Featured Post



Friday, October 6, 2017


UNDERCOVER GIRL: The Lesbian Informant Who Helped the FBI
Bring Down the Communist Party (Watertown, MA: Imagine Books, 2017)
Rev. by Hugh Murray

This is a case in which the author clearly dislikes the chief protagonist of her book, and this reviewer dislikes the author. Lisa E. Davis is a politically correct academic and a lesbian, who asserts that one high point of her life was “meeting Fidel Castro.”(Inside back page) By contrast, Angela Calomiris, a small woman with butch features, lived in Manhattan's bohemian Greenwich Village, beginning in the 1930s, she joined the Photo League and then the Communist Party in the early 1940s, and from 1942-1949, was an informant on the League and the CP for the FBI. In 1949 she blew her cover when she openly testified in court against the leaders of the American CP, who were charged under the Smith Act for advocating the violent overthrow of the American government.
Davis relates that those who disliked Calomiris described her as “ruthless,” “conniving,” as a woman who turned in a lesbian to the police or FBI.(p. 2) A few pages later Davis describes Angela as “fair-minded, cold-blooded, charming, and a phony – always intelligent, who knew how to deceive and please and hang tough. A complex, probably troubled person.”(8) At the trial, Angela was labeled “fink,” “stool pigeon,” and “rat.”(12) Author Davis condemns Angela thusly: “But she chose badly, and ended up on the wrong side of history.”(12) Because Angela exposed the Communist efforts to sabotage and overthrow the US Government?! Davis should ask herself, where is the USSR today? I contend Angela Calomiris chose the right side of history, unlike Lisa Davis and Fidel Castro.
Academic Davis basically rejects the findings of the Venona files – that Alger Hiss was a Soviet agent, and whether Whittaker Chambers once had a gay crush on Hiss is unimportant compared to the fact that Chambers helped expose the Communist spy rings inside the US Govt.(10-11) Davis also writes sympathetically of the atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who most Americans at that time believed were rightly executed. Davis grasps at left-wing straws implying the judgment against the couple was wrong. Although for decades he maintained his innocence, Davis ignores the belated confession of Rosenberg co-defendant Morton Sobell (NYT, 21 Sept. 2008) Davis ignores the speech of Vladimir Putin of early 2012 in which the Russian leader thanked the Western scientists who had helped advance the development of the Soviet A-bomb with suitcases filled with secret information.(Reuters stories, Jan. and Feb. 2012) Davis condemns Roy Cohn for being in the closet, and certainly fails to commend him for his part in the prosecution of the Rosenberg spies. Davis even includes play write Tony Kushner's imaginary confrontation of the Rosenbergs to announce the imminent death of the AIDS infected, closeted, anti-Communist Cohn.(10) Davis does not include the the verdict of Judge Irving Kaufman that the treason by the Rosenbergs led to the Korean War, which would cost 35,000 American lives. We know today that Stalin gave Kim Il Sung the green light to invade South Korea in 1950. Would Stalin have allowed that war if his government had not already exploded an A-bomb in 1949? And Stalin had the bomb in 1949 rather than 1959 because of the suitcases of scientific files provided by Western scientists and others in the Soviet spy networks. Indeed, we might thank the Rosenbergs and their comrades for the Kim Il Sung dynasty that still rules North Korea today.
Davis views it differently. “The McCarthy era spawned great controversy – the special bitterness toward informants.”(13) That bitterness was evident for Communists and fellow travelers, but clearly not for most Americans, as demonstrated by Davis' own book. After testifying to expose the dangers of communism, Angela was interviewed on major radio programs, like that of Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary Margaret McBride; interviewed and discussed in major newspapers and mentioned on national broadcasts of Walter Winchell. In the early 1950s Angela, with the help of a ghost writer, Caroline Bird, produced Red Masquerade, the story of her membership in the Party and various front groups, like the Photo League. The book was published by Lippincott, a major company, and was widely, favorably reviewed. It was of a genre of the times, like Herbert Philbrick's I Led 3 Lives, which became a television series (and a favorite of the young Lee Oswald). Matt Cvetic's I Was a Communist for the FBI was transformed from book to the screen, and nominated for an Academy Award as best documentary of 1951. Angela hoped her book would become a film, too. But it did not. Angela's story was somewhat unique, in that hers was the story of a woman, whereas most of the other informer stories were of men. Of course, during her time in the spotlight, Angela sought to keep her sapphic tastes secret.
Davis is right to stress that in testifying against the CP, Angela risked being exposed as a lesbian. The conservative and mainstream media did what they could to portray her as an all-American girl doing dangerous work for patriotic reasons. But even during the trial, the CP defense team tried to insert the issue in order to discredit the witness. Directing questions to the 33-year-old witness like, are you married, do you have children, and stressing the Miss Calomiris, were meant to raise the queer issue in the juror's minds. Judge Harold R. Medina sought to shield Angela, and upheld prosecution objections to cut off certain lines of questioning. Angela was on the witness stand for 5 days, so the Party attorneys had ample opportunity to try to pierce the shield, but Judge Medina protected the witness and would later speak of the sacrifice she had made in coming forth (and not coming out).
Like witness Herbert Philbrick, Angela perjured herself when she denied that she had been paid for her years of service by the FBI,(55) and in interviews after “her” book was published, she lied by denying it was ghosted – she asserted she merely had some help in writing. Author Davis even exposes that, horror of horrors, when looking for employment, Angela “padded” her resume.(167) Yet, after the trial, after the interviews and the publication of the book, Angela moved on, developed her business skills and died with a small real estate empire in Province town valued at $900,000. Quite a climb for a girl whose dad died when she was 7, and whose mom then sent her to an orphanage. Despite the hostility of Davis toward her subject one must commend Davis for restoring to the public the life of Angel Calomiris, and including the closeted side not revealed in the 1950s. Now Angela can be understood, not only as an anti-communist, but as a lesbian too.
Davis' political views intrude throughout her book. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted saying she disliked Communists because they lie; to which Davis retorts: “Anti-Communist might tell bigger lies.”(48) Davis then exposes Angela's lies about not receiving payment from the FBI for her years of information. Davis does write that J. Edgar Hoover was furious about this lie, because it placed his organization in a bad light, unwilling to help those who were helping his security organization. Davis then makes a generalization that what set communist lesbians apart was “these women had a social conscience.”(61) Other lesbians apparantly lacked that conscience, and Angela's anti-communist stance, probably made her anti-conscience in Davis' measurement. Davis extended her assessment when she wrote that the Communist Party was “the conscience of the American Left for at least two decades.”(64) So one is not surprised when, describing the simultaneous trials in 1949, of the Communist leaders at which Angela testified, the Alger Hiss trial for perjury (re spying), and the Judith Copland trial (treason), Davis calls them all “heresy” trials.(76)
When the prosecution and the Anti-Communists praised Angela's great courage in testifying against the CP leadership, Davis tries to avoid this compliment. Davis notes that Angela did receive a mailed death threat upon conviction of the Party leaders, that for a time she had 24-hour police protection, and at one point was beaten as she emerged from a subway exit. Angela thought the assailant was a member of the International Workers' Order. Angela had named names, including members of the IWO. Davis diminishes this, asserting that Angela's testimony was anti-labor. Davis refers to labor reporter Victor Riesel as “the notorious columnist for Hearst's ...[newspapers] and a militant anti-communist.”(149-50) She neglects to mention that Riesel had been blinded by goons working for corrupt unions. And a young, leading-man in California, when he opposed the communists in a Hollywood union, was threatened that someone would throw acid in his face so destroy his image and career if he did not yield to the radicals. Ronald Reagan did not yield then or later.
Davis does connect some of the attacks upon Hollywood star Judy Holiday to Angela's expose of Holiday's police woman girl friend, who was also a member of the CP. Thus, Davis disagrees with Arthur Laurents' assertion that the gay issue did not surface in Hollywood's anti-Communist purge.(156) But the police woman named by Angela was exposed as a Communist, not as a lesbian.
A few things Davis could have mentioned but did not are still interesting. She writes that the CPUSA had taken up the challenge of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay to raise the cause of the most exploited and oppressed section of the world's working class. McKay was a West Indian author, whose “If We Must Die” inspired many. He attended the 4th Congress of the Communist International in Petrograd in 1922. With Stalin's urging, the CPUSA did make Black civil rights a major item in its agenda by 1930. But McKay would become disillusioned with the Communist movement, and in 1944 would be baptized as a convert to Roman Catholicism.
Davis mentions Commonwealth College in Arkansas, which like Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, was meant to be a left-wing institution in the South. Indeed, it was at Highlander that Rosa Parks learned the tactics that she would apply when she refused to yield her seat in 1955 on a Montgomery bus, which led to the bus boycott and the reinvigoration of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King also attended Highlander for training and tactics. Though most of the teachers and participants of these institutions were on the Left or would become so, one alum of Commonwealth went on to become the governor of Arkansas. However, Democratic Gov. Orville Faubus is best known not for his left-wing past, but for his efforts to prevent the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, which provoked Republican Pres. Eisenhower to send troops to guarantee the entrance to the schools of the 9 Blacks. That was the first time federal troops had been used to defend Black rights since Reconstruction.
