Voice of the White House
December 20, 2016
Washington, D.C.: No one knows precisely when the Cold War ended. It could have been November 9th, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Or a month later, on December 3rd, when President George Bush (41) and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev convened a summit in Malta aboard the Russian cruiser Maxim Gorky.
Exactly how this war was won is less known. Truth is, the Operations Directorate of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), ran four strategies concurrently that harmonized better than Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. So well, in fact, that the Soviet Union collapsed ten years ahead of what the CIA's Intelligence Directorate had forecast.
Strategy One: In the mid-1970s, the CIA embarked on a program to 'educate' a new generation of Soviet leaders. Hope for ending the Cold War lay with the 'boomers.' The old fogies in the Kremlin seemed to understand this too, which is why they passed leadership to sick, dying men. Leonid Brezhnev could barely stand for the last eight years of his life, while the Soviet system stagnated. His successor Yuri Andropov was already dying from liver disease when he took over. And his replacement, Konstantin Chernenko, was practically a living corpse.
Finally, at the urging of Foreign Secretary Andrei Gromyko, a younger man was chosen: Mikhail Gorbachev.
Gorby's closest adviser was Alexandre Yakovlev, who had probably been working for the CIA since 1959 when he studied at Columbia University. The Soviets sent their brightest brains to the United States for higher education and many were recruited.
How was that so easy? Most Soviets who arrived in the USA to study were smart enough to realize, despite their Leninist indoctrination, that communism as practiced in their Motherland was a cruel fraud. The CIA's biggest challenge was getting them to return to Moscow, to climb the professional ladder.
Slowly, a network of influence was constructed in every professional arena: politics, banking, industry, scientific research, media, and, of course, the KGB.
Slowly, in their respective arenas, moles chewed away at communist rule.
Strategy Two: Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) scared the Soviets stupid. They were already spending most of their money on their military-industrial complex instead of ensuring that people got fed. The U.S. essentially said, 'Now you have to spend a whole lot more.'
The Soviets did not have a whole lot more, but were scraping to sustain what they had. The arms race was over at that point.
And it was all based on a bluff. The U.S. wasn't spending anywhere near what the Soviets believed it was spending on 'Star Wars.' Through tactical disinformation, President Reagan made them believe he was capable of anything. The CIA did not want the Soviets to give up the arms race; it wanted to bankrupt them out of existence.
After President Reagan's joke into a live microphone: 'We begin bombing in five minutes,' KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov convinced himself it was only a matter of time before our president would launch missiles, and Mr. Kryuchkov thus created Operation RYAN: a top priority secret mission to establish precisely when, not if, a U.S. sneak attack would occur. Their operatives scurried around in circles trying to pinpoint something that did not exist. It drove them nuts, while the CIA proceeded with…
Strategy Three: The CIA wanted an Eastern-Bloc country that would pull off what Hungary had attempted in 1956 and Czechoslovakia did twelve years later. Soviet leaders had grown old, weary, and sick - their system had become stymied in apparatchik ineptitude. And further quagmired in Afghanistan, a war they could never win, which depleted their military muscle and took their eye off the ball (Eastern Europe). The CIA studied the possibilities, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. It settled on Poland, whose elements had synchronized a fiercely independent people devoted not to communism but Catholicism (92 percent), a dissatisfied intelligentsia, and a labor force on the verge of rebellion. All the CIA had to do was stand back and watch and be ready to jump when…
The volcano erupted in August 1980 at the shipyards in Gdansk and evolved into a Solidarity movement that paralyzed the country. The CIA saw to it that Poland's intelligentsia jumped onto the bandwagon. With that, the government capitulated. But Solidarity tried to do too much too fast and a military crackdown was inevitable. However, telecommunications had come a long way since the Prague Spring of 1968. People the world over could see on live TV the harsh, oppressive reality of communism and martial law.
Solidarity went underground. Through the Vatican, the CIA channeled millions of dollars to the outlawed Solidarity movement, giving it technology to interrupt state TV news broadcasts with announcements like, 'Don’t believe these liars!'
The Soviets, beleaguered by Afghan polo (which featured captured Russian officers' heads as the puck) were horrified. They knew they were looking at their own future.
Strategy Four: The CIA chipped away at the Soviet federal structure in all of the enslaved republics, from the Baltics to the Stans, firing up nationalist fervor, destabilizing the system for mass secession - an implosion.
The Soviets roundly deserved this. Moscow had exploited all of these republics to the max, trading their natural resources for foreign currency banked in Moscow, with only a pittance trickling back to the republics. Not only did the Kremlin not care about the people it governed, it did not care what happened to their environment. The Aral Sea in Central Asia dried into a desert because of an ill-conceived Soviet policy to maximize Uzbekistan's cotton crop.
The leaders of these republics did not need for the CIA to point this out to them; they simply needed secret reassurance as they strove for self-determination.
Of much less help was the State Department, which wanted to deal with the republics through Moscow. Not only was this easier for them then, say, creating new embassies and posting diplomats to Tashkent, Tbilisi, and Bishkek, etc, but it did not wish to embarrass the Kremlin.
Yet through the CIA's guidance, a new generation of leaders in the republics was poised to establish their independence.
And so the Cold War ended in late 1989. Its demise created the erroneous impression, conveyed by Congress and the media, that the world had become safe for all Americans; time to spend less money on intelligence and security; time to become lazy and complacent - all through the 1990s.
James Joyce had a line for that: 'In moments of happiness, don’t despair, tragedy lurks around the next corner.'
Around the next corner came 9/11.
And a New Russia lorded over by a New Stalin.
And now it is the United States quagmired in Afghanistan.
President Rhetoric will presently commit 17,000 new troops to Afghanistan. Is this the 'change' his supporters envisioned?
Despite what the wisest generals tell you about this war, it can never be won. The Russians and Chinese watch in amusement as we recklessly squander our resources - and the future of our grandchildren.