Monday, October 5, 2015
AMERICAN BETRAYAL: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
(New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, @ 2013) by DIANA WEST
Rev. by Hugh Murray
The US, Britain, China, and the Soviets all won WWII, but the USSR won the peace that followed. The reason, according to Diana West, is that Communist infiltration of the American (and British and Chinese governments) led to major decisions that culminated in a longer war than necessary, the Soviet occupation of Eastern and Central Europe, and Soviet dominance in North Korea, Manchuria, and ultimately in a Communist regime victorious on the mainland of China.
Her book has encountered fierce criticism, especially from former Left-wingers David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh, who became Reagan Republicans in the 1980s. I learned much from this West volume, and yet I disagree with some of her major points.
West contends that had it not been for Communist influence in the Roosevelt Administration, the Western allies could have made a deal with anti-Nazi generals in Germany who would have ousted Hitler, ceased the war in the West, closed the concentration camps, and joined with the West to protect Eastern Europe from Soviet advance. Because this alternative would have prevented Stalinization of much of Europe, Communist agents in FDR’s government sought to prevent any consideration of this alternative. Furthermore, this alternative policy would have ended the war in 1943 and saved the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians and victims in camps. If only?!
Nowhere in her book does West mention the “Dolchstoss” theory that grew to prominence in Germany at the conclusion of WWI. She should have. When “the Great War” ended in November 1918, there was not a single Allied soldier on German soil. To many Germans, the armistice came as a shock. Germany could have and should have won. German troops were still in Belgium and France, and after Russia had been knocked out of the war, the Kaiser’s troops were also in many new states chipped from the old, huge Russian Empire. How could Germany have lost? The reason was the troops were stabbed in the back – by traitorous elements on the home front. Socialists, Spartacists (soon to be Communists), strikers, the selfish, the plutocrats, and most especially, the Jews were the cause of Germany’s betrayal, Germany’s defeat. The peace terms by the victors at Versailles brought greater grief to Germany. Germany was condemned as guilty for starting the war, so it had to pay the cost of the war to the victors through enormous reparations. By 1923 the German economy collapsed under the weight of massive inflation. Poverty. Humiliation. Defeat. And in 1929 Depression. Germany could have won except for the stab in the back. It should have won. A new political leader promised to erase and reverse that defeat and to make the Left and the Jews pay for their treason of 1918. Germany did not lose the First War. If proper precautions were taken to curtail the traitorous factions, Germany would not lose a Second.
So, in the early 1940s West suggests that American policy should have been to work with the German Army to overthrow Hitler. Would this have ended the war in 1943? Assuming there could be a truce on the eastern front with Stalin (a major assumption), assuming a free Poland was restored, assuming the other nations of Eastern Europe granted some democratic rights, how long might this peace last? Surely some Germans would have felt their chance at victory under Hitler had again been thwarted, betrayed, this time by the elite nobility among the army officer corps. In Germany there might rise a new Dolchstoss myth. Might not a new Nazi movement develop and take hold of Germany once again? Once again they could proclaim Germany was just about to win, when it was betrayed, this time by nobles among the politicians and general staff. Their betrayal overthrew Hitler on the verge of victory! Think again: Must the Western nations have to war with Germany every generation, 1914, 1939, 1964? Or would it not be best to make the Germans realize that they did lose WWI, and make certain that they learn the lesson that they have fully lost it in WWII? When Churchill and Roosevelt demanded “unconditional surrender” by the Axis, they were aware that many Germans had falsely assumed that they had not lost in 1918. No more playing around; Germany will know without question that it has lost by the end of WWII. Unconditional surrender!
And who might be some of those involved in the anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler German Government that was to work with the Western allies? Along with many generals, Ms. West notes the German Ambassador to Turkey was involved in these intrigues, Franz von Papen.(284, 304) During the Weimar Republic von Papen was a member of the Catholic Center Party, and was even appointed Kanzler for a very short time in 1932 before being replaced by a general. Von Papen then helped overcome Pres. Hindenburg’s aversion to Hitler, so that Hitler, leader of by far the largest party in the Reichstag, was named Kanzler in January 1933. But the conservatives were confident they had tricked Hitler, for the majority of his Cabinet would not be Nazis. Conservatives would be the vast majority of Hitler’s cabinet and von Papen would be Vice Chancellor. Hitler would be a figure head. The conservative Cabinet was going to tame and restrain the fanatical Hitler. That was the plan. One knows how well that worked. Indeed, on the Night of Long Knives in 1934, von Papen himself was nearly among those killed when Hitler “cleansed” his regime. So, in the midst of war in the 1940s against Germany, Churchill and Roosevelt are to place their hopes on the likes of von Papen to tame and restrain and overthrow Hitler and establish a more democratic Germany and, and…And for this the Western allies were to jeopardize their alliance with Stalin? One need not be a Communist agent in the Roosevelt Administration to detect some problems with the approach advocated by Ms. West.
