Category Archives: Honduras

Michael Parenti: The Costs of Counterrevolution: Must We Ignore Imperialism?

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The following are excerpts from the book “The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race” by Michael Parenti, published by St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

The Costs of Counterrevolution

Throughout the 1980s, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries who have waged war against such countries as Nicaragua, Angola, and Mozambique, were described as “guerrillas.” In fact, they won little support from the people of those countries, which explains why they remained so utterly dependent upon aid from the United States and South Africa. In an attempt to destroy the revolutionary economy and thus increase popular distress and discontent, these counterrevolutionaries attacked farms, health workers, technicians, schools, and civilians. Unlike a guerrilla army that works with and draws support from the people, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries kidnap, rape, kill and in other ways terrorize the civilian population. These tactics have been termed “self-defeating,” but they have a logic symptomatic of the underlying class politics. Since the intent of the counterrevolutionaries is to destroy the revolution, and since the bulk of the people support the revolution, then the mercenaries target the people.

In Mozambique, for example, over a period of eight years the South African-financed rebels laid waste to croplands, reducing the nation’s cereal production enough to put almost 4 million people in danger of starvation. The rebels destroyed factories, rail and road links, and marketing posts, causing a sharp drop in Mozambique’s production and exports. They destroyed 40 percent of the rural schools and over 500 of the 1,222 rural health clinics built by the Marxist government. And they killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. But they set up no “liberated” areas and introduced no program for the country; nor did they purport to have any ideology or social goals.

Likewise, the mercenary rebel force in Angola, financially supported throughout the 1980s by the apartheid regime in South Africa and looked favorably upon by the Reagan administration, devastated much of the Angolan economy, kidnapping and killing innocent civilians, displacing about 600,000 persons and causing widespread hunger and malnutrition. Assisted by White South African troops, the rebels destroyed at least half of Angola’s hospitals and clinics. White South African military forces, aided by jet fighters, engaged in direct combat on the side of the counterrevolutionaries. The rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, offered no social program for Angola but was lavish in his praise of the apartheid rulers in Pretoria and critical of Black South African leaders.

So with the contra forces that repeatedly attacked Nicaragua from Honduras for some seven years. In all that time they were unable to secure a “liberated” zone nor any substantial support from the people. They represented a mercenary army that amounted to nothing much without US money-and nothing much with it, having failed to launch a significant military offensive for years at a time. Like other counterrevolutionary “guerrillas” they were quite good at trying to destabilize the existing system by hitting soft targets like schools and farm cooperatives and killing large numbers of civilians, including children. (While the US news media unfailingly reported that the Nicaraguans or Cubans had “Soviet-made weapons,” they said nothing about the American, British, and Israeli arms used by counterrevolutionaries to kill Angolans, Namibians, Black South Africans, Western Saharans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans.)

Like counterrevolutionaries in other countries, the Nicaraguan contras put forth no economic innovations or social programs other than some vague slogans. As the New York Times reported, when asked about “the importance of political action in the insurgency” the contra leaders “did not seem to assign this element of revolutionary warfare a high priority.” They did not because they were not waging a “revolution” but a counterrevolution. What kind of a program can counterrevolutionaries present? If they publicize their real agenda, which is to open the country once more to the domination of foreign investors and rich owners, they would reveal their imperialist hand.

Like most of the Third World, Nicaragua during the Somoza dictatorship was one of imperialism’s ecological disasters, with its unrestricted industrial and agribusiness pollution and deforestation. Upon coming to power, the Sandinistas initiated rain forest and wildlife conservation measures and alternative energy programs. The new government also adopted methods of cutting pesticides to a minimum, prohibiting the use of the deadlier organochlorides commonly applied in other countries. Nicaragua’s environmental efforts stand in marked contrast to its neighboring states. But throughout the 1980s, the program was severely hampered by contra attacks that killed more than thirty employees of Nicaragua’s environmental and state forestry agencies, and destroyed agricultural centers and reclamation projects.

The US government is ready to accept just about anyone who emigrates from a Communist country. In contrast, the hundreds of millions of Third World refugees from capitalism, who would like to come to this country because the conditions of their lives are so hopeless, are not allowed to come in …

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Must We Ignore Imperialism?

Woodrow Wilson, 1907

Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

Ronald Reagan

What I want to see above all else is that this country remains a country where someone can always be rich. That’s the thing we have that must be preserved.

Jeff McMahan

U.S. reasons for wanting to control the third world are to some extent circular. Thus third world resources are required in part to guarantee military production, and increased military production is required in part to maintain and expand U.S. control over third world resources …. Instrumental goals eventually come to be seen as ends in themselves. Initially the pursuit of overseas bases is justified by the need to maintain stability, defend friendly countries from communist aggression, and so on-in other words, to subjugate and control the third world; but eventually the need to establish and maintain overseas bases becomes one of the reasons for wanting to subjugate and control the third world.

Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970 about Chile

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.

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Against Imperialism

The people who make US foreign policy are known to us – and they are well known to each other. Top policymakers and advisors are drawn predominantly from the major corporations and from policy groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for Economic Development, the Trilateral Commission, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Council. Membership in these groups consists of financiers, business executives, and corporate lawyers. Some also have a sprinkling of foundation directors, news editors, university presidents, and academicians.

Most prominent is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Incorporated in 1921, the CFR numbered among its founders big financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Nelson Aldrich, and J. P. Morgan. Since World War II, CFR members have included David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (and erstwhile CFR president); Allen Dulles, Wall Street lawyer and longtime director of the CIA; and, in the 1970s, all the directors of Morgan Guaranty Trust; nine directors of Banker’s Trust; five directors of Tri-Continental holding company; eight directors of Chase Manhattan; and directors from each of the following: Mellon National Bank, Bank of America, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Electric, General Dynamics, Union Carbide, IBM, AT&T, ITT, and the New York Times (a partial listing).

One member of the Kennedy administration, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., described the decision-making establishment as “an arsenal of talent which had so long furnished a steady supply of always orthodox and often able people to Democratic as well as Republican administrations. President Kennedy’s secretary of state was Dean Rusk, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and member of the CFR; his secretary of defense was Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor Company; his secretary of the treasury was C. Douglas Dillon, head of a prominent Wall Street banking firm and member of the CFR. Nixon’s secretary of state was Henry Kissinger, a Nelson Rockefeller protégé who also served as President Ford’s secretary of state. Ford appointed fourteen CFR members to his administration. Seventeen top members of Carter’s administration were participants of the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission, including Carter himself and Vice President Walter Mondale. Carter’s secretary of state was Cyrus Vance, Wall Street lawyer, director of several corporations, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and member of the CFR.

Reagan’s first secretary of state was Alexander Haig, former general and aide to President Nixon, president of United Technologies, director of several corporations including Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and member of the CFR. Reagan’s next secretary of state was George Shultz, president of Bechtel Corporation, director of Morgan Guaranty Trust, director of the CFR, and advisor of the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Reagan’s secretary of defense was Caspar Weinberger, vice president of Bechtel, director of other large corporations, and member of the Trilateral Commission. The secretary of treasury and later chief of staff was Donald Regan, chief executive officer of Merrill, Lynch, trustee of the CED, member of the CFR and of the Business Roundtable. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, was director of the ExportImport Bank, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Nixon, and partner in a prominent Wall Street law firm. At least a dozen of Reagan’s top administrators and some thirty advisors were CFR members.

Members of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have served in just about every top executive position, including most cabinet and subcabinet slots, and have at times virtually monopolized the membership of the National Security Council, the nation’s highest official policymaking body.’ The reader can decide whether they compose (1) a conspiratorial elite, (2) the politically active members of a ruling class, or (3) a selection of policy experts and specialists in the service of pluralistic democracy.

These policymakers are drawn from overlapping corporate circles and policy groups that have a capacity unmatched by any other interest groups in the United States to fill top government posts with persons from their ranks. While supposedly selected to serve in government because they are experts and specialists, they really are usually amateurs and “generalists.” Being president of a giant construction firm and director of a bank did not qualify George Shultz to be Nixon’s secretary of labor nor his secretary of the treasury. Nor did Shultz bring years of expert experience in foreign affairs to his subsequent position as Reagan’s secretary of state. But he did bring a proven capacity to serve well the common interests of corporate America.

Rather than acting as special-interest lobbies for particular firms, policy groups look after the class-wide concerns of the capitalist system. This is in keeping with the function of the capitalist state itself. While not indifferent to the fate of the overseas operations of particular US firms, the state’s primary task is to protect capitalism as a system, bolstering client states and opposing revolutionary or radically reformist ones.

Far from being powerless, the pressure of democratic opinion in this country and abroad has been about the only thing that has restrained US leaders from using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and intervening with US forces in Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. How best to pursue policies that lack popular support is a constant preoccupation of White House policymakers. President Reagan’s refusal to negotiate with the Soviets in the early 1980s provoked the largest peace demonstrations in the history of the United States. Eventually he had to offer an appearance of peace by agreeing to negotiate. To give this appearance credibility, he actually had to negotiate and even reluctantly arrive at unavoidable agreement on some issues, including the 1987 INF treaty.

Evidence of the importance of mass democratic opinion is found in the remarkable fact that the United States has not invaded Nicaragua. Even though the US had a firepower and striking force many times more powerful than the ones used in the previous eleven invasions of Nicaragua, and a president (Reagan) more eager than any previous president to invade, the invasion did not happen. Not because it would have been too costly in lives but because it would have been politically too costly. President Reagan would not have balked at killing tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and losing say 5,000 Americans to smash the Red Menace in Central America. When Marines were blown away in one afternoon in Lebanon, Reagan was ready to escalate his involvement in that country. Only the pressure of democratic forces in the USA and elsewhere caused him to leave Lebanon and refrain from invading Nicaragua. He did not have the political support to do otherwise. Invasion was politically too costly because it was militarily too costly even though logistically possible. It would have caused too much of an uproar at home and throughout Latin America and would have lost him, his party, and his policies I too much support.

The policies pursued by US leaders have delivered misfortune upon countless innocents, generating wrongs more horrendous than any they allegedly combat. The people of this country and other nations are becoming increasingly aware of this. The people know that nuclear weapons bring no security to anyone and that interventions on the side of privileged autocracies and reactionary governments bring no justice. They also seem to know that they pay most of the costs of the arms race and many of the costs of imperialism. From South Korea to South Africa, from Central America to the Western Sahara, from Europe to North America, people are fighting back, some because they have no choice, others because they would choose no other course but the one that leads to peace and justice.

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ICMLPO (Unity & Struggle): Statement of the Meeting of Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean: The Awakening of the Struggle of the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean Demands a Revolutionary Leadership

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Latin America is the scene of a new wave of social protest. It is the response that the workers, the youth and the peoples are making to the unfulfilled promises, the anti-popular policies, the rampant corruption in the upper echelons of governments, the handing over of the natural resources to foreign capital, in short, to the old and new economic and political programmes that seek to affirm the rule of capital.

The current struggle overcomes the temporary state of decreased level of struggle of the peoples that occurred, particularly in those countries in which the so-called “progressive” governments emerged that generated expectations and hopes that things would change in favour of the workers and peoples, but after a few years we are witnessing processes that show them to be instruments in the service of one or another bourgeois faction and of foreign capital.

Not surprisingly, we find a kind of political agreement among virtually all governments in the region in key aspects of economic and political management as well as on the implementation of tax measures that punish the working classes with direct and indirect taxes, the support of extractive industry as the way to obtain economic resources, the implementation of reforms in various spheres such as labour that aim to legalize mechanisms of capitalist super-exploitation and to affect the right of the workers to free trade union organization.

They also agree on the implementation of measures of social control, through judicial reforms and the adoption and implementation of laws that, in the name of public security, essentially aim at the criminalization of social protest.

Through clearly neo-liberal programmes in some cases, and through “progressives” social programmes that even speak of revolution and socialism in others, the bourgeois factions in power are interested in pursuing a process of capitalist modernization in the region that would allow them to obtain higher levels of accumulation, and to count on better resources to intervene in the world capitalist market. In this process, we note the loss of political space by U.S. imperialism, which has traditionally considered Latin America and the Caribbean as its back yard, and we find the aggressive penetration of Chinese imperialist capital. Thus, in several countries, we are faced with a kind of renegotiation of foreign dependence.

In the midst of a severe economic crisis that shook the global economy, the countries in this region were able to avoid some of its effects due to high prices of raw materials produced here, as well as certain established tax policies that have allowed most of the governments to count on sufficient economic resources to develop a social and material project that, in the minds of broad sectors of the population, have created the fiction that we are indeed living in times of change, putting their spirit of protests and struggle to sleep.

However, this situation is changing. The repressed dissatisfaction and the desire for change in millions of workers, youths, women, peasants, etc. are making themselves felt and breaking out.

The struggle that the Brazilian youths and people have been carrying out these days, which in two weeks brought more than 2 million people into the streets and won victories in several states, shows us this. It is not the 20 cents [the increase in bus fare that sparked the Brazilian protests – translator’s note] that stimulates this whole fight! The people are fed up with corruption, low wages and the handing over of the oil resources to foreign capital; they want hospitals, jobs, schools and decent housing; they reject the policy of privatization; they repudiate the spending of millions of dollars on the World Cup from which small local groups and various foreign monopolies will reap huge profits. The youth took to the streets overcoming repression and the supposedly conciliatory discourse of the government and the warning to be careful because protest can lead to a coup and the right, by means of which the government wanted to prevent the right to protest.

For months, Chilean youth have been carrying on a massive and militant struggle. They are raising concrete demands around educational issues and at the same time they are clashing with the government of Sebastian Pinera. This fight has motivated other social sectors to fight for their own demands, causing a political crisis that forecasts the loss by the forces that are now in the government in the upcoming presidential election.

In Argentina the struggle of the urban and agricultural workers, the youth, the state employees and the unemployed is also gaining strength.

In several countries, such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia the fights against the extractive policies, particularly against open pit and large-scale mining that cause enormous damage to nature and the peoples of these regions and are a source of millions in profits to foreign capitalist enterprises, are taking shape and gaining strength. They are also demanding better living conditions, access to health care, education, continuation of democratic rights and are condemning the criminalization of social protest.

In Central America, the struggles of the peasants and residents of popular neighbourhoods (Honduras), of retirees (Nicaragua), of state employees (Costa Rica), etc. are also taking place.

In the Dominican Republic the struggle of teachers for the implementation of the state budget for education, as well as the popular mobilization against foreign mining companies that are taking the country’s wealth, and against the scandalous corruption at the highest levels of government, stand out.

The teachers, the student youth and the workers of several state companies in Mexico have been at the head of major combat actions against both the current and the former government, pawns of the neo-liberal IMF policies.

The political struggle in Venezuela, in which broad contingents of the masses are involved, is shown particularly in the defence of the gains achieved during the government of Hugo Chavez, in the confrontation with the right-wing that is trying to end the process taking place, and in the demand that deeper social and political measures be taken to benefit the workers and people.

The protest actions that are taking place in Latin America, together with those in Europe, in northern Africa and other parts of the world, show us a world in upheaval.

In these circumstances, we Marxist-Leninist communist parties present our policies and energies to build up revolutionary forces. In many of the fights described above we have been present, playing our role; however we are aware that we need to develop our abilities much further in order to lead those fights along the path that leads to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

As a result of a major offensive promoted by imperialism, by various right-wing sectors, by revisionism and opportunism, the workers and peoples show a strong ideological acceptance that leads them to trust the discourse and social programmes that do not go beyond the scope of reformism and bourgeois democracy.

We are working to reverse this situation and to win the masses towards revolutionary politics, to strategic proposals and those that we are putting forward in the present situation. For that purpose we will increase our efforts in propaganda actions and mass work.

We will continue fighting together with our people, contending for political leadership and directing them towards new, higher struggles for their material and political demands, against imperialist interference and in order to play the role of the basic revolutionary force to which history has entrusted them.

We will provide the force to the movement promoting its unity, both in the social and popular movement, as well as at the level of political organizations of the left.

Our commitment to the revolution and socialism raises the need for us to more rapidly achieve the strengthening and development of our party structure. The political circumstances demand from our organizations greater skill in developing policies that will be embraced by the masses, but we also need sufficient force for their materialization. We are working for this, in order to establish our position as revolutionary vanguard.

The workers and the people of the Americas and the world are challenging the rulers, they are seeking change, they are fighting for it; we Marxist-Leninists have the responsibility to fight together with them and lead these changes to fruition, to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

Quito, July 2013

Revolutionary Communist Party (Brazil)
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labour – Dominican Republic
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela

En Marcha #1620
July 19-25, 2013

On the 100th anniversary of World War I

YourCountryNeedsYou

The following entry is from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

 – E.S.

World War I (1914–18) 

an imperialist war between two coalitions of capitalist powers for a redivision of the already divided world (a repartition of colonies, spheres of influence, and spheres for the investment of capital) and for the enslavement of other peoples. At first, the war involved eight European states: Germany and Austria-Hungary against Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro. Later, most of the countries in the world entered the war (see Table 1). A total of four states fought on the side of the Austro-German bloc; 34 states, including four British dominions and the colony of India, all of which signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, took part on the side of the Entente. On both sides, the war was aggressive and unjust. Only in Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro did it include elements of a war of national liberation.

Although imperialists from all the principal belligerent powers were involved in unleashing the war, the party chiefly to blame was the German bourgeoisie, who began World War I at the “moment it thought most favorable for war, making useof its latest improvements in military matériel and forestalling the rearmament already planned and decided upon by Russia and France” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 16).

The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Serbian nationalists on June 15 (28), 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. German imperialists decided to take advantage of this favorable moment to unleash the war. Under German pressure, Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia on July 10 (23). Although the Serbian government agreed to meet almost all of the demands in the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary broke diplomatic relations with Serbia on July 12 (25) and declared war on Serbia on July 15 (28). Belgrade, the Serbian capital, was shelled. On July 16 (29), Russia began mobilization in the military districts bordering on Austria-Hungary and on July 17 (30) proclaimed a general mobilization. On July 18 (31), Germany demanded that Russia halt its mobilization and, receiving no reply, declared war on Russia on July 19 (Aug. 1). Germany declared war on France and Belgium on July 21 (Aug. 3). On July 22 (Aug. 4), Great Britain declared war on Germany. The British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa) and Britain’s largest colony, India, entered the war on the same day. On Aug. 10 (23), Japan declared war on Germany. Italy formally remained a member of the Triple Alliance but declared its neutrality on July 20 (Aug. 2), 1914.

Causes of the war. At the turn of the 20th century capitalism was transformed into imperialism. The world had been almost completely divided up among the largest powers. The uneven-ness of the economic and political development of various countries became more marked. The states that had been late in embarking on the path of capitalist development (the USA, Germany, and Japan) advanced rapidly, competing successfully on the world market with the older capitalist countries (Great Britain and France) and persistently pressing for a repartition of the colonies. The most acute conflicts arose between Germany and Great Britain, whose interests clashed in many parts of the globe, especially in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, focal points of German imperialism’s trade and colonial expansion. The construction of the Baghdad Railroad aroused grave alarm in British ruling circles. The railroad would provide Germany with direct route through the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and guarantee Germany an important position in the Middle East, thus threatening British land and sea communications with India.

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France, rooted in the desire of German capitalists to secure permanent possession of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been taken from France as a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, and in the determination of the French to regain these provinces. French and German interests also clashed on the colonial issue. French attempts to seize Morocco met with determined resistance from Germany, which also claimed this territory.

Contradictions between Russia and Germany began to increase in the late 19th century. The expansion of German imperialism in the Middle East and its attempts to establish control over Turkey infringed on Russian economic, political, and strategic interests. Germany used its customs policy to limit the importation of grain from Russia, imposing high duties while simultaneously making sure that German industrial goods could freely penetrate the Russian market.

In the Balkans, there were profound contradictions between Russia and Austria-Hungary, caused primarily by the expansion of the Hapsburg monarchy, with Germany’s support, into the neighboring South Slav lands (Bosnia, Hercegovina, and Serbia). Austria-Hungary intended to establish its superiority in the Balkans. Russia, which supported the struggle of the Balkan peoples for freedom and national independence, considered the Balkans its own sphere of influence. The tsarist regime and the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie wanted to take over the Bosporus and Dardanelles to strengthen their position in the Balkans.