Davis' book lacks an index, making it harder to follow chronologically some aspects of her story, particularly about Judy Holiday. Davis sprinkles her concluding chapters with put-downs of Angela (161, 168, 175, 177, 181) Davis quotes Angela on a point that all should ponder: Angela “accounted for her lack of remorse at betraying people she had worked closely with...'The Party doesn't believe in friendship,' she told them. 'There aren't any friends there.'”(163)
There is another reason why I dislike the author's approach in this book. I recall Elia Kazan, who produced some wonderful films of my youth, like “On the Waterfront” with Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, and Marlon Brando, and “Streetcar Named Desire,” and “East of Eden.” In 1952 before the House Un-American Activities Committees Kazan had named names of former comrades. Decades later, the Hollywood Left demonstrated its hatred of Kazan, the fink. When in 1999 the Academy Award was to present the elderly Kazan with a special award for life-time achievement, left wingers in the audience, like Ed Harris and Nick Nolte, sat in their seats and refused to applaud or stood and turned their backs on the whistle blower who exposed Communists in the industry. To the Left, Kazan was an informer. To most Americans, he was a hero. And Angela was a heroine.
I wonder if Ms. Davis has ever personally faced the issue. I recall after my arrest in the first lunch-counter sit-in in New Orleans in September 1960, I was interviewed by the police Red Squad. Seven of us had been arrested, but I think only the two whites were so interviewed. I refused to say how many members were in the NO CORE chapter. Or how many attended meetings, etc. I admitted that I had read The Communist Manifesto, and said I favored income tax.
In 1962 I was called up for the draft. Many of us in a room, and we were handed forms to fill out. Most filled them easily and quickly. I had to take longer. One was a question about arrests. I had been convicted in the 1960 sit-in, a felony, that was still being appealed through the courts. I filled that in. The other problem question concerned subversive organizations: the KKK, the CP, and many front groups. Perusing the list, I suddenly recognized a name – the Jewish Culture Clubs. I realized that during the CORE training institute in Miami in August 1960, we had some connection with the Jewish group. Once, when we were to integrate a beach, they booked the picnic table next to ours, as a buffer, to avoid trouble with possible militant racists. Also we had had a dance at their meeting hall. The first was a public beach, so I did not worry about that, but the dance was at their hall. Should I mark it down? If I lie, the fine mentioned on the form was about $2000, an enormous amount at the time. It was only a dance, - indeed, that is where I first learned the twist, a new dance of that era. Then, I also realized photographs were taken. So I decided to mention this and put it on the form. When I handed it to the officer, he looked, and asked in surprise, “But you're not even Jewish?” He told me I would have to talk to the FBI regarding my felony, but their representative was presently speaking with the Black Muslim who opposed induction. I sat and waited. The FBI man said they could not draft someone with a felony conviction, but he would speak to the DA about dropping the charge. Bottom line, in several weeks I got the answer – the new NO DA, Jim Garrison would not drop the charges, and the case was being appealed up to the US Supreme Court. I was not inducted.
In early 1963 I was teaching 5th grade at a private school in NO, and after classes, played tennis with a colleague. Thus, I arrived home later than usual. My mother greeted me, “Humph! I thought they had rounded you up.” I rushed to the TV to find what she was referring to. The Louisiana Un-American Activities Committee was engaged in an anti-red raid, and arrested 3 “subversives.” James Dombrowski, head of the Southern Conference Education Fund, an integration organization (I was on its mailing list), Ben Smith and Bruce Walzer, two attorneys who defended unions, integration, and other “subversive” types, were the 3 rounded up. Jack, a friend from Tulane and a junior member of the Smith firm, was also wondering if the ax would fall on him. I spoke with him and mentioned that I had known a member of the CP going back to CORE and 1960. If called to testify, what should I do? Happily, I was never called before LUAC.
Nearly 2 months after the round-up, I was teaching 5th grade when Mrs. Flagg, who taught another 5th grade class directly across the hall from mine, came to my door. She asked me to come to her classroom for a few minutes. I rarely left my class unattended, but assumed there was an unusual problem. It was a new school, and we had no cafeteria. Mrs. Flagg's class was then having lunch and free time, so it was quite noisy in her room. One of her pupils had brought to school one of the new transistor radios, and she wanted me to listen. We craned out necks over the boy and his radio. I listened a short time, but had to return to my class.
I re-entered and shut the door. I announced that Pres. Kennedy has just been shot in Dallas. Immediately, the pupils cheered and applauded. One girl was the exception; she put her head on her table and cried. I was shocked by their reaction, and gave an impromptu history lesson. “You think this is the end of integration. At the end of the Civil War some thought, if we can only kill Lincoln, the North will yield, and the South will be allowed to secede successfully. They did kill Lincoln, and the result was the North grew angrier, harsher, and the consequence was Radical Reconstruction. Killing Kennedy will probably make the North even more determined to impose integration. I, like my pupils, assumed Kennedy had been shot by a segregationist.
The school canceled later classes and let us all out early. That afternoon, I received a phone call from Shelly Zervigon, wife of Carlos, one of the early CORE activists. She told me she had heard on the news that Kennedy had been murdered by a Lee Oswald, a communist from New Orleans! I was stunned. Who was he? Many thought I was a communist from NO. And in October the round up had already begun. In November 1938 Herschel Grynszpan shot and killed a German diplomat in Paris, and shortly after, Kristallnacht, the round up of thousands of Jews and burning of many synagogues in Germany. If that happened because of the assassination of an embassy official, what will happen with the assassination of a President? I began to think, this is it. I am going to go out and drink (it may be my last chance), and try to find out info on this Oswald. I drove to the French Quarter and drank and asked. No one seemed to have heard of LHO. Finally, I did hear about one person who may have spoken to him. I was told Bob Heller, a Tulanian and former CORE activist, may have spoken with Oswald when Oswald was distributing pro-Castro literature in down-town NO. At that time, that was the only name I knew that might have had a connection to LHO.
After school on Tuesday 26 November 1963 two FBI men came to visit me at home. In the summer of 1963 I had picked up a Fair Play leaflet in the Tulane U. library on a table, with no one around. On it was a PO Box address. I thought a fellow grad student had printed it, went to his desk, showed it to him, but he knew nothing about it. We discussed writing to the POB, but both of us were suspicious. I joked, it could be an FBI ploy. We decided to do nothing till we knew more. Now, the FBI was asking me about Oswald. At the time, I had no idea we had attended the same junior high, and possibly the same high school. I knew only one name of a person who someone thought had met Oswald. I told the FBI Heller's name. And if I had known 20 people who had encountered Oswald, I would have named all 20. Some years after, I became a critic of the Warren Commission's report and conclusions about the assassination. Had I withheld information, it would have been more difficult to be a critic. The FBI did then go to interview Heller. Later when I encountered a Northerner on Tulane campus, Phil Good always would point at me and yell “fink.”
In 2008 I was teaching at Hebei Normal U. in Shijiazhuang, China, when one night I received an email from my boss: be careful, there had been an incident at Disco City; try to come back early (or something like that). I assume the same email was sent to all the foreign faculty. I had never been to Disco City, but was curious. Phone calls here and there. With the help of a friendly Chinese woman who had a car, a Brazilian of Chinese extraction who knew English and Cantonese, but was studying Mandarin and was also a business man, and one of my students to help translate, we set out. I was told there were 3 victims, an American, an African, and an Asian. First stop, the hospital. We found the room where one of the foreigners was being held. The door was locked, and brown paper on the windows blocked all views, but the strong odor of medicine gave the impression that the injury was serious. I tried to use my foreign privilege, with my student translating to the nurse telling her I'm and American and want to see the American in the room. The nurse did not yield; she would not allow us to see the injured party.
From there we drove to the jail for illegal aliens. I was surprised that a young Bangladeshi, who had lived in the same building as I, and with whom I had chatted in English on occasion was in trouble. He had arrived on a visa to study Chinese, but overstayed his visa, got a job in another disco, and had a girl friend who happened to be one of my students. All this was news to me. In the jail he told me at Disco City the three foreigners were together and one had made a play for a pretty young Chinese gal, who happened to be the girlfriend of a local Mafioso. When the 3 exited the disco, they were met by 6 Chinese with knives. The East African had been badly wounded (it was he who was in the hospital room). The American had received only a slight cut on his hand, and he was more worried about being deported as China was expelling many non-essential foreigners in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Bangladeshi ran away and escaped injury. But as there were so few foreigners in Shijiazhuang, a city of about 2 million, authorities had no trouble apprehending him. We raised some money to help pay his fines, and his parents had to pay for his flight home.
Upon returning to my flat, I received a phone call from my boss. Where was I that afternoon? Who was I with? I had never before received such a call; indeed, I had been given great freedom in teaching my classes. But I refused to give names in this instance. I don't think there were any negative repercussions for me or my student; I was treated well. Overall, I probably had more freedom in teaching at that university in China then, than I would have had at most narrow-minded, politically correct universities in America.
I was working as a minor bureaucrat in the police building (I did not work for the police, however). I was shocked when young men would enter the building wearing t-shirts, “Off the Snitch.” Kill the informer! I assume they reside in the neighborhoods that are crime-ridden with high murder rates.

