DECLASSIFIED: organized political warfare

IN 2007, when the Central Intelligence Agency – CIA – released declassified files known as the ‘Family Jewels’, the 693 pages, were mostly drawn from the memories of active CIA officers in 1973 on assassination plots, secret drug testing and spying on Americans. It attracted the media spotlight, it was details from two decades of some of its most infamous and illegal operations. However, accompanying that release, and getting less publicity were an additional over 11,000 pages of declassified material, the product of the agency’s analytical branch comprising of documents from the CAESAR, ESAU, and POLO series.

These reports represented the CIA’s efforts from the 1950s to pursue in-depth research on Soviet and Chinese internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations. There were 147 documents in this collection representing the attempt to understand their Cold War opponents. They were the product of men successful in the intelligence career and of some academic achievement engaged to wage “organized political warfare”.

Assigning a few analysts in the Office of Current Intelligence in CIA’S Directorate of Intelligence to establish Project CAESAR in 1952 represented its first in-depth research endeavour.

 Sino-Soviet Studies Group

In September 1956, Ray S. Cline, then-Director of Office of Current Intelligence, decided to establish a small new research staff designated as the Sino-Soviet Studies Group (SSSG). Ray S. Cline’s agency career included service in covert operations overseas, notably as a station chief in Taiwan from 1958 to 1962 — his official title was chief, United States Naval Auxiliary Communications Center — and from 1966 to 1969 as chief of station in Bonn. He believed passionately in the cause of the Chinese Nationalists, and in retirement served as head of the Taiwan Committee for a Free China.

The Sino-Soviet Studies Group he authorised was to continue the CAESAR project while initiating two new research endeavours: POLO, instituted in 1956 to study the Chinese Communist hierarchy, and ESAU, launched in 1959 to examine the Sino-Soviet relationship. They should always be read with a scepticism especially where the research resembles little more than speculation. The politics of such work demands the elasticity of qualification and the vague assertion that employs possibility rather than certainty. But overall the impression is creating the substance of a conclusion. As chief of the agency’s staff on the Sino-Soviet bloc from 1953 to 1957, Cline’s team of analysts accurately predicted that Beijing and Moscow would go their separate ways. In his judgement;

This staff [Office of Current Intelligence’s the Sino-Soviet Studies Group] compiled the data that permitted CIA to lead the way-against furious opposition elsewhere-in charting the strategic conflict between Soviet and Chinese styles of dictatorship and doctrine that was basic to the definitive split in 1960.”

Ray S. Cline, Secrets, Spies, and Scholars: Blueprint of the Essential CIA
(Washington, DC. Acropolis Books, 1976). p. 151.

The “furious opposition” was the dominant (erroneous) judgements of CIA’s counter intelligence head, James Angleton convinced of the opinions of Soviet defector, Anatoly Golitzyn. Golitsyn was a Russian KGB Major who defected from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961. It wasn’t until 1984 with the publication of his first book, New Lies for Old, that Anatoliy Golitsyn became known to the public. He told Angleton that the public disagreement between the Soviet Union and China, and any liberalization of the Soviet Bloc were a strategic deception, part of a KGB masterplan.
There was an equally disturbing paradigm with regards to China that was held by critics of US foreign policy; it suggested a “friendly attitude towards Communism on the part of many prominent officials in the Roosevelt-Truman administrations” had contributed to the coming of power of Mao Zedong. [SEE: Antony Kubek, How the Far East Was Lost: American Policy and the Creation of Communist China, 1941-1949 (London: Intercontex Publishers 1971)] That erupted in McCarthyism, the anticommunist witch hunt of the late 1940s and 1950s in the US, with dire consequences as many were stigmatized and attacked by their political enemies as ‘subversive’ and ‘Un-American’ whether actual communists or not, thereby effectively removed from public discourse.

The research-based rebuttal of Golitsyn’s views was recalled (and celebrated) in fellow spook, Harold P. Ford’s study “The CIA and Double-Demonology: Calling the Sino-Soviet Split”. The staff analysts had provided evidence of the reality of Sino-Soviet dispute against “furious” opposition elsewhere in CIA and the intelligence community and despite great scepticism among policymakers. As early as 1953, Bingham, Cohen and Leonard Jaffe had signalled latent tension in the relations between the Soviet and Chinese leadership, underlining the divergent regarding theoretical matters.

That report was later placed in the public domain in the form of an amended article years later under the title, Mao’s Road and Sino-Soviet Relations: A view from Washington, 1953. [China Quarterly Oct-Dec 1972: 670-698.]

