Skip to comments.In Defense of Diana West
Posted on 09/14/2013 10:30:57 PM PDT by No One Special
Out of the public eye and far from the daily headlines, a fierce verbal battle is currently being waged about the course of American policy in the long death struggle with Moscow that we call the Cold War.
At ground zero of this new dispute is author Diana West, whose recent book, American Betrayal (St. Martin's), is a hard- hitting critique of the strategy toward the Soviet Union pursued in the 1940s by President Franklin Roosevelt, his top assistant Harry Hopkins, and various of their colleagues. Ms. West in particular stresses the infiltration of the government of that era by Communists and Soviet agents, linking the presence of these forces to U.S. policies that appeased the Russians or served the interests of the Kremlin.
For making this critique, Ms. West has been bitterly attacked by writers Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz, Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black, and a considerable crew of others. The burden of their complaint is that she is a "conspiracy theorist" and right wing nut whose views are far outside the mainstream of historical writing, and that she should not have presumed to write such a book about these important matters.
Though the professed stance of her opponents is that of scholarly condescension, the language being used against Ms. West doesn't read like scholarly discourse. She is, we're told, "McCarthy on steroids," "unhinged," a "right-wing loopy," not properly "house trained," "incompetent," purveying "a farrago of lies," and a good deal else of similar nature. All of which looks more like the politics of personal destruction than debate about serious academic issues.
From my standpoint, however, what is going on here seems to be something more than personal. Having delved into these matters a bit, I think I recognize the process that's in motion: the circling of rhetorical wagons around a long accepted narrative about the Second World War and the Cold War conflict that followed.
This narrative sets the limits of permissible comment about American Cold War policy, bounded on the one side by Roosevelt and Hopkins, representing generally speaking the forces of good (appeasing Moscow, e.g. , only in order to win the war with Hitler), and on the other by Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, the supposed epitome of evil. Between these boundaries, variations are allowed, but woe betide the writer who goes beyond them. Ms. West has transgressed in both directions, sharply criticizing Roosevelt/ Hopkins and speaking kindly of Joe McCarthy.
(Full disclosure: I provided a cover endorsement for Ms. West's book, and wrote a book of my own some years ago examining the myriad cases of McCarthy. Based on that background, I can testify that conventional views about him are almost totally devoid of merit, based as they are on extensive ignorance of the archival record.)
Especially galling to West's critics is her contention that Washington in the war years was so riddled with Communists and Soviet agents as to be in effect an "occupied" city -- an image that seems to have sparked the greatest anger and most denunciation of her thesis.
By using the "occupied" image, Ms. West is of course not saying Soviet tanks were patrolling the streets of Washington, or that Red martial law was imposed on its cowering citizens. What she is arguing instead is that Soviet agents, Communists and fellow travelers held official posts, or served at chokepoints of intelligence data, and from these positions were able to exert pro-Soviet leverage on U.S. and other allied policy. Though ignored in many conventional histories, the evidence to support this view is overwhelming.
It is for instance abundantly plain, from multiple sources of Cold War intel, that Communist/pro-Soviet penetration of the government under FDR was massive, numbering in the many hundreds. These pro-Red incursions started in the New Deal era of the 1930s, then accelerated in the war years when the Soviets were our allies and safeguards against Communist infiltration were all but nonexistent. The scope of the problem was expressed as follows in an FBI report to Director J. Edgar Hoover:
"It has become increasingly clear... that there are a tremendous number of persons employed in the United States government who are Communists and who strive daily to advance the cause of Communism and destroy the foundations of this government. Today nearly every department or agency is infiltrated with them in varying degree.. To aggravate the situation, they appear to have concentrated most heavily in departments which make policy, or carry it into effect..."