Bottom line – despite Davis' terms, “fink,” “stool pigeon,” “rat,” or the more positive ones I prefer, “whistle blower,” “informer,” “reporter,” I do not think there is a simple formula one can use concerning informing. Sometimes it is right; sometimes wrong. And unlike Davis, I think Angela Calomiris did the right thing in informing on the leadership of the CP, and more, I think she, and not they, were on the right side of history.      

Thursday, September 14, 2017


FORGOTTEN ALLY: CHINA'S WORLD WAR II, 1937-1945 (Boston, etc.; Mariner Books,
Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, c. 2013)
Rev. by Hugh Murray
What's wrong with this book? In the Index one can find a listing for Chiang Kia-shek's “paranoia over Soviet Union,”(p. 431) but there is nothing in Mitter's Index concerning the assassination plots against Chiang by the chief US military leader in China during most of WWII. General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell's plots included having Chiang jump from an airplane with a defective parachute or have him die from food poisoning with a botulism that would not show in an autopsy. These “plans,” even though not implemented, should have been included in the book. Also missing is the comment to Stilwell by the beloved Pres. Franklin Roosevelt concerning the Chinese leader, “If you can't get along with Chiang and can't replace him, get rid of him once and for all.”(Richard Bernstein, FP, 3 Sept. 2015) Mitter has truly mistitled his book: The Forgotten Ally, should have been The Betrayed Ally. And Mitter wrongly concluded that different approaches and policies were “character driven squabbles [which] would lead to one of the postwar tragedies in American politics: the sterile debate on 'Who Lost China'”(Mitter, 354)
What makes Mitter's book so important is that he is so representative of the mainstream history establishment. A professor of History and Politics at Cambridge U. in England, Mitter's volume will become the quick reference work on WWII China for many years. But his Leftwing bias is so clear and evident, yet so ubiquitous in academe that he us unaware of it and how it distorts his history. I hope to expose some of his biases.
There is a strong argument to be made that American “aid” to the Republic of China during WWII was destructive to Chiang and his Nationalist government, - that Roosevelt and Gen. George Marshall were willing to sacrifice China to entice Stalin to join the war against Japanesean. China, like Poland and eastern Europe, would be served to the Soviets by the West. The big difference, the Soviet troops were in Poland and eastern Europe, so the West “gave” the Soviets what they had already conquered. In China, FDR and Marshall were willing to give Stalin what his troops had not won, inviting them in at the war's conclusion.
In the 1930s Marshall had risen quickly in the US Army, being promoted over more senior officers. His work with the depression program, the Civilian Conservation Corps, had gone well, and he rose in the ranks. In part this may have been because his politics were more amenable to the Roosevelts, for in the US, the elected officials are the ultimate authority. Marshall served a stint in China, where he disliked the Nationalist regime, and so did his protege, Joe Stilwell.
In 1927 Chiang had turned against his allies within the Nationalist Party, and sought to destroy his erstwhile Communist colleagues. Simultaneously, Chiang was also fighting against local war-lords, trying to unify the nation. In 1931 the Japanese invaded several northeastern provinces, and established a puppet state to represent the Manchu minority, restoring the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, as the head of the new nation of Manchukuo. Chiang was too weak to do much about that or further Japanese inroads into northern China. In 1937 a minor incident on a bridge outside of Beijing with shots fired between Chinese and Japanese soldiers escalated. This time Chiang did not yield, and the 2nd Sino-Japanese War had begun.
The Imperial leaders of Japanesean were furious that China refused to follow the rising sun in its determination to expel Western colonialists and oppressors from Asia. Japanesean attacked Shanghai in the largest battle since the 1916 Battle of the Marne of WWI. China still would not surrender. Japanesean decided to be ruthless in its next major campaign, known today as “the Rape of Nanking (Nanjing).” Chiang was basically alone in his fight. He had had help from German military advisers, but in time they were recalled as Germany, Italy, and Japanesean joined in an anti-Comintern Pact. Stalin provided some minor help, and in the 1939 undeclared war – USSR and Mongolia vs. Japanesean and Manchukuo, the Soviets quickly smashed the Japanese defenses, and peace was restored.
Chiang was basically alone in trying to stop the Japanese with regular armies. The communists were limited to the north or their center in Yenan. They could only use guerrilla tactics against the Japanese. Chiang's army might delay the Nipponese invaders, but the Nationalists were not as well equipped, or trained, and they usually succumbed. Finally, some Nationalists, fed up with the loss of life and lands, decided for an alternative approach. Wang Jingwei, had once been the number 2 man to Sun Yat-sen, leader of the Chinese Revolution that had overthrown the Qing Dynasty in 1911. In 1940 Wang and several other prominent Chinese, left Chunking, the new evacuated Nationalist capital, for Hanoi, Indo-China (then under the Vichy French, collaborating with the Axis). From there they flew to Japanese occupied cities and soon established a collaborationist regime in Nanjing. For them, the fight against Japanesean was over. The fight against the West and the communists would continue. With the defection of these Nationalist leaders, Chiang was even more alone.
That changed in December 1941 when the Japanese attacked Hawaii. America entered the war. Chiang had an ally. Or did he? FDR's favorite Gen. Marshall appointed Joseph Stilwell to be the US military attache to China, and Stilwell was suddenly 2nd in command of the Chinese army. Although Stilwell had not been know for his generalship, he took some of Chiang's best-trained troops on a risky venture in Burma, and then abandoned them! Stilwell turned up in India and appeared before the newsreels. Chiang's troops were not trained for the jungle warfare where Stilwell had led them. There were serious losses by the Allies there, Chinese, Indian, and British troops. Soon Stilwell complained that Chiang was not fighting the Japanese, but instead keeping his troops for a later conflict against the communists. But some of the troops about whom Stilwell complained were in areas where they were also holding important junctions threatened by the Japanese. Mitter fails to ask a very basic question about Stilwell, - was he an enemy of the Nationalist Government?
Mitter writes: “During the summer of 1943 Stilwell fantasized about taking command of all Chinese troops, including the Communists, with Chiang and the Nationalist military leadership left as ciphers only.”(302) Note, he does not mention the Red leaders as ciphers. Was Stilwell and enemy of the Nationalists?
An answer to that question might be gleaned by reviewing a hand-written letter Stilwell sent to a friend on 6 April 1946. By then, WWII was over, Stilwell was in the US, and the Soviets had taken Manchuria at the end of the war as agreed to at Yalta by FDR and Stalin. The Soviets expropriated much portable, industrial material back to the USSR and later would give many confiscated Japanese weapons and some American lend-lease supplies to the Chinese Communists entering Manchuria. Both the USSR and the USA recognized the Nationalists as the official Republic of China, and America tried to get Nationalist (KMT) troops to Manchuria before the Reds got there. The Soviets blocked some American ships from the ports, but eventually the KMT troops disembarked and won some, and then some more of the cities of Manchuria. Suddenly there was open civil war between the Reds and KMT. The Reds were not nearly as well trained at this point, and the KMT was winning victory after victory when Stilwell wrote the letter. He wrote: “Isn't Manchuria a spectacle? ...It makes me itch to throw down my shovel and get over there and shoulder a rifle with Chu Teh.” (Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-45, p. 527) Chu Teh was then the military leader of Communist forces. He would later command the Chinese “volunteers” who crossed the Yalu River to drive the Americans from North Korea. Tuchman adds that the Stilwell letter was published in the newsletter of a pro-communist journalist in January 1947. (Tuchman, 527, ftnote) Sen. Joseph McCarthy, in his book critical of Marshall, reported that the same letter was also published on 26 Jan. 1947, in photostat, in the New York Daily Worker (organ of the Communist Party, USA). (McCarthy, America's Retreat from Victory, p. 62)
Stilwell did not take his rifle to Manchuria in spring 1946, and he died a few months later. However, Gen. Marshall came to the rescue of Stilwell's communist friend. “Both Nationalist armies combined to take Szup'ing and push north...in June 1946...Only another cease-fire order on 6 June – agreed to as a result of great pressure from Marshall and later described by Chiang as his 'most grievous mistake' – saved Lin Piao's [communist] headquarters and permitted the central Manchurian front to stabilize...for the remainder of 1946.”(Edward L. Dryer, China at War, 1901-1949, pp. 324-25) At the same time that Americans were demanding Communists be excluded from the governments of Italy and France, Gen. Marshall was demanding that Chiang form a coalition government that included the Reds. Marshall threatened to cut off all American aid if this were not done. Neither Chiang nor Mao really wanted a workable coalition. Marshall then did cut off all aid to the KMT, the official government of China. Marshall, who was then Pres. Truman's Special Envoy to China would boast, “As Chief of Staff I armed 39 anti-communist divisions, now with the stroke of a pen, I disarm them.” (McCarthy, 90) With Marshall's friends in the US State Dept., Chiang was unable to get the proper license to purchase ammunition or weapons in the US. The State Dept. got Britain to fall in line, so Chiang could get no ammunition or replacements or new weapons. Marshall did more to harm the KMT. When Gen. Wedemeyer was suggested as the new Ambassador to China, Marshall received word from Zhou En Lai, the representative of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in many negotiations. Zhou objected to Wedemeyer, and Marshall then withdrew support for the general. Instead, John L. Stuart was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of China. Stuart had been a missionary, a university professor, a man who had called for the removal of Chiang, and a teacher of Zhou En Lai. So the new Ambassador to Chiang was a man more sympathetic to the radical rebels than to the official government of China. Marshall had a lot in common with Stilwell.
Though the KMT had been winning the civil war in China when Marshall first imposed the embargo, as the year went by, the Reds, with help from the Soviets, began to push the the KMT back from what Dreyer considered its high point with the capture of Yenan in March 1947. (Dreyer, 319) Meanwhile, China became an issue in American politics. While a big “Get America Out” rally in California featured labor leader Harry Bridges, Black singer and celebrity Paul Robeson, and Hollywood actors like Edward G. Robinson, the newly elected Republican Congress had other ideas. It passed legislation to provide considerable funds to the KMT. Left-wingers and Soviet agents in the Treasury Dept., Commerce, and State, obstructed and delayed delivery of the aid until it was too late. When US Ambassador to China Patrick Hurley had resigned in November 1945, he warned that “a considerable section of our State Dept. is endeavoring to support Communism generally as well as specifically in China.” (Tuchman, p. 523-24). Gen. Wedemeyer, who succeeded Stilwell, reported that the KMT could win the civil war with American help, but as this contradicted Marshall's view, the Wedemeyer Report was suppressed for several years. Gen. Claire Chennault, who led the Flying Tigers in China, had worked well with Chiang, and was critical of the communists and of Stilwell. The left wing had been extremely critical of the US during the Spanish civil war for not aiding the Republic against the rebels of the Falange, because the Republic was the legitimate government, - the left now reversed itself, demanding no aid to the legitimate government of China, Chiang and the KMT. Mitter dismisses these debates as personality squabbles, which led to the horrors of McCarthyism. Mitter accuses Hurley and the right wing of distortion (370), and concludes that the civil war “went badly for the Nationalists in large part because of Chiang's ... judgments.”(369) Observe Mitter's non-judgmental phrase, “...when the Korean War broke out in 1950.”(371) I would argue the question as to whether China became Communist or Nationalist was a major one, and there is good reason to suspect deception and treason in the American community led to the betrayal of Chiang and the victory of Mao.
