IT IS A MISFORTUNE THAT MOST OF WHAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN about secret operations is concerned almost exclusively with intelligence operations and their related functions. The result is a very misleading picture of the secret war - sometimes affecting even those actively engaged in it. For the central and decisive battles of the secret war are fought in the vast realm of covert political operations. One proof of this statement is that I must necessarily be somewhat less explicit in this than in preceding chapters.
Secret intelligence is essential, indispensable; it is also, as previously pointed out, inseparable from political operations. But it is not, and should not be allowed to become, an end in itself. The ultimate national aim in the secret war is not simply to know; it is to maintain or to expand national power, and to contain or to reduce the enemy's power; it is the exercise of power, itself a dynamic, not a static thing.
Intelligence gained by the Soviets about the atomic bomb would have been a pointless drill had they not had the intent, the technical knowledge and the industrial capacity to create their own nuclear arsenal. In brief, they converted knowledge into power by means of action. Similarly, the most precise intelligence available to the United States about dissension within the satellite Communist parties, and unrest among the satellite masses, is of only potential value until the moment when we can combine an intent to exploit that intelligence with effective forms of action in order to weaken Soviet power in the satellites.
The exercise of power, the transformation of intelligence and policy into power by means of action, takes place daily and visibly in strategic policy, economic policy, diplomacy, defence, propaganda - all the overt aspects of international relations. It also takes place daily, but invisibly, in the secret war in the form of covert political operations.
The range, both functional and geographical, of secret political operations is almost unlimited.
Geographically, secret political operations have marked human history in all lands. The only new feature produced by our own times is the universal extent - Antarctica excepted - of a single conflict, that between the Communist and non-Communist blocs. The human conflicts which employ secret political operations have always been limited geographically by the transport and communications technology of the age, and by the power of other nations not involved in the conflict. Englishmen fought Spaniards simultaneously in the Netherlands and in the Caribbean; Frenchmen fought Englishmen in Flanders, North America and India at one and the same time. Today, Communist and non-Communist manoeuvre in combat all over the globe - a measure not only of modern transport and communications, but also of the historically unprecedented emergence of but two great power centres whose preponderance relative to the rest of the world is such that, until other nations or combinations of states can achieve some parity with them, they inevitably tend to divide the world between them.
The first great post-Second World War engagement between East and West in the sphere of covert political operations was the Italian national elections of April, 1948. With all of Eastern Europe already in the Soviet grasp, with civil war raging in Greece, the West awoke to the fact that Italy could be lost to the Soviets by political action. Hastily improvised operations, a number of which could barely be dignified by the adjective "covert" - certainly the vigorous speaking tours of the American Ambassador to Italy were anything but covert-narrowly saved Italy for the West that year. The elections of 1958 in Italy had, once again, a similar air of urgency, suggesting that not a great deal of progress had been made in ten years in cutting back the inroads previously made there by the Soviets. After Italy, the lines were swiftly drawn on either side of the military division of Europe. From there the conflict spread to the Far East, to the Middle East, to South-East Asia, to Latin America, to Africa. (The effort to keep the Cold War, in the sense of hostile blocs of nations aligned with East or West, out of Africa is a sound, even noble, one; it does not and cannot eliminate the secret war, as a talk with any African trade union leader from Morocco through Nigeria and Tanganyika to Madagascar will show.) In all these areas the secret war is waged, not by intelligence agents, but by agents whose function is, in the broadest sense of the word, political.
The functional range of covert political operations is so vast as to defy listing. It runs from the simple, obvious "spontaneous demonstration" - in Tokyo or Caracas, in New York or New Delhi - through the quarrels of an international labour organization, the speeches at an international conference of intellectuals, the, resolutions of a congress of lawyers, the organizational manoeuvres of churchmen, the patient and persistent pressures of exiles, and a staggering variety of publications, to the Viet Cong guerrilla hidden in the jungles of South Vietnam and a Cuban prisoner captured at the Bay of Pigs.
(Contrary to a widespread impression, there is a more or less tacit understanding between states today to refrain from including political assassination in political operations. Stalin used it, but only against those he considered renegades from his own authority, e.g. Trotsky, Krivitsky, et al. Alexander Foote has pointed out that Stalin could easily have had Hitler assassinated before the Russo-German Pact, but refrained. Smaller nations sometimes resort to it, as in Trujillo's attempt on the life of President Betancourt of Venezuela, or the prewar assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, the work of Croat terrorists who had Italian and Hungarian support, or the Puerto Rican attempt on President Truinan's life and attack on the U.S. House of Representatives. And while one can never tell as between the great nations, it should be clear to observers on both sides that the existing conflicts between the great powers can in no way be resolved by political assassinations - which is at least some advance towards civilization.)
