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Cold War


  • Originally published 07/29/2014

    Cold War Strategies Are Back in Russia's Playbook

    The theory that history unfolds first as a tragedy and then repeats itself as a farce is not always true. Sometimes, history repeats its tragedy all over again, and with the same terrible consequences.

  • Originally published 03/27/2014

    Dusting off the language of the Cold War

    ?“The cold war dinosaurs who still tramp the corridors and editorial columns of London and Washington seem almost to pine for the virile certainties of 1945-1989,” the columnist Simon Jenkins writes.

  • Originally published 08/19/2013

    Ron Radosh: The Nation’s Continuing Denial of Soviet Espionage during the New Deal Years

    Harry Dexter White, the assistant secretary of the Treasury and the man who created the postwar financial structure and the International Monetary Fund, was arguably the top Communist spy working in our top government agencies during the New and Fair Deal days. As I argued in these pages a while back, economist Benn Steil’s new research not only revealed that White was a Soviet agent, but also brings to the mainstream what many of us have known for years — that the New Deal administration was heavily penetrated by Soviet spies, many of them American citizens who were working for Stalin’s intelligence agencies.

  • Originally published 08/09/2013

    United States ≠ Soviet Union ≠ Nazi Germany

    Credit: LIFE magazine.Ronald Radosh’s riposte to Diana West fantasies about Soviet control over American foreign and military policy during World War II is most welcome and very well done. It is depressing that West’s nonsense finds some fans. Yet error and Radosh’s convincing criticism draws welcome attention to the complexity of World War II and of the alliance of the Western democracies with the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill, who as much as any one person saved Western civilization in 1940 and 1941, put it best. When asked how he, whose political career was bound up with anticommunism since he advocated armed intervention to overthrow the new Bolshevik regime in 1917-1918, could support an alliance with Stalin he famously replied: “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would rise in the House of Commons to make a speech in favor of the devil.” In 1941, Hitler invaded the Hell of Stalin’s Russia and Churchill made a remarkable speech on the BBC to offer an alliance with the previous Soviet foe.

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Secret files reveal Queen’s World War III speech

    British government files from 1983, opened to the public for the first time today, include an official’s view of the message Queen Elizabeth II would have broadcast to the nation in the event of World War III.The speech was drafted as part of a war-games exercise codenamed Wintex-Cimex, in which officials in NATO countries acted out responses to an attack by Soviet-led forces. In 1983, they ended the simulated conflict by launching a limited nuclear strike on the enemy.“I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939″ when World War II was declared, the scenario had the queen telling her subjects at noon on Friday March 4, 1983. “Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.”...

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Documents show Thatcher-Reagan rift over U.S. decision to invade Grenada

    LONDON — Thirty-year-old documents newly released by the British government reveal just how severely America’s decision to invade the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983 tested the warm ties between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan.While the two leaders had a strong and affectionate personal rapport, the British official papers reveal how little warning Mrs. Thatcher was given about the pending military invasion, a move that left the British irritated, bewildered and disappointed. They also show how Mr. Reagan justified the secrecy as a way to prevent leaks, and how the British later concluded that the invasion had in fact been planned long in advance. At one point during tense written exchanges, both leaders claimed, in defense of their opposing approaches to the unrest in Grenada, that lives were at stake....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Austin Goodrich, Cold War CIA officer and CBS correspondent, dies at 87

    Austin Goodrich, an undercover CIA officer during the Cold War who also worked for several years as a CBS television correspondent before his identity was unmasked, died June 9 at his home in Port Washington, Wis. He was 87.He had Alzheimer’s disease, his daughter Kristina Goodrich said.Mr. Goodrich, a rugged onetime football lineman, fought in World War II and later studied in Sweden while he was attending the University of Michigan. He joined the relatively new Central Intelligence Agency soon after his graduation from Michigan in 1949.While stationed in Oslo and Stockholm early in his clandestine career, he sought a suitable occupation to cover his true profession. He assumed a dual identity as reporter and spy....

