Featured Post



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

VIETNAM - 40th Anniversary of Communist Victory

Vietnam protests to Canada over 'boat people' commemoration
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's government rebuked Canada on Friday after the Canadian Senate passed a bill to commemorate the acceptance of 60,000 "boat people" who sought refuge in the wake of the communist takeover of South Vietnam 40 years ago.
Vietnam's foreign ministry said it had summoned Canada's ambassador to denounce the move by the Senate to officially mark April 30 as "Journey to Freedom Day".
North Vietnamese forces captured the South Vietnamese capital Saigon on April 30, 1975, marking the end of a long war and prompting more than a million people to flee, many by boat.
Vietnam refers to the event as the date of its reunification.
The Canadian bill, proposed by a senator of Vietnamese descent, officially came into force on Thursday and is purely symbolic. The Senate is Canada's upper house of parliament….
Hugh Murray 7 hours ago
In many ways, the Vietnam war was a civil war. The Communists won, and many on the losing side believed, often rightly, that they would suffer if they stayed. The boat people risked all, and many died attempting to flee. Some were granted sanctuary in Canada, and other lands too.
One might recall that following the defeat of the Royal forces in the American Revolution, many Tories also fled - and many of them to Canada. Some American slaves who fled, eventually were provided a new land of their own in West Africa by the British.
After the American Civil War, some Confederates fled to South America rather than remain in the harsh United States run by Republicans. And if the Communist govt. of VN is intolerant of the anti-Communists some 40 years after war's end, just think how intolerant many Americans are when they see a Confederate flag waying - and this is 150 years after the end of our Civil War.
In Civil Wars, people fought on both sides, often with great courage and determination. One side lost. The sooner ponder Lincoln's words in his 2nd inaugural, with malice toward none and charity toward all, perhaps we can then improve relations between all those in a nation, and between nations.

The VN Government of 2015 clearly refused to acknowledge why those who fled in 1975 might have grievances.  And the comment section of this article revealed how much many of the exiles still hated the Communist government in Vietnam, even in 2015.  On this anniversary of the defeat of the South Vietnamese government, and the victory for reunification under the Communists, I think it appropriate to quote from a speech delivered at the conclusion of another civil war.  The following is from Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd inaugural address, delivered 4 March 1865.  One hopes in time we may all learn from Lincoln’s spirit.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015


