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AMERICAN DEMOCRACY - GOVERNMENT > 3. LEGACY OF ASHES ~ CHAPTERS 7 - 9 (63 - 93) (01/17/11 - 01/23/11) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 10:33PM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

For the week of January 17th through January 23rd, we are reading approximately the next 30 pages of Legacy of Ashes.

This thread will discuss the following chapters and pages:

Week Three - January 17th – January 23rd -> Chapters SEVEN, EIGHT, and NINE p. 63 - 93
SEVEN – A Vast Field of Illusion and EIGHT – This chapter begins Part Two| “A Strange Kind of Genius” - “The CIA Under Eisenhower 1953 to 1961” - CHAPTER EIGHT - We Have No Plan and NINE - CIA’s Greatest Single Triumph

Remember folks, these weekly non spoiler threads are just that - non spoiler. There are many other threads where "spoiler information" can be placed including the glossary and any of the other supplemental threads.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we have done for other spotlighted reads.

We kicked off this book on January 3rd. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, on iTunes for the ipad, etc. However, be careful, some audible formats are abridged and not unabridged.

There is still a little time remaining to obtain the book and get started. There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.



Week of
 January 17th (Week Three of Discussion)

Week Three - January 17th – January 23rd -> Chapters SEVEN, EIGHT, and NINE p. 63 - 93
SEVEN – A Vast Field of Illusion and EIGHT – This chapter begins Part Two| “A Strange Kind of Genius” - “The CIA Under Eisenhower 1953 to 1961” - CHAPTER EIGHT - We Have No Plan and NINE - CIA’s Greatest Single Triumph

This is a link to the complete table of contents and syllabus thread:

We are off to a good beginning.


Legacy of Ashes the History of the CIA by Tim Weiner Tim Weiner Tim Weiner

Remember this is a non spoiler thread.

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 16, 2011 10:16PM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod

The next three chapters focus on more folly and poor judgement.

In Chapter Seven we are introduced to the plan to push back the Russians and Stalin with an illusion of numerous forces behind the Iron Curtain. None of this was real and soon more folks lost their lives.

Chapter Eight introduces the reader to Eisenhower's penchant for secret and covert missions, how Ike almost sent us down a path to a nuclear war and how when Stalin did die; there was no plan as to how to deal with any fallout from his death or what his death would mean to the United States. In fact, Stalin was very much afraid of any war with the US and that was the last thing on his mind when he was alive.

Finally, in Chapter Nine, we are introduced to the next debacle - the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh - and the fallout which we are living with up to the present day; these actions were prompted by the British.

message 3: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Great sets of chapters. We really see Ike using the CIA to set policy, more so than Truman who did not incorporate it well with the White House.

We are still seeing failures, and one of most glaring: quality personnel. (It seems to be a constant plague up to the present).

It seems more luck was involved in Iran than CIA skills.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
I think we are still paying for the Iran debacle and even though they considered this successful; I have to say in the long run it was not. I guess regime change rubs me the wrong way. But then again that is just MHO.

message 5: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I think we are still paying for the Iran debacle and even though they considered this successful; I have to say in the long run it was not. I guess regime change rubs me the wrong way. But then ag..."

Regime change, the first the CIA did, is an extreme concept for me, too. So, you want to win "hearts and minds" in the Cold War, Ike shifts to Third World countries, and wow, they do tend to hurt us in the long run, I think, too.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Folks have long memories like elephants.

message 7: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "Folks have long memories like elephants."

lol, especially when it comes to power.

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Very true Bryan and that includes our presidents (what was Ike thinking?)

message 9: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) The persistence in dropping people behind the iron curtain with no plan or resources is still mind boggling to me. How could they be expecting a different result by repeatedly making the same mistake?

It is disheartening to see so many mistakes and failures to think ahead, such as the situation when Stalin died. All of a sudden we are left flat footed with no reliable information or glimmer of reasoned analysis with which to equip the President about making a decision.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 17, 2011 09:39AM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Yes, Alisa..supposedly we were so concerned about rolling back the Soviets but we had no contingency information on the key man involved with that expansion (Stalin) - nada.

