Time Travel Logs

1954 Part 6

Chapter 6.

John Foster Dulles said, “For about 2,000 years now, there has been a figure in mythology which symbolizes tragic futility. That was Sisyphus, who, according to the Greek story, was given the task of rolling a great stone up to the top of a hill. Each time when, after great struggle and sweating, the stone was just at the brow of the hill, some evil force manifested itself and pushed the stone down. So poor Sisyphus had to start his task over again. Is that the way the Cold War is going to proceed for the next 37 years until the Soviet Union just goes away?”

Bob Thomas said, “Actually a little worse than that. You lose ground throughout the Cold War, much of the domestic population of all Western Democracies, including the US, seem to be opposed to any actions the US takes. Communist nation rebellions are put down quickly and don’t spread.

Then suddenly around 1987 the Soviets start to loosen up on Eastern Europe, and the Cold War ends by 1989, and Communism is a discredited ideology to the vast majority of all nations.”

John Foster Dulles asked, “Do you think we need to lose ground in order for the Soviet collapse to happen?”

Bob Thomas answered, “No I don’t think that losing ground is necessary to cause the Soviet collapse, with the single exception of Afghanistan. They got themselves bogged down there in 1979, and when they left in 1989, there was no more Soviet bloc.

Actually the one loss of territory to Communism that almost triggered nuclear war is Cuba. It is also where the CIA got unhinged, I’ll talk about that later. Avoid the Cuban revolution, and probably similar cases in Latin American near the US, and just maybe the Cold War goes better for the US.

The other major mistake to avoid is the Vietnam War. The actual loss of all of Indochina didn’t hurt the US, it was the long war there that did.”

President Eisenhower interjected, “Shall we take the position that it is better to surrender pieces of free territory in the hope that this will satisfy the appetite of the aggressor and we shall have peace?
Do we not still remember that the name of “Munich” symbolizes a vain hope of appeasing dictators? At that time the policy of appeasement was tried, and it failed.”

Bob Thomas said, “It is more an issue of capability than anything else. The so-called best and the brightest of the 1960’s tried every strategy possible, and could not win that war.”

John Foster Dulles said “We must use your knowledge to find a way to safeguard the freedom of the peoples of Indochina and Cuba. The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost. So, how do we win in both places without our army having to fight guerrilla wars?”

Bob Thomas said, “I’ll go over both places, and mention as an aside another Cold War area that should be changed. In 1956 you are going to stab Britain and France in the back in support of Nasser in Egypt, who is going to be a Soviet ally anyway. Britain and France never recover. Britain is out of the Empire business, with their former empire becoming a Cold War battleground of proxy armies, aid, coups, etc. France pulls out of NATO in 1966, and opposes US foreign policy for the next half century. I’ll expand on that later. Indochina I’ll have to think about, since between now and 1970 every possible strategy is tried and fails. That leaves Cuba.

The obvious change to make in Cuban history, is that right now both Fidel and Raul Castro are in Cuban jails. I think in about a year, Batista frees political prisoners. They go to Mexico, meet Ernesto Che Guevara an Argentinian, and the three of them return to Cuba and use Mao’s strategies to control the countryside, and by the end of 1958 take over the whole island. I don’t think the absence of those three would prevent the revolution from happening, though.

Batista is similar to many dictators of countries facing Communist revolutions, including Diem of South Vietnam. They are incompetent and corrupt, and more worried about coups than with revolution. Their armies deliberately have poor leadership to reduce the chance of a coup, and their soldiers are corrupt and tend to flee when there is a real fight. The US tends to try a coup against them, the one against Batista fails in a couple of years. I think the US actually had an arms embargo against Batista at some point.

You can’t successfully fight Communism with that sort of alternative. The Communists are experts at leading a broad front of people who hate the regime, and then eliminating those same people when the revolution succeeds.

The record in Latin America is hit or miss with propping up those sort of regimes.

If a regime like this tries to relax repression, they usually fall pretty quickly. President Carter tried to encourage human rights, and both Nicaragua and Iran fell fairly quickly. Iran is one of the few failures of the Communist end game plan. They thought they were using the Islamists in their broad front strategy, but when the regime of the Shah fell, it was the Communists who were executed by the Islamists.”

John Foster Dulles asked, “Carter? I am not familiar with who that is.”

Bob Thomas said, “Jimmy Carter. Nuclear submarine officer, born in 1924, and I think by now he left the service to take over his family peanut farm in Georgia. He become active in Georgia politics in the 1960’s and elected President in 1976. Lost to Reagan in 1980.”

John Foster Dulles asked, “Ronald Reagan, the actor?”

Bob Thomas answered, “Yes. Are you going to make a joke about an actor being President?”

John Foster Dulles said, “No. I remember his strong leadership of the Screen Actors Guild, keeping it free of Communism. I can see the possibility, 26 years from now of his building up a political track record. So getting back to Communist revolutions, how can they be stopped?”

“Bob Thomas answered, “First, realize that these are almost always rural revolutions. So, land reform is essential. Peasants who own land, might even fight for the regime. Next is eliminate corruption and mindless reprisals against rural populations for actions of the revolutionaries. If rural population associates the military with theft and random killings, they’ll be motivated to fight for the revolution. For that matter, if the revolution is able to use targeted killings in the villages, the whole countryside will tend to go along with them.

The key is a term used in the 1960’s, the hearts and minds, of the rural population. The defense has to be smart, focused, and motivated, and the war is on a local personal level.

That, and helicopters. Helicopters can ferry troops around, avoiding ambushes, at least until anti-air missiles get much more effective and cheap in the 1980’s. They can also mount machine guns, and provide a real edge against guerrilla armies.”

Story: 1954: Part 7


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