Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #119

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #119

…McKinley and Roosevelt carry two out of three voters, so the last year of the 19th century goes quietly into peace and prosperity…

1900 elction

The way it looks, especially considering the response of his government to its greatest natural disaster, save the rare and powerful earthquakes that hit the Missouri territory and the Mississippi River valley in 1811 and 1812, William Jennings Bryan will fail once again. You cannot time a catastrophe any better. All of Bryan’s warnings about imperialism and need for free silver will fall on generally deaf ears.

1900 population

But the United States is still comprised of pockets of population, some large, some small and you best not take anything for granted. McKinley will not. Vice-president in waiting, Theodore Roosevelt, joins the campaign train, as the well-traveled locomotive stays out on the rail-trail, playing to multitudes, by 19th Century standards.

Herb Love is the lead dog, making sure each successive city on the railway system is properly notified of the Presidents’ coming. Local political organizations take it from there. Whether they are a part of the majority party or not, the presence of the President, past, present or future is a big deal and the perfect opportunity to align yourself with a winner.

Hurricane-001

Love diversifies his mission, recruiting telegraph operators for the Weather Bureau reporting program, along the way. There is no use Sec. of Ag-001wasting this unique chance of crisscrossing America’s heartland. Nor will he spend October away from his wife, who would make a wonderful first lady, should her husband be infected by the excitement of political campaigning. It is a long shot thought, but given enough exposure, the Love pair has the right metal; sound moral leadership for a global force whose population is exploding to the power of ten.

Future possibilities aside, the task of re-election is formidable. Not only is the population spread out, like seed from a cottonwood tree. Candidates must convince the electorate to go out to vote; to town halls, schoolhouses and churches, sometimes braving inconveniently poor November weather. They must be reminded, in case they have forgotten, that their forefathers have fought many battles for this very inalienable right.

But battles are something most Americans would rather forget; Revolutionary, Civil, wars with Britain and Spain. Toss in an angry native Indian unrest and you have a nation of people who are intimately aware of conflict and loss. Who can blame them for wanting to1901 Barber Dime forget?

Yet, despite negative factors at work, 14 million voters make their choices known. McKinley and Roosevelt carry two out of three voters. The last year of the 19th century goes quietly into peace and prosperity.

It is time for a fresh one hundred years


Alpha Omega M.D.

Thomas Hill “Yosemite Valley”

Episode #119


page 119 (end ch. 6)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 117

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #117

…John Philip Sousa thrills young and old with robust marches, including his popular composition, Stars and Stripes Forever

A billowing plume of smoke and steam can be seen on the western horizon. It is not stationary, as if from a barn fire or bonfire, rather this cloud slowly dissipates, reforming ever nearer to an absolute throng of people gathered at the Quincy train station. Someone has painted the town red… and white and blue for a special patriotic occasion.

And this is not a bashful bunch, to be sure. It is not often that the President of the United States of America comes to your town, let alone a bandmaster of some renown like John Philip Sousa. He thrills young and old with robust marches, including his popular composition, Stars and Stripes Forever.

Appropriately, this is the tune that Sousa and his big brass band are playing when the trail of smoke and steam comes to a squeaky stop.

 The Presidential train, with fewer cars than it started with, but more people than it started with (mostly the Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club, who will be sticking to local projects until they get married and have children), is greeted by riotous enthusiasm. The small town is packed to overflow with: 1. anyone who remotely knows any of the returning heroes,  2. is a supporter of the fashionable President, 3. is or pretends to be a member of the working press, governors, senators, congressmen, mayors dogcatchers, or 4. just about everybody who was born and breathing.

Gadsden Goslings

Distinct and above the rest is the McKinley reviewing stand, doubling for its usual use as home team bleachers of the local ball club, the Gadsden Goslings of the Northern Florida Baseball League. Martha Ferrell has parceled out the seating on the stand in a fair manner, making sure the majority of well-wishers are not offended, even though it is a thankless, impossible task. But it is quite difficult to be mad at someone as sweet as she. If you are, chances you would be considered a stiff-necked scalawag or some other enemy of God and country.McKinley Train

The passenger cars are at the rear, with the last wooden carrier already positioned in campaigning configuration; an enlarged deck of sorts overhanging the rear wheels, with a bright brass railing guarding the semicircle; designed for the President to wave from while the train steams through towns along the countryside. One person getting a look at a Presidential candidate may garner him ten votes.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #117


page 107

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

…I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget…

Inspiring words, among other accounts, pass by the desk of the President of the United States. These are his people, the people of Herbert Love’s world and he could not be more proud. So moved is he that he breaks from his long-held tradition and leaves his handicapped Ida in the care of Major Walter Reed. The imitable and nearly invisible V.P. Garret Hobart (a lame duck by most accounts) is entrusted with Washington D.C.

I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget.”

Time to Remember-001And so he does, while rushing off to the state capitol of Florida, with most of the Washington press corps tagging along. “The gratitude of this nation will not be a mime’s cheer.” William McKinley is not just a decent man. He is forward looking in his direction, yet he seldom ignores the needs and the desires of the few. This is an important quality for a country that is expanding nearly as fast as its rapidly improving sectors of communication and travel.