I think most of us from our offices and homes could have provided better psychological and societal inklings.

message 11: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig You hear that the analysts are the strength of the CIA. You wonder if any of their reports get to the senior level. Clearly not.

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Unfortunately it seems that way; shame really.

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 04:02PM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
A little about Stalin (will place more in glossary):

Joseph Stalin
Dictator of the Soviet Union

Stalin, pronounced STAH lihn, Joseph, was dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) from 1929 until 1953. He rose from bitter poverty to become ruler of a country that covered about a sixth of the world's land area.

Stalin ruled by terror during most of his years as dictator. He allowed no one to oppose his decisions. Stalin executed or jailed most of those who had helped him rise to power because he feared they might threaten his rule.

Stalin also was responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviet peasants who opposed his program of collective agriculture (government control of farms). Under Stalin, the Soviet Union operated a worldwide network of Communist parties. By the time he died, Communism had spread to 11 other countries. His style of government became known as Stalinism and continued to influence many governments.

The Soviet people had cause to hate Stalin, and much of the world feared him. But he changed the Soviet Union from an undeveloped country into one of the world's great industrial and military powers. In World War II (1939-1945), the Soviet Union was an ally of the United States and Great Britain against Germany. But Stalin sharply opposed and, on occasion, betrayed his allies even before World War II was over. The last years that Stalin ruled the Soviet Union were marked by the Cold War, in which many non-Communist nations banded together to halt the spread of Communism.

Stalin had little personal charm, and could be brutal to even his closest friends. He seemed unable to feel pity. He could not take criticism, and he never forgave an opponent. Few dictators have demanded such terrible sacrifices from their own people.

After Stalin became dictator, he had Soviet histories rewritten to make his role in past events appear far greater than it really was. In 1938, he helped write an official history of the Communist Party. Stalin had not played a leading part in the revolution of November 1917 (October by the old Russian calendar), which brought Communism to Russia. V.I. Lenin led this revolution, which is known as the October Revolution, and set up the world's first Communist government. But in his history, Stalin pictured himself as Lenin's chief assistant in the revolution.

Stalin died in 1953. He was honored by having his body placed beside that of Lenin in a huge tomb in Red Square in Moscow. In 1956, Nikita S. Khrushchev strongly criticized Stalin for his terrible crimes against loyal Communists. Later, in 1961, the government renamed many cities, towns, and factories that had been named for Stalin. Stalin's body was taken from the tomb and buried in a simple grave nearby.

Early life

Boyhood and education. Stalin was born on Dec. 21, 1879, in Gori, a town near Tbilisi in Georgia, a mountainous area in what was the southwestern part of the Russian empire. His real name was Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili. In 1913, he adopted the name Stalin from a Russian word that means man of steel.

Little is known about Stalin's early life. His father, Vissarion Ivanovich Djugashvili, was an unsuccessful village shoemaker. He is said to have been a drunkard who was cruel to his young son. Stalin's mother, Ekaterina Gheladze Djugashvili, became a washerwoman to help support the family. The Djugashvilis lived in a small shack. The first three children of the family died shortly after birth, and Stalin grew up as an only child. When Stalin was young, his father left the family and went to nearby Tbilisi to work in a shoe factory. The boy had smallpox when he was 6 or 7, and the disease scarred his face for life.

In 1888, at great sacrifice, Stalin's mother sent him to a little church school in Gori. He spent five years there and was a bright student. He then received a scholarship at the religious seminary in Tbilisi. Stalin entered this school in 1894 to study for the priesthood in the Georgian Orthodox Church. At this time, Stalin became interested in the ideas of Karl Marx, a German social philosopher. The people of Tbilisi knew little of Marx and his theories about revolution. But political exiles from Moscow and St. Petersburg were beginning to bring Marxist pamphlets to Tbilisi and other smaller cities.

Czar Alexander III died in 1894, and his son, Nicholas II, became czar. Alexander had ruled Russia with complete power. He closely controlled the press, restricted education, and forbade student organizations. Nicholas continued his father's policies, and Russia made important economic and social progress. However, it was difficult to solve the country's social problems. The peasants were demanding more land. They could not raise enough food for the country on their small farms, and, at times, millions of people faced starvation. The growing class of factory workers was discontented because of long hours and low wages.

