How many of you, upon hearing about an overthrow of a leftist dictator, instinctively thought of a CIA plot?
How many, at least at some point in your lives, believed that aggressive U.S. meddling ignited hot spots on the world map? That any pro-U.S. leader of a small country is probably a CIA puppet? That the American model of individual liberty and capitalism was being imposed on the people of Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East against their will, and they might be happier with leftist tyrants?
These are the attitudes leftist propaganda is designed to create — but they may also be the result of an elitist presumption that people of the world cannot think for themselves and have no room in their souls for individual ambitions and achievements outside of what the government is giving them. Short of stating it explicitly, elitism implies that “the masses” are mindless, spiritless creatures without free will, always in need of the largesse of the state, and for their own good the state ought to nationalize the country’s resources in order to feed its subjects.
There is a reason why snobby elites on the Upper East Side of Manhattan generously donate to leftist causes and support leftist politicians. Snobs and radicals often act in accord because they are not opposites, as some believe, but rather spiritual cousins — equally despising “the bourgeois,” sharing a low view of humanity as herd animals, and sorting people not on their individual merits but by color, income, occupation, ethnicity, gender, and any other characteristic except the content of their minds. Such beliefs have often served as a veiled excuse for tyranny.
This thinking is the direct opposite of the ideal of individual liberty, on which the United States was founded and which defines this country’s exceptionalism. As such, elitist and leftist beliefs are downright un-American — a term that today has become a fighting word, used broadly by both right and left, sometimes with a completely opposite meaning. Not to be outdone, snobs and radicals have also evolved a natural loathing for American “bourgeois” principles.
But the view of America as the command center of the international capitalist conspiracy is definitely not a product of natural evolution, but rather a foreign implant going back to the days of the Cold War.
And since Cold War perceptions continue to have such a negative effect on today’s reality, we may have no other choice but to pause and reluctantly follow Obama’s quest into the magic world of Cold War mythology to relive old legends. Only for us, a more positive outcome would mean not to place the Minotaur on the list of protected species, but rather to use real historical facts to guide us into the heart of the deceptive labyrinth and to slay the evil ideology that thrives on human sacrifice. Then, hopefully, we can all bid farewell to the painful past and finally move on to more peaceful and productive lives.
First of all, one cannot maintain intellectual and moral integrity while decrying U.S. presence in the hot spots of the Cold War, if one does not also mention the presence in the same hot spots of the Soviet espionage agencies, the KGB and the GRU. Their job was to initiate the hot spots and then fan the flames, spreading the fire to the rest of the world. The U.S. objectives were quite the opposite — to extinguish or at least to localize the fire — which made American involvement a necessary if often inadequate antidote.
To blame the hot spots on the U.S. presence would be as insane as to blame fires on firefighters because their trucks are always at the scene.
One’s perception of America as a hero or a villain in this case depends on whether one thinks that socialism is indeed “progress of mankind.” For believers in the leftist version of “progress,” America will inevitably come off as evil, arrogant, or at least misguided. The workings of the leftist template are such that when a single axiom is accepted all other axioms follow, being links of one chain. The Soviet non-presence is also an axiom, an invisible and unspoken part of the template that allows deception to advance leftist causes — the end justifies the means.
Using this template is like riding a bicycle — once you learn, you never forget. It is simple and easy to work with. For example, applying its clichés to the American role in WWII, anyone with minimal rhetorical skills can come up with a news story headlined “The D-Day Massacre: Atrocities ‘R’ U.S.,” describing Normandy as an unprovoked attack on a peaceful international resort full of disabled people on vacation from Germany. Try to disprove this news if the Nazi artillery is not even mentioned.
Likewise, it’s impossible to disprove the leftist “history of American imperialism” without knowing that just about every Cold War conflict began as a premeditated KGB operation. Ridiculing “red scare” while withholding information about the Soviet involvement has proven to make the opponents tongue-tied and feeling like fools fighting with a shadow. That is why the substitution of facts with a revised history that minimizes or airbrushes the Soviet role in the Cold War is of such a crucial importance, helping the left to prevail in the larger propagandistic argument and win the hearts and minds of the general public.
Having come here from the USSR — a country whose government invented this strategy and lived by it — I was astonished by the abundance of leftist propagandistic clichés in the American mainstream media. The exclusion of the Soviet connection in any discussion of America’s culpability is one of such clichés. It is a telltale sign of a prefabricated myth.
