The Cold War unlike World War I and World War II which proceeded it was primarily fought on the intelligence front. The intelligence struggle was a fascinating one. Although the American Central Inteligence Agency is a much agency, in fact thanks to the CIA and other Western intelligence, the Soviets never succeed in launching a weapon system which upset the strategic ballance or surprisng the United Sates with an unansweravle feint. The one weapon system which the CIA did not fully appreciate was the Soviet biological weapns program, but it never became a factor in the Cold war. The CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) achieved many innovative technical successes. The KGB on the other hand while relying less on technology proved extrodinarily adroit in recruiting agents at high levels in the Western camp, especally in Germany. Although these successes gained them little and may have backfired. More useful was the penetration of American, and British intelligence services through ideological penetration or simple (often paltry) payoffs. The full story of the intelligence struggle has not yet been written.
The Cold War unlike World War I and World War II which proceeded it was primarily fought on the intelligence front. The intelligence struggle was a fascinating one. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were the targets of military attacks during World War II. The NAZIs attacked the Soviet Union in the most massive attack in the history of warfare (June 1941) and Imperial Japan attacked America in a carefully planned carrier attack at Pear Harbor (December 1941). The Soviets had always placed a considerable emphasis on intelligence. The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor convinced America of the importance of intelligence. Given the power and reach of weapns developed during World war II and in the post-War era, both sides were determined that they would never again allow such an attack. The Soviets here had a relatively easy rask in the open socities of the West. America had, however, a very difficult task in the closed socities of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
Although the American Central Inteligence Agency is a much maligned agency. CIA operations in the Third World have been endlessly chronicled. The achivements of the CIA are much less discussed. In fact thanks to the CIA and other Western intelligence, the Soviets never succeed in launching a weapon system which upset the strategic ballance or surprisng the United Sates with an unansweravle feint. The one weapon system which the CIA did not fully appreciate was the Soviet biological weapns program, but it never became a factor in the Cold war. The CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) achieved many innovative technical successes. The CIA is the best known Cold War intelligence agency. The reason for this is all the Congressional investigations, like the Church Committee, and ivesigative journalism. Until relatively recently, we had a view of the Cold War from one side.
The KGB should not be seen as the equivalent to the CIA. It is true that each was the primary spy agencies of the two countries. The KGB in the Soviet Union had a much wider role. It also had a role in domestic security. The KGB role, however, goes far beyond security. The KGB also played a major role in Soviet foreign policy. The invasion of Afghanistan (1979) was a KGB foreign policy initiative. The KGB relied less on technology proved extrodinarily adroit in recruiting agents at high levels in the Western camp, especally in Germany. Although these successes gained them little and may have backfired. This especially appears to have been the case in Soviet success in planting agents in West Germany. More important was the KGB's success in acquiring Western technology which helped keep them competitive in the Cold War arms race--although only at great economic cost. Only in recent years has detailed accounts of KGB operations in the Thits World appeared. These accounts make for fascinating reading. Much of the newly available information comes from documents smuugled out of Russia through the Baltics by a KGB archivist . [Andrew]
As the Cold war intensified, a wave of anti-Communist histeria developed in America. This was fueled by Soviet actions in Eastern Europe and, unlike the United States, unwillingness to substantially reduce military forces. The Communist Victory in China added to the public fear as did the annoncement that the Soviets had developed an atomic bomb. The public began to think that the Truman Administration was mismanaging the Cold War. Some Republicans began to intimate that disloyal Americans were undermining the American effort against the Communists. Relevations concerning the Rosenbergs passing atomic secrets were especially sensatuoinal. The Reoublican Congressional effort to root out susposed Communists began in ernest during 1947. The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), chaired by J. Parnell Thomas, in 1947 began investigating Hollywood. The Committee named people who they accused of holding left-wing views. Major Hollywood stars testified against friends. Others refused to testify and received prison terms. Three former FBI agents and a right-wing television producer, in published "Red Channels", a widely circulated pamphlet listing the names of 151 writers, directors and performers who they claimed were members of subversive organisations. A blacklist developed and people's careers were ruined. Some of the best known individuals were: Leonard Bernstein, Charlie Chaplin, Aaron Copland, John Garfield, Dashiell Hammett, Burl Ives, Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, Philip Loeb, Pete Seeger, Orson Welles, Paul Robeson, and Richard Wright. The Govdernment began using the Alien Registration Act against the American Communist Party. Leaders of the Party were arrested and tried in 1949. Spy cases at the time involving Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg added to the public concer about an internal Communist threat. Senator Joseph McCarthy, a Republican from Wisconsin, saw political capital in the public hysteria.