  • Originally published 07/06/2013

    Moving New Play on the Rosenbergs and 1950s Atomic Secrets

    Ethel Sings: Espionage in High CWalker Space Theater46 Walker StreetNew York, N.Y.The summer of 2013 is the 60th anniversary of the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, accused of selling American atomic secrets to the Soviet Union from about 1943 to the early 1950s. Even though it was later proved that they were guilty, the pair remains political celebrities today.Ethel Sings, by Joan Beber, is a moving drama about the couple, who died in their mid-30s (Ethel was 38, Julius 35), leaving behind two small children, Michael and Robert. Their case brought on several rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, several delays of execution and even a last minute plea to President Dwight Eisenhower. Beber paints a fine portrait of the couple, who went from joining the Communist Party to organizing labor and political rallies to espionage. They were, like some other ultra-liberals of the era, convinced that world was in better hands with the Soviets than the Americans. So they decided to do what they could to help the Soviets. That was their downfall.

  • Originally published 07/06/2013

    Still Preparing for Nuclear War

    Unless there is a substantial public mobilization to end the American government’s reliance on nuclear war, it seems likely that U.S. officials will continue to prepare for it.

  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Indelible memory of Kennedy's speech in Berlin

    A pair of slippers awaits visitors at the entrance of a cozy two-room apartment in Berlin's Westend district -- the kind one might expect in one of Berlin's many old palaces and villas. But those looking for any valuable antiques here will be disappointed. Instead, every inch of wall space is covered with old photographs. The centerpiece of the collection is a black-and-white shot of John F. Kennedy waving from an open limousine.The day Werner Eckert took the snapshot is still vividly engrained in his mind. It was one of the most influential events of the 81 year old's life. On June 26, 1963, the 35th American president came to visit West Berlin in a demonstration of solidarity with the people living in the divided city."There was never anyone like Kennedy before," Eckert says, recalling the visit. "You had a feeling you could immediately become friends with him. He may have been the most powerful man in the world, but his charisma immediately made you lose any reservations."...

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Ted Widmer: Ich Bin Ein Berliner

    Ted Widmer is assistant to the president for special projects at Brown University. He recently edited “Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy.”The last of John F. Kennedy’s extraordinary troika of speeches in June 1963 occurred on this day, 50 years ago.With each, he broke new ground. On June 10, at American University in Washington, he sketched a vision of coexistence with the Soviet Union, strikingly at odds with the more bellicose messages of 1961 and 1962. On June 11, in a televised address, he endorsed the civil rights movement and promised a bill, far in advance of what any president had done, and in advance of where he himself was a few months earlier.On June 26 he came to Berlin, on one of the most frenzied days in the history of the Cold War. A huge crowd — estimated at 1.1 million, or 58 percent of Berlin’s population — came out to see him.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Germany recalls 1953 anti-Soviet revolt

    BERLIN — The German president recalls it as an electrifying moment. One of Berlin’s most resplendent avenues is named simply the “Street of June 17” in remembrance. But the heady, short-lived uprising by hundreds of thousands of East Germans 60 years ago on Monday has never lived in history as the more famous anti-Communist revolts that followed — in Hungary and Poland in 1956, in Prague in 1968 and in Poland again in 1980-81.Joachim Gauck, the first Easterner to be president of the reunited Germany, was 13 at the time, living in the Baltic port of Rostock, he told Parliament in a quietly emotional speech on Friday. “But I remember very clearly the sense of euphoria that the dockworkers were on strike,” Mr. Gauck said. “I was sure that something new was under way.”It took 36 more years before East Germans rose up en masse again, and the Berlin Wall fell. And now, almost 24 years after that, Mr. Gauck sits in Bellevue Palace, and Angela Merkel, another Easterner, in the Chancellery. So commemorations of the 60th anniversary were infused not just by Germans’ penchant for marking round dates but also by a sense of putting the 1953 uprising on more of a pedestal....

