The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement

In the past fifty years, the Civil Rights movement has changed America more than any other social movement. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King and others profoundly altered America’s treatment of its minorities, in a way which represents one of its most powerful domestic accomplishments over the past century.

Yet one aspect of the Civil Rights movement has always been neglected in the conventional history of the movement. This was its connection to the Cold War. For America to win the Cold War, Civil Rights was a necessity. Continuing domestic discrimination against non-white minorities would make it impossible to win over the newly-free Third World.

Politicians at the time understood this very well, and it wasn’t as if they kept this fact secret. Presidents, such as Harry Truman, explicitly linked the Cold War to America’s race relationships. They put it in their speeches. They put it in their political advertisements.

Take this rather amazing ad by Republican candidate Richard Nixon:

This is Richard Nixon, of all people, endorsing Civil Rights in 1960.

What is more, Mr. Nixon spends more than half the ad explicitly telling the American people how Civil Rights is necessary for the fight against communism:

Why must we vigorously defend them [Civil Rights]? First, because it is right and just.

And second, because we cannot compete successfully against communism if we fail to utilize completely the minds and energy of all our citizens.

And third, the whole world is watching us. When we fail to grant equality to all, that makes news – bad news – for America all over the world.

This is not the type of rhetoric the history books talk about when discussing the Civil Rights – and yet here it is, in front of our faces.

There is also the phrase “The whole world is watching us.” This was an iconic Civil Rights phrase, and its true meaning has somewhat been diluted in the history books.

Civil Rights activists knew as well as everybody else that Civil Rights was tightly linked to the Cold War. They used this fact as a vital leverage to achieve their goals; it is no coincidence that the Freedom Rides started just a month before President Kennedy met Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna summit. This is also why Dr. Martin Luther King kept his opposition to the Vietnam War silent for so long.

So when Civil Rights activists said, “The whole world is watching us,” they literally meant that the newly decolonized nations of the Third World were watching America’s treatments of its minorities. Newly free black, brown, and yellow nations could not support a country that continued treating non-whites like second-class citizens at home.

And even conservatives like Richard Nixon himself used the phrase!

All in all, this aspect of Civil Rights traditionally isn’t discussed much. To say that Civil Rights came about not just through sheer altruism, but also because of self-interest, diminishes the mythology that has built up around the movement.

But it makes more sense. America did not just randomly decide to be nicer to black people in the 1960s, instead of the 1920s or the 1890s. Instead, it ended segregation because not doing so would greatly damage the fight against communism. Civil Rights was therefore not just the right thing to do, but also vitally important to the national interest.

All this is not to diminish the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, nor to ignore the heroism of its leaders. Civil Rights was probably the best thing that happened to the United States in the past fifty years. It fundamentally changed the country from a system based upon coercion to what it is today.

But saying that Civil Rights happened because of pure altruism vastly oversimplifies the reality. The Civil Rights movement did happen, in the words of Mr. Nixon, “because it is right and just.” But it also happened so America could “compete successfully against communism.”

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

Golden Lily: How the CIA Funded a Covert Empire

One of the darkest episodes of the second world war was the brutal slaughter of 30 million people in East Asia by the Japanese. The death rate of Allied POWs in this region was a staggering 30% (more than 7x higher than the death rate in Nazi camps). Yet, there is little discussion today of these war crimes. In fact, every member of the imperial family was exonerated. Why were Japanese royalty let go, while Germans were prosecuted? The grotesque answer lies with riches that were looted from the Chinese, Koreans, and Burmese during the conflict.

When Allied forces blockaded the Japanese, much of their stolen treasure was buried in the Philippines. Upon their surrender, General Yamashita was taken into custody along with his surrogates. His driver, Major Kojima Kashii, was tortured to reveal the booty’s location.

Since Yamashita had arrived from Manchuria in October 1944 to take over the defense of the Philippines, Kojima had driven him everywhere. In charge of Kojima’s torture was a Filipino-American intelligence officer Severino Garcia Diaz Santa Romana, a man of many names and personalities, whose friends called him ‘Santy’. He wanted Major Kojima to reveal each place to which he had taken Yamashita, where bullion and other treasure were hidden.

Supervising Santy, we learned, was Captain Edward G. Lansdale, later one of America’s best-known Cold Warriors. In September 1945, Lansdale was 37 years old and utterly insignificant, only an advertising agency copywriter who had spent the war in San Francisco writing propaganda for the OSS. In September 1945, chance entered Lansdale’s life in a big way when President Truman ordered the OSS to close down. To preserve America’s intelligence assets, and his own personal network, OSS chief General William Donovan moved personnel to other government or military posts. Captain Lansdale was one of fifty office staff given a chance to transfer to U.S. Army G-2 in the Philippines. There, Lansdale heard about Santy torturing General Yamashita’s driver and joined the torture sessions as an observer and participant.

