Is a New “Cold War” Coming? You Can’t be Serious!

A Somewhat Incendiary Reply to a Ludicrous Question

This question is asked repeatedly in the English-language media—probably the most heavily censored data streams in the world (a point to which I will return). Why should anyone worry about a new “cold war”? Perhaps it would be more relevant to worry about the extent of current and future “hot” ones?

The “old cold war” was an invention of the US regime. Bernard Baruch, one of two prominent South Carolina banksters (the other being James Byrnes) introduced the term into American political discourse with inter alia the aid of the dean of political propaganda, Walter Lippman, as the US Empire was mobilising to absorb the remains of European empires after the defeat of Japan. The subsequent 50 years of US aggrandizement were orchestrated by an unending march against any attempt to actually apply the preamble to the United Nations Charter. Domestically this “cold war” comprised both covert and overt action against any form of political dissent, coordinated by the FBI and CIA but ultimately initiated and maintained by the major corporate conglomerates whose central goal was to perpetuate the military-industrial gravy train that World War II brought them. In short, the “cold war” meant for anyone except the white middle-class and the ruling elite, the suppression of demands for peacetime economic justice. As Tony Benn, the deceased UK Labour politician, once said, after the war people asked—if we could organise full-employment for war, why couldn’t we organise full-employment for peace? This question was answered with the domestic side of the cold war—namely, employment for war is the only employment profitable enough to justify the engagement of private enterprise.

After the surrender of Italy, Germany and Japan in 1945, the world was exhausted—except for the USA, which ended the war unscathed and with minimal losses of men in combat. Already after the end of the Great War, the US elite had made great inroads toward usurping its European rivals. France and Britain owed enormous sums to the US banks that financed its war efforts from 1914 – 1918. However, the US was not quite equipped to dominate Europe directly so France and Britain maintained their empires, while helping the US regime in its attempts to suppress the Russian Revolution. This part of US history, kept in obscurity, was a hot war in which US troops were deployed in the Soviet Union to support an aspirant fascist dictatorship and destroy the government under Lenin. Military action ended around 1922 when the last of US, British, Czech Legion and Japanese troops withdrew from the territory of the USSR. World War II ended in contrast with the USA as the sole undisputed imperial power on the globe. It had essentially made the formal continuation of the British and French empires dependent on these governments granting open and unrestricted access to the colonial markets—and with the Marshall Plan, virtually unrestricted access to Western European markets.

All this had been more or less agreed at Bretton Woods in 1944 and in the preliminaries to the United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945. The US dollar would become the world currency and international “trade” would be regulated by dollar convertibility. However, neither the US regime nor its European vassals anticipated that the end of World War II would give enormous impetus to the anti-colonial struggle in all the colonial empires. As Michael Manley, former Jamaican prime minister, pointed out, the Bretton Woods agreements were made by the major colonial powers for their interests, assuming that all the countries like his Jamaica would simply function as part of their respective empires. No provisions were made for a post-war economic dispensation that included newly independent countries—they were not even contemplated.

Nevertheless, after 1945 the colonies of France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and even the US itself, demanded independence and equality after what had sometimes been centuries and sometimes only decades of exploitation and oppression for the enrichment of Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic. The reluctance and refusal to entertain such demands provoked political and military responses as the inhabitants met these denials with varying degrees of resistance. As a result the world war continued, not against Europeans, but against the three quarters of the world’s population struggling to escape Euro-American domination.

The combined resistance of colonised peoples to the restoration of Euro-American domination once the war had ended summoned the Euro-American elite to focus enormous efforts to economically suffocate newly independent countries and strangle those who were struggling to establish independence. This was the “hot war” waged unabated from 1945 – 1989. This was the war that both Baruch and Byrnes—leading insiders in the US national government and paragons of the white settler regime (whose spiritual home still lies in the Deep South) that created the USA—meant had to be fought to maintain US claims on most of the world’s natural resources. Both Baruch and Byrnes were aware that on one hand it would be very complicated to sell multiple attacks on resource-rich countries without the capacity to prevail at home. On the other hand, the Soviet Union—held in good esteem by much of the working population even in the US—could pose a major obstacle to US expansion. Although the end of World War II left the USSR with nearly 30 million dead and much of the infrastructure it had built since the Revolution destroyed, both Southern banksters knew—along with their North-eastern counterparts in the white oligarchy—that the Soviet Union was incredibly resilient having defeated the German Wehrmacht. They also knew that even a mildly successful “socialist” regime of that magnitude would present both ideological and economic challenges to the rapacious plutocracy that dominated the West. The Soviet Union offered the US oligarchy with the perfect alibi for its wars of colonial conquest after 1945. Baruch and Byrnes inter alia helped establish in the minds of Americans and those under US ideological sway that the US was not conquering to promote an ever-expanding empire but “protecting” the world from an ever-expanding Soviet Union.

