Tag: cold war

Just How Good Was Ronald Reagan as President?

Kevin Damato | United States

In the modern-day Republican Party, Ronald Reagan is akin to a god. Invoking the name of Reagan is assumed to add some sort of legitimacy. A quick conversation with any self-proclaimed conservative would leave you to believe Ronald Reagan was the epitome of what every President should be. But is the former Governor and President someone that we should be looking up to, or have our memories of the man himself been distorted with time?

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Nationhood and Social Cohesion

By Kevin Doremus | United States

Ideas of closed and open borders have dominated topics on migration in the American context.  The debates focus on what immigration policies should be instead of focusing attention on what is occurring in the international system. Questions of western identity infuse themselves into the discussion.  Western societies are gripped by the conflict between differing conceptions of the nation and idealism.

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The Cuban Project: Is the U.S. Willing to Kill Its Citizens?

Andrew Lepore | United States

How far would the government go in order to convince the American people to go to war? Revelations from a series of Pentagon documents declassified over 20 years ago reveal a willingness on the part of U.S. officials to go to shocking lengths to justify a war in Cuba. Some were even willing to manufacture acts of terrorism on U.S. soil.

In 1997, The JFK Assassination Records Review Board released over 1,800 previously classified records from the Kennedy era. Among these documents was a series of memorandums titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba”. These memorandums detailed possible plans to remove Fidel Castro’s Communist regime, and the means of which to justify this military action to the American people. This series of plans and operations became known as the Cuban Project, which was a prime foreign policy focus for the Kennedy administration.

The Cuban Project

When Fidel Castro took power in 1959, U.S. officials predicted he would have trouble holding on to power. Officials were first wary of his rule. Castro had not yet shown himself to be a communist, though U.S. intelligence knew his brother Raul was. Officials feared that Castro could pose a threat to U.S. assets on the island, or that he could demand a far higher rent for ownership of Guantanamo Bay.

Then, in 1960, Castro severed the once-strong ties between Cuba and the U.S. by nationalizing (government seizure) all American-owned business in the country without compensation. This prompted U.S. officials to end diplomatic relations and place a trade embargo on the island. The move greatly increased tensions between the two countries. Soon after, talks of Castro’s disposition began.

On March 17, 1960, President Eisenhower authorized covert military action against the Cuban government with his signing of a CIA document titled “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime”. This order authorized the CIA to begin a propaganda offensive against the regime, develop a series of intelligence networks within the country, and Develop a paramilitary force to be introduced into Cuba to organize, train and lead resistance groups against the Castro regime”.

Sabotage against Castro

The agency even had plans to sabotage Castro’s public image through zany schemes. For example, they proposed secretly drugging him with an LSD-like substance before a speech. They hoped this would “cause him to flail into delusional gyrations during a public appearance”. There were also thoughts to line his shoes with toxic thallium salts to make his beard fall out.

Throughout 1960, the CIA carried out these orders, which soon became known as the Cuban Project. Then, following his inauguration, President Kennedy was briefed on the latest plan in the Cuban Project, codenamed Operation Pluto. This plan detailed an amphibious invasion of the island by over 1,000 CIA-trained Cuban exiles. Kennedy approved the operation and ordered active departments to continue and report progress.

On April 17, 1961, the exiles landed on the beach of Playa Giron in the Bay of Pigs, but harsh resistance met the invasion. In only three days, most of the attackers had surrendered to Cuban forces. The Bay of Pigs invasion, thus, was a major failure for American foreign policy and an embarrassment for the Kennedy Administration.

However, the Bay of Pigs failure did not deter American officials from trying to topple the Castro Regime. In a dateless 1962 CIA memoranda, the agency concluded that “The United States cannot tolerate a permanent communist government in Cuba”, and that “Military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow the Cuban Communist Regime”. (Image #46)

Public Distaste, Manipulation

At this time, following both WWII and Korea, the American public did not want another war. In particular, they opposed one that could lead to greater tensions with the now Cuban-allied Soviet Union. Nobody wanted World War Three. This posed a problem for U.S. officials, as any act of war would require support of the public and of Congress. Nonetheless, they wanted to manipulate the public into supporting and even calling for military action.