There were many disputed issues between Great Britain and France, Great Britain and Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and Turkey and Italy, but they were secondary to the principal contradictions, which existed between Germany and its rivals— Great Britain, France, and Russia. The aggravation and deepening of these contradictions impelled the imperialists toward a repartition of the world, but “under capitalism, the repartitioning of ‘world domination’ could only take place at the price of a world war” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 34, p. 370).

The class struggle and the national liberation movement grew stronger during the second decade of the 20th century. The Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia had an enormous influence on the upsurge in the struggle of the toiling people for their social and national liberation. There was considerable growth in the working-class movement in Germany, France, and Great Britain. The class struggle reached its highest level in Russia, where a new revolutionary upsurge began in 1910 and an acute political crisis ripened. National liberation movements grew broader in Ireland and Alsace (the Zabern affair, 1913), and the struggle of the enslaved peoples of Austria-Hungary became more extensive. The imperialists sought to use war to suppress the developing liberation movement of the working class and oppressed peoples in their own countries and to arrest the world revolutionary process.

For many years the imperialists prepared for a world war as a means of resolving foreign and domestic contradictions. The initial step was the formation of a system of military-political blocs, beginning with the Austro-German Agreement of 1879, under which the signatories promised to render assistance to each other in case of war with Russia. Seeking support in its struggle with France for possession of Tunisia, Italy joined Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1882. Thus, the Triple Alliance of 1882, or the alliance of the Central Powers, took shape in central Europe. Initially directed against Russia and France, it later included Great Britain among its main rivals.

To counterbalance the Triple Alliance, another coalition of European powers began to develop. The Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891–93 provided for joint actions by the two countries in case of aggression by Germany or by Italy and Austria-Hungary supported by Germany. The growth of German economic power in the early 20th century forced Great Britain to gradually renounce its traditional policy of splendid isolation and seek rapprochement with France and Russia. The Anglo-French agreement of 1904 settled various colonial disputes between Great Britain and France, and the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 reinforced the understanding between Russia and Great Britain regarding their policies in Tibet,Afghanistan, and Iran. These documents created the Triple Entente (or agreement), a bloc opposed to the Triple Alliance and made up of Great Britain, France, and Russia. In 1912, Anglo-French and Franco-Russian naval conventions were signed, and in 1913 negotiations were opened for an Anglo-Russian naval convention.

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The formation of military-political groupings in Europe, as well as the arms race, further aggravated imperialist contradictions and increased international tensions. A relatively tranquil period of world history was followed by an epoch that was“much more violent, spasmodic, disastrous, and conflicting” (ibid., vol. 27, p. 94). The worsening of imperialist contradictions was evident in the Moroccan crises of 1905–06 and 1911, the Bosnian crisis of 1908–09, the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12, and the Balkan Wars of 1912–13. In December 1913, Germany provoked a major international conflict by sending a military mission under the command of General O. Liman von Sanders to Turkey to reorganize and train the Turkish Army.

In preparation for a world war the ruling circles of the imperialist states established powerful war industries, based on large state plants: armaments, explosives, and ammunition plants, as well as shipyards. Private enterprises were drawn into the production of military goods: Krupp in Germany, Skoda in Austria-Hungary, Schneider-Creusot and St. Chamond in France, Vickers and Armstrong-Whitworth in Great Britain, and the Putilov Works and other plants in Russia.

The imperialists of the two hostile coalitions put a great deal of effort into building up their armed forces. The achievements of science and technology were placed in the service of war. More sophisticated armaments were developed, including rapid-fire magazine rifles and machine guns, which greatly increased the firepower of the infantry. In the artillery the number of rifled guns of the latest design increased sharply. Of great strategic importance was the development of the railroads, which made it possible to significantly speed up the concentration and deployment of large masses of troops in the theaters of operations and to provide an uninterrupted supply of personnel replacements and matériel to the armies in the field. Motor vehicle transport began to play an increasingly important role, and military aviation began to develop. The use of new means of communication in military affairs, including the telegraph, the telephone, and the radio,facilitated the organization of troop control. The size of armies and trained reserves grew rapidly. (See Table 2 for the composition of the ground forces of the principal warring powers.)

Germany and Great Britain were engaged in a stiff competition in naval armaments. The dreadnought, a new type of ship, was first built in 1905. By 1914 the German Navy was firmly established as the world’s second most powerful navy(after the British). Other countries endeavored to strengthen their navies, but it was not financially and economically possible for them to carry out the shipbuilding programs they had adopted. (See Table 3 for the composition of the naval forces of the principal warring powers.) The costly arms race demanded enormous financial means and placed a heavy burden on the toiling people.

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There was extensive ideological preparation for war. The imperialists attempted to instill in the people the idea that armed conflicts are inevitable, and they tried their hardest to inculcate militarism in the people and incite chauvinism among them. To achieve these aims, all means of propaganda were used—the press, literature, the arts, and the church. Taking advantage of the patriotic feelings of the people, the bourgeoisie in every country justified the arms race and camouflaged aggressive objectives with false arguments on the need to defend the native land against foreign enemies.

The international working class (more than 150 million persons) was a real force capable of significantly restraining the imperialist governments. At the international level, the working-class movement was headed by the Second International,which united 41 Social Democratic parties from 27 countries, with 3.4 million members. However, the opportunist leaders of the European Social Democratic parties did nothing to implement the antiwar decisions of the prewar congresses of the Second International. When the war began, the leaders of the Social Democratic parties of the Western countries came to the support of their governments and voted for military credits in parliament. The socialist leaders of Great Britain (A. Henderson), France (J. Guesde, M. Sembat, and A. Thomas), and Belgium (E. Vandervelde) joined the bourgeois military governments. Ideologically and politically, the Second International collapsed and ceased to exist, breaking up into social chauvinist parties.

Only the left wing of the Second International, with the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin in the vanguard, continued to fight consistently against militarism, chauvinism, and war. The basic principles defining the attitude of revolutionary Marxists toward war were set forth by Lenin in the Manifesto of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, “War and Russian Social Democracy.” Firmly opposed to the war, the Bolsheviks explained its imperialist character to the popular masses. The Bolshevik faction of the Fourth State Duma refused to support the tsarist government and vote for war credits. The Bolshevik Party called on the toiling people of all countries to work for the defeat of their governments in the war, the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war, and the revolutionary overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords. A revolutionary, antiwar stance was adopted by the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party (Narrow Socialists), headed by D. Blagoev, G. Dimitrov, and V. Kolarov, and by the Serbian and Rumanian Social Democratic parties. Active opposition to the imperialist war was also shown by a small group of left-wing Social Democrats in Germany, led by K. Liebknecht, R. Luxemburg, C. Zetkin, and F. Mehring; by a few socialists in France, led by J. Jaurès; and by some socialists in other countries.

War plans and strategic deployment. Long before the war began, the general staffs had worked out war plans. All strategic calculations were oriented toward a short, fast-moving war. The German strategic plan provided for rapid, decisive actions against France and Russia. It assumed that France would be crushed in six to eight weeks, after which all German forces would descend on Russia and bring the war to a victorious conclusion. The bulk of German troops (four-fifths) were deployed on the western border of Germany and were designated for the invasion of France. It was their mission to deliver the main attack with the right wing through Belgium and Luxembourg, turning the left flank of the French Army west of Paris and, throwing it back toward the German border, forcing it to surrender. A covering force (one army) was stationed in East Prussia to oppose Russia. The German military command figured that it would be able to crush France and transfer troops to the east before the Russian Army went over to the offensive. The main forces of the German Navy (the High Seas Fleet) were to be stationed at bases in the North Sea. Their mission was to weaken the British Navy with actions using light forces and submarines and then destroy the main British naval forces in a decisive battle. A few cruisers were detailed for operations in the British sea-lanes. In the Baltic Sea the German Navy’s mission was to prevent vigorous actions by the Russian Navy.

The Austro-Hungarian command planned military operations on two fronts: against Russia in Galicia and against Serbia and Montenegro in the Balkans. They did not exclude the possibility of forming a front against Italy, an unreliable member of the Triple Alliance that might go over to the Entente. Consequently, the Austro-Hungarian command drew up three variations of a war plan and divided their ground forces into three operational echelons (groups): group A (nine corps), which was designated for actions against Russia; the “minimum Balkan” group (three corps), which was directed against Serbia and Montenegro; and group B (four corps), the reserve of the supreme command, which could be used either to reinforce the other groups or to form a new front if Italy became an enemy.

The general staffs of Austria-Hungary and Germany maintained close contact with each other and coordinated their strategic plans. The Austro-Hungarian plan for the war against Russia provided for delivering the main attack from Galicia between the Vistula and Bug rivers and moving northeast to meet German forces, which were supposed to develop an offensive at the same time moving southeast from East Prussia toward Siedlce, with the objectives of surrounding and destroying the grouping of Russian troops in Poland. The mission of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, which was stationed in the Adriatic Sea, was to defend the coast.

The Russian General Staff worked out two variations of the war plan, both of which were offensive. Under Variation A, the main forces of the Russian Army would be deployed against Austria-Hungary. Variation G was directed against Germany, should it deliver the main attack on the Eastern Front. Variation A, which was actually carried out, planned converging attacks in Galicia and East Prussia, with the aim of destroying the enemy groupings. This phase of the plan would be followed by a general offensive into Germany and Austria-Hungary. Two detached armies were assigned to cover Petrograd and southern Russia. In addition, the Army of the Caucasus was formed in case Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. It was the mission of the Baltic Fleet to defend the sea approaches to Petrograd and prevent the German fleet from breaking through into the Gulf of Finland. The Black Sea Fleet did not have a ratified plan ofaction.

The French plan for the war against Germany (Plan XVII) envisioned going over to the offensive with the forces of the right wing of the armies in Lorraine and with the forces of the left wing against Metz. At first, the possibility of an invasion byGerman forces through Belgium was not taken into account, because Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by the great powers, including Germany. However, a variation of Plan XVII ratified on Aug. 2, 1914, specified that in case of an offensive by German troops through Belgium, combat operations were to be developed on the left wing up to the line of the Meuse (Maas) River from Namur to Givet. The French plan reflected the lack of confidence of the French command,confronted with a struggle against a more powerful Germany. In fact, the plan made the actions of the French Army dependent on the actions of the German forces. The mission of the French fleet in the Mediterranean Sea was to ensure themovement of colonial troops from North Africa to France by blockading the Austro-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic Sea. Part of the French fleet was assigned to defend the approaches to the English Channel.

Expecting that military operations on land would be waged by the armies of its allies, Russia and France, Great Britain did not draw up plans for operations by ground forces. It promised only to send an expeditionary corps to the continentto help the French. The navy was assigned active missions: to set up a long-range blockade of Germany on the North Sea, to ensure the security of sea-lanes, and to destroy the German fleet in a decisive battle.

The great powers carried out the strategic deployment of their armed forces in conformity with these plans. Germany moved seven armies (the First through Seventh, consisting of 86 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.6million men and about 5,000 guns) to the border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, along a 380-km front from Krefeld to Mulhouse. The main grouping of these forces (five armies) was located north of Metz on a 160-km front. The defense of the northern coast of Germany was assigned to the Northern Army (one reserve corps and four Landwehr brigades). The commander in chief was Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the chief of staff was General H. von Moltke the younger(from Sept. 14, 1914, E. Falkenhayn, and from Aug. 29, 1916, until the end of the war, Field Marshal General P. von Hindenburg).

The French armies (the First through Fifth, consisting of 76 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.73 million men and more than 4,000 guns), which were under the command of General J. J. C. Joffre, were deployed on front of approximately 345 km from Belfort to Hirson. (From December 1916, General R. Nivelle was commander in chief of the French armies, and from May 17, 1917, until the end of the war, General H. Pétain. On May 14, 1918, Marshal F. Foch became supreme commander of Allied forces.) The Belgian Army under the command of King Albert I (six infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 117,000 men and 312 guns) occupied a line east of Brussels. The British Expeditionary Force under the command of Field Marshal J. French (four infantry divisions and 1.5 cavalry divisions, with a total of 87,000 men and 328 guns) was concentrated in the Maubeuge region next to the left flank of the grouping of French armies. (From December 1915 until the end of the war, the British Expeditionary Force was under the command of General D. Haig.) The main grouping of Allied forces was northwest of Verdun.

Against Russia, Germany placed the Eighth Army (14.5 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of more than 200,000 men and 1,044 guns), under the command of General M. von Prittwitz und Gaffron, in East Prussia andGeneral R. von Woyrsch’s Landwehr corps in Silesia (two Landwehr divisions and 72 guns). Austria-Hungary had three armies (the First, Third, and Fourth) on a front from Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy) to Sandomierz. H. Kövess vonKövessháza’s army group (from August 23, the Second Army) was on the right flank, and Kummer’s army group was in the Kraków region (35.5 infantry divisions and 11 cavalry divisions, with about 850,000 men and 1,848 guns). Thesupreme commander in chief was Archduke Frederick. (Emperor Charles I became supreme commander in chief in November 1916.) The Austro-Hungarian chief of staff was Field Marshal General F. Conrad von Hötzendorf (from Feb. 28,1917, General Arz von Straussenburg).

Russia had six armies on its Western border (52 infantry divisions and 21 cavalry divisions, with a total of more than 1 million men and 3,203 guns). Two fronts were formed: the Northwestern Front (First and Second armies) and theSouthwestern Front (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth armies). The Sixth Army was to defend the Baltic coast and cover Petrograd; the Seventh Army was to defend the northwest coast of the Black Sea and the boundary with Rumania. The divisions of the second strategic echelon and the Siberian divisions arrived at the front later, at the end of August and during September. On July 20 (August 2), Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich was appointed supreme commander in chief.(For a list of his successors, see SUPREME COMMANDER IN CHIEF.) The chiefs of staff of the supreme commander in chief were General N. N. Ianushkevich (July 19 [Aug. 1], 1914, to Aug. 18 [31], 1915) and General M. V. Alekseev (Aug. 18 [31],1915, to Nov. 10 [23], 1916; Feb. 17 [Mar. 2] to Mar. 11 [24], 1917; and Aug. 30 [Sept. 12] to Sept. 9 [22], 1917). At the end of 1916 and during 1917 the duties of chief of staff were temporarily carried out by Generals V. I. Romeiko-Gurko,V. N. Klembovskii, A. I. Denikin, A. S. Lukomskii, and N. N. Dukhonin. From Nov. 20 (Dec. 3), 1917, to Feb. 21, 1918, the chief of staff was M. D. Bonch-Bruevich, whose successors were S I. Kuleshin and M. M. Zagiu.

In the Balkans, Austria-Hungary set two armies against Serbia: the Fifth and Sixth armies, under the command of General O. Potiorek (13 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 140,000 men and 546 guns). Serbiadeployed four armies under the command of Voevoda R. Putnik (the First, Second, Third, and Fourth armies, consisting of 11 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 250,000 men and 550 guns). Montenegro had six infantrydivisions (35,000 men and 60 guns).

The strategic deployment of the armed forces of both sides was basically completed by August 4–6 (17–19). Military operations took place in Europe, Asia, and Africa, on all the oceans, and on many seas. The principal operations tookplace in five theaters of ground operations: Western Europe (from 1914), Eastern Europe (from 1914), Italy (from 1915), the Balkans (from 1914), and the Middle East (from 1914). In addition, military operations were carried out in East Asia (Tsingtao, 1914), on the Pacific islands (Oceania), and in the German colonies in Africa, including German East Africa (until the end of the war), German Southwest Africa (until 1915), Togo (1914), and the Cameroons (until 1916).Throughout the war the chief theaters of ground operations were the Western European (French) and the Eastern European (Russian). Particularly important theaters of naval operations were the North, Mediterranean, Baltic, and Black seas and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Campaign of 1914. In the Western European theater, military operations began with the invasion by German troops of Luxembourg (August 2) and Belgium (August 4), the latter having rejected a German ultimatum regarding the passage of German troops through its territory. Relying on the fortified areas of Liège and Namur, the Belgian Army offered the enemy stubborn resistance on the Meuse River line. Abandoning Liège after bitter fighting (August 16), the Belgian Army retreated toward Antwerp. Dispatching about two corps (80,000 men and 300 guns) against the Belgian Army, the German command directed the main grouping of its armies to the southwest, toward the Franco-Belgian border. The French armies of the left flank (the Third, Fourth, and Fifth armies) and the British Army were moved forward to meet the German forces. The Battle of the Frontiers took place on Aug. 21–25, 1914.

In view of the danger of the enemy turning the left flank of the Allied forces, the French command withdrew its armies deeper into the country to gain time to regroup its forces and prepare a counteroffensive. From August 7 to 14 the Frencharmies of the right flank (the First and Second armies) conducted an offensive in Alsace and Lorraine. But with the invasion by German forces of France through Belgium, the French offensive was brought to a halt, and both armies were drawn back to their initial positions. The main grouping of German armies continued its offensive along a southwest axis of advance toward Paris and, winning a series of local victories over the Entente armies at Le Cateau (August 26),Nesle and Proyart (August 28–29), and St. Quentin and Guise (August 29–30), reached the Marne River between Paris and Verdun by September 5. The French command completed the regrouping of its forces and, having formed two newarmies (the Sixth and the Ninth) from reserves, created a superiority of forces in this axis. In the battle of the Marne (Sept. 5–12, 1914), the German troops were defeated and forced to withdraw to the Aisne and Oise rivers, where they dug in and stopped the allied counteroffensive by September 16.

From September 16 to October 15, three operations by maneuver known as the Race to the Sea developed out of the attempts of each side to seize the “free space” west of the Oise and extending to the Pas-de-Calais, by enveloping the enemy’s open flanks on the north. The forces of both sides reached the coast west of Ostend. The Belgian Army, which had been forced to withdraw from Antwerp on October 8, occupied a sector on the left flank of the Allied armies. The battle in Flanders on the Yser and Ypres river (October 15 to November 20) did not change the overall situation. Attempts by the Germans to break through the Allied defense and take the ports on the Pas-de-Calais were unsuccessful.Having suffered considerable losses, both sides stopped active combat actions and dug in on the established lines. A static front was established from the Swiss border to the North Sea. In December 1914 it was 720 km long, with 650 km assigned to the French Army, 50 km to the British, and 20 km to the Belgians.

Military operations in the Eastern European theater began on August 4–7 (17–20), with the invasion of East Prussia by the inadequately prepared troops of the Russian Northwestern Front (commanded by General la. G. Zhilinskii; chief ofstaff, General V. A. Oranovskii). During the East Prussian Operation of 1914 the First Russian Army (General P. K. Rennenkampf, commander), advancing from the east, smashed units of the German I Corps near Stallüponen on August 4(17) and inflicted a defeat on the main forces of the German Eighth Army on August 7 (20) in the battle of Gumbinnen-Goldap. On August 7 (20) the Russian Second Army (commanded by General A. V. Samsonov) invaded East Prussia, delivering an attack on the flank and rear of the German Eighth Army. The commander of the Eighth Army decided to begin a withdrawal of forces from East Prussia beyond the Vistula, but the German supreme command, dissatisfied with this decision, ordered a change in command on August 10 (23), appointing General P. von Hindenburg commander and General E. Ludendorff chief of staff.

The offensive by Russian troops in East Prussia forced the German command to take two corps and one cavalry division from the Western Front and send them to the Eastern Front on August 13 (26). This was one of the causes of the defeat of German forces in the battle of the Marne. Taking advantage of the lack of cooperation between the First and Second armies and the mistakes of the Russian command, the enemy was able to inflict a heavy defeat on the Russian Second Army and then on the First Army and drive them out of East Prussia.

In the battle of Galicia (1914), which took place at the same time as the East Prussian Operation, the troops of the Russian Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General N. I. Ivanov; chief of staff, General M. V. Alekseev) inflicted amajor defeat on the Austro-Hungarian forces. They took L’vov on August 21 (September 3), laid seige to the Przemyśl fortress on September 8 (21), and, pursuing the enemy, reached the Wisłoka River and the foothills of the Carpathians by September 13 (26). A danger arose that Russian forces would invade the German province of Silesia. The German supreme command hurriedly transferred major forces from East Prussia to the region of Częstochowa and Kraków and formed a new army (the Ninth). The objective was to deliver a counter strike against Ivangorod (Dęblin) in the flank and rear of the troops of the Southwestern Front and thus to thwart the attack on Silesia that the Russian forces were preparing. Owing to a timely regrouping of forces carried out by Russian General Headquarters, in the Warsaw-Ivangorod Operation of 1914 the Russian armies stopped the advance of the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army on Ivangorod by September 26 (October 9) and then repulsed the German attack on Warsaw. On October 5 (18), Russian forces went over to the counteroffensive and threw the enemy back to the initial line.

