Stop Russia's Subversive War

A lawyer and man of action, born in Buffalo in 1883, WILLIAM J. DONOVAN proved his leadership in the First World War. He rose to be Colonel of “The Fighting 69th,”was three times wounded, and was decorated with the Congressional Medal and the Légion d’Honneur. He has explored China on his own, distributed relief IN Paland, and traveled in Siberia. In 1938 curiosity took him to Ethiopia, thence to Spain, and finally to the military maneuvers in Germany. In 1910 he began the secret missions FOR President Raniavh which were to next to his command of the OSS with the rank of Major General.


THE American people are accustomed to think of war as fought only with military weapons. According to our tradition, war is waged with armies and ships and planes and shooting. But there is a phase of war other than shooting; it is irregular and unorthodox warfare. It uses weapons other than those of the military, and its methods are us diverse us the situation requires. This is subversive war, and this war is NOW in progress.

The Soviet Union is waging it not by its Red Army but by the Communist Party of Russia and its fifth columns throughout the world, against our country, against all other democracies, against all democratice movements.

When President Truman appeared before a joint session of Congress on March 17, he made clear that we do not intend to let Russia dominate all of Europe and he called upon the nation to prepare for war if the Soviet Union did not heed the warning.

Secretary of State Marshall was more specific. He pointed out that diplomatic protests will mean nothing to Russia if she thinks we are unprepared to fight. “Diplomatic action,” he said, “without the backing of military strength in the present world can lead only to appeasement.”

Implicit in those two statements was the suggestion that we had been caught off base. Not that we had been surprised by the Czechoslovakian seizure. That had been anticipated at least since the moment the Soviets had forbidden Czechoslnvakian participation in the European Recovery Program. We can only conclude that there were certain circumstances connected with the selaure which might be interpreted to mean the imminence of war.

We knew, or should have known, long ago that Czechoslovakia with her crucial and undamaged industries was marked for absorption; that the finger had been put on Finland; that unless we were able to prevent it, not only Norway. Italy, and France, but also other countries of Western Europe, each at its appointed hour, would he called upon to “stand and deliver.”

Congress listened with mixed feelings to the President’s message. Some Representatives indicated a reluctance to approve the draft; some were reported as saying: “Give us more facts. Without them this legislation has not A ghost of a chance to get through.”

The Provident might have given more facts in his speech — simple facts known to the ordinary citizens of the European states. Pacts like the mobilization of Bulgarian and Yugoslav troops near the Greek border; the warlike preparations of Tito; the demonstration of Soviet troops upon the German-Caech line: the increasingly menacing tone against us in Soviet propaganda; the hostile attitade of Russian commanders toward Allied representatives in the Austrian and German zones; and the measures being prepared to sabotage European recovery.

Copyright 1958 by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston 16, Mass. All rights reserved.

These evidences of Soviet antagonism might have strengthened our understanding of Soviet intentions. But this antagonism should not have caught us off guard. Rather, it should have prompted our leaders to integrate the facts and interpret them, so that the American public could be told what we were called upon to do and why we were called upon to do it. This should have been done long ago. Only now in America and in Europe are we awakening to the existence of the hard fact that the Stalin challenge to our world is indistinguishable from the Hitler challenge — except that the Stalin attack is more thorough and more ruthless.

At the time the proposal of the Marshall Plan became concrete, on December 19, 1947, we learned of the determination of the Cominform to fight it to the death. Our government must have known this just us the man in the street in Italy and France knew that ammunition and supplies were being sent from Russin or its satellite countries to Communists in France and in Italy to be used, if necessary, for the overthrow of the duly constituted governments of those countries.

The calculated, deliberate, conspiratorial subversion by Russia of the victim states of Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Albanin, together with her indirect pressure on Greece and Turkey, dearly disclosed Russia’s ultimate purpose lit dominate all of Europe.

We were not without warnings. Every leader of the captive countries who was able to reach America pointed out the Soviet design and explained the methods by which Russia sought to have it BCcuinplished. Many Americans who knew the ail nation in Europe and were familiar with Russian subversive activities besought our statesmen to inform the American people that Russia was waging a subversive war against us on a psychological, u political, and an economic front — a war which was destroying our prestige abroad and weakening our unity at home. Yet for all these months we have not countered those attacks.

Russia’s malicious lies and distortions have gone uniuigweral and unchallenged. Each day hundreds of Soviet radio transmitters, the guns of the psychological war front, aim into every part of the world a salvo of doubt and suspicion and hostility against the United Slates. In his speech at Chicago, Secretary of State Marshall called this “a calculated campaign of vilification and distortion of American motives in foreign affairs.”

The Soviet Union denounces us as the menace of this world and seeks to blacken us with the very crimes of which she herself stands accused: the police state, warmongering, enslavement of Europe, Every medium of propaganda is employed. Since we make no answer to these attacks, they accepted us true by many who hear them.

