The now defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica claimed it helped make Donald Trump president.
James F Byrnes, Truman's Secretary of State, had open scorn for the president
1. The Cold War Reconsidered
Almost nothing that happened between the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 indicates that the Cold War was a life and death struggle based on ideological differences. To be sure, Moscow and Washington looked on each other with dislike and suspicion but neither posed an existential threat to the other.
Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize the Bolshevik regime in Moscow in 1917 not for ideological reasons but because it seized American property in Russia, refused to honor old debts and ignored pre-existing treaty commitments. At the request of Britain and France, he kept 14,000 US servicemen in Europe after the First World War to fight the Red Army in the Russian civil war; but they had no effect on the outcome and were withdrawn in 1920.
Moscow set up the Communist International in 1919 to promote world revolution and, according to John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World (Boni and Liveright), it sent some gold and diamonds to help a group of Russians in Chicago to establish a Communist Party. But after Lenin’s death in 1924 the primary goal of the COMINTERN became the defense of the Soviet Union, a shift Stalin’s secret police marked by executing a number of foreign revolutionaries in Moscow.
President Roosevelt normalized relations in 1933 and the two countries became allies in the Second World War. With American Lend-Lease supplies pouring into Russia, the COMINTERN was formally terminated in 1943; an official statement acknowledged that “long before the war” the centralized effort to deal with the widely varying national problems of labor faced “insuperable obstacles.”
THE COLD WAR: At the end of the Second World War, the United States, with 50 per cent of world GDP and a monopoly of nuclear weapons, was the unchallenged global Super Power. The Soviet Union had lost some 27 million dead, most of its urban landscape was rubble, and Stalin had asked in writing for economic aid from the United States. It was ridiculous to think that his creation of a number of client states to buffer the Soviet Union against attack from Western Europe—which had occurred with ruinous cost under Napoleon and Hitler—was anything more than justified precaution.
Winston Churchill’s assertion in his 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech that in “a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center,” was fear-mongering mendacity intended to manipulate America into the Cold War. To understand why he wanted to do that we have to look at Britain's experience of the war it had declared in September 1938.
2. Britain’s Disastrous Collapse
Two days after the Wehrmacht invaded Poland on 1 September, 1939, London declared war on Germany but a quarter-million-strong British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Europe sat on its hands as Hitler and Stalin dismembered the country. During the eight-month “Phony War” that ensued there was desultory action on air and sea. On the 4th, an RAF raid on the German pocket battleship Admiral Sheer did no damage because the bombs failed to explode. Friendly fire caused the first RAF fatality on the 6th when a Spitfire shot down a Hurricane over Ipswich.
In October, a German submarine sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak at anchor off Scotland, killing 833 of its crew. In November, 124 lives were lost as the HMS Duchess sank after colliding with HMS Barham off the coast of Scotland. In December, the RAF lost 12 aircraft, with 54 killed, in an encounter with the Luftwaffe over Heligoland Bight; the Germans lost three aircraft and two men.
In March, 1940, a force of some 100,000 British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers sent to help the Greeks against a German-Italian invasion abandoned their heavy weapons and fled to Crete. They were evacuated under heavy assault. In May, when Hitler initiated real fighting to take Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, the BEF ran to Dunkirk for rescue across the Channel, abandoning some 10,000 men and most of its weapons, transport and supplies.
Ignoring the reality of a year in which the British had shown a reluctance to fight anywhere, Prime Minister Churchill marked the occasion with his famous “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech. The subsequent year-long pounding of British cities by the Luftwaffe did not lead to a German invasion because Hitler, considering he had won, turned to attack the Soviet Union. At that point he was not wrong, for Britain was bankrupt and surviving on food, credit, materiel and men from India, Australia, and New Zealand; it was able to keep going for the rest of the war only with much more massive aid from the United States.
British forces continued to chalk up a dismal record in combat throughout the war. In 1941, while the Indian component of the British Army pushed the Italians out of Eritrea, a British-Australian force of 30,000 surrendered Tobruk to the Germans. In February 1942, a force of over 130,000, more than half of it British and Australian (the rest made up of raw Indian and African recruits), surrendered Malaya and “Fortress Singapore” to a much smaller Japanese army. Part of the defeated Australian-British force then commandeered the available boats and fled to Australia, abandoning the helpless civilian population to the vicious Japanese occupation; some 50,000 were systematically killed and many thousands of others starved to death.
After the fall of Rangoon that scenario was repeated. British administrators and civilians took off with all the available ground transportation, leaving 600,000 Indians to walk to India; some 80,000 died in the attempt. And finally, as Allied forces drove towards the Rhine after D-Day, General Bernard “Monty” Montgomery, widely hailed as Britain’s best, made a hash of a major operation; in the tradition of the Charge of the Light Brigade, it was celebrated as heroic in Richard Attenborough’s 1977 movie A Bridge Too Far.
Throughout the war, British forces fought successfully when experienced Indian units were involved or in close collaboration with the American Army. After the 1943 Anglo-American conference in Washington at which Britain’s top soldier, Field-Marshall Alan Brooke, argued that a cross-Channel attack into France would not be feasible until 1945 or 1946, the United States insisted on taking over strategic control of the war. Even so, Churchill managed to delay D-Day from 1942 to 1944, by which time the Soviet Union had broken German power on the eastern front.
Britain escaped being widely perceived as weak, inept and cowardly because of Churchill’s consistently counter-factual bombast and the team effort he mobilized to produce a photo-shopped account of the war before more honest narratives could appear: his six-volume History of the Second World War (Houghton-Mifflin) was published between 1948 and 1953. Its sole author of record won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the book became a best-seller, and Britain’s leonine reputation remained intact.
3. Churchill’s Nightmare
“This water tastes funny,” Winston Churchill is reported to have said to his house guest Harry Hopkins, FDR’s emissary. “Of course it tastes funny,” retorted Hopkins. “It doesn’t have whiskey in it.” He was not being witty. On an average day Churchill drank eight glasses of scotch and water, the first of them at breakfast, preceded by a glass of sherry as he read newspapers in bed. He would begin lunch with a beer then proceed to finish a bottle of champagne. Sherry in the evening was followed by another bottle of champagne at dinner, then port and several glasses of brandy. When visiting the United States during Prohibition, he had a doctor’s prescription to get his drink. Clinically he was an alcoholic, albeit one capable of functioning at a high level.
But there were also periods when “the black dog” of depression made him completely dysfunctional, unable to get out of bed or interact with people. The alcoholism and manic depression were not secret, and upon becoming Prime Minister in 1940 the cabinet appointed an official physician, Charles McMoran Wilson, who would be at his side for the rest of the war, medicating him whenever necessary to sleep at night or get going in the morning.
Bundled in with his mental illness were attitudes of racist arrogance indistinguishable from those of Hitler. As late as 1937, he was comfortable in telling the Royal Commission on Palestine that he did “not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
In the closing years of the First World War, when he oversaw munitions production, Churchill was in favor of using a new poison gas on tribal populations in Iraq and India, saying in a secret memorandum, "I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes.” He berated the "squeamish” objections of the India Office to the use of gas as “unreasonable.” Gas, he argued, was “a more merciful weapon than [the] high explosive shell, and compels an enemy to accept a decision with less loss of life than any other agency of war. … It is really too silly." The nationalist movement in India drove him to paroxysms of rage. “I hate Indians” he declared, “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
Losing the British Empire under pressure from the United States was Churchill’s nightmare throughout the war. Franklin Roosevelt had made his opposition to colonialism clear to Churchill when they met on board warships anchored in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay in August 1941. The United States was not yet in the war but with “Lend-Lease” aid pouring into a desperately needy Britain, Roosevelt could be firm. The statement of war aims by the world’s largest empire and its strongest anti-imperial Power was uncompromisingly democratic. The Atlantic Charter “expressed respect for “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live;” and said they wished “to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.”