The Russian armies resumed preparations for an invasion of Germany. The German command moved the Ninth Army from the Częstochowa region to the north, having decided to deliver a blow at the right flank and rear of the Russian offensive grouping. In the Łódź Operation of 1914, which began on October 29 (November 11), the enemy succeeded in thwarting the Russian plan, but an attempt to surround the Russian Second and Fifth armies in the Łódź region failed, and German troops were forced to withdraw, suffering heavy losses. At the same time, Russian troops of the Southwestern Front inflicted a defeat on Austro-Hungarian forces in the Częstochowa-Kraków Operation and reached the approaches to Kraków and Częstochowa. Having exhausted their capabilities, both sides went over to the defensive. The Russian armies, which had experienced a critical shortage of ammunition, dug in on the line of the Bzura, Rawka, and Nida rivers.

In the Balkan theater of operations, Austro-Hungarian forces invaded Serbia on August 12. Defeated in a meeting engagement that began on August 16 in the region of Cer Mountain, by August 24 the Austro-Hungarian forces had been thrown back to their initial position beyond the Drina and Sava rivers. On September 7 they renewed the offensive. A shortage of artillery and ammunition forced the Serbs to withdraw on November 7 to the east of the Kolubara River, but after receiving supplies from Russia and France, they went over to the counteroffensive on December 3. By mid-December they had liberated their country from enemy forces. The two sides took up defensive positions on the river boundary lines.

At the end of 1914 hostilities began in the Middle Eastern theater of operations. On July 21 (August 3), Turkey declared its neutrality, waiting and preparing for a convenient moment to come out on the side of the Central Powers. Encouraging Turkey’s aggressive aspirations in the Caucasus, Germany sent the battle cruiser Göben and the light cruiser Breslau to the Black Sea at the war’s beginning (August 10), to support the Turkish Navy. On October 16 (29),Turkish and German ships unexpectedly shelled Odessa, Sevastopol’, Feodosia, and Novorossiisk. On October 20 (November 2), Russia declared war on Turkey, followed by Great Britain (November 5) and France (November 6). Turkey declared a “holy war” against the Entente powers on November 12.

Turkish ground forces consisted of about 800,000 men. The Turkish First, Second, and Fifth armies were deployed in the Straits region; the Third Army, in Turkish Armenia; the Fourth Army, in Syria and Palestine; and the Sixth Army, in Mesopotamia. Sultan Mehmed V was nominally the supreme commander in chief, but in fact the duties of this position were carried out by Enver Pasha, the minister of war. The chief of staff was a German general, W. Bronsart von Schellendorf. Russia moved its Army of the Caucasus to the Turkish border (commander in chief, General I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov; deputy commander in chief, General A. Z. Myshlaevskii; 170,000 men and 350 guns). In the second half of October (early November) clashes took place in the Erzurum axis. On October 25 (November 7) the Russians seized fortified positions near Köprüköy (50 km north of Erzurum). However, under pressure from the superior forces of the enemy, the Russians withdrew to their initial positions by November 26 (December 9). The Turkish Third Army went over to the offensive on December 9 (22), but during the Sankamuş Operation of 1914–15 it was routed. On November 10 British expeditionary corps landed at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, forming the Mesopotamian Front. On November 22 the British took Basra, which had been abandoned by the Turks. The British captured al-Qurnah on December 9 and established a firm position in southern Mesopotamia.

Germany was unsuccessful in combat operations in Africa, the Far East, and the Pacific Ocean, losing most of its colonies during a single military campaign. In 1914, Japan seized the Caroline, Mariana, and Marshall islands in the Pacific Ocean as well as Tsingtao, a German naval base in China. The Australians seized the German part of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand captured the Samoan Islands. Anglo-French forces occupied the German colonies in Africa: Togo in August 1914, the Cameroons in January 1916, Southwest Africa by July 1915, and East Africa by late 1917. (Until the end of the war, German forces continued to conduct partisan actions in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the British colony of Southern Rhodesia.)

Naval operations were of a limited character in 1914. On August 28 there was a battle between light forces of the British and German fleets in the North Sea near the island of Helgoland. On November 5 (18) a Russian squadron waged battle against the German ships Göben and Breslau near Cape Sarych in the Black Sea (50 km southeast of Sevastopol’). Damaged, the German ships retreated. The German command attempted to step up the actions of its fleet in British sea-lanes in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. In the battle of Coronel (Nov. 1, 1914), Admiral M. von Spee’s German squadron (five cruisers) defeated Rear Admiral C. Cradock’s British squadron, but on December 8, Admiral von Spee’s squadron was destroyed by Admiral F. Sturdee’s British squadron near the Falkland Islands. By the beginning of November, three additional German cruisers operating in the Atlantic and Pacific had been sunk.

The campaign of 1914 did not produce decisive results for either side. In France both sides went over to a static defense. Elements of trench warfare also emerged in the Eastern European theater of operations. Military operations demonstrated that the general staffs had been mistaken in their prewar predictions that the war would be short. Stockpiles of armaments and ammunition were used up during the very first operations. At the same time, it became clear that the war would be long and that emergency measures must be taken to mobilize industry and to develop the production of arms and ammunition.

Campaign of 1915. The Anglo-French command decided to go over to a strategic defensive in the Western European theater of operations, in order to gain time to stockpile matériel and train reserves. In the campaign of 1915 the main burden of armed struggle was shifted onto Russia. At the demand of the Allies the Russian command planned simultaneous offensives against Germany (in East Prussia) and Austria-Hungary (in the Carpathians). The prospect of protracted war did not please the German high command, which knew that Germany and its allies could not withstand a lengthy struggle with the Entente powers, who possessed superiority in manpower reserves and material resources.Therefore, the German plan for the campaign of 1915 was an offensive plan that counted on rapidly achieving victory. Lacking sufficient forces to conduct offensives simultaneously in the East and the West, the German command decided to concentrate its main efforts on the Eastern Front, with the objectives of crushing Russia and forcing it to leave the war. A defensive posture was planned for the Western Front.

Russia had 104 divisions against the 74 divisions of the Central Powers (36 German and 38 Austro-Hungarian divisions). Attempting to forestall the offensive prepared by the Russians, between January 25 (February 7) and February 13 (26) the German command undertook the Augustów Operation of 1915 in East Prussia. However, they did not attain their objective of surrounding the Tenth Army of the Russian Northwestern Front. In February and March Russian command used the forces of the Tenth, Twelfth, and First armies to carry out the Przasnysz Operation, during which the enemy was thrown back to the borders of East Prussia. On the southern wing of the Eastern Front, the command of the Russian Southwestern Front carried out the Carpathian Operation of 1915. Beseiged by Russian troops, the 120,000-strong Przemyśl garrison surrendered on March 9 (22). Heavy but indecisive fighting continued in the Carpathians until April 20.Experiencing a critical shortage of weapons and ammunition, the Russian forces brought a halt to their active operations in April 1915.

By the summer of 1915 the German command had formed the Eleventh Army with troops transferred from the Western Front to Galicia. The German Eleventh Army and the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army, under the overall command of the German general A. von Mackensen, went over to the offensive on April 19 (May 2). With an enormous superiority in forces and means (especially in artillery), the enemy broke through the defense of the Russian Third Army near Görlitz. The Görlitz breakthrough of 1915 led to a deep withdrawal of the forces of the Southwestern Front, which left Galicia in May and June.

At the same time, German troops were advancing in the Baltic region. On April 24 (May 7) they took Libau (Liepāja) and reached Shavli (Ŝiauliai) and Kovno (Kaunas). In July the German command attempted to break through the defense of the Russian First Army with an attack of the newly formed Twelfth Army in the Przasnysz region. The Twelfth Army, in cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian Fourth and German Eleventh armies, which were advancing from Galicia toward the northeast, was to surround the main groupings of the Russian forces, which were in Poland. The German plan was unsuccessful, but the Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Poland.

In the Vil’na Operation of August 1915 the Germans attempted to surround the Russian Tenth Army in the Vil’na (Vilnius) region. On August 27 (September 9) the enemy managed to break through the Russian defense and gain the rear of the Tenth Army. However, the Russian command stopped the enemy breakthrough. In October 1915 the front stabilized on the line of Riga, the Zapadnaia Dvina River, Dvinsk, Smorgon’, Baranovichi, Dubno, and the Strypa River. The German command had failed in its plan to force Russia to leave the war in 1915.

At the beginning of 1915 there were 75 French, 11 British, and six Belgian divisions opposing 82 German divisions in the Western European theater of operations. The number of British divisions increased to 31 in September and 37 in December. Planning no major operations, both sides conducted only local battles in this theater of military operations during the campaign of 1915. On April 22 at Ypres the German command became the first to use chemical weapons(chlorine gas) on the Western Front: 15,000 persons were poisoned. The German troops advanced 6 km. In May and June the Allies launched an offensive in Artois. Carried out with insufficient forces, it did not influence the course of combat operations on the Russian Front.

On July 7 the Interallied War Council was formed in Chantilly, to coordinate the strategic efforts of the Entente powers. To assist Russia, the council decided to undertake an offensive on the Western Front, with the objective of drawing considerable German forces away from the Eastern Front. However, offensive operations were carried out only from September 25 to October 6 in Champagne and Artois. At this time active military operations had in fact ceased on the Russian Front. Moreover, the Allied forces were unable to break through the strong enemy defense.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations Russian forces conducted the most active military operations. In the Alashgerd Operation they cleared the enemy from the area around Lakes Van and Urmia. The increasing activity of German and Turkish agents in Iran forced the Russian command to send troops into the northern part of that country. General N. N. Baratov’s Caucasus Expeditionary Corps (about 8,000 men and 20 guns) was transferred from Tiflis to Baku and transported over the Caspian Sea to the Iranian port of Enzeli (Bandar-e Pahlavi), where it landed on October 17 (30). In November the corps occupied the city of Qazvin, and on December 3 (16) it took the city of Hamadan. Attempts by Germany and Turkey to strengthen their influence in Iran and draw it into the war against Russia were thwarted. The Caucasian Front (commander in chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich), which united all the Russian forces operating in the Middle Eastern theater, was formed in October 1915.

On the Mesopotamian Front, British troops under the command of General C. Townshend moved slowly toward Baghdad in September 1915, but on November 22 they were attacked and routed by the Turks, 35 km from the city, and on December 7 they were beseiged in Kut al-Amarah. The Russian command offered to organize coordinated actions between the British forces and the forces of the Caucasian Front, but the British command refused the offer, because it did not want Russian forces to enter the oil-rich Mosul region. At the end of 1915 the British corps in Mesopotamia was replenished and converted into an expeditionary army. On the Syrian Front the Turkish Fourth Army attempted to take the Suez Canal, by attacking Egypt from Palestine, but the Turks were driven back by two Anglo-Indian divisions. The Turks took up a defensive position in the al-Arish region.

In 1915 the Entente succeeded in drawing Italy into the war on its side. The vacillation of the Italian government was ended by the promises of the Entente powers to give greater satisfaction to Italy’s territorial claims than had been offered by Germany. On Apr. 26, 1915, the Treaty of London was signed. On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, but it did not declare war against Germany until Aug. 28, 1916. The Italian Army (commander in chief, King Victor Emmanuel III; chief of staff, General L. Cadorna) had 35 divisions, with a total of about 870,000 men and 1,700 guns. On May 24, Italian forces began military operations on two axes: against Trent and simultaneously toward the Isonzo River with the mission of reaching Trieste. The Italians failed on both axes. By June 1915 military operations in the Italian theater had already assumed a static character. Four attacks by Italian forces on the Isonzo River ended in collapse.

In the Balkan theater of operations the position of the Allies became more complicated in October 1915, when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers (the Bulgarian-German Treaty of 1915 and the Bulgarian-Turkish Treaty of 1915). On September 8 (21), Bulgaria proclaimed a mobilization of its army (12 divisions, about 500,000 men). In late September (early October), 14 German and Austro-Hungarian divisions and six Bulgarian divisions under the overall command of Field Marshal General von Mackensen were deployed against Serbia. The Serbs had 12 divisions. To assist Serbia, Great Britain and France, under an agreement with Greece, began on September 22 (October 5) to land an expeditionary corps at Salonika (Thessaloniki) and move it toward the border between Greece and Serbia. On September 24 (October 7) the Austro-German and Bulgarian forces launched a converging offensive against Serbia from the north, west, and east. For two months the Serbian Army courageously repulsed the onslaught of the superior forces of the enemy, but it was compelled to withdraw through the mountains to Albania. Approximately 140,000 men were transported by the Entente fleet from Durrës (Durazzo) to the Greek island of Corfu (Kerkira). The Anglo-French expeditionary corps retreated to the Salonika region, where the Salonika Front was formed in late 1915. The occupation of Serbia secured for the Central Powers the opportunity to establish direct rail communication with Turkey, making it possible to provide Turkey with military assistance.

During 1915 the German Navy continued its attempts to weaken the fleets of its enemies and to undermine the supply of Great Britain by sea. On January 24 a battle took place between British and German squadrons at Dogger Bank (North Sea). Neither side attained success. On Feb. 18, 1915, Germany declared that it was initiating “unrestricted submarine warfare.” The sinking of the passenger steamers Lusitania (May 7) and Arabic (August 19) evoked protests from the USA and other neutral countries, forcing the German government to limit its submarine warfare to actions against warships.

In February 1915 the Anglo-French command began to carry out a naval operation, the Gallipoli Expedition (the Dardanelles Operation of 1915), attempting to use naval forces to cross the Dardanelles, break through to Constantinople, and put Turkey out of the war. The breakthrough failed. In April 1915 a major landing party was set down on the Gallipoli Peninsula, but Turkish forces offered stiff resistance. In December 1915 and January 1916 the Allied command was forced to evacuate the landing forces, which were transferred to the Salonika Front. During the preparation for and execution of the Gallipoli Expedition, there was a bitter diplomatic struggle among the Allies. The expedition was undertaken under the pretext of assisting Russia. In March-April 1915, Great Britain and France had reached an agreement with Russia, under which Constantinople and the Straits would be handed over to Russia after the war, on the condition that the latter did not interfere in the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey. In reality, the Allies intended to capture the Straits and deny Russia access to them. Anglo-French talks on the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey concluded with the signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. In August the German Navy undertook the Moonsund Operation of 1915, which was a failure. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to operate in Turkish sea-lanes. On April 21 (May 2), during the Gallipoli Expedition, it shelled the fortifications on the Bosporus.

The campaign of 1915 did not fulfill the hopes of either of the hostile coalitions, but its outcome was more favorable for the Entente. The German command, again failing to solve the problem of crushing its enemies one by one, faced the necessity of continuing a long war on two fronts. The chief burden of the struggle in 1915 was borne by Russia, giving France and Great Britain time to mobilize their economies to meet war needs. Russia also began to mobilize its industry. In 1915 the Russian Front grew more important: in the summer, 107 Austro-German divisions, or 54 percent of all the forces of the Central Powers, were stationed there, as compared to 52 divisions (33 percent) at the beginning of the war.

The war placed a heavy burden on the toiling people. Gradually freeing themselves of the chauvinistic attitudes that had been widespread at the beginning of the war, the popular masses became more and more resolutely opposed to the imperialist slaughter. Antiwar demonstrations took place in 1915, and the strike movement in the warring countries began to grow. This process developed with particular speed and violence in Russia, where conditions were greatly exacerbated by military defeats, and a revolutionary situation developed in the autumn of 1915. At the fronts, there were cases of fraternization among soldiers from hostile armies. The propaganda of the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, and the left groups of European socialists and Social Democratic parties helped arouse the masses to revolutionary activity. In Germany the International Group was formed in the spring of 1915 under the leadership of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg. (From 1916 the group was known as the Spartacus League.) The Zimmerwald Conference (Sept. 5–8, 1915), an international socialist conference of great importance for the consolidation of revolutionary antiwar forces, adopted a manifesto that signified “a step toward an ideological and practical break with opportunism and social chauvinism” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 38).

Campaign of 1916. By the beginning of 1916 the Central Powers, having expended enormous efforts in the first two campaigns, had considerably depleted their resources but had been unable to force France or Russia to leave the war. The Entente raised the number of its divisions to 365, as against the 286 divisions of the German bloc.

The 1916 operations by the armies of the Central Powers were based on General von Falkenhayn’s plan, according to which the main efforts were again to be directed against France. The main attack was to be delivered in the Verdun region, which was of great operational importance. A breakthrough on this axis would threaten the entire northern wing of the Allied armies. The German plan called for active operations at the same time in the Italian theater, using the forces of the Austro-Hungarian armies. In the Eastern European theater of operations, the Germans decided to limit operations to a strategic defensive. The fundamentals of the Entente’s plan for the 1916 campaign were adopted at a conference in Chantilly (France) on Dec. 6–9, 1915. Offensives were planned for the Eastern European, Western European, and Italian theaters of operations. The Russian Army was to be the first to launch offensive operations, followed by the Anglo-French and Italian forces. The Allies’ strategic plan was the first attempt to coordinate troop operations on different fronts.

The Entente plan did not provide for going over to a general offensive until the summer of 1916. This ensured that the German command would keep the strategic initiative, a factor which it decided to use to its advantage. The Germans had 105 divisions on a front 680 km long in the Western European theater of operations. They were opposed by 139 Allied divisions (95 French, 38 British, and six Belgian divisions). On February 21 the German command began the Verdun Operation of 1916, without an overall superiority in forces. Bitter combat, during which both sides suffered heavy losses, continued until December. The Germans expended enormous efforts but were unable to break through the defense.

In the Italian theater of operations the command of the Italian Army launched its fifth unsuccessful offensive on the Isonzo River in March 1916. On May 15, Austro-Hungarian forces (18 divisions and 2,000 guns) delivered a counter blow in the Trentino region. The Italian First Army (16 divisions and 623 guns), unable to hold back the enemy onslaught, began to withdraw to the south. Italy requested emergency assistance from its allies.

Operations in the Eastern European theater, where 128 Russian divisions were deployed against 87 Austro-German divisions along a front 1,200 km long, were particularly important in the campaign of 1916. The Naroch (Narocz) Operation,which was carried out on March 5–17 (18–30), forced the Germans temporarily to weaken their attacks on Verdun. The Russian offensive on the Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General A. A. Brusilov), which began on May 22 (June 4), was of great importance. The Russians broke through the defense of the Austro-German forces to a depth of 80–120 km. The enemy suffered heavy losses (more than 1 million killed and wounded and more than 400,000 taken prisoner). The command of the Central Powers were forced to move 11 German divisions from France and six Austro-Hungarian divisions from Italy to the Russian Front.

The Russian offensive saved the Italian Army from destruction, eased the situation of the French at Verdun, and hastened Rumania’s entry into the war on the side of the Entente. Rumania declared war on Austria-Hungary on August 14(27), on Germany on August 15 (28), on Turkey on August 17 (30), and on Bulgaria on August 19 (September 1). The Rumanian armed forces consisted of four armies (23 infantry and two cavalry divisions; 250,000 men). The Russian 47th Army Corps was moved across the Danube to the Dobruja region to assist the Rumanian forces. With Russian support, Rumanian forces launched an offensive in Transylvania on August 20 (September 2) and later in the Dobruja region, but they did not attain success. The Austro-German command concentrated General von Falkenhayn’s army group in Transylvania (the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army, with a total of 26 infantry and seven cavalry divisions) and Field Marshal General von Mackensen’s German Danube Army in Bulgaria (nine infantry and two cavalry divisions). On September 13 (26) both groups, under the overall command of General von Falkenhayn, went over to the offensive at the same time. The Rumanian Army was routed.