These varied activities have a common political objective: It is the organization, exploitation and direction of existing human passions and purposes so that they contribute, no matter how indirectly, to the fortunes of one or the other side in conflict. It is the substance of power, wherever and in whatever form it may exist, which the political agent pursues, recognizing that all organized or social human activity has a political content and significance.
If this seems obscure it is because of general acceptance of a too narrow definition of what is "political." As used in covert political operations, "political" is not limited to the complex of activities surrounding the gaining and holding of public office, of the constitutionally-designated seats of power. It refers instead to a much wider concept - to politics as the general and infinitely varied struggle for and the exercise of, power in human society. Under this concept all organized or social human activity represents potential or actual power ultimately transformable into control of the State and the society.
To claim that the scholar, the artist, the philosopher are apolitical is to deny the interrelation between human thought and action; it is to regard the founders of the United States as illiterate but dexterous constitutional carpenters, the upheaval of the French Revolution as an outburst about bread, the conscious theoreticians of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia as unlettered hoodlums who had never read a book, and the Chinese Communists as merely envious of Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang. By the same token, the allegation that the businessman with foreign investments is apolitical because he "doesn't mix in politics" is naive, and implies two things which are patently untrue: that national wealth is not a part of national power, and that the businessman will under no circumstances seek his government's protection for his business.
The narrow definition of "political" can have serious consequences in international affairs. In the overt domain it can lead to the false and vulnerable position of appearing to back corrupt, tottering or tyrannical régimes, as with the United States in South Korea and in South Vietnam - see also Latin America until very recently - or to the waste of vast amounts of economic aid aimed at reinforcing the viability of the régime, as in Laos and Iran. In the covert domain it can lead to futile involvement in mere palace intrigues (and to the even more grave error which I call the "our boy" theory - "Look, let's just put our boy in there and he'll run this show for us" - of which more below). The inherent limitations of palace intrigue - that is to say, exclusive involvement with the official centre of power - are no modern development. In the sixteenth century, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, Spanish Ambassador to Henry III of France, was fully aware of these limitations in the operation which he conducted and which successfully immobilized France while Spain prepared to attack England. Mendoza was fully active at Court; indeed, his intrigue in support of the Duc de Guise against the King and his bribery of Catherine de Medici were essential elements in his scheme. Nevertheless, he spent almost as much time and money on petty nobles, merchants, and most importantly, on the organizers and instigators of the Parisian anti-Protestant mobs, who were to defeat the King where Court intrigue could not.
The sixteenth century, so akin to our own, also gave us another of history's finest recorded examples of a sustained covert political operation in the Jesuit underground in England. Over more than five decades the Jesuits sent covert missionaries to England to perform rites for the Catholic families, to make converts, and to recruit additional agents for training in the English College at Rome. Their story is a textbook of covert and clandestine techniques; hunted men, they were experts at disguise, cover, escape, secret inks, safe houses, hiding-places, and all the paraphernalia and tricks essential to their mission. When caught they gladly suffered the penalty of death, regarding it as enviable martyrdom. But the ultimate purpose of the Church of Rome in mounting this covert operation was political; it was to return the rebellious Church of England to the authority of Rome. The fact that the issue was religious authority does not alter the fact that the purpose was the enhancement or recovery of power, meaning that the operation was political.
That even the Christian Churches have not forgotten their ancient heritage of secret operations was illustrated by a bizarre incident which occurred in 1950. There was living in Paris at that time the Metropolitan Vissarion of the Rumanian Orthodox Church. This elderly prelate had two distinctions: one was that he had been in the Tiflis Theological Seminary with Stalin; the other was that he was the senior Orthodox Hierarch in exile from the lands under Soviet control. It was the latter which aroused the interest of the Churches of Rome and of England. At stake was the Roman aim to draw the Orthodox Churches even closer to recognizing the authority of the Pope, and the aim of the Anglican Church to align the Orthodox Churches firmly with Protestantism against Rome.