Diana West also believes it was Communist influence in the Western alliance that pressed for a 2nd front landing against the Nazis in northern France. She argues a better strategy would have been through the Balkans and the Adriatic, using the Allied armies in Italy as the base. By invading the Balkans the Western Allies would have liberated much of Eastern Europe before the arrival of Soviet troops. Indeed, there would have been no need for Soviet troops in the area. So the Balkans would not have fallen under Communist rule lost behind Stalin’s Iron Curtain.
Ms. West contends that this strategy was therefore preferable to the one which consolidated much of the Allied forces into the invasion of northern and southern France – D Day in Normandy, and the smaller invasion of southern France from the Mediterranean. Again she blames Communist influence for selecting these targets, which left Eastern Europe prey to advancing Soviet armies.
Let me use some of the information West provides to refute one of her arguments. Communists in the British MI5 and the American OSS were feeding misinformation to their higher ups concerning partisan activities in Yugoslavia.(293, and also in Evans/Romerstein’s Stalin’s Secret Agents(161-62) When the Nazis first invaded that nation in 1941 Draga Mihailovic organized an anti-fascist resistance movement. It was not until after the Germans attacked the Soviets in the summer of 1941 that a Communist resistance movement was organized, under the leadership of Tito. Because of Communist influence in MI5 and OSS, massive disinformation spread. The intelligence reports of efforts to subvert the various Axis authorities established in what had been Yugoslavia were manipulated so that successful attacks by Mihailovic’s group were attributed to Tito’s instead, while the anti-Communist Mihailovic was described as ineffective, corrupt, and an Axis collaborator. Based upon such Communist lies (emanating from the Britain’s own MI5, even Churchill turned against Mihailovic, cut off his supplies and threw Britain’s support to the Communist Tito. Consequently, even had the preferred strategy of Ms. West been adopted, had the Western allies invaded the Balkans, they might well have established pro-Communist governments in the Balkans like one led by Tito. The Balkans might then have gone Communist even without the Soviet Army!
But what about Western victories in the Balkans? In Hitler’s Neuropa, Croatia became an independent nation for the first time in the 20th century. Would the Croatians not have fought fiercely to defend their new nation?(Recall the ethnic wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s?) And the Muslims? (Some of whom joined the Wehrmacht but wearing a fez as part of their uniform.) Would the Western allies have had a cake walk through the Balkans? And through Greece? Ever hear of the nearby Gallipoli? The raid that failed dismally. The Balkan-Adrilatic proposal of Ms. West may have left Western forces stalled in mountainous terrain and amid hostile ethnic groups resulting in bloody battles, high casualties, and very slow progress. The Soviets may have ended up with most of the Balkans anyway. And by our delaying D-Day, the Soviets may have driven further into Western Europe, seizing Denmark and perhaps even part of France. And by placing more of Western material into the Balkan assaults, there would have been less for Normandy. Could the Balkan alternative have rendered D-Day a failure?
Enough speculation. Despite my criticism and skepticism of some of West’s theses, I learned much from her book. In January 2012 Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a public address thanked 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.
In West’s book one can ponder if those suitcases were shipped to the USSR from Great Falls, MT. West discusses the sworn testimony of George Jordan before Congressional hearings in 1949-50 about his experiences shipping Lend Lease plane-loads of material in 1943. Some were atomic materials, and some black suitcases contained materials with unusual words like uranium.(138-39, etc.) The American in charge of Lend Lease was Harry Hopkins, whom some deemed so powerful in the FDR Administration, that called him a co-President.
