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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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


     When I wrote the review of the Garrison book, I mentioned that I taught a Sunday School class in 1960-61.  Upon reflection, that was a very good class, I thought.  I taught a small group of high school students.  We began with Plato's Republic.  Because they did not have the book, and they were not going to do homework, I would have one, and then another, read some of the dialog in Books 1 and 2 of the Republic.  The question was, 'What is Justice?". but it could easily be reformed into what is righteousness?  what is the good?  The book begins with rather simple definitions, that Socrates quickly shows these to be contradictory.  Then more complex definitions.  And then the question of why bother with this, because justice and righteousness is simply the interest of the stronger.  From there I knew the rest of the book would take too long to present Plato's answer to some of these challenges, so I tried to sum up his position.
     Next in class we read the book of  Job, or much of it.  This poses the question, what can happen to the just or righteous person?  It is poetic, and not necessarily rational, but interesting.
     Finally we read only one chapter of Dostoievski's Brothers Karamazov - The Grand Inquisitor chapter.  It is a story within the novel and can stand alone.  The point is, do people want righteousness?  Or truth? When they can have magic and mystery instead/
     At the time I thought it was an excellent and thought-provoking class.  I still tstand by that observation.
      I had an eye operation 2 days ago and my sight is not yet that good.  Please excuse any typing errors.  Hugh Murray

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


PRESIDENT KENNEDY (New York, Skyhorse Publishing ed,, 2012; d. 1988)
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            Why review a book published in 1988?  Because it is pertinent today.  Today in America we witness most of the major media engaged in an attempt to discredit President Trump: CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc., with news anchors and journalists determined to “expose” the exaggerations, distortions, bigotry, hatreds, ignorance, bullying, his hostility to women, to minorities, etc.  Trump is the deplorable President elected by the Deplorables of America.  Will the media succeed in taking Trump down?  Recall what they did to New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison when he challenged the Establishment by charging businessman Clay Shaw with conspiring to assassinate President John Kennedy.
            Garrison had to contend with hostile reports from NBC, CBS, the Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, the New York Times, and the other major media of that day.  While Garrison once appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson (in a most unfunny and hostile interview), Trump was essentially called a c*** sucker by Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show, and comedienne Kathy Griffin posed with a severed head with the bloodied face of Trump.  (Does Griffin laugh when she watches footage of the shooting of Kennedy in Dallas?)  In late May 2017 CNN telecast a 2-hour special on the John Kennedy assassination.  About the last half hour was devoted to the Garrison case against Clay Shaw, and though Warren Commission critic Mark Lane and DA Garrison made brief appearances, the thrust was that Garrison had no real evidence of conspiracy.  When Shaw was found not guilty by the jury, the program used the verdict to vindicate the findings of the Warren Commission that Oswald had alone killed Kennedy.  While Garrison was merely the DA of a major city, Trump is President, and therefore has more powers to defend himself.  Or does he?  Think JFK.
            Jim Garrison has written an excellent book concerning his attempt to expose the conspiracy that led to John Kennedy’s killing.  Garrison does make some strange omissions, however, but overall, his is a persuasive work.
            In late November 1963 I noticed a short article in a local newspaper, probably the States-Item, stating that David Ferrie had been arrested in connection with the recent Kennedy assassination in Dallas.  Could it be the same Ferrie?  Surely, there could not be two people in New Orleans with that weird name.  I clipped the article and sent it to my old roommate, Oliver St Pe.  In the summer of 1960 we were the two white New Orleanians (along with 6 Blacks) who attended a CORE training institute in Miami.  Among those teaching us the methods of non-violence for racial change were Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who that August was off-the-record supporting Kennedy and the Democrats in that presidential election year); baseball legend Jackie Robinson (then openly endorsing Richard Nixon and the Republicans against the Democrats), and others who had experience in civil rights activism.  As part of our training, we tested various facilities, and in one test Oliver was arrested for sitting at a table with Blacks at Shell’s City Super Market.  He was released in a day or two, and appeared on a national television news program about CORE.  A few weeks later, we all returned home,-  and a week after that, with 5 Blacks and another white, I was arrested in the first lunch-counter sit-in in New Orleans.  The new census figures were not out yet, so New Orleans was still listed as the largest city in the South, more populous than Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Houston.  Because of the arrest, I had to move from my parents’ home, and Oliver, living in a suburb, wanted to reside closer to his university.  I was a graduate student in history at Tulane; he was a senior majoring in sociology at Loyola U. (which was just next door to Tulane).  We found an inexpensive apartment, and roomed together for the school year 1960-61.