  • Originally published 06/16/2013

    The Case for Sparing the Rosenbergs

    Credit: Wiki Commons.Sixty years ago this week, Ethel Rosenberg was strapped into the same electric chair that killed her husband Julius moments before. Her gruesome death ended the spy case that captured worldwide attention. Julius Rosenberg had been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage, specifically passing atomic bomb secrets to the Soviets.FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had also ordered the arrest of Julius’ wife Ethel, hoping to use her as a “lever” to get Julius to name other spies. He never spoke. They both died instead.The grisly executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 made their sons orphans and shocked the world. The Rosenbergs remain the only married couple executed for a federal crime and the only civilians killed for spying.

  • Originally published 05/30/2013

    Michael Klare: The Cold War Redux?

    Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, a TomDispatch regular, and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left, now published in paperback by Picador. A documentary movie based on his book Blood and Oil can be previewed and ordered at www.bloodandoilmovie.com. You can follow Klare on Facebook by clicking here.Did Washington just give Israel the green light for a future attack on Iran via an arms deal? Did Russia just signal its further support for Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime via an arms deal? Are the Russians, the Chinese, and the Americans all heightening regional tensions in Asia via arms deals? Is it possible that we’re witnessing the beginnings of a new Cold War in two key regions of the planet -- and that the harbingers of this unnerving development are arms deals?

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    1983: The Most Dangerous Year of the Cold War

    Credit: militarists.ru.Just how close did the world come to full-blown nuclear war in the 1980s?Frighteningly close.That's the conclusion of researchers at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which released on May 16 a collection of documents on the 1983 Able Archer war scare, the closest the Cold War came to turning hot since the Cuban Missile Crisis.Many of the documents come from Soviet archives, and are summarized in English; others came from the U.S. government after Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requestsThe release is the first in a series of three postings; the second will consist of U.S. military documents, the third documents from the U.S. intelligence community. (The National Security Agency, the website notes, refused to release its relevant documents after a 2008 FOIA request, but “did review, approve for release, stamp, and send a printout of a Wikipedia article.”)

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Malte Herwig's new book reveals Germany's postwar Nazi coverup

    For the last seven years, the German journalist Malte Herwig, a reporter at Suddeutsche Zeitung magazine, has arduously, conscientiously tackled the challenge of researching and writing a book about the postwar German government’s “double game,” as he calls it. In Die Flakhelfer (DeutscheVerlags-Anstalt), which comes out in Germany on Monday, he reveals that, for half a century, the German leadership sought to suppress the names of prominent citizens who were Nazi Party members in the Second World War while pretending to seek them, and while simultaneously pursuing the soul-searching process of coming to terms with Germany’s grievous Second World War history—a process Germans call Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Herwig finds this behavior troubling. In New York this week he explained the genesis of his book.

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    David Milne: Editing an Encyclopedia

    Dr. David Milne is a Senior Lecturer in American Political History at the University of East Anglia. A historian and analyst of US foreign policy, he is a senior editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History. View the Melbourne launch of the Encyclopedia, or attend the American Military and Diplomatic History conference at Oregon State University on 7 May 2013.When I was invited to review the second volume of Odd Arne Westad’s and Melvyn Leffler’s The Cambridge History of the Cold War in 2010, I compared the enterprise to Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie -- which I intended both as a compliment and as a criticism.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Sergey Radchenko: Mao and Stalin, Xi and Putin

    Sergey Radchenko is a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, based at the University's China campus in Ningbo, China. He is the author of Two Suns in the Heavens: the Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy, 1962-67 and the forthcoming Unwanted Visionaries: Soviet Failure in Asia at the end of the Cold War. Original declassified documents for this article are provided through the Digital Archive of the History and Public Policy Program at the Wilson Center. In December 1949, Mao Zedong traveled to Moscow, for his first trip abroad. Three months earlier, perched high above a crowd of thousands in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Mao had announced the founding of the People's Republic of China. The nascent country was yet unformed, and Mao thought it important to ensure that New China would stand on the right side of history: the Communist side. In this, Mao needed Joseph Stalin's blessing and Soviet help.