Ms. West also reveals an incident damning Hopkins on another occasion. In April 1943 the FBI had bugged the Oakland home of Steve Nelson, a National Committeeman of the Communist Party, USA. The FBI overheard a representative from the Soviet Embassy give money to Nelson for the purpose of him placing Communist agents “in industries engaged in secret war production…so the information could be obtained for transmittal to the Soviet Union.”(188) West declares that this is how the Bureau first learned about the Manhattan Project to produce the A-bomb. Because of this important information, on 7 May 1943 FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a confidential letter to one of our highest government officials, Harry Hopkins, alerting him to the problem of Soviet espionage and its connection to the CPUSA.
West writes: “Hopkins’ reaction to Hoover’s revelation may be the most damaging…When he read what Hoover told [him] in his confidential letter…Hopkins [would] immediately turn around and tell the Soviet Embassy, where the same ‘diplomat’ was posted, that the FBI was on to them.”(188) Hopkins, who then lived in the White House and was perhaps FDR’s chief advisor, was warning the Soviets to be careful when planning espionage against the United States.
A few other examples of Hopkins’ influence are disclosed by West. In April 1944 a Soviet official, Victor Kravchenko, defected in the US. The New York Times headlined the story: “Soviet Official Here Resigns; Assails ‘Double-Faced’ Policies.”(110) The point was that while Stalin spoke of democracy, he was practicing tyranny.(128) Kravchenko was an ‘economic attache’ in the Soviet headquarters of Lend Lease in Washington; he knew a lot. How could this anti-Soviet expose be contained? The Soviets requested the return of this ‘deserter’ to the USSR, and continued to press the Administration for his return. At one point, the FBI warned him that the US State Department might apprehend him to give him to the Soviets. Hopkins referred to him as a deserter.(132) Meanwhile, the Soviets had a good idea of what Kravchenko was revealing. He was talking to the FBI, but the OSS had supplied him with a typist and translator, a woman who was also a secret agent of the KGB.(118, 132) Though Pres. Roosevelt toyed with the idea of returning Kravchenko, when the Soviets would not guarantee that he would not be shot, then FDR rejected the Soviet request for the man’s return. On the other hand, at Yalta Roosevelt agreed to the forced return of some 2 million Soviets who had fled, escaped, deserted, (some of whom even joined fascist forces). If they were not killed immediately, they were undoubtedly shipped to slave labor in the Gulag.
Eventually Kravchenko would write two books exposing the Soviet tyranny and he would testify before Congress that for the Soviets, the Lend Lease (the agency he defected from) – “the Soviet Purchasing Commission…-was in reality the Soviet Spying Commission, the Soviet Thieving Commission…with its thousand-plus employees under order to filch as many industrial and military secrets as possible for the upcoming struggle between the USSR and the USA.”(114) The American chief of Lend Lease was Harry Hopkins. He was arguably the most important figure in the Roosevelt Administration, and yet he invariably sided with the Soviet position. Gen. George Marshall summed things up, “Hopkins job with the president was to represent Russian interests. My job was to represent American interests.”(181) Perhaps Hopkins performed his job too well. But since when is there a job description in the American bureaucracy, even at the highest level, to represent Russian (or any foreign) interests?
I cannot here discuss all the many actions of the Roosevelt Administration that seemed to promote the interests of the Soviets above those of the US. West reviews many of the Soviet agents in the American government. She is excellent at exposing how the Roosevelt and Truman and Eisenhower Administrations preferred to hide and conceal information about treason from Congress and the public. She contends Truman was more interested in pressing perjury charges against the anti-communist whistle-blower Whittaker Chambers than purging foreign agents like Alger Hiss from the State Dept. West, like M. Stanton Evans, concludes that Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a hero; the witch-hunters were right because there were many real witches infesting our government. West attacks the play by Arthur Miller which in academia summarizes the Left view of McCarthy and the hearings on Communism.(173) While our military knew of the secret messages transmitted from the Soviet Embassy in Washington to Moscow as early as 1943, these documents were not made public until 1993, and the vast majority are still not decrypted.(74) She maintains, had they been made public earlier, McCarthy would have been shown right, and most liberals wrong on the issue of subversion. She denounced the Hollywood Left that still makes films praising the courage of the Hollywood 10, the Communists who were blacklisted in the McCarthy era. Yet, she quotes one of those ten, Dalton Trumbo, in the Daily Worker praising their efforts of blocking any films critical of Communism. The CP in Hollywood was blacklisting conservatives before THE blacklist of Communists.(88) The Hollywood 10 were not defenders of freedom; they were defenders of Stalin.
