The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Governments David Talbot, Harper Perenniel (2016)
Oliver Stone tells the story of the 1944 Democratic Convention. The crowd is wildly cheering VP Henry Wallace, and Sen Claude Pepper is pushing his way to the podium, eager to seize the moment and move that Wallace be nominated by acclamation to be FDR's running mate for another term, just as FDR has wished. With three seconds to spare, Mayor Kelly of the Chicago Democratic machine fabricates a "fire hazard" in order to adjourn the meeting without a vote. He and other party bosses then work the delegates all night with bribes and threats, and in the morning the unknown Sen Harry Truman, who had placed eighth the night before, is voted to be Roosevelt's VP.
The point is that FDR had only months to live, and that Wallace would have been an enormously popular president with a strong leaning toward pacifism and democratic socialism. There would have been no Hiroshima, no Cold War, and the New Deal programs would have been continued and expanded. The US economy would have followed a path more like Norway. We came within three seconds of a historic path in which the Military-Industrial Complex and the Deep State would never have gotten a toehold.
How did we get to this place, this crazy paranoid world where our country spills the worst aspects of its violent culture over the planet, murdering and subjugating and stealing resources in the name of "spreading democracy", lying and deceiving for the sake of a handful of robber barons who are mostly oblivious to the carnage that is perpetrated in their name, while the rest of us are inestimably poorer for the waste, the devastation, the lost lives, the shattered bodies and fractured families?
How much of our history is contingent, hypersensitive to obscure events at crucial inflection points? How much difference can any one man have made in the history of America and the world?
I've been reading a biographyof Allen Dulles. Most Americans have never heard of him, and yet I've become convinced that all that is wrong with America, all the imperialism, the xenophobia, the subversion of democracy at home and abroad, all connect to actions of this small-minded sociopath (and his brother) in the 1940s through the 1960s.
Dulles's career began as a lawyer for the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, with clients like the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later re-named British Petroleum) and United Fruit Company, which had sensitive interests overseas in need of political protection. Through his life, his power base was these corporations, and he continued to represent their interests even when his "client" was nominally the citizenry of the USA.
Allen was the younger brother of John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State under Eisenhower. He always resented the greater stature of his brother, as he was "only" head of the CIA from its incipient days as the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, during World War II. Foster was no liberal, but Allen pulled him further to the right as the two had a lock on foreign policy, as Eisenhower was a figurehead and novice in diplomacy and international politcy.
Heading OSS during the War, Dulles spent time in Europe, making his separate peace with the Nazis (after FDR had explicitly made "unconditional surrender" our firm demand), forging ties to war criminals, serving as a liason for business deals and loans financing the Third Reich. After the War, Dulles was instrumental in gaining pardons for top Nazis, and finding roles for them in the US science and policy organizations. He considered Nazis useful in the all-important fight against the socialist ideology of Soviet Russia.
The USSR was our ally during WW II, and did far more to defeat Hitler than the US ever did. During the New Deal years, even Ronald Reagan was a socialist. How did Communism become a dirty word, and the Soviet Union the Evil Empire? More than anyone with the possible exception of James Byrnes , the Dulles brothers were authors of the Cold War. They supported Nixon and Joe McCarthy in their red-baiting vituperation, while knowing it was all based on lies. They steered Eisenhower away from his instinctive attitude of cooperation and accomodation, towad a hard-line stance against Nikitia Khruschev, who came to office after Stalin with a mandate for de'tente. It was the Dulles brothers who originated the American policy based on a threat to use nuclear weapons in response to even minor international skirmishes like Quemoy and Matsu . The first use policy led to the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction, and the spiraling nuclear arms race of the 1950s and 60s. These policies were lent a macabre legitimacy by the Council on Foreign Relations , where Allen Dulles also played a leading role, and his brother Foster had been director as early as 1927.
Do you know about MKUltra ? It was one of the most sordid chapters in the sordid history of our country. Nazi doctors who performed horrific human experimentation during the war were imported into the US, initiating a series of experiments in mind control using drugs, electric shock, isolation, brainwashing, and devilishly scientific means to destroy brains with torture and turn human individuals into docile puppets. This went on in university laboratories, in hospitals and prisons across the country. Few of the psychiatrists who were tapped to perform torture could resist the lucrative contracts, and those who were shocked sufficiently to threaten publicizing the scandal were murdered, using the same poisons and deceits that the CIA was already using to assassinate foreign enemies.
One bizarre detail illustrates Dulles's psychopathic mind. His son, Allen Jr, was injured in the Korean War with shrapnel in his brain. He came back to the US with an unpredictable temperament, and was prone to tantrums in which he railed against his father in terms that came uncomfortably close to the truth. The elder Dulles shipped his own son off to an MKUltra site for "treatment", and three months later, Allen Jr came back a vegetable.
MKUltra was brought to us by Allen Dulles. Though the program was closed down by hearings of the Church Committee in the 1970s, its legacy continues to this day in the torture camp at Guantanamo and in CIA black sites around the world.
The first instance of extraordinary rendition was also Dulles's handiwork. As a young PhD student, Jesus de Galindez wrote a Columbia University dissertation on the thuggish reign of Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic. But Dulles had been a supporter of Trujillo, finding him a reliable ally of American business interests and a bulwark against agrarian reformers in the region. Dulles arranged to have Galindez kidnapped from his Manhattan apartment, drugged and delivered to Trujillo personally. Galindez was tortured and murdered, his body disposed in the sea.
We now know that the CIA has a cozy relationship with all the mainstream US press, with paid CIA agents on the editorial staffs of every newspaper from USA Today to The Nation, but most especially the New York Times and Time Magazine. These relationships, too, were originated and negotiated originally by Allen Dulles in the early Cold War years.