Vietnam was, of course, the most prominent made-in-the-USSR hot spot and the biggest success story of the Soviet deception. It fell to communist rule as a result of a victorious worldwide propaganda campaign that demonized America as a violent colonialist aggressor, thereafter quickly becoming a starving socialist dictatorship with a failing economy.
Setting off one conflict after another, the USSR never failed to blame the resulting violence on American presence and the CIA, while positioning itself as a force for peace and progress. But the fact is, the CIA was created in 1947 only as a response to the worldwide presence of the KGB, which by then had already been in the business of subversion for thirty years. And although the CIA was occasionally successful in repairing the damage and preempting the export of totalitarianism, it was having a hard time catching up with a more experienced and better equipped opponent, all the while being exposed to harsh media criticism at home.
The use of mass media was grotesquely asymmetrical. Inside the Soviet Union, even mentioning the KGB in the press without government authorization was a taboo. But the KGB itself took full advantage of free speech in the western world, using free media to incite anti-Americanism and to frame the CIA as a criminal organization.
Only when the KGB archives became briefly open to the press in the times of Glasnost did the Soviet people find out that as they struggled economically their government had been compulsively spending money on wars, civil unrest, and bribes to foreign leaders and opinion makers whose names they never even heard. I remember reading at the time in a Moscow paper that even Nelson Mandela, after leaving prison, moved into a new villa built by his wife Winnie with the money transferred to her via KGB channels. Surely that wasn’t the only reason for Mandela’s anti-Americanism, but what’s wrong with a little token of gratitude at the expense of Soviet dwellers of communal apartments?
Decades of subversion and payoffs eventually corrupted the international scene to a point where third world governments were openly profiting from the duel of superpowers by milking both cows and extracting favors for switching sides. Among such political weathercocks were Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam Hussein, and Yasser Arafat, just to name a few.
And while the world media never stops blaming the U.S. for training Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, a much greater Soviet role in the rise of Islamic terrorism remains buried in the archives. If the reason for such unequal coverage is other than compliance with anti-American leftist clichés, I’d like to hear it. Until then I’ll continue to believe that this information is omitted to keep alive the leftist “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” formula, according to which this country is deservedly suffering the consequences of its own “imperialist ambitions.”
The unsustainable generosity in sponsoring global anti-Americanism was one of the Soviet regime’s many obsessive behaviors that hastened its own demise. If anti-American lies were anthrax, one might say the USSR had left behind enough stockpiles to exterminate all life on earth many times over. Strategically positioned in all corners of the world and left unattended, some of the accumulated deceptions deteriorated naturally over the years, some were moved in bulk for recycling to countries like Iran and Venezuela, and the rest were looted by ragtag bands of anti-American enthusiasts with varying degrees of professionalism.