Ms. West generally avoids most political campaign history, but she does mention that Republican Gov. John Bricker, running mate of Thomas Dewey in 1944, did raise the issue of Communist influence in the Roosevelt White House. Bricker accused White House staffer Lauglin Currie of being a radical if not a Communist.(169-72) But West concedes that in 1944 most voters did not want to change horses mid-stream in a major war, and Democrat Roosevelt won his 4th term. But the Communist issue had been raised long before. Before the 1936 election, the Hearst national chain of newspapers printed this short poem; “The Red New Deal with a Soviet seal/ Endorsed by a Moscow hand/ The strange result of an alien cult/ in a liberty-loving land.” Despite the anti-FDR theme of that widely circulated poem, Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936 carrying 46 of 48 states and garnering about 60% of the popular vote. Americans that year were more interested in jobs and welfare than talk about isms. Of course, by printing such a poem and Republican columnists, Hearst became a target. In 1941 Hollywood would get its revenge. In that year the unauthorized bio-pic of William Randolph Hearst, “Citizen Kane,” burst onto the silver screen. The Hearst newspaper and radio chain was the Fox News of its day, and highly critical of FDR. So Hollywood did not portray Hearst as it did the god-like Roosevelt in films. Instead, the media magnate moves from a man of social conscience to a power mad, greedy, unstable tyrant. Well, he was against Roosevelt! West notes the Stalinist legacy lingered in Hollywood even in 1999 when Elia Kazan, the creator of “Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront,” and other magnificent films, was given a lifetime award from the Academy Awards. He had to enter from a side door to avoid the protestors, and when presented, many celebrities in the audience turned their backs on him. Kazan named the Communists, the Stalinists at mid-century. And for that he was vilified even at the century’s end!
Though her style is rambling, roving, and often non-linear (translate: disorganized), there are gems to be found in Diana West’s book. Unfortunately, the book should not be the place to introduce comparisons between Communist and Islamic infiltrations in the US Government, or American appeasement of both threats.
West complains that among leading academic historians, FDR is invariably listed among America’s best Presidents. And certainly, on one level, the American people concur; Franklin Roosevelt is the only President elected to a 3rd term, and then to a 4th. FDR was first elected during the depth of the Great Depression, led the nation out of it through his New Deal, then piloted the ship of state through the perilous storms brewing in Europe and Asia. He outmaneuvered the very popular (probably vast majority at times) isolationists, reassuring the nation “again and again and again” as he did in his October 1940 speech (just before the election) that “their boys would not be sent to any foreign wars.” However, when France fell to the German blitzkrieg in spring 1940, FDR violated traditional notions of neutrality, revised the American Neutrality Law, provided supplies to Britain in return for bases in the Western Hemisphere, occupied French islands off Canada, and Greenland, and later Iceland (Danish colonies). Roosevelt had American ships shadow German u-boats and then radio their positions to British destroyers. American ships were even escorting convoys to Britain. It was an undeclared naval war 1940-41 between the US and Germany. All in the name of peace; these were acts of war. America was no longer really neutral, but the arsenal of democracy. Meanwhile we were skirting closer to full-scale war.
This is not the place to debate whether Roosevelt knew when and where the Japs were preparing to attack in December 1941, or even the role of Communists agents in causing the final rupture between the US and Japan. The point here, with Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt succeeded in uniting the American nation and getting us into war. Hitler helped a few days later by declaring war on the US (though we had engaged him in near-war for a year). Following Pearl, the isolationists shut up; America First shut its doors, and Americans rallied round the flag.
And here is the point misunderstood by many: to the liberals, so what if Roosevelt lied to the American people (of as Hillary Clinton told Congress about Benghazi, “What difference does it make?)? We needed to get into the war against Germany, and we got it. The majority of Americans were still probably isolationists into late 1941, and Col. Lindbergh and the America First had a mass following.
And there was very good reason for American isolationism. Most Americans knew by the 1920s and 30s how the Eastern Establishment had lied to us to get us into WWI. The propaganda stories demonizing the Germans as savage Huns, the Kaiser as a monster, cartoons of German soldiers bayoneting nuns and babies, and the whole Versailles lie that Germany was solely responsible for WWI.