TREASON: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War
To the War on Terrorism (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003)
BY ANN COULTER       Rev. by Hugh Murray
            On 18 February 2015 former NYC Mayor, Republican Rudolph Giuliani made headlines when he asserted that President Barack Obama did not love America – at least love it as most Americans do.  I immediately thought of Giuliani’s accusation as I read the first page of Ann Coulter’s Treason: “Everyone says liberals love America…No they don’t…liberals side with the enemy…Liberals invented the myth of McCarthyism to delegitimize impertinent questions about their own patriotism.”(p. 1)
            Coulter’s exposition, interspersed with witty satirical comments, traces treason in the ranks of government beginning with the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  In 1938 Whittaker Chambers broke with the American Communist Party, but not until 1939, following the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and then the invasion of Poland, first by the Germans, then by the Soviets, did Chambers decide to inform.  He spoke with Undersecretary of State Adolf Berle and detailed to him knowledge of two dozen Soviet spies working for the Roosevelt Administration, including Alger Hiss.  When Berle conveyed this information to Roosevelt, the President advised Berle “to go f*** himself.”  Later, Hiss was promoted.(18)
            Coulter recounts the struggle of some to expose the Communist network, but in general, Democrats were reluctant to believe the accusations, or dismissive, and/or often hostile to the accusers.  Chambers’ revelations were ignored not only by Roosevelt, but later by President Harry Truman, referring to the investigation of Hiss as a red herring.  Among the character witnesses for Hiss were US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter and Illinois Democratic Governor Adlai Stevenson (27), and on the day Hiss was indicted for perjury, Truman’s Sec. of State, Dean Acheson announced he would “not turn his back on Alger Hiss.” (31)  Moreover, Truman’s Dept. of Justice was less interested in discovering Hiss’s connections to the Soviets than in seeking methods to discredit his main accuser, Chambers.  Truman’s Administration was less interested in purging spies from government than in smearing those whistle-blowers who identified such spies.
            While for decades the Left defended the innocence of Hiss, the Rosenbergs, and other convicted spies, finally in 1995 the government released the Venona files (11) showing the Soviet cables of material delivered by spies in the US to their Soviet bosses.  These cables proved that Hiss, the Rosenbergs, and hundreds of other Americans were transmitting information from the US to the USSR.  Though it occurred after publication of her book, it should be noted that in 2012 Russian President Putin praised the Western scientists who provided the Soviets with suitcases filled with secret documents so that Stalin could hasten development of Soviet nuclear weapons.(Reuters, 23 Feb. 2012)
            What is most interesting is that the Venona Project was begun by the Army’s Special Branch and kept secret from the FDR and HST Administrations.(36)  When one official discovered the project, he ordered the army to halt all attempts to decode the Soviet cables, AND he also warned the Soviets about the Americans uncovering the cables; he urged the Soviets to revise their encryption so they would remain hidden from the Americans.  Happily, the Soviets only slightly modified their code, so the US Army could continue to read these cables of treason.  And the treason was so effective, that Stalin knew of the success of the American A-bomb before Truman did.(30)
            Coulter contends that Truman did not begin his loyalty program until after the 1946 mid-tern elections which returned the heavily Republican 80th Congress.  One of the big issues for the GOP was anti-Communism.  One of the problems of her book is that she assumes that because the National Lawyers Guild was on the Attorney General’s list, that it was indeed subversive.  But the NLG fought that designation and won in 1957 when it was removed.
            Coulter is good at showing the smear campaign against the anti-Communists, the informers, the whistle-blowers (continuing to 1998 when many Hollywood stars stood and turned their backs as Elia Kazan, a great film director, was given a life-time achievement award.  Kazan had cooperated in exposing the Communists in Hollywood, and one of his best films, “On the Waterfront” concerns informing.  But to the Left, one should never muckrake to expose Soviet spies and infiltration; and if one does, one pays.  Elizabeth Bentley was called psychotic, a spinster, an alcoholic – but Venona decades later revealed that she was telling the truth about Soviet espionage.  Chambers was deemed a pervert, liar, psycho by the liberals determined to defend Hiss.  And McCarthy, for exposing Communists who worked for the government, was called a homosexual on the Senate floor by liberal Republican Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders.  Leftwing icon, Lillian Hellman gay-baited McCarthy and his investigators Roy Cohn and David Schine.  Of course, McCarthy was also portrayed as an alcoholic, irresponsible, inquisitor, tax cheat, a man who “has no decency,” and in Herblock’s cartoons, unshaven and scruffy.   Yet, McCarthy placed both Truman and Republican Eisenhower on the defensive in their handling of possible subversives employed by government.
            Eisenhower proved just as reluctant to explain and justify his policies as had the previous Democratic administrations.  When Republicans sought to discover “who lost China” in the US State Department, and some accused Ike’s friend and former boss, Gen. George Marshall of treason, Eisenhower defended Marshall and angrily resented such probes.  To prevent in depth query, Ike invoked the new concept to obstruct Congressional investigations, “Executive Privilege” – a method to keep government secrets away from the people, and one used by Nixon (though without success during Watergate), and used to this day to hide corruption, incompetence, and even treason, especially under Pres. Obama.
            Coulter blames the Bay of Pigs fiasco on Dem. Pres. John Kennedy, but much of the planning for this occurred under Republican Eisenhower.  Worse, the CIA essentially lied to JFK, so he refused to send in air support for the landing.  Coulter defends the GOP and condemns the Dems. in foreign affairs.  She is a Republican partisan, even denying that Pres. Ronald Reagan suffered from senility.(185)
            Coulter is good at contrasting the Reagan Administration’s notion of “victory” over Communism, with the policy of previous administrations of “containment.”  Her argument that Reagan won the Cold War is convincing.  But her defense of the GOP ignores how Ike made no effort to “liberate” Hungary in 1956, or even Berlin in 1953, and how he ordered his Western allies to withdraw from Suez and Egypt in 1956.
            Moreover, I think Coulter is wrong on Vietnam.  Ellsberg was correct and courageous to expose how the US got involved in that war in Asia.  And while she blames the Communists for genocide (132, she has millions of reasons for so doing), the worst case, proportionally, occurred in Cambodia.  Cambodia was then Communist, aligned with Mao’s China AND indirectly with the US.  Communist Vietnam was in opposition to China and Cambodia, and when the murderous regime of Pol Pot grew too gruesome, the Vietnamese Communists invaded Cambodia to stop the genocide.  And it stopped.
            Coulter’s book exposes the Communist infiltration of the American government under Roosevelt and Truman, and how attempts to expose it were sometimes impeded, not only by Democrats but by Republicans like Eisenhower.  She suggests a counter to containment, with MacArthur in Korea seeking victory (and fired by Truman), and possibly even earlier with US support for Chiang against Mao in China during the civil war.  Coulter builds a powerful argument that it was not the containment policy that prevailed for decades, but it was Reagan’s victory approach that won the Cold War.
            Coulter has good words for J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn, men usually smeared in recent decades.  She argues that McCarthy helped waken America to the treat of Communist infiltration of government, even in the 1950s, and he paid the heavy price too often charged to whistle-blowers.
            There are some minor errors: she writes that Taft challenged Eisenhower for the GOP nomination in 1953 (147); it was Ike who challenged Taft in 1952.  When Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Korea, “the International Longshoreman’s Union held a work stoppage as protest.”(151)  Clearly she does not mean the Harry Bridges, Left-wing ILWU, but the east and south coast International Longshoremen’s Association.