The Metropolitan was quite content to remain in Paris, where gradually, under the guise of brotherly assistance, he was being persuaded to accept Catholic offers of priests to minister to the exiled Orthodox who suffered from a shortage of priests. (The schism between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches is many centuries older than that between Rome and Canterbury, but, in certain sacramental respects, much less profound.) There then appeared in Paris one day an Englishman who presented himself to the Metropolitan, showing credentials as an emissary of the Church of England. He extended to the Metropolitan an official invitation to come to England to live, as a guest of the English Church. For days the Metropolitan vacillated, and finally agreed to leave. When the time came, however, he had once more changed his mind. This was apparently too much for the British agent, whose instructions one can only surmise must have been quite categorical. For at this point he proceeded to kidnap the Metropolitan, bodily spiriting him away to a house outside of Paris preparatory to transferring him to England. Probably fortunately for everyone concerned, several Rumanian Orthodox communicants became suspicious, with the result that the French police, after several days, found the Metropolitan and his abductor.
Notwithstanding this misfire, the Church of England succeeded in its aim: the Orthodox Churches, including finally in 1961 the Russian Orthodox Church itself, became members of the Protestant World Council of Churches. Rome's position in any eventual negotiations for the reconciliation of the Christian Churches is obviously thereby weakened; a unified opposition is much more formidable than a number of separate adversaries - provided, of course, that the opposition is genuinely unified.
It is this political - in the broad sense of power characteristic of all organized and social human activity which imposes the extraordinary variety of secret political operations. My own diverse, but not unusual, experience in this field has run the gamut from organizing a literary evening in New York to directing the operation of a clandestine radio transmitter; from providing speakers for five different groups in the same national election to arranging for a gift to an important tribal leader; from organizing a political committee of exiles for the infiltration and invasion of their native land to reorganizing the same group some years later to eliminate their military activities; from supervising a dozen publications in half a dozen languages to rewriting a manifesto; from persuading twelve men representing as many different nationalities to agree on a single point to working a resolution through a congress of 300 men representing thirty-five different nations; from subsidizing summer camps for children to running an escape chain out of Soviet-occupied territory. This partial list is not intended to demonstrate virtuosity on my part, but the ubiquitous quality of the political element in human affairs.
(That by and large the West recognizes this quality only to the extent of covert political operations, rather than openly proclaiming it as a justification for subjecting all organized human activity to the direction of the State, as in totalitarian systems, is a tribute to the steadfastness of purpose of democratic leaders and the resiliency and resourcefulness of our societies.)
The relevance of some of this variety to the secret war is not always evident at first glance. Those summer camps for children, for example, seem a far cry from political conflict. And yet they were the answer to a situation in which a Communist state arranged for summer vacations in their native land for children of exiles at less than a quarter of the cost of similar vacations in their adopted land. The fact that the parents were voters in a country in which there existed a strong Communist Party, and in a district in which they had, until the advent of the Communist offer, constituted an important non-Communist force, seemed to justify the subsidy of local camps, precisely as it had moved the Communists to their original plan. That in present conditions of greater prosperity in their adopted land, and of greater American public awareness of the importance of these problems, genuinely private assistance could probably be forthcoming does not alter the conditions as they existed at that time - which were that timely and adequate assistance had to be, if it was to be at all, in the form of a covert governmental subsidy for a definite political purpose.
The foregoing illustrates a point about covert political operations which distinguishes them sharply from secret intelligence operations. In the vast majority of political operations the true function of the operation itself is overt and acknowledged. This does not necessarily mean that it is publicized, but it is at least not hidden. If, for example, it is decided to strengthen a political party in a neutralist country which is wavering in the face of Communist subversion, the reinforced efforts of the party are not and cannot be hidden or disguised, nor is it even desirable to do so. What is covert is foreign government involvement in the process, whether it be in the form of subsidies or advice - and the two are rarely separated in practice. Since cover is limited to but one essential point - relationship to government - it is obvious that the choice of cover, the choice of agent, the forms of communication, and the nature of the case officer-agent relationship are all affected. Generally speaking, the cover possibilities in political operations are more flexible than in secret intelligence, the choice of agent is more difficult, the forms of communication are equally restricted, and the case officer-agent relationship is less prone to duplicity.
A clear understanding of the simultaneous unity of purpose and variety of forms of secret political operations is frequently obstructed by loose and conflicting terminology. Much is spoken and written, for example, about political warfare, psychological warfare, guerrilla and unconventional warfare, as though these were all separate and arcane fields of action.
