During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America's presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages. Those weren't facts. They were our tales, but some seven million Americans ended up being convinced their own president, not communism, was the enemy. As Yuri Andropov, who conceived this dezinformatsiya war against the U.S., used to tell me, people are more willing to believe smut than holiness.
Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community... This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels.
The final goal of our anti-American offensive was to discourage the U.S. from protecting the world against communist terrorism and expansion. Sadly, we succeeded. After U.S. forces precipitously pulled out of Vietnam, the victorious communists massacred some two million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Another million tried to escape, but many died in the attempt. This tragedy also created a credibility gap between America and the rest of the world, damaged the cohesion of American foreign policy, and poisoned domestic debate in the U.S.
Unfortunately, partisans today have taken a page from the old Soviet playbook. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America's commander in chief. One speaker, Martin O'Malley, now governor of Maryland, had earlier in the summer stated he was more worried about the actions of the Bush administration than about al Qaeda.
Now, I don't believe that Martin O'Malley or certain parts of the American left are deliberately aping Soviet propaganda tactics. However, the unintended parallels Pacepa illuminates are quite interesting. The parallels should not be striking though, given the American left's long history with Soviet communism. In fact the old left preferred to be called "progressive" just as O'Malley's patron Hillary Clinton prefers to call herself. After all, the leaders of Democratic party as it currently exists are not the heirs of Cold War liberals like Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy, but rather they are the progeny of fellow traveling/Soviet dupe progressives like Henry Wallace and George McGovern.