Mossadeq democracy in Iranis democratically elected by the people of Iran; Mossadaq intends to nationalize Iran's oil industry. Opposition from US and Britain is immediate, with the CIA moving to destabilize the Mossadaq regime and the British imposing an economic embargo on Iran. (History Lesson: Middle East Timeline)
US reconstruction of Japanthe countries block almost all claims for reparations "arising out of any actions taken by Japan and its nationals in the course of the prosecution of the war." This means that tens of thousands of innocent civilians who were killed, robbed, or forced into slave labor by the Japanese could not (or their families could not) receive any sort of reparations from either government. During the war, as Japanese armies ravaged Asia, they gathered up a staggering amount of loot from a variety of sources. The Japanese emperor, Hirohito, set up a secret organization called "Golden Lily" to ensure that the loot remained under imperial control. Civilian slaves and POWs were used to build elaborate underground stashes throughout the conquered territories; when sites were completed, the workers -- and often the Japanese officers supervising them -- were buried alive with the treasure, to ensure secrecy. After Japan surrendered in 1945, American forces found some of these hoards, worth billions of dollars. The US decided to keep the finds secret; publicizing them would have destroyed the fiction at the heart of the American-installed post-war government: that the Emperor -- and most of the Japanese ruling elite -- had been nothing but powerless figureheads in the wartime regime. Instead, Washington used the money to bankroll covert operations by the newly formed CIA: an untraceable slush fund, free of Congressional oversight, stashed under various fronts in 176 banks in 42 different countries. Over the years, the money helped the Agency overthrow governments, subvert elections, smuggle cash to despots like Saddam Hussein, arm terrorist paramilitaries in Latin America, establish its own venture capital funds to infiltrate the business world, and so forth. One of Golden Lily's chief bagmen, gangland chief Yoshio Kodama, used his stolen billions to bankroll the pro-American political faction that has controlled Japan for almost 54 years. As historian Chalmers Johnson reports, Kodama then "went to work for the CIA and later became the chief [Japanese] agent for the Lockheed Aircraft Company, bribing and blackmailing politicians" to buy US military hardware.
US intervention in Southeast AsiaThe belief that a million or more Chinese will rally to the cause will be shattered when only a few thousand join in. Many of Chiang's Nationalists instead turn to drug running; what profited from the CIA's machinations are the opium traders of the Golden Triangle and the corrupt regimes of Thailand and Taiwan. The left-leaning regime of Burma demands Washington's assistance to pressure Taiwan to remove the 12,000 Chinese Nationalists encamped in its northern province. It suspects, rightly, that they are receiving CIA aid, but the Agency wrongly believes that these Nationalists will help keep Burma from being drawn into orbit around Mao's China. When, in 1953, Burma took its complaint to the UN, the US's ambassador to Burma resigns in disgust over being deceived by his government. (Derek Leebaert)
Korean War"This was one of those times of panic where Congress loses all its native caution," historian Rexford Tugwell later writes. "Matters about which it had been niggardly for years were suddenly financed with ridiculous lavishness." Taxes skyrocket; military spending mushrooms. At this time, about 270,000 US and 235,000 South Korean troops are fighting under US command. These troops were outnumbered at the front, sometimes four or five to one. (Derek Leebaert)
"Unitary executive"to the US Constitution is passed, restricting US presidents to two terms of office. The amendment is primarily the result of Roosevelt's unprecedented three terms, and pushed mainly by Republicans who fear the domination of the office by Democrats. (US Constitution Online)
Korean WarBut throughout the entire North Korean military action, Truman and supreme US commander Douglas MacArthur have struck sparks, and MacArthur's arrogance, unwillingness to follow orders, and insistence on bringing the war to China prompts Truman to relieve MacArthur of duty. General Matthew Ridgway, the quietly competent World War II hero, is given the task of repairing the often-disastrous excesses of MacArthur. "Thanks to Mac's handling of the Eighth Army," Ridgway writes thirty years later, "it was starved for ammunition, food, clothing, engineering supplies, etc." MacArthur's firing prompts a round of fiery recriminations among many US military officials and lawmakers who have long admired MacArthur's insouciant confidence that the US can handle the role of global superpower with grace and ease. However, as Derek Leebaert writes, "[t]he cautious and collective policies of Truman the failed haberdasher appealed to Americans more than the bold and belligerent ones of MacArthur. They cheered MacArthur from the heart, but weighed the dismal choices that governed their sons' lives, their treasure, and their homes, so fragile before atomic fire. They would not abandon Asia, but they would not raise the stakes by risking a wider war." Half a million American troops are dispatched to Europe; the thinking surrounding Korea becomes, grudgingly and by increments, more towards containment and compromise rather than a ringing victory. (Derek Leebaert)