Following a meeting at the White House on November 3rd, 1961, American officials determined that the best course of action for the Cuban problem was a centralized effort from senior White House officials. This strategy gained the name Operation Mongoose. The end goal of the project, as the Department of Defense Joint Chiefs of Staff outlined, was to “provide adequate justification for military intervention in Cuba”.

In a dateless 1961 memorandum, the government ordered that “All information output should be designed to reassure the populace that the U.S- supported movement is designed to carry forward the realizations of the social and economic aspirations of the Cuban people”. Previously, the same document gave orders to “Engage in all-out psychological warfare and propaganda stressing the morality of the United States [military] action”. (Image #35)

The John Glenn Experiment

In February 1962, the agency saw a prime opportunity to persuade the American people of Castro’s disposition. On February 20th, NASA planned on sending the First American astronaut, John Glenn, into orbit. The likelihood of success on this mission was fairly unknown. Therefore, if a failure was to occur, officials could seize the opportunity to blame Cuba.

In a February 2nd, 1962 memo, the government outlined a proposal to “provide an irrevocable proof that, should the mercury man to orbit flight fail, the fault lies with Cuba”. They would accomplish this by “manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on part of the Cubans. Of course, planners knew that with the whole country watching, the shock and anger of the death of John Glenn at the hands of Cuba would surely result in the American public calling for retaliation against the Cuban government. Luckily, the mission was successful, and the agency was never able to fulfill the proposal.

Operation Northwoods

That October 4th, a special group met at the White House to discuss proceedings in the Cuban Project. At this meeting, the group ordered four new directives. The last of these ordered that “All efforts should be made to develop new and imaginative approaches to the possibility of getting rid of the Castro Regime“. This directive gave birth to a new initiative in the Cuban Project: Operation Northwoods. Declassified Operation Northwoods documents reveal disturbing plots, and the length to which U.S. officials would go to achieve their goal.

An dateless 1962 memo titled “Pretexts to Justify US Military Intervention in Cuba” directed that “A series of well-coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces”, and that “Such a plan would enable a logical build-up of incidents to be combined with other seemingly unrelated events to camouflage the ultimate objective and create necessary impression of Cuban rashness and irresponsibility on a large scale”. (Images #136, #138) Planners proposed a series of possible false flag incidents to establish justification for an invasion of the island.

Cuban Project False Flag Ideas

“Incidents to establish a credible attack (Not in chronological order)

Start Rumors (many)” (Image #138)

“Blow up ammunition inside base; start fires.

Burn Aircraft inside base (Sabotage).

Start Riots near gate.

Capture militia group which storms the base.

Lob mortar shells from outside of base, into base.

We could sink a boatload of Cuban en route to Florida (real or simulated).

Sabotage ships in harbour, start fires, — naphthalene.  

Sink ship near harbour entrance. Conduct funerals for mock victims”. (Image 139)

“It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner en route from America to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, or Venezuela” (Image #141)

The documents also propose that “A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could occur in several forms. We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba”. And that “We could blow up a drone (unmanned) vessel anywhere in Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such an incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result from a Cuban attack from land or sea or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the vessel was taken under attack”.