Pro-Red penetration was especially heavy in such war-time agencies as the Office of Strategic Services and Office of War Information, which were thrown together in a hurry at the outset of the conflict, with little thought for anti-Communist security vetting. But the problem was acute also in old-line agencies such as the State and Treasury departments, both of which by war's end were honeycombed with Soviet agents.( Making matters worse, anti-Soviet officials and diplomats were in the meantime being purged from their positions.)
Far from being lowly spear carriers on the fringes, pro-Soviet operatives in case after case ascended to posts of great power and influence. Among the most famous-though only three of a considerable number-were Alger Hiss at the State Department, Harry D. White at the Treasury and Lauchlin Currie at the White House. All of these, as we now know, were Soviet agents, well positioned to affect the course of American policy in matters of concern to Soviet dictator Stalin.
A prime example of such policy impact occurred during the earliest wartime going, in the prelude to Pearl Harbor. At this time, Soviet agents White and Currie maneuvered to prevent a truce between the United States and Japan, which might have freed up the Japanese military for an assault on Russia, an attack Stalin was desperate to fend off while he was embroiled in Europe with the Nazis.
In this maneuvering, White worked with the Soviet intelligence service KGB, and in parallel with the efforts of a Soviet spy combine in Tokyo, headed by the German Communist Richard Sorge. The Sorge group sought to persuade the Japanese that there was no percentage in attacking Russia-- that there were much more inviting targets to be found down south in the Pacific. One such target turned out to be the American naval base at Pearl Harbor.
In the State Department, while Alger Hiss would become the most notorious Soviet agent of the war years, he was far from going solo. According to a long concealed but now recovered report compiled by security officers of the State Department, there were at war's end no fewer than 20 identified agents such as Hiss on the payroll, plus 13 identified Communists and 90 other suspects and sympathizers serving with him.
Like the FBI report saying "nearly every department" of the Federal government was infiltrated by Communist apparatchiks, these staggering numbers from the State Department security force look suspiciously like the description of a de facto "occupation" given in Ms. West's supposedly unhinged essay.
At the Treasury, there were at least a dozen Communists and Soviet agents, headed by Harry White, who exerted influence on a host of issues. In late 1943, to cite a prominent instance, White and his fellow Soviet agent Solomon Adler, Treasury attaché in China, launched a disinformation campaign to discredit our anti-Communist ally Chiang Kai-shek, deny him U.S. assistance, and turn U.S. policy in favor of the Communists under Mao Tse-tung.
This campaign, aided by Adler's State Department Chungking roommate John Stewart Service and other U.S. diplomats in China, succeeded, with results that we are still living with today. Meanwhile, an identical propaganda campaign was waged by U.S. and British pro-Red officials to discredit the anti-Communists of the Balkans, in order to deliver control of Yugoslavia to the Communist Tito. This, too, succeeded, resulting in the communization of the country and capture and murder by Tito of his anti-Communist rival, Gen. Draza Mihailovich .
In the summer of 1944, White and his pro-Moscow Treasury colleagues played a crucial role in devising the so-called "Morgenthau plan" for Germany, which would have converted the country into a purely agrarian nation. They were involved as well in plans to turn two million desperate anti- Soviet refugees over to the Russians, and a slave labor proviso that would herd millions into the Soviet Gulag.
All these projects would be promoted in the run-up to a 1944 Roosevelt- Churchill summit in Quebec, later becoming American policy in Europe. At an in-house meeting just before the summit, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. met with a group of his staffers and praised them for the excellent plans they had developed. Of these advisers no fewer than six would later be identified under oath and in secret security data as ideological Communists or Soviet agents. That amazing line-up of pro-Moscow assets at a single U.S. Treasury meeting would once more seem to justify the "occupied" description.
As to how such improbable things could happen under FDR, a post-script to the above is suggestive. Though Roosevelt signed off on the Morgenthau plan at Quebec, when he was later challenged on it by War Secretary Henry Stimson, he said he didn't know how he could have done so-that he "had evidently done it without much thought." As that response implied, the President at this time was failing badly in his powers, and would fail even more dramatically in the months to follow.