"Political warfare" is a term sanctioned by frequent official usage. It embraces the same field of activities as the term "political operations," but my own feeling is that it has a narrower connotation. Its inevitable emphasis is on war rather than on politics. It suggests a state of war, and the existence of a specific enemy, but does not convey the full scope of activities nor the existence of multiple rivalries as does political operations. I doubt, for example, that assistance to non-Communist parties in the 1948 Italian elections could be considered political warfare-although the signs posted in Rome in 1961 after the Twenty-second Congress of the Soviet Communist Party falsely summoning Italian Party members for a full discussion of Stalinism might be so considered. In any case, official labels cannot be taken too seriously. During the Second World War, what were in fact deception operations and even mere publicity gimmicks were labelled political warfare, and what was a genuine case of political warfare - Allied involvement in the bomb plot against Hitler - came under the heading of intelligence.
"Psychological warfare" is another wartime term which has spread confusion. It has been widely used to signify political operations, but it hardly does justice to their real content. The blunt realities of a political operation aimed at the overthrow of a government can hardly be called psychological warfare. There is, however, a wartime operation which is highly useful and which is properly termed "psychological warfare." It embraces a host of actions, from leaflets dropped to enemy troops through broadcasts to the enemy to the manufacture and spread of demoralizing rumours in enemy territory, and its sole aim is to weaken the enemy's will to resist. What is called psychological strategy - that is, the co-ordination and exploitation of a government's actions for maximum political effect - is obviously a political function, covering a government's overt as well as covert operations.
Guerrilla warfare has lately been the object of considerable attention. As guerrilla tactics themselves are as much a part of open war as of the secret war, the term "unconventional warfare" has been coined to describe the peacetime use of guerrilla tactics - among many other techniques - in bringing about the overthrow of a government and the capture of territory and populations. Taken as a whole, unconventional warfare is a political operation, initially covert, then clandestine, and finally overt.
The Communists successfully utilized this technique in French Indo-China and continue it today in Laos and South Vietnam. The Soviets have made sporadic efforts to use it in Iran and Iraq, without success, and they have failed in its use in Greece, Malaya, and the Philippines. The F.L.N. mastered it successfully, and indigenously, in Algeria, as did Castro in Cuba.
Very briefly, the technique involves infiltration, agitation, recruitment, harassment of the civil and military power and, finally, open assault. From the first day to the last, however, the entire structure rests on ever-widening control of the local population. Territory is a secondary and only ultimate consideration. But it is the population which provides food, recruits and intelligence. (Experts estimate that a successful guerrilla force requires from at least five to ten or more times its own numbers as an intelligence screen - that is, sympathizers or agents in the local population who will provide reliable information on government troop movements.) This control of the local population is achieved by persuasion, by indoctrination, and by terror, i.e. reprisals and the threat of reprisals against those who will not co-operate. Thus, the vital element on which the success of unconventional warfare rests is a political one.
Authorities on unconventional warfare without exception recognize its political character. In his Problems in the Guerrilla War of Resistance against Japan, Mao Tse-tung wrote: "There are often military elements who 'care for only military affairs but not politics.' Such one-track-minded military officers, ignoring the interconnection between political and military affairs, must be made to understand the correct relationship between the two. All military actions are means to achieve certain political objectives, while military action itself is a manifested form of politics." (An interesting contrast to General Marshall's letter to Eisenhower concerning the British proposal to press eastward in Germany and take Berlin if possible: "Personally," wrote the U.S. Chief of Staff, "I would be loath to hazard American lives for purely political purposes.") Mao continues: "There are, of course, differences between political and military affairs, each with its special characteristics, but the one should not be disconnected and isolated from the other. . . . Only those who misinterpret the significance of guerrilla warfare would consider that 'Guerrilla warfare is not a political problem, but one purely military in nature.' This type of simple military viewpoint causes the loss of the political objectives of guerrilla warfare and must inevitably lead to the abandonment of political work, the dissolution of popular support, and the eventual defeat of guerrilla warfare.
If guerrilla warfare is without a political objective, it must fail; but if it maintains a political objective which is incompatible with the political objectives of the people, failing to receive their support, participation, assistance and active co-operation, then this too must fail. .. . This is because guerrilla warfare is basically organized and maintained by the masses, and once it is deprived of these masses, or fails to enlist their participation and cooperation, its survival and development is not possible. . . . There are those who cannot imagine how guerrillas could survive for long in the rear of the enemy. But they do not understand the relationship between the people and the [guerrilla] army. The people are like water and the [guerrilla] army is like fish. How can it be difficult for fish to survive if they immerse themselves within the mass of water? But if the water is taken away or dries up, the fish must also die and pass away."