On November 22 (December 6), German forces entered Bucharest, which the Rumanians abandoned without a fight. The Russian command moved in 35 infantry and 13 cavalry divisions to assist Rumania. Russia had to form a new Rumanian front. By the end of 1916, its forces had stopped the advance of the Austro-German armies on the line between Focşani and the mouth of the Danube. The formation of the Rumanian Front increased the total length of the front line by 500 km and diverted about a fourth of Russia’s armed forces, thereby worsening the strategic position of the Russian Army.

After lengthy preparation, Anglo-French forces opened a major offensive on the Somme River on July 1, but it developed very slowly. Tanks were used for the first time on September 15 by the British. The Allies continued the offensive until mid-November, but despite enormous losses, they advanced only 5–15 km and failed to break through the German static front.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations the forces of the Russian Caucasian Front successfully carried out the Erzurum Operation of 1916, the Trabzon Operation of 1916, and the Erzincan and Oğnut operations, taking the cities ofErzurum, Trabzon, and Erzincan. General N. N. Baratov’s I Caucasus Cavalry Corps launched an offensive on the Mosul and Baghdad axes, with the objective of assisting the British, who were beseiged at Kut al-Amarah. In February the corps took Kermanshah, and in May it reached the Turkish-Iranian border. With the surrender of the garrison at Kut al-Amarah on Apr. 28, 1916, the Russian corps brought a halt to its advance and took up a defensive position east of Kermanshah.

In naval operations, the British fleet continued its long-range blockade of Germany. German submarines were active on the sea-lanes. The system of minefields was improved. The battle of Jutland (1916) was the war’s only major naval battle between the main forces of the British Navy (Admiral J. Jellicoe) and the German Navy (Admiral R. Scheer). The battle involved 250 surface ships, including 58 capital ships (battleships and battle cruisers). As a result of its superiority in forces, the British fleet was victorious, even though it suffered greater losses than the German fleet. The defeat shattered the German command’s belief that it was possible to break through the British blockade. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued its actions on enemy sea-lanes, blockading the Bosporus from August 1916.

The campaign of 1916 did not result in the achievement of the objectives set at the beginning by either coalition, but the superiority of the Entente over the Central Powers became evident. The strategic initiative passed fully to the Entente, and Germany was forced to go over to the defensive on all fronts.

The bloody battles of 1916, which involved enormous human sacrifices and great expenditures of matériel, were depleting the resources of the belligerent powers. The situation of the working people continued to worsen, but the revolutionary movement also continued to grow stronger in 1916. The Kienthal Conference of internationalists (Apr. 24–30, 1916) played an important role in increasing solidarity among revolutionary forces. The revolutionary movement developed with particular speed and turbulence in Russia, where the war had finally revealed to the popular masses the complete decadence of tsarism. A powerful wave of strikes swept over the country, led by the Bolsheviks under the slogans of struggle against the war and the autocracy. The Middle Asian Uprising, a national liberation movement, took place from July to October 1916. In the autumn a revolutionary situation took shape in Russia. The inability of tsarism to win the war aroused discontent among the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, who began to prepare a palace revolution. The revolutionary movement grew stronger in other countries. The Irish Rebellion, or Easter Rising (Apr. 24–30, 1916), was harshly suppressed by British troops. On May 1, K. Liebknecht led a massive antiwar demonstration in Berlin. The growing revolutionary crisis forced the imperialists to direct their efforts toward quickly ending the war. In 1916, Germany and tsarist Russia attempted to open separate peace negotiations.

Campaign of 1917. As the campaign of 1917 was prepared and carried out, the revolutionary movement grew considerably stronger in every country. Protest against the war with its enormous losses, against the sharp decline in the standard of living, and against the increasing exploitation of the working people became stronger among the popular masses at the front and in the rear. The revolutionary events in Russia had a tremendous effect on the subsequent course of the war.

By the beginning of the campaign of 1917, the Entente had 425 divisions (21 million men), and the Central Powers, 331 divisions (10 million men). In April 1917 the USA entered the war on the side of the Entente. The fundamental principles of the plan for the campaign of 1917 were adopted by the Allies at the third conference in Chantilly on Nov. 15–16, 1916, and were made more specific in February 1917 at a conference in Petrograd. The plan provided for limited operations on all fronts early in the year, to hold the strategic initiative. In the summer the Allies were to go over to a general offensive in the Western European and Eastern European theaters of operations, with the objective of finally crushing Germany and Austria-Hungary. The German command rejected offensive operations on land and decided to focus its attention on waging “unrestricted submarine warfare,” believing that it could disrupt the British economy in six months and force Great Britain out of the war. On Feb. 1, 1917, Germany declared “unrestricted submarine warfare” on Great Britain for the second time. Between February and April 1917, German submarines destroyed more than 1,000 merchant ships of the Allied and neutral countries (a total of 1,752,000 tons). By mid-1917, Great Britain, which had lost merchant ships amounting to approximately 3 million tons, found itself in a difficult situation. It could only make up for 15 percent of the losses, and this was not enough to sustain the export and import traffic essential to the country. By the end of 1917, however, after the organization of a reinforced defense of the sea-lanes and the development of various means of antisubmarine defense, the Entente managed to reduce its merchant ship losses. “Unrestricted submarine warfare” did not fulfill the hopes of the German command. Meanwhile, the continuing British blockade was starving Germany.

In executing the general plan for the campaign, the Russian command carried out the Mitau Operation on Dec. 23–29, 1916 (Jan. 5–11, 1917), with the objective of diverting part of the enemy forces from the Western European theater of operations. On February 27 (March 12) a bourgeois democratic revolution took place in Russia (the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1917). Under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the proletariat, demanding peace, bread, and freedom, led the majority of the army, which was made up of workers and peasants, in the overthrow of the autocracy. However, the bourgeois Provisional Government came to power. Expressing the interests of Russian imperialism, it continued the war. Deceiving the masses of soldiers with false promises of peace, it opened an offensive operation with the troops of the Southwestern Front. The operation ended in failure (the June Operation of 1917).

By the summer of 1917 the combat capability of the Rumanian Army had been restored with Russian assistance, and in the battle of Mărăşeşti (July-August) Russian and Rumanian forces repulsed the German forces, which were attempting to break through to the Ukraine. On August 19–24 (September 1–6), during the Riga defensive operation, Russian troops surrendered Riga. The revolutionary sailors of the Baltic Fleet heroically defended the Moonsund Archipelago in the Moonsund Operation of Sept. 29 (Oct. 12)-Oct. 6 (19), 1917. These were the last operations on the Russian Front.

The Great October Socialist Revolution took place on Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917. The proletariat, in alliance with the poorest peasants and under the leadership of the Communist Party, overthrew the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords and opened the era of socialism. Carrying out the will of the people, the Soviet government addressed a proposal to all the warring powers, calling for the conclusion of a just democratic peace without annexations and reparations (the decree on peace). When the Entente powers and the USA refused to accept the proposal, the Soviet government was forced to conclude an armistice with the German coalition on December 2(15) and begin peace negotiations without the participation of Russia’s former allies. On November 26 (December 9), Rumania concluded the Focşani armistice with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

In the Italian theater of operations there were 57 Italian divisions opposing 27 Austro-Hungarian divisions in April 1917. Despite the numerical superiority of the Italian forces, the Italian command was unable to attain success. Three more offensives against the Isonzo River failed. On October 24, Austro-Hungarian troops went over to the offensive in the Caporetto region, broke through the Italians’ defense, and inflicted a major defeat on them. Without the assistance of 11 British and French divisions transferred to the Italian theater of operations, it would not have been possible to stop the advance of the Austro-Hungarian forces at the Piave River in late November. In the Middle Eastern theater of operations British troops advanced successfully in Mesopotamia and Syria. They took Baghdad on March 11 and Be’er Sheva’ (Beersheba), Gaza, Jaffa, and Jerusalem in late 1917.

The Entente plan of operations in France, which was developed by General Nivelle, called for delivering the main attack on the Aisne River between Reims and Soissons, in order to break through the enemy defense and surround the German forces in the Noyon salient. Learning of the French plan, by March 17 the German command withdrew its forces 30 km to a previously prepared line known as the Siegfried Line. Subsequently, the French command decided to begin the offensive on a broad front, committing to action major forces and means: six French and three British armies (90 infantry and ten cavalry divisions), more than 11,000 guns and mortars, 200 tanks, and about 1,000 airplanes.

The Allied offensive began on April 9 in the Arras region, on April 12 near St. Quentin, and on April 16 in the Reims region and continued until April 20–28 and May 5 on some axes. The April offensive (the “Nivelle slaughter”) ended incomplete failure. Although about 200,000 men had been lost, the Allied forces had not been able to break through the front. Mutinies broke out in the French Army, but they were cruelly suppressed. A Russian brigade that had been in France since 1916 took part in the offensive on the Aisne River. In the second half of 1917, Anglo-French forces carried out a number of local operations: Messines (June 7-August 30), Ypres (July 31-November 6), Verdun (August 20–27),and Malmaison (October 23–26). At Cambrai (November 20-December 6) massed tanks were used for the first time.

The campaign of 1917 did not produce the results anticipated by either side. The revolution in Russia and the lack of coordinated action by the Allies thwarted the Entente’s strategic plan, which had been intended to crush the Austro-Hungarian bloc. Germany succeeded in repulsing the enemy attacks, but its hope of attaining victory by means of “unrestricted submarine warfare” proved vain, and the troops of the coalition of Central Powers were forced to go over to the defensive.

Campaign of 1918. By early 1918 the military and political situation had changed fundamentally. After the October Revolution Soviet Russia quit the war. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution, a revolutionary crisis was ripening in the other warring powers. The Entente countries (excluding Russia) had 274 divisions at the beginning of 1918—that is, forces approximately equal to those of the German bloc, which had 275 divisions (not counting 86 divisions in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region and nine divisions in the Caucasus). The military and economic situation of the Entente was stronger than that of the German bloc. However, the Allied command believed that even more powerful human and material resources would have to be prepared, with the assistance of the USA, in order to finally crush Germany.

Strategic defensives were planned for all theaters of military operations in the campaign of 1918. The decisive offensive against Germany was postponed until 1919. Their resources running out, the Central Powers were eager to end the war as quickly as possible. Having concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Soviet Russia on Mar. 3, 1918, the German command decided in March to go over to the offensive on the Western Front to crush the Entente armies. At the same time, German and Austro-Hungarian forces, in violation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, began occupying the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region. Rumania was drawn into the anti-Soviet intervention after May 7, when it signed the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1918, the terms of which were dictated by the Central Powers.

On March 21 the German command began a major offensive operation on the Western Front (the March Offensive in Picardy). Their intention was to cut off the British forces from the French forces by means of an attack on Amiens, then crush them and reach the sea. The Germans made sure that they would have superiority in forces and means (62 divisions, 6,824 guns, and about 1,000 airplanes against 32 divisions, about 3,000 guns, and about 500 airplanes for the British). The German forces broke through the Allied defense to a depth of 60 km. The Allied command eliminated the breakthrough by bringing reserves into the battle. The German forces suffered heavy losses (about 230,000 men) but did not achieve their assigned objective. Going over to the offensive again on April 9 in Flanders on the Lys River, the German forces advanced 18 km, but by April 14 the Allies stopped them.

On May 27 the German armies delivered an attack north of Reims (the battle of the Chemin des Dames). They managed to cross the Aisne River and penetrate the Allied defense to a depth of about 60 km, reaching the Marne in the Château-Thierry region by May 30. Having arrived within 70 km of Paris, the German forces were unable to overcome French resistance, and on June 4 they went over to the defensive. The attempt of German troops from June 9 to 13 to advance between Montdidier and Noyon was equally unsuccessful.

On July 15 the German command made a final attempt to defeat the Allied armies by opening a major offensive on the Marne. The battle of the Marne of 1918 (the second battle of the Marne) did not fulfill the Germans’ hopes. After crossing the Marne, they were unable to advance more than 6 km. On July 18, Allied forces delivered a counterattack; by August 4 they had driven the enemy back to the Aisne and the Vesle. In four months of offensive operations the German command had completely exhausted its reserves but had been unable to crush the Entente armies.

The Allies took firm control of the strategic initiative. On August 8–13 the Anglo-French armies inflicted a major defeat on the German forces in the Amiens Operation of 1918, making them withdraw to the line from which their March offensive had begun. Ludendorff referred to August 8 as “the black day of the German Army.” On September 12–15 the American First Army, commanded by General J. Pershing, won a victory over German forces at St. Mihiel (the St. Mihiel Operation). On September 26, Allied forces (202 divisions against 187 weakened German divisions) began a general offensive along the entire 420-km front from Verdun to the sea and broke through the German defense.

In the other theaters of military operations the campaign of 1918 ended with the defeat of Germany’s allies. The Entente had 56 divisions, including 50 Italian divisions, in the Italian theater of operations, as well as more than 7,040 guns and more than 670 airplanes. Austria-Hungary had 60 divisions, 7,500 guns, and 580 airplanes. On June 15 the Austro-Hungarian forces, going over to the offensive south of Trent, broke through the enemy defense and advanced 3–4 km, but on June 20–26 they were thrown back to the starting line by counterattack by Allied forces. On October 24 the Italian Army went over to the offensive against the Piave River, but it made only an insignificant advance. On October 28 units of the Austro-Hungarian Fifth and Sixth armies, refusing to fight, began to abandon their positions. They were soon joined by troops of other armies, and a disorderly retreat of all the Austro-Hungarian forces began on November 2. On November 3,Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with the Entente at Villa Giusti (near Padua).

In the Balkan theater of operations, the Allied forces consisted of 29 infantry divisions (eight French, four British, six Serbian, one Italian, and ten Greek divisions and one French cavalry group, a total of about 670,000 men; and 2,070 guns).Facing them along a 350-km front from the Aegean to the Adriatic were the forces of the Central Powers—the German Eleventh Army; the Bulgarian First, Second, and Fourth armies; an Austro-Hungarian corps (a total of about 400,000 men); and 1,138 guns. On September 15 the Allies began an offensive; by September 29 they had advanced to a depth of 150 km along a front of 250 km. Surrounded, the German Eleventh Army surrendered on September 30. The Bulgarian armies were smashed. On September 29, Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Entente in Salonika.

The British army of General E. H. Allenby and the Arab army commanded by Emir Faisal and the British intelligence officer Colonel T. E. Lawrence (a total of 105,000 men and 546 guns) were operating on the Syrian Front, where Turkey had three armies—the Fourth, the Seventh, and the Eighth (a total of 34,000 men and about 330 guns). The Allied offensive began on September 19. Breaking through the enemy defense and pushing forward cavalry units to the enemy rear, Allied troops forced the Turkish Eighth and Seventh armies to surrender; the Turkish Fourth Army retreated. Between September 28 and October 27 the Allies captured Akko (Acre), Damascus, Tripoli, and Aleppo. A French landing party went ashore at Beirut on October 7.

On the Mesopotamian Front the British expeditionary army of General W. Marshall (five divisions) went on the offensive against the Turkish Sixth Army (four divisions). The British captured Kirkuk on October 24 and Mosul on October 31.The Entente powers and Turkey signed the Moudhros Armistice on Oct. 30, 1918, aboard the British battleship Agamemnon in Moudhros Bay (the island of Limnos).

In early October, Germany’s position became hopeless. On October 5 the German government asked the US government for an armistice. The Allies demanded the withdrawal of German forces from all occupied territory in the west. The military defeats and economic exhaustion of Germany had accelerated the development of a revolutionary crisis. The victory and progress of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia strongly influenced the growth of the revolutionary movement of the German people. On Oct. 30, 1918, an uprising broke out among the sailors in Wilhelmshaven. The Kiel Mutiny of sailors in the German fleet took place on Nov. 3, 1918; on November 6 the uprising spread to Hamburg, Lübeck, and other cities. On November 9 the revolutionary German workers and soldiers overthrew the monarchy. Fearing further development of the revolution in Germany, the Entente hurried to conclude the Armistice of Compiègne with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. Germany, admitting that it had been defeated, obligated itself to remove its forces immediately from all occupied territories and turn over to the Allies a large quantity of armaments and military equipment.

Results of the war. World War I ended in the defeat of Germany and its allies. After the conclusion of the Armistice of Compiègne the victorious powers began developing plans for a postwar “settlement.” Treaties with the defeated countries were prepared at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20. A number of separate treaties were signed: the Peace Treaty of Versailles with Germany (June 28, 1919), the Treaty of St.-Germain with Austria (Sept. 10, 1919), the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (Nov. 27, 1919), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (June 4, 1920), and the Treaty of Sèvres with Turkey (Aug. 10, 1920). The Paris Peace Conference also adopted a resolution regarding the establishment of the League of Nations and approved its Covenant, which became part of the peace treaties. Germany and its former allies were deprived of considerable territories and compelled to pay heavy reparations and greatly reduce their armed forces.

The postwar peace “settlement” in the interests of the victorious imperialist powers was completed by the Washington Conference on Naval Limitations (1921–22). The treaties with Germany and its former allies and the agreements signed at the Washington Conference constituted the Versailles-Washington system of peace. The result of compromises and deals, it failed to eliminate the contradictions among the imperialist powers and in fact considerably exacerbated them. Lenin wrote: “Today, after this ‘peaceful’ period, we see a monstrous intensification of oppression, the reversion to a colonial and military oppression that is far worse than before” (ibid., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 217). The imperialist powers began to struggle for a repartition of the world, preparing for another world war.

In its scope and consequences World War I was unprecedented in the history of the human race. It lasted four years, three months, and ten days (from Aug. 1, 1914, to Nov. 11, 1918), engulfing 38 countries with a combined population of more than 1.5 billion. The Entente countries mobilized about 45 million men, and the coalition of the Central Powers, 25 million —a total of 70 million men. The most able-bodied men on both sides were removed from material production and sent to exterminate each other, fighting for the interests of the imperialists. By the end of the war, the ground forces exceeded their peacetime counterparts by a factor of 8.5 in Russia, five in France, nine in Germany, and eight in Austria-Hungary. As much as 50 and even 59.4 percent (in France) of the able-bodied male population was mobilized. The Central Powers mobilized almost twice the percentage of the total population as the Entente (19.1 percent, as compared to 10.3 percent). About 16 million men—more than one-third of all those mobilized by the Entente and its allies— were mobilized for the Russian armed forces. In June 1917, 288 (55.3 percent) of the Entente’s 521 divisions were Russian. In Germany, 13.25 million men were mobilized, or more than half of all the soldiers mobilized by the Central Powers. In June 1918, 236 (63.4 percent) of the Central Powers’ 361 divisions were German. The large size of the armies resulted in the formation of vast fronts up to 3,000–4,000 km long.

WWIGraph5

The war demanded the mobilization of all material resources, demonstrating the decisive role of the economy in an armed struggle. World War I was characterized by the massive use of many types of matériel. “It is the first time in history that the most powerful achievements of technology have been applied on such a scale, so destructively and with such energy, for the annihilation of millions of human lives” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 36, p. 396). Industry in the warring countries supplied the fronts with millions of rifles, more than 1 million light and heavy machine guns, more than 150,000 artillery pieces, 47.7 billion cartridges, more than 1 billion shells, 9,200 tanks, and about 182,000 airplanes (see Table 4). During the war the number of heavy artillery pieces increased by a factor of eight, the number of machine guns by a factor of 20, and the number of airplanes by a factor of 24. The war created a demand for large quantities of various materials, such as lumber and cement. About 4 million tons of barbed wire were used. Armies of millions of men demanded an uninterrupted supply of food, clothing, and forage. For example, from 1914 to 1917 the Russian Army consumed (in round figures) 9.64 million tons of flour, 1.4 million tons of cereal, 8.74 million tons of meat, 510,000 tons of fats, 11.27 million tons of forage oats and barley, and 19.6 million tons of hay, with a total value of 2,473,700,000 rubles (at 1913 prices). The front was supplied with 5 million sheepskin coats and pea jackets, 38.4 million sweaters and padded vests, more than 75 million pairs of underwear, 86.1 million pairs of high boots and shoes, 6.6 million pairs of felt boots, and other clothing.