In less than two months there will be a presidential election of 1900, so this trip to Florida may do wonders for McKinley’s patchy Southern support. Herb Love does not have a widely public personae, so his best friend cannot garner him support, only Love’s little slice of the Panhandle and not much more below the Mason-Dixon Line.

But this September of disaster and the related stories of heroism and triumph over adversity, may well translate into popular votes in November.

Speaking of popular, the Republican nominating committee and attending convention had decided that the office of vice-president needed upgrading. They choose Spanish-American War hero and current governor of New York state Theodore Roosevelt, to replace the ignoble Hobart, who was merely a crony of first term financier, Marcus Hanna. So it’s out with old and in with that “damned cowboy”. In political circles, that is a term of endearment.

Enough of back-door politics though.

There has not been a preponderance of “full dinner pails” in the South since the Civil War, though steady progress can be seen.  But in the wake of the hurricane, whose fury should have been given a name that progress has been set back.

As it turns out, it is not too late to cash in on the workings of the Love complement, as reported by Harv Pearson and spread nationwide by everyone’s source for news: large sheets of thin paper with black ink printing on it; singular to each city, bound by unwritten rules of fairness and confidentiality. Because of the efforts of hurricane heroes and revealing reporters, the sitting President should receive a beaucoup bump in popularity. Luck and timing is a politician’s greatest ally.


Alpha Omega M.D.

welcomehome

Episode #116


page 106

Cold-War Warning Signs – Doomed to Repeat?

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Reasons for

the Start

of the Cold War

On the April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler committed suicide in the ruins of Berlin. Six days later Germany surrendered, bringing about the final defeat of the Reich he had claimed would last for a thousand years.

The world had been changed forever. Germany had been utterly defeated; France had lost her great power status, and Britain, almost bankrupted by World War Two, barely clung to hers. The United States of America and the Soviet Union had emerged as the world’s dominant powers.

These two new superpowers were still nominally allies, having struggled together to overcome the terrible might of Nazi Germany. However, even as early as 1945, the seeds of future conflict had been sown.

In this list we’ll look at 10 reasons why the Cold War began in 1945.

10. The Death of Franklin Roosevelt

On April 12, 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt complained of a headache; just moments later he collapsed unconscious. He died later that same day.

When the news reached the heart of the imploding Third Reich, Hitler celebrated amidst the ruins of Berlin. The German dictator was desperate enough to clutch at any straws that presented themselves, and he convinced himself that the death of America’s president would mark a turning point in the war in Europe.

Despite Hitler’s initial optimism Roosevelt was replaced by Harry S. Truman, and World War Two continued its inevitable course towards Germany’s total defeat. However, Roosevelt’s death did significantly alter the dynamics of the post-war world.

Roosevelt is remembered as one of America’s great presidents, but he had something of a blind spot when it came to Joseph Stalin. He hadn’t recognized quite how wily and ruthless Stalin could be, and wrongly believed himself to be quite capable of charming the Soviet Union’s brutal dictator.

Harry Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, was altogether more suspicious of the Soviet Union in general and Stalin in particular. While Stalin initially believed Truman to be a nonentity who could be easily manipulated, this proved not to be the case.

9. Operation Unthinkable

Joseph Stalin spent much of World War Two haunted by the fear that Britain and America might betray him, make a separate peace with the Nazis, and leave the Soviet Union to fight on alone. In his worst nightmares his allies went even further and teamed up with Nazi Germany to destroy him.

While Stalin is remembered as one of history’s most murderously paranoid individuals, his concerns were not entirely without foundation. Winston Churchill in particular nursed a deep hatred of the Soviet Union that stretched right back to its creation.

In 1945, just days after the end of the war in Europe, Churchill asked his military planners to investigate the possibility of launching an almost immediate assault on Stalin’s Red Army. Churchill christened it Operation Unthinkable, for obvious reasons.

Quite how serious Churchill was about this extraordinary venture isn’t known for sure. In any event Operation Unthinkable was dead in the water with the report concluding there was no chance of success. The British couldn’t compete with the might of the Red Army. Even if the Americans could be persuaded to team up with the British, and they very much insisted they wouldn’t, the Soviets had more tanks and more men. The likely outcome was a long and bloody struggle.

Operation Unthinkable was shelved. However, Stalin soon learned all about it through his extensive network of spies. The news that at least one of his former allies was making plans to attack fueled his paranoia and contributed to the beginning of the Cold War.

8. Disagreements over the Fate of the Nazis

In November 1943 Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met face-to-face for the first time. There was still a huge amount of fighting and bloodshed to come; but the end of World War Two was finally in sight, and an Allied victory was all but inevitable.

The Tehran Conference was an opportunity for the “Big Three” leaders of the main Allied powers to discuss not just the war itself, but also how to handle the peace. One of the major questions to be addressed was what to do with any captured Nazis.

Stalin offered a solution that some 100,000 German Army officers should simply be shot.

While Roosevelt assumed Stalin was joking, Churchill took him more seriously and stormed out of the room in a fury. The British Prime Minister had himself suggested that senior Nazis should be hanged without recourse to legal aid, but as a former British Army officer he could not sanction the idea of slaughtering soldiers.