US collaboration with former Nazisduring the war, as Albert Einstein and other eminent Jewish colleagues, all sickened by the Nazis, were discussing the harsh penalties that would be meted out to Hitler and his supporters after the Allied victory, philosopher Bertrand Russell interjected, "The victors would lend money to the German government and would forget the German crimes." Einstein and his colleagues were appalled, but Russell was shortly proven correct. After the war, the US government would quickly move to rehabilitate Germany in the eyes of its people: "The Cold War and the need to rehabilitate Germany made it essential to have this view of terrible Nazis oppressing Germany," one historian will write. This effort expanded to include German nationals with verifiable Nazi affiliations, most notably Operation Paperclip, which brought at least 260 Nazi scientists to America to work and live without repercussion or questions as to their involvement in war crimes. Because these German scientists were willing to work much more cheaply than their American counterparts, and because they had already been vetted by the CIA and therefore found it easier to gain security clearances, they were soon working in the highest echelons of America's science and defense communities, often to the chagrin and anger of American scientists. In the USSR, Stalin simply rounded up 16,000 German scientists and forced them to work for the Soviet space and military programs, though the most productive were paid well. Some were treated so lavishly that many Germans decided to work for Stalin instead of in the more austere laboratories of the US. Historian Derek Leebaert notes, "Right through the summer of 1948, most senior US personnel in Germany, including intelligence officials, saw no reason to be worried by field reports of this competition. The results would be apparent in about ten years." (Derek Leebaert)
Attack on civil libertiesThe 12, including general secretary Eugene Dennis, are accused of, in the terminology of the ARA, advocating, abetting, and/or teaching the desirability of overthrowing the US government. They were arrested in 1948 and put on trial nearly a year later. Since none of the defendants had ever openly called for violence or had collected weapons for a putative overthrow, the prosecution relied on reading inflammatory statements from the works of Karl Marx and other revolutionary writers. Testimony from a number of disgruntled former party members, particularly Louis Budenz, the former managing editor of the party's newspaper, The Daily Worker, is also used against the defendants. The defendants will receive anything but a fair trial; for the defendants' refusal to testify about other, uncharged party members, they are sentenced to jail for contempt of court; even their lawyers are jailed for contempt of court by judge Harold Medina, a virulent anti-Communist. Justice Hugo Black, a dissenter in the Supreme Court conviction, writes, "Public opinion being what it now is, few will protest the conviction of these Communist petitioners. There is hope, however, that in calmer times, when present pressures, passions, and fears subside, this or some later Court will restore the First Amendment liberties to the high preferred place where they belong in a free society." The Supreme Court uses its ruling to decide that membership in the party itself is now a crime, basing its decision on the "fact" that the ACP was bent on overthrowing the government as well as citing "the inflammable nature of world civilizations." 46 more ACP members were almost immediately arrested; thousands of hidden Soviet spies, along with peace activists and anti-government figures with no connection to the Soviet spy network, go underground. (Spartacus SchoolNet, Derek Leebaert)
Minority rightsBrown and Fleming have joined a lawsuit asking the government to allow their children to attend whites-only schools. The lawsuit will eventually become the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case that leads to the desegretation of American schools. The Brown suit is later joined by suits filed in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The South Carolina lawsuit is particularly difficult to counter, as the blacks-only schools in South Carolina are demonstrably inferior to those enjoyed by white students. The NAACP, which has fought segregation in the courts since the 1930s, joins the lawsuits almost from the beginning. NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall spearheads the lawsuits. The South Carolina lawsuit loses in state court on a 2-1 vote, with the dissenting judge writing, "segregation in education can never produce equality and is an evil that must be eradicated.... The system of segregation in education adopted and practiced in South Carolina must go and must go now. Segregation is per se inequality." The Supreme Court will consent to judge the lawsuits in 1952. (Fireside and Fuller)
Cold WarBurgess and Maclean are two members of the Soviet spy ring called the "Cambridge Five;" their defection is prompted by a warning from fellow Soviet spy Kim Philby, who warns them that they are under suspicion. The spy ring becomes known as the "Cambridge Five" after investigation proves that the members were all recruited while they were at Trinity College and belonged to the "Cambridge Apostle," a secret debating society. The three, along with fellow member John Cairncross, were recruited by Trinity fellow Anthony Blunt. The so-called "Fifth Man" is believed to be biologist Victor Rothschild; American publisher Michael Whitney Straight, is believed to have also been a Soviet spy and Cambridge Apostle. Both Rothschild and Straight are scions of rich, influential families.