Military enterprises alone could not produce such enormous quantities of armaments and other supplies. Industry was mobilized by means of a large-scale conversion of consumer-goods plants and factories to the production of war goods. In Russia in 1917, 76 percent of the workers were engaged in meeting war needs; in France, 57 percent; in Great Britain, 46 percent; in Italy, 64 percent; in the USA, 31.6 percent; and in Germany, 58 percent. In most of the warring countries, however, industry was unable to supply the needs of the armies for armaments and equipment. Russia, for example, was forced to order armaments, ammunition, clothing, industrial equipment, steam locomotives, coal, and certain other types of strategic raw materials from the USA, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and other countries. During the war, however, these countries provided the Russian Army with only a small proportion of its total requirements for armaments and ammunition: 30 percent of the rifles, less than 1 percent of the rifle cartridges, 23 percent of the guns of different calibers, and 20 percent of the shells for these guns.

In all the major countries special state bodies were established to manage the war economies: in Germany the Department of War Raw Materials, in Great Britain the Ministry of Munitions, and in Russia the Special Conferences (for state defense, fuel, shipping, and food). These state bodies planned war production; distributed orders, equipment, and raw and processed materials; rationed food and consumer goods; and exercised control over foreign trade. The capitalists formed their own representative organizations to assist the state bodies: in Germany the Central War Industries Council and war industries committees for each sector, in Great Britain the supervisory committees, and in Russia the war industries committees and the Zemstvo and Municipal unions. As a result, an interlocking relationship developed between the state administrative apparatus and the monopolies. “The imperialist war has immensely accelerated and intensified the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 33, p. 3). Although the state bodies managing the war economy had strong assistance from the representative organizations of the capitalists, the very nature of the capitalist economy prevented them from achieving complete success.

The war made intensive demands on all types of transportation. Up to half of all railroad rolling stock was loaded with military shipments. Most motor vehicles were used for military needs. A large number of the merchant vessels of the warring and neutral countries were engaged in shipping cargoes for war industries and armies. During the war 6,700 vessels (excluding sailing ships) were sunk (total displacement, about 15 million tons, or 28 percent of the prewar world tonnage).

The increase in military production, which was achieved primarily at the expense of nonmilitary sectors, placed excessive strains on the national economies, resulting in the disruption of the proportion between different sectors of production and, ultimately, in economic disorder. In Russia, for example, two-thirds of all industrial output went for war needs and only one-third for consumer needs, giving rise to a scarcity of goods, as well as to high prices and speculation. As early as 1915 there were shortages of many types of industrial raw materials and fuel, and by 1916 there was a severe raw materials and fuel crisis in Russia. As a result of the war, the production of many types of industrial output declined in other countries. There was a significant decline in the smelting of pig iron, steel, and nonferrous metals; the extraction of coal and petroleum; and output from all branches of light industry. The war damaged society’s productive forces and undermined the economic life of the people of the world.

In agriculture the effects of the war were especially grave. Mobilization deprived the countryside of its most productive workers and draft animals. Sown areas were cut back, yields dropped, and the number of livestock decreased and their productivity declined. Severe shortages of food developed in the cities of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, which later experienced famine. The shortages spread to the army, resulting in cuts in food rations.

World War I demanded colossal financial expenditures, many times greater than the expenditures in all previous wars. There is no scientifically substantiated estimate of the total cost of World War I, but the one most commonly cited in the literature was calculated by the American economist E. Bogart, who set the total cost of the war at $359.9 billion in gold (699.4 billion rubles), including $208.3 billion (405 billion rubles) of direct (budgeted) expenditures and $151.6 billion (294.4 billion rubles) of indirect expenditures. Direct war expenditures included the cost of maintaining the army (40 percent) and the cost of the material and technological means for waging war (60 percent). The national income provided the economic base for covering war expenditures. Additional sources of financing the war were increases in existing (direct and indirect) taxes and the institution of new taxes, the sale of domestic and foreign bonds, and the issuing of paper money. The full weight of the financial burden of the war fell on the toiling classes of the population.

World War I was an important stage in the history of the art of war and in the building of armed forces. There were major changes in the organization and relationships of the various combat arms. The great length of the fronts and the deployment on them of vast armies of millions of soldiers led to the creation of new organizational units: fronts and army groups. The firepower of the infantry increased, but its proportionate role decreased somewhat as the result of the development of other combat arms: engineers, signal troops, and especially, the artillery. The number of artillery pieces rose sharply, technology improved, and new types of artillery were developed (antiaircraft, infantry support, and antitank artillery). The range of fire, destructive force of fire, and mobility of the artillery increased. The density of artillery reached 100 or more guns per kilometer of front. Infantry attacks were accompanied by rolling barrages.

Tanks, a powerful striking and mobile force, were used for the first time. Tank forces developed rapidly. By the war’s end there were 8,000 tanks in the Entente armies. In aviation, which also developed rapidly, several different branches emerged: fighter, reconnaissance, bombardment, and ground attack aviation. By the end of the war the belligerent powers had more than 10,000 combat aircraft. Antiaircraft defense developed in the air war. Chemical warfare troops appeared. The significance of the cavalry among the combat arms declined, and by the war’s end the number of cavalry troops had dropped sharply.

The war revealed the growing dependence of the art of war on economics and politics. The scale of operations, the extent of the front of attack, and the depth and rate of advance increased. With the establishment of continuous fronts,combat operations became static. The frontal blow, the success of which determined the outcome of an operation, became very important. During World War I the problem of the tactical breakthrough of a front was solved, but the problem of developing a breakthrough into an operational success remained unsolved. New means of fighting complicated the tactics of the combat arms. At the beginning of the war the infantry conducted offensives in skirmish lines and later, in waves of lines and combat teams (squads). Combined arms combat was based on cooperation between old and new combat arms—the infantry, the artillery, tanks, and aviation. Control of troops became more complex. The role of logistics and supplies increased significantly. Rail and motor-vehicle transport became very important.

The types and classes of naval ships were refined, and there was an increase in the proportion of light forces (cruisers, destroyers, patrol vessels and patrol boats, and submarines). Shipboard artillery, mines, torpedoes, and naval aviation were used extensively. The chief forms of military operations at sea were the blockade; cruiser, submarine, and mine warfare; landings and raids; and engagements and battles between line forces and light forces. The experience of World War I greatly influenced the development of military thinking and the organization and combat training of all combat arms (forces) until World War II (1939–45).

The war brought unprecedented deprivation and human suffering and widespread hunger and devastation. It brought mankind “to the brink of a precipice, to the brink of the destruction of civilization, of brutalization” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 31, p.182). Valuables worth 58 billion rubles were destroyed during the war. Entire regions, especially in northern France, were turned into wastelands.

Casualties amounted to 9.5 million killed and dead of wounds and 20 million wounded, of whom 3.5 million were permanently crippled. The heaviest losses (66.6 percent of the total) were suffered by Germany, Russia, France, and Austria-Hungary. The USA sustained only 1.2 percent of the total losses. Many civilians were killed by the various means of combat. (There are no overall figures for combat-related civilian casualties.) Hunger and other privations caused by the war led to a rise in the mortality rate and a drop in the birthrate. The population loss from these factors was more than 20 million in the 12 belligerent states alone, including 5 million in Russia, 4.4 million in Austria-Hungary, and 4.2 million in Germany. Unemployment, inflation, tax increases, and rising prices worsened the poverty and extreme deprivation of the large majority of the population of the capitalist countries.

Only the capitalists gained any advantages from the war. By the beginning of 1918, the war profits of the German monopolies totaled at least 10 billion gold marks. The capital of the German finance magnate Stinnes increased by a factor of ten, and the net profits of the “cannon king” Krupp, by a factor of almost six. Monopolies in France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan made large profits, but the American monopolies made the most on the war—between 1914 and 1918, $3 billion in profits. “The American multimillionaires profited more than all the rest. They have converted all, even the richest, countries into their tributaries. And every dollar is stained with blood—from that ocean of blood that has been shed by the 10 million killed and 20 million maimed” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 37, p. 50). The profits of the monopolies continued to grow after the war.

The ruling classes placed the entire burden of the economic consequences of the war on the toiling people. World War I led to an aggravation of the class struggle and accelerated the ripening of the objective prerequisites for the Great October Socialist Revolution, which opened a new epoch in world history—the epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism. The example of Russia’s toiling people, who threw off the oppression of the capitalists and landlords, showed other peoples the way to liberation. A wave of revolutionary actions swept over many countries, shaking the foundations of the world capitalist system. The national liberation movement became active in the colonial and dependent countries. “World War I and the October Revolution marked the beginning of the general crisis of capitalism” (Programma KPSS, 1974, p. 25). Politically, this was the chief result of the war.

SOURCES

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Documents diplomatiques français [1871–1914], series 1–3, vols. 1–41. Paris, 1929–59.
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Churchill, W. L. S. The World Crisis, vols. 1–6. London, 1923–31.
Joffre, J. Mémoires (1910–1917,) vols. 1–2. Paris, 1932.

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Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Reference Volume, part 1, pp. 177–87.)
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Istoriia SSSR s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vols. 6–7. Moscow, 1967–68.
Istoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vols. 2–3. Moscow, 1963–65.
Istoriia KPSS, vols. 2–3 (book 1). Moscow, 1966–67.
Strategicheskii ocherk voiny 1914–1918, vols. 1–7. Moscow, 1920–23.
Strokov, A. A. Istoriia voennogo iskusstvo, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967.
Talenskii, N. A. Pervaia mirovaia voina (1914–1918): (Boevye deistviia na sushe i na more). Moscow, 1944.
Verzhkhovskii, D., and V. Liakhov. Pervaia mirovaia voina, 1914–1918. Moscow, 1964.
Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg., 3rd ed., vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1938–39.
Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Podgotovka Rossii k imperialisticheskoi voine: Ocherki voennoi podgotovki i pervonachal’nykh planov. Moscow, 1926.
Bovykin, V. I. Iz istorii vozniknoveniia pervoi mirovoi voiny: Otnosheniia Rossii i Frantsii ν 1912–1914. Moscow, 1961.
Ignat’ev, A. V. Russko-angliiskie otnosheniia nakanune pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1962.
Ignat’ev, A. V. Russko-angliiskie otnosheniia nakanune Okliabr’skoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1966.
Asta’ev, I. I. Russko-germanskie diplomaticheskie otnosheniia 1905–1911. Moscow, 1972.
Ganelin, R. Sh. Rossiia i SShA, 1914–1917. Leningrad, 1969.
Poletika, N. P. Vozniknovenie pervoi mirovoi voiny (iiul’skii krizis 1914). Moscow, 1964.
Fay, S. Proiskhozhdenie mirovoi voiny, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1934. (Translated from English.)
Falkenhayn, E. von. Verkhovnoe komandovanie 1914–1916 gg. ν ego vazhneishikh resheniiakh. Moscow, 1923. (Translated from German.)
Kolenkovskii, A. K. Manevrennyi period pervoi mirovoi imperialisticheskoi voiny 1914 g. Moscow, 1940.
Arutiunian, A. O. Kavkazskii front 1914–1917 gg. Yerevan, 1971.
Korsun, N. G. Balkanskii front mirovoi voiny 1914–1918 gg. Moscow, 1939.
Korsun, N. G. Pervaia mirovaia voina na Kavkazskom fronte. Moscow, 1946.
Bazarevskii, A. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg.: Kampaniia 1918 g. vo Frantsii i Bel’gii, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Novitskii, V. Mirovaia voina 1914–1918 gg.: Kampaniia 1914 g. ν Bel’gii i Frantsii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1938.
Villari, L. Voina na ital’ianskom fronte 1915–1918 gg. Moscow, 1936. (Translated from English.)
Flot ν pervoi mirovoi voine, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1964.
Petrov, M. Podgotovka Rossii k mirovoi voine na more. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Corbett, J. S., and H. Newbolt. Operatsii angliiskogo flota ν mirovuiu voinu, 3rd ed., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1941. (Translated from English.)
Aleksandrov, A. P., I. S. Isakov, and V. A. Belli. Operatsii podvodnykh
lodok. Leningrad, 1933.
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Pisarev, Iu. A. Serbiia i Chernogoriia ν pervoi mirovoi voine. Moscow, 1968.
Vinogradov, V. N. Rumyniia ν gody pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1969.
Vinogradov, K. B. Burzhuaznaia istoriografiia pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1962.
Khmelevskii, G. Mirovaia imperialisticheskaia voina 1914–1918: Sistematicheskii ukazatel’ knizhnoi i stateinoi voenno-istoricheskoi literatury za 1914–1935. Moscow, 1936.
Rutman, R. E. Bibliografiia literatury, izdannoi ν 1953–1963 gg. po istorii Pervoi mirovoi voiny. Moscow, 1964.
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History of the Great War: Series A–M. [vols. 1–49]. London, 1922–48.
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Fischer, F. Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegszielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deulschland 1914–18, 4th ed. Düsseldorf, 1971.
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I. I. ROSTUNOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Major General Smedley Butler on U.S. Imperialism and the Nature of the Armed Forces

smedley-butler

“I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force – the Marine Corps… And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect money in. I helped in the raping of a half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street… I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped get Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate in three city districts. I operated on three continents.”

 – Smedley Butler, “War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier”

With the Workers and the Peoples in the Independent Struggle for the Revolution and Socialism

16th Seminar on the International Problems of the Revolution in Latin America

Final Statement

In Latin America the new millennium arrived with the struggle of the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples against the structural adjustment policies implemented by governments at the service of powerful local oligarchic groups and imperialist finance capital. The increasing social discontent, manifested in street mobilisations, partial and general strikes and even popular uprisings that put an end to reactionary and pro-imperialist governments, split the bourgeois institutions and accelerated the wearing out of the current model of capitalist accumulation, monitored by the centres of imperialist domination.

The fear grew among the socio-economic elites that the yearning for change and the desire to be protagonists of deep transformations was taking shape among the people. The progressive and left-wing political programmes, once seen as being obsolete and inapplicable, were embraced by the working and popular classes.

While in various countries of Latin America there are still openly right-wing governments explicitly sold out to imperialism, in others countries so-called alternative and progressive governments have emerged; in some of these, on certain occasions there have been actions of resistance towards policies of imperialism, which deserve the support of the peoples.

Recurring to their own political experience, bourgeois factions of various countries have manoeuvred to take advantage of the discontent of the masses for their own interests. They appear to make their own the programmes and proposals raised for years by the popular movement and the left-wing organisations against neo-liberalism and to achieve a sovereign development, under conditions of social fairness.

Nevertheless, the expectations and enthusiasm of the masses with those governments that promised to leave behind the past of disgrace and backwardness clash with reality when these governments carry out their real political programme and give away the natural wealth, at present mainly mines, to the foreign companies; when the foreign debt persists, although the capital comes from other imperialist centres; when popular protest is criminalised; when free trade negotiations and agreements are going ahead under different names; or, when governmental propaganda says more of what in reality is being carried out in the social sphere.

Even though discontent is arising among the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples, it is a fact that, so far, these governments have had, to a certain degree, the capacity to neutralise and contain the social mobilisation. Without a doubt, that is a fruit of the ability of ideological-political manipulation by the bourgeois factions that, with the support of imperialism, are in the government; it is due to the carrying out of social welfare and patronage policies, to the presence of authoritarian leaders as heads of government who make wide use of demagogy and populist policies; but it is also due to the existing limits in the consciousness of the masses and the weaknesses from which the revolutionary and left-wing organisations still suffer.

Under these new conditions, the struggle that the workers and revolutionary organisations are unfolding is becoming more complex, since it is relatively clearer for the masses that they must confront and fight a government that is openly right-wing and linked to foreign capital, than one that demagogically claims to promote change and to affect the interests of the rich, even though in reality it is doing nothing more than propping up the whole system of domination by capital and defending the interests of the local ruling classes and of imperialist finance capital.

For the advance of the revolutionary struggle of the peoples, it is essential to unmask and defeat these sell-out, demagogic and populist governments that are causing serious damage to the development of the popular organisation and struggle. It is necessary to combat these governments functioning on behalf of the ruling system, but by no means should we play into the interests of the other bourgeois factions of the ‘right’ The struggle of the workers and peoples, with a class independence, to win social and national liberation forces them to fight and defeat one and the other bourgeois faction.

In order to fulfill the strategic intentions that drive us, we the political organisations, movements and parties committed to leading the revolution and socialism to victory must redouble our efforts to develop the political consciousness of the masses. That is possible mainly by unleashing the struggle for their particular demands and political banners in order to unmask the true nature of those governments. It is vital to promote an intense and systematic ideological-political offensive of the revolutionary ideals among the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples; it is urgent to take advantage of all the opportunities that the bourgeois institutions allow for the political task and even to surpass these; it is necessary to persevere in the unity of the popular movement and of the political organisations of the left in order to isolate from the social movement those who, at the present time, are manipulating the yearnings for change of the peoples from positions of power.

Although, circumstantially, the populist governments have managed to partially restrain the struggle of the masses, it is certain that their material conditions of life and the historical limitations of these governments are forcing the masses to protest. Still more, the world scenario is inevitably affecting them from all sides and the sharpening of the general crisis of the capitalist system is causing the fighting response of the peoples, as can be observed in our region and in particular in Europe, with whose working class and youth we express our solidarity.

We, the organizations taking part in this 16th Seminar on the International Problems of the Revolution in Latin America, united in Quito from July 16 to 20, reiterate our internationalist duty and commitment to continue fighting for unity and solidarity among the peoples, to form – by means of concrete actions – a great anti-imperialist front. We uphold the right of the peoples to self-determination; we condemn all forms of foreign intervention and all actions of the ruling classes to thwart the will of the peoples.

The views summarised in this Statement are the result of open and democratic debate in this seminar. We present them to the world so that the workers, youth and peoples may know them.

From Quito, Ecuador, we express our commitment to continue this event and, for that reason we are convening the 17th International Seminar for next year.

Quito, July 20, 2012
Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina
Revolutionary Communist Party – Brazil
Movement for the Popular Constituent Assembly – Colombia
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labour of the Dominican Republic
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Revolutionary Popular Front – Mexico
Communist Party of Palestine
Communist Party of Peru – Red Fatherland
Peruvian Communist Party Marxist-Leninist
National Democratic Front – Philippines
Caribbean and Latin American Coordinator of Puerto Rico
All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) – Russia
Communist Party of Spain Marxist-Leninist
Gayones Movement – Venezuela
Emancipator Pedagogic Movement of Venezuela MOPEZ
Movement of Education for the Emancipation of Venezuela MEPE
Marxist-Leninist Trade Union Current – Venezuela
Ana Soto Women’s Movement of Venezuela
Preparatory Committee of Venezuela for the 23rd International Camp of Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth
Socialist Revolutionary University Front – Venezuela
Socialist Movement for the Quality of Life and Health – Venezuela
Democratic Popular Movement – Ecuador
Revolutionary Youth of Ecuador
Revolutionary Front of the University Left
Teachers Vanguard Front
Revolutionary Trade Union Current
Confederation of Ecuadorian Women for Change
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador

Source

U.S. Resumes its Dirty War against Nicaragua

BY LIDICE VALENZUELA
Special for Granma International

September 3, 2007

EIGHT months since taking power, the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is facing fierce opposition from reactionary sectors – both national and international – led by the United States, who are persisting in ignoring the structural changes that have been embarked on in this new era for national politics.

It concerns an ideological struggle, radicalized in the last few months, between the principles and the program to improve the quality of life of the majority of the impoverished Nicaraguan population and, on the other hand, the interests of the right wing, who are witnessing a threat to their class privileges in the face of overwhelming support for the process being set in motion by Ortega and his cabinet.

Ortega continues to condemn the destabilization plans on the part of the government in Washington, and in the last few weeks has attacked the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed by his country with the United States, contrasting the vast differences between that and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which it has already signed along with Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela – the main driving force behind the project – the philosophical base of which is fair trade aimed at improving the lives of the poorest sections of those countries.

“Unfair trade” was one of the president’s descriptions of the FTAs, because they always benefit the largest country. He gave as one example the effects that will be felt by Nicaragua’s tobacco industry on account of the import and sales taxes applied to that product by the United States.

By adopting this measure, thousands of Nicaraguan producers will lose their jobs and will be forced to illegally emigrate to the United States, where they are treated as fifth-class citizens.

Ortega affirmed that his party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), was never in agreement with the FTA.

Meanwhile, the United States is continuing its dirty war against the political process led by the former FSLN commander.

