Against Dictators, a Campaign of Truth

by Ion Mihai Pacepa

Today is a great day for me. Muammar Qaddafi, who set a $2 million bounty on my scalp for revealing his secret efforts to arm international terrorists with nuclear, bacteriological, and chemical weapons, is gone. Many more Americans, whose relatives were killed by Qaddafi’s terrorists at the La Belle nightclub in West Berlin (1986), in the Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie (1988), and elsewhere, are also celebrating.

Nevertheless, not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that the United States would expend its immense military might on a war against a buffoon — Qaddafi’s pictures speak for themselves. Don’t get me wrong. Qaddafi was, indeed, a crazy killer, but during the Cold War the United States and its Allies deposed quite a few such crazy killers without firing a single bullet. My former boss, Romanian tyrant Ceausescu, was one of them. The U.S. stayed out of the limelight, but it secretly helped the Romanians to send him to the scaffold.

We all want to see democracy succeed in the Arab world — and especially in Iran and Syria. For that, however, we should learn from our Cold War leaders how we can rid the world of crazy tyrants without actually going to war or even firing a shot. That strategy was expressed in one of the most important U.S. political documents of any time: the NSC 68/1950, a 58-page top-secret report of the U.S. National Security Council (declassified in 1975).

“The issues that face us are momentous,” the document stated, “involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself.”

NSC 68, which was signed by President Truman on September 30, 1950, launched a “Campaign of Truth,” defined as “a struggle, above all else, for the minds of men.” That Cold War strategy stated that the “forces of imperialistic communism” could be overcome only by the “plain, simple, unvarnished truth.” Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberation (soon to become Radio Liberty), and Radio Vatican became part of NSC 68/1950′s “Campaign of Truth.”

“The missiles that destroyed [Romanian] Communism were launched from Radio Free Europe, and this was Washington’s most important investment during the Cold War,” stated former Romanian president Emil Constantinescu, who succeeded Ceausescu. “I don’t know whether the Americans themselves realize this now . . . but we understand it perfectly well.”

— Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking official to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. He is author of Red Horizons.