Soviet nuclear programA second Soviet nuclear test explosion, "Joe 2," takes place in Kazakhstan, with this plutonium bomb incorporating a number of improvements over the first 1949 explosion. (Nuclear Weapons Archives)
Vietnam Warafter waging large-scale and inconclusive conventional battles against the French, changes tactics, now relying on guerrilla hit-and-run tactics with the objective of cutting French supply lines. Giap's new tactics will prove devastatingly effective. (Vietnam War Timeline)
Cold Warabout to accept the post of US ambassador to the Soviet Union, publishes his examination of US foreign policy, entitled American Diplomacy, 1900-1950. The book quickly becomes a Cold War classic. In it, Kennan characterizes American foreign policy as "all sail and no rudder," excoriates what he sees as Americans' fatal proclivity for legalistic moralizing, and says that the US is fooling itself by trying to achieve high-flying yet vague and nonspecific goals such as "making the world safe for democracy." Kennan fails to acknowledge that he is as responsible for American sloganeering around the world as anyone else. Kennan will eventually be pushed out of US foreign service by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who will also see to it that fellow Cold Warrior Paul Nitze is put out to pasture. (Derek Leebaert)
Mossadeq democracy in IranHis efforts to democratize Iran had already earned him being named Time Magazine's Man of the Year for 1951. After he nationalizes the Iranian oil industry, Mossadaq realizes that Britain will attempt to overthrow his government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country. Britain finds itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives out of his office, stating that "We don't overthrow governments; the United States has never done this before, and we're not going to start now." After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mossadaq are produced. The British intelligence operative who presents the idea to the Eisenhower administration later writes in his memoirs, "If I ask the Americans to overthrow Mossadaq in order to rescue a British oil company, they are not going to respond. This is not an argument that's going to cut much mustard in Washington. I've got to have a different argument. ...I'm going to tell the Americans that Mossadaq is leading Iran towards Communism." This argument, spurious as it was, won over the Eisenhower administration, who promptly decided to organize a coup in Iran.
Bush familyHis deep business and political ties to the conservative wing of American politics will serve him well; his most frequent golfing partners are President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, and National Security Advisor Gordon Gray. Bush continues to foster his relations with the US intelligence community as well. In 1961, when Allen Dulles will be forced to resign as director of the CIA over the Bay of Pigs, Dulles will bring his successor, John McCone, to dinner with Bush the day before Dulles resigned. In 1962, one of Bush's last acts as a senator is to launch the new National Strategy Information Center, to be run by conservative Frank Barnett. While it is hard to pin down Prescott Bush's direct connections to the US intelligence community -- he was never an official of the OSS or the CIA -- it is indisputable that he, like his fellow business magnates William Paley of CBS and Juan Trippe of PanAm, was a high-level intelligence asset. Bush served on both Paley's and Trippe's corporate boards. He also served on the boards of two companies, Dresser Industries and the Vanadium Corporation, that provided uranium ore and equipment for the Manhattan Project, which resulted in the development of the atomic bomb. Dresser is well known for its deep ties to the CIA. Dresser chief Neil Mallon, a close friend of Prescott Bush, was in close contact with Allen Dulles during Dulles' term at the CIA.
Attack on civil libertiesThe CIA buys the entire stock of LSD from its maker, Sandoz, and creates a new project called MK-ULTRA. The project is headed by Dr. Stanley Gottlieb, who is most interested in, as he later tells a congressional hearing, "how it was possible to modify an individual's behavior by covert means." Gottlieb will later admit to providing the CIA with anthrax for a failed assassination attempt against the Congo's Patrice Lumumba. By the time Gottlieb leaves the program in 1973, he has destroyed virtually all the MK-ULTRA files and documentation. Dozens of "test subjects" either die or are driven mad as a result of the tests. (Gentlemen's Quarterly/Frank Olson Project)
NATOThe two countries, hardly democracies, but both ruled by autocratic, repressive regimes, are hoped to form a bastion against Soviet expansion. The same thinking prompts NATO's lavish support of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco and Portugal's strongman Antonio Salazar. (CBS News, NATO and UN History)
US reconstruction of JapanThe postwar treaty gives the USSR control of North Korea, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, while the US and Britain took over South Korea, Japan, and the remaining Japanese possessions in the Pacific. Under joint American and British rule, Japan is almost totally disarmed; the traditional business cliques, or zaibatsu, are originally disbanded (though they are never completely dismantled, and were eventually allowed to reform); a new, Western-style constitution is imposed; the working force is unionized; the educational system is "Americanized," and even traditional Japanese writing gives way to a more modern system. Some, though not nearly all, war leaders are purged. American soldiers and government officials strip Japan of much of its cultural and material wealth, with GIs sending home a total sum that exceeds their payroll, and 800,000 carats of diamonds entrusted by the Bank of Japan to the US simply disappearing. After the occupation ends, the CIA infiltrates Japanese politics to ensure that left-wing political organizations, many suspected of Communist ties, never achieved any success in Japanese politics, a practice that, almost by accident, ensures the rigidity and overwhelming corruption of the reigning parties for nearly 50 years. (Wikipedia, Derek Leebaert)