Churchill’s reservations about the British Empire were not reflected in the declaration, and he was reduced to hiding that hard fact with propaganda: a radio broadcast about the church service he organized on the deck of the HMS Prince of Wales at which American and British crewmen sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” On the BBC World Service, he lauded the transatlantic kinship of the “fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals, and now to a large extent of the same interests, and certainly in different degrees facing the same dangers.” That was the only public coverage of the event, for Churchill had insisted on excluding the Press and then brought along a number of British journalists as part of his entourage. The Americans did not even have a photographer; Elliot Roosevelt, the president’s son, had to fly one in from the nearest Army base. During the years that followed, Churchill burnished the public image of Britain as a close and valiant ally of the United States but he and Roosevelt never lost sight of their fundamental conflict of interests.
Roosevelt’s anti-imperial attitude hardened as the war progressed. In 1942, as Japanese forces moved rapidly towards India, he drove Churchill to fury by urging concessions to Indian nationalists and sending Louis Johnson as a special emissary to India. A rather exaggerated secret report that Johnson had negotiated a deal with Indian leaders led Churchill to threaten resignation.
As the tide turned in favor of the Allies, FDR became much less tolerant of Churchill’s imperial pretensions; at one point he had the British Ambassador summoned to the State Department and warned bluntly, “Gandhi must not die in prison.” Despite British opposition he invited Chiang Kai-Shek to the Anglo-American conference in Cairo in 1943; Churchill saw it as a maneuver to get “a faggot vote on the side of the United States in any attempt to liquidate the British overseas empire.”
At the subsequent Tehran Conference (N0vember 1943), Churchill’s anxieties were raised to a fever pitch as Roosevelt and Stalin met alone. Jon Meacham in Franklin and Winston (2003), described Churchill “stewing, his circle as worried as he was," especially after they "got wind of the colonial part of the conversation, including Roosevelt's advice to Stalin that it was not worth discussing India with Churchill." The next morning Churchill asked to have lunch with Roosevelt but was again turned down. Instead, the president met alone with Stalin and, as Churchill noted mournfully to an aide, "many important matters were discussed, including particularly Mr. Roosevelt's plan for the government of the postwar world."
It was worse when the three met together: Roosevelt and Stalin ragged Churchill. At one point the British leader was so infuriated at being openly mocked, he stormed out of the room but by the wrong door and found himself in a storage area without an exit where he sat fuming until Stalin came to cajole him back. Seeing that Stalin was amused by Churchill's discomfiture, Roosevelt decided on the final day of the conference to ridicule Churchill as a way of breaking the ice with the Soviet leader.
"I began to tease Churchill about his Britishness, about John Bull, about his cigars, about his habits" he recalled later. "It began to register with Stalin. Winston got red and scowled, and the more he did so, the more Stalin smiled. Finally Stalin broke out into a deep hearty guffaw, and for the first time in three days I saw light."
[In an Orwellian development, the details about the Cairo and Tehran meetings cited above that were in Meacham’s book when I quoted them in a 2008 blog, had been redacted in a library copy of the book accessed at this writing in 2018. Upon checking the text of the blog post on 4 May 2018, I found that it has also been edited significantly—without my knowledge. McCullough’s explanation that Truman had been given the text of Churchill’s speech on the train to Fulton but “had not read it” has been erased. It has been replaced with the statement that he “later claimed” that he had not read it.]
Upon his return to Washington from Tehran, Roosevelt sent Churchill a “your eyes only” memorandum outlining “a tentative basis” for postwar “American policy in Iran which might be used as a pattern for our relations with all less favored associate nations.” Written by former Secretary of War Major-General Patrick Hurley, the memo said the American people were fighting “not to save the imperialisms of other nations, nor to create an imperialism of our own.” The United States wanted to “sustain Iran as a free, independent nation.” To that end, it looked forward to helping “in the creation in Iran of a government based upon the consent of the governed and of a system of free enterprise which will enable that nation to develop its resources primarily for the benefit of its own people.” The modern history of Iran showed that it was “dominated by a powerful and greedy minority” and “subjected to foreign exploitation and monopoly.” United States policy should safeguard “the unorganized and inarticulate majority from foreign and domestic monopoly and oppression;” that could “become the criterion for the relations of the United States toward all the nations which are now suffering from the evils of greedy minorities, monopolies, aggression and imperialism.”
While the memo anticipated that the war would end or “radically revise” the world order established by European countries, it noted that “British imperialism” had “acquired a new life” because of “the infusion into its emaciated form of the blood of productivity and liberty from a free nation through lend lease.” On Britain itself, the memo was brutally frank: “Woodrow Wilson’s policy for America in the first World War was designed ‘to make the world safe for democracy’ and to sustain Britain as a first-class world power.” Sustaining Britain in that role had “for many years been the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy,” but that would run counter to the “effort to establish true freedom among the less favored nations, so many of which are under the present shadow of imperialism.” To warrant continued American support, Britain “must accept the principles of liberty and democracy and discard the principles of oppressive imperialism.”
4. A Poisoning in Tehran
The harsh tone and content of the memorandum are so unlike anything else in the voluminous wartime correspondence between Roosevelt and Churchill that it forces speculation on what transpired at Tehran to warrant it. The only incident that can explain it is Roosevelt’s sudden collapse during the dinner he hosted for Stalin and Churchill on 28 November. Those who saw him rise from the table clutching at this throat, sweat rolling in great beads off his forehead, thought he had been poisoned; but the diagnosis after he was rushed to his room was “stomach flu.”
FDR never recovered from it. Two similar episodes after his return to the United States, one in April 1944 at the South Carolina estate of Wall Street Mogul Bernard Baruch, and the other in November, immediately after the presidential election, led to marked deterioration. The second and third attacks were mentioned in the Meacham book in 2008 but are now missing; however, they are noted in Joseph Lelyveld’s 2016 book, The Final Battle: The last months of Franklin Roosevelt (Vintage Books/Penguin Random House).
In his final year, Roosevelt was diagnosed with congestive heart disease, and after his death, it was alleged that he also had cancer. He died on 12 April 1945, at Warm Springs, Georgia, supposedly felled by a cerebral hemorrhage—as he was having a bowl of broth.
None of the president’s health problems, including cause of death, is verifiable because his medical file disappeared from a locked safe at Washington’s Bethesda Naval Hospital and has never been found. Speculation about the cause of Roosevelt’s death has fed on the episodes of “stomach flu,” the missing medical file, the secrecy that surrounded his waning health, and Stalin’s accusation that FDR had been poisoned by "the Churchill gang," reported by Elliott Roosevelt in Parade Magazine on 9 February, 1986.
Lelyveld’s book, obviously meant to allay suspicions, advances the theory that the President’s doctor, Vice Admiral Ross McIntire, got rid of the file to hide his own incompetence in not diagnosing Roosevelt’s heart condition. However, the book heightens suspicions by not even mentioning the possibility that FDR was poisoned and ascribing his steady loss of weight after Tehran to the weak culinary skills of a neighbor from Hyde Park Eleanor Roosevelt brought in to cook the president’s meals; the only reason to do that would be to protect against poison.
For the record, the dinner in Tehran at which Roosevelt collapsed was cooked and served by his favored Filipino “mess boys” from the presidential yacht USS Potomac. Perhaps more relevant, Churchill’s entourage included Hastings Ismay, the Secretary of his War Cabinet, who had been a professional hitman working for British Intelligence during the First World War. As for Dr. McIntire’s inaction while his patient visibly wasted away, it probably indicated resignation rather than incompetence: he was in Tehran when Roosevelt suffered the first attack, and knew nothing could be done—or said.
It is probably pertinent that Churchill was also taken seriously ill after Tehran. He spent nearly a fortnight in North African seclusion before returning to Britain. In an odd break with wartime security protocol, Roosevelt noted Churchill’s illness in his 1943 Christmas Eve radio broadcast, which also affirmed the need to respect the “rights of every Nation, large or small,” and repudiated “the doctrine that the strong shall dominate the weak.”
5. Arranging for Harry Truman
On 12 April 1945, as Roosevelt lay dying in Warm Springs, GA, Churchill was dining in London with Bernard Baruch. They had known each other since the First World War, when Churchill, as Minister of Munitions had regular correspondence with Baruch, the chairman of the War Industries Board.