This research effort was led by Walter P. (Bud) Southard, a senior intelligence officer who had had unique experience stationed in China 1945-1948 as a naval intelligence officer dealing with senior Chinese Communist liaison.

In its first years, the staff was quite small, comprising three or four senior specialists on China and the Soviet Union. While Southard, was the acting coordinator of the group, Philip L. Bridgham developed the Chinese positions and Donald S. Zagoria, before his entry into a successful academic career, developed the Soviet positions.

After 1961, the core group became Southard, Bridgham, Harry Gelman, who moved on to Senior Staff Member at The Rand Corporation, and Arthur A. Cohen.

Each paper would acknowledge the group input and solicit “written or oral comment”: The writer, Philip L. Bridgham, has had the benefit of an intensive review of his paper by two of his colleagues Arthur A. Cohen and Charles F. Steffens, and of discussions with them and with several other colleagues.

Walter P. Southard (1920-1999)

Born February 18, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio, after graduating from Kenyon College (Garbier, Ohio) Bud enlisted in the Navy and was sent to the Navy Language School in Boulder, Colorado. He then served in the Aleutians and in China.
In 1948 Bud joined the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked for 30 years as a political analyst on problems associated with Sino-Soviet relations and the Chinese Communist Party. His work was so highly regarded that in work on US – China relations he was referred to as “the legendary analyst.”

 Harry Gelman

Author of The Conflict_a survey Problems of Communism (March-April 1963). He was described as “an American student of Indian affairs” Gelman had his study, “The Indian CP Between Moscow and Peking” published in Problems of Communism (November-December 1962),“Indian Communism in Turmoil” (May-June 1963) and
Mao and the permanent purge (November 1966). There was a return to its pages with “Outlook for Sino-Soviet Relations” (September 1979) and a change in focus with “The Rise and fall of détente “(March 1985). Other Soviet titles included Brezhnev Politburo and the Decline of Detente (1984), East Europe and Soviet leadership contention: Implications for the West (The EAI papers)1985 and Gorbachev’s Policies Toward Western Europe: a Balance Sheet : Executive Summary (A Project Air Force report) 1987.


 Arthur Cohen

Cohen contributed to What is Maoism? A Symposium (Problems of Communism, September 1966)  that saw him opposing Stuart Schram’s views. Cohen‘s ‘HOW ORGINAL IS Maoism had appeared in Problems of Communism Nov-Dec 1961 a propaganda journal published throughout the Cold War published by the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C. from 1952 to 1992.Its author was studying at Stanford University, on leave from his day job as in-house CIA intellectual contributing intelligence staff studies and briefing papers produced by the China Division of the Sino-Soviet Bloc Area. Arthur Cohen, promoted co-ordinator of the Sino-Soviet Studies Group, went on to publish his 210 paged study, The Communism of Mao Tse-Tung with Chicago University Press in 1964.
Philip L. Bridgham (1921-2003)

a member of the Sino-Soviet Studies Group in the period 1959-1961, before he joined the Department of Defense late in 1961. Product of the US Navy Japanese / Oriental Language School, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1942-1946. During WWII, he was a Japanese Language officer in the Navy and saw service in Japan, Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. He taught at the University of Hawaii for two years before becoming assistant professor of political science at Dickinson college, Carlisle, Penna. 1951, he was awarded the degree of doctor of philosophy by the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Harvard University for his Ph.D. dissertation, “American Policy toward Korean Independence, 1866-1910”. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1952. He learned Chinese and became a China specialist. He has published articles concerning China’s domestic politics and Sino-Soviet relations and was the first to appear in print publicly as a CIA analyst. After 32 years of working for the CIA, he retired in September 1984.

China Quarterly, a respectable academic outlet for studies undertaken by the intelligence research departments published Bridgham’s views on China’s National People’s Congress in 1965 [The China Quarterly 05/1965; 22:62 – 74.]

Bridgham contributed a chapter on The international impact of Maoist ideology at 5th conference sponsored by the Subcommittee on Chinese Government and Politics of the Joint Committee on Contemporary China of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, held at Santa Fe, N.M., Aug. 2-6, 1971. Produced as Conference papers, Ideology and politics in Contemporary China (1971)

In a practice not restricted to American academia, the cross fertilisation between the academic experts and intelligence communities has been well documented with a nexus of discreet meetings and briefings for their mutual benefit. The CIA was providing long-term covert financial assistance to radio stations and publications as well as the intellectual support network for the cold war propaganda placed in what were seen as neutral academic journals.
For a number of years, the Special Research Staff was CIA’S primary representative interacting with the academic world, often taking sabbatical year to write (at favourable colleges like St. Anthony’s College, Oxford). Some members or former members of the Staff (Zagoria, Bridgham, Cohen, and Gelman) published books or articles in academic journals on matters concerning the Chinese and Soviet leaderships. The very public and prolific publishing career of Donald S Zagoria partly illustrates those interactions and dependencies that comprise the intellectual hegemony that sustained the security concerns in the Cold War era.