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Berlin Wall section removed despite protests

    Construction workers backed by German police have removed a section of the Berlin Wall to make way for a building project, despite calls for the historic site to be preserved.Residents expressed shock at the removal of the East Side Gallery, as that section is known, which followed a series of protests, including one attended by the actor David Hasselhoff.A police spokesman, Alexander Tönnies, said there were no incidents as work had begun at about 5am to take down four sections of the wall, each about 1.2 metres wide, to make way for an access route to the planned high-rise luxury flats along the Spree river....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    German anglers call Cold War truce

    They are known for nothing if not their patience – which may be one explanation as to why it has taken anglers from the former East and West Germany 23 years to call a cold war truce.What gymnasts, chess players, swimmers and footballers managed fairly soon after unification in 1990, Germany's anglers have finally achieved, but only after years of bitter recrimination, deep suspicion and copious amounts of cultural prejudice on both sides.From autumn, the West German Association of German Sport Fishers (VDSF) and the East German Anglers' Association (DAV) will come together to form the Deutsche Angelfischerverband (German Anglers' Association) or DAFV....

  • Originally published 03/21/2013

    Frank Bures: A Travelogue through Cold War Nuclear Installations

    Frank Bures is a writer based in Minneapolis. In the early 1980s, when I was a fifth-grader at Jefferson Elementary School, in a small town in Minnesota, our teacher, Mr. Odegaard, asked us if we wanted to see something. We did. So he took us down a little-used stairway, through a door and into a tunnel beneath our school. He flicked on the lights. The sound of our shuffling feet echoed down a long, dark corridor.¶ “The walls down here are solid concrete,” I remember him telling us, “and you need three feet to stop gamma rays. When the Russians launch their missiles, this is where I’m coming!” ¶ Mr. Odegaard was an unusual teacher and one of my favorites. He felt that we should know about the real world, in addition to multiplication and division, geography and grammar. He also explained — in great detail — the finer points of the nuclear winter.“Beta rays,” he told us, “those are dangerous, but they can’t go very far. Gamma rays. Those are the ones you have to worry about. Gamma rays can go right through anything.”

  • Originally published 02/27/2013

    Van Cliburn, pianist and Cold War hero, dies at 78

    For a time in Cold War America, Van Cliburn had all the trappings of a rock star: sold-out concerts, adoring, out-of-control fans and a name recognized worldwide. He even got a ticker-tape parade in New York City.And he did it all with only a piano and some Tchaikovsky concertos.The celebrated pianist played for every American president since Harry Truman, plus royalty and heads of state around the world. But he is best remembered for winning a 1958 piano competition in Moscow that helped thaw the icy rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.Cliburn, who died Wednesday at 78 after fighting bone cancer, was "a great humanitarian and a brilliant musician whose light will continue to shine through his extraordinary legacy," said his publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone. "He will be missed by all who knew and admired him, and by countless people he never met."The young man from the small east Texas town of Kilgore was a baby-faced 23-year-old when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow just six months after the Soviets' launch of Sputnik embarrassed the U.S. and inaugurated the space race.

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    Radial routes ran outside Iraq

    Spoke-like dirt paths extend as far as five kilometers from several ancient Mesopotamian cities that have been excavated in what’s now northeastern Syria. Although often regarded as transportation features unique to these more than 5,000-year-old sites, new evidence reveals similar radial paths in western Syria and southwestern Iran that date to as recently as 1,200 years ago....

  • Originally published 01/31/2013

    Jon Wiener: 'The Americans': Soviet Spies on Cable TV

    Jon Wiener teaches U.S. history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America. The best thing about “The Americans,” the new spy show on FX cable TV, is that the Soviet spies are not Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  They are a different married couple--Russians, sent by the KGB from Moscow to Washington DC.  The show begins shortly after Reagan takes office....If Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin of “Homeland” had been assigned to this case, they would have caught Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, the stars of “The Americans,” in episode one.Ron Radosh, David Horowitz & Co. will be unhappy with this show (of course they are unhappy about so many things) because the spies in question are not American communists.  They do have a point there – the most successful Soviet spies in the US were not Russians.  I’m not talking here about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  Historians today pretty much agree that Julius was a spy but he didn’t give the Soviets the secret of the A-bomb; Ethel was innocent but was framed by her brother, David Greenglass, because the FBI threatened to indict his own wife....