Baruch’s performance in that office got him the Army Distinguished Service Medal, awarded by a special act of Congress. The accompanying citation noted his “great responsibility during World War I, in the organization and administration of the War Industries Board,” and pointed to the significance of his presence in London with Churchill. For Baruch had coordinated all “allied purchases in the United States,” established the “broad and comprehensive policy … for the supervision and control of the raw materials, manufacturing facilities, and distribution of the products of industry, … stimulated the production of war supplies, coordinated the needs of the military service and the civilian population, and contributed alike to the completeness and speed of the mobilization and equipment of the military forces and the continuity of their supply.” In short, Baruch had the connections and the ability to marshal the support in the United States that Churchill needed for his plot to succeed.
Their professional relationship during the First World War turned to friendship after they met at the Paris Peace Conference. Churchill stayed with Baruch on his visits to America and once even let him pick up the hotel tab for a family entourage in New York. They remained in touch through the Second World War, with Baruch writing long discursive letters that Churchill did not always have time to read. It is likely Churchill knew of Baruch’s mortification when FDR offered him a job but seemed to have forgotten about it when he turned up in the Oval Office, declaring “I am reporting for duty.”
If Churchill’s deepening anxiety about Roosevelt’s postwar plans for decolonization was motive for murder, his friendship with Baruch—a major mover and shaker in the Democratic Party—ensured that it would translate into a Game of Thrones power-play. A handful of Democratic Party bosses at the 1944 Democratic convention went to extraordinary lengths to replace FDR’s preferred choice for running mate, the experienced, competent and widely popular sitting Vice President Henry Wallace, with the lackluster and vastly inexperienced Harry Truman, whose 1940 run for the Senate Baruch had bankrolled.
6. The Iron Curtain Speech
With Truman in the White House, Churchill got a second chance to win the American support that Roosevelt had so bluntly refused: he received an invitation to speak at tiny Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. College President Franc Lewis McCluer is credited with the idea of inviting Churchill but it is clear from the speech itself and the array of Washington brass in attendance that far more powerful people were involved. The “crux of what I have traveled here to say,” Churchill declared, is the importance of “a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States … a fraternal association” requiring “not only the growing friendship and mutual understanding between our two vast but kindred systems of society, but the continuance of the intimate relationship between our military advisers, leading to common study of potential dangers, the similarity of weapons and manuals of instructions, and to the interchange of officers and cadets at technical colleges.
"It should carry with it the continuance of the present facilities for mutual security by the joint use of all Naval and Air Force bases in the possession of either country all over the world. This would perhaps double the mobility of the American Navy and Air Force. It would greatly expand that of the British Empire Forces and it might well lead, if and as the world calms down, to important financial savings. Already we use together a large number of islands; more may well be entrusted to our joint care in the near future.”
The audience Churchill addressed at Westminster College was not the student body or the Washington figures in attendance but the powerful nexus of interests that President Dwight Eisenhower would describe in his farewell address to the American people in 1961 as the “military-industrial complex” created by the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” Never before in American history had there been such a concentration of economic power and strategic capacity, rooted both in Wall Street Big Business and in the multitude of small and medium enterprises that provisioned military camps across the United States.
During the First World War Baruch had brought that nexus of interests into a responsive framework and fellow South Carolinian James F. Byrnes revived it under Roosevelt. His power and influence were so great, reporters called him “Assistant President.”
However, the success of the system that made America the “Arsenal of Democracy” did not save it from being plunged into crisis after the end of the war. Demands from strong industrial unions for wage increases to match the sudden postwar inflation led to long strikes against the railroads, steel, coal and automobile industries. Rapid demobilization of the Army, implemented on a point system that released the most experienced soldiers first, caused widespread unhappiness among those facing special circumstances and pleading for immediate release. The near riotous condition in many camps was quelled only after Army Chief Dwight Eisenhower asked soldiers to write to him and pledged to review every case personally. In Washington, where the government was cancelling scores of contracts for the manufacturing of everything from armaments to trucks, ships and aircraft, economists were predicting a return to Depression-era unemployment levels. In sum, the prospect of a new Russian enemy requiring continued high military expenditures offered welcome relief for hard-eyed businessmen facing ruin.
Significantly, Churchill drafted his speech in consultation with Admiral William Leahy, Truman’s top military aide, who noted in a file that they had met to discuss “the necessity for full military collaboration between Great Britain and the US in order to preserve peace in the world.” Leahy was a staunch anti-communist with little political sense. Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s main political operative, considered him “politically tone-deaf.” On one occasion, returning to the White House after a spell at the Mayo Clinic, he found that the Admiral had authorized a cable under the president’s signature agreeing to a request from Churchill that he speak for the United States about Poland at a meeting with Stalin. Hopkins recalled the cable from the transmission office and redrafted it to say that Churchill could not speak for the United States on Poland or any other matter and instructing that Ambassador Averell Harriman be present at the meeting in Moscow.
When he received the invitation to speak at Fulton, Churchill was out of power and, fortuitously, "holidaying in Florida." He went to meet with Secretary of State Leahy, who noted the topic of discussion in his file. Churchill returned to Washington in early March to have Leahy approve the final text, and then travelled with Truman by train to Fulton.
Two weeks before Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, American diplomat George F. Kennan’s “long telegram” from Moscow had landed on desks across official Washington. Historian Odd Arne Westad in his 2017 tome The Cold War. A World history, misleadingly presents Kennan as “echoing” Churchill’s warning about the Soviet Union. His warning was considerably more modulated and did not raise the specter of a global communist revolution. Nor did Kennan advocate a military alliance with Britain to confront the Soviet Union; what he did recommend was that the United States defend free nations against Soviet aggression and help Europe recover from the war. The Marshall Plan, the military aid to Greece and Turkey, and the clandestine wing of the CIA were among his projects to "contain" the Soviet Union's aggressive tendencies.
That he did not envisage “containment” of the Soviet Union as a primarily military exercise we have from his own pen. On 2 May, 2000, his diary records the “pain” he felt upon reading an interview by his authorized biographer, John Lewis Gaddis, that made clear the historian “had no idea what was really at stake in my differences with the Western (French and British) governments and our own” during the decade he spent in “lone battle” against “the almost total militarization of Western policy” towards Russia. (Kennan died in 2005 at the age of 101; the Gaddis biography, An American Life, was published in 2012; “The Kennan Diaries” was published in 2014.)
If Kennan with his firsthand experience of Russian realities had stayed on as head of policy planning at the State Department Churchill’s mendacious image of a monolithic, hydra-headed Communist conspiracy would not have become the basis for American policy. But he was replaced by Paul Nitze, an ideologue with no practical experience of the Soviet Union who drafted National Security Council Document 68 (1950), giving Kennan’s flexible concept of “containment” the hard edge necessary for the military-industrial elite to profit over the next four decades.
Mainstream American political opinion was outraged by Churchill's Fulton speech. David McCullough in his 1992 biography of Harry Truman noted that critics ranging from The Nation on the left to The Wall Street Journal on the right saw the break with Moscow as unnecessary and dangerous. Walter Lippmann called it an “almost catastrophic blunder.” The Chicago Tribune was scornful of Churchill “begging assistance for that old and evil empire to maintain British tyranny throughout the world.”
Amidst the outcry Truman told reporters he had not known what Churchill would say. McCullough’s explanation that Truman had “received a copy of the speech on the train to Fulton but had not read it” raised the awkward question why the President received so late a critically important speech drafted with the help of his own top military aide. It pointed to the strong possibility that the Cold War was launched not because Truman willfully abandoned Roosevelt’s policy of friendship with Russia but as the result of a palace coup.
[Since I first raised that possibility publicly in 2013, McCullough’s published hard copy narrative has been changed to make that conclusion more difficult. On page 486 there is now this new text: “nothing so highlighted Truman’s ambivalence about relations with the Soviets as events surrounding the speech given by Winston Churchill at Fulton, Missouri, in the first week of March 1946, a speech Truman had encouraged and that he knew about in advance and approved of, despite what he later said.” The original account of the Churchill-Leahy meeting in Washington has been replaced with this on page 487: “Churchill made a flying visit to Washington to talk with Truman about the speech.” The following details have also been added on page 488: “Tuesday, March 5, as the train raced along the banks of the Missouri River, Churchill made a few final changes in his speech, which was then mimeographed for distribution on board. It was, he said, the most important speech of his career. Truman, having read his copy, told Churchill it would ‘do nothing but good’ and ‘surely make a stir’.” Histories of the Cold War published in recent years make the same points, using virtually identical language.]
