- Editor’s Note
This issue begins with an article by Rory Cormac discussing the formative years of British covert operations during the Cold War. Cormac explains how British intelligence officials launched a program of political warfare against the Soviet bloc in the late 1940s. The body known as the Official Committee on Communism (Overseas), or AC(O), became the focal point of British covert programs through late 1950. Having been chastened by the spectacular failure of efforts to provide weapons to anti-Communist guerrillas in Albania, British officials shifted to a less grandiose agenda for AC(O) and its supporting agencies. Cormac argues that British governments adopted a “pinprick” strategy that would keep Soviet-bloc governments off balance but would not seek to overthrow them. Cormac concludes that the AC(O) lent greater coherence to British covert programs and helped to weed out schemes that stood very little chance of success. Eventually, however, as British political warfare became closely integrated with U.S. programs, the role of AC(O) became superfluous.
The next article, by Andrei Kozovoi, explores how young people in the Soviet Union responded to the Cuban missile crisis, the single most dangerous standoff the world has ever known. Drawing on declassified records of the official Communist Youth League (Komsomol), Kozovoi considers how Komsomol activists tried to ensure that young people came to embrace the official line of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) regarding the crisis. Komsomol personnel disseminated slogans, published relevant items, and held meetings and group discussions to understand events relating to the standoff. Although the Komsomol campaigns did have an impact, it was not as powerful or as lasting as some Komsomol representatives implied. For one thing, the meetings generally revealed that young people were not as alarmed about the prospect of nuclear war as the CPSU thought they should be. Moreover, relatively few young people had much interest in Cuba or wanted to divert Soviet resources to the distant island. The mixed record of the campaigns dealing with the Cuban missile crisis indicate that in the post-1953 era, without the draconian controls extant under Iosif Stalin, the Komsomol had a more difficult task of ensuring loyalty and ideological conformity among Soviet youth.
The next article, by Kostis Karpozilos, considers the fate of Greek Communist (KKE) fighters after they were defeated in the Greek Civil War. By late 1949 thousands of fighters in the KKE’s Democratic Army of Greece (DAG) [End Page 1] and many other KKE personnel were barred from returning to Greece and had to find a country in which they could take refugee. All told, some 100,000 KKE members and affiliates were forced into exile. The Soviet Union agreed to accommodate 10,000 DAG combat personnel but without providing them the status of “political refugees.” Instead, the 10,000 DAG fighters lived as “stateless persons” for several years and were resettled in Soviet Uzbekistan, where they resided for more than thirty years. The Uzbek capital, Tashkent, became the hub of Greek Communist life and also became a battleground, literally, when rival KKE factions clashed. Karpozilos shows how changing circumstances and the passage of time engendered shifts in the Greek Communists’ ideological militancy and underlying goals, particularly during the de-Stalinization and upheavals of 1956.
The next article, by Yukinori Komine, looks at the military buildup undertaken by Japan in the 1970s in response to the changing orientation of U.S. foreign policy as the administration of Richard M. Nixon sought to curtail U.S. military deployments in East Asia in the closing years of the Vietnam War. The so-called Nixon Doctrine set forth the U.S. government’s desire to have allied countries take on greater responsibility for regional security. Komine considers U.S. and Japanese perspectives in the 1970s on the route Japan should take. He shows that the Nixon Doctrine resulted in the first meaningful debate in Japan about defense policy since the end of the Second World War. Japanese leaders acted with both anticipation and caution, hoping to develop a more viable defense posture without giving undue cause for alarm to neighboring states. The debate in Japan necessarily led to questions about...