In 1898, Stalin joined a secret Marxist revolutionary group. The Tbilisi seminary, like many Russian schools, was a center for the circulation of forbidden revolutionary ideas. In May 1899, Stalin was expelled for not appearing for an examination. His interest in Marxism probably played a part in his dismissal.

Young revolutionist. After Stalin left the seminary, he got a job as a clerk at the Tbilisi Geophysical Observatory. Within a year, he began his career as an active revolutionist. In 1900, Stalin helped organize a small May Day demonstration near Tbilisi. The demonstration was held to protest working conditions.

In March 1901, the czar's secret police arrested a number of socialists in Tbilisi. The police searched Stalin's room, but he was not there and escaped arrest. He left his job and joined the Marxist revolutionary underground movement that was springing up in Russia.

In September 1901, Stalin began to write for a Georgian Marxist journal called Brdzola (The Struggle). By this time, he had read revolutionary articles written by Lenin. Stalin's first writings closely imitated the views of Lenin, but lacked Lenin's style or force. In November 1901, Stalin was formally accepted into the Russian Social Democratic Labor (Marxist) Party.

Using various false names, Stalin carried on underground activity in the Caucasus Mountains region. He organized strikes among workers in the Batum oil fields. He helped start a Social Democratic group in Batum and set up a secret press there.

In 1902, Stalin was arrested and jailed for his revolutionary activities. In March 1903, the several Social Democratic groups of the Caucasus united to form an All-Caucasian Federation. Although Stalin was in prison, the federation elected him to serve on its governing body. In November 1903, he was transferred from prison and exiled to Siberia. Also in 1903, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, which included many Social Democratic organizations, split into two major groups. Lenin headed the Bolsheviks, who demanded that party membership be limited to a small body of devoted revolutionists. The other group, the Mensheviks, wanted its membership to represent a wider group of people.

Stalin escaped from Siberia in January 1904. He returned to Tbilisi and joined the Bolsheviks. Stalin met Lenin in Finland in 1905. Between 1906 and 1913, Stalin was arrested and exiled a number of times. He spent 7 of the 10 years between 1907 and 1917 in prison or in exile. In 1912, Stalin was suddenly elevated by Lenin into the small but powerful Central Committee of the Bolshevik party.

In 1913, with Lenin's help, Stalin wrote a long article called "The National Question and Social Democracy." Also in 1913, Stalin was arrested and exiled for the last time. Before his arrest, he served briefly as an editor of Pravda (Truth), the Bolshevik party newspaper.

Germany declared war on Russia in 1914 at the beginning of World War I. Stalin was in exile in Siberia, where he remained until 1917.

By the end of 1916, Russia was suffering badly because of the war. Conditions became steadily worse at home. Food shortages in the capital, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), led to riots and strikes. Finally, on March 15, 1917, Czar Nicholas II gave up his throne. A provisional (temporary) government, run mostly by liberals, was formed the next day. The government released Stalin and other Bolsheviks from exile. They returned to Petrograd on March 25. Stalin took over the editorship of Pravda from Vyacheslav Molotov. Lenin became concerned that Stalin did not strongly oppose the provisional government in Pravda. Lenin arrived in Petrograd from exile three weeks later and criticized Stalin for not taking a strong Bolshevik stand. Lenin launched a radical program for overthrowing the provisional government. This action led to the Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1917. The month was October in the old Russian calendar, and the Bolshevik take-over is often called the October Revolution.

Rise to power

The Bolshevik revolution. Stalin played an important, but not vital, part in the revolution. Lenin worked most closely with Leon Trotsky in the Bolshevik take-over of the government. After Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union, he had history books rewritten to say that he had led the revolution with Lenin.

Lenin became head of the new government after the revolution and named Stalin commissar of nationalities. Within a few months, opposition to the new government developed in many parts of the country. Armed uprisings broke out and grew into civil war. Stalin was active on the southern military front. In Stalin's version of history, he repeatedly corrected the mistakes of others. Stalin took credit for a victory at Tsaritsyn, the city later named Stalingrad (now Volgograd). Actually, Stalin's military role there was exaggerated.