  • Originally published 01/30/2013

    Could We Actually Learn Something from '50s-Style Civics Education?

    During last year's presidential campaign, I asked a class of freshmen students to keep track of each candidate's references to history. They needed a basic knowledge of history -- enough to code each historical mention according to the time period referenced. I was prepared to be distressed by my students' ignorance of history, and I wasn't disappointed. I wasn't as prepared, however, for the much greater ignorance of and disinterest in the election. In September, few could name both presidential candidates; none could name a candidate for any other office; only two or three evinced much interest in civic life.

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Prospero Gallinari, a Terrorist, Is Dead at 62

    Prospero Gallinari, who as a member of the Italian terrorist group the Red Brigades was convicted in the kidnapping and assassination in 1978 of Aldo Moro, the Italian prime minister, died Monday after collapsing at his home in Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy. He was 62. He was long believed to have been the gunman in the killing until a comrade took responsibility.Mr. Gallinari had a history of heart trouble, Italian newspapers said, citing police reports confirming his death.The Red Brigades, a vicious and idiosyncratic Marxist-Leninist paramilitary organization, engaged in robberies, assaults and assassinations in the 1970s as part of a campaign to foment leftist revolution in Italy. The group’s most notorious act was kidnapping Mr. Moro in March 1978. It held him for 55 days and then shot him to death. Mr. Moro’s body was found in a car trunk on May 9, 1978, the same day he was murdered....

  • Originally published 01/15/2013

    Eight Things I Miss About the Cold War

    Credit: Wiki Commons.At a book festival in Los Angeles recently, some writers (myself included) were making the usual arguments about the problems with American politics in the 1950s -- until one panelist shocked the audience by declaring, “God, I miss the Cold War.” His grandmother, he said, had come to California from Oklahoma with a grade-school education, but found a job in an aerospace factory in L.A. during World War II, joined the union, got healthcare and retirement benefits, and prospered in the Cold War years. She ended up owning a house in the suburbs and sending her kids to UCLA.Several older people in the audience leaped to their feet shouting, “What about McCarthyism?”  “The bomb?” “Vietnam?” “Nixon?”

  • Originally published 01/09/2013

    Using Cold War Tactics to Confront Iran

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff.As Americans seek to find an alternative to the stark and unappetizing choice of accepting Iran's rabid leadership having nuclear weapons or pre-emptively bombing its nuclear facilities, one analyst offers a credible third path. Interestingly, it's inspired by a long-ago policy toward a different foe -- the Reagan administration's ways of handling the Soviet Union -- yet this unlikely model offers a useful prototype.Abraham D. Sofaer, a former U.S. district judge and legal adviser to the State Department, now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, argues in Taking On Iran: Strength, Diplomacy and the Iranian Threat (Hoover Institution, 2013) that since the fall of the shah during the Carter administration, Washington "has responded to Iranian aggression with ineffective sanctions and empty warnings and condemnations."

  • Originally published 07/18/2014

    Why a bill against medical experimentation on minors is necessary

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) explained the motivation behind H.R. 4989, known as Justina's Law. "Sixteen months ago, Justina was a [competitive] figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit or walk on her own." The bipartisan legislation aims to chop federal funds to "research in which a ward of the State is subjected to greater than minimal risk to the individual's health with no or minimal prospect of direct benefit."  The proximate cause is the tragic saga of now-16-year-old Justina Pelletier. Both officials in Massachusetts and medical staff at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) are accused of sanctioning and conducting experimental research on Justina after removing her from parental custody. Justina's ordeal occurred over the vigorous objections of both parents.