The “Cold War” Was Not Very Cold!!
This week continues the captivating story of our friend and Bay resident, Doug Abernethy, centering on the time he served with the U.S. Special Forces in the years 1958-1962. Last week’s column related the story of Doug’s participation with two Special forces platoons that by lethal force kept some fifty Iranian militants from killing President Eisenhower on Ike’s goodwill visit to Tehran in December, 1959. This week sets the scene for the many dangerous assignments in Africa and Vietnam undertaken by Doug and his and other Special Forces units. But first, a little background is needed to better understand why the U. S. – and Doug – were involved with so many unconventional wartime operations at that time and in all corners of the globe.
Shortly after the end of War II another force of evil bent on world domination arose, threatening the freedom of peoples on every continent and on every island. This powerful subversive force was International Communism as marshaled by the Soviet Union (USSR) led by their ruthless dictator Joseph Stalin and his Politburo and teamed with the new (1946) nation of Communist China under the murderous dictatorship of Mao Tse Tung and his Red Army. Many nations throughout the globe – already weakened by the horrors of War World II, were easily subverted by the fully supported communists insurgents and their sympathizers. Also, many third world countries were similarity vulnerable as the European colonial empires of Britain, France, Belgium, and others – lost, with little resistance, their hold on their colonies to well financed and equipped communist forces of “liberation.” Another area of severe upheaval after WWII was the Ottoman Empire, the age old power in the Mideast and an ally of Hitler’s third Reich, which was dismantled after the war leaving a vast number of countries adrift in political vacuums, a gap to be filled by the many aggressive cadres of communist insurgents.
The decade of 1950’s clearly established that International Communism was waging a winning battle over the democracies of the world as nation after nation fell into their camp. The increasing success of a combination of homegrown communist revolutionaries and the supply of arms, money, and military by USSR and China, painted a grim picture for the Free World and its most important player – the United States! Much of the Free World, exhausted from the chaos of WWII, left only the U.S. – without the need after the war to rebuild its towns, cities, and industries – with the wherewithal to make a meaningful stand against the encroaching Communist menace.
The U.S. had stood its ground against the Chinese and Soviet powers in Korea in the early 1950’s, ending in a stalemate in 1953. This costly struggle, however, was only one of many battles waged against the Communists following WWII. The ravenous Red Menace was everywhere – hell-bent on destroying Democracy and replacing it with totalitarian communistic dictatorships. They were in Cuba, South America, the Mideast, Europe, Africa, and all parts of Asia; they were highly motivated, and well equipped, trained, financed and armed – and all this either by the direct or delegated command of the two Communist leviathans, USSR and Red China.
The U.S. was once again in another war for survival but this war was unlike any previous ones: this new war had hundreds of battle fronts on every continent. This new war was against a vast variety of people, enemies wearing uniforms ranging from loin clothes, to khaki, and to everyday civilian wear. It was a guerilla war waged with sabotage, booby traps, land mines, and ambushes. It was fought in jungles, villages, rice paddies, rivers, deserts, and mountains.
Next week, the story of Doug Abernethy and the U.S. Special Forces in their role of battling communist insurgents continues, giving detail to the unique nature of the Cold War featuring the tactics of stealth and disruption, and of raids to destroy and disrupt enemy communication sites and supply routes all within the hostile territories.