In assessing the likelihood of Leahy leaving Truman out of the loop it is necessary to keep in mind that Roosevelt loyalists had a very low regard for the new president. He was not told about the Manhattan Project to develop the nuclear bomb until he had been in office for ten days. Nine months later, in January 1946, Secretary of State James Byrnes told Truman nothing about a meeting of Foreign Ministers he attended in Moscow. Upon his return to Washington Truman was waiting with a furious hand-written memo that he read aloud, complaining “I received no communication from you directly while you were in Moscow … The protocol was not submitted to me, nor was the communique. I was completely in the dark on the whole conference … The communique was released before I ever saw it.” The fact that the president wrote out what he wanted to say to his Secretary of State indicates his continued sense of inadequacy.
7. Contempt for History
One of the defining features of the Cold War that has received little attention is the corruption of America’s sense of itself. Until the Cold War, the writing of American history had always been an essential adjunct to its democracy, a field of study necessary to understand the country’s needs and interests and formulate appropriate domestic and foreign policies. It was practical in purpose and honest in process.
In contrast, European—and particularly British—use of history has always been devious and manipulative. From its roots in the lays of tribal bards to modern narratives of competing nationalisms, history in Europe has been routinely given to exaggerations and lies. As tribes evolved into nation-states it was standard practice for dominant groups to exclude or violently suppress minority narratives and to caricature or demonize those of other nations.
In Britain, that process took a unique turn after the Norman invasion of 1066. Once the phase of raw violence ended in relations with the Saxon, Scot, Welsh and Irish tribes, the Norman elite established a system of psychological dominance: other tribes were made to feel inferior. Their speech patterns and accents, clothes, mannerisms, beliefs, everything about their way of life was ridiculed. Any member of a lesser group who wanted to mix on equal terms with the elite had to undergo a cultural remake and negotiate a spider-web of incredibly nuanced rules governing dress, behavior, speech and belief. George Bernard Shaw, an Irishman acutely aware of that situation, made it the subject of his play, Pygmalion.
An essential element of that form of governance was the manipulation of group narratives to establish accepted hierarchies or, where necessary, as in Ireland, create intra-group conflicts to facilitate English dominance. George Orwell’s 1984 dictum “Those who control the past control the future; those who control the present, control the past,” was not the cynical wisdom of an invented future but Britain’s political reality. From the 18th Century, it became the reality also of British colonies in Africa and Asia.
RACISM AS COMPONENT OF EUROPEAN HISTORY: The sense of racial superiority that developed in 18th Century Europe as it acquired colonies in other regions added a new element to European understanding of their place in the world. As the influential German theorist Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) saw it, non-Europeans had no sense of history; they experienced change but did not have the capacity to pattern and interpret it. That self-congratulatory theory—ignoring China’s millennial dynastic chronicles and India’s unbroken literary/religious and philosophical tradition dating back even longer—led to some strange European beliefs about the past. A Greek raconteur, Herodotus of Halicarnassus (484 to 425 BCE) who had written a chatty account of how Greece and Persia became enemies, was acknowledged as the “Father of History.” Thucydides (460 to 400 BCE), who wrote of the Peloponnesian War (between Athens and Sparta), without referring to gods as active participants got credit for secularizing history.
A European “historiography” developed, with its own “science” on the use of evidentiary sources, and a “philosophy of history” that moved towards the belief the “real past” lay beyond understanding because knowledge of it was inescapably limited: an individual historian could only make an honest assessment of the evidence available and leave overall truths about the past to emerge over time.
The widely influential Oxford professor R. G. Collingwood in his posthumously published 1946 work The Idea of History (Oxford University Press) went farther. He asserted that the dead past and the living present were separate in Nature, and brought together only in the human imagination. “The historian cannot have certain knowledge of what the past was in its actuality and completeness,” he wrote. “The past in its actuality and completeness is nothing to him; and as it has finished happening, it is nothing in itself; so, his ignorance of it is no loss.”
That startling thesis was not entirely new. The malleability of the past was a principle firmly embedded in Britain’s national experience since King Henry the VIII (1491-1547) nationalized the Church and jettisoned its Roman narrative. Instead of the Pope being the "Vicar of Christ" at the head of the Church, there was Henry's Trumpian figure leading the Church of England. His marriage of over two decades was declared "invalid" so he could marry another, who was beheaded a few years later on charges that included treason and incest. In all, he went through eight wives. After Henry came Shakespeare (1564-1616), whose richly imagined plays fictionalized the English past long before Collingwood set the historian’s imagination as the final arbiter of the truth.
British historians became full-blown practitioners of creative non-fiction during the colonial era, describing massacres and genocidal oppressions as pacification, as the “Maori Wars,” the “Zulu wars,” and the racial “improvement” of Australian Aborigines. The transatlantic slave trade, in which Britain had by far the largest role of any nation, disappeared smoothly under the forgetful waters of the history taught in British and colonial schools; children learned only that Britain had taken the lead in ending the trade, without mention that it was in response to an American deadline. If mentioned at all, the Opium Wars that spread addiction to some 25 per cent of the Chinese population was pictured as a noble struggle for free trade. Churchill argued in his 1956 History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Dodd, Mead & Co) that Britain had never intended to take control of large parts of India; it had happened “in a fit of absence of mind.”
INVENTING INDIAN HISTORY: The most artful British inventions of history occurred in colonial India. The first of them was the horrific story of the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” a dungeon 12 by 14 feet where 146 British prisoners were allegedly held without water in the suffocating heat of summer, killing 123 in a single night. Not until the third quarter of the 20th Century did anyone think to ask how so many Englishmen could have fit into such a small dungeon. It turned out there were no contemporary records of the event in 1756, and that it was first mentioned in a report written the next year by an official of the East India Company (EIC) as he sailed back to Britain to explain to his bosses why it had been necessary to attack the teenage Nawab of Bengal, the alleged perpetrator of the atrocity. As his considerable fortune had accrued to the Company none of the EIC Directors in London raised awkward questions about the compressibility of Englishmen, and the story of the Black Hole of Calcutta became a staple of British history books.
The most elaborate invention of history came after the first “Orientalist” translations of ancient Sanskrit works were hailed in Europe as the products of a great civilization. The East India Company commissioned James Mill (1773-1836), a London journalist who had never been out of Europe and knew no Indian languages, to write The History of British India. Published in 1817, the book said it was “incredible and ridiculous” to think of India as having “a high state of civilization.” Indians were primitive: “Of the Hindus, it may, first of all, be observed, that they little courted the pleasures derived from the arts, whatever skill they had attained in them. The houses, even of the great, were mean, and almost destitute of furniture; their food was simple and common; and their dress had no distinction (which concerns the present purpose) beyond certain degrees of fineness in the texture.”
He admitted to “the exquisite degree of perfection to which the Hindus have carried the productions of the loom ... as there are few objects with which the inhabitants of Europe are better acquainted.” However, that aberration into excellence had an explanation: “intelligent travelers” had observed that weaving was “a sedentary occupation… in harmony” with the “predominant inclination” of the Hindu, whose hand was “an organ, adapted to the finer operations of the loom in a degree, which is almost, or altogether, peculiar to himself.” The book was a great success, and had the impact the East India Company desired: Europeans looked down on India even as it set off the “Oriental Renaissance” that transformed their sensibilities. When evidence of Indian high civilization became difficult to ignore, the British invented the “Aryan Race,” white, blond warriors who invaded India from Europe driving their chariots and cattle over precipitous Himalayan passes, all the while composing the Vedas.