Mitter describes how Chiang in 1937 was the recognized leader of China – recognized even by Stalin's USSR. Mitter notes how the early years of war in China received world-wide publicity. The Spanish Civil War was still on-going, and suddenly there was another war against cruel imperialism. If Guernica became a symbol for the world of the horrors or war, soon that picture was to be joined by newsreels of bombing when the Japanese invaded Shanghai, and even more so , Dec.-Jan. 1937-38 when Japanese troops were given free reign to loot, rape, and kill in Nanking, the city that had been the capital of Chiang's China. Although Mao in his out-of- the-way Yenan hoped to use guerrilla tactics, Chiang, with difficulty, maintained a regular Chinese Army to fight the Japanese invaders, even if they were usually loosing ground and battles.
In December 1941 the Japanese did not simply attack Pearl Harbor; they attacked the (American) Philippines, British Hong Kong, the Dutch Indonesia, Siam, the Malay States, the “Gibraltar of the East” Singapore, and Burma. By February 1942, all of SE Asia was controlled by the Japanese or their allies. How could Chiang receive any American supplies? Either on a Burma road (which was soon closed because of the Japanese), or by air over “the hump,” the Himalayas.
The Americans also supplied Chiang with two military figures – one of whom proved disastrous; the other helpful. “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell was theoretically 2nd in command of the Nationalist Army, directly under Chiang. Stilwell quickly developed a contempt for Chiang whom he called “the peanut” in his diaries. The other American advisor, who unlike Stilwell, stressed the role of air power in the war was Gen. Claire Chennault, whose Flying Tigers would become legendary in the Asian war. Because the Japanese' occupation of coastal China now extended to all of SE Asia, Chiang's Nationalists were isolated; getting supplies to them was a major problem. Of course, after Pearl Harbor, Germany had declared war on the US, and Gen. Marshall and the American leadership decided Europe would be the primary target, so most supplies and lend lease materials would be headed for Britain or the USSR rather than China. Stilwell was in charge of US lend-lease to China, which he used to force Chiang to do as the American general wanted. In many ways Stilwell (and perhaps Marshall and FDR) viewed Nationalist China more as a satellite than as an ally. Mitter concluded that FDR's appointment of Stilwell in China would lead “to the four-year duel between Chiang and that American general...”(242) In the clashes, although “Stilwell had no previous direct experience in generalship,...he had a powerful friend in George C. Marshall.”(250) On 6 February 1942 Marshall sent a message to China – “American forces in China and Burma will operate under Stilwell's direction...but Ger. Stilwell himself will always be under the command of the Generalissimo [Chiang].” (250) Stilwell thought that meant he was in command.
In the spring 1942 Stilwell engaged in a battle for Burma. As things went badly, he ordered the Chinese troops under his command to withdraw to India. Chiang was appalled that a foreign commander of Chinese troops would send them to another country rather than back to China. Chiang counter-manded Stilwell's orders. Then Stilwell and his small entourage arrived at Imphal, India, where he was interviewed by American journalists. Chiang was aghast that Stilwell, the commander, would abandon his troops. Many of those “best” Chinese troops became lost in the thick Burmese jungles, and lost to later fighting in China. Even Stilwell had described this as a “risky” adventure (255); Mitter writes of this episode as “the Burma debacle.”(260) Not only did China lose access to supplies when the Japanese captured and retained the Burma Road, but Stilwell's “highly risky gamble was much more likely to fail than to succeed. It led to the death or injury of some 25,000 Chinese troops along with over 10,000 British and Indian troops (with only 4,500 Japanese casualties). Retreat might” have saved many for the defense of China.”(260)
Again and again the Nationalists are depicted as incompetent and corrupt, and Mitter, either quoting Western observers or adding his own judgment, reinforces these negatives. For some Westerners, Chiang Kai-shek became “Cash my check.” Others found Chiang personally honest, but one who allowed corruption in his Army. Zhisui Li trained as a physician in the West, but with his wife was enthusiastic to return to the new China with his wife in 1949. On the way back, they stopped in Hong Kong where a friend introduced them to a man, reputed to be a high CCP official. The friend told Li to give a gift to the official for “a smooth return...you might land a good-paying job in a medical college in Beijing...give him a Rolex watch...” The idealistic couple refused to give a bribe. After some problems upon entry to the Peoples Republic of China, Li eventually became the personal physician to Mao. “In 1956, when I told Mao the story [about the request for a bribe], Mao laughed uproariously. 'You bookworm,' he chided me. 'Why are you so stingy? You don't understand human relations. Pure water can't support fish.'”(Zhisui Li, The Private Life of Chairman Mao, p. 41) It appears that the corruption denounced by leaders of the CCP in recent years began at the birth of the PRC with Mao's attitude.
As in other theaters of fighting in WWII, the changes in the popular image of Chiang would follow the pattern of another leader who fought against both Axis aggression and communism. On 25 March 1941, Prince Paul, Regent of Yugoslavia, agreed to adhere to the Tri-Partite Treaty, effectively bringing his nation into an Axis alliance. Because many officers were Serbs and opposed to the Germans, they staged a coup on 27 March. Hitler, preparing for his Operation Barbarosa against the USSR, did not want an anti-German Yugoslavia behind his lines. On 6 April 1941 Germany invaded Yugoslavia and was soon joined by several Axis allies. By mid-April, Yugoslavia had surrendered. Later that same month, Draza Mihailovic, an officer, gathered others together to begin a resistance to German occupation. Only after the Germans attacked the Soviet Union 22 June 1941 would any communist think of forming an underground against the fascist occupation and collaborating governments in the now dismembered Yugoslavia. The leader of the communist partisans was Josip Broz Tito, and he and Mihailovic forces at first agreed to cooperate. However, when sabotage provoked massive retribution by the Germans, Mihailovic's Chetniks were opposed to large-scale sabotage, except under special circumstances. Tito was for it. By year's end, there were skirmishes between the Chetnics and the communists.
Yugoslavia, unlike some European nations, was a multi-ethnic state with simmering feuds and hatreds. With defeat, Serbia was reduced in size; an independent Croatia created; and parts of the Yugoslavia were occupied by Hungarians, Italians, and others. There were Slovenians and Muslims, and Jewish and German minority groups. Mihailovic and the Chetniks did at time collaborate with the puppet government in Serbia; sometimes, Tito's Partisans also collaborated. However, more important for the future of both Tito and Mihailovic were some of the personnel of Britain's MI6 and the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the American intelligence agency). At the decoding area in Benchly Park in the UK, we now know several important figures were Communists and Soviet agents. Also, in the rush to create an American agency, Bill Donovan was chiefly concerned about recruiting people opposed to fascism, rather than worrying if they might have far-left backgrounds. With the help of Communist and Soviet agents inside Britain's MI6, and similar agents inside Donovan's OSS, soon MI6 and the OSS were reporting that Tito's partisans were doing all the fighting in Yugoslavia against the Germans and fascist collaborationist regimes, while Mihailovic either did nothing or was himself collaborating. When Mihailovic's guerrillas did fight, the MI6 crowd attributed such resistance to the Reds. The stage was being set for the betrayal of Mihailovic; by early 1943 Churchill, believing the distorted MI6 reports, gave up on Mihailovic, and at war's end,when Tito and the communists came to power, Mihailovic was executed. Many said that was a political decision of the court. In 2017 a Serbian court quashed the treason conviction of Mihailovic. Others maintain that was a political decision.
So initially, Mihailovic is portrayed as a national, patriotic hero fighting against the German oppressors. But when the communists backed Tito, a change in reporting about Mihailovic occurred.
A similar pattern can be observed in the treatment of Chiang and Mao. At first, Chiang is hailed as the Chinese leader standing up against brutal, Japanese aggression. But then he is portrayed as corrupt, inefficient, unwilling to fight the Japanese, always in retreat. By contrast, Mao was building a new egalitarian society where everyone pulled together for the same goals; and his forces led guerrilla campaigns against the Japanese and collaborators. Dreyer argued years later that all hoped to avoid battle with the Japanese, but all had to fight them if and when the Japanese attacked. But only the Nationalists maintained an army of 4 million to oppose the Japanese. Mitter even acknowledges that Chiang's armies held down about 500,000 Japanese troops who might have been assigned elsewhere.(379) such as a major invasion of India. Others place the number of Japanese stuck in the China quagmire at 700,000 to a million; it was a war that Japanesean simply could not seem to win because of the resistance by Chiang.
Mitter includes discussion of the repression in China under Wang's Axis-Nationalist regime in Nanjing; Chiang's anti-Japanese regime in Chunking; and Mao's communist territory in Yenan. In war time, of course, the first two imposed repression. Here's how Mitter describes what was occurring in Yenan: “The communist terror was different. The purpose...was not to line anyone's pocket. Rather, it envisioned – and achieved – one clear aim: it would bring together radicalized ideology, wartime isolation, and fear to create a new system of political power. The war against Japanesean was giving birth to Mao's China.”(295) The History Channel in 2017 showed a special on Mao which provided an example. After arriving in Yenan after the Long March, Mao had posters announce requests for criticism. Next day, some critics posted their views on the wall. Mao found the author of the main critique, had him arrested. Mao then watched as the man's knees were bent in various, unnatural ways, meant to cause as much pain as possible. Mao did not touch; just watched. Additional pain was inflicted upon the critic. Eventually, the fun was over and Mao had the victim killed. Thus, Mao was forging unity among the radicals.
In WWII America was clearly more interested in defeating Hitler and fascism in Europe, deeming them a greater threat than Imperial Japanesean. The US and Britain had much in common, and when FDR and Churchill met in the Atlantic, sailors of both nations sang Christian hymns, shown in newsreels, reinforcing the common bonds. There were no similar bonds with Stalin's USSR. But like Churchill, FDR would make a deal with the devil to defeat Hitler. Lend lease and military supplies were sent to Britain and the Soviets while American servicemen in the Pacific might be 3rd on the priority list. We did not want Britain or the Soviets to collapse.
But we did not want the Republic of China to collapse either! America sent Stilwell to be the number 2 military figure in the Republic of China! We were turning Chiang's China into a satellite. Could you imagine Roosevelt sending an American general to be the number 2 military figure in Stalin's USSR? Although we were giving much more to Stalin, Americans could not even stop when American aid was being re-labeled in the USSR so it appeared to the recipients as Soviet home aid. Stalin was given a free hand. FDR's Administration even asked Hollywood to produce films sympathetic to Stalin, so “Mission to Moscow” and other films glorifying Stalin's Soviet empire were produced.
Even if the remarks by FDR to Stilwell, to get Chiang to do what we want or eliminate him- even if this conversation were another Stilwell fantasy, it would not alter the way the US treated the leader of the Chinese Republic. China was snubbed as a satellite, and as the war wore on, and the influence of the left-wingers in the American bureaucracy waxed, their smearing of Chiang prepared the way for the disarming of the KMT and the victory of the communists in 1949.
After four years of fighting the Japanese alone, with America as a new ally, Chiang was left to deal with an inept general who recklessly wasted Chinese troops on ventures that weakened China and permitted Japanesean to launch a major assault into China in 1944. There is also good reason to believe leftists and communists were inside American intelligence organizations working inside China, providing information to the “peasant rebels.” So “hero” Chiang of 1938 was transformed into the corrupt, inept, un-willing-to-fight the Japanese, fascist-tainted Chiang of the mid-1940s. That is why Chiang deserved to abandon Chinese claims to Outer Mongolia (which was by then the Soviet satellite of Mongolia), and deserved to have the Soviets plundering Manchuria at the end of WWII. And of course, that is why Chiang did not deserve any weapons for his KMT during the civil war against the peasant reformers of Yenan led by Mao.