It then goes on to say “Casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.” (Image #139)

Terrorism from Washington, to Washington

One of the most disturbing pieces of the memo proposes “We could develop a communist Cuban terror plot in the Miami area, other Florida cities, and even in Washington. The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States”. It goes on to say, “Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents, and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement would be helpful in projecting the idea of irresponsible government”. (Images #139, #140

In response to any of these possible instances, and with the establishment of a credible attack in the eyes of the American public, the document states “The United States would respond by executing offensive operations to secure water and power supplies, destroying artillery, and mortar emplacements which threaten the base. Commence large scale military operations”.  (Image #139)              

Planners suggested compartmentalization to ensure the covert nature of the operation. This means that only select officials and departments would be aware of the plans. The rest, on the other hand, would only know the “official” story. The same memo directed that “this paper NOT be forwarded to commanders of unified or specified command, this paper NOT be forwarded to U.S. officers assigned to NATO activities, this paper NOT be forwarded to the chairman, U.S. delegation, United Nations staff committee.” (Image #47) If this plan went into action, only a handful of government officials would even have known of the scheme. The majority, contrarily, would receive the same misinformation as the public and the media.

By the People, For the People, Kill the People

Operation Northwoods did, in fact, come frighteningly close to implementation. The President’s Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested both approval and immediate action. After all, it made it all the way up to the president’s desk. In the end, though, President Kennedy rejected the proposal. Had it been a more hawkish President in the Oval Office, the proposal would have likely gone into motion.

Imagine for a second: if the president did sign off on this proposal, how would we know? In short, we wouldn’t; it would simply be another page in the history books. The Cuban Project would not exist to us. The Cuban communist terror attacks would be a day we annually remember. We would also probably say something like “We will always remember the American people who died at the hands of the Communists”.  And if anybody ever did question the possibility that it didn’t happen exactly as the books said? Well, society might view them as un-American conspiracy nuts.

Of course, many find it unfathomable that a government of the people and for the people would kill the people. Sadly, however, the Cuban Project proves it is a reality. I find it highly unlikely this was the first or last time when the state considered false flag operations. Thus, this begs the question: has the government ever implemented such a proposal before?

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Stanislav Petrov: The Forgotten Man who Saved the World From Nuclear War

By Jack Parkos | United States

Can one man save the world? Could just one action by one person prevent the downfall of human civilization? This simply sounds like a fictional story like Superman. It’s unrealistic. But one man, Stanislav Petrov, was able to do this. Yet, he is not talked about in schools or mentioned in history textbooks. The average person may not know the name and face of “The man who single-handedly saved the world from nuclear war”.

Who Was Petrov?

Stanislav Petrov, son of a WW2 pilot, joined the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1972. Stanislav became lieutenant colonel and was stationed at the Serpukhov-15 base near Moscow during the early 1980s, his duty was monitor early nuclear detectors (called Oko), and warning his superiors of an attack.  This was during one of the most dangerous periods of human history: the Cold War. There had been decades of tension between the capitalist West and communist East. The Soviets and Americans were in an intense near-nuclear war with the fear of annihilation on everyone’s minds. Both sides were waiting for the other to attack.

The Incident

Many people know the close call of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not as many know that on September 26th, 1983, we were just as close. On September 26th, 1983, Oko picked up five USAF minutemen ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missiles) heading towards the Soviet Union. As the alarms went off and panic ensued, Stanislav was left with a choice: to call his superiors warning of an attack, or to dismiss it as a false alarm. Stanislav was skeptical of the new technology and thought it to have many flaws. He had a gut feeling the alarm was false. In a 1999 interview with the Washington Post he recalled thinking:

“When people start a war, they don’t start it with only five missiles, you can do little damage with just five missiles.”

He figured an attack would be much larger and would have the goal of obliterating the Soviets. He made the final decision that it was a false alarm and checked for computer error, rather than reporting the incoming attack. He was correct, Oko had picked up by sunlight on high altitude clouds.

Following the incident, Stanislav was interrogated by higher-ups as to what happened. Although initially receiving credit, he was scolded for not properly documenting all the paperwork amidst the chaos. He defended himself saying:

“Because I had a phone in one hand and the intercom in the other, and I don’t have a third hand”

Thus, he was never rewarded for his actions. The improper filling of paperwork was enough to lose credit for saving the world. Stanislav also claimed he received no reward because his reward would result in the punishment of the scientists who developed Oso. He claimed he was made a scapegoat. Stanislav left the military in 1983.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, his story was told. He was honored at the United Nations in 2006, winning the World Citizen Award. Also winning the Dresden Peace Prize in Germany in 2013. Also having a documentary film made about him called “The Man Who Saved the World”.

