View the h-diplo Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in h-diplo's June 2000 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in h-diplo's June 2000 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the h-diplo home page.
email@example.com Who Paid the Piper? Moscow Gold and the CIA*s Private Column I am less disturbed than Mr. Lucas by the CIA's practice in at least the first half of the Cold War of secretly subsidizing anti-Communist political groups and a cultural offensive against the Soviet bloc. But I agree that the existence of the subsidizes is of historical relevance to any consideration of the conduct of the Cold War. When we learn that a institution or activity was secretly subsidized, it changes the context in which one considers that institution or activity. While the existence of secret subsidies does not necessarily vitiate the work of that institution or activity, it lessens to some greater or lesser degree the perception of independence of the institution, reduces the spontaneity of the activity, requires a questioning of the credibility of the subsidized entity, and requires as well a consideration of the place of that activity in the agenda of the subsidizing agency. The title of Saunder's book WHO PAID THE PIPER has a point. (This is the British title, it was published in the U.S. as THE CIA AND THE CULTURAL COLD WAR.) And if "who paid the piper" is appropriately asked regarding the CIA's activities in the Cold War, and I think it is appropriate, then what of another matter? The CIA began its program in the late 1940s and was playing catchup. The USSR began subsidies of the Communist parties of the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and virtually all foreign Communist parties in 1919 and those subsidies continued until the final years of the Soviet Union. Once these subsidies were denied and derided as fantasies of "Moscow Gold," but few scholars today would deny that the documentation from Soviet-era archives has show that the subsidies were very real. Not only were the Communist parties themselves secretly subsidized, but Communist-aligned unions and specialized advocacy groups as well. Soviet subsidies were a large part of the budget of the CPUSA in the 1920s, declined as fraction of the budget in the 1930s and 1940s as the party grew, and then returned as a major source of revenue in the 1950s and later when the CPUSA's domestic resources declined. Comintern funds went to the revolutionary unions of the Trade Union Unity League as well as to Communist supported leaders in mainstream unions such as the United Mine Workers. And secret Soviet subsidies assisted the activities of such advocacy groups ad the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship. The subsidies to the CPUSA, however, were small compared to the many times larger subsidies directed to the Communist movement in Western Europe, with the French party being one of the most generously subsidized. So, who paid the piper? Histories of both domestic politics and foreign policies from the 1920s onward must grapple with how these subsidies shaped the internal politics of the left and the response of the right. John Earl Haynes