1952 presidential electionthe immensely popular former commander of Allied forces in Europe. Eisenhower runs on the official platform of ending the unpopular war in Korea, firing all "the loafers and incompetents" in the State Department, and rooting out "Communist subversion" in the government. Eisenhower is no politician and shows little interest in becoming one; the GOP chooses the fiery anti-Communist congressman Richard Nixon to be Eisenhower's vice-president. A group of conservative California businessmen donate $18,000 towards Nixon's political campaign; when the fund is made public, Eisenhower, who personally dislikes Nixon, refuses to speak up for his vice-president even though the fund is not technically illegal, and pressure mounts on Nixon to withdraw from the campaign. Instead, on September 23, Nixon goes on the offensive with the now-famous "Checkers" speech, where he spends a half-hour on television detailing his family and political finances, declares that his family is not rich and his wife does not wear mink but "a respectable Republican cloth coat," and finishes by saying that he did accept one contribution that might be questionable, a cocker spaniel named Checkers, but "regardless of what they say about it, we're going to keep it." The response is overwhelmingly positive, and helps Eisenhower defeat Democrat Adlai Stevenson in a landslide in November. (Wikipedia, David Fremon)
Kikuyu, or Mau Mau, rebellionThe assassination takes place only ten days after the newly installed colonial governor, Sir Evelyn Baring, takes his post. Coming on the heels of a number of Mau Mau attacks on loyalist Kenyans and the murder of a British colonist, Baring begins moving to shut down the resistance movement by imprisoning its leaders and members. Baring's decision will lead to the construction of what can only be termed one of the most extensive and inhuman "gulag" systems of concentration camps in history, in brutality if not in systematic extermination only matched by the Nazi camps of World War II. (Caroline Elkins)
Kikuyu, or Mau Mau, rebellionKenya's colonial governor Evelyn Baring signs an Emergency Order authorizing British military response to the Mau Mau resistance organization. The order will not expire until August of 1960. (Caroline Elkins)
Kikuyu, or Mau Mau, rebellionKenyatta is publicly handcuffed and paraded onto an airplane which takes off from Nairobi's airport. Kenyatta later says he believed he would be thrown out of the plane to die, but instead is imprisoned at what will become one of the most infamous prison camps in Kenya, Lokituang. The moderate Kenyatta immediately becomes a martyr and a symbol of resistance to his Kikuyu brethren. Kenyatta will be tried and sentenced within a month, by a judge who personally receives a bribe from colonial governor Baring. Most British colonists are now going armed, and in many cases shooting Kikuyu natives without reason or provocation. Many British, both in Kenya and in Great Britain, are calling for the systematic extermination of the entire Kikuyu people. One young district officer, John Nottingham, recalls, "All we heard was how savage Mau Mau was, shoot to kill. You can't imagine how often I heard, 'The only good Kuke is a dead Kuke.' There was this idea that Mau Mau was savage, just atavistic, and somehow had to be gotten rid of, regardless of how it was done. This idea was everywhere."
US nuclear programvirtually vaporizing the atoll with a bomb more than 700 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb is so powerful that scientist and developer Edward Teller apologizes for the potency of the blast. Over 11,000 US scientists and troops are affected by the release of radiation. (Operation Ivy, Philip Taubman, Derek Leebaert)
Kikuyu, or Mau Mau, rebellionThousands of Kikuyu natives, many with no affiliation with the Mau Mau rebellion, are forcibly evicted from their homes, herded into trains and trucks, and taken to live in detention camps and reserves in the Kenyan outback. The huge influx of refugees and detainees exacerbates an already-overstretched population problem in the reserves, with the overfarmed land completely unable to produce enough crops to feed the population. One colonial official warns that the camps will end up getting the reputation of the horrific concentration camps after the South African Boer Wars. Calls for inquiries into the forced detentions and brutal conditions of the camps are slapped down. Historian Caroline Elkins writes, "Neither Governor Baring nor Colonial Secretary Lyttleton, nor his successor Alan Lennox-Boyd, set out to annihilate the Kikuyu population. There is nothing in the historical record to indicate that Kenya suffered from its own version of Adolf Hitler. But maintaining colonial rule while simultaneously preventing a massacre of Kikuyu oath takers [Mau Mau rebels] was nearly impossible in light of the realities and constraints of late colonial Kenya. Rather, the British colonial government would not lose sight of its ultimate objective of reestablishing colonial domination in Kenya -- even if it meant perverting judicial processes, creating one of the most restrictive police states in the history of the empire, and deploying unspeakable terror and violence. In 1953 the end of the Emergency seemed nowhere in sight, despite the now steel-fisted grip of colonial control. In retrospect, the next logical step in restoring and protecting British domination was to round up the entire population of Mau Mau suspects, detain them, and force them, somehow, to submit to colonial authority." (Caroline Elkins)