What If He Wasn’t There?

Stanislav has claimed he doesn’t consider himself a hero, but rather just a man doing his job. He has also stated, however, that they were lucky he was there that day.

Indeed, we all are lucky. Had he not been there, it is likely everyone reading this article wouldn’t be alive or would never have been born.

Assume he wasn’t there. Instead, another officer on duty that day who was not skeptical of the detectors. What would have happened? It is highly possible this officer may have reported the attack to higher up officials-who were very paranoid about an attack. They were not afraid to retaliate. They would have likely retaliated with a nuclear strike. The United States would then pick up an attack coming there way and retaliate, starting World War Three and a nuclear holocaust. This would likely be the end of civilization.

Indeed, this man is a hero. He was doing his job and his job saved civilization. JFK and Reagan get much credit for getting us through the Cold War, but Petrov is not given the praise he deserves. He deserves to be taught about in schools. Moreover, it is an interesting concept in the idea of how important and powerful the individual is.

Petrov died May 19th, 2017, but his impact on the world will never die. It is important that we keep his story alive. For his story saved all stories that happened after that fateful day in 1983.

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This Could Be Worse Than the Cold War

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

With growing tensions in the world, falling economic markets, militaries expanding, a rise of the number of refugees, instability in the Middle East, European and EU frustrations, the US’ interventionist foreign policy, Russia’s unpredictable expansionist attitude, and now the bittering of US-Russia relations, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the world is entering a new Cold War. I will provide evidence for and against the idea that the US and Russia are entering such a predicament. It is my position that we are neither in a new Cold War nor the same Cold War, rather we are headed into the direction of an all-out world conflict.

The anxiety between Russia and the US have expedited since the Russian Federation annexed Crimea invading Ukraine in 2014. Already, there were accusations by the US prior to this invasion that Russia had been committing acts of cyber attacks around the world, which former US President Obama had addressed. Once Russia marched into Ukraine, the world was aware of the unpredictability of Russian President Putin and his expansionist foreign policy. Many scholars and writers have been maintaining a careful eye on the intensifying circumstances and have duly noted the evidence of US and Russian aggression.

As stated by US political scientist, Robert Legvold, the possible second Cold War began during the Ukraine crisis of 2013. While Andrew Kuchins, an American political scientist and Kremlinologist, believes the term of a “Cold War” is unsuited for the current conflict. Yet, Kuchins also believes it may actually be more dangerous than the first Cold War. From the Kremlin’s perspective, it is the US that first upended previous norms of communication and peace, when in 2002, former President George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was a Cold War treaty limiting possible nuclear warfare. Due to the lessening of treaties and agreements, it is perpetually leading US-Russia relations to an impasse. According to John Sawers, a former MI6 chief, believes the world is entering an era that was possibly more dangerous than the Cold War, as we do not have a focus on a strategic relationship between Moscow and Washington.

According to Dr. Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, “The Cold War was an orderly competition; there were rules to the game. Now the rules aren’t there, and there is a lot more unpredictability. Russia is no longer a superpower, so in that way, it may not be worse,” Braun said. “Before, the countries had different and competing ideologies, and they wanted to expand those across the world, so there was also constant tension and a threat of nuclear war.” So, “In that sense, no, this is not the Cold War. But we should not dismiss it.”

In early April 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that relations between the two nations have never been worse than they are today. “The situation is worse compared to the classical Cold War since some sort of rules were in force at that time and some decency was in place.” On the other hand, according to Ivan Kurilla, a historian at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia, “If you look for similarities with what is happening, it is not the Cold War that can explain events but Russia’s first revolutionary regime which regularly assassinated opponents abroad.” He went on to say that Russia’s President, Vladimir V. Putin, had no interest in spreading a new ideology and fomenting world revolution, unlike the early Bolsheviks, but that Russia under Mr. Putin had “become a revolutionary regime in terms of international relations.”