            Overall, Coulter has written a thought-provoking, witty, revisionist history – as pertinent today as when first published in 2003.     

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I LIKE IKE's biography

EISENHOWER: A LIFE (New York: Viking, 2014)
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            I like Ike’s biography, but Johnson makes some questionable assertions in this short volume.  First, the basics – Johnson stresses that Eisenhower was a team player, as coach, general, and as president.(p. 4)  Ike was intelligent, and purposely presented the image of an average Joe.  Johnson maintains that Ike was in control of the White House when he was president, but let others think that men like Sec. of State John Foster Dulles were in charge.  Eisenhower tried to get along with people, and was a hard worker, learning about the importance of industrial production and organization to the military as he rose in the ranks.  In WWII, he was less interested in capturing political objectives, like Berlin or Prague, believing that the masses of rubble would be rife with snipers and America would pay a heavy cost in lives.  But Eisenhower did rush to capture Luebeck, and thereby cut off any Soviet advance into Denmark.
            According to Johnson, Ike “regarded as his greatest error of judgment” a campaign stop in 1952 in Wisconsin, where, heeding bad advice, he deleted a paragraph praising his old boss, Gen. George Marshall for his patriotism.(19)   Marshall had come under attack by Indiana Republican Sen. Jenner as “a front man for traitors.”(85)  Wisconsin Sen. McCarthy was also critical of Marshall, and Eisenhower removed the paragraph so as not to offend McCarthy in a state the GOP hoped to win in November.  Yet, despite brooding over removing a paragraph from a campaign speech, Eisenhower conceded “The reason we lost China…was because Marshall insisted Chiang Kai-shek take Communists into the government, against Chiang’s judgment.”(101)  So whatever Eisenhower’s emotional response to Marshall, it appears his rational assessment was not significantly different from Jenner’s.
            Eisenhower’s hatred of Jenner, his hostility to California Sen. Knowland, Sen. McCarthy and other conservatives and populists is made manifest in this short book.  Ike, whose politics were so little known during and shortly after WWII that Pres. Harry Truman at one point offered him anything, including the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1948 if he so desired.(62)  But Eisenhower was a quiet Republican, who disagreed more with Truman during the Democrat’s second term.  But Ike also vehemently opposed the old isolationist wing of the GOP, headed by Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, and the seeming favorite for the 1952 nomination.  To oppose Taft, Eisenhower would receive the support of the liberal, internationalist wing of the GOP, the wing that had captured the nomination in 1940 for Wendell Willkie, and in 1944 and 1948 for New York Gov. Thomas Dewey.  Under the leadership of the liberals, the GOP lost those elections.  The nomination in 1952 was a close contest between Taft and Ike, but with a new California Sen. corralling delegates for Eisenhower, Ike won the nomination.  He then gave the vice-presidential nomination to that young Californian, Richard Nixon, to balance the ticket.  Once in power, Ike named a cabinet of millionaire businessmen.
            Johnson describes McCarthy as “a uniquely unpleasant person”; Ike thought if he used patience, McCarthy would destroy himself.(97)  But Ike used more than “patience.”  When McCarthy sought to ferret out Communists working for the government, Ike was just as devious as Truman in moving files to prevent them from being scrutinized by Congressional committees.  Eisenhower even came up with a new mwrhos to stonewall investigations, “executive privilege,”(97) a notion that would prevent exposure to the American people and shield all kinds of nefarious activities – under administrations of Eisenhower, Nixon, and up to and including Obama.
            During WWII Ike planned the Allied invasion of North Africa.  Spending several sentences on the French Admiral Francois Darlan, Johnson remarks that “the French navy was far more anti-Allies, or rather anti-British, than the army.”(32)  What Johnson fails to mention is that in 1940 Churchill had ordered the British navy to attack his erstwhile French allies whose fleet was at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria.  The French were given short notice to surrender on July 3, and when they refused, were attacked by the British, who weeks earlier had been their allies.  Some 1,300 French mariners were killed in this attack, (for comparison, some 2,500 Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor) and consequently, in the new Vichy France, there was strong support for a declaration of war against Britain.  (However, having just lost to Germany, Marshall Petain, believed France was then too weak, so no war was declared.)