Franklin A. Lindsay, an American expert who learned his basic lessons with Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia during World War II, writing somewhat less picturesquely, but just as realistically as Mao, in Foreign Affairs on "Unconventional Warfare," has the following to say: "Where the effective political control of the country has passed to the Communists, it will not be enough to conduct long-distance propaganda activities or to make plans on the assumption that the very real and very considerable dissatisfactions with the Communist régime will automatically result in a popular uprising as soon as the guerrilla forces appear. Clandestine support of at least a part of the villages and the countryside is an absolute prerequisite to the employment of guerrilla forces, for they must have local intelligence support and supplies if they are to survive in areas in which superior enemy forces are openly in control. In Jugoslavia, for example, in World War II, the Communist Partisans had in many ways as favourable a situation for guerrilla warfare as might be expected anywhere. The main German forces were engaged by powerful allies on other fronts. Tito's Partisan forces had as overt allies not only the Soviet Union but the United States and Great Britain. And from the latter two they received massive air support. In Slovenia, where there were no Cetnik forces of Mihailovich to contend with, the political commissars of the Communist-established National Liberation Front could represent themselves to the people as the only force fighting the invader, and as having the complete support of all the major powers fighting the Germans. Yet they still found it necessary, in the words of one commissar, to 'prepare the area intensively by the introduction of clandestine political organizers for a period of several months before we dared to introduce guerrilla forces.' "
Lindsay makes the point even more precisely: "The first step," he writes, "in mobilizing a civilian population against Communist subversion and guerrilla attack is to establish a set of political goals in terms that the average person can understand. They must be goals that strike a sympathetic response and that aim to remove the inequities in the existing society and the grievances which they have caused. Through mass communications, these reform programmes must be communicated effectively, and repeatedly, to the population. . . . But this is only the beginning of the task. Political organizers must be recruited and trained in sufficient numbers to reach by direct contact nearly every family in the land. They must be as thorough as the best of ward or district leaders in American politics."
In this light, the suggestion, heard after the Cuban débâcle, that American responsibility for unconventional warfare - or para-military operations - should be vested in the Pentagon, is revealed as something less than logical - or politic.
As a matter of record, in the general proposition - however crude it may sound - of overwhelming governments by remote control, the United States has had about the same proportion of successes as the Soviet Union. However, this is not a statistically measurable subject. Where the Soviets have failed it has been at an enormous cost to us in the application of overwhelming military might, as in Greece - and even there the Tito-Cominform dispute played a large role in stopping the conflict. On the other hand, where we have failed it has been because of too great a reliance on military force and too little attention, if any, to the vital political elements. Our only real success in this ultimate field of covert political operations was Guatemala - and there we displayed our customary tendency to get things over with in a hurry, and to substitute might for politics.
Guns, however, at best only act as a temporary substitute for sound and patient political preparation. In one American operation other than Cuba which failed, political preparation was, to put it mildly, hastily improvised. In another our impatience was such that when the operation did not immediately succeed in the military sphere, we abruptly switched sides. (This at least earned us the gratitude of the head of state whom we were trying to overthrow.)
Since political operations are concerned with human beings, they have an organic development of their own: for real rather than merely apparent results, their timetable can at most be hastened, but it cannot be artificially imposed from without. Notwithstanding the rapid changes which mark our epoch, the long view of history is still the key to international politics in our time.
Secret political operations are based upon three major characteristics which dictate the potentialities, the timing, and the working relationships of such operations.
The first is that any political operation must be based on something real, something which in fact exists. Secret political operations are neither skullduggery nor legerdemain. It would be, for example, the height of futility to undertake an operation in Switzerland to bring about the abandonment of Swiss neutrality in order that Switzerland should join N.A.T.O. There would
simply be nothing effective to work with, even if the idea were sound. One of the greatest wastes of American time and money I ever encountered was the success of a Hungarian Catholic in persuading the appropriate authorities to send him to London to agitate against the decision - already made - of the Anglican Church to sponsor the invitation to the Russian Orthodox Church to join the World Council of Churches. The decision having been made in the highest councils of the English Church, after full deliberation, and having been duly accepted by British opinion, this agent's mission was largely an exercise in talking to himself.
For a thing to be real, it need not be organized or even coherent, but it must exist. A sentiment, an opinion, a movement can be exploited, developed, organized, even astutely exaggerated, but it cannot be created out of thin air. The Communist Peace Campaign was a masterpiece of organization and exploitation of an unorganized sentiment. Again, in 1954 the Soviets organized in East Berlin a cover organization called the Mikhailov Committee - named after the Russian General who headed it. The announced purpose of this Committee was to assist the return to their homelands of Russian and Eastern European political exiles. The formation of this group was greeted with hoots of derision in the West, since a more unlikely undertaking seemed inconceivable. Nevertheless, a certain success - rapidly capitalized upon by the Soviets - accompanied the Committee's efforts. For what they were able to exploit to a considerable degree was simple nostalgia, and the economic suffering of many refugees in the West.