To hide Europe’s debt to Indian mathematical and scientific concepts the British promoted ancient Greece as the exclusive origin of European civilization. American science historian Dick Teresi, one of the rare Westerners to draw attention to that phenomenon, made fun of it in his 2002 book Lost Discoveries: “science was born in ancient Greece around 600 B.C. and flourished for a few hundred years, until about 146 BCE, when the Greeks gave way to the Romans. At this time, Science stopped dead in its tracks, and it remained dormant until resurrected during the Renaissance in Europe around 1500. This is what’s known as the ‘Greek miracle’.” Teresi noted that decades after English “science historian G.R. Kaye admonished ‘Western investigators in the history of knowledge to look for ‘traces of Greek influence’ because the ‘achievements of the Greeks’ form ‘the most wonderful chapters in the history of civilization’,” Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man), and Carl Sagan (Cosmos: A Personal Voyage), continued to be “faithful to his directive.”
WESTERN MAN: Americans were first subjected to malleable history through Cold War mass media. The most widely read magazines, Time, Life and The Reader’s Digest, became cheerleaders for a new “Western world” that lumped American democracy with European imperialism. The cultural concept of “Western Man,” the leader of the political “free world” became a matter of celebration. LIFE magazine devoted a series of articles in 1947 and 1948 to the “most wonderfully dynamic creature ever to walk the earth” who had emerged in Europe in the 9th Century “fair of skin, hardy of limb, brave of heart,” ready “to set out on his bright-starred mission of creating a new civilization for the world.” A believer in the “eternal salvation of his soul,” he had “worked toward freedom, first for his own person, then for his own mind and spirit, and finally for others in equal measure.” Since the “grandeur of the Middle Ages,” he had been shaped by the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and had emerged from the crucible of war to assume the “contemporary position of world leadership in the United States of America.” The articles were collected in a 1951 book, Picture History of Western Man, that aimed, the editors said, to give America, the “West’s heir and hope, an understanding of the wealth and glory it had inherited,” and to underline its responsibility “for the fate of its parents’ lands, for the mother and father of its own past.”
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SAGE ADVICE: In their fear of communism, the ruling spirits of American mass media lost faith in the strength of American democracy and good sense. They forgot George Washington’s wise counsel as he left the presidency in 1796 that Europe “has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns … it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.”
8. The Military-Industrial Complex
The system established by Baruch and Byrnes to maximize the efficiency of war production became something else entirely during the Cold War. Networked into the FBI and CIA during the Red Scare, it concentrated enormous power in a small apex group representing military, Intelligence, police and economic interests. With the ability to exert decisive influence on the outcome of Congressional and Presidential races, that group could over-ride the constitutional separation of powers; with the ability to act through the intelligence establishment, it had great powers of surveillance over the most intimate aspects of the private lives of citizens; through the FBI, it could reach into local law enforcement. As its operations became evident in American politics those who dared—the outspoken novelist Gore Vidal in particular, from his residence in Rome—began to refer to it as the “National Security State.” It is now called the “Deep State.” Mainstream media pooh-poohed the existence of that unconstitutional power elite but the most liberal people in Hollywood, once they recovered from the McCarthy period, did publicize its existence—as fiction.
EISENHOWER'S FAREWELL SPEECH: Dwight Eisenhower was the only politician to sound a warning about what was happening, and he waited until the final days of his presidency to do so. Three days before relinquishing office in 1961, he broadcast a farewell address to the American people that updated George Washington’s parting words of 1796. He began by reminding Americans of who they were. “Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.”
Noting that traditional American goals were under threat, he pointed to the reason: in the first six decades of the 20th Century the United States had participated in three major wars involving Great Powers and was then engaged in a global confrontation that required “a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions,” a military force of three and a half million men and women, and the annual expenditure “on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.” The “economic, political, even spiritual” influence of that vast conjunction of forces affected “every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government,” and had 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” A related danger was that growing government involvement in technological research would lead to public policy becoming captive to a “scientific-technological elite.”
Eisenhower added a visionary warning: “As we peer into society's future, we—you and I, and our government—must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield. Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”
One of the greatest speeches delivered by an American president was broadcast on grainy black and white television and received little attention as the nation focused on Jack Kennedy’s glamorous advent. It had virtually no impact at the time but after the events of 22 November in Dallas three years later, it became a political and moral pointer of lasting importance, directing Americans to the nature of the challenge they faced. Unfortunately, those who sought to take up that challenge were killed. Four assassinations in the space of five years—Jack Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy (1968)—each with its denouement of poisonous mistrust, hammered into place the rule of an unconstitutional elite. That pushed American political corruption from the venial sins of money and sex into a soul-killing European cynicism. Fifty years down the line, it has led to a crisis of democratic governance in the United States that few political analysts trace to its roots.
9. The Coverup of Conspiracy
Two days after Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president standing next to a blood-drenched Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death inside Dallas Police Headquarters. The killer was Jack Ruby, a locally well-known Mafiosi the Press described as a “businessman” and “nightclub owner.” On 29 November, acting under the spur of a Senate resolution, Johnson appointed a seven-member commission to investigate the assassination. Chaired by Supreme Court Chief justice Earl Warren, it included four members of Congress, Allen Dulles, the CIA chief who Kennedy had fired in the wake of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, and banker John J. McCloy, the storied Republican “Chairman of the American Establishment.”
Two years later, the Warren Commission issued an incredible report that said Oswald had acted entirely alone and was the lone gunman, shooting from the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository Building. The report said three bullets had killed Kennedy and wounded Texas Governor John Connally. The Commission accounted for the grievous wounds inflicted on Kennedy and Connally by inventing what came to be known derisively as the “magic bullet.” It hit the President in the back, zig-zagged up to exit from his throat, caused a large entry wound in Connally’s shoulder, broke a rib, exited from his torso, shattered his wrist and, after leaving a fragment embedded in his thigh, appeared in pristine shape upon a stretcher at Parkland Memorial Hospital where the victims were taken.
Four of the seven Commission members protested that absurd finding but swallowed it because nothing else could uphold the report’s central conclusion that Oswald was the lone gunman. To accept more than one shooter would signify conspiracy and that, as McCloy noted would “make the United States look like a Banana Republic.” Perhaps more to the point, it would have necessitated a search for conspirators, a task the Warren Commission was evidently eager to avoid.
CITIZEN INVESTIGATORS: Outrage at the official cover up has prompted two generations of citizen investigators to take on the task of unraveling the conspiracy behind the assassination. Their books, web sites, annual conferences and YouTube videos generated a continuing flow of suppressed information and kept up pressure for official action. In 1975 the Church Committee on government intelligence operations and theRockefeller Commission on the CIA’s activities within the United States revealed a wide swathe of illegalities. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) established in 1977 discovered that the Defense Department had destroyed records pertaining to American operatives in the United States. In 1979, the HSCA upheld the Warren Commission finding that Oswald had killed Kennedy but also said there was evidence of a second shooter and that there probably was a conspiracy to kill the president; it made no effort to reconcile the contradiction.
The HSCA Chief Counsel Robert Blakey, who continued his private investigations, declared in a 2003 interview that he no longer believed anything the CIA said about the assassination. Oliver Stone’s 1991 feature film on the assassination, JFK, led Congress to establish the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) which in its final report in 1998 said the Secret Service had destroyed documents relevant to the assassination after receiving its request to examine them. The AARB was unable to get any information on the disposition of files relating to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and intelligence files relating to threats to President Kennedy in the Dallas area. The ARRB final report noted that the agency had submitted its “Final Declaration of Compliance dated September 18, 1998 but did not execute it under oath.”
Over the decades since the assassination citizen investigators have so thoroughly debunked the Warren Commission report that most Americans now do not believe President Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Credible investigators are unanimous that multiple shooters located in front and behind the presidential limousine did the killing. According to Sherry Fiester, a forensic police investigator, the “kill-shot” seen smashing Kennedy’s head open in frame 313 of the Zapruder film most probably came from the railway bridge the motorcade was approaching.
Supporting that location was the arrest of three “bums” seen climbing into a train moving across the bridge immediately after the assassination, one of them identified later as a hitman for the Chicago Mafia. Other analysts think the fatal shot came from the grassy knoll to the right of the railway bridge because witnesses there dropped to the ground as shots rang out and they smelled gunsmoke. The shots fired from behind most probably came from the Dal-Tex Building next to the Book Depository.