Like others, I think Chiang with American help could have defeated the Communists in the civil war following WWII. Deception and treason crippled Chiang's chances to win. The results – China under Chairman Mao for decades with millions of Chinese starved, tortured, or executed. And the other legacy of that era – the Kim Il Sung dynasty in North Korea. What a legacy of the Left?  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


AGAINST JOSEPH MCCARTHY (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017)
Rev. by Hugh Murray
David Nichols' book shows that one of the top priorities of Eisenhower's first term as president was to curb and destroy Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. Nichols occasionally intersperses his main theme with snippets of what else was happening in the world – such as the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in Indo-China(247), and the decision by the US Supreme Court overturning 50 years of precedents in favor of segregation, to declare “separate but equal,” un-Constitutional.(262)
Nichols argues that McCarthy had subverted the Constitutional protection against self-incrimination by accusing those who invoked the 5th Amendment before his investigating committee of being subversives.(45-46) To elaborate on this idea, Nichols quotes Albert Einstein who urged his colleagues not to speak at the McCarthy hearings “even if it meant 'jail or economic ruin.'” McCarthy retorted that anyone advising such is “an enemy of America.” In the next sentence Nichols reveals his own view...”McCarthy continued his demagoguery...”(46)
What Nichols does not discuss is that in 1945 a leading Soviet agent, Pavel Sudaplatov, was urging one of his underlings to befriend Einstein. Margarita Konenkova, wife of a prominent sculptor, accompanied her husband to America where her husband, Sergei, was to sculpt a head of the prominent scientist. This gave Margarita entree to Einstein, and they did become an item. Although Einstein was not part of the Manhattan Project to build the atom bomb, he knew many of the scientists involved, and they occasionally sought his advice. According to the National Geographic Channel series “Genius,” a biography of Einstein, Margarita is shown copying his notes to give to the Soviets.
Sudaplatov, in his 1995 memoir, stated that he wanted Margarita to also get close to J. Robert Oppenheimer, “the father of the A bomb,” who headed the Manhattan Project. She did not, but that may not have been necessary. Oppenheimer's landlady was a member of the Communist Party; so was his mistress; so was his brother; his sister-in-law; so was his wife. According to the FBI, Oppenheimer himself had been a member, but was told by the party to drop out so as to pass security for the Manhattan Project. The FBI had sources alleging that Oppenheimer simply became part of the party's secret apparatus. Some also alleged that he knew Steve Nelson. It is not disputed that he hired Communists for the Manhattan Project. In a recent PBS 2-hour documentary, “The Bomb,” the narrator does disclose some of the Communist affiliations of those close to Oppenheimer, but not the possibility that he remained a secret member of the Party. The documentary was sympathetic to Oppenheimer, while making his antagonist over building the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller, into a villain disliked by most other scientists.
In 1943 the FBI bugged the home of Steve Nelson, labor leader, and veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (that fought in Spain against Franco and the Falange). By the early 1940s, Nelson, a secret member of the CP, was residing in California. Thanks to the release of various government documents, we now know some of the workings of the spy networks. In March 1943 the FBI bug revealed that Nelson met with atomic scientist Joseph Weinberg.  Nelson instructed Weinberg  to gather and send him information from other Party members working with him on the atomic bomb project at the Univ. of California, Berkeley.  Nelson also told Weinberg to inform the comrades working there to destroy their CP membership books, and refrain from using liquor.(Herbert Romerstein & Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets, p. 255)
            In April 1943 Nelson received another visitor, a member of the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC.  The Soviet official instructed the America Communist to establish an espionage network in the American atomic program.  The Soviet counted out specific amounts of cash to fund the project, and told Nelson where he should place reliable Communists for this “special work” in conveying to the Soviets what the Americans were discovering in the US atomic program.(R & B.,p. 259) One writer suggested that this is how the FBI first learned of the Manhattan Project – from a Soviet official!

