX McRAE; Adoption of American military graves in Europe common practice; http://www.times-herald.com/local/Adoption-of-American-military-graves-in-Europe-common-practice–2031722

[2] Ratical Org; C H A P T E R   2, Understanding The Secret Team in the Post-World War II Era, Interview with Colornel Fletcher Prouty; http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/USO/chp2_p1.html

[3] The Department of State Office of the Historian; National Security Council Directive on Office of Special Projects; NSC 10/2; http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1945-50Intel/d292

[4] This Day in History; Aug 19, 1953; CIA-assisted coup overthrows government of Iran; http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cia-assisted-coup-overthrows-government-of-iran

[5] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d’état

[6] The New York Times; November 30, 2003; STEPHEN KINZER; Ideas & Trends: Iran and Guatemala, 1953-54; Revisiting Cold War Coups and Finding Them Costly; http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/30/weekinreview/ideas-trends-iran-guatemala-1953-54-revisiting-cold-war-coups-finding-them.html

[7] StephenKinzer.com; The Brothers; http://stephenkinzer.com/

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