The three men eventually agreed that their enemies’ guilt should be established at trial, but they had very different ideas of what this should entail.

When Stalin held a trial he very much intended for the outcome, and even the script, to be determined well in advance. The British and Americans were determined that the trials be seen to be free and fair. As a result several Nazis walked free or escaped with their lives, including Albert Speer, who was Nazi Armament Minister and one of Hitler’s closest confidants. This was certainly not the outcome Stalin had been hoping for.

7. The Defeat of Japan

Japan had been at war with the United States of America and Great Britain since 1941, and with China since 1937. However, the Japanese Empire and the Soviet Union, despite sharing a land border, had not declared war on each other.

This had been a convenient arrangement for both powers. The Soviet Union had been locked in a life-or-death struggle with Nazi Germany in the west, and the Japanese more than had their hands full at land and sea in the east.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany Stalin turned his gaze east. Stalin had promised he would join the war against Japan once the war in Europe was over, and he was more than happy to grab some territory from the crumbling Japanese Empire.

On August 9, 1945 the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Earlier that day the Soviet Red Army had launched a huge surprise offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. Some historians believe it was the Soviet assault, rather than the immense destructive power of America’s new atomic bombs, that persuaded the Japanese to announce their surrender just six days later.

While the Red Army’s war against the Japanese was brief, Stalin insisted that it warranted the Soviet Union a zone of occupation in the Japanese Home Islands. On August 16, 1945 Stalin wrote to Truman asking to be given part of the island of Hokkaido, adding that he hoped his modest wishes would not meet with any objection.

Roosevelt might, perhaps, have been amenable to the suggestion. Truman was far more suspicious of the Soviets and refused the request.

6. The Division of Korea

The Japanese announcement of their intention to surrender did not bring an immediate cease to hostilities. Stalin drove his armies on, determined to seize territory in the east while the going was good.

By August 1945 the Red Army was a devastatingly effective fighting machine, hardened by the titanic struggle against the forces of Nazi Germany. The forces of Imperial Japan, meanwhile, were much diminished. The best of the Japanese ground forces, and almost every serviceable aircraft, had been withdrawn from mainland Asia to the defense of the Japanese Home Islands.

The Red Army smashed aside the Japanese defenses making huge gains in Manchuria and pressing into Korea, which had been occupied by Japan since 1910.

There was no realistic possibility of the Americans mounting an invasion of Korea before the entire Korean Peninsula fell into Soviet hands. However, Stalin, prepared to trade influence in the Far East to strengthen his negotiating hand in Europe, agreed to divide Korea in two.

The Soviet Union would command the northern part of the country, which contained most of the heavy industry and mineral wealth, while the Americans took control of the largely agricultural south.

Both superpowers would install brutal puppet governments to serve their own interests. Korea was not split apart on any cultural, religious, ethnic, or historical basis, and the decision to divide the nation in two was destined to lead to future conflict. This came to pass when North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, leading to the hottest conflict of the entire Cold War.

5. Clash of Ideologies

Adolf Hitler spent a good chunk of World War Two waiting for the alliance between the capitalist Western powers and the communist Soviet Union to fall apart. The long-awaited collapse in relations never materialized during his lifetime, but Hitler had not been entirely unreasonable in expecting it.

The alliance between the big three powers was one of the most unlikely in history. It was only made possible by the uniquely aggressive form of fascism that emerged in Germany, and it could not long survive the collapse of the Third Reich.

Communist ideology dictated that the collapse of capitalism was both desirable and inevitable. While communism is now a largely discredited theory, for much of the 20th century it posed a mortal threat to powerful individuals who reaped the main rewards of capitalism.

Stalin might have been paranoid, but it wasn’t without good reason. Shortly after the communist revolution Churchill had advocated “Strangling Bolshevism in its cradle.” The western powers had attempted to do just this, leading to a brutal civil war in Russia that lasted from 1917 to 1923.

Neither side can be absolved of blame for the Cold War. While it was perhaps not immediately apparent following the defeat of Germany in 1945, the incompatible nature of the two competing ideologies of communism and capitalism made future conflict inevitable.

4. Berlin Divided

On May 2, 1945 the German defenders of Berlin surrendered to the Red Army. The battle had cost the lives of around 80,000 Soviet and 100,000 German soldiers.

Dwight Eisenhower, commander of the Allied forces in the west, is sometimes criticized for failing to drive his armies on and beat the Soviets to Germany’s capital city. It was a race that he might just have won, but it would have made no difference to the post-war map of Europe.

The division of Germany had already been decided through politics. Berlin itself lay well within what would be Soviet territory. However, the city would be divided up into four, with the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Great Britain, and France all given a zone of control.

This tiny enclave of Western democracy deep within Soviet controlled Eastern Germany soon came to infuriate Stalin. In 1948 he attempted to heal the open sore as he ordered the city to be blockaded, denying the Western Allies any links to the city by road, rail, or water. The Allies responded by flying in the supplies they needed. Stalin balked at giving the order to shoot down American aircraft, knowing that to do so would very likely result in war.

