It has long been said history is actually "His Story". The point being only one version of what occurred is ever actually taught. This is largely a true statement, and normally only the winning side is allowed to create the narrative, but the United States is rather unique in its willingness to sometimes allow the losing side to tell the story.
Such is the case with our education system's description of the Cold War.
Contrary to what the last two generations have been taught, the Cold War didn't end because public opinion and angry protests caused our government to slow down its aggressive behavior against poor, innocent countries striving to live in peace and harmony with Mother Nature. It ended because we caused the true aggressors, the Communists (and by that I specifically mean the Russians), to crap their pants.
What I am about to tell you comes mostly from my own personal experience and from military briefings I received shortly after these aspects were discovered. The fact you may not be aware of them can be primarily ascribed to the ignorance, some of which is deliberate, in the people telling the stories today. Certainly none of this is classified, and anybody who was willing to do the research could put it all together from other sources, but, sadly, that might actually be our country's biggest problem. Most Americans now prefer being spoon fed garbage over having to find anything better on their own.
It is true there are none so blind as those who will not see, but following behind that truth is another pertinent observation. There are none so ignorant as those who refuse to verify what they've been taught. I hope you will be interested enough to compare an eyewitness account to the version currently in the textbooks.
For those who weren't alive during the Cold war, and/or weren't taught much about it, this 'war' was pretty much a political struggle between communism and western democracy wherein none of the major players fought each other directly.
Russia was the leader of the communist side back then because all communism everywhere had its roots, and took its guidance, at least initially, from Russia. Even when a conglomeration of several countries 'joined' together to form the Soviet Union, the Russians were the ones truly in charge.
For the most part, the other countries in the Soviet Union were merely a buffer zone around Mother Russia to protect it from a large land attack, but many of these nation-states, such as East Germany and Bulgaria, were also useful for committing the crimes Russia couldn't openly do itself. Russia gave the orders, but it was always later able to claim its hands were clean when other countries got caught doing the dirty work.
What American educators usually fail to mention is there was an awful lot of dirty work being done, and none of it led to the betterment of mankind. The so-called 'worker's paradise' the commies have been trying to create with all their shenanigans for the last hundred years has never even come close to being attained.The communists are really good at breaking eggs, but they still haven't made the omelet.
All you need do is look at how many countries under the Soviet umbrella were forced to join, and see how many millions of people were murdered under their reign, to realize the Soviet Union truly was an "evil empire".
Remember that phrase? Ronald Reagan made it popular, but do you think he picked it at random? Uh-uh. It was deliberate, and, even though most Americans never realized it, that phrase freaked the Russians out worse than anything else we could have said. This is where leftists always fall short. They're so busy mocking people and ideas they don't like, they don't take time to actually study what's going on. Please let me briefly explain what the leftists missed. There were a lot of things we did that freaked out the Russians, and one of the biggest ones was Vietnam.
Our entry into Vietnam was simply to stop the spread of communism. It's no more complicated than that. Forget all that rubbish about American imperialism or colonialism. If any of that nonsense was true, we would have sent over an army at least three times larger, and we would have massively attacked the north.
No country with designs of building an empire would have done what we did, so, the big question is this: why didn't we obliterate North Vietnam altogether and force them into unconditional surrender? With our military might we could have easily conquered the entire region in just a few months, and the fact we didn't even try to take over their government tells you everything you need to know about our real purpose.
Has any anti-war or anti-American activist ever bothered to give a rational explanation for why any country hell-bent on conquest would try to attain such a goal using all the stupid restrictions we placed upon our troops? Just take some time to think about that for a little bit, and you'll see it doesn't make any sense. I mean, seriously, if imperialism was our sole purpose then we must be the most peaceful war-mongers in the history of mankind!
No, the simple truth is we weren't trying to conquer anything or anybody, and it's the communists who have always been the true aggressors. Spreading their ideology over the entire world has consistently been their stated goal, and it has never been ours. Here's the proof. All the communists have ever had to do to avoid fighting us was stay inside their own borders. Why didn't they? Why was it okay for them to invade countries and evil for us to try stopping them?
Please let me point out another incredibly obvious fact nobody yet seems to have noticed. The United States has never committed troops in any war overseas that wasn't started by somebody else before we even got involved, and this is something the communists can't say.
As far as Vietnam goes, the communists and other haters of America love to crow we were forced to quit fighting an immoral war, but, if that was true, what moral good did the communists bring about with their glorious 'people's' victory?