The Mikhailov Committee illustrates a corollary to the rule that an operation must be founded on a reality, however tenuous. It is the corollary that is, in fact, the foundation of all political operations. It is simply that in human affairs there is no such thing as a monolith. There may be repression, there may be terror, but there is no uniformity. Ingenuity in political operations consists in recognizing dissent, however hidden, and then in devising ways to exploit it. Viewing the Communist empire in 1947, for example, a serious observer was entitled to weigh the measurable dissension in eastern Europe and assume that Yugoslavia would be the most loyal of the satellites. History records, of course, that it was the first - and so far only - eastern European satellite successfully to declare its independence of Moscow's domination. It was a fundamental Leninist doctrine - in his application of military doctrine to politics - to insist on the "monolithic unity" of the Communist Party. But what has happened? Today there are three major brands of Communism within the Communist bloc - the Soviet, the Chinese and the Yugoslav. In this sense, of course, Chou En-lai was right when he spoke at the Twenty-second Congress of the Soviet Communist Party and asked that the differences between the parties not be made public, to be exploited by the enemies of Communism. And Khrushchev knew it as well as he. But the pressure of dissension in human affairs will prevail, and Khrushchev's only choice was to jettison - without openly acknowledging it, of course - the myth of monolith.
This does not mean that any and all dissension is directly exploitable. The West cannot at this stage persuade any of the Communist dissidents into alliance against one or both of the other two. But political operations are, in most cases, infinitely more subtle than that. To exploit a disagreement between Mao and Khrushchev it is no more necessary - or possible - to enter into direct contact with Khrushchev on the subject than it is for him to capitalize on differences between American Democrats and Republicans by secretly offering financial aid to the Democrats. Khrushchev does not have to enter into alliance with the German industrialists who think enviously of the Eastern markets in order to exploit their impatience with the inflexibly pro-N.A.T.O. and pro-European stand of Adenauer. Nor does the West have to make agents of the eastern European intellectuals in order for their discontent with rigid Soviet control to create real problems for Khrushchev and some easing, however slight, of the satellites' plight. In both cases it suffices to recognize the dissension, and then, by ingenuity and indirection, to nourish it.
The second basic characteristic of secret political operations is that they must be performed by others. Obvious as this sounds, it is all too often overlooked in the directions given to political agents. If the objective is to have the Socialist International take a particular stand, to have a neutralist conference adopt a certain policy, to have the Liberal Party of country X support a given step, or to have the progressive opposition seize power from a tottering, corrupt régime, then for the desired action to be valid it must be the Socialists, the neutralists, the Liberals of X nationality, or the members of the opposition, who themselves take the desired action. This obviously puts the highest premium on the arts of persuasion and indirection, and on individual qualities of personal influence, tact, comprehension, forcefulness when necessary, and resourcefulness.
These necessities have direct implications for the case officer - agent relationship in political operations. While discipline must still be present, there cannot be the ambiguity of purpose and motive which most often characterizes intelligence operations. In a political operation, the case officer must have arrived at a clear and workable accommodation of interests with the agent. Control by the case officer there must be, but not duplicity. The purposes of case officer and agent must have been presented with the maximum permissible clarity, and then a reconciliation of conflicts and limitations negotiated. In brief, the outstanding characteristic of the political case officer-agent relationship is that it must be an alliance, not a utilization of the agent by the case officer, as often occurs in intelligence.
In politics a "No" is acceptable, and even defeat is understandable; high-handedness, particularly on the part of a great power, must often be swallowed; but irresponsibility carries with it its own destruction, however long the process may take. Irresponsibility in political operations is a readily identifiable fault: it can be measured against the cardinal rule of such operations: Do not make unnecessary promises, or promises you have neither the ability nor intention to keep. Once a promise is given, an agreement made, it must be kept to the best of one's ability. In the jungle of international politics this is the equivalent of "honour among thieves." The Middle East, whatever its complications, is a monument to British understanding and observance of this classic rule. in the First World War Lawrence, with full authority, extended solemn promises to the Hashemite Dynasty of the Hejaz, in return for the help of the Bedouins against the Turks. The British could not, after that war, save the Kingdom of the Hejaz from Ibn Saud of Arabia. But today the Hashemite great-grandson of the last King of the Hejaz sits on the throne of Jordan as witness to a kept promise. The same promises were made in World War II to Idris el Senussi, in return for his help against the Italians and Germans. Today, King Idris I of an independent - even if economically unviable - Senussi Libya bears witness to another kept promise. The result is that even with all the vicissitudes of history, and the fulminations of Nasser, the British position in the Middle East today remains more solid and effective than the history of the last fifteen years would otherwise warrant.