3. The End of American Isolationism

The United States of America had been traumatized by her involvement in World War One, where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives. Determined to avoid being dragged into any more foreign wars America pursued a policy of isolationism. The nation maintained only a small army and avoided intervening in the affairs of other countries.

It didn’t work. America was dragged into another World War, this one even more terrible than the first. By 1945 isolationism was well and truly dead. The US had emerged as a global superpower with a vast military arsenal at its disposal.

Rather than retreating from the world, America would attempt to shape and control it. This was done even at the expense of democratic ideals, with the United States of America installing and supporting numerous dictatorships.

This more aggressive approach to international relations would inevitably lead to conflict with the Soviet Union, which was itself emboldened by its newfound superpower status and determined to export communism around the world.

2. The Fate of Eastern Europe

The British went to war with Nazi Germany in 1939 with the express goal of defending the right of Polish self-determination in the wake of Germany’s invasion. This was complicated by the failure of the British to declare war on the Soviet Union when the Red Army invaded eastern Poland having done a deal with Hitler.

The United States of America claimed to be fighting a war for freedom. This position too was complicated by the necessity of fighting alongside Stalin’s Soviet Union, a totalitarian dictatorship with few if any redeeming features.

When the war in the west drew to a close in May 1945, the Soviet Red Army had already occupied Poland and much of Eastern Europe. Short of attempting something quite as extraordinarily reckless as Operation Unthinkable, there was very little the Western Allies could do about this.

The British and Americans demanded that Stalin must hold free and fair elections in the territories he had occupied. Stalin readily agreed but went ahead and fixed the results of the elections regardless.

The Soviet domination of so much of Europe, a continent which had dominated world power far more than it does today, was a source of considerable discomfort and fear for America and the Western powers.

1. Nuclear Weapons

The atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 exploded with as much force as 15,000 tons of TNT. As many as sixty thousand people were killed instantly, many of them simply vaporized, as temperatures briefly exceeded those on the surface of the sun.

Both Roosevelt and Churchill hoped that America’s new atomic capabilities would intimidate Stalin. However, when the Soviet dictator was informed of the weapon’s immense destructive power at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, he had shown barely any interest at all. It’s now known that the news had not come as a surprise. Stalin’s spies had kept him well informed of America’s top-secret new weapon, and his scientists were already racing to deliver Stalin a bomb of his own. This mission was accomplished by 1949, far sooner than the Americans believed possible.

The dawn of the atomic age in 1945 vastly raised the stakes for both the Soviet Union and the United States of America. It was now possible for a single bomber, carrying a single bomb, to incinerate an entire city. The two superpowers would later develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and a stockpile of nuclear warheads capable of wiping out most life on the planet. Both sides were aware that if the Cold War turned hot, it might mean the end of civilization. This went a long way towards focusing minds on finding diplomatic solutions to disagreements that might otherwise have led to war.

As terrible as nuclear weapons are, and despite the threat they continue to pose to the future of humanity, they probably prevented all-out war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union.


Cold-War Warning Signs –

Doomed to Repeat?

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #4

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #4

… gone are the carefree days in Tallahassee…

Doctor Alpha Omega Campbell is by no way or definition, an imposing man. Accounting for 66 inches of vertical space, balding to a tee, of mixed race to the visual exclusion of all the others, other than Negro, he is warmed by God’s spirit and in no form or manner a threat to anyone except himself. And yet, here he is in prison at Starke, Florida, closer to Gainesville than Tallahassee; seemingly nearer to hell than the Lord of grace.

  If this diminutive groundbreaker could see beyond the bars of incarceration, the world of 1958, one that is lesser for his absence, is a tranquil void, in an otherwise mischievous globe. Rampant unemployment fuels postwar inflation. Nikita Kruschev and Charles de join Dwight Eisenhower, generals all, are world leaders. The Cold War is on.

The United States first satellite orbits the earth, high above the tensions of state or of race, perhaps to relay news of school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas; good news for those in the minority, but not as bad as it should be for those who hide behind white-hooded garments, disguising any real trace of humanity.

Of greater relevance, gone are the carefree days in Tallahassee. On a slow summer’s day, devoid of virus and trauma, a chauffeur driven Cadillac sedan could be taking the Campbell family ensemble to watch tennis lessons, given to the youngest daughter, Zillah, who is preceded by Laura Bell and Alpha (Omega). They too have been tutored by Florida A&M’s coach in a sport not known to many Negroes.

Even more radical perhaps, are the cook and the gardener and the maids, in a grand house that is and was the envy of most folks in the Florida panhandle. It is that very jealousy, of means and possession that have precipitated the doctor’s downfall.

The fact that his dark skin has the hidden hue of a blue blood, will bar his efforts to be with his family this year.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #4


page 5

Spy vs Spy vs Spy – WIF Did You Know?

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Powerful

Intelligence Agencies

Around the World

The human desire to stir things up and uncover secrets is so innate and part of our DNA that of course mankind decided to create entire organizations with that single purpose. Truth be told, it’s a good thing they exist; these agencies have derailed countless plots to do their home countries harm. But we’re also fascinated by the more sinister, clandestine activities they conduct. Here’s a history of spy outfits from around the globe… 

10. Mossad (Israel)

Formed just after the dust settled from World War II, Israel’s foreign intelligence gathering organization was initially called the Institute for Coordination. Things did not get off to a great start for the intelligence agency: it took a year just to get organized enough to be functional, and immediately after that, bungled operations led to several of its officers being arrested. It was when Isser Harel took over Mossad in 1952 that it really found its footing. In 1960, Mossad carried out the South American mission that captured notorious Nazi-on-the-run Adolf Eichmann.