            There are some strange omissions from this short book.  According to a PBS documentary on the Supreme Court, Eisenhower later judged his decision to appoint Republican California Gov. Earl Warren to the US Supreme Court, as “the biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.”  Certainly, that court’s unanimous decision finding legal segregation of schools as unconstitutional would raise issues that Ike preferred to defer to another time.  Yet, Ike did send troops to Little Rock to enforce the Court’s decision, the first time since Reconstruction that American troops had been sent South to defend the rights of Blacks.  No Democrat had done that.  Furthermore, the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction was enacted under Eisenhower.
            Another strange omission is one that occurred shortly before the 1956 election.  Johnson mentions the joint Israeli, British, French invasion of Egypt, which aimed to topple Nasser.  But almost simultaneous was the revolt against the Communist regime in Hungary – with American supported radio encouraging the rebels.  Hungary is not mentioned in the book – neither the rebellion nor its suppression by the Soviets, nor the refusal to intervene by Eisenhower.  Johnson asserts that Ike knew nothing about the invasion of Egypt, but I remain skeptical.  I read at the time that the US had give the invasion about 2 weeks to overthrow Nasser; when he retained power, then the US would force the three nations to retreat while the US gained the applause of the Third World.
            Johnson rightly notes that Ike brought peace to Korea, and did not intervene in Vietnam.  Unlike Truman, Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson, Ike never considered using nuclear weapons.(99)  Eisenhower showed no warmth toward Nixon, but disliked John Kennedy even more.  Johnson contrasts Eisenhower’s victories with the botched operation of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba under Kennedy.(113)  But the author does not include that the planning of the Bay of Pigs occurred under Eisenhower on the assumption that Nixon would win the election.  Moreover, the CIA and others lied to Kennedy about salient aspects of the project, lies which contributed to the fiasco.
            One astonishing revelation – Ike did not allow tipping in the White House.  When a Saudi was guest and left tips of $50 and $100 bills, Ike tried to retrieve them before the staff could appropriate them.
            There were two instances where Johnson might have better clarified issues for an American audience.  He gives a list of new men who in Ike’s second term replaced the older appointees, the ones with whom Ike had been close.  Among those whom he would miss and liked were (Herbert) Brownell, (Sherman) Adams, and Humphrey.  Reading this, I thought what?  Hubert Humphrey?  And then I realized, Johnson meant Cabinet member and GM President George Humphrey.(104)
            And following the British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt, the U S “tabled” a motion at the UN, - meaning the motion was placed on the agenda.  That is the British meaning of the word – and it is just the opposite of the American meaning, which would indicate that the proposal had been sent back to committee for later consideration, or killed.  Clearly, Johnson meant the British use of the term, but for an American readership, he might have rephrased the sentence for clarity.

            Despite Johnson’s high opinion of Ike, he does note his vindictiveness, some of his hatreds, some of his duplicity.  Others have suggested Ike may have been extremely cruel to German POWs and other prisoners after WWII.  He obstructed McCarthy and the populist Republican and felt at home with the wealthy.  But he led Allied invasions of North Africa, then of Sicily and Italy, and finally, the world’s largest with D-Day at Normandy.  He commanded the American sector of occupied Germany, and was a commander of forces in NATO, he was president of Columbia University (an Ivy League one), and the President of the US.  He ended the war in Korea, and engaged in no large-scale adventures.  While Sputnik’s high orbiting lowered American prestige, still there was no doubt that the leading power in the world was the USA.  The economy boomed, inflation was low, new consumer products filled the markets which people rode to in automobiles over the new national highway system.  For America, it was a golden age - and Ike was its President.