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Home | Blog | They Made Us Reds to Fight the Reds

They Made Us Reds to Fight the Reds

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Tags War and Foreign Policy

At the end of World War II, U.S. officials told the American people that despite the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, America could not rest. That was because, they said, the United States now faced a new official enemy, one, they said, was arguably a bigger threat to Americans than Nazi Germany was. That new official enemy was the communist Soviet Union, which, ironically, had been America’s World War II partner and ally.

To combat this new threat, U.S. officials said, it would be necessary to convert the federal government from a limited-government republic to what is known as a national-security state, which would consist of a gigantic and permanent military-intelligence establishment.

There was an important distinguishing characteristic of this new segment of the federal government: Unlike the rest of the government, whose powers were limited to those enumerated in the Constitution, the national-security section of the government would wield the same type of totalitarian powers that were being wielded by communist regimes.

The justification that was provided to the American people was that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy, with its base in Russia. This supposed conspiracy entailed communists coming to get us and taking control of our government and our minds.

Freedom and limited government, U.S. officials said, were insufficient to prevent a communist takeover of the United States. To prevail over the communists, it was necessary, they claimed, for America to adopt the policies and practices that the communists were engaged in. The idea was that it was necessary to become Red to fight the Reds, sort of like using fire to fight fire.

Look at what North Korea has done to 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, an American tourist in that communist country. He was charged with taking some communist propaganda poster as a souvenir, convicted, and sentenced to 15 years of harsh labor. A few days ago, he was returned to the United States in a coma and died shortly thereafter.

We don’t know what exactly happened to Warmbier, but it’s a safe bet that he was tortured brutally by the North Korean communist personnel. At least, that wouldn’t surprise anyone. This is how totalitarian regimes behave. They are paranoid and powerful. They see enemies everywhere and employ brutal measures to smash anything that hints of being a threat to national security.

That’s something important to note: North Korea, like post-World War II United States, is a national-security state, one that wields the same omnipotent powers that the U.S. national-security state wields, including torture, assassination, and indefinite detention.

This is how the U.S. government became a government founded on torture. It copied North Korea, the Soviet Union, Red China, and other communist regimes. U.S. officials said that it was necessary to become like them in order to defeat them.

Indeed, that’s how the U.S. government came to engage in secret medical experimentation on people, which was no different in principle from what the Nazi regime had done to people. When the CIA learned that the communists were doing, they concluded that America needed to do it too. Indeed, since the Soviet Union was employing Nazis within their regime, the CIA decided that it needed to do the same. That’s how the American people ended up with MKULTRA.

That’s what the conversion of the U.S. government to a national-security state did to us — it made us Red because, they said, that was the only way to combat the Reds.

Consider the power to assassinate people. The U.S. government wasn’t founded on the power of assassination. The Framers would have been appalled if anyone had suggested that type of government at the Constitutional Convention. The American people would never have ratified the Constitution if a federal government based on assassination was being called into existence.

The power to assassinate people became an established part of the federal government after World War II, when the CIA was called into existence.

Why did U.S. officials want the power of assassination? Because the communists wielded the power to assassinate people. If the Reds wielded it, then our side needed to wield it too, they said. We had to become Red in order to defeat the Reds.

Look at the NSA and its power of surveillance over the American people. In principle, it is no different from the surveillance that the KGB exercised over the Russian people or the surveillance that the North Korean communist regime conducts on its citizenry. And the NSA mindset has always been the same as the KGB and North Korean mindset — that there are dangers all around us, which only surveillance of the citizenry can ferret out.

Consider regime-change operations, which became a core feature of the U.S. national-security establishment after World War II. The idea behind them is to put pro-U.S. rulers and regimes into power around the world so that they will be under “our” control rather than under “their” control. Thus, if a regime befriended Russia, Cuba, or some other communist regime, the CIA or the Pentagon would oust it with a coup or an invasion and install a pro-U.S. regime in its stead.

U.S. officials copied that idea from the Soviet Union, which insisted on having maintaining pro-Soviet rulers and regimes in power in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Again, the idea was that we have go Red to keep from becoming Red.

The U.S. turn to the dark side was spelled out in writing as early as 1954 in what was a top-secret document called the Doolittle Report, which examined the rationale and practices of the CIA. The report bluntly points out the need for America to go Red to defeat the Reds: “It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game…. If the United States is to survive, long standing concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered.”

Not so coincidentally, that same year — 1954 — the CIA published a top-secret manual on assassination, which explored not only ways to assassinate people but also ways to prevent people from discovering or proving that the CIA orchestrated the assassination. The manual was prepared as part of a CIA regime-change operation against the democratically elected socialist president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, who the CIA violently removed from power and replaced with an unelected pro-U.S. military dictator.

Unfortunately, the end of the Cold War did not spell the end of America’s national-security state nightmare. We still have the same totalitarian-like system — massive and permanent military-intelligence establishment, torture, assassination, surveillance, regime-change operations, and other characteristics of totalitarian regimes. The only difference is that now it’s all justified by “terrorism” and Russia rather than communism and the Soviet Union. It’s still being portrayed as essential to our “freedom” and “security,” just as it was in the Soviet Union and just as it is today in North Korea.

Reprinted with permission of the author. Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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