Two years after our troops were pulled out the communists conquered South Vietnam, along with Laos and Cambodia, and, despite all their lofty promises, their first order of business wasn't to set up a benevolent government for the peasant class. No, it was to start purging these countries of undesirables. They mindlessly slaughtered millions of people they had earlier claimed they only wanted to save, and, after a couple years of this, those who had managed to survive became so desperate more than a million of them decided it was safer to risk crossing the Pacific Ocean in shabby, little boats than to remain under communist rule. (We know a little over a million made it, but we'll never know how many of them died in the attempt. Nonetheless, considering how large and dangerous that ocean is, it seems highly likely the ones who survived represent less than half the number who left).
Anybody truly believe they were only fleeing a bad economy or the after-effects of Yankee Imperialism? Those who do are delusional. The Boat people were fleeing for their lives, and, if America was so evil, why did they want to come here? The leftists in our country may not have figured out the answer to that question, but the Russians did. They knew this exodus only proved communist rhetoric didn't match communist reality, on a scale the entire world could see, and the worst part, from their perspective, was they had no way to hide it. Vietnam wasn't a formal part of the Soviet sphere, so Russian influence wasn't enough to make the Vietnamese follow their orders, and there was no way the Russians could cover this up by themselves. Even if they had the resources, which they absolutely did not, it would have been impossible for them to effectively wall in the entire region the way they had in Berlin.
This was when the Russians first realized they were in danger of expanding their empire beyond their ability to control it. It also set the stage for open-minded people to see the difference between communist controlled countries and freer nations.
Just consider this. The one country in the region they couldn't conquer, Thailand, is doing much better than all three of these countries put together, more than forty years after the professed people's Utopia was created, and, in case you haven't noticed, neither Russia nor China has been able to significantly improve its own influence in the affairs of the world since then, let alone that of any of their offspring countries. For all the technological advances they either stole or bought from western countries, these two leaders of communism in theTwentieth Century are still desperately trying to catch up to capitalism.
Here's why. Despite the fact our politicians decided to fight the war in Vietnam as stupidly as possible, and their idiotic behavior caused us much harm at home, the effect this war had on the Russians was even more damaging.
This is important. The Soviet mindset was very different from ours, and they simply could not understand what we were doing. They didn't believe we were merely making stupid decisions; they thought we must be up to something devious. To protect themselves from a force they knew was much stronger than their own, the communists devoted more of their economic resources to the military than to the care and feeding of their people. It was the logical thing to do when our behavior was so confusing to them, especially when they suspected they were in danger of being hit with a sneak-attack, but it wasn't something they could afford to keep doing long-term. This was part of what led to the Soviet collapse.
You don't even have to be Russian to understand their confusion. Why would we fight in Vietnam at all, let alone stay so long, when there was nothing in it for us? It cost us blood and treasure, and for what? There was nothing there we either needed or wanted, and the truth is the region really had nothing of value to any country as highly developed as ours.
When loud-mouth liberals tell you we were merely out to spread American imperialism, please ask what we could have possibly gained from it. What, the Vietnamese produced rice so good it was worth fighting over? Hardly. The only reason we were there was to let the communists know there were limits on how far we were willing to let them spread. You might think we lost, but the war cost China and Russia as much as it did us, and we were much better able to afford it. Aside from which, who says we lost? As I mentioned earlier, our military forces had been removed from the country two years before Saigon even fell. Under that standard of defeat the Korean War is a loss we're only waiting for the communists to formally finalize.
Our kids in university may not know we ultimately won the Vietnam War in 1972, signed a peace treaty in January 1973, and then pulled all our troops out, but the communists have never forgotten it. It's the biggest reason they don't interfere with other countries now nearly as much as they used to.
With the exception of misguided college-educated students who have graduated since at least 1980, the entire world knows we clobbered North Vietnam into submission. Prior to the massive bombing of Hanoi, the North Vietnamese had no interest in peace talks for anything other than political grandstanding. However, as soon as the Soviets realized we wanted to end the war, and we no longer cared how we did it, they finally started putting pressure on the North to take the peace talks more seriously. The Russians had a better understanding of what our true capabilities were than North Vietnam did, and they knew we were fed up. Signing a peace treaty to get us to leave was far better than making us angry enough to unleash genuine hell upon the North.
The Soviets knew if we had pounded Hanoi another few months, instead of signing that crappy "Peace with honor" treaty, we would have caused North Vietnam to completely collapse.
Even though the communists were able to publicly claim victory, the Soviets were highly disturbed by what that 'victory' had done to them. One of the reasons Vietnam affected the Russians so strongly was because it didn't fit in with all the treaties we were signing with them over arms reduction. On the one hand we are telling them we are willing to reduce our forces and live in peace, and on the other hand we were telling them we were willing to fight them for years on end in little countries with no real value to us. They were painfully aware we'd been fighting and winning in Vietnam, despite having voluntarily tied one hand behind our back, and when they looked at all the truly powerful weapons we were saying we didn't actually need and were willing to destroy, they seriously started to suspect we were merely toying with them.