            Not until we roomed together did I become aware that Oliver was legally blind.  Although I had graduated and he was a senior, he was about 2 years older than I.  He had dropped out of school for a time as a youth, and had had troubles adjusting.  He was probably on the path to what was then called delinquency, but was saved with the help of others.  A cousin taught him the trade of an electrician, and much later, at Loyola, Father Fichte gave Oliver academic direction in perceiving, analyzing, and changing society.  But long before Loyola, and most important, to get Oliver back on track, back in school, so he might even consider university, Oliver joined the Civil Air Patrol, where he was greatly impressed by and influenced by David Ferrie.
            I worked at the Tulane U. Library on weekends, so Oliver and I did not share a social life.  Sundays he attended Roman Catholic Mass, and on other occasions volunteered to instruct in Catholic doctrine; I taught Sunday school at the Unitarian Church (Plato’s Republic, Job, Dostoevsky, etc.).  In the week I might earn extra small sums by reading to Oliver some of his text-book assignments.  One day he said that the forthcoming weekend he was going to a party at his old friend’s home.  He noted that he had not seen David Ferrie in awhile, and looked forward to seeing him again.  After that weekend, when I saw Oliver again, I asked, how was the party?  “Oh, Dave was playing soldier.”  Oliver added that there were many military types were at the gathering.  This would have been in spring 1961, about the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion.  I never met Ferrie, but Oliver stressed that he was very intelligent, even involved in cancer research.  I never met him, but with such a name, I did not forget David Ferrie.  At the end of May 1961 our lease ended, Oliver graduated from Loyola, and we went our separate ways.
            When I clipped the small article in November 1963 that mentioned the arrest of Ferrie in connection to the assassination, I sent it to Oliver who no longer resided in New Orleans.  Oliver was working for the Agency for International Development in Laos, a new nation sharing a long border with North Vietnam.  Garrison quotes John Gilligan, Dir. Of AID under Pres. Jimmy Carter, stating that the organization was infiltrated by the CIA from top to bottom.(pp. 62. 315)  Oliver later told me he knew of some CIA people in Laos, but he never said he himself was one.  I knew Oliver as a good Roman Catholic, kind, straight (hetero), almost a saintly man.  In later years he became active in the disability movement, and a building is named for him on a university campus in New Orleans.
            David Ferrie and the Civil Air Patrol were performing their function – training young people into capable, patriotic citizens in the 1950s.  Did Ferrie perform the same function for Lee Oswald?  Historian Larry Haapanen found that if Oswald had had a boy, he would have named him David Lee Oswald.(Joan Mellen, Farewell to Justice, pp. 43, 397)  Oswald had only daughters.  But one of Oliver’s sons was named David.
            Garrison ignores all links between Oswald and Ferrie in the CAP.  Garrison writes: “…the real Lee Harvey Oswald?  It seemed to me that the best way to find out was to go back and study Oswald’s short but varied career.”(44)  But the next page Garrison is researching Oswald in the marines.  Yet, some allege that the man who may be most responsible for pushing Oswald toward enlisting in the marines was David Ferrie.
            There are other strange omissions.  After being elected District Attorney in late 1961, and sworn in in 1962, Garrison’s office became known for its anti-vice activities.  He writes how his investigations struck at “strip joints, gambling operations, and other racketeer activities… B-drinking joints… closed down the last house of prostitution in New Orleans [and] ended the lottery operation.”(128)  What Garrison fails to write is that his office engaged in anti-gay round-ups of single men who might simply be walking on the street in the wrong part of the French Quarter, or too near one of “those” bars.  Long before the arrest of Clay Shaw, Garrison had earned the enmity of many gay New Orleanians.  Indeed, American Grotesque, a large, very hostile book about the Garrison probe was written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, James Kirkwood, best known for writing the book for The Chorus Line.  Kirkwood simply viewed the Shaw trial as a show trial, an anti-gay witch hunt.
            According to Kirkwood and others, Garrison was simply using general antipathy to gays to convict Shaw.  But it was not only negative stereotypes.  A friend assured me Shaw could not possibly be involved in the murderous conspiracy because he was a homosexual!  I assume she meant gays were too flighty, too superficial, too weak, too incompetent, to partake in a murderous conspiracy.  Of course, Shaw was capable enough to lead the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, quite an accomplishment in itself.  He served in the army in WWII, and ended as a major, and he won medals from three nations for his service.  Today, there is no doubt he had some connections to the CIA.