Which leads to a provisional wrap-up of this discussion. The culmination of the policy debacle of the war years occurred in 1945 at Yalta, where the American delegation headed by FDR made innumerable concessions to the Russians: slave labor for the Gulag as post-war "reparations" to the Kremlin , turning anti-Soviet refugees over to Moscow, Soviet control of Manchuria's ports and railways-presaging the Red conquest of China. A leading member of the American delegation that agreed to all of this was none other than the now famous Soviet agent, Alger Hiss.
In court histories and Roosevelt biographies, we're told that Hiss at Yalta was no big deal-an insignificant figure without substantive influence on the proceedings. As the archival records show, this is grossly in error. In fact, Hiss in the Yalta discussions was a ubiquitous and highly active presence, dealing as a virtual equal with British foreign secretary Anthony Eden, and speaking out on numerous issues-China prominent among them-voicing the "State Department" or "United States" position in backstage meetings.
Scanning these records, it's obvious that Hiss was far more conversant with issues and events at Yalta than was his inexperienced nominal chieftain , Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius Jr. (all of two months on the job). As with Joe McCarthy, our historians might be advised to consult the primary data on such matters, rather than re-cycling Hiss-was-no-problem comment from secondary sources.
Granted, getting at the primary data takes some digging, as many relevant records have been buried, censored or omitted from official archives. Presidential secrecy orders, disappearing papers, folders missing from the files, two manipulated grand juries (that we know of) used to cover up the extent and nature of the penetration ; all these methods and more were employed in the 1940s to keep the shocking story from Congress and the public. And, sad to relate, in some considerable measure the cover up continues now, in court histories that neglect archival data to repeat once more the standard narrative of the war years.
Diana West's important book is a valiant effort to break through this wall of secrecy and selective silence. Her work in some respects touches on matters beyond my ken-such as Soviet treatment of American POWs-- where I am not competent to judge . But on issues where our researches coincide-and these are many-I find her knowledgeable and on target, far more so than the conventional histories compared to which she is said to be found wanting . As the above suggests, her notion of wartime Washington as an "occupied" city, and the data that back it up, are especially cogent.
Got the link wrofng. It should be:
Saint FDR and Saint Truman both need to be taken down about 50 pegs. Absolute scumbags, the both of them.
Accusations like this never bother anyone on the Left, I wouldn't let it bother me. What do people say when you run into flack?
All of this is true and has been excised from popular history.
If you don’t understand this, you don’t understand half of what happened in World War II.
I have one minor criticism of the book: It needs an editor, particularly the opening chapter, which attempts to relate the current War against Islam (let's face it, that's where we are, like it or not) to the Cold War. While it might be true, it shouldn't be in there. The book can stand on its own as a purely revisionist narrative of the Cold War, which the author properly identifies as running not from the end of the Second World War, but from before the beginning of it.
For Radosh, Horowitz, and all of the other naysayers, here's another excellent book, which bolsters most of Diana West's positions and was written by no bomb thrower, but a former American President: Freedom Betrayed Herbert Hoovers Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath.
I was surprised by the existence of this book. Hoover started out his career and ended his presidency as a very liberal Republican; his predecessor, Coolidge, had nothing but disdain for Hoover's activism. As a matter of fact, a great many of the New Deal programs were actually economic reforms Hoover wanted to try, but he was sandbagged by a Democrat Congress in order to secure his electoral defeat.
But eventually Hoover became a conservative, and he wrote a fine book, well worth reading. [Just skip the Introduction, which is 100 pages of some academic's medal polishing over his editing that doesn't contribute anything to the work, unless you want to understand sources and methods. Most people won't.]
Maybe Horowitz is out there providing the outer bounds of what is acceptable in the way of anti-communism.
