Undermining the Kremlin: America's Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956

Undermining the Kremlin: America's Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956

Undermining the Kremlin: America's Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956

Undermining the Kremlin: America's Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956


Following the Allied victory in World War II, the United States turned its efforts to preventing the spread of Communism beyond Eastern Europe. Gregory Mitrovich argues, however, that the policy of containment was only the first step in a clandestine campaign to destroy Soviet power. Drawing on recently declassified U. S. documents, Mitrovich reveals a range of previously unknown covert actions launched during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Through the aggressive use of psychological warfare, officials sought to provoke political crisis among key Soviet leaders, to incite nationalist tensions within the USSR, and to foment unrest across Eastern Europe.

Mitrovich demonstrates that inspiration for these efforts did not originate within the intelligence community, but with individuals at the highest levels of policymaking in the U. S. government. National security advisors, Mitrovich asserts, were adamant that the Soviet threat must be eliminated so the United States could create a stable, prosperous international system. Only the shifting balance of power caused by the development of Soviet nuclear weapons forced U. S. leaders to abandon their goal of subverting the Soviet system and accept a world order with two rival superpowers.


Today, the cold war is a distant memory. the world’s attention now focuses on ethnic conflict and economic reform, not East-West diplomatic crises, arms races, and contentious disarmament negotiations. With the Iron Curtain shattered, integration into the nato alliance and inclusion in the European Union are paramount concerns of the newly independent Eastern European states. From the ruins of the Soviet communist regime fifteen new countries have emerged—led by a new Russia and a new Ukraine—all struggling to reform their centrally organized economies and follow their Eastern European brethren into the free-market system.

Conventional wisdom holds that the decades-long application of containment—the prevention of Soviet communist expansion beyond its postWorld War II sphere of influence—led directly to the collapse of the Soviet bloc. By containing Soviet expansion long enough, the United States was able to achieve one of the most significant peaceful restructurings of the international system in history. the emergence of democratic, market-oriented regimes within many of the former Eastern European satellite states and nations of the former Soviet Union seems to have demonstrated the wisdom of America’s postwar national security planners.

My contention is that postwar U.S. policymakers in fact did not envision a decades-long commitment to defeat Soviet communism; instead they feared that a long-term division of the world into two hostile blocs would lead inevitably to economic depression and world war and they believed that only an open international economic system absent competing politicaleconomic blocs promised the stability necessary to allow the world to recover from World War II. Therefore, American planners decided that the United States must eliminate the Soviet threat expeditiously and construct a global political-economic order that included the Soviet Union and East-

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