Those clarifications have not been matched by greater understanding of who conspired to kill the president and why. Jim Marrs, author of Crossfire: the plot that killed Kennedy (originally published in 1989 by Carrol and Graf) gave voice to suspicions that cover the waterfront. In a review of the book historian Stephen Ambrose presented the following summary of motivations (and suspects):
An analysis of the Zapruder film by Douglas P. Horne, the Chief Military Analyst who worked for the 1994-1998 Congressional Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) led to startling new findings in 2015. Contrary to general belief, the film had not remained in the possession of LIFE Magazine which acquired it from Abraham Zapruder on Saturday, 23 November. The CIA had taken possession of the film and subjected it to crude changes, including removal of several frames next to the one showing the bullet blowing away part of the President’s head. Almost entirely because of private investigations Oswald is now widely seen as a patsy but not as “innocent” because he most probably worked for Naval Intelligence in Japan, went to the Soviet Union as a CIA asset, and seems to have been an FBI informer after returning to the United States. The complexity of the information available on the Kennedy assassination has prevented agreement on any individual or group as the primary conspirators; it is difficult to see how the various motivations ascribed to the suspects come together to trigger the assassination. The current analysis breaks new ground by providing a unifying explanation.
A NEW TIMELINE: The Kennedy assassination is part of a sequence of historic events dating back to the final phase of the Second World War. The sequence began with Winston Churchill poisoning Franklin Roosevelt at the 1943 Tehran Conference, leading to his premature death. He then took advantage of Harry Truman's inexperience and the eagerness of the new military-industrial nexus to avoid a postwar recession to manipulate the United States into the Cold War. That created the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States, deeply subversive of the spirit and structure of American democracy. It neutralized the constitutional separation of powers and reversed the process set in motion by the 1776 Declaration of Independence.
The decade of “Red Scares” that followed on the heels of Churchill’s “iron curtain” speech not only diverted the attention of the American people from that coup d’etat, but created the political means to discredit anyone who dared question it. To understand why Kennedy was killed it is necessary to look at what he did to recover the democracy and independence of the United States. He went against the belief of American military, corporate and media elites that the United States was in a life or death struggle with the Soviet Union. In particular, he confronted the CIA which was congenitally subservient to the British worldview.
McCLOY-ZORIN AGREEMENT: Where Eisenhower, a war hero and five-star general with impeccable ideological credentials had been unable to do much more than sound a warning about the situation as he was leaving office, Kennedy initiated action immediately after his inauguration. He asked New York banker John J. McCloy to take on the job of building a new disarmament agency. As Kai Bird details in The Chairman: John J. McCloy and the Making of the American Establishment, McCloy had declined the jobs of Secretary of Defense (“done that”) and Treasury, but agreed to take on the disarmament job, which evolved into the broader task of advising Kennedy on policy.
After the president’s June “mini-summit” with Khrushchev in Vienna McCloy also became the focal point of negotiations on general principles of disarmament. In July, he met with the main Soviet arms negotiator, Valerian Zorin in Moscow. Their talks were unproductive but McCloy spent time with Khrushchev at his dacha in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, and after that progress was rapid. On 20 September, the United States and the Soviet Union unveiled at the United Nations General Assembly in New York an 8-paragraph agreement on the principles of “General and Complete Disarmament.”
That stock Soviet catchphrase previously dismissed by the West as pure propaganda was given substance and presented as the framework for all future multilateral negotiations on disarmament. Kennedy’s address to the UN General Assembly on 25 September focused on that prospect. In December, the UN General Assembly endorsed the McCloy-Zorin agreement without a vote. Using the language of the agreement, it set out the following framework of sequenced actions:
The goal of negotiations is to achieve agreement on a program which will ensure that disarmament is general and complete and war is no longer an instrument for settling international problems, and such disarmament is accompanied by the establishment of reliable procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes and effective arrangements for the maintenance of peace in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
(1) Disbanding of armed forces, dismantling of military establishments including bases,
cessation of the production of armaments as well as their liquidation or conversion to
(2) Elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and other weapons
of mass destruction and cessation of the production of such weapons; (3)Elimination
of all means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction;
(4) Abolishment of the organization and institutions designed to organize the military
effort of States, cessation of military training, and closing of all military training
(5) discontinuance of military expenditures.
SECURITY COUNCIL INACTION: It is significant that the Security Council, which has disarmament as a primary function, took no notice of the US-Soviet roadmap for multilateral disarmament. Nothing was said publicly to explain that strange silence but the only possible reason was a block by Britain, a permanent member of the Council with the power of veto.
We can also deduce from the dramatic darkening of the international security scene immediately after the unveiling of the McCloy-Zorin Agreement that the transatlantic military-industrial elite had done something to provoke the Soviet Union: Moscow broke a moratorium on atmospheric nuclear tests that had been in effect since October 1958, and on 31 September 1961 detonated a massive 50 Megaton hydrogen bomb.
It was by far the largest explosion in history, dwarfing the biggest American test to date of 15 Megatons. The “Tsar Bomba” test was thought to have derailed Kennedy’s push for disarmament but two years later, the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was opened for signature, the first arms control measure of the Cold War.
Another breakthrough, in October 1963, signaled the first move towards the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Again, the General Assembly expressed its unanimous support but the Security Council remained silent. The same month, Kennedy told an audience at the University of Maine he was “hoping for steady progress toward less critically dangerous relations with the Soviets.” A month later he was dead.
BRITAIN'S MOUNTING HUMILIATIONS: To see why Britain would find the end of the Cold War an existential threat requiring the use of its much ballyhooed “license to kill” it is necessary to consider the mounting international humiliations to which it was subjected in the preceding decade.
The first major takedown was the 1956 Suez Crisis, when President Eisenhower pressured Britain, France and Israel to stop their attempt to regain military control of the Suez Canal from Egypt. Around the world cartoonists pictured Prime Minister Harold Macmillan as an aging toothless lion.
A number of other developments underlined British impotence. France and Germany, both doing much better at economic recovery than Britain, asked London to withdraw from the negotiations to create a European Economic Community (EEC). The cause was basically economic—British dependence on cheap food imports threatened Europe’s heavily subsidized farm economy—but there was also De Gaulle’s fear that Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States would mean a heavy American hand within the EEC. Ironically, Britain at the time feared the relationship was eroding.
In December 1962, former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson set off a political storm in Britain by saying in a speech at West Point that after losing their empire the British had “not yet found a role” in the world. Days later the so-called “Skybolt crisis” hit the headlines in Britain, seeming to give substance to the worst British fears.
The furor was over an airborne ballistic missile under development in 1960 that President Eisenhower offered to give Britain when its own nuclear deterrent capacity proved too expensive to develop. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan accepted the offer, with the quid pro quo of a Scottish base for US Polaris missiles. Kennedy’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, unaware of that deal, canceled Skybolt without consulting London. When word of that leaked days after Acheson’s speech, Macmillan was enraged.
At a crisis containment conference in Nassau President Kennedy sought to mollify him by offering Britain the Polaris missile instead of Skybolt. However, when that raised problems with France and Germany, the offer was modified: the missiles would be under NATO control.
De Gaulle’s rejection of Britain’s petition to join the EEC in 1963 and his public declaration, “l'Angleterre, ce n'est plus grand chose" ("England is not much anymore"), put a sharp point to Britain’s very public humiliation.
Kennedy’s award of American citizenship to Winston Churchill in April 1963 was meant to underline the close links between Britain and the United States, but the acceptance statement read out by Randolph Churchill on behalf of his father at the White House ceremony was a clear rebuff. “It is a remarkable comment on our affairs that the former Prime Minister of a great sovereign state should thus be received as an honorary citizen of another. I say "great sovereign state" with design and emphasis, for I reject the view that Britain and the Commonwealth should now be relegated to a tame and minor role in the world.”
