How Stuff Works: Cold Wars

What was the US actually doing during the "cold war"

One of the most misleading terms in the English language is the term “Cold War.” In the US, it was falsely portrayed as a global chess game between two equivalent powers (the US and the USSR) where the US was on the side of “Good” and the USSR was on the side of “evil.” Unfortunately, the cold war rhetoric followed by decades of propaganda has “dumbed” the population down that they don’t understand that it is being re-heated.

To understand the cold-war, we need to understand colonialism. As we have mentioned in our previous articles, colonialism works by turning a country into an extraction factory.

We have many examples: The British went to India and deindustrialized it. India was forced to grow: tea, opium and cotton. These raw materials were shipped to England, where they built factories (sometimes from industrial parts looted directly from India). Because of the alleged “free market”, goods that need a factory to produce are always called “value-added” goods and they are marked up at a premium. After Indians were forbidden to manufacture their own industrial-scale cloth, the British brought these manufactured goods back and sold it at an enormous profit.

Even after the formal end of colonialism, in order to break this cycle, a country must produce their own goods or else the cycle will continue despite being dejure “independent.” After World War II, many countries became “dejure” independent, but they were defacto colonized because their economy still preserved this essential colonial relationship with a few extra caveats. Namely, there was an institution called the IMF set-up in order to calculate the trade relationships between these countries.

During the process of “decolonialization”, many countries realized that they needed to stop the exploitative relationship with the colonial countries by manufacturing their own goods.

Some countries such as India, China and Cuba were able to successfully manufacture their own goods. If a country manufactured its own goods, there were two “problems”: it would cut into the previous profits of the colonial industries and because these colonies were deliberately impoverished the relative price of manufacturing the goods was lower simply because a poorer population is able to sustain lower wages.

Notice that the United States loved these low wages when they owned the factories. In Cuba, for example, in 1951, the State Department accused Cuban labor unions of being greedy for demanding that workers be paid $2.00 a day and that it was unsustainable.

After the revolution, these same people were accusing Fidel Castro of “slave labor” for actually increasing the wages (and providing price controls so that people’s salaries could buy them basic necessities.

Cuba was accused of “dumping” in 1960, even though post-revolution, the salaries of these factory workers increased magnificently.

During the cold war, when many countries became “communist”, many US corporations could no longer engage in the cycle of colonial exploitation and this is where actual “war” part came into effect.

In Cuba, the CIA used exiles in order to sabotage industry in order to stop Cuba from trading with other countries for essentials such as food, industrial parts and medicine.

Another act of industrial sabotage in 1961

Once again, industrial sabotage

While the US government had initially denied that they were behind these acts of industrial sabotage, later, declassified memos proved otherwise. The CIA planned, funded and helped execute these acts of industrial sabotage in order to merely protect the profits of US industry.

While the rhetoric of free market are sold to the unsuspecting American public, it seems that American industry cannot actually compete when there is a level playing field. Now, they are crying foul with regards to the Belt and Road initiative and China.

For example, the CFR has literally admitted that China is not coercing the countries into entering into the Belt and Road initiative, but that will not stop the American press from wildly speculating about how the US stands for “freedom.” in this new cold war.