But Mossad’s claim to history came after the tragic hostage situation that arose during the Munich Olympics in 1972. Israeli athletes at the Games were massacred, and the events were broadcast live on TV for the world to see. Mossad discovered the Arab terrorists responsible and carried out a brutal series of executions that were depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich. Oh, and if you doubt the brute power that Mossad wielded, the name of the mission to hunt down the terrorists was dubbed “Operation Wrath of God.”

9. CIA (United States)

You didn’t think you’d get very far into clandestine intelligence agencies without this one, did you? Officially founded in 1947, and with President Eisenhower’s building up in the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency, run from Langley, Virginia, has been in most of the greatest hits of espionage history.

The Bay of Pigs event in Cuba was a landmark happening during the Cold War-era 1960s. The CIA supported Cuban exiles who were to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist regime. It failed miserably. Just after that botched coup, the CIA somewhat redeemed itself by using then-state-of-the-art technology to discover Russian nukes nearby.

The CIA did considerable work during the Vietnam War, as well. They undertook Project Tiger, which dropped South Vietnam fighters into the north to gather intelligence. Also during this time, however, were the operations known as the “Family Jewels.” These covert ops were usually illegal, ranging from illegal surveillance to straight up murder of foreign officials. Since then, things have been a little less rambunctious, though they did have some part in the Iran Contra debacle of the 1980s, as well as some responsibility for failure to take terrorist attacks in the US seriously, pre-9/11.

8. MI6 (Great Britain)

MI6 isn’t just an organization that constantly disavows super-agent Ethan Hunt. They are a very real British government entity with quite a history. The first British intelligence organization, which MI6 gets its roots from, was founded in 1569, but its present form came around 1912, just before World War I broke out.

The 1930s and ’40s gained MI6 a reputation for being one the top spy agencies in the world, and they surely had a major part in training US agents once America entered the Second World War. Post WWII, MI6 had to shake off numerous infiltrations by Russian double agents, and by the ’80s and ’90s, had become a much more open, re-prioritized agency. Not to say they had lost their teeth; indeed, they still tracked and took down all sorts of evil folks, from war crime perpetrators to participants in the Libyan Civil War. And if you have any doubts as to the debonair style of spy that inhabits MI6, check out their headquarters in the above photo.

7. BND (Germany)

Founded during the Cold War in 1956, the Federal Intelligence Service (known in German as Bundesnachrichtendienst) is the largest agency of its kind in the world. Boasting 300 locations in the country, and over 6,500 employees, the organization spent its formative years like many other similar agencies: spying on the Russians. They did specialize in Middle East affairs, and in 1967 predicted the outbreak of the Six-Day War almost to the hour.

When the aforementioned terrorist attacks occurred at the Munich Olympics in 1972, the BND took the matters to heart, and began to truly build up their counter-terrorism capabilities–they almost single-handedly stopped an attack in India a few years back. But they are still spies at heart, and not always the most virtuous kind. In 2005 it was revealed that the BND was surveilling many German journalists. They are even reported to be storing 220 million sets of metadata culled from phone surveillance worlwide, and WikiLeaks is often sharing tons of data that they discover the BND is holding/hiding.

6. KGB (Russia)

Ah, the granddaddy of them all. Mother Russia’s notoriously-clandestine secret spy agency has been depicted in all sorts of media, most recently in The Americans. From 1954 until the USSR dissolved in 1991, the KGB had probably the most legendary reputation on this list, and for good reason.

Being the super secret organization in the most super secret region of the Cold War, much of what the KGB conducted is still classified to this day. At first, they specialized in espionage, and getting into the US and delving deep into their secrets. Early in the Cold War, the Soviets even got a spy ring into the Los Alamos facility where Americans were developing the atomic bombs. They infiltrated elections in Bangladesh in the 1970s, then again in Afghanistan later that decade.

In 1991, the head of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov, and several others took the bold move to actually attempt to overthrow the government of the Soviet Union. The coup failed, and the country fell into chaos, dissolving and splintering, much like the KGB would.

5. ISI (Pakistan)

Speaking of the Afghan-Soviet Union relationship, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan had a huge role in that during the late ’70s and early ’80s. The ISI took the sides of the Afghan fighters clashing against the Soviets, and even worked closely with the CIA to train and fund them. That didn’t turn out to bite anyone in America eventually, right?

Once the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990s, the ISI provided all sorts of support to the emerging Taliban group, during Afghanistan’s Civil War. But the ISI doesn’t just meddle in Afghan wars. In contrast to some of the agencies here, the ISI recruits civilians as well as those in the armed forces. But the organization is not without its own far-reaching scandals. As mentioned before, the ISI worked with the Taliban, but it wasn’t until recently that we knew just how deeply they were connected. The ISI reportedly tampers with the elections of its own country, and were accused of taking money illegally from bank owners in Pakistan. Even Pakistani citizens that helped the CIA capture Osama bin Laden were detained by the ISI and imprisoned.