The architect of the “special relationship” clearly saw Kennedy’s efforts to end the Cold War as a threat. It called for desperate measures, the assassination of the American president. As in launching the Cold War, Britain was able to count on a number of American collaborators, all of them featured in various “conspiracy theories:”
Mafia: The gunmen in Dealey Plaza were almost certainly Mafia hitmen. Charles Nicoletti who killed for the Mafia in Chicago, was due to appear before the House Select Committee on Assassinations when he was shot three times in the head as he sat in his parked car. Charles Harrelson, one of three “bums” arrested on the railway overpass near Dealey Plaza, was also a Mafia gunman; he confessed to killing Kennedy during a six-hour standoff with police in September 1980 but recanted later. James Stiles, another Mafia thug, confessed to killing Kennedy in a 1994 television interview from an Illinois prison where he was serving a 50-year sentence for attempted murder.
Secret Service: As noted earlier, the ARRB said in its final report that the Secret Service in charge of presidential security destroyed records after receiving its request to examine them. The ARRB analyst referenced earlier, Douglas Horne, has privately pieced together an account of how Secret Service agents switched the President’s body from the coffin loaded onto Air force One so that it could, upon arrival in Washington, be taken unseen to Bethesda Naval Hospital. That was done, he thinks, to surgically alter the cranium to obliterate evidence of the exit wound prior to the official autopsy which was widely described as “botched”.
Other analysts have accused Secret Service Agents in Dallas of being complicit in the murder by omission and commission: they did not guard the rear of the president’s limousine as they were supposed to, and its driver made an unexplained momentary stop—attested to by some 50 witnesses—just prior to the shooting. The car itself was thoroughly cleaned at Parkland Memorial Hospital before any forensic examination was possible and later fully rebuilt, eliminating whatever evidence might have remained of bullets hitting it from different directions. The record of communications between agents in Dallas and the head of the presidential detail at the White House points firmly to conspiracy.
Central Intelligence Agency: The House Select Committee on Assassinations uncovered documentary evidence that Oswald had been a CIA employee. Douglas Horne, the ARRB analyst, makes the case that the Zapruder film available to the Warren Commission and released publicly was not processed in Dallas as is generally believed but at an Eastman Kodak state-of-the-art facility in Rochester, New York. He thinks the film was edited in Rochester to remove frames showing the momentary stop of JFK’s limousine just before the shooting and to black out the details of the exit wound at the rear of the president’s head. The film was then taken to the National Photographic Information Center (NPIC), the CIA facility in Washington that usually analyzed U-2 spy plane footage. It is a matter of record that the chief of the photo interpretation unit at NPIC and another team unbeknownst to him prepared two sets of still photographs from the film for the Director of the CIA.
Other Intelligence Agencies: Several years after the assassination information surfaced that Oswald had tried to call someone on the night of 23 November 1963. Alvida Treon, a telephone operator who had been on duty at the switchboard of the Dallas Police Headquarters, told investigators that Oswald had tried to call a number in Raleigh, North Carolina but two federal officials had told her colleague, Louise Swenny, not to put the call through. Treon had a slip of paper with the number Oswald tried to call; it was at the home of John David Hurt, a retired Special Agent of US Army Counter-Intelligence who had served in Germany and Japan. Further investigations found that several people remembered meeting Oswald at Nags Head, North Carolina, where US Naval Intelligence had a training facility. He had been in a program for double agents headed into the Soviet Union.
International Bankers: There is no indication of international bankers having any role in the assassination but it is pertinent that Britain’s primary industry is financial services. If the Deep State Syndicate of conspiratorial imagination exists, Britain was ideally placed to get the green light from international bankers.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: If the FBI is culpable in any way it is in failing to follow up on available leads. When Oswald was in Mexico two months before the assassination, an Englishman by the name of Albert Osborne sat next to him in a bus and struck up an acquaintance. He introduced Oswald to a Russian spy who reportedly ran an “assassination school.” From the subsequent FBI interrogation of Osborne we can deduce that Oswald was an informer.
The interrogation seems to have been quite intense, for after the release of the last batch of declassified Kennedy assassination records in 2017, the Daily Mail in Britain carried a story about a letter from Osborne to his family in the town of Grimsby. He wrote: "For the past few months, I have been under investigation by the American FBI. … They claimed when I travelled to Mexico City on Sept 25th, a man named Lee Oswald sat next to me and held a conversation with me. … They still are questioning about what he talked about.”
The FBI seems to have kept tabs on Osborne after he returned home, for one of the newly released records in 2017 noted the suspicion that he had called the Cambridge News shortly after 6pm on November 22, 1963, saying cryptically, "Call the American Embassy in London for some big news". That was some 25 minutes before Kennedy was killed. Osborne was most probably engaged in setting up Oswald to be the patsy.
To Sum Up:
(1) The British government initiated the plot to kill President Kennedy.
(2) Mafia hitmen did the killing, aided by Secret Service agents who had foreknowledge of the time and place of the murder.
(3) The Secret Service and the CIA were massively involved in destroying and altering evidence.
(4) The question of who helped the British arrange for the killing can have different answers.
(4.a) Former CIA head Allen Dulles, who was involved with the Mafia in arranging the Bay of Pigs invasion, could have done it easily.
(4. b) Alternatively, the Englishman who chatted up Oswald in Mexico, Albert Osborne, could have been an MI6 operative with Mafia connections.
(4.c) Dulles or his equally Anglophile counter-intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton could have directed Osborne to Oswald, who was obviously being prepared to take the fall.
(4.d) Lyndon Johnson was best placed to arrange for the cooperation of the Secret Service; he could also have arranged for the Mafia hitmen, but not so easily as Dulles. Most of those featured in various assassination conspiracy theories fit into this jigsaw puzzle reconstruction of what probably happened.
WHY DID AMERICANS HELP BRITAIN? British motivation for killing Jack Kennedy is clear but not so the reason so many undeniably patriotic Americans collaborated to make it possible. Their participation in the plot must be seen as actuated by the belief that Kennedy, in trying to negotiate an end to the Cold War was endangering the country. The belief that the United States was in mortal danger from the Soviet Union was originally promoted by British propagandists to precipitate the Cold War and it enabled the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy in 1963.
Why did no one in government, military, intelligence, industry and the Press take a stand against the assassination and call others to their senses? In part, they were manipulated by people culturally accustomed to the Machiavellian statecraft of murderous perfidy. In part it was because the American democratic narrative had lost clarity in the disaster of the Civil War, the rise and fall of the Robber Barons, the Great Depression and two world wars. Those who collaborated with the British to launch the Cold War in 1946 and to sustain it in 1963 had no sense of the innate strength of American democracy or how profoundly incompatible it was with British power.
Admiral William Leahy, Wall Street Mogul Bernard Baruch, Henry Luce the founder of TIME and LIFE, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, CIA Director Allen Dulles, Lyndon Johnson and many others saw the “American Century” as a smooth replacement of British hegemony, not as something entirely new in human history, as Franklin Roosevelt envisioned it.
Finally, they did not see that the Cold War was a mind-game; at a time when the United States dominated the world more comprehensively than any nation in history, there was no “growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.” They took Churchill seriously when he was, as FDR saw, no more than a malignant version of Mark Twain’s comic scoundrel, huffing and puffing about British royalty while out to bilk the world for what he could get. There is no rational explanation why so many politically experienced Americans did not see the obvious. The United States had joined the long line of victims infected with the British tapeworm within its national narrative.
10. The Karma of History
The karmic results of Britain’s manipulation of the United States have been global and massively negative. Within the United States it led to the Red Scares that hid the coup d’etat and created a lasting atmosphere of political caution that prevented any public discussion as the new unconstitutional elite in Washington exercised power in ways deeply inimical to democracy. The conspiracy to murder Jack Kennedy as he tried to end the Cold War and the subsequent cover-up left a poisonous legacy of mistrust in government and the establishment Press; the beliefs that Washington is a swamp to be drained and that mainstream media peddle fake news are rooted in that experience. The global effects of what happened in the United States were even more profoundly negative.
