David Talbot is a noted journalist, the founder of independent news source Salon.com, and that author of “Brothers”, an insightful biography of John and Robert Kennedy. “The Devil’s Chessboard” is a crowning achievement, a dark and troubling history of America’s post-World War II subtle and insidious turn away from Democracy and the concept of one man/one vote to a secretive and deadly environment of manipulations and assassinations that became the Cold War, and perhaps even more.
“The Devil’s Chessboard” is basically a biography of Allen Dulles. With his brother, John Foster, the Dulles brothers achieved positions of great responsibility in the post-World War II government, and were instrumental in directing the focus of America’s foreign policy away from any and all peaceful pursuits. The brothers began their rise to power prior to WWII, running a legal firm that helped American companies deal with the growing Fascist movements in Germany and Italy, and vice versa. When the war broke out, Allen actually opened an office in Switzerland and the brothers enjoyed huge financial and political rewards for laundering assets seized by the Nazis, and discreetly finding buyers for the vast treasures seized by the Axis forces. As the war wound down, Allen was particularly effective in helping a number of his contacts, Nazi officials responsible for the Holocaust and many other atrocities, to escape prosecution and find post-war employment in positions of responsibility throughout Europe and yes, in the US. Had FDR lived to see the end of the war, it is highly likely that Allen Dulles would have been charged with treason as he worked to shield his Nazi friends from prosecution.
President Truman realized he was in over his head as the Soviet Union and China emerged from WWII as world powers, and he allowed the Dulles brothers, along with a number of other anti-Communist ideologues, to orchestrate a great East vs. West struggle that would become the Cold War. It was their life’s work to eradicate Communism and to fight it to the death wherever it might be suspected, much less found. John Foster Dulles became President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, and Allen became head of the new Central Intelligence Agency soon after President Truman created it from the old OSS.
Allen Dulles delighted in mixing with the rich and powerful, dressing extravagantly, playing with the ladies, and conducting the risky undercover business of international espionage. He was highly respected for his clandestine abilities and daring, but he was also feared. He seemed to find mortal enemies everywhere under the category of Communism, but he swore no real allegiance to any country, political party, or government. Dulles was a technician, a zealot focused on international destruction of an ideology he abhorred, and his attentions changed regularly. He organized the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran, and the youthful and charismatic Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, and he played a key part in organizing an unsuccessful coup attempt by the French military against their President Charles DeGaulle. The CIA was deeply involved in the overthrow and assassination of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, a campaign that was directly opposed to the wishes of President Kennedy. Dulles recognized no limits to his mission to safeguard America’s national security. He allowed the CIA to create a vast scientific study into “deprogramming” and “mind control” that might be used to extract information from supposed Soviet agents, but the experiments were performed upon unwitting American GI’s and prisoners, with no accountability for the results.
Left to his own devices, Allen Dulles built the CIA into an all-powerful, super-secret foreign policy band of rogue agents who created and administered America’s foreign policy with scant regard for the official business portrayed in the evening news. He maintained surveillance upon every member of the government, and employed any and all tactics to intimidate them into leaving our country’s foreign relations to his lawless gang. When Fidel Castro’s rebel army took over Cuba from the corrupt Batista regime, they nationalized a number of American companies and closed a chain of very successful casinos and resorts run by the American mafia. Allen Dulles quickly recruited the mob to help with his plans to remove Castro, and President Eisenhower allowed him to form, train and equip a small army of Cuban refugees to invade Cuba and remove the pro-Communist presence from the Caribbean. When President Kennedy was elected, he allowed the CIA and Joint Chiefs of Staff to continue planning the invasion, but refused to allow any American air cover or boots-on-the-ground military involvement. The Bay of Pigs invasion was a disaster, and Kennedy soon recognized that the CIA’s bold strategy had been intended to force him to yield and allow air support when things began to go bad. No one had expected Kennedy to resist, and Dulles and many of his cohorts labelled the new President a Communist. JFK resisted their urgent pleas to nuke Havana, then Laos, Berlin, Peking, and even Moscow. Ultimately, the President fired Allen Dulles and his top lieutenants from the CIA, but Dulles maintained a powerful group of associates, friends, and dedicated anti-Communists. Things were heating up in Southeast Asia, especially as the CIA became involved in refining and transporting opium and heroin to the world’s markets.