There is yet another implication of this second fundamental characteristic of secret political operations which may possibly be disturbing to Americans. It is the clear inference which can be drawn of a client-patron, an almost feudal, relationship between lesser states and the great powers. This is a fact of international life which has always existed, and continues to exist, but it is one for which the United States, by virtue of their isolation, were ill-prepared when they almost overnight emerged into the world as a great power. It is a fact contrary to our understanding of independence, to our proclaimed ideals and, we sense, to our own history. But our own history was a very special case: Washington in his Farewell Address warned not only against entangling alliances, but against the meddling of great powers in our internal and factional affairs. The United States grew to maturity free of this external meddling, not because of innate American qualities, but because of a combination of historical, geographical and technological accidents - and for many years behind the protective shield of British policy. New nations today are not so lucky.
However, the hegemony or domination of the great powers is not without its cost. The influence and power which the great powers exercise in the affairs of the smaller states work both ways. There is a permanent tendency for the lesser powers to factionalize the great powers. A prize example of this was Yugoslavia during the Second World War, which for a period was a source of acute friction between Great Britain and the United States, the British supporting Tito, the Americans favouring General Mihailovich. Similarly, in the Congo, the British, for both European and African reasons, manoeuvre behind Tshombe and Katanga, and the United States, with an eye on what it feels are larger issues, manoeuvres behind Adoula and the Leopoldville Government. An adept politician in a small country need not necessarily fear his own weakness a political operation works two ways, and in return for accepting influence he finds he can also exert it.
The third fundamental characteristic of secret political operations is that it matters less what you do than how you do it. The wrong thing done well is always preferable to the right thing done badly. The principal British criticism of the American operation in Cuba which came to my attention, for example, was summed up in the observation of one Britisher: "Good Lord, man," he said, "if you're going to do things like that, then for Heaven's sake do them. Hard, and with everything you've got. No halfway measures in that sort of thing." It is a fact, however lamentable, that the Soviets were aware of this in Hungary in 1956. It is also a relevant fact that the head of state whom we tried to overthrow - and failed, switching our support after the fact - is today, not many years later, one of the leading purveyors of enthusiastic statements about the greatness of the United States, which serves to show that bruises for doing the wrong thing heal quickly in the international arena. But ineptitude, which fosters loss of confidence, is not so quickly forgotten. One of the principal problems of international relations - including secret political operations - is simple communication across the barriers of linguistic, historical and cultural differences. In international politics the lingua franca is the language of power. Talking with a nation which follows a bad policy, but executes it reasonably adeptly, at least permits communication if not liking. (South Africa comes to mind.) But communicating with a nation which is inept in the execution of its policy is like talking with a man with an insurmountable stammer - you don't know whether what he is saying is good or bad.
Americans are deeply concerned about the rightness of their national policies. This is healthy and useful. But too often the assumption is made that if the policy is right, its proper execution follows automatically. Vast improvements have been made in selecting and supporting the best-suited personnel for secret political operations in recent years, but there is still insufficient understanding of the fact that what is the American's meat may well be the foreigner's poison. I recall with a shudder the remark of an American responsible for a highly important Eastern European operation. "What I don't like about X," he said, seriously referring to a leading Czechoslovak politician, "is that he has none of that good old American get-up-and-go." The rejoinder is obvious: if he had it, he wouldn't have been a leading Czechoslovak politician. This same American, left inexplicably in his post for two years, was able, at the end of that time, to shock a Pole into disbelief with his remark that Poland had every right to all the lands up to the Oder-Neisse line, because "After all, they were always Polish territory until the Germans took them away." The Pole was embarrassed, but he was a forthright man. "I am very grateful for your sympathy for our cause," he answered. "But, please, I beg of you, do not let it be known that you base it on that reason. I am obliged to inform you that historically it is simply not true.")
These things still happen, but the United States owes a not inconsiderable debt of gratitude in this connection to Allen Dulles for two reasons: first, he maintained, during his stewardship of the Central Intelligence Agency, and against strong and persistent pressures, the vital principle of civilian control of this powerful organization; and, second, he instilled and developed, as rapidly as possible in the circumstances, precisely that sense of professionalism essential to the best conduct of secret operations. But the full process is a long one.