            When Garrison discusses New Orleans Atty. Dean Andrews, he begins with the testimony from the Warren Commission in which Andrews related that shortly after the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas, Andrews received a phone call from Clay Bertrand asking Andrews to defend Oswald.  Garrison neglects to mention that Oswald, while in New Orleans, had gone to the office of Andrews to ask for help in changing his dishonorable discharge from the marines; at the time Oswald was accompanied by several gay Latinos.  Through much of his book, Garrison avoids use of the phrase “gay bars,” preferring euphemisms such as “some bars deep in the French Quarter, or ”raffish bars.”(83, 117)  He writes of the Golden Lantern, Dixie’s, and the Galley House without mentioning that these were gay bars.(117, 119)  Only later in the book does Garrison specifically speak of gays and homosexuals.
            There is no doubt that the Establishment strongly opposed the Garrison probe.  The day after Garrison arrested Shaw for conspiracy in the murder of Kennedy, the US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, almost immediately spoke before the news cameras and declared that the Federal government had already investigated and exonerated Shaw.  A newsman then “asked Clark directly if Shaw was checked out and found clear?  ‘Yes, that’s right.’”(149)  Suddenly, many people were wondering why and when the federals had investigated Shaw concerning Dallas.  Clark’s comments only added to the speculation surrounding Shaw.  On 4 September 1967 Chief Justice Earl Warren spoke asserting that Garrison had “produced absolutely nothing” to overturn the findings of the Warren Commission.(160)  Of course, at that time, the trial had not yet begun.  The national media mocked Garrison’s efforts more.
            Garrison alleges that 1) an oilman sought to bribe Garrison to drop the investigation of the Kennedy murder; 2) that Ferrie and Shaw tried to hire a hitman to kill Garrison; and 3) on a trip there was an attempt to entrap Garrison in an airport toilet with a gay man – aiming to discredit Garrison and his probe.  The evidence on all 3 of these seems flimsy, and may be paranoid fantasy.  Or not.  Garrison also maintains that several years after the loss of the Shaw case, the federals brought a trumped up charge of corruption against him in the midst of his campaign for re-election in 1973.  There is no mention in this book of an allegation that occurred in summer of 1969, after the Shaw trial defeat.  A male teenager claimed that Garrison fondled him at the NOAC, but despite articles about the alleged incident by national columnist Jack Anderson, the boy’s family never pressed the issue to court and Garrison was never convicted on such a charge.
            This Garrison book makes clear – it is not easy to take on the federal government.  Some of the episodes he includes may have been stories of crazy people (like Spiesel, who seemed good enough to place on the witness stand, and then under cross-examination, appeared like a total lunatic.  (I was in the courtroom, and like most spectators, found it difficult to hold back laughter at the man the more he spoke about people getting his eye and making him impotent, and fingerprinting his daughter when she returned from college to make sure it was really her, the less credence he had.  The Garrison effort suffered greatly by placing Spiesel under oath as a witness for the prosecution.)  So too in this book, one may read some of the episodes with a grain of salt; there were crazies who went to Garrison; there were infiltrators from the feds inside his camp, and some of his suspicions may have seeped into paranoia.  Recall the cliché: even paranoids have enemies, especially when one takes on the feds.  However, there is no doubt that Garrison’s expose of some of the background of Oswald in New Orleans, and of events in Dallas, did much to demolish the myth propounded by the Warren Commission.
            Because of the Garrison probe, we learned – from the sworn testimony by one of the doctors who performed the autopsy on Pres. Kennedy at Bethesda hospital, that the doctors performing the autopsy were not in charge of the autopsy.  They were not permitted to give Kennedy a proper examination.  Under oath!  Under cross examination, Lt. Col. Pierre Finck was asked if he had probed the neck wound of Pres. Kennedy all the way through.  No, he did not.  Why not?  He was ordered not to.  Who ordered that?  There were many generals and admirals in the room, and he was only a lt. col., so he followed orders.  Those with higher ranks were not physicians.  Dr. Finck had been a defense witness.  Finck’s testimony revealed what a sham the Kennedy autopsy was.  Also at the trial, Americans got to view the Zapruder film for the first time in years so one could judge for oneself which way the President moved when hit by the head shot.  We learned from CORE workers on the Left and white townspeople on the Right in Clinton, Louisiana, that Oswald was in town in 1963 most likely in the company of David Ferrie and Clay Shaw.  That Oswald in New Orleans that summer hung out at the office of Guy Banister, former FBI, and staunch anti-communist and anti-Castro activist.  According to Garrison, Oswald was merely pretending to be a Marxist, but was really involved with the right-wing, anti-Castro groups who circulated with Ferrie and Banister.