President Eisenhower wanted to mke sure that there would never again be another Pearl Harbor. Given the closed Soviet society, he placed great emphasis on aerial surveilance. He authorized overflights of Soviet territory with B-47 bombers, in effect an act of war. He launched the U-2 program which provided surveillamnce at such high altitudes that the planes could not be shot down. Delays in the missle program led to him authorizing U-2 overflights even though the Soviets were rapidly upgrading their air defense systems. The Soviet efforts to shoot down a U-2 was costly. Migs would shadow the U-2 at their maximum alditude. As the Soviets would fire off missles at the U-2, several migs were shot down. Finally the U-2 flown by Frances Gary Powers was shjot down. He was eventully exhanged for a Soviet master spy. More importantly Khrushchev used the incident to wreck the Paris summit. Eisengower had hoped to end his presidency with steps toward disarment and a reduction of tensions.
The Space Race is generally viewed as a minor footnote to thecCold War. The Soviet failure in the race to the moon, however, signaled a basic weakness in the Soviet System. The Soviets carried out a remarkable transformation of their economy from a agfrarian to an industrial society. As a result, they were able to resist the NAZI miltry onslaught armed with the weapons produced by German science and industry. The T-34 tank is generally regarded as the superior tank of the War. In the early years of the Cold War the Soviets competed well. The Mig-15 in Korea was comparable to the American Sabre . The Space Race, however, signalled a major change in the world econnomy from the industrial to the information age. Here the Soviet system seemed unable to cope. Seemingly with a huge emphasis on sceince and enhineering in the schools, the Soviet should have competed well. But the infleibility of the Soviet command economy was unable to compete with the American market economy. Nor did the closed Soviet system prove condusive for science. Thus throughout the 1960s and 70s the Soviets in terms of technology fell further and further behind America, depite enormous spending that increasingly stressed Soviet society. [Reed] KGB operations played a major role in keeping the Soviets militarily competive in the Cold War arms race.
Many Soviet officals assumed that their Communist system would create a technological giant and gradually out produce Ameica and the West. At the dawn of the Spance age when the Soviets launched Sputnik (1956) numerous analysts descrived the huge Soviet commitment to science including training many more engineers in numerous sciebntific fields than America. America's victory in the space rave to the moon was a shock as well as continued American leadership in most scirntific fields. Given the extent of Soviet Government support the lack of sciebtific achievement has to be considered a great failiure of Communism. The Soviets had for years conducted espionage programd to acquire Western technology. The KGB created a new section called Directorate T to acquire Western technology. The covert arm to steal high value technology was Line X. This effort successdfully obtained techhnology on aviation, computers, metalurgy, radar, semicomputers, and other areas. The United States had no idea as to the effectivness of the Soviet effort until French President François Mitterand offered President Reagan information obtained from a Soviet secretly opposed to the regime--Col. Vladimir Vetrov who worked for Directorate T evaluating the information that had been obtained. Vetrov turned over the names of more than 200 Directorate T agents. The CIA came up with a way of defearing the Soviet operation which was authorized by Preside Reagan. Vetrov provided Directorate T's technology priorities. The CIA then surepticiously provided defective softwear that was used in a gas pipeline. The
result was perhaps the most massive non-nuclear explosion in history. Not only did it disrupt a major project designed to generate hard-currency earnings, but the Soviets were put in a position of having to reassess the technology acquired through Directorate T--a costly undertaking. [Reed]
Despite extensive efforts, the CIA never succeeded in recruiting Soviet agents. All the really valuable recruits were walkins. And there were some similarities in motivations, including money (often paltry payments), personal narcissism, duisgust with their system, and personal bitterness over the lack of promotion. [Hitz]
The Sovieets and cooperating East European spy agencies extensively used attractive female agents to lure Wesrwrn sources. Famed East German spy chief Markus Wolf became a master of this. [Hitz] The Soviets achieved some success in penetrating American, and British intelligence services through ideological penetration or simple (often paltry) payoffs. The Soviets unlike the Americans were extremely receptive to walk ins, men like the Navy's John Walker and the FBI's Robert Hansen.
The CIA and other Western agencies were almost uniformily ??? about using female agents to entrap potential agents, a nicety not shared by the KGB. As with the KGB, the really valuable agents proved to be walkins. And here the CIA was not at all receptive to such individuals, primarily because the CIA so highly regarded the professioinalism of the KGB. The CIA assumed them to be KGB plants. It often took months for individuals to convince the CIA that they were genuine and even then there were doubters. The two most important agents were Oleg Penkovsky and Pyotr Popov who played an enormous role in informing the CIA about the KGB and its operations. [Hitz]
One of the problems America faced was unfrienfly individuals in the intelliegence services of friendly countries. The spy ring which penetrated British MI-5 of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald MacLean, and an initially unknown member (Anthony Blunt) has often been described as motivated by a love of mankind and vaguely Communist ideas. Some authors have described their motivatioins as more accurately a hatred of America. [Hitz] Although muted in the euphoria of victory in World War II and the Cold War danger of the Soviet Union, this is an emotion growing in Western Europe today.
Andrew, Christopher. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World
Hitz, Frederick P. The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage (Knopf, 2004), 211p.
Reed, Thomas C. At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold War (Ballantine Books: 2004).
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