As Edward Bernays and then Walter Lippman fondly proclaimed, consent is manufactured and it is essential for the political class in the US to master the manufacture of public opinion as a substitute for democratic political processes. Manufacturing opinion is related to censorship but is not censorship as popularly defined—a prohibition against writing or saying something. Yet Bernays meant propaganda—or as he would later call it “public relations”—censorship combined with manipulation. Censorship in the English-language media rarely involves “official” intervention. Although such official intervention is associated with historical censorship it is usually held to be the sine qua non of censorship that the State intervenes to license or forbid publications and transmissions. This view of censorship is deliberately cultivated although it is sentimentality. Historical censorship and the kind that still prevails for the military is a tiny fraction of the control exercised over mass media. The principal form of censorship in the English-language mass media is merely the exercise of ownership, of sanctified property rights. Probably in no other culture in the world is the idea of speech as private property so radically defended as among the English-speaking peoples—who since 1945 have dominated the mass media more than anyone else besides perhaps the medieval Catholic Church. This has had the effect of making the protection of private property—capital—the most powerful interest controlling the mass media today in all its forms. This control over the mass media has been used to create consensus and failing that the appearance of consensus for whatever might serve the interests of media owners—as owners, as members of the class whose defining attribute is that they own everything.

Since there was no anti-Soviet consensus in 1945—except among the white ruling elite—it was necessary to create one. Consistent with the mendacious and hypocritical tradition upon which the USA was originally founded, all domestic demands; e.g., for real racial equality and an end to apartheid, especially in its most obvious and violent Southern form, were converted into communist/ Soviet subversion. The fundamental hatred the white settler-capitalist class harbours for the descendants of its slave population was now reshaped as a version of anti-communism, which, of course, had to be rooted in an alleged foreign conspiracy—conceived in the Soviet Union, of course. In the ante-bellum era as well as the period before the UDI of 1776, slaveholders regularly asserted that it was outside or foreign influences that were whipping their otherwise “happy” slaves into discontent and revolt. It was inconceivable that slaves would revolt on their own to obtain their freedom. Within the USA itself, all demands for justice from the white elite were classified as Soviet-inspired and hence potentially traitorous. Abroad independence movements were immediately classified as communist/ Soviet-managed if they did not acknowledge US world hegemony.

Instrumental in the creation of a permanent war system—true to Orwell’s predictions, always called “peace”—was the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency. Although officially the purpose of the CIA was to coordinate all the national intelligence activities for the executive branch of the US regime, this begs the question: what are those activities? The official history claims the CIA was established as a revived OSS. The Office of Strategic Services was a wartime intelligence/ counter-intelligence organisation. Conventional wisdom or myth has it that intelligence in wartime is the process of learning what the enemy plans or is capable of doing so as to prepare adequate offensive or defensive operations. However, this academic description obscures the actual roots of the OSS and its CIA successor. Prior to WWII US corporations established and maintained control of their overseas fiefs by employing mercenaries and buying political leaders. This activity was sometimes managed directly but in order to protect these corporations from direct attacks on their assets and to simplify the competitive environment (another term for undercutting the competition), a class of law firms arose specialised in managing corporate warfare, if necessary at arm’s length. The paragon of these law firms was Sullivan & Cromwell, the alma mater of the notorious Dulles brothers. The chief of the OSS was William Donovan, a lawyer-adventurer who had established his own mercenary law firm, Donovan, Leisure. WWII catalysed the process by which much of heavy industry became directly regulated by government agencies dominated by the regulated industries. The State became a central instrument for the exercise of power over the economy and society by corporate cartels and their owners. The mercenary law firm sector, including the investment banks, also seized the opportunity to organise a state agency to regulate the international corporate policing activities. OSS was essentially the kernel of what the CIA would become—what Philip Agee called “capitalism’s invisible army” (one ought to add its “secret police” too).

The creation of the CIA and the origins of the “Cold War” are inseparable. The CIA was founded in 1947, the same year that Bernard Baruch gave his notorious “cold war” speech in South Carolina. In the process of retooling the post-war US for massive rearmament, permanent wartime footing, and the conquest of soon to be abandoned European dependencies, the lessons of the Creel Committee—charged by Woodrow Wilson (another South Carolinian) with selling US intervention in the Great War—were applied. The “American dream” was revived despite the fact Blacks were almost entirely excluded from it. The Marshall Plan was launched to sell the myth to destitute Europeans, while US corporations invaded their economies. NATO was created to subordinate the various Western European militaries to US command and to restore the threat against the Soviet Union that had disappeared when Hitler’s Wehrmacht was defeated. NATO also created vehicles for expansion of the customer base for US armaments manufacturers while stimulating demand.