In broadcasts to their own people, the Sovites go to further extremes. America is pictured as enemy which the Russian people are urged to hate The following line of attack has been carried no for nearly a year: “The United Stales is dominated by monopolistic capital; dwelling in the inaccessible heights of human society are the supermen; and below are the masses to whom access in thought knowledge, and science is denied.”

For a long period our political and military leaders were susceptible to the suggestion that Stalin was becoming more coöperative and that all would be well if we were pariod and undestanding. In our desire in get along with the Soviet Union and in our almost abject effort to placate her, we yielded on terms and accepted conditions in which we did not believe. This was true at Yalta, it was true of the Italian treaty. But we now begin to set that the grand strategy of the Politburo as the administrative agency of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party has not changed. The ladies change to changing situations, but the under lying plan remains the same. Today, Communists deeds as well as words testify that they still insert upon violent struggle as Marx and Engels did’t a century ago.

On November 6, 1947, the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Revolution, Molotov in Moscow proclained that the ideas of Marx and Lenin have guided the policy and actions of the Soviet Union during the last thirty years. He said: —

“Like the sun on a clear day the ideas of Marxises Leninisim illuminated our path through all the thirty years. Our advance was based on the tactics of Lenin and Stalin.”

In its report on “The Strategy and Tactics of World Communism" the Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives published the official protests of the United States government against Communist policies and actinon and related cornspondence. There are forty-seven protests referring to eleves different countries. I should say that the docu ments in this report point to these rather definite conlusions: (1) the Communists have one good world revolution: and (2) they assume that the revolution will be violent.

Soviet tactics on every question, on disarmament on the use of UN machinery, must be appraised in the light of this Bolshevik conviction that at Armageddon, an ultimate armed clash for mostery of the world, is unavoidable.


THE Russian fifth column is different from the Nazi fifth column. The Nazis had small groups adherents in the democratic countries, and their espionage apparatus was more limited. Nazism had no real base in the United States. The Communist fifth column, on the other hand, seeks to identify itself with every social grievance. Russian espionage and subversive operation are made up of trained and skilled spy technicians and intelligence officers, propaganda specialists, experts in spreading rumor.

Instruction is planned so that the agent will find it as easy for a minority to operate a labor union, or a pacifist league, or any other such movement, as it is for a minority group to control a large corporation when most of the stockholders take no active interest in the management.

In all countries, the Communists stress the tactical importance of the channels of public information. They give strict attention to the development of their own press abroad, both popular dailies and weeklies and, on the more esoteric level, technical Marxist monthly and quarterly journals. These tactics provide for the infiltration by Communists and sympathizers into radio, movies, book publishing, and even music and other arts. Stress is placed upon the seizure of newsprint and printing forms. Special care is taken to develop the Communist control of labor in key industries — industries rated as of special importance either for warmaking or for disrupting a nation’s economy.

Words may achieve more than bullets can accomplish, because words do not kill. A ruthless and powerful man would be foolish if he killed opponents he could use for his own purposes. The dead can neither fight nor work. At best, they may be used as examples to frighten others, equally powerless, into yielding in order to keep alive.

All war aims at the surrender of the mind — the conversion of the will to resist into a willingness to accept defeat. To attain this object, the weapons used are not exclusively military; propaganda can also be effective — all means, both moral and physical, tending to convince the enemy that it is better for him to yield rather than to resist. The Nazis exploited “the disqualified and the traitors” on a large scale; the Soviets have enlarged and perfected that technique.

The most superficial look at Eastern Europe today makes clear that Russia has had great success in employing this kind of war and in bringing states into its orbit by the use of highly disciplined and armed minorities against weaponless majorities.

Steadily and ever faster the Soviet sneak-up war has eaten into our strength in Southeastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, China, and Korea whenever our interests have been in conflict with those of Russia. Our bastion of Western Europe has been steadily disintegrated by an invasion which we have up to this moment let go by default.

Subversive war is very much a war of maneuver. It is like the sapper who undermines the city wall before the assault is made. Obviously he who wins this phase of war has his opponent at a great disadvantage, and if that disadvantage is sufficiently great the winner may find it unnecessary ever to come to the shooting war. A study of the tactics employed in Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland, Albania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia is like a study of a battlefield. Here we see the skill, the techniques, the central headquarters giving direction to carefully timed, ruthlessly executed policies.

Our real danger lies in the fact that if we permit Russia to outmaneuver us, to seize bases important to us, to penetrate our inner defenses under a strategy of disunity, the day may come when, if we should feel it necessary to fight, we should not be able to get on our feet to do so.

We are against an enemy who is in this for keeps. We can expect no mercy, we can expect no rules. We must steel our wills and recognize that we must counter his subversion against us; that we must aid those we have pledged to aid and even, if Europe is taken over by the Red Army, continue to establish our communications and to support our allies although they may be behind an iron curtain for many weary months.


