Part 2: PARANOIA — Cause of the Cold War

David Meakes July 4, 2018

how paranoia caused the cold war

Anti-Communism was the focus in the Forrestal years, 1946 to 1949. All of the following were introduced: the Marshall Plan, NATO, the World Bank, Radio Free Europe, the National Security Act, the National Security Council to run it. Forrestal upgraded the CIA and cooperated with J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy to build the Black List. Forrestal coordinated Pentagon ‘loyalty checks’, and stated that all postwar peace movements were Communist directed. ALL of these were intended as anti-Communist actions.

In March 1947 an article, authored by ‘X’ (anonymous George Kennan), but delegated, co-authored and edited by Forrestal, appeared in the Foreign Affairs Magazine.  James Carroll, House of War, wrote, “——- the article had an immediate and momentous impact, and it remains perhaps the most influential American Foreign Policy declaration ever made by an individual.” The article presented an apocalyptic, paranoid view of the Soviet, declaring that Communism could not be uprooted, changed or negotiated with, but only ‘contained.’ “When translated for Stalin, the word ‘containment’ was rendered as ‘strangulation’.  Stalin would find that word easy to believe. Imagine the overall effect on Paranoiac Stalin!

It was the National Security Act that then put in place the still-existing, fearful, paranoid, distrustful mind-set that, as historian Daniel Yergin stated, “The nation was to be permanently prepared.”

The defense industry had sputtered along for the 2 previous post-war years. Peace!  No war!  The new policy of permanent military preparedness brought unrestrained elation to the arms industry.

Carroll, House of War-  “Daniel Yergin, historian, probably more clearly than anyone else stated the primary question of the Cold War. “American leaders might have seen themselves confronted by a cruel, clumsy, bureaucratized fear-ridden despotism, preoccupied with constructing a vast war-torn land. Instead the Americans were convinced that they faced a cunning, sure-footed enemy engaged in a never-ending drive for world hegemony. A fantasy Kremlin, entirely unrelated to the actualities of Moscow as it existed, was taken in the American imagination to be the absolute enemy.”  At this point it is clear that the choice had been the “cunning’ view, and that unrestricted paranoia had been the root cause of the Cold War. The anti-peace movement and the pro-war movements were riding high. Anyone advocating peace at that time was named as a traitor, a ‘Red’, a fellow-traveler, a Pinko, A Commie, a Peacenik, and of course anti-American.

In early 1949, Forrestal submitted his resignation to President Truman; became delusional saying the Communists were after him; was admitted to the Bethesda Naval Hospital VIP 16th floor suite (to cover up, NOT the psychiatric ward), and his body was found 13 floors below the unlocked open window on May 22nd, 1949.

His paranoia had taken his life, and it had infected the U.S. government. By the time of Forrestal’s death, the Cold War was on auto-pilot. Paul Nitze, brought into be Secretary of State ‘Policy Planner’, later the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said Nitze told his Pentagon friends, “It’s us against the Soviets. Either we get them first or they get us first.”  Nitze’s paranoid influence continued while serving under nine presidents. The policies and distrustful attitude of the Department of Defense, continue Forrestal’s paranoia today.

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    David Meakes

    David Meakes

    David Meakes is a Canadian-born World War II veteran. He is ninety-five years old and a retired podiatris... read more

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