By 1949, the US regime had succeeded in manipulating the elections in most European countries to its advantage, establishing right wing or “centre-right” governments, despite large majorities favouring socialist or social democratic parties. It had stabilised the position of its two dictatorial allies, Franco and Salazar, within NATO and together with Britain had subdued anti-fascism in Greece. With Europe pacified, it could turn its attention to absorbing or seizing the rest of the world not protected by the Soviet Union.

At first everything seemed brilliant until 1 October 1949 when the US regime had to accept the defeat of its client army under the warlord Chiang-Kai-Shek. All of a sudden, the US had “lost China”. The so-called China Lobby—a coalition of banking, contraband (e.g. drugs) and feudal military interests, exemplified by the former colonial governor of the Philippines, Douglas MacArthur—began a far-reaching campaign to mobilise the US as a whole to forcibly restore Euro-American control over China’s economy. Whether relative sanity in the US or the extremism of the Lobby itself (in its day almost as powerful as the Israel lobby today) prevented outright war is a matter of dispute. The psychological impact of “losing China” certainly enhanced the status of the emergent national security state that then turned the “loss” into an argument for even more rigorous control of domestic and foreign political activity.

However, it did not take long for the US regime to mobilise militarily in Asia again. Defeat of the Japanese empire had been an essential element of US imperial expansion in the Pacific. Prior to World War II, in fact, with the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War, the US regime aimed to dominate Asia through Japan. Thus it was US President Theodore Roosevelt who licensed Japanese occupation of Korea in 1905 and its annexation in 1910. With Japanese surrender in 1945, the US replaced the Japanese army as the occupying force in Korea, retaining Japanese police units in the country to control the population. US Asia policy was essentially to rebuild Japan as a base from which to control the mainland. To do this it was necessary to continue the supply of cheap food to Japan’s population. That meant domination of Korea and Indochina, the “rice bowls” for Japan. The US attempt to colonise Korea from Japan encountered heavy resistance since the MGIK was determined to defend exports of rice to Japan even if it meant the bulk of Korea’s peasantry would starve. Any Korean attempts to resist US – Japanese exploitation were labelled “communism” and viciously suppressed using methods that would later be institutionalised as the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.

The northern half of Korea had regained its independence when the Red Army withdrew in 1947. Meanwhile the US regime continued to occupy the southern half of the peninsula with the aid of a US-educated Christian fascist Rhee whose own nationalism called for reunification of Korea under a fascist regime aligned with the US (not unlike those supported by the US elsewhere). In 1950, hostilities on the demarcation line separating independent Korea from US-occupied Korea resulted in a massive assault by armies of the PDRK. This event was presented by the US to a rump UN Security Council as a quasi-international attack on sovereign Korea. Punditry and official history present this conflict as part of the “Cold War” or as a catalyst for those elements of US policy deceptively described as pertaining to the “Cold War”. US President Harry Truman had already proclaimed a major policy deception when authorising the deployment of US forces to defend fascism in Greece, what became known as the Truman Doctrine. Now he was expanding the application of that doctrine to the suppression of independence struggles in Asia. The US invasion and devastation of Korea, including the slaughter of at least 3 million Koreans and the levelling of nearly every city in the country by means of aerial bombardment, would become a model for the “invisible” corporate warfare waged against the world but denied at home. Of course, the invasions and wholesale destruction of Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, were not invisible—except to the white population of the US which profited from this carnage just as it had been profiting from the conquest of North America and subjugation of Central America since its founding. Although the US slaughtered over 6 million people in its invasions of Korea and Vietnam together—these campaigns are called part of the “Cold War”. The US was almost forced to abandon the Korean peninsula where it remains today in a state of ceasefire with the Korea it tried to destroy.

After being forced to compromise in Korea—a considerable psychological blow for white supremacy—the US began a successful season of imperial expansion: inter alia returning Iran to the control of the oil cartel and Guatemala to United Fruit. Nationalist movements in Ghana and Congo were subdued. With the exception of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that were retained as colonial offshore enterprises, the US regime successfully replaced its colonial administration either with statehood status or installation of a nominally independent client regime. Thus despite setbacks on the Asian mainland, the US continued to expand its archipelago of military-industrial outposts throughout the Western hemisphere and the Pacific. To maintain the pressure on the Soviet Union, a constant series of atomic weapons tests were conducted. At the same time these weapons were deemed well suited for obliterating any darker skinned armies that might challenge US hegemony. Korea had shown that not only could Asians defeat racist “white” armies in the field, it also revealed that the US simply did not have the reliable manpower to dominate Asia’s large populations. “Better dead than red” actually meant that US policy was to massacre Asian “hordes” rather than risk that they become communist or socialist. The drivers behind the US atomic weapons programme, psychopaths like Edward Teller, were steeped in the tradition of the worthlessness of non-whites. And yet the US population could not be mobilised simply on the vague need to oppose communism—there had to be a powerful fantasy of fear.