The Soviets never did fully grasp the way our two-party system caused our actions to seem so schizophrenic. They only had one party, and that was the sole form of government control they understood, so it was therefore inconceivable to them for any powerful country to have more than one ideology making important decisions. From their perspective we were just playing "good cop, bad cop", and this always caused them to ignore our good cop routine for fear the bad cop was just waiting to slap them.
Although they didn't know it, the liberals in our country were the ones playing good cop. They may have understood the way they were sucking up to any leftist dictator calling us names was making America appear weak to the rest of the world, but what the libs never realized was the Russians believed we were merely using that apparent weakness to hide our true strength.
No matter how stridently our left-leaning politicians tried to set our country up for failure, the Russians were worried it was nothing more than a ruse. They were convinced we would eventually drop the facade, and they actually thought they were being baited into starting a war we already knew they could not win.
This was something President Reagan was not only smart enough to figure out, it was a fear he set out to exploit. Think about it. Why let the Soviets simply worry we might easily be able to defeat them, when we had the capability to prove it beyond all doubt? To do that Ronald Reagan decided to stop playing the good cop altogether, and he began letting the Soviets see how much faster we could advance our technology than they could theirs. That more than anything else led to the Soviet collapse. I should know, I was there, and I watched it happen.
I wasn't old enough to join the military until 1973, so my experience of the Vietnam War was only as an avid observer, but, even so, I paid close attention to the lessons learned, and I had a pretty good seat for the rest of the show. Let me put a few of the key pieces together.
In 1976 a Soviet pilot took his MIG-25 and defected to Japan. We didn't get to examine that plane for a while, but when we did we were shocked to discover the Russians were still using vacuum tubes. The transistor had been developed in 1947, and had been widely used in our electronics since at least the early 60's, so we totally expected the Soviets to be using transistors also.
Our surprise stemmed from the fact we'd known all along they were stealing our technology to build their planes (you may have noticed how closely theirs resemble ours), but until that moment we didn't fully appreciate how little of the sophisticated stuff they were able to replicate. The Russians had managed to become the world's best producers of vacuum tubes, so their planes were functioning reliably enough to be a threat, but their reliance upon this technology was holding them back from advancing as quickly as we were.
(As a related side note, a few years later, when we had significantly advanced the capabilities of integrated circuit chips, both China and Russia suddenly discovered they were so incapable of building these chips themselves they were forced to buy up the electronic devices we were selling around the world, including toys, just to get their hands on our chips. In this case their problem wasn't an inability to manufacture the chips; their problem was they couldn't build facilities clean enough to produce them without contamination. This more than anything else is proof autocratic government control of a country's production is vastly inferior to free-market control).
Shortly after the Mig-25 incident, the movie Star Wars came out. I didn't think it was much more than an amusing bit of fluff, but sometime later I found out it was being viewed as a threat by the Soviets. During one of our periodic briefings on the world situation, we were informed the Soviets had been trying very hard to gather information about how we had made the film. They couldn't believe any country would put that much effort into the creation of such a realistic movie strictly for entertainment purposes, and they were especially worried it wasn't all make-believe. The Soviets didn't have the knowledge or equipment to produce such elaborate special effects illusions themselves, and they couldn't believe whatever technology we used for this picture would only have peaceful applications. They were highly suspicious we had even used some of our military tech to add realism. That might seem funny to you, but it wouldn't if you understood Soviet paranoia.
The knowledge we had of Soviet capabilities and fears in the early eighties put us on the path to wearing them down. Without making any formal declarations of what our plan to defeat the Soviet Union was, President Reagan began letting them see how fast we could develop new technology. Things you probably never noticed sent out an informal challenge to the Soviets.
For instance, during our first space shuttle launch nobody (except the Soviets) thought a thing about it when we dragged out cameras and started counting how many tiles had fallen off the shuttle body during launch. Until that moment the Soviets had no idea our camera lenses were strong enough to get clear images of small items at such great distances. That was when they realized just how much our spy satellites could actually see, and they immediately changed the way they tried to hide people and objects from our view. Not that we cared. We weren't giving them any information we didn't want them to have; we were just quietly letting them see how far ahead of them we actually were.
We were basically letting them know they could steal our current technology, and it wouldn't do them much good. It normally took 3 to 5 years for the Soviets to develop their own versions of our stolen technology, and we wanted them to understand by the time they had a working copy it would already be obsolete. Even more ominous to the Soviets was their worry we were still hiding technology far better than what we were putting on display.
Here's where it got interesting. When President Reagan announced we were going to start building a defense system against nuclear attack - the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) - the liberals promptly decided to make fun of it by calling it Star Wars. If they were trying to undermine President Reagan they couldn't have picked a worse name.