According to the president’s recent condemnations at the Sao Paulo Forum – held in Managua – the administration of George W. Bush is working “behind the scenes” in order to boycott the social and economic programs embarked on by his government, which have seen significant advances to date in spite of obstacles laid out by their enemies.

In a firm but conciliatory tone, Ortega referred to the fact that, despite the ideological differences between the two governments, relations between the United States and Nicaragua should be based on mutual respect and for that reason, he said, the underhand campaigns it is financing with the domestic right and with the privately-owned media are unacceptable. For the president, Washington’s interference in the internal affairs of his country are aimed at supporting groups calling themselves “representatives of the population,” when in reality these were destroyed by voters in last year’s general elections.

It is believed that a new split in bilateral relations could show itself after the Managua government confirmed an embargo of assets owned by U.S. oil company Esso in a tax payment dispute. The fraud on the part of the company consisted of declaring certain quantities while in the customs report, others appeared, according to presidential advisor Bayardo Arce.

The plan executed by Washington against Managua since Ortega assumed power is not that different from those that the White House – whose tenant Bush is currently rejected by 66% of his own people – has traditionally employed against legitimately constituted governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. Remember Haiti, Chile and Guatemala. The only difference is that we are in different times now and the governments have the support of powerful social and indigenous movements with a high level of political awareness.

What the right wing is looking to do now is to confuse the Nicaraguan population with tall stories in order to boycott the political and social programs of the administration of Ortega, the man who led the country from 1985 to1990, but did not secure reelection because of interference by the United States, which was supporting the so-called Contra war.

Source

Dealer’s sentencing postponed

The following are a series of revealing articles on the connection between the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras and the smuggling of illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. They are among the first exposés about Contra drug smuggling published in the United States. They were written by journalist Gary Webb for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 under the series title “The Dark Alliance.” The articles, which alleged a connection between the Contras, the CIA and drug trafficking, quickly roused a strong reaction throughout the U.S. and triggered a smear campaign. Webb’s career was destroyed shortly after these articles were published by right-wing Reaganite journalists in support of the Contras.

The following copies were obtained from the website of the Seattle Times, since the San Jose Mercury News where they first appeared has removed the entire Gary Webb series from their web site.

— Espresso Stalinist

Dealer’s sentencing postponed

Lawyer gets time to seek documents on alleged CIA-crack link

Published: Sept. 14, 1996

BY GARY WEBB
Mercury News Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff postponed the sentencing of former Los Angeles cocaine king ”Freeway” Rick Ross on Friday and agreed to allow Ross’ attorney to seek classified government documents relating to the potential involvement of CIA operatives in selling cocaine in black neighborhoods during the 1980s.

Huff, who said it ”would be outrageous for the government to infect this country with drugs,” also suggested that federal prosecutors seek a sworn statement from CIA Director John Deutch regarding the spy agency’s knowledge of such activities.

Deutch, in a press release last week, disclaimed any CIA involvement in cocaine trafficking.

Ross’ defense lawyer, Alan Fenster of Los Angeles, filed motions this week seeking a dismissal of Ross’ recent cocaine-trafficking conviction, based on the Mercury News series ”Dark Alliance,” which detailed how members of a CIA-run guerrilla army imported thousands of kilos of cocaine into South-Central Los Angeles during the past decade, helping touch off the nation’s crack cocaine epidemic.

Dealer was key witness

One of those drug dealers, former Nicaraguan government official Danilo Blandon, was the key witness against Ross during his trial last March. Blandon, who now works as an undercover informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, has admitted under oath that he began selling cocaine in Los Angeles in 1982 to raise money for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest component of the rebel force commonly known as the Contras.

Fenster, during a three-hour court hearing Friday, argued that Ross’ conviction should be thrown out on the grounds of outrageous government conduct, because Justice Department lawyers withheld information about Blandon’s involvement with the Contras and cocaine until it was too late for him to make any use of it at trial.

The only reason he had any idea of Blandon’s past activities, Fenster said, was because one of his investigators spoke to a Mercury News reporter about Blandon two weeks before the trial.

”If I had had that information when I needed it, I could have convinced a jury of 12 U.S. attorneys to dismiss this case,” Fenster argued. Instead, he said, the Justice Department ”stonewalled it. They kept you in the dark and they kept me in the dark. (Ross) is a victim of the most outrageous government conduct known to man.”

Government lawyer scoffs

But Assistant U.S. Attorney L.J. O’Neale scoffed at Fenster’s claims of CIA involvement, calling them ”the worst sort of supposition … it’s all innuendo and supposition.” He also said the Mercury News’ series did ”not make a solid case” of CIA involvement.

Moments later, though, O’Neale acknowledged that ”when Blandon says he sold cocaine for the Contras, yeah, he did … we have never found his credibility to be lacking in the slightest.”

O’Neale also agreed that ”Mr. Blandon thought the CIA was running things. Whether that’s accurate or not, I don’t know, but that’s what he thought.”

In March, Blandon testified that before he began selling drugs for the CIA’s army, he met in Honduras with Col. Enrique Bermudez, a longtime CIA operative who was selected by the agency to be the Contras’ military commander. Also attending that meeting, Blandon testified, was Nicaraguan cocaine trafficker Norwin Meneses, who was the head of intelligence and security for the Contras in California.

Inner-city dealings

Blandon said Bermudez told him the Contras needed money and that ”the ends justified the means,” after which he began dealing cocaine in inner-city Los Angeles. During that time, he testified, he was receiving instructions ”from … other people.”

He told a federal grand jury in 1994 that at some point the CIA decided it didn’t need any more drug money because the Reagan administration had begun giving the Contras taxpayer dollars.

While O’Neale strenuously denied that the CIA was in any way involved with Blandon or his cocaine dealing, he also admitted to Judge Huff that he did not know if any CIA documents existed regarding Blandon or Meneses, who was Blandon’s boss in the Contra drug ring.

”Whatever files the CIA has are not available to an assistant U.S. attorney,” O’Neale said. ”I’m not privy to that.”

Before Blandon’s testimony at Ross’ trial, O’Neale filed a motion asking the judge to bar defense lawyers from questioning Blandon about his involvement with the CIA, saying that if it were true, ”it would be classified and if false, should not be allowed.”

Huff told Fenster on Friday that she had taken the motion under submission and had never actually made a formal ruling; Fenster said he was under the impression that he was not allowed to ask about the CIA, and he never did.

Huff agreed to let Fenster file a motion under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) seeking documents regarding the CIA’s connections to Blandon.

Timing at issue

But O’Neale argued that it didn’t have any bearing on Ross’ case if Blandon was involved with the spy agency, since Ross’ conviction involved crimes committed in 1994 and 1995, not during the Nicaraguan civil war.

Ross, whom O’Neale called ”the Wal-Mart of crack cocaine,” was arrested after Blandon lured him into a DEA sting involving 100 kilos of cocaine.

No matter what Blandon did in the past, O’Neale argued, it did not excuse Ross’ involvement in crack dealing.

”If there was great evil, and there was, regardless of who started that evil, (Ross) was Santa’s little helper,” O’Neale said.

”If the United States government was involved in selling cocaine in the United States,” Huff asked, ”don’t you think that would be outrageous government conduct?”

”In this case, no,” O’Neale answered, prompting laughter and loud grumbling from the courtroom spectators.

Huff set another hearing for Nov. 19.

Source

Shadowy origins of ‘crack’ epidemic

The following are a series of revealing articles on the connection between the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras and the smuggling of illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. They are among the first exposés about Contra drug smuggling published in the United States. They were written by journalist Gary Webb for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 under the series title “The Dark Alliance.” The articles, which alleged a connection between the Contras, the CIA and drug trafficking, quickly roused a strong reaction throughout the U.S. and triggered a smear campaign. Webb’s career was destroyed shortly after these articles were published by right-wing Reaganite journalists in support of the Contras.

The following copies were obtained from the website of the Seattle Times, since the San Jose Mercury News where they first appeared has removed the entire Gary Webb series from their web site.

— Espresso Stalinist

Shadowy origins of ‘crack’ epidemic

Role of CIA-linked agents a well-protected secret until now

Published: Aug. 19, 1996

BY GARY WEBB
Mercury News Staff Writer

IF THEY’D BEEN IN a more respectable line of work, Norwin Meneses, Danilo Blandon and ”Freeway Rick” Ross would have been hailed as geniuses of marketing.

This odd trio — a smuggler, a bureaucrat and a driven ghetto teen-ager — made fortunes creating the first mass market in America for a product so hellishly desirable that consumers will literally kill to get it: ”crack” cocaine.

Federal lawmen will tell you plenty about Rick Ross, mostly about the evils he visited upon black neighborhoods by spreading the crack plague in Los Angeles and cities as far east as Cincinnati. On Aug. 23, they hope, Freeway Rick will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But those same officials won’t say a word about the two men who turned Rick Ross into L.A’s first king of crack, the men who, for at least five years, supplied him with enough Colombian cocaine to help spawn crack markets in major cities nationwide. Their critical role in the country’s crack explosion, a Mercury News investigation found, has been a strictly guarded secret — until now.

To understand how crack came to curse black America, you have to go into the volcanic hills overlooking Managua, the capital of the Republic of Nicaragua.

During June 1979, those hills teemed with triumphant guerrillas called Sandinistas — Cuban- assisted revolutionaries who had just pulled off one of the biggest military upsets in Central American history. In a bloody civil war, they’d destroyed the U.S.-trained army of Nicaragua’s dictator, Anastasio Somoza. The final assault on Somoza’s downtown bunker was expected any day.

In the dictator’s doomed capital, a minor member of Somoza’s government decided to skip the war’s obvious ending. On June 19, Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes gathered his wife and young daughter, slipped through the encircling rebels and flew into exile in California.

Blandon, the then 29-year-old son of a wealthy slumlord, left a life of privilege and luxury behind. Educated at the finest private schools in Latin America, he had earned a master’s degree in marketing and had become the head of a $27 million program financed by the U.S. government. As Nicaragua’s director of wholesale markets, it had been his job to create an American-style agricultural system.

Today, Danilo Blandon is a well-paid and highly trusted operative for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal officials say he is one of the DEA’s top informants in Latin America, collecting intelligence on Colombian and Mexican drug lords and setting up stings.

In March, he was the DEA’s star witness at a drug trial in San Diego, where, for the first time, he testified publicly about his strange interlude between government jobs — the years he sold cocaine to the street gangs of black Los Angeles.

Dealer says patriotism for Nicaragua was motive

A stocky man with salt-and-pepper hair, a trim mustache and a distinguished bearing, Blandon swore that he didn’t plan on becoming a dope dealer when he landed in the United States with $100 in his pocket, seeking political asylum. He did it, he insisted, out of patriotism.

When duty called in late 1981, he was working as a car salesman in East Los Angeles. In his spare time, he said, he and a few fellow exiles were working to rebuild Somoza’s defeated army, the Nicaraguan national guard, in hopes of one day returning to Managua in triumph.

Like his friends, Blandon nursed a keen hatred of the Sandinistas, who had confiscated the Blandon family’s cattle ranches and sprawling urban slums. His wife’s politically prominent family — the Murillos, whose patriarch was Managua’s mayor in the 1960s — lost its immense fortune as well.

”Because of the horror stories and persecution suffered by his family and countrymen, Blandon said he decided to assist his countrymen in fighting the tyranny of the (Sandinista) regime,” stated a 1992 report from the U.S. Probation and Parole Department. ”He decided that because he was an adept businessman, he could assist his countrymen through monetary means.”

But the rallies and cocktail parties the exiles hosted raised little money. ”At this point, he became committed to raising money for humanitarian and political reasons via illegal activity (cocaine trafficking for profit),” said the heavily censored report, which surfaced during the March trial.

That venture began, Blandon testified, with a phone call from a wealthy friend in Miami named Donald Barrios, an old college classmate. Corporate records show Barrios was a business partner of one of the ex-dictator’s top military aides: Maj. Gen. Gustavo ”The Tiger” Medina, a steely eyed counterinsurgency expert and the former supply boss of Somoza’s army.

Blandon said his college chum, who also was working in the resistance movement, dispatched him to Los Angeles International Airport to pick up another exile, Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero. Though their families were related, Blandon said, he’d never met Meneses — a wiry, excitable man with a bad toupee — until that day.

”I picked him up, and he started telling me that we had to (raise) some money and to send to Honduras,” Blandon testified. He said he flew with Meneses to a camp there and met one of his new companion’s old friends, Col. Enrique Bermudez.

Bermudez — who’d been Somoza’s Washington liaison to the American military — was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency in mid-1980 to pull together the remnants of Somoza’s vanquished national guard, records show. In August 1981, Bermudez’s efforts were unveiled at a news conference as the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN) — in English, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. It was the largest and best-organized of the handful of guerrilla groups Americans would know as the Contras.

Bermudez was the FDN’s military chief and, according to congressional records and newspaper reports, received regular CIA paychecks for a decade, payments that stopped shortly before his still-unsolved slaying in Managua in 1991

Reagan’s secret order not enough to fund Contras

White House records show that shortly before Blandon’s meeting with Bermudez, President Reagan had given the CIA the green light to begin covert paramilitary operations against the Sandinista government. But Reagan’s secret Dec. 1, 1981, order permitted the spy agency to spend only $19.9 million on the project, an amount CIA officials acknowledged was not nearly enough to field a credible fighting force.

After meeting with Bermudez, Blandon testified, he and Meneses ”started raising money for the Contra revolution.” ”There is a saying that the ends justify the means,” Blandon testified. ”And that’s what Mr. Bermudez told us in Honduras, OK?”

While Blandon says Bermudez didn’t know cocaine would be the fund-raising device they used, the presence of the mysterious Mr. Meneses strongly suggests otherwise.

Norwin Meneses, known in Nicaraguan newspapers as ”Rey de la Droga” (King of Drugs), was then under active investigation by the DEA and the FBI for smuggling cocaine into the United States, records show.

And Bermudez was very familiar with the influential Meneses family. He had served under two Meneses brothers, Fermin and Edmundo, who were generals in Somoza’s army. Somoza himself spoke at the 1978 funeral of Edmundo Meneses, who was slain by leftists shortly after his appointment as Nicaragua’s ambassador to Guatemala, hailing him as an anti-communist martyr.

A violent death — someone else’s — had also made brother Norwin famous in his homeland. In 1977 he was accused of ordering the assassination of Nicaragua’s chief of Customs, who was gunned down in the midst of an investigation into an international stolen car ring allegedly run by Norwin Meneses.

Though the customs boss accused Meneses on his deathbed of hiring his killer, Nicaraguan newspapers reported that the Managua police, then commanded by Edmundo Meneses, cleared Norwin of any involvement.

Despite that incident and a stack of law enforcement reports describing him as a major drug trafficker, Norwin Meneses was welcomed into the United States in July 1979 as a political refugee and given a visa and a work permit. He settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for the next six years supervised the importation of thousands of kilos of cocaine into California.

It arrived in all kinds of containers: false-bottomed shoes, Colombian freighters, cars with hidden compartments, luggage from Miami. Once here, it disappeared into a series of houses and nondescript storefront businesses scattered from Hayward to San Jose, Pacifica to Burlingame, Daly City to Oakland.

And, like Blandon, Meneses went to work for the CIA’s army.

At the meeting with Bermudez, Meneses said in a recent interview, the Contra commander put him in charge of ”intelligence and security” for the FDN in California.

”Nobody (from California) would join the Contra forces down there without my knowledge and approval,” he said proudly. Blandon, he said, was assigned to raise money in Los Angeles.

Blandon testified that Meneses took him back to San Francisco and, over two days, schooled him in the cocaine trade.

Meneses declined to discuss any cocaine dealings he may have had, other than to deny that he ever ”transferred benefits from my business to the FDN. Business is business.”

Lessons over, Blandon said, Meneses gave him two kilograms of cocaine (roughly 4 pounds), the names of two customers and a one-way ticket to Los Angeles.

”Meneses was pushing me every week,” he testified. ”It took me about three months, four months to sell those two keys because I didn’t know what to do. … In those days, two keys was too heavy.”

At the time, cocaine was so costly that few besides rock stars and studio executives could afford it. One study of actual cocaine prices paid by DEA agents put it at $5,200 an ounce.

But Blandon wasn’t peddling the FDN’s cocaine in Beverly Hills or Malibu. To find customers, he and several other Nicaraguan exiles working with him headed for the vast, untapped markets of L.A.’s black ghettos.

Uncanny timing made marketing strategy work

Blandon’s marketing strategy, selling the world’s most expensive street drug in some of California’s poorest neighborhoods, might seem baffling, but in retrospect, his timing was uncanny. He and his compatriots arrived in South-Central L.A. right when street-level drug users were figuring out how to make cocaine affordable: by changing the pricey white powder into powerful little nuggets that could be smoked — crack.

Crack turned the cocaine world on its head. Cocaine smokers got an explosive high unmatched by 10 times as much snorted powder. And since only a tiny amount was needed for that rush, cocaine no longer had to be sold in large, expensive quantities. Anyone with $20 could get wasted.

It was a ”substance that is tailor-made to addict people,” Dr. Robert Byck, a Yale University cocaine expert, said during congressional testimony in 1986. ”It is as though (McDonald’s founder) Ray Kroc had invented the opium den.”

Crack’s Kroc was a disillusioned 19-year-old named Ricky Donnell Ross, who, at the dawn of the 1980s, found himself adrift on the streets of South-Central Los Angeles.

A talented tennis player for Dorsey High School, Ross had recently seen his dream of a college scholarship evaporate when his coach discovered he could neither read nor write.

At the end of tennis season, Ross quit high school and wound up at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, a vocational community college where, ironically, he learned to bind books. But a bookbinding career was the last thing Ross had in mind. L.A. Trade-Tech had a tennis team, and Ross was still hoping his skills with the racquet would get his dreams back on track.

”He was a very good player,” recalled Pete Brown, his former coach at L.A. Trade-Tech. ”I’d say he was probably my No. 3 guy on the team at the time.”

To pay his bills, however, Ross picked up a different racket: stolen car parts. In late 1979, he was arrested for stealing a car and had to quit the trade while the charges were pending.

‘Freeway Rick’ hears about popularity of jet-set drug

During this forced hiatus, Ross said, a friend home on Christmas break from San Jose State University told him about the soaring popularity of a jet-set drug called cocaine, which Ross had only vaguely heard about. In the impoverished neighborhoods of South-Central, it was virtually non-existent. Most street cops, in fact, had never seen any because cocaine was then a parlor drug of the wealthy and the trendy.

Ross’ friend — a college football player — told him ”cocaine was going to be the new thing, that everybody was doing it.” Intrigued, Ross set off to find out more.

Through a cocaine-using auto upholstery teacher Ross knew, he met a Nicaraguan named Henry Corrales, who began selling Ross and his best friend, Ollie ”Big Loc” Newell, small amounts of remarkably inexpensive cocaine.

Thanks to a network of friends in South-Central and Compton, including many members of various Crips gangs, Ross and Newell steadily built up clientele. With each sale, Ross reinvested his hefty profits in more cocaine.

Eventually, Corrales introduced Ross and Newell to his supplier, Danilo Blandon. And then business really picked up.

”At first, we was just going to do it until we made $5,000,” Ross said. ”We made that so fast we said, no, we’ll quit when we make $20,000. Then we was going to quit when we saved enough to buy a house …”

Ross would eventually own millions of dollars’ worth of real estate across Southern California, including houses, motels, a theater and several other businesses. (His nickname, ”Freeway Rick,” came from the fact that he owned properties near the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles.)

Within a year, Ross’ drug operation grew to dominate inner-city Los Angeles, and many of the biggest dealers in town were his customers. When crack hit L.A.’s streets hard in late 1983, Ross already had the infrastructure in place to corner a huge chunk of the burgeoning market.

$2 million worth of crack moved in a single day

It was not uncommon, he said, to move $2 million or $3 million worth of crack in one day.

”Our biggest problem had got to be counting the money,” Ross said. ”We got to the point where it was like, man, we don’t want to count no more money.”

Nicaraguan cocaine dealer Jacinto Torres, another former supplier of Ross and a sometime- partner of Blandon, told drug agents in a 1992 interview that after a slow start, ”Blandon’s cocaine business dramatically increased. … Norwin Meneses, Blandon’s supplier as of 1983 and 1984, routinely flew quantities of 200 to 400 kilograms from Miami to the West Coast.”

