2008-04-20 How did the Cold War actually start/text
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The Voice of the White House - Washington , D.C. , April 20, 2008
How did the Cold War actually start?
Russian military threats to world peace?
The Second World War had proved to be a godsend to American business which had been slowly recovering from the economic collapses of 1929 and 1938. The guaranteed entry of the United States into the global conflict after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor mandated the creation of an enormous military machine and an immense parallel increase in American military equipment.
Both the generals and the industrialists feasted at this table and grew fat but like all good things (for the United States at least but not for the rest of the world) the boom times ended in 1945.
With no war to supply or fight, both the military and their business counterparts faced bleak prospects of reduction in forces and shrinking business contracts with the Pentagon.
Then, in 1948, the U.S. Army hit on a plan that would turn around their loss of rank, privilege and business contracts.
In 1946, a German intelligence officer, one Reinhard Gehlen, who had been in charge of the German Army’s Russian military intelligence desk until Hitler sacked him for his inaccurate reporting, went to work for the Pentagon as a Russian expert. By 1948, under U.S. Army control, Gehlen had built up an organization which was then composed mostly of former SS and Gestapo personnel and which issued periodic reports on Russia, tailored to fit the Army’s current needs.
In that year, at the Army’s specific instructions, Gehlen prepared an entirely fictional report that claimed, falsely, that Josef Stalin was preparing to launch a military offensive against Western Europe with 135 Russian armored divisions, then stationed in their occupation zone of Germany.
That all of these units existed solely on paper or that the Russians had torn up the German rail lines in their zone and shipped the rails themselves back to Russia (making the logistical Russian support of a massive invasion completely impossible) was well-known to both the Army and Gehlen but not ever mentioned. This sensational report was deliberately leaked by the Pentagon to Congress and President Truman, with entirely predictable results.
A panic ensued and the Cold War had begun.
The Russians had absolutely neither the capacity, or the desire, to engage the United States in any kind of a military conflict and, on the contrary, were terrified lest Truman and the American military were prepared to launch a full scale atomic war against them as they just recently had against Japan.
The Army expanded to meet this mythic threat, generals returned to their offices and all across America , shuttered defense plants began to reopen once again.
Now, while the vicious Bush keeps frightening the American public with non-existent terrorist threats to keep the Republicans' weakening hold on power, the Pentagon has been casting about, looking for another profitable enmity and are preparing us for another faked Gehlen report.