However, contradictory to Kurilla, in March of 2018, a former Russian spy was poisoned while in the UK, as apparently it was an attempted murder and the immediate accusations were pointing to Russia as the culprit. Russia fervently denied all allegations to the incident. Nevertheless, the international response was a devastating blow to Russian relations with not only the UK, but also the US, and the West in general. Immediate action was taken, President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the United States that very month, adding to a growing cascade of similar actions taken by Western allies. Poland, Italy, Denmark, France, and Germany were among 14 EU member nations announcing plans to expel Russians from their respective countries in solidarity with Britain, which expelled 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning. Canada also said it would expel 4. In addition, Poland and Germany stated that they, too, would expel some Russian diplomats.

Russia consistently adheres to the principle of reciprocity, and the Kremlin declared that it would assess the damage to its diplomat corps overseas and that Russia would respond with expulsions of Western diplomats. The Russian Parliament added with the deputy head of its foreign affairs committee, Aleksei Chepa, telling the Interfax news agency that Russia would not bow to the West’s diplomatic war tactics. Russia, Chepa said, “Will not allow itself to be beaten up, the harder they try to intimidate us, the tougher our response will be.”

An additional blow to Russia’s reputation and credibility, adding fuel to the tumultuous fire building between Russia and the US, twelve Russians have been indicted for supposedly hacking the Democratic Party’s servers and emails while also jeopardizing voter information in the US. For years, Russia has been accused of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism, and this has been one of the most significant of those accusations. Although after Trump met with Putin and they discussed the circumstances and situation of the hacking, Putin denied the allegations, and for now Trump has accepted his answer. Nevertheless, the trial against the twelve will carry on.

Although the evidence for a current Cold War is piling up, there are some key differences between the former Cold War and the escalating tensions currently straining US and Russian relations. One of those factor differences is that the Cold War consisted of the two world leading powers with significantly more polarity than the current state of being. The bipolar split between the US and former USSR was not only caused by the nuclear arms race but also in philosophical ideology as each felt their universal values were superior. The US was pressing for global Liberal Capitalism, while the USSR was pushing for Marxism-Leninism type Communism. True Capitalism focuses on the natural rights of the individual with a government protecting the negative rights of that individual. While the Marxism-Leninism form of Communism, on the other hand, attempts a top-level down approach of positive rights theory, claiming that elites can scientifically approach society for complete control with the greatest equal outcome for all.

With the arms race, innate philosophical differences, and both the USSR and the US expanding militarily while assisting other like-minded countries, the Cold War led to creating global bipolarity with proxy wars and spillover into other countries, and plenty of political blowback to boot. Although the current status of the world military climate is building into separate countries adhering to ideologies of nationalism, we do not see as great of a number of countries joining in opposition of one another based on ideological claims. The monster of Communism is not as overtly displayed in the world today. Rather, we are seeing hybrids of Communism in the form of Democratic Socialism and mixed economies utilizing both Capitalistic individualism and free trade, with Communistic welfare, regulations, and control. These ideologies are creating more conflict and polarization within countries rather than States in direct opposition and conflict. So, these are signs of contentions and escalating tensions, but not the same as the Cold War between the US and USSR.

Overall, the world is seeing a rise in expansionism and nationalism, while also conflicts are arising between countries. This does not mean that we are in a new Cold War or even a continuation of the first. Rather, this is evidence of escalating global conflict more likened to that of an actual World War than a Cold War. To prevent such a terrifying occurrence as WWIII, communication needs to be restored between countries, and expansionism needs to cease in order to not press other countries towards retaliation. Many fear the possibility of a political power vacuum if global control is voluntarily ended by the US; but, equally, the building of confrontational militaries and contentious communication will surely push for resentment and all-out war. Let us pursue communication, trade, and peace, with treaties and agreements, and see where that takes us instead.

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