Donald S Zagoria

The author of “seminal work” The Sino-Soviet Conflict, 1956-1961 published in 1962 by Princeton University Press when a member of the Social Science Division of the Rand Corporation, then a major policy think tank in the industrial-military complex.

By 1965 Donald S. Zagoria, was teaching government at Columbia University while a Fellow of its Research Institute in Communist Affairs. Outside interests include membership of the influential policy think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations; his article, “Communism in Asia,” appeared in the February issue of Commentary was the one of more than 200 articles. In a flourish academic career, Donald S. Zagoria serves as a Trustee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He went onto writing and lecturing for thirty-five years on international politics with a particular focus on relations among the major powers in the Asia-Pacific region: the United States, Russia, China, and Japan. In addition to five books on this subject, he is the author of which have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Asian Survey, The American Political Science Review, Current History, International Security, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and The American Journal of Sociology.

The Sino-Soviet Conflict (Princeton, 1962)
Vietnam Triangle (Pegasus, 1968)
Soviet Policy in East Asia, ed. (Yale, 1982)
U.S.-Japan Relations in Multilateral Organizations, co-ed. (Bunche Institute on the United Nations, City University of New York, 1994)
Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse, ed. (Praeger, 2003)
 William E. Griffiths (1920-1998)

Another Cold war scholar working elsewhere in the CIA media network was William E. Griffiths also engaged in the analyst business based in Munich, providing reports and interpretation through reports from Radio Free Europe.

William E. Griffith born on February 19, 1920 in Remsen, NY, received the BA in liberal arts from Hamilton College in 1940 and the MA in history from Harvard in 1941. His international career began as a US Army officer in France and Germany during World War II, after which he served as the chief of the Denazification Branch of the US Military Government for Bavaria from 1947-48. After his tour of duty in Bavaria, he returned to the United States to complete work on his PhD in German history at Harvard. In 1950 Griffith joined the staff of the Free Europe Committee in New York. The Committee had been established the previous year as an anti- Communist campaign group under the chairmanship of Joseph Grew. Ostensibly a private foundation, the bulk of its funds came from the CIA. The Committee oversaw Radio Free Europe, which beamed news, encouragement and propaganda into the Communist-run countries of Eastern Europe from its studios in Munich. Griffith moved back to Germany as the chief political adviser at Radio Free Europe in Munich when it was still operated by the Central Intelligence Agency from 1950 to 1958, the height of the Cold War.*
He came to MIT in 1959 as a senior research associate at the Center for International Studies and Director of the International Communism Project at M.I.T. (which received some CIA support) and had published ‘‘Albania and the Sino-Soviet Rift” (1963). There was also a two volume study edited by Griffith Communism in Europe: continuity, change and the Sino-Soviet Dispute published 1964 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Pergamon Press. While at MIT, he wrote and/or edited 11 books and numerous articles; the publications he contributed to range from the Atlantic Monthly to the Boston Globe to the Reader’s Digest.
He became a professor of political science in 1966 and was appointed the Ford International Professor of Political Science in 1972. He had served as an adviser to the State Department from 1967 and, as a professor, had taught students who went on to careers as senior government officials and experts in the field. He was one of many American professors to cross the line between academe and government. Griffith would commute to Washington once a week from his home in Lexington, Massachusetts when he returned to government in 1979 as an advisor to President Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a longtime colleague. Professor Griffith assumed emeritus status at MIT in 1990. After retirement from MIT in 1990 he moved to Germany for four years.
Described in his obituary by the New York Times as “a historian and political scientist who was an authority on Communism, the cold war and Central and Eastern Europe” died on Sept. 28th 1998.

A friend said, ”Bill Griffith was a very dedicated anti-Communist”.

Like the other Cold War scholars.



*Selected Bibliography
Collins, Larry D. “The Free Europe Committee: An American Weapon of the Cold War.” PhD dissertation, Carleton University, 1973.
Cummings, Richard H. Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.
Kádár-Lynn, Katalin, ed. The Inauguration of “Organized Political Warfare”: The Cold War Organizations sponsored by the National Committee for a Free Europe/Free Europe Committee. Saint Helena, CA: Helena History Press, 2013.
Puddington, Arch. Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.
Wilford, Hugh. The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.

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