Where’s the “imperialist propaganda” when you need it? The leftist propaganda encountered so little resistance in the land of the alleged “capitalist conspiracy” that an airbrushed version of history has almost universally replaced the truth in the media, education, and entertainment. The intended result is the widespread notion of America’s guilt. One doesn’t even need to be a leftist anymore to believe in this country’s image as a violent empire controlled by greedy capitalist oligarchies that dictate its policies.
Since such beliefs make one an easy target of further leftist indoctrination and potential conversion, the incitement of anti-American hysteria has long become a major focus of leftist propaganda efforts. To this end, the radical left has gone as far as to join forces with Islamic extremists in a series of world-wide anti-American protest marches that blame all the world’s violence on “U.S. imperialism.” They also cooperate in less obvious areas such as disseminating depraved conspiracy theories or fabricating alleged “U.S. atrocities” in the Middle East and planting them in the media — attributing any bloodshed, regardless of its source, to the U.S. presence in the region. To the radical left, the War on Terror is little more than a convenient excuse to demonize America, proselytize, and recruit new members.
Why didn’t the “cabal of capitalist oligarchies” move a finger to protect their alleged investments and stop the agitation and propaganda that ruined all they had worked for and exposed their existence? This is not the behavior one might expect from a greedy, conniving oligarch, is it? They surely don’t make capitalist conspiracies like they used to — almost makes one lose faith in their existence.
In the days of the Cold War, as America was being branded as the single source of all global violence and misery, the USSR brazenly continued to sponsor subversive elements, guerilla movements, and leftist dictators. It continued to use its enormous global spy network to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars, often in the form of briefcases filled with cash, to finance uprisings, sabotage, assassinations, misinformation, as well as to recruit agents and to corrupt democratic elections in foreign countries. This was all done in the name of spreading Marxism-Leninism and exporting the revolution to other continents. And that was besides the generous donations given to puppet communist parties of the world, including within the United States and Israel.
With these facts withheld, America’s behavior may understandably strike one as being unhinged and even schizophrenic. When resistance to belligerent communism gets dismissed as a probable cause, the vacuum is filled with off-the-wall conspiracies involving global oligarchies, a military-industrial complex, maniacal CIA directors, and the preferred bugaboo of the left — greedy American imperialism.
The Afghan conflict didn’t begin with the Soviet invasion in 1979. It started a year earlier, when a handful of KGB puppets in Kabul staged a “people’s revolution” and declared that the coup was “unanimously supported by the Afghan workers and peasants.” Only when they failed to defend themselves from the same people whom they claimed to represent did Moscow reluctantly send in the army. The soldiers — barely trained young conscripts from Soviet towns and villages — were told they would be performing “the duty of international solidarity” on the invitation from the “people’s government.” Before long, a pile-up of stale propagandistic clichés resulted in an inexcusable, criminal slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents on both sides, turning this previously quiet country into a permanent disaster area and a global hot spot for years to come.
At about the same time, across the border a pro-American democratic government under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran was being undermined and discredited in a massive campaign of agitation and sabotage designed and coordinated from Moscow. The local leftists, some of them KGB agents, were laying the groundwork for a similar “people’s revolution” in Tehran. But the Islamic radicals moved in first, seized the power, and threw the communists in jail, correctly seeing them as the most dangerous competition at the time — without so much as a thank you for helping the revolution. The resulting Islamic Republic of Iran has become a rogue state ruled by an oppressive theocratic regime that sponsors terror, destabilizes the world, and is now developing a nuclear weapon.
The civil war in Yemen in the 1970s — known as the Middle Eastern “Vietnam” — was yet another Moscow attempt to set a foothold in the Middle East. It turned into a long proxy war between the superpowers that split the country in half. In the south, the radical Marxist government of the puppet People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was backed by the Soviet navy stationed in its sea ports. Incidentally, this is also where the bin Laden family lived, one of many Yemeni clans radicalized by this conflict, just as the Afghani clans were radicalized by the Soviet occupation.
Using Cuba as a foothold in Latin America, Kremlin emissaries destabilized this traditionally anti-communist region by subverting its labor unions, brainwashing its students, igniting class hatred, and setting off a series of coups, bloody guerrilla wars, and corrupt elections. Their presence was invariably followed by humanitarian end economic disasters, starting with Cuba and on to Chile, Grenada, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, and Guatemala.
Not exactly paragons of prosperity themselves, the Soviet bloc countries spent lavishly on promoting pacifist movements in the west, while spending even more to finance foreign invasions. Communist guerrillas of El Salvador, for example, received Soviet and East European weapons and military assistance not just from neighboring Cuba and Nicaragua, but even from such far-away Soviet allies as Libya and Vietnam.
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.