Leroy ”Chico” Brown, an ex-crack dealer from Compton who dealt with Ross, told the Mercury News of visiting one of Ross’ five cookhouses, where Blandon’s powder was turned into crack, and finding huge steel vats of cocaine bubbling atop restaurant-size gas ranges.

”They were stirring these big pots with those things you use in canoes,” Brown said with amazement. ”You know — oars.”

Blandon told the DEA last year that he was selling Ross up to 100 kilos of cocaine a week, which was then ”rocked up” and distributed ”to the major gangs in the area, specifically the “Crips’ and the “Bloods,”’ the DEA report said.

At wholesale prices, that’s roughly $65 million to $130 million worth of cocaine every year, depending on the going price of a kilo.

“He was one of the main distributors down here,” said former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics detective Steve Polak, who was part of the Freeway Rick Task Force, which was set up in 1987 to put Ross out of business. “And his poison, there’s no telling how many tens of thousands of people he touched. He’s responsible for a major cancer that still hasn’t stopped spreading.”

But Ross is the first to admit that being in the right place at the right time had almost nothing to do with his amazing success. Other L.A. dealers, he noted, were selling crack long before he started.

What he had, and they didn’t, was Danilo Blandon, a friend with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of high-grade cocaine and an expert’s knowledge of how to market it.

”I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been a dope dealer without Danilo,” Ross stressed. ”But I wouldn’t have been Freeway Rick.”

The secret to his success, Ross said, was Blandon’s cocaine prices. ”It was unreal. We were just wiping out everybody.”

That alone, Ross said, allowed him to sew up the Los Angeles market and move on. In city after city, local dealers either bought from Ross or got left behind.

”It didn’t make no difference to Rick what anyone else was selling it for. Rick would just go in and undercut him $10,000 a key,” Chico Brown said. ”Say some dude was selling for 30. Boom — Rick would go in and sell it for 20. If he was selling for 20, Rick would sell for 10. Sometimes, he be giving (it) away.”

Before long, Blandon was giving Ross hundreds of kilos of cocaine on consignment — sell now, pay later — a strategy that dramatically accelerated the expansion of Ross’ crack empire, even beyond California’s borders.

Ross said he never discovered how Blandon was able to get cocaine so cheaply. ”I just figured he knew the people, you know what I’m saying? He was plugged.”

But Freeway Rick had no idea just how ”plugged” his erudite cocaine broker was. He didn’t know about Norwin Meneses, or the CIA, or the Salvadoran air force planes that allegedly were flying the cocaine into an air base in Texas.

And he wouldn’t find out about it for another 10 years.

TUESDAY: The impact of the crack epidemic on the black community, and why justice hasn’t been for all.

Source

Trio created mass market in U.S. for crack cocaine

The following are a series of revealing articles on the connection between the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras and the smuggling of illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. They are among the first exposés about Contra drug smuggling published in the United States. They were written by journalist Gary Webb for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996 under the series title “The Dark Alliance.” The articles, which alleged a connection between the Contras, the CIA and drug trafficking, quickly roused a strong reaction throughout the U.S. and triggered a smear campaign. Webb’s career was destroyed shortly after these articles were published by right-wing Reaganite journalists in support of the Contras.

The following copies were obtained from the website of the Seattle Times, since the San Jose Mercury News where they first appeared has removed the entire Gary Webb series from their web site.

— Espresso Stalinist

Aug 22, 1996

Trio created mass market in U.S. for crack cocaine 

by Gary Webb
San Jose Mercury News

If they’d been in a more respectable line of work, Norwin Meneses, Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes and “Freeway Rick” Ross would have been hailed as geniuses of marketing.

This odd trio – a smuggler, a bureaucrat and a ghetto teenager – made fortunes creating the first mass market in America for a product so hellishly desirable that consumers will literally kill to get it: “crack” cocaine.

Federal lawmen will tell you plenty about Rick Ross, mostly about the evils he visited upon black neighborhoods by spreading the crack plague in Los Angeles and cities as far east as Cincinnati. Tomorrow, they hope, Freeway Rick will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But those same officials won’t say a word about the two men who turned Rick Ross into L.A.’s first king of crack, the men who, for at least five years, supplied him with enough Colombian cocaine to help spawn crack markets in major cities nationwide. Their critical role in the country’s crack explosion has been a strictly guarded secret.

To understand how crack came to curse black America, you have to go into the volcanic hills overlooking Managua, the capital of the Republic of Nicaragua.

Biggest military upset

During June 1979, those hills teemed with triumphant guerrillas called Sandinistas – Cuban-assisted revolutionaries who had just pulled off one of the biggest military upsets in Central American history. In a bloody civil war, they’d destroyed the U.S.-trained army of Nicaragua’s dictator, Anastasio Somoza.

In the dictator’s doomed capital, a minor member of Somoza’s government decided to skip the war’s obvious ending. On June 19, Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes gathered his wife and young daughter and flew into exile in California.

Today, Blandon is a well-paid and highly trusted operative for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal officials say he is one of the DEA’s top informants in Latin America, collecting intelligence on Colombian and Mexican drug lords and setting up stings.

In March, he was the DEA’s star witness at a drug trial in San Diego, where, for the first time, he testified publicly about his strange interlude between government jobs: the years he sold cocaine to the street gangs of black Los Angeles.

Blandon swore that he didn’t plan on becoming a dope dealer when he landed in the United States with $100 in his pocket, seeking political asylum. He did it, he insisted, out of patriotism.

When duty called in late 1981, he was working as a car salesman in East Los Angeles. In his spare time, he said, he and a few fellow exiles were working to rebuild Somoza’s defeated army, the Nicaraguan national guard, in hopes of one day returning to Managua in triumph.

But the rallies and cocktail parties the exiles hosted raised little money. “At this point, he became committed to raising money for humanitarian and political reasons via illegal activity (cocaine trafficking for profit),” said a heavily censored parole report, which surfaced during the March trial.

That venture began, Blandon testified, with a phone call from a wealthy college friend in Miami.

Blandon said his college chum, who also was working in the resistance movement, dispatched him to Los Angeles International Airport to pick up another exile, Juan Norwin Meneses Cantarero. Though their families were related, Blandon said, he’d never met Meneses until that day.

“I picked him up, and he started telling me that we had to (raise) some money and to send to Honduras,” Blandon testified. He said he flew with Meneses to a camp there and met one of his new companion’s old friends, Col. Enrique Bermudez.

Bermudez – who’d been Somoza’s Washington liaison to the American military – was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency in mid-1980 to pull together the remnants of Somoza’s vanquished national guard, records show. In August 1981, Bermudez’s efforts were unveiled at a news conference as the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN) – in English, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. It was the largest and best-organized of the handful of guerrilla groups known as the contras.

Bermudez was the FDN’s military chief and, according to congressional records and newspaper reports, received regular CIA paychecks for a decade, payments that stopped shortly before his still-unsolved slaying in Managua in 1991.

Reagan OKs covert operations

White House records show that shortly before Blandon’s meeting with Bermudez, President Reagan had given the CIA the green light to begin covert paramilitary operations against the Sandinista government. But Reagan’s secret Dec. 1, 1981, order permitted the spy agency to spend only $19.9 million on the project, an amount CIA officials acknowledged was not nearly enough to field a credible fighting force.

After meeting with Bermudez, Blandon testified, he and Meneses “started raising money for the contra revolution.”

While Blandon says Bermudez didn’t know cocaine would be the fund-raising device they used, the presence of the mysterious Mr. Meneses strongly suggests otherwise.

Norwin Meneses, known in Nicaraguan newspapers as “Rey de la Droga” (King of Drugs), was then under active investigation by the DEA and the FBI for smuggling cocaine into the United States, records show.

And Bermudez was very familiar with the influential Meneses family. He had served under two Meneses brothers, Fermin and Edmundo, who were generals in Somoza’s army.

Despite a stack of law-enforcement reports describing him as a major drug trafficker, Norwin Meneses was welcomed into the United States in July 1979 as a political refugee and given a visa and a work permit. He settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for the next six years supervised the importation of thousands of kilos of cocaine into California.

At the meeting with Bermudez, Meneses said in a recent interview, the contra commander put him in charge of “intelligence and security” for the FDN in California.

Blandon, he said, was assigned to raise money in Los Angeles.

Blandon said Meneses gave him two kilograms of cocaine (roughly 4 1/2 pounds) and sent him to Los Angeles.

“Meneses was pushing me every week,” he testified. “It took me about three months, four months to sell those two keys because I didn’t know what to do. . . .”

To find customers, Blandon and several other Nicaraguan exiles working with him headed for the vast, untapped markets of L.A.’s black ghettos.

Blandon’s marketing strategy, selling the world’s most expensive street drug in some of California’s poorest neighborhoods, might seem baffling, but in retrospect, his timing was uncanny. He and his compatriots arrived in South-Central L.A. right when street-level drug users were figuring out how to make cocaine affordable: by changing the pricey white powder into powerful little nuggets that could be smoked – crack.

Emergence of crack

Crack turned the cocaine world on its head. Cocaine smokers got an explosive high unmatched by 10 times as much snorted powder. And since only a tiny amount was needed for that rush, cocaine no longer had to be sold in large, expensive quantities. Anyone with $20 could get wasted.

It was a “substance that is tailor-made to addict people,” Dr. Robert Byck, a Yale University cocaine expert, said during congressional testimony in 1986. “It is as though (McDonald’s founder) Ray Kroc had invented the opium den.”

Crack’s Kroc was a disillusioned 19-year-old named Ricky Donnell Ross, who, at the dawn of the 1980s, found himself adrift on the streets of South-Central Los Angeles.

A talented tennis player for Dorsey High School, Ross had recently seen his dream of a college scholarship evaporate when his coach discovered he could neither read nor write.

A friend of Ross’ – a college football player home at Christmas from San Jose State University – told him “cocaine was going to be the new thing, that everybody was doing it.” Intrigued, Ross set off to find out more.

Through a cocaine-using auto-upholstery teacher Ross knew, he met a Nicaraguan named Henry Corrales, who began selling Ross and a friend , Ollie “Big Loc” Newell, small amounts of remarkably inexpensive cocaine.

Thanks to a network of friends in South-Central L.A. and Compton, including many members of various Crips gangs, the pair steadily built up clientele. With each sale, Ross reinvested his hefty profits in more cocaine.

Eventually, Corrales introduced Ross and Newell to his supplier, Blandon. And then business really picked up.

“At first, we was just going to do it until we made $5,000,” Ross said. “We made that so fast we said, no, we’ll quit when we make $20,000. Then we was going to quit when we saved enough to buy a house . . .”

Ross would eventually own millions of dollars’ worth of real estate across Southern California, including houses, motels, a theater and several other businesses. (His nickname, “Freeway Rick,” came from the fact that he owned properties near the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles.)

Within a year, Ross’ drug operation grew to dominate inner-city Los Angeles, and many of the biggest dealers in town were his customers. When crack hit L.A.’s streets hard in late 1983, Ross already had the infrastructure in place to corner a huge chunk of the burgeoning market.

It was not uncommon, he said, to move $2 million or $3 million worth of crack in one day.

“Our biggest problem had got to be counting the money,” Ross said. “We got to the point where it was like, man, we don’t want to count no more money.”

Nicaraguan cocaine dealer Jacinto Torres, another former supplier of Ross and a sometime-partner of Blandon, told drug agents in a 1992 interview that after a slow start, “Blandon’s cocaine business dramatically increased. . . . Norwin Meneses, Blandon’s supplier as of 1983 and 1984, routinely flew quantities of 200 to 400 kilograms from Miami to the West Coast.”

Blandon told the DEA last year that he was selling Ross up to 100 kilos of cocaine a week, which was then “rocked up” and distributed “to the major gangs in the area, specifically the Crips and the Bloods,” the DEA report said.

At wholesale prices, that’s roughly $65 million to $130 million worth of cocaine every year, depending on the going price of a kilo.

“He was one of the main distributors down here,” said former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics detective Steve Polak, who was part of the Freeway Rick Task Force, which was set up in 1987 to put Ross out of business. “And his poison, there’s no telling how many tens of thousands of people he touched. He’s responsible for a major cancer that still hasn’t stopped spreading.”

But Ross is the first to admit that being in the right place at the right time had almost nothing to do with his amazing success. Other L.A. dealers, he noted, were selling crack long before he started.

What he had, and they didn’t, was Blandon, a friend with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of high-grade cocaine and an expert’s knowledge of how to market it.

“I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been a dope dealer without Danilo,” Ross stressed. “But I wouldn’t have been Freeway Rick.”

The secret to his success, Ross said, was Blandon’s cocaine prices. “It was unreal. We were just wiping out everybody.”

“It didn’t make no difference to Rick what anyone else was selling it for. Rick would just go in and undercut him $10,000 a key,” Chico Brown said. “Say some dude was selling for 30. Boom – Rick would go in and sell it for 20. If he was selling for 20, Rick would sell for 10. Sometimes, he be giving (it) away.”

Ross said he never discovered how Blandon was able to get cocaine so cheaply. “I just figured he knew the people, you know what I’m saying? He was plugged.”

But Freeway Rick had no idea just how “plugged” his erudite cocaine broker was. He didn’t know about Meneses, or the CIA, or the Salvadoran air-force planes that allegedly were flying the cocaine into an air base in Texas.

And he wouldn’t find out about it for another 10 years.

International Relations from a Different Country: AU Professors Share Their Story

By Erin Lockwood

According to AU professor Dr. Elizabeth Cohn, Ronald Reagan’s presidential legacy has been whitewashed. This is not a reactionary political slogan; it is a conviction born of her work as founder and director of the Central American Historical Institute from 1982 to 1988 — the height of the Reagan Administration’s covert support for anti-government “contras” in Nicaragua.

During that same time, AU professor and Distinguished Diplomat-in-Residence Anthony Quainton was serving as the US Ambassador to Nicaragua — a position that eventually forced him to confront his own misalignment with the Reagan Administration’s priorities and strategy in Central America.

Students of the social sciences are likely familiar with the maxim, “where you stand depends on where you sit,” a reminder that context matters in understandings of political and historical phenomena. I spoke to Cohn and Quainton to hear their stories, which illustrate this principle in the case of US involvement in Nicaragua.

Cohn was 25 years old in 1982, when the Jesuits of Central America asked her to found and direct the Central American Historical Institute, a progressive think tank headquartered at Georgetown University. The Jesuits — active in liberation theology movements such as the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s 1979 revolutionary overthrow of the Somoza dynasty — wanted Cohn to take the lead in providing accurate, non-governmental information about Nicaragua to US policymakers, activists, journalists and academics. Soon, researchers in Nicaragua were sending telex messages to Cohn in DC, which she then compiled into reports and mailed out to a list of subscribers.

Cohn notes that even though Central America was the foreign policy issue of the 1980s, it was difficult to get accurate, in-depth information about conditions on the ground, especially if it contradicted the official position of the Reagan Administration.

The Central American Historical Institute quickly became a leading source of reporting and analysis on Nicaragua, surpassing Cohn’s own expectations of her organization’s influence. She recalls being surprised to learn that one of her reports had appeared as “Exhibit J” when Nicaragua sued the US in the World Court in 1984 for illegally putting naval mines in Nicaraguan harbors.

For Quainton, too, the media played a memorable role in his tenure as US Ambassador to Nicaragua. He remembers his initial arrival in Nicaragua after his appointment under Reagan, stepping off the plane at Sandino International Airport in Managua on March 15, 1982 and being met with a barrage of media cameras and microphones. One reporter asked him to comment on the state of emergency that had been declared in Nicaragua while he was in transit.

Unbeknownst to Quainton, CIA-backed Nicaraguan rebels had blown up two major bridges during his flight there. “I was completely blindsided,” he recalls. “Our relationship with the Sandinistas pretty much went downhill every day from there.”

As evidence, Quainton points to the framed political cartoons from Nicaraguan newspapers on the wall of his office in the School of International Service, caricatures of him with Sandinista leaders. Quainton remembers Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega as “aloof” and “hard to know.”

“Ortega is not,” Quainton says with diplomatic understatement, “a very nice man.”

Cartoons of a different kind illustrate one reason for the tense diplomatic relations, according to Cohn. In 1984, a member of the advocacy group Witness for Peace approached her with a comic book-style “Freedom Fighter’s Manual,” which encouraged Nicaraguans to sabotage the Sandinista government by cutting power lines, throwing Molotov cocktails at police stations, damaging automobiles and stealing government food supplies. An Associated Press reporter confirmed that it had been published by the CIA for the rebel group. Over 85 newspapers picked up the story and severely undermined the credibility of the Reagan Administration’s official position that the US did not seek to overthrow Ortega. Investigations into the first manual revealed another CIA manual, this one advocating assassination.

After the publication of the comic book story and Reagan’s landslide re-election, the political climate changed. “It became a lot more difficult to challenge the administration,” Cohn says. And challenging the administration became the goal of her organization. “I wouldn’t say the information we provided was neutral. Things were so politicized,” she recalls, “it was important to provide information that was more accurate, less one-sided. I saw myself as an honest broker, a patriot.”

Meanwhile, Quainton too was beginning to understand the stubbornness of the White House’s position on Nicaragua. Strongly influenced by CIA Director William Casey’s preference for regime change, Reagan’s position, according to Quainton, amounted to: “As soon as Ortega goes, we’ll talk.”

Quainton said, “They figured — correctly — that I was somewhat more sympathetic than Washington.” This was partly due to the State Department’s general preference for negotiation, and partly due to what Cohn jokingly refers to as the “Sandal-istas” — American groups, often religious, that traveled to Nicaragua to demonstrate in opposition to the poorly concealed US support for the contras. Quainton recalls these groups as being “very outspoken, very emotional.”

Despite perceptions by such visitors that Quainton was too much of a hard-liner, by 1983 it was clear that he and Reagan were not “on the same wavelength.” Quainton had been contacted by a senior White House official, who told him to report more bad news about the Sandinistas. “I can’t do that. We report all the news,” he replied. In October, a bipartisan commission on Central America, led by Henry Kissinger, visited Nicaragua on a fact-finding mission, culminating in what Quainton calls “a disastrous day for diplomacy.” After asking Quainton if he had to “shake hands with that son-of-a-bitch,” Kissinger went into a meeting with Ortega in a foul mood, and, after listening to Ortega deliver a long diatribe against the US, walked out of the room without saying a word.

Having been pressed repeatedly by the commission on whether Reagan agreed with the State Department’s attempts to negotiate with Ortega, Quainton was not entirely surprised to receive a call from the Deputy Secretary of State a few months later announcing that the president was going to make some changes in Nicaragua. Six months after learning he had lost the president’s confidence, Quainton left Nicaragua and became the ambassador to Kuwait. Being given another appointment after being fired is unusual in the State Department. “More typically, when you leave, you’re done,” Quainton said. But Secretary of State George Shultz argued that Quainton had done nothing wrong and did not deserve to be punished. In Quainton’s words, it was a matter of Reagan “looking for a different style of ambassador, someone who was going to be much more hard-line.”

Despite traveling to Nicaragua a dozen times between 1982 and 1988, Cohn does not recall ever meeting Quainton there, though they are now friendly colleagues, both teaching in SIS. The Central American Historical Institute was not very interested in the official US position that they would have gotten from the embassy, she recalls dryly, noting that their research interests lay more in the direction of the border regions with Honduras where the contras were based. She is still angry about Reagan’s covert and, she argues, impeachable support for the Nicaraguan contras.

Quainton is more sanguine. He says his experience in Nicaragua didn’t change his perception of representing US interests abroad. In his subsequent ambassadorships to Kuwait and Peru, there was much less of a gap between public opinion and White House policy. No cheerleader for either Ortega’s government or the US backing of the contras, throughout his time in Nicaragua Quainton remained dedicated to making sure both the good and bad aspects of the Sandinista governance made it back to the States.

A commitment to communicating the nuanced truth guided both Quainton’s and Cohn’s experiences in Nicaragua. Far from being content to toe the Reagan Administration’s line — and despite considerable pressure to do so — each sought to present the complexity of the situation to the US government and the public. The experiences of these AU professors remind us to be critical of official policies and the way they are remembered and to be sensitive to the context and source of information.