This is because the Soviets never paid much attention to what we were saying officially. They relied much more heavily upon outside indicators to tell them what we were really up to, and this particular indicator was sending them a very disturbing message.
It's absolutely hilarious how this affected the Russians. They were highly concerned Star Wars the movie was based on real technology, and for the first time the people in America who openly supported Gorbachev were now seeming to admit the technology was already in our possession. This plus the "Evil Empire" label was making the Soviets think we considered ourselves to be part of a real Rebel Alliance, and they couldn't believe we would be so open about it unless we were already convinced we had the technology to win.
Therefore, the liberal mockery in this instance actually gave Ronald Reagan more leverage to use towards weakening the Soviet Union.
The libs still don't understand the role they played in causing the Soviets to panic, but at the time President Reagan clearly did. You may have noticed he made no effort whatsoever to discourage people from using that term.
This leads us to another area where leftists always portray a false picture. They claim the whole SDI idea was impossible and we were just bluffing, but they only make that claim because we never did build it. We definitely could have if we had ardently pursued it, and the only reason it never got completed was because the leftist politicians in our country eventually were able to cut its funding.
I would like to point out two things about that. One, these same leftist politicians, way back then, were saying they hated the idea, not because it wouldn't really work, but because they thought it would tilt the "balance of power" to our favor. Two, if they truly believed it was all a bluff they wouldn't have worked so hard to cut funding for it, and that alone proves they really did know it was possible.
However, that was still in the future. By the mid 80's the Soviets had seen enough of our technological capabilities to know we weren't bluffing, and I personally know how deeply concerned Gorbachev was over SDI because I was there when he met with President Reagan in Iceland. The first thing Gorbachev said was if we weren't ready to get rid of the Star Wars program then there was no reason for further talks.
President Reagan didn't even blink. He merely said we weren't giving up SDI, and then he left. He was actually on his way to give us a speech when Gorbachev called and asked him to come back. I had to spend the entire day waiting in a hangar to finally hear President Reagan's speech, but it was worth the wait. For the first time I could remember, a president of the United States was telling us he was willing to stand up to the Soviets and make them back down.
I have to tell you, it was a great speech, and, since it was the first presidential speech I had personally attended, I also thought it was the first time a Republican politician had said something really important. I didn't know until I saw the news coverage of it later how much the American media ignored Republican speeches. The TV news broadcasts spent all of thirty seconds each covering it, and none of them played back a single thing of substance president Reagan said.
I cannot stress this enough. If all you knew of this meeting was the way the news portrayed it, you never would have known how significant the Iceland summit was. President Reagan got Gorbachev to make some amazing concessions no Democrat politician would have had the guts to even request, and the average American was never told. That was when I first realized our news media was actively deceiving the public. We were actually winning a war the liberals, and that includes at least 90% of the news media, were trying to make sure Americans never even knew was being waged. Happily, this didn't affect President Reagan at all. He ignored the loud-mouthed liberals, and continued to push Gorbachev's buttons.
As it happens, my next assignment was to Germany, so I was there both when Reagan made his famous "Tear down this wall" speech, and when the wall actually was torn down.
As far as the wall being torn down goes, I must confess I didn't realize what was truly going on at first. My initial reaction was we better start sending more troops to West Berlin because removing the wall might only be to create better access for Soviet tanks to come roaring through. In fact, I still strongly suspect the Russians actually considered the idea. They were so desperate by that point the thought of plundering West Berlin to gain access to its financial resources and Western manufacturing capabilities must have been a serious consideration for them (not to mention West Berlin was deep inside East Germany, and, if it didn't do anything else, taking over West Berlin would have removed an irritating thorn in the Soviet's side). I'm also convinced the prior six to seven years of having their noses rubbed in how backward they were in comparison to us was a major factor in them deciding they better not try. Thank you, President Reagan!
In closing I'd just like to say, unless we go back to following Ronald Reagan's example, the idea of America being a beacon of hope for the rest of the world to follow is doomed. The leftists would much rather see everything good about America be destroyed forever than to admit they might have been mistaken in their beliefs, so a strong resistance to their idiotic ideas is the only way to save our country. No leftist has ever, or will ever, try to reverse a problem created by leftism. All they ever do is create more phony solutions to the problem, and, in so doing, create more problems. It's an endless chain of disaster only a conservative can break.
Nevertheless, if conservatives can't even convince people to resist something as stupid as letting boys use the girl's restrooms then the chain has already become too strong to break.
PS: I don't know which phrase to use right now, "Life to America!" or "Goodbye to America!" I guess I'm forced to hope most Americans will come to their senses before the latter choice is inevitable.