During the civil war, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was renamed the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Stalin became one of the five members of the newly formed Politburo (Political Bureau), the policymaking body of the party's Central Committee. In 1922, the Communist Party's Central Committee elected Stalin as its general secretary.

Stalin takes over. The Bolsheviks won the civil war in 1920. They then began to rebuild the war-torn country. At first, Lenin and the others were unaware of Stalin's quiet plotting. But by the end of 1922, Stalin's growing power began to disturb Lenin. Before a series of strokes prevented Lenin from working, he wrote a secret note warning that Stalin must be removed as general secretary. He wrote that Stalin was too "rude" in personal relations and abused the power of his office. Because of his illness, however, Lenin was unable to remove Stalin.

Lenin died in 1924. The leading Bolsheviks finally learned of the secret note warning against Stalin, but they ignored it. They accepted Stalin's promise that he would improve his behavior. Instead, Stalin continued to build his own power. He cleverly used this power to destroy his rivals. In December 1929, the party praised Stalin on his 50th birthday.

Dictator of the Soviet Union

The five-year plan. In 1928, Stalin started the first of the Soviet Union's five-year plans for economic development. The government began to eliminate private businesses. Production of industrial machinery and farm equipment became more important, and production of clothing and household goods was neglected.

In 1929, Stalin began to collectivize Soviet agriculture. He ended private farming and transferred the control of farms, farm equipment, and livestock to the government. But the farmers resisted his order and destroyed about half of the U.S.S.R.'s livestock and much of its produce. As punishment, Stalin sent about a million families into exile. The destruction of livestock and grain caused widespread starvation. The economy moved forward, but at the cost of millions of lives.

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 04:01PM) (new)

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Stalin (continued)

During the 1930's, Stalin adopted a policy of Russification. The minority nationalities in the Soviet Union were subject to increasingly strict control by the government. In 1939, the Soviet Union seized a large part of Poland. In 1940, Soviet troops invaded the Baltic countries -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Stalin tried to destroy the middle classes in these countries. He set up Communist governments and joined them to the Soviet Union.

Rule by terror. Under the czars, the Russian secret police had often arrested revolutionists and sent them into exile without trial. Stalin set up a police system that was far more terrible. Millions of persons were executed or sent to labor camps. Stalin also turned over many industries to the secret police, who forced prisoners to work in them. Fear spread through the U.S.S.R. as neighbors were ordered to spy on one another. The Soviet government broke up families, and it urged children to inform on their parents to the police.

In 1935, Stalin started a purge (elimination) of most of the old Bolsheviks associated with Lenin. During the next few years, he killed anyone who might have threatened his power. He also executed thousands of other Communist Party members, including the chiefs and countless officers of the Soviet army. Stalin achieved his purpose. When he decided to cooperate with the German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1939, there was no one left to oppose his policies. Even when the Soviet Union later suffered terrible military defeats from Hitler's army, no political opposition to Stalin was possible.

After World War II ended in 1945, Lavrenti P. Beria, chief of the secret police, became a leading figure in Stalin's government. Police control grew tighter. The bloody purges went on, but in secret. No one was safe. Even Politburo members and Communist Party leaders were purged and shot in 1949 and 1950. Anti-Semitism, which had been encouraged by Stalin during the 1930's, was now practiced throughout the country.

World War II. By the late 1930's, Adolf Hitler was ready to conquer Europe. Soviet leaders bargained unsuccessfully with the French and the British for a defense agreement against Germany. Then, on Aug. 23, 1939, the U.S.S.R. and Germany suddenly signed a treaty agreeing not to go to war against each other. In a secret part of the treaty, Stalin and Hitler also planned to divide Poland between themselves.

On Sept. 1, 1939, German troops marched into Poland. On September 3, France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. World War II had begun. Germany quickly conquered western Poland, and the Soviet Union seized the eastern part. On September 28, Germany and the U.S.S.R. signed a treaty which set the boundaries for the division of Poland. The Soviet Union invaded Finland on Nov. 30, 1939, and, after a bitter struggle, took a large portion of that country.