Today, we know that the Rosenbergs were guilty of espionage, as was Klaus Fuchs, but only much later did we learn of the role of Theodore Hall. How many others were involved in this? A Reuters story received almost no headlines when it appeared in January-February 2012. In January Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in a public address, praised the Western scientists who provided atomic secrets to the Soviets so that the Communist regime could develop its own nuclear bombs.  Putin emphasized that the Soviets were provided “suitcases” filled with material; “suitcases full” he stressed.  American spying on behalf of the Soviets was not paranoia; it was a reality.  And the consequence of that spying aided Stalin to develop nuclear weapons faster, and helped in other areas of military advance. To this day, do we know the full scale of spying on behalf of the USSR? On behalf of Stalin?
And how does Nichols handle the Oppenheimer case? “Another threat to Eisenhower's anti-McCarthy operation had surfaced on April 8 [1954]...the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission] had stripped J. Robert Oppenheimer...of his security clearance...following the war, he had become an advisor to the AEC.”(225) Related was an 18-month delay in America's development of the hydrogen bomb. Atty. General Herbert Brownell thought “the only possible criminal action against Oppenheimer would be for perjury.”(226) Brownell believed that Oppenheimer was guilty only of bad associations. At that time, a major theme of Eisenhower's fight with McCarthy was over the notion of “guilt by association” and how damaging this was to innocent people and freedom.
The New York Times, working with the Eisenhower Administration, reported on “Oppenheimer's questionable associations, his hiring of alleged communists or former communists, his contradictory testimony to the FBI about attending communist meetings, his failure to report in timely fashion on an attempt by the Soviet Union to secure scientific information from him, and his opposition to the development of the hydrogen bomb.”(226-27) The Administration feared McCarthy would exploit Oppenheimer's h-bomb opposition; the Wisconsonian did declare Oppenheimer's suspension was long overdue. McCarthy also claimed that he had delayed his own investigation of the h-bomb delay at the behest of the Administration “because of security measures involved.”(227)
Of course, there had been Communists and Soviet agents inside the US government. Perhaps, in many cases they simply performed their jobs as any other bureaucrats. But at other times, with their advice invariably coinciding with Soviet policy, their proposals could be disastrous from the American perspective. In 1951 McCarthy had published a book in which he contended that American policy in China after WWII was based upon advice coming from the reports of communists, socialists, and other left-wingers. This resulted in the denial of American aid to Chiang Kai Shek, which led to the collapse of his Nationalist forces and the victory of the Communists under Mao Zedong. Among those whom McCarthy sharply criticized was the former American Ambassador, Gen. George Marshall, for his role in the Asian debacle. Eisenhower, who served under Marshall in Europe, resented McCarthy's attack upon his old mentor. Moreover, Eisenhower felt himself vulnerable about some of his actions in Europe during the rosy days of US-Soviet cooperation.(144, 213)
How was Eisenhower managing the issue of communists in government? His Atty. Gen. Brownell, cleaning up the office from the past Administration, rummaging through old papers, discovered documents showing that Harry Dexter White was a Soviet spy. White had been Under Secretary of the Treasury during the Roosevelt and early Truman presidencies. Brownell conferred with Eisenhower, discussing the evidence and suggesting that he should go public with the information. Eisenhower agreed. Brownell, in a public speech, declared White a spy. And although the FBI had reported his activities in detail to Pres. Truman, despite the derogatory reports, Truman nominated White to be Executive Director for the US of the International Monetary Fund. Moreover, Truman failed to inform the Senate Banking Committee of the FBI report, so White was confirmed in the new post. On 30 April 1946 Truman had written a letter commending White's distinguished career with Treasury. White died in 1948.(85) With Brownell's expose of Truman's promotion of a communist spy, Truman fired back. He accused Brownell of playing politics, trying to divert attention from the Administration's failures on the economic front. Truman then asserted that White had been fired by his Democratic Administration. White House Press Secretary James Hagerty explained that Mr. White had not been fired, but had resigned from the Treasury Dept. To this, Truman blasted, White had been fired by resignation. Hagerty responded by reading from Truman's letter of 1946 praising White. Nichol's adds: “Truman's combative denials, even when false, made such a sharp-edged attack on a former president seem unseemly.”(86) But was this not a major problem for McCarthy? When he charged a respectable person with subversion, even when true, it was “unseemly,” “low,” “boorish,” “bullying”? Look at how Herblock portrayed McCarthy in the cartoons? Indeed, the New York Times' editorial feared Brownell's revelations about White might provoke “a reckless renewal of McCarthyism.”(87)
The House un-American Activities Committee planned to subpoena Truman, who continued to defend his general anti-communist actions. HUAC, under pressure from Eisenhower, relented on the subpoena, and Brownell now simply charged the previous Administration with “laxity” in the case of White.
At a press conference, Eisenhower, pretending to be ignorant of the White story, asserted that he would not have issued a subpoena for former Pres. Truman. Furthermore, it was “inconceivable” that Truman had knowingly appointed a Communist spy to high office.(88) “In spite of testimony by J. Edgar Hoover [and a statement by former Secretary of State James Byrnes] contradicting Truman's account...,Truman had won the public argument.”(91) Would Truman have won this argument if Eisenhower had been willing to be truthful and to support the facts being exposed? Was Ike so afraid of being labeled a McCarthyite that he was willing to allow a pass on Truman who promoted a Communist spy to a higher ranking post? When the buck stopped with Truman, Ike lied and dropped the issue. Essentially, Ike White-washed it.
Were there other communists in government? Spies? Were some providing advise based upon communist principles? Scientist Oppenheimer was undoubtedly one of those who helped delay American development of the hydrogen bomb. He did not lose his security clearance until April 1954. So Oppenheimer served in the US government under FDR, Truman, and Ike. But which government was he most desirous of serving?
In Eisenhower's State of the Union speech of January 1954, he announced that 2,200 federal employees had lost their jobs, implying the sweep out of communists was a success. (Oppenheimer was still on the payroll.) But Eisenhower had changed the methods of firing government employees. When pressed for more information about the discharged employees, the Administration finally provided statistics: 29 for loyalty concerns; 430 for security concerns, the rest for sexual perversions, alcoholism, or false statements on the job applications.(138) The new administration explained a government job was not a right but a privilege, and those who might be subject to blackmail would be dismissed. The assumption was that homosexuals, if not communists or spies, might be blackmailed into providing information to an enemy, and therefore should not work in government. However, the government provided no evidence of any of the fired homosexuals or alcoholics secreting information to an enemy.
But in many ways Eisenhower continued the personnel and policies of the Truman era. The fight over Charles Bohlen's appointment as ambassador to the USSR, was not simply about sexual rumors, as Nichols relates. Bohlen was considered another of the Acheson, soft-on- communism crowd of bureaucrats that had led to communist victories throughout much of the post-WWII world.
The culmination of Eisenhower's attempt to crush McCarthy centered around the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. McCarthy had received a memo alleging that 34 workers at Ft. Monmouth Army Signal Corps base in New Jersey were subjects of FBI investigation. H Stanton Evans in his Blacklisted by History writes: “...but one of many leads about the Army Signal Corps that would reach McCarthy in the spring of 1953 and later. Based on such tips, the committee launched...a series of investigations...These interlocking probes would run from the late summer of 1953 through the spring of 1954. when they would be brought to a sudden halt by stunning Army charges of malfeasance against McCarthy and his counsel Roy Cohn...”(Evans, p. 523) Some working at Monmouth would take home secret documents – an amazing 2,700 security documents signed out at one time.(Evans, 510) Earlier in the 1940s Julius Rosenberg had worked as a Signal Corps inspector along with fellow spies like Morton Sobell. The Signal Corps remained important for its research and development in radar, missiles, anti-aircraft, and other weaponry. Some working there were convinced that security at Monmouth was lax and some employees should be fired. Furthemore, not all questions about Monmouth concerned the past; a recent defector from East Germany claimed that the East European laboratory where he had worked often received data secreted from Ft. Monmouth.