4. NSA (United States)

If the CIA is America’s big, hulking secret child, the National Security Agency is like its smaller, even sneakier brother. The NSA can be traced back to 1917, when the First World War showed just how badly good intelligence was needed. The agency (then called the Cipher Bureau) spent its infancy becoming incredibly adept at intercepting messages and telegrams going in and out of the United States.

The Cipher Bureau would soon morph into the Signal Intelligence Service. The expansion of the Japanese empire in the 1930s helped the agency expand itself, especially in its Pacific operations. And that was helpful after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. The SIS would crack all sorts of codes and keep Japan on their feet, but their intel wasn’t always perfect, even when they expanded into the NSA that we know today. Later in the 1960s, faulty information from the Gulf of Tonkin would lasso the United States into the Vietnam War. The NSA also came under scrutiny during the Watergate scandal. And they have a long history of surveilling famous civil rights leaders and political opponents like Jane Fonda and Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. MSS (China)

China has a long history of spy capers and espionage just like everyone else on this list, but their best-known and most powerful agency has only been around since 1983. The Ministry of State Security may also be the most secretive in the world.

Computer hacking is one of the more prevalent ways of spying that is being used in this age, and the MSS has a large hand in that. In 2018, the US Justice Department caught two hackers who were acting on behalf of the MSS, who had stolen state secrets from a dozen countries. Another recent event saw a senior official in the MSS arrested in Belgium for stealing trade secrets from US aviation and aerospace companies.

The MSS is akin to a cross between the FBI and the CIA, as it conducts operations both domestic and foreign in the name of national security. The MSS has no official website or any list of contacts, and it’s even thought that China’s rapid economic growth can be attributed in part to the MSS and their keen ability to steal intellectual property from other nations.

2. Direccion de Inteligencia (Cuba)

Formed shortly after the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, the Direccion de Inteligencia has also been closely linked to the KGB, and were basically trained by them. Not surprising, since the Soviet Union held nukes on the island for some time. But it was a rocky relationship at times, too. Though the Soviets had personnel and facilities based in Cuba, their desire to have more of a say in the operations of the native Cuban agency led to some push-back.

The Direccion de Inteligencia has a long history of aiding leftist movements in other countries like Nicaragua, Chile, and Venezuela. The scope of the DI’s operations is somewhat staggering, considering the economic base of Cuba isn’t very impressive. Recently, it was revealed that Cuba and the DI had been sending weapons to North Korea for refurbishment.

It turns out that Cuba is just good at espionage. Intelligence experts rank the DI’s officials as some of the best in the world, and with the agency’s close ties to other countries like Iran and North Korea, its investment in gleaning intelligence from the world’s superpowers is not just attractive to radical governments.

1. OSS (United States)

A precursor to America’s CIA, the OSS had a very short life as an agency, spanning three years from 1942-1945, but they packed some work into that time. The activities of Germany during World War II were a main focus, and something the Office of Strategic Services excelled at. At its height, the OSS employed 24,000 workers, and the war provided many locations for the Americans to gain intel on their foreign enemies.

Some of the names that worked for the OSS were celebrity chef Julia Child, film director John Ford, and Major League Baseball player Moe Berg, and eventually the OSS was so spread out into the world that over 7,500 agents operated overseas. Again, the outbreak of world war provides so much work potential. The identities of OSS personnel were kept secret upon the agency’s dissolution in 1945, after Harry Truman took office, and were not revealed until 2008. The CIA would begin its life two year later in 1947, but America had already taken its baby steps in the intelligence world, and so was quite prepared.


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Speeches You’ve Never Heard – For Various Reasons

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Important Speeches

Never Heard

by the Public

It’s good to be prepared. You never know for sure how a big decision will turn out, so you need to be ready for anything. This is especially true if you have to announce a victory or a tragedy to the world; you want to have a speech ready so you don’t resort to freestyle rapping your way through a declaration of war. Fate dictated that these speeches not be given, but they would have been well-remembered if they had.

10. Wamsutta James Ruins Plymouth’s Anniversary Party

Native American activist Wamsutta James was a descendant of the Wampanoags, a tribe that was living in New England when European maps were still labeling America with “Here be Dragons.” When he was asked to give a speech at a 1970 event commemorating the anniversary of the arrival of settlers at Plymouth, he saw a chance to rip apart historical myths that glossed over how natives were treated by settlers. Instead of telling the school kids and Pilgrim descendants present what they were expecting to hear — cute fictions about how buddy-buddy the Pilgrims and Natives were — he would have spent his entire speech destroying those myths, taking his audience to task for their ignorance and highlighting the many atrocities his people suffered, after which he presumably would have dropped the mic and strutted offstage.

Event organizers didn’t like his proposed text and he didn’t like their requests for a rewrite, so James never spoke. While not as historically significant as the speeches coming up on this list, James’ speech is worth mentioning because it highlights an area of American history that is woefully overlooked. It’s fittingly ironic that a speech meant to discuss an oft-suppressed historical truth was prevented from being given. Also, we have to admire the giant balls it takes to accept an invitation to speak at an event, and then spend your whole time trashing it.