BRITAIN'S GLOBAL MONEY LAUNDERING SYSTEM: In the decade after Kennedy’s murder the British established a global money laundering system of offshore “tax havens” that helped grow its colonial era opium peddling into a trillion-dollar drug trafficking business. As the super-rich of all countries used the system for tax evasion Britain gained the capacity to blackmail and coerce the most powerful people in the world. With every form of organized crime and all terrorist movements dependent on British “secrecy jurisdictions” to manage their financial affairs, Britain could let loose mayhem at will anywhere in the world. It could command terrorist attacks in Europe and North America and support insurrections in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It could suck out trillions of dollars from countries trying desperately to escape poverty.
Part Two of this essay looks at how the British money laundering/drug trafficking/arms smuggling system became a global black market with multi-trillion-dollar proceeds, and how that money flooding into world markets made them all computer-controlled casinos benefiting a growing army of billionaire oligarchs. It concludes with a strategy to defeat the second Cold War the oligarchs have launched to subvert American democracy.
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Harry Truman was blindsided by Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech that sold the idea of a US-UK "special relationship" to the American military-industrial complex. The speech launched the Cold War.
Christopher Steele, a "former" MI6 spy, dug up the dirt on Trump that led to the appointment of the Special Counsel and Congressional investigations.
George Kennan, head of policy planning at the State Department was the "Dove" in Thompson's book. He had lived in the Soviet Union and knew it well. The "Hawk" was Paul Nitze, an ideologue who had no real sense of the world beyond his books, and abandoned Kennan's flexible, pragmatic "containment" policy in favor of a hard militaristic approach that profited the military-industrial complex. After the end of the Cold War in 1989 the "war on terrorism" has kept the profits rolling in.
BRITAIN'S SECRET WAR AGAINST THE UNITED STATES
The shadowy roles of "former" MI6 agent Christopher Steele, British "music promoter" Rob Goldstone and "political consulting firm" Cambridge Analytica in setting the United States on its current perilous course should remind us that Britain and America have been in opposed camps almost continuously since 1776. Only during the Second World War, up to 1943, was mutual hostility buried in the alliance against Hitler.
The narrative below tells how, at the Tehran Conference in November that year, Winston Churchill initiated a secret war against the United States aimed at regaining for Britain the preeminent global position it had occupied for a century. It did that by manipulating the United States into the Cold War with its continuing international crises while restoring its own imperial capacities.
With the 9/11 attacks—conducted by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, both states created by Britain and firmly under its control—British efforts escalated from subversion to open assault.
The manipulation of the 2016 elections and of the Trump presidency marked a third phase, intended to set off a race war and disable American democracy permanently. When that did not happen the "fairytale romance" of the Meghan-Harry coupling came out of nowhere.
The wedding of a 36-year old divorced woman to a guy whose family most probably had his mother murdered to stop her from marrying an Egyptian, gives Britain a major new valency in dealing with the United States. In the event an end to the Trump presidency does set off a race war, it will allow Britain to have significant control of the outcome. In any case, it will be able to manipulate the United States in unprecedented ways.
Three days before he left the presidency in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people in a televised address about the "military-industrial complex." He had tried to ease tensions at a summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev but it was scuttled by the shooting down of the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers.
The following timeline of plots, murders and wars traces the history of the Cold War and beyond.
[Rest to come]
Print-on-Demand technology has brought Orwell's "memory hole" into the 21st Century. Books that were once a permanent record can now be edited to suit the changing political needs of the powerful.
Churchill's Orwellian Image and Reality
"This water tastes funny."
"Of course it tastes funny Winston! There's no whiskey in it!"
-- Real-life exchange between Churchill and Harry Hopkins.
Winston Churchill with Wall Street Mogul Bernard Baruch at his country estate in South Carolina, Hobcaw Barony. They arranged the transitions that led to the Cold War.
Rob Goldstone, a British "music promoter," set up the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior Trump campaign officials and several Russians, including attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who admitted in an interview with NBC News that since 2013 she was "an informant ... actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.” The meeting is likely to become central to the case for Russian "collusion" in making Donald Trump president.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who was framed for the assassination of President Kennedy, was shot and killed by a Mafiosi, Jack Ruby, inside Dallas Police Headquarters. The president was also probably killed by Mafia hitmen as part of a deep-laid conspiracy.
President Roosevelt never recovered from the poisoning at the 1943 Tehran conference. He died on 12 April 1945. The cause of death is unknown because his medical file disappeared from a locked safe and has never been found.
The fall of Singapore in 1942 was an even greater disaster for British arms than Tobruk. As the Japanese took the city, British and Australian officers commandeered all available ships and fled to safety, abandoning the civilian population to the vicious occupation that followed.
Roosevelt's sympathy for India was a major point of discord between Britain and America during WW II. At one point, Roosevelt had to warn London: "Gandhi must not die in prison."
Above: British Expeditionary Force on the run at Dunkirk in 1939. The Second World War exposed Britain as powerless.
Below: The surrender of Tobruk by a British/Australian force of 30,000 has been portrayed as heroic.
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON WORLD AFFAIRS
Trump-strategist Steve Bannon and far right GOP funder Robert Mercer were investors in the firm, one of nine at the same address in London involved in political campaigns in a number of countries, including India's 2019 general elections. They represent a broad elite effort to subvert democracy globally.
The so-called "magic bullet" the Warren Commission said had hit President Kennedy in the back, exited through his throat, zigzagged to hit Governor Connally in the back, break a rib, exit from his torso and shatter his wrist before dropping onto a stretcher at Parkland Memorial Hospital in the nearly pristine shape above.
The "Black Hole of Calcutta" was a lie to justify colonial aggression and loot, first reported six months after it supposedly happened.
Must-watch interview of David McCullough
The idea of "Western Man" emerged in Europe. During the Cold War. it was used to lump American democracy with European imperialist states. An essential element of the concept was the "Decline of the West," popularized by German writer Oswald Spengler at the end of the First World War. It had no relevance to American history or experience but generated a sense of threat that shaped policy
For Churchill, the camaraderie was only on the surface at the 1943 Tehran Conference. He was furious as Roosevelt and Stalin ragged him like schoolboys.
The Norman (French) conquest of England in 1066 was a landmark event for it led to the subjugation of the Saxon, Welsh, Scots and Irish tribes of Britain. A unified kingdom would not emerge until 1707 and the beaten tribes would not share a sense of nationality until Britain began expanding its Indian empire in 1768.
Churchill didn't want the 1941 Atlantic Charter to apply to its Empire, especially India, where Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent movement had made continued British rule impossible.
England's Henry VIII split with the Roman Catholic Church and established his own, rewriting a great deal of history in the process.
Two weeks before an East-West summit in Paris on 15 May 1959, Gary Powers took off in his U-2 spy plane from Peshawar airport in Pakistan. He planned to cross the Soviet Union at an altitude of 65,000 feet and land in Norway but the Soviets tracked the flight from the moment the U-2 crossed into their airspace, and about half-way to his destination a ground-to-air missile hit the aircraft. Powers bailed out and was captured. He was most probably betrayed by his own side to foil the summit,
Herodotus the "Father" of European history was born in what is now Turkey, in territory controlled by the Persians. As a historian he was rather fanciful, reporting, among other things that in India there were "great ants, in size somewhat less than dogs, but bigger than foxes" which dug gold out of the desert
Mary and Buck Ferrell moved to Dallas in 1957, where she worked for more than thirty years as a legal secretary for a law firm and also in the Governor's office in Houston. On 22 November 1963 she was at work in downtown Dallas when President Kennedy was assassinated. She expected the crime would be difficult to solve, and was astounded when the police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, just over an hour later. Calling home, she arranged to have her teenage sons pick up a copy of every edition of the city's two newspapers that weekend. So began a legendary collection of books, newspapers, magazines, reports, and declassified documents, held by the Mary Ferrell Foundation. It has been a resource many other citizen investigators have relied upon in chasing the truth about one of the most grievous blows to American democracy. Mary Ferrell died in 2004 at the age 81.
"Their food was simple and common" wrote James Mill about Indian food, one of the many errors in his "History" that showed he had never been to India and knew little about it. He wrote the book to establish that the East India Company was "civilizing" India.