McCarthy held closed hearings and various witnesses invoked the 5th Amendment rather than answer questions about communism and even espionage. McCarthy was convinced that there was more subversion to uncover at the installation, and some worked at Monmouth, like Gen. Kirke Larton agreed with the Senator. This group of about 10 army men tried to fire those they deemed security risks, but when the cases went higher – to the Pentagon, the firing decisions were reversed by the federal Loyalty Board, and the “risks” reinstated. Gen. Larton even praised Sen. McCarthy during these hearings. Also attending some of these hearings was John Adams, Army counsel, who disapproved and deemed them a witch hunt.
Because of his efforts to cleanse Ft. Monmouth and his praise for McCarthy, Gen. Larton soon discovered that he was passed over for an expected promotion. Then he would find his army career at an end. Others, too, felt the pressure from on high. Army attorney John Adams viewed many of the “risks” as innocent victims, while judging Gen. Larton as demoralizing the work-force at Monmouth with his super security concerns. When an Army dentist at Monmouth, who was a member of the Communist Party, received a promotion, McCarthy wanted to know who was responsible. He called Army Gen. Ralph Zwicker, in charge of the Fort, and berated him when he did not answer the main question - “ Who promoted Peress?”
Some complained that McCarty was humiliating an officer of the US Army, and that is impermissible. The stage was set for Ike's counter-attack: the Army-McCarthy hearings.
And with them, the anti-subversion hearings a Ft. Monmouth came to a halt. The Army, in silent collaboration with Pres. Eisenhower, counter-attacked with charges against McCarthy. It was clear that the main thrust of the Army's counter punch would be the implied unnatural relationship between McCarthy's counsel, Roy Cohn and a committee investigator who had recently been drafted, David Schine. Cohn contended that Schine was essential for the committee's work and pressured the Army to give the draftee more week-end passes during basic training in New Jersey. Cohn sought other privileges for his young colleague, but when the Army refused all Cohn's demands, according to army officials, Cohn threatened to destroy the Army.
Liberal Republican Thomas Dewey, also involved in the assault against McCarthy, suggested attorney Joseph Welch to lead the prosecution for the Army. The hearings were to be televised. At a time when on television the “I Love Lucy” show could not even mention the word “pregnant” to describe Lucy's condition, the word “homosexual” was as taboo as the act was illegal. Innuendo was used by Welch. With Roy Cohn on the witness stand, Welch probed into what work was accomplished on those week-end passes. What was he and Schine doing? On the stand, complaining about a doctored photograph introduced into evidence by Cohn, Welch wanted to know if the picture had been altered by pixies. McCarty interrupted to ask Welch for his definition of a pixie. Something akin to a fairy, Welch replied. McCarthy interjected that Welch might be an expert on that. Both sides invoked the anti-gay jabs, but the heart of the Army position was that McCarthy had humiliated an Army general because Cohn could not get more privileges for his friend, Schine. Some began to wonder what Cohn might have on McCarthy, that he allowed Cohn to make such demands on the Army. During the hearings, the Army held one witness in reserve – a chauffeur of Schine. This driver maintained that on the weekend pass days, he would drive the pair from New Jersey to New York City; he also witnessed Cohn and Schine having sex in the back seat. But as the hearings were having the desired effect, McCarthy's popularity in polls was plummeting, the Army case raced forward without the driver.
To stress the point, liberal Republican Sen. Ralph Flanders of Vermont gave a speech in the Senate calling McCarthy a menace, comparing him to Hitler, and emphasizing that the core of the Army-McCarthy hearings was the “personal relationships” between Cohn and Schine. Cohn's “passionate anxiety” to retain Schine as a staff employee. Flanders also asked what hold Cohn had on McCarthy.(277) Flanders was implying, in the euphemisms of the time, that all three were gay. McCarthy's stock continued to fall, and later the Senate would vote to condemn him.
There were issues that seemed to be resolved when the Senate condemned McCarthy. To defend his side, McCarthy sought to subpoena information where much of the planning for the hearings occurred. He was alleging that Schine was a hostage of the government that sought to derail his hearings on subversion at Monmouth. That at that meeting the government concocted a smear campaign against McCarthy and his employees. He wanted to see what happened at that meeting, and even some Democratic Senators thought that a proper request. President Eisenhower basically said no and invoked Executive Privilege to prevent any information going to Congress concerning advise to the President or his advisors. The major media celebrated the President's strong defense of the Executive branch and its powers.
Also, McCarthy had requested that government employees should inform him if they found something suspicious at work. In effect, McCarthy was asking for whistle-blowers. Eisenhower responded by wondering if such a call was itself a broach of security.(251) McCarthy asserted that Eisenhower was more worried about McCarthy moles in government than about Soviet agents. But Eisenhower's Executive Privilege won the day over McCarthy and his potential whistle-blowers.
Evans, in his book on McCarthy, notes the hypocrisy of the liberal media – it supported the Executive Privileges under Eisenhower when challenged by McCarthy, but when Pres. Richard Nixon invoked Executive Privilege, with one of the same attorneys, James St. Claire, who had worked it out for Eisenhower, - however this time, the Congress AND the media demanded the Nixon records, and even the Nixon tapes. Advisors to Nixon would not, should not, receive the protection to advise the President with the knowledge that their advise would not be made public. And today with President Trump, the liberal media support all the leaks provided by entrenched liberal bureaucrats against the new nationalist Administration. Apparently, the role of the whistle-blower and Executive Privilege depends less on the Constitution and more on whose ox is gored.
Nichols does show conclusively that Eisenhower was actively involved in the attack on McCarthy. Though both sides were willing to use the gay issue to their advantage, Eisenhower and the Army would use it most effectively against Cohn and Schine, and thus against McCarthy. While Nichols presents a record hostile to McCarthy, the Evans' book provides a different interpretation of the Cohn-Schine trip to Europe to purge American propaganda libraries, which did containe many works by Communists and those on the left, but little by authors on the right. Evans also attacks the Edward R. Murrow hit-piece on McCarthy, that Nichols mentions in his book as one of a series of events in the anti-McCarthy crescendo of mid 1954.
Nichols proves that Pres. Eisenhower was no bumbling, senile golfer ignorant of American politics. Eisenhower was leading the troops against McCarthy, but doing so behind the scenes. He viewed McCarthy as a threat, and after the televised hearings, got the Senate to condemn McCarthy and break his power. However, as a new book, this one fails. Nichols writes as if he were still in the 1950s. Since then there have been more revelations of how the Soviets did penetrate the American government. He ignores such exposes so that he can continue to write, as did liberals of the earlier era, that Hoover and McCarthy and others were paranoid, on witch hunts, destroying freedom, bullying, boorish, unseemly, even lower class. Now, we know there were witches who provided important information to our adversaries. Because of the new material, an author should reasses the conflict between McCarthy and Eisenhower and the other liberals. With new information, McCarthy seems prescient; his liberal opponents blind, bumbling, deceptive, and vindictive. Nichols refuses to reboot. His book was outdated on the day of its publication.

Communists in the American government were not all “spies” providing secret documents. They might simply provide bad advice – advice meant to promote Soviet interests rather than those of the US. And some did steal secrets. Today, we know there was much more subversion than we wanted to believe back then. Suitcases of documents! McCarthy may have been closer to the truth than Gen. Marshall, President Eisenhower, and the New York Times. Nichols fails to consider this possibility. Or should I write, probability?   