Soon after Kennedy broke with all Cold War precedents and announced that the US would seek to avoid nuclear war with the Soviet Union by undertaking a new peaceful policy aimed at disarmament and cooperation at a key speech at American University, he was assassinated. Like many other historians and scholars, author David Talbot feels strongly that Allen Dulles was uniquely positioned and experienced to orchestrate that tragedy, and also the later assassination of the President’s brother Bobby.
“The Devil’s Chessboard” is a frightening and amazing book, extremely well-written and accessible. The reader comes away feeling shocked that so much evil, manipulation, disinformation, ideological murder and mayhem, international intrigue, and raw treachery could be done by an insider working within the US government, in fact bringing us to the very brink of nuclear war. How did the CIA seize so much power and control, defy the elected structure of that government, or avoid prosecution for unimaginable crimes? And, assuming just a portion of the stories in this well-documented book are true, what does that say about the true nature of our Democracy? Clearly, America’s prestige has been severely damaged by the history of our foreign policies since World War II, and clearly some of the most terrifying architects of those policies are influencing the current election-year debates that have America divided and Americans feeling desperate. “The Devil’s Chessboard” is well-written, entertaining, a disturbing but most informative book, and highly recommended.
My Rav taught me early on that this Chag teaches the k’vanna of lighting the lights as a dedication not to assimilate or intermarry with Goyim; the most basic interpretation of the commandment from Sinai not to worship other Gods. Practically and intellectually meaning, the basis of study of the Torah … limit all interpretations of the T’NaCH to the Oral Torah logic system. Do not permit the “Dark Side of the Force” – a reference to alien Greek logic formats develooped by Plato and Aristotle – to seduce you away from this Oral Torah dedication and commitment.
Bunk on the assimilated Reform “Tikun Olam תיקון עולם. As if these ignorant uneducated fools assume that they possess the wisdom to repair the Planet. Idiots like these fools chase after the opinions of a 13-year-old girl and believe the worthless hype known as “Climate Change”.
Monotheism violates the 2nd Sinai commandment. Islam avoda zarah – strict Monotheists. Yet their koran never once brings the Name of HaShem of the first Sinai commandment. They duplicate the sin of the golden calf committed by Aaron. They translated the Name (this living Spirit breathed into Man cause clay to become living life) to a word Allah, just as Aaron’s golden calf translated the Name unto the word אלהים. The Gospel of John likewise pervert Spirit into word… the definition of the 2nd Sinai commandment.
Israel has a brit with HaShem. Brit does not translate into covenant, as found in the new testament and koran. Brit means “alliance”. As in the alliance sworn by the 12 Tribes of Yaacov to form the Republic of Israel. The American “Republic” split in the Civil War over the issue whether States had the right to join or leave the Union of the Republic. Lincoln viewed the States as being on par with counties within a State. The States Rights proponents of the Confederacy argued that Jefferson understood that States had the freedom to both join the Union or leave the Union.
Its an interesting parallel. Based upon the Southern States Rights advocates “Freedom”, a concept equally associated with Hanukkah, defined as States internal domestic economic freedom from over-site from Carpet bagger Federal bureaucrats sent to sniff the butts of the States of the Union. The Commerce Clause mandates power to the Federal Government to regulate Inter-State trade but not Intra-State trade. Post-Civil War the victorious ”Damned Yankees” sought to change the American experiment away from a Republic unto a Democracy.
The Hanukkah war against the Syrian Greeks, the latter sought to pervert Jerusalem into a Greek polis City State. The assimilated 1% Tzeddukim supported the Banana Republic status that the Persians, and later Greeks imposed upon conquered Judea. These empires used this 1% to manage the Judean territories for the benefit of the Empire ie a Banana Republic. The P’rushim rejected the Kapo Tzeddukim assimilated Cohonim, just as did the Confederate States rejected Lincolns perversion of Jeffersonian democracy. And post-Civil War Confederate States dismissively referred to Federal bureaucrats sent to regulate intra-State trade and commerce as ‘Carpet Baggers’.