The conventional historical narrative, that Roosevelt gave away so much at Yalta because of his failing health, is scandalously false. It is not supported by any of the facts on the ground, nor by any statements of contemporary witnesses. In source after source we discover that from almost the very day tens of thousands of Polish POW's were repatriated from Siberia to form a Polish allied army in exile, Roosevelt intended to give their country, as well as the Baltics, to Stalin.
This is in 1942. This is not at Tehran or Yalta. Roosevelt made various remarks in 1942, 1943, and 1944 -- despite the explicit wording of the Atlantic Charter which he and Churchill signed and to which the Russians assented on numerous occasions -- that Russia would receive EVERYTHING she had been granted in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and as a matter of fact, a great deal more, and that people in Eastern Europe would "simply have to accept that."
Nobody wants to address these claims, and have chosen instead to focus on narrow questions about whether Harry Hopkins was a spy or not, and whether the General in charge of Lend-Lease did indeed see proscribed nuclear materials being shipped to the Russians.
But the betrayal of Eastern and Central Europe, the deadly repatriation of millions of Ukrainians and White Russians to the Gulag by American and British Armies, and the pointless concessions made to Stalin in the Far East are topics no one wants to discuss. Why? Because the historical record is clear: Roosevelt wasn't swindled on these deals. He made these deals, he understood these deals, and he fully assented to them long before Yalta.
I am paraphrasing but I recall Whitaker Chambers stating in Witness that his Soviet handler once proudly boasted the Soviets had deeper penetration into Washington, DC, than they had had during Weimar. Ms West was using "occupied" correctly and in that sense.
Hopkins may or may not have been "Agent 19" but his entire career shows he supported Soviet objectives and, as FredZarguna notes in post #10, The most serious contention in West's book, and fully supported in Herbert Hoover's Secret History of World War II, is not whether Harry Hopkins is any particular case reference in Venona; it's the degree to which Stalin got everything he wanted, and more.
This is awesome. I will get this book.
The light of truth scatters Democrats like cockroaches.
That is certainly the role that Radosh has played:
Yes, the Rosenbergs were guilty, but Joe McCarthy was bad. Yes the Spanish Civil War was a tragedy, but John Stewart Service was not a Communist agent. And so on. The first is such a throwaway that it's no longer even controversial. The Second is nonsense. The third is a given. And as to the fourth, it's very, very hard to believe that John Stewart Service was merely a simple-minded dupe in the fall of China, which is what Radosh expects us to believe.
Ann Coulter pretty thoroughly demolished Radosh in one of her columns. I guess I take some pity on Radosh. He's an academic and needs to keep his contacts... I guess ...
Thank you for that sobering post. Now I see why Diana’s book is so “perturbing”. I wonder if Roosevelt learned of the Ukrainian “famine”. I mean, what did he know and when did he know it? I guess we will probably never know the full story. Just hope some of this gets into the mainstream. It is criminal to ignore it.
I have been fascinated by WWII, partly I think because my parents went through it. It was kind of a romantic story I wasn’t a part of. Dad was Army Medical Corps but didn’t go overseas and died when I was 4. It was a period of time that I wanted to understand because it so changed America from what it was. It has changed again today into something totally different.
I am about 2/3 through Diana’s book after reading things like Witness and Blacklisted by History. Things are starting to make sense now.
I also recommend None Dare Call it Conspiracy, it explains the connection between Marxist ideologues and the “rich and powerful elites” who are the real benefactors. It helps to understand how China has become such a financial powerhouse.
We have become almost fully Soviet here in America now. We don’t have gulags partly because they didn’t exist here under a previous czar. Also the regime isn’t dragging us off to the gulags because they don’t have to. The vast majority are so fully brainwashed by media or too morally compromised to stop them.
This is dangerous knowledge. Where do we go from here?
I've reared my children and they're as good as they'll get until they really, REALLY wake up.
Go from here?
In a few hours ... I'm going to church.
My dad fought in the Warsaw Uprising or 1944, he never forgave Roosevelt and Churchill for selling out Poland to the Soviets.
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