Photo by Colin Crane.

Source 

1970-1987: The contra war in Nicaragua

Noam Chomsky’s account of the US-backed “contra” counter-insurgency in Nicaragua against the left-wing government.

It wasn’t just the events in El Salvador that were ignored by the mainstream US media during the 1970s. In the ten years prior to the overthrow of the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, US television – all networks – devoted exactly one hour to Nicaragua, and that was entirely on the Managua earthquake of 1972.

From 1960 through 1978, the New York Times had three editorials on Nicaragua. It’s not that nothing was happening there – it’s just that whatever was happening was unremarkable. Nicaragua was of no concern at all, as long as Somoza’s tyrannical rule wasn’t challenged.

When his rule was challenged, by the [popular, left-wing] Sandinistas in the late 1970s, the US first tried to institute what was called “Somocismo [Somoza-ism] without Somoza” – that is, the whole corrupt system intact, but with somebody else at the top. That didn’t work, so President Carter tried to maintain Somoza’s National Guard as a base for US power.

The National Guard had always been remarkably brutal and sadistic. By June 1979, it was carrying out massive atrocities in the war against the Sandinistas, bombing residential neighbourhoods in Managua, killing tens of thousands of people. At that point, the US ambassador sent a cable to the White House saying it would be “ill-advised” to tell the Guard to call off the bombing, because that might interfere with the policy of keeping them in power and the Sandinistas out.

Our ambassador to the Organisation of American States also spoke in favour of “Somocismo without Somoza,” but the OAS rejected the suggestion flat out. A few days later, Somoza flew off to Miami with what was left of the Nicaraguan national treasury, and the Guard collapsed.

The Carter administration flew Guard commanders out of the country in planes with Red Cross markings (a war crime), and began to reconstitute the Guard on Nicaragua’s borders. They also used Argentina as a proxy. (At that time, Argentina was under the rule of neo-Nazi generals, but they took a little time off from torturing and murdering their own population to help re-establish the Guard – soon to be renamed the contras, or “freedom fighters.”)

Ronald Reagan used them to launch a large-scale terrorist war against Nicaragua, combined with economic warfare that was even more lethal. We also intimidated other countries so they wouldn’t send aid either.

And yet, despite astronomical levels of military support, the United States failed to create a viable military force in Nicaragua. That’s quite remarkable, if you think about it. No real guerrillas anywhere in the world have ever had resources even remotely like what the United States gave the contras. You could probably start a guerrilla insurgency in mountain regions of the US with comparable funding.

Why did the US go to such lengths in Nicaragua? The international development organisation Oxfam explained the real reasons, stating that, from its experience of working in 76 developing countries, “Nicaragua was…exceptional in the strength of that government’s commitment…to improving the condition of the people and encouraging their active participation in the development process.”

Of the four Central American countries where Oxfam had a significant presence (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), only in Nicaragua was there a substantial effort to address inequities in land ownership and to extend health, educational and agricultural services to poor peasant families.

Other agencies told a similar story. In the early 1980s, the World Bank called its projects “extraordinarily successful in Nicaragua in some sectors, better than anywhere else in the world.” In 1983, The Inter-American Development Bank concluded that “Nicaragua has made noteworthy progress in the social sector, which is laying the basis for long-term socio-economic development.”

The success of the Sandinista reforms terrified US planners. They were aware that – as José Figueres, the father of Costa Rican democracy, put it – “for the first time, Nicaragua has a government that cares for its people.” (Although Figueres was the leading democratic figure in Central America for forty years, his unacceptable insights into the real world were completely censored from the US media.)

The hatred that was elicited by the Sandinistas for trying to direct resources to the poor (and even succeeding at it) was truly wondrous to behold. Just about all US policymakers shared it, and it reached virtual frenzy.

Back in 1981, a State Department insider boasted that we would “turn Nicaragua into the Albania of Central America” – that is, poor, isolated and politically radical – so that the Sandinista dream of creating a new, more exemplary political model for Latin America would be in ruins.

George Shultz called the Sandinistas a “cancer, right here on our land mass,” that has to be destroyed. At the other end of the political spectrum, leading Senate liberal Alan Cranston said that if it turned out not to be possible to destroy the Sandinistas, then we’d just have to let them “fester in [their] own juices.”

So the US launched a three-fold attack against Nicaragua. First, we exerted extreme pressure to compel the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank to terminate all projects and assistance.

Second, we launched the contra war along with an illegal economic war to terminate what Oxfam rightly called “the threat of a good example.” The contras’ vicious terrorist attacks against “soft targets” under US orders did help, along with the boycott, to end any hope of economic development and social reform. US terror ensured that Nicaragua couldn’t demobilise its army and divert its pitifully poor and limited resources to reconstructing the ruins that were left by the US-backed dictators and Reaganite crimes. The contras were even funded by the US selling arms to Iran, in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

One of the most respected Central America correspondents, Julia Preston (who was then working for the Boston Globe), reported that “Administration officials said they are content to see the contras debilitate the Sandinistas by forcing them to divert scarce resources toward the war and away from social programs.” That’s crucial, since the social programs were at the heart of the good example that might have infected other countries in the region and eroded the American system of [much higher-grade] exploitation and robbery.

We even refused to send disaster relief. After the 1972 earthquake, the US sent an enormous amount of aid to Nicaragua, most of which was stolen by our buddy Somoza. In October 1988, an even worse natural disaster struck Nicaragua – Hurricane Joan. We didn’t send a penny for that, because if we had, it would probably have gotten to the people, not just into the pockets of some rich thug. We also pressured our allies to send very little aid.

This devastating hurricane, with its welcome prospects of mass starvation and long-term ecological damage, reinforced our efforts. We wanted Nicaraguans to starve so we could accuse the Sandinistas of economic mismanagement. Because they weren’t under our control, Nicaraguans had to suffer and die.

Third, we used diplomatic fakery to crush Nicaragua. As Tony Avirgan wrote in the Costa Rican journal Mesoamerica, “the Sandinistas fell for a scam perpetrated by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias and the other Central American Presidents, which cost them the February [1990] elections.”

For Nicaragua, the peace plan of August 1987 was a good deal, Avrigan wrote: they would move the scheduled national elections forward by a few months and allow international observation, as they had in 1984, “in exchange for having the contras demobilised and the war brought to an end….” The Nicaraguan government did what it was required to do under the peace plan, but no one else paid the slightest attention to it.

Arias, the White House and Congress never had the slightest intention of implementing any aspect of the plan. The US virtually tripled CIA supply flights to the contras. Within a couple of months the peace plan was totally dead.

As the election campaign opened, the US made it clear that the embargo that was strangling the country and the contra terror would continue if the Sandinistas won the election. You have to be some kind of Nazi or unreconstructed Stalinist to regard an election conducted under such conditions as free and fair – and south of the border, few succumbed to such delusions.

If anything like that were ever done by our enemies… I leave the media reaction to your imagination. The amazing part of it was that the Sandinistas still got 40% of the vote, while New York Times headlines proclaimed that Americans were “United in Joy” over this “Victory for US Fair Play.”

US achievements in Central America in the past fifteen years are a major tragedy, not just because of the appalling human cost, but because a decade ago there were prospects for real progress towards meaningful democracy and meeting human needs, with early successes in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

These efforts might have worked and might have taught useful lessons to others plagued with similar problems – which, of course, was exactly what US planners feared. The threat has been successfully aborted, perhaps forever.

From What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky.

Source

CIA admits it overlooked Contras’ links to drugs

CNN
November 3, 1998

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The CIA overlooked or ignored reports that the Nicaragua Contra rebels financed their fight to oust the communist Sandinistas through the sale of drugs in the United States, according to an internal CIA report.

Fredrick Hitz, the now-retired CIA inspector-general who supervised the report, admitted that monitoring of the Contras was lax.

“We fell down on accountability…. There was a great deal of sloppiness and poor guidance in those days out of Washington,” Hitz said.

Field offices described criminal activities

The 450-page report, issued by the CIA last month, for the first time reveals information sent to the CIA by its field operatives about the activities of the Contra groups during the 1980s.

One cable sent to the CIA from a field office described a “trial run” of a drug route from Honduras to Miami in July 1981 to benefit the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Democratic Alliance (ADREN).

An earlier cable cited in the report said the rebel group felt it was being “forced to stoop to criminal activities in order to feed and clothe their cadre.”

The report also cited the use of a Honduran businessman, Alan Hyde, for logistical support to the Contras, despite Hyde’s identification in a 1984 U.S. Defense Department report as “a businessman making much money dealing in ‘white gold,’ i.e., cocaine.”

DEA discouraged from investigating

The report details cases where the CIA dissuaded other federal agencies, notably the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from probing the activities of Contra groups and their contractors. In one instance, the CIA discouraged the DEA from examining Oliver North’s efforts to evade legal restrictions on Contra aid through a secret supply operation in El Salvador, according to the report.

The report is the second released by the agency in response to a series of articles that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News in the summer of 1996. Those articles accused the CIA of forming an alliance with drug dealers and Contra groups to introduce crack cocaine into south-central Los Angeles during the 1980s.

While the inspector-general’s report contradicts the CIA’s previous claims that it had little information on the Contras and drug-running activities, it offers no evidence supporting the newspaper’s allegations.

Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed to this report.

Source 

Contra Remains Found at Honduran Base

The Associated Press
August 28, 2001

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Forensic experts found the remains of three people at a former air base near the Honduras-Nicaragua border that was used as a training ground for U.S.-backed Contra rebels.

The discovery was made late Monday after six hours of digging at the El Aguacate air base, where the federal prosecutor’s office expects to find the remains of 80 of 185 leftists the army killed between 1979 and 1990.

The United States built the base in 1984 as a training center for the Contras, who were fighting the leftist Sandinista regime in neighboring Nicaragua during the 1980s. The base is located near the border of the two countries, about 80 miles east of Tegucigalpa.

It was turned over to the Honduran military before being abandoned in 1994.

Human rights groups say at least some of the 185 people officially listed as missing during the Honduran government campaign against leftists were tortured and buried at the base.

Among the missing were two U.S. citizens: Jesuit priest-turned-guerrilla James Carney and former Green Beret David Valle Cruz.

Carney, then 53, was expelled from Honduras on allegations that he encouraged a peasant revolt against the military government. He quit the Jesuits a few months before he was captured.

Authorities said they would not be able to confirm the victims’ identities until they had conducted laboratory analyses of the remains.

Family members of a late Contra fighter, Francisco Javier Guzman Davila, say one of the bodies is his. Guzman died when his plane was forced down by Sandinistas, said his brother, Dennis Manuel, who also fought with the Contras.

Found with the second set of remains was a glass jar and a paper with what appeared to be the victim’s name written on it, said attorney general spokesman Melvin Duarte. Duarte did not release the name. He said the victim is believed to have died in a Contra-operated hospital at El Aguacate.

A third set of remains was found buried in two sacks. Prosecutors believe the victim was killed at a different location, then dismembered and buried at the air base site.

Digging began Monday and is expected to continue for 20 more days.

Laboratory tests will be conducted for 10 days after that.

Source

The Contras: A Sorry Sight Despite 4 Years of U.S. Help

December 12, 1986
By Joseph C. Harsch

This has turned into the week in world affairs that took Honduran troops, ferried to the fighting front in United States Army helicopters, to rescue the main force of the Nicaraguan contra rebels from Nicaraguan troops. So low has the contras’ fighting ability fallen that they could not defend themselves in their base camps some 10 miles inside the Honduran border. For several months now, the Sandinistas have been able to keep the contras hemmed into their camps, preventing the contras from taking offensive action inside Nicaragua itself.

The Reagan administration has been feeding, arming, and training the contras both overtly and covertly for more than four years. In theory, the time has long since passed when the contras should have been able to move inside Nicaragua and set up a permanent base from which they could hope to overthrow the Sandinista government, as Fidel Castro once did to the Batista regime in Cuba.

But since last March, the main fighting between the contras and the Sandinistas has been largely on the Honduran side of the border with the Sandinistas substantially on the offensive.

Last weekend was not the first time that Washington has had to come to the rescue of the contras. In March, the Sandinistas made a serious attack on the contra camps in southern Honduras. The Sandinista troops involved in the attack were estimated at between 800 and 1,500. While there are supposed to be at least 7,000 contras in Honduras, the Reagan administration nevertheless pressed the Honduran government to send its own troops into the area, which it did – reluctantly.

This time, there is as yet no reliable estimate of the strength of the Sandinista forces in the recent fighting, in an area now called “New Nicaragua,” from the number of Nicaraguan refugees and contras in the area. The number of Honduran troops ferried in US helicopters in last weekend’s rescue operation is estimated at 1,200.

By this weekend, the Sandinistas are expected to have largely withdrawn from Las Vegas Salient, an area of Honduras jutting into Nicaragua, where the skirmishing has been going on.

The two governments – Honduran and Nicaraguan – have engaged in lively conversations with each other.

One result is that the Honduran government has pressed the Reagan administration to get the contras out of Honduras. The Hondurans say they have an absolute promise that this will be done by April 1987 at the latest.

US officials in Honduras and Washington make it sound more like a desirable goal than a hard promise. However, there seems to be at least a tentative schedule for moving the contras out of Honduras and into Nicaragua.

There is a reason for selecting April as the target date.

In February, the contras are scheduled to receive the second installment of the $100 million in military and humanitarian aid that the US Congress approved in October.

This would, in theory, give the contras three months in which to try to fight their way inside Nicaragua and let the Hondurans get back to a life of neutrality.

But the contra operation is already well behind schedule. As usual in such operations, the planning of the counterrevolutionary operation is based on the assumption that the population inside the target country is yearning for liberation and will rise at the appropriate moment to join in the battle against their local oppressers.

This was the expectation in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. The rising up never happened.

This has been the expectation for Nicaragua. In four years of opportunities the rising has not happened. The contras have made many excursions into the country. But they have never been able to find enough local popular support to make it possible for them to stay there.

Meanwhile, the Sandinista Army has grown steadily in numbers, weaponry, and military skill. They are definitely on the offensive now.

During most of the time since the tide of battle turned in favor of the Sandinistas in March, the Honduran government of President Jos’e Azcona Hoyo has tried to ignore the fact that Nicaraguan soldiers are operating inside Honduran territory.

Honduras moved troops into the border region last March only after urging by the US government. This last weekend, it was US action which spurred Honduras to allow some of its troops to be sent toward the border into Nicaragua. But this did not lead to serious fighting between Honduran and Nicaraguan troops.

The Nicaraguans more or less backed away.

Honduran tolerance for Nicaraguan soldiers inside Honduras is based on international law and custom. It is the legal responsibility of any government to prevent hostile action being launched from within its borders against any other country.

The Hondurans, who recognize the Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega Saavedra, should under international law and custom, prevent the contras operating against Nicaragua from Honduran bases.

It is generally recognized that if and when a government is incapable of preventing damage being done another country from inside its own borders then the other country is entitled to intrude against its enemy.

In 1916, a Mexican guerrilla, usually called a “bandit” at the time, named Francisco Villa raided the US border town of El Paso.

President Woodrow Wilson ordered a US military expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Francisco Villa.

Villa was never caught, but his raids across the border did cease.

Meanwhile, John J. Pershing, who commanded the cavalry column during its sortie into Mexico, achieved fame and campaign experience. It led to his appointment to command US forces in France in World War II.

A current example is the frequent presence of Israeli troops in southern Lebanon. This is based on the fact that the government of Lebanon is, in fact, incapable of preventing the Palestine Liberation Organization and other anti-Israeli groups from mounting military operations against Israel from inside Lebanon.

Honduras is now trying to do what it should under international law: prevent further contra action from its own territory against Nicaragua. But all it can do is urge the US to get the contras out. It can do no more without risking its large US subsidy, which includes arms and military training.

It remains to be seen whether the contras will ever leave Honduras for Nicaragua. The support they will receive from the US is in doubt now because of recent disclosures related to the US-Iran arms dealings. Expert observers are of the opinion that the time has long since gone when the Nicaraguan contras could hope to achieve a revolution on their own without the help of large US forces in combat.

The chances are that we are close now to the collapse of the contra operation.

Source 

Political Resolution of the XIth of the CC of the PCMLV

After evaluating several plenary sessions during the global situation, we reaffirm our view that we move in successive cyclical crises which are expressed as economic reality, which is deepened especially in the imperialist countries, such as determining component of the general crisis of capitalism, which also of economic base of political and social, creating conditions for moving to a new stage, mixed by wars and revolutions, with high conflict and total decomposition of capitalist society. It is clear that the situation remains tense in the world, continues to deepen the crisis of global capitalism. Riots, demonstrations, war characterize the current moment of world reality.

Expression of this situation is the deepening of the imperialist war against Libya are, we see daily attacks against this country are increasing, and increasingly critical support of the international bourgeois institutions becomes more evident. The bombings are constant and assumptions are civilians who after all end up paying with their lives intemperate attacks of the imperialist forces NATO , Orphans, mothers weeping for their children, this is the scenario that world imperialism has built in this North African country. Unabashedly, the imperialists stole the Libyan people’s money was deposited in European banks, in order to put to the disposal of its interest warmongers. Use the money to strengthen a government coalition made up of reactionary pro-Yankees. About 200 billion dollars of Libya’s international reserves were blocked and placed at the service of imperialism, in addition to this stolen oil, the major facilities and fresh water reserves in this country.

This initially appeared as a political agreement between the imperialist powers to attack Libya, example of this was the position of China and Russia who did not realize their power of veto to prevent the invasion, then the situation worsened, the resistance the Libyan people are maintained over time, setting a problem to be solved by the imperialist powers who doubt the military intervention by land to stop these terrible negative balances and a high political and economic costs.

We understand that this aggression, as well as others made covertly, are part of the imperialist struggle for a new division of the world and are the basis on which to structure the new relationship between world powers, which leads to more wars. The deepening U.S. economic downturn will lead to more conflicts and even wars among the imperialist powers to resolve its economic contradictions.

Another country that is suffering the ravages of imperialist interference, it is Syria, where the imperialists operate in a different format, a little more discreet, are acting from intelligence agencies, on behalf of groups opposed to President Bashar Al Assad. The characteristics of the Syrian government suggests a family relationship in the areas of power, as in the case of the brother of the president who controls one of the divisions of the army and his brother who controls the intelligence services. Some try to locate the essence of this situation on tribal or ethnic differences, trying to hide the fact that regardless of their ethnic peoples seek structural changes that allow them a chance to get a better life. But improving the brevity of life is impossible in a system where the interests of capitalism are the ones that take precedence over the interests of the people and workers in general, it is clear that the intelligence services of imperialism have been mixed in with the riots try to work the ground for possible future interventions.

The acts of sabotage that the governments of Israel and the U.S. made in this country to seek also weaken Iran, Syria partner in oil and industry, hence the conflict to pursue the control of oil reserves and energy, not only this country, if not the entire region.

Importantly, the position taken by China and Russia to Libya with a complicit silence was modified with respect to the situation in Syria, as the worsening social conflict in this country, both exercised their weight as members of the Security Council to make it clearly did not support any intervention in Syria. This is due to a very momentous, Syria offered its territory to transport fuel to other countries, including Russia, making clear that Russia is involved when the conflict is economic interests are at stake with an intervention . Just to mention some good data to say that at the beginning of 2000 the trade exchange between Syria and Russia exceeded 100 million dollars, and for 2005 exceeded $ 300 million, and has continued to increase. Although it is noteworthy that these figures, in general trade of these countries, expressing only a small part of Syria’s debt to Russia, bringing the cumulative three billion dollars. This is complemented by a major military exchange. Syria even has a Russian military base on its territory, which of course must also defend the Russian government when assessing their positions and interests. A similar situation occurs with China in turn is carving the way to deepen political relations with Syria, which promises not only an intensification of efforts to control these countries, and another part of the imperialists, if not also possible contradictions between them.

In Europe, continues to advance the tension, we see the conflict in Greece again takes place in the international news, as workers have returned to the streets to develop their protests against economic measures imposed by international agencies. In Italy, the third largest economy in the euro area is expected to increase the impact of the crisis. France, imperialist country that currently is playing important role in the aggression worn in North Africa as some of the so-called Maghreb countries were colonies of France, so this, now try to regain influence and control as before, on these countries to try to secure their resources.

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