Early that October, Major Kojima broke down and led Lansdale and Santy to more than a dozen Golden Lily treasure vaults in the mountains north of Manila, including two that were easily opened.

$100 billion in wealth (in 1945 prices) was estimated to be buried in the Philippine hills, including tens of thousands of tonnes of gold. Adjusted for inflation, its worth is valued at about $3 trillion. After being briefed of the situation, the Truman administration decided to keep the treasure a state secret. The loot would be funneled into a covert political action fund to fight communism. It was called the Black Eagle Trust.

According to [CIA Deputy Director] Ray Cline and others, between 1945 and 1947 the gold bullion recovered by Santy and Lansdale was discreetly moved by ship to 176 accounts at banks in 42 countries. Secrecy was vital. If the recovery of a huge mass of stolen gold became known, thousands of people would come forward to claim it, many of them fraudulently, and governments would be bogged down resolving ownership. Truman also was told that the very existence of so much black gold, if it became public knowledge, would cause the fixed price of $35 and cause the fixed price of $35 an ounce to collapse...

Documents do show that between 1945 and 1947 very large quantities of gold and platinum were deposited in the world’s biggest banks, including Union Banque Suisse and other Swiss banks, which became major repositories of the Black Eagle Trust.

 

Hirohito & Asia’s Stolen Treasures

Related Posts

Part 2: From Golden Lily to the War on Terror

Part 3: The Collateral Damage of Golden Lily

Part 4: Golden Lily's Liar Loans and the Subprime Meltdown

Communism in Italy

This is the third part of a series on Communism in Western Europe; this section focuses on Italy in particular. The previous parts can be found here.

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The Italian Communist Party (PCI) formed in 1921, as a break-away faction of the socialist party. In many respects, its early years were similar to those of the PCF. Like the French Communists, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) fared poorly in national elections, winning less than five percent of the popular vote. Its time to grow, moreover, was cut short by Benito Mussolini's dictatorship; he outlawed the party in 1926.

In another parallel to their French colleagues, the Italian Communists (PCI) fought fiercely against the Nazis during WWII and won major acclaim for their efforts. After the war, the PCI took part in the new government, playing a major role in writing the new Italian constitution. As in France, however, America's Marshall Plan curbed their influence; to gain access to U.S. aid, the Italian government kicked out the Communists. They would never again hold power in Italy.

Here the paths of the French and Italian Communists diverge. In France the Communist story is one of steady decline, until the PCF no longer constituted a viable political force. In Italy the story is different.

More below.

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Communism in France

This is the second part of a series on Communism in Western Europe; this section focuses on France in particular. The third part (Italy) can be found here.

In France, the Communist Party was founded in 1920 by revolting members of its socialist party, then called the French Section of the Workers' International (Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière, SFIO). Their new party initially did fairly poorly, only one of the numerous parties out there. In 1928, for instance, the Communists (PCF) won 11.26% of the vote.

Nevertheless, by 1936 - the depths of the Great Depression - the Communists (PCF) were making gains. Then came WWII - the best thing that ever happened to the PCF. Out of all the parties in occupied France, the Communists fought the Nazis hardest and suffered the most for it. They earned the nickname le parti des 75 000 fusillés - the party of the 75,000 executed people - and immense popularity.

Following the war, the PCF joined the new government led by Charles de Gaulle. Unfortunately for it, however, the U.S. government demanded a Communist-free government as a precondition for accepting the Marshall Plan. The French Communist Party was summarily booted out.

This did not prevent the PCF from channeling its wartime record into electoral success; from November 1946 to 1956, the Communists won a greater share of the popular vote than any other party. Their base lay amongst France's working class, which remained a loyal and reliable constituency, and they constituted the dominant force on the French left.

Communist Party in France Performance

Continued below the flip.

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Communism in Western Europe

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

A mentor once told me not to study communism, because it was a dead system, and studying something dead is worthless.

In defiance of this sensible advice, I will be presenting two dead communist movements: the communists in Italy and the communists in France.

Most Americans have never heard about these two parties. For good reason: France and Italy were staunch allies of the United States in the Cold War; it does not seem as if they were remotely communist.

But, for decades, the communists in Italy and France commanded millions of votes and a powerful political machine. Their strength remains a fascinating, little-noticed part of history.

Here are how the French Communist Party (Parti Communiste Français: PCF) and the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano, PCI) performed:

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There are several patterns here that apply to both parties, and several patterns unique to each country. (Note: The French line after 1956 indicates Communist performance in the first round of legislative elections, whereas the Italian line indicates Communist performance in elections to the Italian Chamber of Deputies. France has a two-round election system; Italy has two chambers in its Parliament. All statistics cited afterwards relate to these specific criteria.)

I will be exploring French patterns in the next post.

There's more...

Diaries

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