            Though the federal government had its major media minions to bolster the Warren Report, lone gunman theory, there was more freedom in the local New Orleans media.  I recall watching on the local news channel Atty. Dean Andrews being interviewed.  I don’t recall the exact question, but something like, “Was Clay Shaw the same as Bertrand?”  “I can’t answer that,” Andrews replied in his jivey manner.  In different words, the same question was again put to Andrews.  Now he snapped, “If they can kill the President, they can squash me like a roach.”  Also on local TV we could see the FBI man (probably William Walter) who revealed that a telex came into the local FBI office warning of an attempt to kill Kennedy in Dallas, just a few days before the assassination.  He said the same telex was sent to FBI offices round the country, but nothing was done.(Garrison writes the telex came in 17 November 1963, pp. xiii, 222)  But outside New Orleans, Walter probably was not invited on local TV, and certainly not on the national networks.  In NO, on talk radio one could hear callers discuss the weapons they had seen stored in Banister’s office, his anti-Castro activities, etc.
            When the NO jury acquitted Shaw of conspiracy, the national media celebrated and relaxed.  The emphasis was that there was nothing to the charges against Shaw to begin with.  With the jury’s verdict, the witch hunt was over!  All could now understand now how Garrison was thoroughly discredited.  Warren Commission critic Mark Lane interviewed all of those jurors after the verdict.  They assured him, there was simply not enough evidence to convict Shaw.  Yet, all of them were also convinced that a conspiracy had resulted in the murder of Kennedy in Dallas.(251)  Most New Orleanians and about 2/3s of the nation continue to reject the Establishment theory that Oswald did it alone, despite all the TV programs propping up the official line.
            Garrison had convicted Dean Andrews of perjury, and planned to get Shaw on the same charge, because under oath Shaw had denied ever meeting Ferrie.  But with the loss of the main case against Shaw, the local press demanded that Garrison resign his office, and publicity against Garrison grew.  1969 was another election year, and a teen was now alleging that Garrison had molested him.  A Federal judge enjoined Garrison from prosecuting Shaw for perjury.  Despite all the bad publicity, despite losing the big case against Shaw, Garrison was re-elected to a 3rd term as DA – 81,000 to 61,000.(253)
            In 1973 when Garrison prepared to run for his 4th term, the Nixon Administration’s Justice Dept. filed charges of corruption against Garrison.  His Republican opponent was considered Mr. Clean.  Garrison was in court defending himself and was unable to campaign.  The press contrasted Mr. Clean with Mr. Corrupt.  The jury found Garrison not guilty, but he felt he had little time left to campaign.  Garrison lost his bid for re-election by 2,000 votes.  Garrison does not mention the name of his victorious opponent in 1973, but today people throughout the world might recognize the name – Harry Connick, Sr., father of the singer, musician, actor, and TV host, HC, Jr.  While at it, Youtube has a number of videos that seem to indicate one of the Latinos distributing pro-Castro, Fair Play for Cuba Comm. leaflets along with Oswald in New Orleans in 1963 was the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.  (Reinforcing the notion that the NO FPCC was not a left-wing, but an anti-Castro operation.)
            Garrison’s book is not a catalog of all the discrepancies that can be found in the Warren Commission’s theory.  It is the story of Garrison’s own initial acceptance of the Warren version of events.  However, the more he studied Oswald’s actions in New Orleans, the more he read and heard witnesses from Dallas, the more Garrison was convinced a conspiracy had killed Kennedy.  When Garrison sought to probe further, the federals, the media, the Establishment, obstructed, smeared, used the resources of the major media, the esteem of the Chief Justice, the prestige of the Attorney General, and all the lesser lights to dismiss, to mock, to infiltrate his investigation, to use hostile judges, to refuse to extradite important witnesses, generally to derail and destroy his case against Shaw.
            Through all this, Garrison stands out as a very brave and intelligent man.  Sometimes he was guilty of hubris, “Oh, I certainly solved the case,” and other overblown statements.  Like the tweets of Trump, Garrison’s “certainty” caused some to view him as bombastic and without substance.  A more modest beginning might have helped him, part of the way.  But once he took on the feds – and not just the CIA; once he took on the Establishment (CIA, FBI, Warren, and the lesser stars), it was inevitable there would be the Establishment’s revenge, aimed at destroying him.

            All Americans should rejoice that we have patriotic, truth-seeking individuals, willing to risk all, like the late Jim Garrison, New Orleans DA.