By December 1940, Hitler began planning an attack on the U.S.S.R. Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain and President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States told Stalin that their secret agents warned of a coming invasion. But Stalin ignored the warnings, as well as those of his own secret service.

In May 1941, Stalin named himself premier of the Soviet Union. Germany invaded the Soviet Union the next month. In spite of the two extra years that Stalin had to get ready for a war, the country was not prepared. Because of Stalin's purge of the army, the U.S.S.R. lacked experienced officers. The country also lacked up-to-date weapons and equipment. The German army approached Moscow, the capital, in October 1941, and many government officials were moved to Kuybyshev (now Samara). Stalin remained in Moscow to give the Soviet people hope and courage. The army finally beat back German attacks on Moscow in the winter of 1941-1942. Stalin reached the height of his popularity during the war.

In March 1943, Stalin took the military title of Marshal of the Soviet Union. Later in 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met at Teheran, Iran. The "Big Three" agreed that the United States, Great Britain, and the U.S.S.R. would work together until Germany was defeated. The three leaders met again early in 1945 at Yalta in the Crimea to discuss the military occupation of Germany after the war.

The Cold War. After the Allies defeated Germany in 1945, Stalin gradually cut off almost all contact between the U.S.S.R. and the West. Stalin used the Soviet army's presence in Eastern Europe to set up Communist governments in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Churchill said that these countries lay behind the Iron Curtain, a term he used to refer to Soviet barriers against the West. Stalin also tried unsuccessfully to take over Greece, Iran, and Turkey. Many non-Communist nations joined against the Soviet Union and its satellites (countries controlled by the U.S.S.R.) to halt the spread of Communism. This struggle became known as the Cold War.

In June 1945, Germany was divided into four zones, each occupied by American, British, French, or Soviet troops. Berlin, which lay deep in the Soviet zone, was also divided among the four powers. Stalin refused to cooperate in administering Germany, and in 1948, France, Great Britain, and the United States announced plans to combine their zones into the West German Federal Republic (West Germany). To prevent this action, Stalin tried to drive the Allies out of West Berlin by blockading the city. He hoped the blockade would prevent food and supplies from reaching West Berlin. But the Allies set up the Berlin airlift and supplied the city entirely by airplanes for 11 months. Stalin was defeated, and he ended the blockade of Berlin in May 1949. The airlift continued until September 1949.

In 1948, Stalin expelled the Yugoslav Communist party from the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau), an organization of Communist parties in Europe. Josip Broz Tito, the Communist dictator of Yugoslavia, had refused to allow the Soviet Union to run his country. In 1949, Tito declared Yugoslavia's independence of control by Stalin and the Soviet Union.

Stalin's aggressive policies led the West in 1949 to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense organization.

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Stalin supported the Communist North Korean forces that invaded South Korea. Korea had been divided into two parts after World War II. At first, Soviet troops occupied the northern half, and U.S. troops occupied the southern half. Both sides later withdrew their forces. North Korean troops then launched a surprise attack on South Korea to unite the divided country by force. As a result, U.S. troops were sent back to Korea. The war ended a few months after Stalin's death.

Death. Early in 1953, Stalin prepared to replace the top men in the Soviet government. Apparently he was planning another great purge. Then, on March 4, 1953, the Central Committee of the Communist Party announced that Stalin had suffered a brain hemorrhage on March 1. Stalin died in Moscow on March 5, 1953.

Stalinism. Even after Stalin's death, many Communist governments continued to use his style of rule, which became known as Stalinism. Stalinist governments eliminate all opposition by employing terrorism--that is, by threatening or using violence to create widespread fear. These governments maintain total control of the media for propaganda and force economic production without considering market conditions or the needs of workers.

Stalinism thrived in countries behind the Iron Curtain until Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Outside Europe, Mao Zedong set up a Stalinist government in China in 1949. Ho Chi Minh established a Stalinist dictatorship in North Vietnam in 1954, and Kim Il Sung introduced hard-line Stalinist rule in North Korea in 1948. Under Fidel Castro, a government with many characteristics of Stalinism came to power in Cuba in 1959.