Excerpt

“We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.”

9. Sarah Palin Wins

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Near the end of the 2008 Presidential election, tensions between the McCain and Palin camps were so high that McCain’s people insisted that, win or lose, Sarah Palin would not give a speech on Election Night. Given that Palin had turned into the laughingstock of the campaign, that was probably a wise decision.

Palin was a divisive figure both during and after the election, with some voters loving her and others cringing at the thought of her being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. When the text of Palin’s proposed victory speech was revealed, it was a look into what could have been (but thankfully wasn’t). As a speech it’s decent enough, your typical gracious victory celebration. But it’s the idea behind it that’s really interesting — the 2008 election was one of the closest and most contentious in recent history, and the years that followed it would have looked awfully different had the result swung the other way. Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s a hell of a thought experiment to take a minute and wonder what America would have looked like with Sarah Palin in the White House, and her speech lets you know how that news would have been broken to you.

Excerpt

“It’s been just 68 days since that afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, when Senator McCain introduced me as his running mate. He is truly the maverick. He took a chance on me. I will always be grateful for that. It will be the honor of a lifetime to work him as vice president of the United States. And I pledge to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear conviction, and a servant’s heart.

My fellow Americans, tens of millions of you shared our convictions and gave us your votes. And I thank you for your confidence. We were facing tough odds and formidable opponents.”

8. Albert Lutuli Lectures South Africa

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Albert Lutuli was a key member of the African National Congress and their struggle against South Africa’s apartheid government. He was arrested in 1960 for burning his pass (an internal passport that all black South Africans were required to carry and produce on demand), shortly after 69 people were killed in a protest against the pass system.

Lutuli was found guilty, fined and given a suspended jail sentence. He had planned on giving a speech before the sentence was decided, but ultimately refrained for health reasons. While today the trial is little more than a footnote in the long story of the anti-apartheid movement, his proposed speech is an excellent piece of rhetoric that aptly highlights the many grievances blacks had with the system. If Lutuli had been able to give it, it may have well been remembered alongside other famous protest speeches of the era.

Excerpt

“There comes a time, sir, when a leader must give as practical a demonstration of his convictions and willingness to live up to the demands of the cause, as he expects of his people. I felt that was the hour in our history, and in my life, for this demonstration. I am not sorry nor ashamed of what I did. I could not have done less than I did and still live with my conscience. I would rightly lose the confidence of my people, and earn the disrespect of right-thinking people in my country and in the world, and the disdain of posterity.

In all humility, I say that I acted as was my duty in response to the highest moral law in the best interest of the people of South Africa, because I am convinced that the urgent need of our country, for the maintenance of peace and harmony amongst the various races, black and white, is the immediate and wholesale abolition of the pass. It is my firm belief that it is the duty of all right-thinking people, black and white, who have the true interest of our country at heart, to strive for this without flinching.”

7. JFK’s Dallas Speech

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As you are hopefully aware, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. If you weren’t aware, you’re probably wondering what the magic box you’re reading this list on is. What you may not know was that Kennedy was on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart, where he was scheduled to give a speech.

His speech touches on the Cold War, America’s role in the world, and the general uneasiness of the times. Ironically, parts of the speech attack speaking itself — Kennedy argues that America needs to act against Communism instead of merely criticizing it. Some of his words are ominous — promoting financial support for the Vietnam War and the oppressive Iranian Shah does not look wise in retrospect, and bragging about how the US has been able to vastly expand its nuclear arsenal is flat-out scary.

Nevertheless, it’s a stirring piece of rhetoric that would have done well in the hands of a skilled orator like Kennedy, and certainly would have been remembered as a snapshot of the times in which he governed had he lived to deliver it.

Excerpt

“We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.””

6. A Regular FDR Speech Would Have Been An Unofficial Goodbye

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Speaking of Presidents and dying, FDR had a speech ready to go for Jefferson Day 1945, before a massive cerebral hemorrhage changed his plans. Had he lived to give it, it would probably be remembered as a decent but generic speech, the sort of remarks the President needs to make when there’s a war going on.

But with FDR kicking the bucket and World War II ending not long after his death, his unspoken words serve as an unintentional goodbye to the American people and the world. They have a poignancy that would be lacking had he lived to speak them, and they make a fitting eulogy for the end of both the longest Presidency in American history and a historical era of depression and war. There’s an optimism to the speech, as it looks forward to the time of peace everyone knows is slowly but surely coming, that is somehow stronger for being given from beyond the grave (not literally; a zombie FDR giving a speech would be terrifying).

Excerpt

“Today, as we move against the terrible scourge of war—as we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world- the contribution of lasting peace, I ask you to keep up your faith. I measure the sound, solid achievement that can be made at this time by the straight edge of your own confidence and your resolve. And to you, and to all Americans who dedicate themselves with us to the making of an abiding peace, I say: The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”

5. The Cold War Goes Hot

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The Cuban Missile Crisis ended about as well as anything called a “missile crisis” could be expected to — the US publicly won a game of nuclear chicken, the Soviet Union privately achieved a strategic goal by having US missiles removed from Turkey, and nobody got blown up. It’s the sort of feel good ending that was tailor-made for Hollywood.