In the present transitionary stage, the principal handicaps to American secret political operations stem from the imposition on such operations of purely American standards which are laudable at home and inappropriate when exported. One such, for example, is haste. The result is what has been referred to, in some anguish, as the doctrine of immediate results immediately arrived at. In a field where quiet patience, the long view and sustained effort are prime qualities the American bureaucracy is constantly pressed for demonstrable results to justify action. I recall spending two years creating a political organization whose ultimate purpose was the penetration of an already existing European institution. At the conclusion of the first meeting of the organization it was no closer in fact to its ultimate aim than at the outset. But it had at least been put into position to accomplish its mission. To my surprise, I received high praise at this premature stage because, of all irrelevant reasons, two New York newspapers had published accounts of the meeting, and these clippings could be exhibited as proof of success. This impatience for quick and visible results leads also to what is generally interpreted by other nations as an American lack of tenacity. If results from a political operation are not almost immediately evident, the Americans will tend to lose interest, abandon the operation, or turn its personnel to other, frequently inappropriate, uses.
The most common European charge against our operations, for example, that they are "not serious," stems from this same haste, and its concomitant satisfaction with artificial results. As a Frenchman said to me in some disillusionment after watching the sudden turn-about of a highly complicated operation to a wholly new "priority" target; "The trouble with you people is that you only want to look good, you don't care about really being good."
This criticism also stems from promises too easily broken, almost always on the justification that high policy demands it, or that overriding domestic American considerations require it. Under full authority, I once made a careful agreement with a Western European political party which required guaranteed American participation for eighteen months. Five months later the American participation was cancelled and the European personnel let go on to the street. In due course I found out that, as a compromise in an American budget argument, this operation had been traded away for some funds for something else that now seemed more attractive. I had also to experience the quiet comment of a European Senator: "We shall never make the mistake of working with your organization again." The only saving point for
the United States in this case was that he was speaking of a cover organization.
In a policy sense our operations also suffer from the application of purely American prejudices to situations where they are not applicable. The high Presidential adviser who once started to say that my residence abroad had made me "un-American," but who had the grace to pause and amend his sentence, if not his thought, was exercised at the time over my proposal to bring an extremely well-known European Socialist into a European organization. "I don't understand why we can't just go along with our own people, whom we've always worked with," he said, "You just don't understand that Socialism is a dirty word in this country." His observation about Socialism was no doubt true-notwithstanding the fact that it was by and large Socialist governments in Western Europe which created N.A.T.O. with us-but it was irrelevant to the fact that the organization we were discussing was formed to be effective in Europe, not in the United States.
The bias is at least not one-sided. When on another occasion I proposed limited aid to an exiled monarch who had genuine popularity in his native land, the refusal was accompanied by the remark, "Surprised you'd even suggest it. What if Congress found out we were tied up with a king?")
The Presidential adviser's viewpoint was, of course, a close cousin of the "our boy" theory of political operations. I so label it because in a Western European country, functioning under a coalition of two dominant and independent parties - which meant greater effort on our part to maintain and develop our influence in this particular country - a neo-Fascist party was formed only a few years after the war. To my astonishment, I encountered a serious proposal to back the neo-Fascist party with all our resources. The proponent of this plan ascribed my astonishment to ignorance. "Don't you see?" he said. "The leader of this party needs support; once he gets it we'll keep building him up until he throws out the coalition. Then we'll have our boy in there, and none of these headaches." Quite apart from the lack of political wisdom involved in this particular case, the "our boy" theory substitutes puppets for allies, corruption for viability, our prejudices for local reality. Syngman Rhee was "our boy," as were several others, now forgotten, in Laos.
In the purely technical aspects, our political operations suffer from an excessive prejudice in favour of intelligence objectives and procedures. When the inevitable conflict between intelligence and political objectives arises, the decision is too often in favour of the intelligence objectives. Similarly, the case officer-agent relationship in political operations is too often clouded by the duplicity and the type of rigid control characterizing intelligence operations. This prejudice arises from misunderstandings in Government departments other than the C.I.A. of the value of political operations, with a consequent stressing of intelligence requirements, and from the fact that the great majority of C.I.A. personnel are the products of training in intelligence rather than political techniques.
The heart of the secret war in our time, however, lies in the political conflict. Intelligence is essential, and cannot for a moment be neglected. But we advance or we retreat, we make gains or suffer losses, in proportion to our mastery of the details of the political struggle-meaning the living characteristics of men, the ever-changing human relationships within and among societies, from which flow the tides of power.