Sources for material include the following:

SOURCE: IBM 1999 World Book
Contributor: Albert Marrin, Ph.D., Chairman, Department of History, Yeshiva College.

Additional resources

Boffa, Guiseppe. The Stalin Phenomenon. Cornell Univ. Pr., 1992.

Tucker, Robert C. Stalin in Power. Norton, 1990.

Ulam, Adam B. Stalin. 1973. Reprint. Beacon Pr., 1989.

Whitelaw, Nancy. Josef Stalin. Dillon Pr., 1992. Younger readers.

Copyright (1998 - 2003): Concord Learning Systems, Concord, NC. All rights reserved.

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod


message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 04:13PM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
For both Truman and Eisenhower, within the Presidential Series folder that I have set up; there is a tremendous amount of information already in the threads dedicated to both presidents.

Here are the links to those threads:

#33 (US) HARRY S. TRUMAN (PRESIDENT) 1945 - 1953


message 17: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
For Winston Churchill, within the British History folder that I have set up, there is a thread dedicated to Churchill that already has a tremendous amount of information already.

Here is the link below:

Winston Churchill

message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 07:20PM) (new)

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I have to say something about Winston Churchill; he did not mince words about Stalin and had warned FDR and other allies and he was right. He was right at the time and he was right after the war. I think that FDR fancied himself quite the negotiator and the person who could bring Stalin around. And in fact maybe he was that person; but after his premature passing; it is also a fact that Stalin seemed to get away with more than Iraq for example got away with; in fact he rolled over half of Europe. It is so odd looking at history and wondering why the inconsistencies in our policies. Why was a dictator allowed to sweep through Europe undeterred and other dictators were frowned upon when they ventured just next door. Hard to understand in retrospect why Stalin was allowed to bulldoze half of Europe; was it because we had all lost the fortitude to fight someone who had been an on again - off again ally. You have to remember that he had first signed an alliance with Hitler before he became an ally to the US and Britain. So in reading Chapter Seven and the author telling us how the US was so earnest about stopping or rolling back the Russians; I have to question that sense of urgency frankly. I am not sure what others think but I would love to hear the various points of view. It would be wonderful if there are folks who remember these times to give us a first hand account of why Stalin and Stalinism were allowed to strangle Europe.

Had the US placed all of its marbles in the CIA basket thinking that they were lining up opposition in all of these countries which proved a very false illusion? Was that the sum total of the allies response and I have to include Britain in this as well.

message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 09:29PM) (new)

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Mohammad Mosaddegh

Mohammad Mosaddegh or Mosaddeq (Persian: محمد مصدّق, IPA: [mohæmˈmæd(-e) mosædˈdeɣ] ( listen)*), also Mossadegh, Mossadeq, Mosadeck, or Musaddiq (19 May 1882 – 5 March 1967), was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953 when he was overthrown in a coup d'état backed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

From a royal and aristocratic background, Mosaddegh was an author, administrator, lawyer, prominent parliamentarian, and politician. During his time as prime minister, a wide range of progressive social reforms were carried out.

Unemployment compensation was introduced, factory owners were ordered to pay benefits to sick and injured workers, and peasants were freed from forced labor in their landlords' estates. Twenty percent of the money landlords received in rent was placed in a fund to pay for development projects such as public baths, rural housing, and pest control.

He is most famous as the architect of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) (later British Petroleum or BP).

The Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. was controlled by the British government. Mosaddegh was removed from power in a coup on 19 August 1953, organised and carried out by the United States CIA at the request of the British MI6 which chose Iranian General Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Mosaddegh.

The CIA called the coup Operation Ajax after its CIA cryptonym, and as the 28 Mordad 1332 coup in Iran, after its date on the Iranian calendar. Mosaddegh was imprisoned for three years, then put under house arrest until his death.