Naturally, many Americans were skeptical when the same anti-German propaganda was repeated in the late 1930s and early 40s. When Germany attacked Poland in Sept. 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. But when the USSR attacked Poland from the other side 2 weeks later, still in Sept. 1939, Britain and France did nothing. And the Soviets would occupy a larger slice of Poland than the Germans. When Hitler broke his pact with Stalin and attacked the USSR in summer 1941, many Americans agreed with Democratic Missouri Senator Harry Truman who thought it would be good if both dictators fought it out and destroyed each other. On the other hand, Roosevelt, pushing Lend Lease for the UK, had the wording of the legislation altered so it could also aid the USSR. Roosevelt made Hopkins the chief of the Lend Lease program, and his notion, undoubtedly received from FDR, was to give top priority in supplies, munitions, etc., to the Soviets, above those of Britain, above those even for American troops engaged in fighting with the enemy.
In the end, this is why the academedia complex still loves FDR. He lied. He defeated the wishes of the American people. He got us into war. He helped save the Soviets so it did not crumble under the Nazi onslaught. Hopkins and his Lend Lease sent to Russia tons of butter (even when rationed here), Dodge trucks, tanks, planes, whatever, to the Soviets. And the Soviets would fight with their blood and thereby save the lives of millions of Americans who would come on later in the war and save Western Europe.
Their liberal view of history can be presented another way – what if the American people had defeated Roosevelt? What if a Lindbergh had become President? How would America have survived in a world with Asia under the Japanese Empire, Europe dominated by Hitler, and Eurasia under Stalin? And if Hitler and Stalin warred against each other, the victor would control a massive super continent, eventually immeasurably stronger. Could the American republic survive in such a world? And if we had to fight, could we win then? It might be too late. So the liberals are delighted that FDR lied to the American people, manipulated them, and defeated their isolationist heroes. The liberal Establishment’s hostility to populism did not begin in 2008 with Obama publicly sneering at those who cling to guns and religion. Nor did it begin in 1940 with Roosevelt’s campaign for a 3rd term. But the elite disdain for the populist solutions was certainly reinforced by FDR’s decisions from above. And even now liberal historians are reluctant to question his pro-Stalinist policies and Communist appeasement.
Diana West is naïve to write that the Big Lie began in 1933 when the US first recognized the USSR. Big lies are a part of all governments. True, the scale of spying by the Soviets on Americans, the financial support given to the CPUSA, this was unique and beyond what one might expect from friendly countries. And the penetration grew in the 1930s and expanded greatly during WWII – so much so that West refers to ours as an “occupied government.” The consequences of this occupation resulted in Soviet overt occupation of Eastern Europe, and Communist dictatorships established in North Korea and China. She notes that the charters of all the major international institutions created at the end of WWII were composed by individuals who were clearly Soviet agents or who may have been such. Yet, in this paper I have responded that some of the decisions made by FDR and his appointees were rational choices (unconditional surrender, invasion of northern France, etc.) even if the Communists were also promoting the same policies. If a Communist (or a Nazi) says 1 + 1 = 2, that is not a ground for us to say it is 3. Even if there had not been a single Communist or a single Soviet agent in the Roosevelt Administration, there were reasonable grounds for the policies of unconditional surrender and the invasion of northern France. Yes, and even a good reason to supply the Soviets with material so they could continue to fight against the Germans in WWII. Of course, I see NO reason for supplying the Soviets with suitcases of Atomic secrets! No reason for the betrayal of Mihailovic in Yugoslavia. No reason for the betrayal of Chiang, the Poles, etc. There was no good reason at the end of WWII to return all of those who had escaped the tyranny of Stalin to the Soviet dictatorship. And there was no good reason – other than appeasement of Stalin – to forget about up to 20,000 American POWs, “liberated” by the Soviets and never returned to the West. These policies do reflect Communist influence in the American government. These decisions indicate that some in the American government were more interested in promoting Stalin’s way over the American way.
Author West quotes various sources along the way who argued that the US should have bargained more with the Soviets, that we could have gotten a much better deal, especially when Stalin was hard-pressed. But FDR did not seem interested in that for he believed he could handle Stalin. And some in his Administration pushed for the best deal for the Soviets. This important aspect of FDRs Presidency is what the liberal historians seek to ignore and suppress.