THE Marshall Plan is vital in all this. But in my view it is not the final solution. Those of us who advocate the Marshall Plan, as I do, must avoid the danger of regarding it as a kind of economic Maginot Line which is automatic in its resistance and in its effectiveness. If we do not buttress it, if we do not support it with other weapons, and if then it should fail, either because of sabotage or for any other reason, this failure would be exploited to our hurt. For we know that the promulgation of the Marshall Plan has already set in motion the Soviet machinery of subversive war. The reason is plain. In the Marshall Plan and its effects, the Soviet Union sees the restoration of the economic and industrial life of a free Europe under democratic governments. It recognizes that this would block the Soviet effort to separate Western Europe and the United States.

Press reports show that the militant heads of the fight against Communist control of the labor unions in Europe are within the unions themselves. But if the Communists grab the German labor unions, they will grab Germany. If they grab Germany, they have the industrial heart of Europe at their disposal. And then there can be no European recovery.

As Russia extends its bases, we are weakened in our position abroad. Not only do we lose our foothold, but our failure to counter Russia’s subversive efforts lessens our moral influence. An important factor in Russian calculation has been the hope that discouragement and disgust with the situation in Europe would drive the United States back to isolation, even though we as a people have solemnly committed ourselves to the world community. A day will come within the foreseeable future, as our scientists tell us, when with jet propulsion and long-range planes we shall not need those outer and forward bases upon which today we depend for that defense in depth which two wars have shown we must have. As yet these planes are not in existence, and until they are, we badly need those bases, especially since, if war should come, we shall have less time and less powerful allies than ever before to accept with us the burden of defense.

Western Europe is such a base: in both World War I and World War II, Europe protected us while we got ready. Whether from the humanitarian motive, or in the interest of our national security, it is our duty to support Western Europe.


I DO not believe war is inevitable. Why should the Soviet Union run the risk and uncertainties of a shooting war, when through the chaos of the present peace it can continue to acquire vast territory and an industrial potential?

The issue of war or peace depends on our will to develop the physical and spiritual strength of our people as a democracy. Only with this strength can we achieve both the resolution and the reasonableness which are necessary to win a lasting peace. And if we want a true peace, we must meet that test.

We must assert our moral leadership and uphold the remaining free institutions of Western Europe. Our defense is not solely dependent upon our fleets or our planes or our armies. Our defense is dependent on the belief of other countries that we, as a people, have a vitality of body and spirit upon which they can draw. That is the help we must give them — the spirit to resist while we renew our strength and our skill.

We can’t buy our way out of this subversive war. We must force our way out against a resourceful and determined opponent who knows what it wants and is single-minded in its purpose. We must not underestimate the Soviet Union, her strength, her skill, her determination and tenacity, and her experience in this kind of warfare. Her skill is shown by the way she has maneuvered us into our present position.

We have tried temporizing, negotiation, and appeasement— and all of these things have failed. Is there a program of peace that is self-respecting and positive? I think there is if it is based upon a willingness to take the initiative and upon a determination to do what we need to do. Now that we know Russia’s intention, now that we see the pattern of its tactics and understand the significance of its warfare, this is the way we must meet this offensive: —

1. We must perfect our intelligence services, so that we may quickly unmask Soviet intention and develop those unorthodox tactics which World War II demonstrated to be essential.

2. We must counter Soviet subversive attacks and help to build resistance in countries Russia attempts to subjugate.

3. We must take the offensive on the psychological front and perfect our radio, the pamphlet and the press, and assist our allies in assembling facilities for getting the truth to the Russian people.

4. We must adopt a firm policy of immediate reprisal against the Soviet Union for every indignity or physical injury or unlawful imprisonment inflicted on our men in military service. Only by reprisal can we compel proper treatment of our representatives by the Soviets and obtain the confidence of our allies in our purpose and in our courage.

5. We must use our economy as a weapon against the Soviet Union and not permit her to use it against us. Economic reconstruction in Western Europe is an essential element in undermining Communist strength. We must deny her goods in short supply, or which we are stockpiling, or which will strengthen her in preparation for war against us.

We have seen in the operations of the Soviet Union that subversive action is made the more effective if there is the threat behind it of a strong, developed military force. Therefore, to counter such subversive action, we must have such a force.

In preparing a strategic defense, it is essential that we keep in mind that the new weapons of destruction have increased the vulnerability of our country. Dependent upon the efficient administration of our Intelligence, we may not know that other nations possess atomic bombs until we are hit by one, or be aware that biological weapons have been placed in advance by sabotage agents or delivered by air.

Therefore, to obtain an essential edge on our potential enemy, in addition to increasing our naval force and ground force divisions, we must intensify our applied research and develop a program in aerodynamics, power plants, and electronics that will make available the most modern piloted aircraft and guided missiles. We must also have an effective warning system and an adequate defense system of interceptor planes and ground weapons. We must have ready for immediate retaliation a force of combat planes with a range and altitude and speed which will enable them to impose heavy punishment upon any nation that attacks us.

To man and operate these weapons, we must have carefully trained soldiers, sailors, and airmen whose minds and wills can stand the strain. This can be attained only by conscription to meet any immediate danger.

For the first time in our history, we see that we are faced with the danger of insecurity. We must not run away from the compelling fact that we shall get security only if we stand up and equip ourselves in a moral and a practical sense to achieve it.