Remainder of Wikipedia article:

How did folks feel when reading Chapter Nine and when you learned that this was considered a triumph by the CIA? Do you feel that this should be considered a success or a long term failure? What are your thoughts when reading this chapter? How do you feel about regime change being a basic tenet of the CIA as part of its covert operations? Does anybody know if regime change is still considered a part of their program?

message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 18, 2011 10:54PM) (new)

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These are some of the readers' guide discussion questions which possibly we can begin to tackle though I would like to come back to them as we move through the 50 odd chapters; we really are at the beginning of this book so our feelings will, I hope, evolve.

1. Why has the CIA been such an historically problematic -- or worse, counterproductive -- governmental agency?

Note: If you feel differently than the individual who developed this question and you feel that the CIA has been historically productive, please feel free to explain those views.

2. What are the chances these problems can ever be effectively corrected?

message 21: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "I have to say something about Winston Churchill; he did not mince words about Stalin and had warned FDR and other allies and he was right. He was right at the time and he was right after the war. ..."

Here are just a couple thoughts on how Stalin took Eastern Europe issue. He took the territory during WWII and I think the time we switched from war ally to enemy, Stalin used that time to set up Communist governments. I think after such a hard war, the U.S. was not ready to commit another war against Russia in 1945-1946. This also gave Stalin some room to consolidate and expand his power in the East.

message 22: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Bryan, what you say is so true for what was agreed to at Yalta; hard to believe that Churchill (who really disliked and did not trust Stalin) and FDR (although ill by then) would go along with such a division; but some of the Communist governments were not set up overnight.

And what happened afterwards was probably the result of the US not being ready to commit to another war with Russia.

But why did they agree to such a plan in the first place? Was it because Stalin already had his troops in these locations?

message 23: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig I think it was because Stalin had troops there already.

I was struck by the author's account of Churchill at the end of his political life; it was pretty negative: "old man, out of touch, imperial thinking" kind of message.

message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 19, 2011 08:19AM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Yes, I agree except about Churchill to a point.

Having read so much about the man; I sort of made up my own mind about him already; but I guess at the end of anybody's life who is 90 years old; one could call them impolitely "old man"; but I think that he was affectionately called that by his colleagues and everybody knew exactly who was "showing up".

Not sure that I would say though that he was out of touch until possibly the very end; imperial thinking - maybe when it came to India. But he loved his country; its past (with its imperial glory of course) and its future - whatever that might be.

And without the "old man" who had become ill prior to his death at age 90; maybe out of touch then and his love of his country - Britain and even yes, what was once the British Empire; Britain may not have existed as we know it.

I never said the author was a kind relater of the situation as he saw it or the people in it (smile).

message 25: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Bentley wrote: "Yes, I agree except about Churchill to a point.

Having read so much about the man; I sort of made up my own mind about him already; but I guess at the end of anybody's life who is 90 years old; o..."

Thanks for your input, Bentley, I knew you read a lot on the man. I was surprised by the author's slant on him.

message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
I think the slant is consistent throughout the book; nobody is exempt. It is an unvarnished and unembellished - in your face account which does not take any prisoners (smile) even one of my heroes.

message 27: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig 1. Why has the CIA been such an historically problematic -- or worse, counterproductive -- governmental agency?

2. What are the chances these problems can ever be effectively corrected?

1. I think we touched on some of it. The CIA had a fuzzy mission, which we know any organization falters if they do not have a clear mission statement. We have bad leadership from the senior level including director, no oversight, and lack of superior personnel. They also started some bad organizational behavior with turf wars, lack of vetting plans, keeping things secret possibly from within the organization, and no comprehensive reviews.

2. I think they can be corrected, but with any organization, it would be slow.

message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Great input Bryan, thank you.

message 29: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) I think misguided hiring and nepotism is part of the problem in the beginning. They hired their friends into leadership positions without regard to any relevant background (which was a bit of a chicken and egg problem), and seemed to hire people out of the ivory tower simply because it was assumed they were smart and would figure it out, without any regard to even if they studied anything relevant at all - culture, language, foreign governments, nada. If that is the framework you operate with then it seems to me no matter how many people you hire if you are hiring the wrong ones the problems will perpetuate and not have the right kind of intellectual horsepower to solve the problems they faced.