Most alternative “solutions” to the Crisis would have ended with shots being fired, and JFK had a speech ready to go in case he felt it necessary for American boots to hit the ground in Cuba. We can’t even begin to speculate what the fallout of a military invasion of Cuba would have been. At best, American-Soviet relations would have hit an all-time low, and at worst we’d all be living in Fallout instead of dicking around on the Internet. On the plus side, it would be a lot cheaper to take vacations to Cuba.

Anytime you can make a decision where one possible result is “nuclear holocaust,” you better have a darn good speech up your sleeve, and JFK’s remarks are appropriately somber. Considering the next words out of his mouth could have been “better duck and cover, kids!” they damn well should have been.

Excerpt

“My fellow Americans, with a heavy heart, and in necessary fulfillment of my oath of office, I have ordered – and the United States Air Force has now carried out – military operations with conventional weapons only, to remove a major nuclear weapons build-up from the soil of Cuba.”

4. Nixon Doesn’t Resign

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Political super-villain Richard Nixon is famous for being the only President in American history to resign, but that was actually “Option B.” Had things gone according to plan he would have clung to power, and his Presidency would have begun to resemble the Nixon Administration from Watchmen.

Nixon’s “I’m Sticking Around, Suckers” speech is defiant, although in retrospect it’s also ignorant of the state of affairs, and a little megalomaniacal to boot. Nixon resigned after realizing the political winds were against him, so it’s hard not to imagine this speech being given from a throne of skulls with lighting and thunder crackling in the background. Had Nixon decided to fight public opinion and cling to power, the politics of the day would have become even uglier in a hurry.

Excerpt

“I firmly believe that I have not committed any act of commission or omission that justifies removing a duly elected President from office. If I did believe that I had committed such an act, I would have resigned long ago.”

3. D-Day Fails

As any video gamer can tell you, D-Day was a tough battle. History classes tend to gloss over the many ways Operation Overlord could have gone wrong — anything from a smarter German reaction to lousy weather would have made Saving Private Ryan a lot more depressing. General Eisenhower, well aware of the risk he was taking, took a moment on the evening before the battle to jot down a speech to be read in case of failure. The speech — actually little more than a brief statement — is chilling in how it describes what would have been a catastrophic loss of life with clinical detachment.

How would World War II have turned out if D-Day failed? Well, by 1944, it was just a matter of time until the Nazis were defeated, but with the American and British advance in tatters, the Red Army would have had to pick up the slack, pushing further into Europe than they did in reality. The end result would have been a much larger Soviet Union and a very different Cold War, changes that would have reverberated through history up until today. So jeez, Eisenhower, maybe you should have offered more than 10 seconds of commentary on the matter.

Excerpt

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

2. Apollo 11 Doesn’t Come Home

Getting men to the Moon was such a complicated endeavor that it’s easy to forget that we had to get them home, too. If something broke they couldn’t exactly call AAA for help, and considering we’re talking about travelling 384,400 km through the vacuum of space in a little ball of metal powered by rocket fuel and slide ruler calculations, it’s actually remarkable that something didn’t break. The joy and wonder felt around the world at the sight of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon would have been a bit dampened had it then been announced that their adventure had unexpectedly become a one-way trip.

Presidential speechwriter William Safire knew the White House had to be ready for anything, so he prepared a short speech entitled “In the Event of Moon Disaster.” Thankfully it never had to be given, but it’s a beautiful piece of prose that would have served as a fitting tribute to the men lying their lives down for the cause of exploration, dampened only slightly by the fact that it would have been read by Richard Nixon.

Excerpt

“For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”

1. Hitler Gets Blown Up

Carl Friedrich Goerdeler as Price Commissioner

As that Tom Cruise movie (and maybe history class) taught you, in 1944 there was a failed attempt by members of the German Resistance to assassinate Hitler. Had the attempt succeeded, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, one of the conspirators and the proposed Chancellor of post-Hitler Germany, would have given a fiery radio address denouncing Hitler and his policies. Unfortunately, Hitler survived the assassination attempt with everything but his trousers intact, and Goerdeler and his fellow conspirators were quickly rounded up. Nearly 5000 people were executed in the aftermath, essentially putting an end to all organised anti-Nazi resistance within Germany.

It’s hard to say what would have happened had the plan succeeded — internal German politics were complicated, and many of the conspirators still held anti-Semitic views. But regardless of the details, it’s likely that signing a peace treaty would have been a priority, World War II would have come to an early end in Europe, and there would have been no Berlin Wall. But then David Hasselhoff wouldn’t have been able to play a concert there, so maybe it was for the best.

Excerpt

“We would not be worthy of our fathers, we would earn the contempt of our children, if we lacked the courage to do everything, everything conceivable, to avert the terrible peril and to achieve self-respect once more. Over and over, Hitler has violated the oath given to the people ten years ago. He has done so by violating the law, human and divine. Therefore no soldier, no official, not a single citizen is bound to him by oath any longer.”


Speeches You’ve Never Heard –

For Various Reasons