Fear is induced by anticipation of pain or loss. The “Cold War” myth therefore needed both an image of something perceived as valuable enough to oppose its loss and painful enough to prevent its occurrence. A division of labour emerged in the two wings of the US ruling party. The liberal wing devoted its energy to creating and maintaining the myth of what could be lost while the traditional wing (erroneously called “conservative”) became devoted to creating and maintaining the expectation of pain. Liberal “cold war” practice was therefore emphasised by all the “blessings” of America: consumerism, entrepreneurialism, hedonistic political institutions, mass entertainment and the “civil rights” that supposedly guaranteed them. The traditional wing—not surprisingly strongest in the former slave states of the South—focused on the violent threat. Just as South Carolina’s slaveholders contrived the most draconian measures to control their slaves—out of sheer terror that the Black majority if given the chance would repay whites with the viciousness inherent in chattel slavery—the “traditional” Cold Warriors demanded judicial, extra-judicial and terroristic means be applied to prevent latent revolutionaries from overthrowing the US regime.

Classical interpretation of the “Cold War” also includes this fundamental misunderstanding of what “liberal” or “conservative” means. Although the term “Cold War consensus” has been used often, the term has rarely been substantively explained—except in deceptive ways. The Cold War consensus did not emerge because of a threat by the Soviet Union or even the declared risks of the nuclear arms race. The Cold War consensus was the tacit but often explicit agreement that US corporate expansion and the extension of the archipelago of empire required to discipline the domestic population and marketing of the USA abroad so as to distract from the real wars being waged worldwide—and the fact that all these wars were being waged by the US regime or its vassals. When criticised for all the injustices and crimes committed by the clergy, Pope Pius XII insisted that the Church be judged by its high principles and not by its actions. This is the underlying precept of the whole concept of the “Cold War”—to create an edifice of abstract principles that appear so unassailable, that no action, however vile, can be deemed to impugn it.

A “new Cold War”?

This question is actually ludicrous. First of all, the “old Cold War”—properly understood—never ended. The Cold War has been a war waged by the US regime since 1945 to enforce the imperial scheme contrived between 1917 and 1944 but which could not be implemented as long as Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands still had any substantial control over their empires. 1945 gave the US ruling elite what they thought was the ultimate weapon to impose their will on the rest of the world—with the concessions made by the European competition which was now hopelessly indebted to the US banks and seriously weakened militarily so as to be unable to defend their colonial control against the indigenous populations.

The Cold War was also a model of NSC 68 that mandated a massive armaments industry to heavily arm the US to assert and defend its corporations’ claims on a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth. It has been the logical extension of Manifest Destiny, the particularly US term for imperialism.

It has been assumed—at least by those who ask the foregoing ludicrous question—that the Cold War ended, the date usually being set around 1989 with the opening of borders between the US-occupied Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, established in the Soviet zone of occupation. Of course, more dogmatic types date the end of the Cold War with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Then the official enemy ceased to exist as a state.

However, as argued above, the Cold War did not originate because of the Soviet Union and any presumed competition between the US and USSR. The Cold War was in, and of, itself a war waged unilaterally by the US regime. It was conceived and has been perpetuated as the political strategy of US corporations in their quest for world domination—what they call euphemistically ever-expanding markets. On the contrary, the official policy and praxis of the Soviet Union since Stalin had been literally anti-imperialist to the point of refusing by and large to support foreign revolutionary movements. Instead Stalin advocated “socialism in one country”—the Soviet Union.

The US, from its very inception, has claimed to expand its system: slavery and theft of indigenous land, plus unrestricted exploitation of labour and natural resources for private profit. It was augmented by the long-standing (if only recently declassified) policy of the US regime to initiate an attack against the Soviet Union, massively with nuclear weapons. Only the visible and convincing success of the Soviet Union in establishing near parity in nuclear capability forced the US to refrain from pursuing its traditional mass annihilation strategy.

It is not necessary to ask if there will be a new cold war, since the cold war is still being waged and the deception inherent in the regular reiteration of this question in the media is proof that it is still being won among the whites of this world.

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is author of Unbecoming American: A War Memoir and also Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..