I agree that turning it around, with this sort of foundation in place, would occur very slowly. I also think the more ingrained the political influences become the harder it is to make wholesale change.

message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Yes Alisa some very good points; and the CIA's penchant and need for secrecy does not help one get input to improve things.

message 31: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) I think it is also important to keep in mind what sort of change we are talking about here. Change is always easier when there is consistent buy-in and direction from the top, and that rotation is bound to be influenced by politics and chnage in the White House and Congress. The rank and file, i.e. those who execute on missions and are "in the trenches" where it is analytics or field operations, are not going to change on their own, they have no impetus for doing so. Stated another way, the rank and file is not going to suddenly become more effective without stronger leadership.

message 32: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Very true and I have no idea whether you read the Ackerman article; but it seems to me that the leaders are the worst offenders at asking the organization to do things that they are not geared to do. Talk about a disconnect.

message 33: by Rodney (new)

Rodney | 83 comments 2. What are the chances these problems can ever be effectively corrected?

I'm very pessimistic on this being possible. I feel it would take a unified front by both political parties, something that our system does not easily allow. I almost envision the CIA like a large bloated company that would take radical intervention to effectively correct.

My impression would be the CIA over the last twenty years has been moved around due to political direction. There was a period where technology and satellites were stressed instead of human sources, now we are back to wanting human intel again. Till there is more political consensus, the organization may just falter back and forth trying to respond.

message 34: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 19, 2011 03:22PM) (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Rodney, very interesting post.

I do worry about secret organizations and the potential threat that they may be to our own government and to our Constitution and then you have to ask yourself how much does Congress know or some presidents. It could be worrisome if it is not brought under control with clear, managing principles and direction. Someone has to rein in the freelancing and the maverick nature of the organization.

message 35: by Vheissu (last edited Jan 20, 2011 02:48PM) (new)

Vheissu | 118 comments
Bentley asked, "But why did they agree to such a plan in the first place? Was it because Stalin already had his troops in these locations?"

Virtually all of the countries occupied by the Red Army at the end of World War II were areas of historical importance to the Russian Empire. Russia had vital interests in the Baltics, central Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Black Sea (Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria) and Caspian Sea basins (Iran, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan) for 300 years or more.

The United States, by contrast, had never had any economic or military interests in those regions. American intrusion into Greece, Turkey, and Iran, and America's newly found commitment to Poland, must have seemed odd if not downright threatening to Moscow. It would be as though the Soviets tried to establish a base in an area of traditional American domination, like Cuba, for example. We can only imagine how the Americans would respond to a Soviet move into Cuba. (Oh, wait, we know how the Americans would react, which was not well.)

George Kennan's notions of "containment" argued that the Russians would be content to claim these vital areas and would not risk war in order to break out into new areas of influence. The invasion of South Korea in June 1950 discredited Kennan's version of "containment" and replaced it with NSC-68 and Paul Nitze's version of "containment," in which the whole world was now a battlefield.

message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44328 comments Mod
Thank you Vheissu; an excellent explanation and I guess we do remember the Bay of Pigs incident.

message 37: by Karol (new)

Karol The discussion here has been more interesting to me than the book itself – thanks to all who have contributed! I’m wondering – but please don’t answer (no spoilers) – if all this book will be is a laundry list of every failed mission of the CIA!

To answer one of the questions above, I do see the regime change in Iran as a failure. Although what the CIA hoped to accomplish was in fact done, it was through no fault of their own. I also feel it was the incorrect policy at the time - and something that has left its marks through the decades. When reading that chapter, it is easy to see why people in Iran and other middle eastern countries could resent the U.S. It seems we were basically meddling where we did not belong.

message 38: by Vheissu (new)

Vheissu | 118 comments I think that's a fair description of the Iranian matter, Kay. The British weren't so lucky; the Shah did not return Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. to the English!

message 39: by Karol (new)

Karol Vheissu wrote: "I think that's a fair description of the Iranian matter, Kay. The British weren't so lucky; the Shah did not return Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. to the English!"

Interesting point, Vheissu - thanks.

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