Monday, August 14, 2017


I have recently seen on TV, as a result of the murder, protests, and violence in Virginia, various Left Wing spokesmen and women stating that free speech does not protect "hate speech." This is a view all to common on university campuses. Because of the Charlottesville clashes, this may be the time of crunch.
THINK! If racist speech is forbidden, we must dump Huck Finn, even if it is the great American novel. What if a book reports Blacks commit violent crimes at a much higher rate than whites or Asians? Some will find that "racist." true but racist, and therefore a hate crime. If the local tv news shows a black criminal hi-jacking a car, that too will be deemed racist. The anchor arrested, or grovelling on camera that he meant nothing by showing the video. The Left will soon try to impose Communist notions of "free speech," - no fascist speech, not hate speech, no racist speech. The result - no free speech. If the Left wins on this issue, if they somehow get biased judges to reinterpret the American Constitution and its protection of free speech, then even on Fox News we will get only an American version of the old Pravda.
Hugh Murray

Sunday, August 13, 2017


     For years the left has terrorized conservatives on many universities.  What has emerged on the left is the view that ideas they dislike should not be expressed, should be shut down, using force and violence to do so.  So speakers who challenge affirmative action, global warming, abortion, gay rights, the Palestinian right to Israel, gun control, etc. are simply not heard on most campuses.  At most universities the right of free speech has disappeared, replace by the view that hate speech should be shut down, and hate speech is anything that the left disagrees with.  This outrageous notion of "free speech" has infected most Democrats and many liberal Republicans.
     During the 2016 campaign these ideas were fought in the streets.  When Trump supporters in California were terrorized and beaten upon leaving Trump rallies.  The cops did nothing, and the lib Dem mayors blamed Trump.  Even the media showed how left wing antifa, BLM, Occupy, and other Soros funded mobs used violence against Trumpsters and other innocent citizens who might be walking in the wrong place.  The left wing Mayors, and their stand-down cops, encouraged violence of the Left.
    In Charlottesville, that happened again.  The vicious left attacked the far right.  I do not agree with many of their views, but that is no reason for violence against them.  The police often stood down and let the Left attack.  There was blood.
    One from the right apparently got tired of being the victim.  He drove his car into the left agitators.  One killed, many injured.  That violent act must be condemned.  But so too must the numerous violent acts of the Left against a lawful meeting by people with whom they disagree.
    President Trump was correct in blaming many sides in promoting the violence.  We need to keep free speech in American, even if we disagree with what is said.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO MODERN CHINA (Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2002)
By Vanessa Lide Whitcomb and Michael Brown
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            This is a good, short guide to China’s long history.  But there are problems.  In a chapter on the “Lay of the Land,” the authors include much essential description of the vast and varied areas of China.  However, the one map is utterly inadequate, with no markings for major rivers, the great wall, the grand canal, or the size of territories included within major historical dynasties.  Next, there seems to be a left-leaning bias – thus (p. 266) “ the Korean war broke out,” rather than the North’s leader Kim Il Sung had received Stalin’s permission to invade the southern half of the peninsula.  The authors twice quote Owen Lattimore (44, 51) not because his words were so incisive, but as a way to reject the Cold War Republican charges that Lattimore and other “progressive” authorities who bashed Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek, may have helped Mao Zedong and the Communists seize power in China after WWII.  Indeed, the book devotes only one page to the civil war between Chiang and Mao that followed WWII.
            Interesting also is their treatment of the “Hundred Flowers Debacle.” (141)  The authors vacillate on the sincerity of Mao’s call to let a hundred flowers bloom, “to let a hundred schools of thought contend” for what should be the best policies for China, following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by the victorious Communist forces in 1949.  When many scholars and intellectuals responded with open criticism of the Party and of Mao during the blooming flowers campaign of 1956-57, Mao suddenly reversed his policy and the Communist Party cracked down.  Soon “some 300,000 intellectuals were denounced, their lives and careers ruined.  Others, not so fortunate, were executed.”  The authors wonder if Mao was sincere in calling for free speech, or simply using his call for openness as a ploy to expose and entrap dissidents.(141)
            The History Channel in 2016 telecast a special on Mao, and it asserted that when the Long March was completed, and Mao’s residue forces finally reached Yanan, the Left was already dominant in the area.  But it was less organized, more student centered, more tolerant.  Mao planned to change that.  His military took control and he imposed more “discipline” on the area.  Then he urged criticism, and a wall of public announcements and critiques was suddenly plastered with suggested improvements and criticism of Mao’s policies.  Mao discovered the main critic, had him arrested, and was there when his men began their lessons on the imprisoned young critic.  For starters, they began by bending his knee in ways that are unnatural but cause incredible pain.  Then they tortured him in ways to inflict ever more pain.  Finally, they killed him.  When word got out, criticism of Mao ceased.  The implementation may have been original to Mao, but the process can be traced back to Lenin and the early days of the Communist state.  The Communists had asked author Maxim Gorki with help in organizing a large gathering of Russian authors and intellectuals.  Gorki did so.  Soon, many of the participants were arrested by the Bolshevik government.  When Gorki complained, Lenin quoted Gorki’s own words that intellectuals were often “irresponsible,” and how the new state could not afford such irresponsibility by bourgeois intellectuals but required instead those who could speak for the workers.  Mao’s flowers, like those of Lenin earlier, seemed to bloom and quickly wilt, at die, in prison.
            There are some errors in this book.  Not in 2002 when it was published, and not even now in 2017, is the population of China 3.4 billion!(6)  The population then was more like 1.4 billion.  The authors got something else backward – China is a huge importer, NOT exporter, of chicken feet.(273)  The authors appear wrong in their prediction: “By fits and starts the process of [North and South Korean] unification seems to be underway.”(238)  While the authors rightly credit Chinese with many inventions, the authors can exaggerate: “The invention of paper [by the Chinese] had a profound influence on the world.  Prior to its existence, parchment was the only writing material available…”(105)  Wrong.  Papyrus scrolls had filled the shelves of the Library of Alexandria and other places.  We all use initials and other forms to save time and space.  I suspect one of the authors used “CM” to mean one thing; and the other mistook the meaning.  So the book notes that in 1848 Karl Marx published “The Common Man.” (43)  In 1848 Marx published The Communist Manifesto.  And one can dispute the number of Chinese who died in various social engineering experiments by the Communists under Mao – 20 million?  Or 50 million?
            Strangely missing from the book is mention of Mao’s policy that pre-dated the well-known “one-child policy” of his successors.  As Mao pondered the possibility of nuclear war against the capitalist nations, or even against the USSR, he believed that China could survive if its population were large enough.  Thus, large families were encouraged.  Later, his successors sought to raise the standard of living, in part, by imposing the one-child policy, at least on urban dwellers.  Missing entirely from the discussion of the WWII era are the different types of experiences  - as few Chinese resided in Mao’s Communist-run areas of China, more in Chiang’s Nationalist China, whose temporary capital was Chungqing, while probably the largest number of Chinese then resided under Japanese occupation: in Manchukuo, and in Wang Jing-wei’s “Reorganized” Chinese government located it Nanjing (a collaborationist government like Marshall Petain’s in France.), and in other Japanese occupied areas of China.  On the other hand the authors report that when the terra cotta soldiers of the ancient emperor Qin were discovered during the Cultural Revolution, Zhou EnLai ordered they be reburied; he feared the Red Guard fanatics of the Cultural Revolution would destroy them.  He ordered, rebury them to save them.(148)
            The authors do make some important conclusions.  China’s efforts in WWII were important for the Allies.  “The bulk of the Chinese fighting had been done by Chiang’s forces, while the communists stayed on the sidelines and built party solidarity.”(127)  The authors calculate that during WWII, 1.3 million Chinese were killed, and another 130,000 missing, for a total 1.43 killed and presumed dead.(127)  Mao had many plans for China, and he and the CCP implemented the Great Leap Forward, to industrialize the nation and collectivize the peasantry.  The result was a man-made famine, 1959-61, in which “it is estimated that as many as 20 million Chinese people starved to death.”(144)  In 1976, with the deaths of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, Deng Xioaping defeated “the Gang of 4” to succeed Mao.  “Deng took over the government of a country that had just lost 30 million people to famine and the purges of the Cultural Revolution.”(155)  Some anti-communist estimates of the cost of Mao’s egalitarian efforts range up to 50 million Chinese killed.  With such a high cost for “equality,” might China have fared better under Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists?  Or even by making a deal with the Japanese, as sought by Wang Jing-wei and his “Reorganized,” collaborationist government?

Despite a few errors, one can learn much from this fast-paced guide to China.   A