The debate about Diana West’s book American Betrayal continues to rage in the conservative blogosphere, with new articles attacking her (and others supporting her) appearing too fast for me to keep track.
Because I haven’t read the book, my discussions up until now have concentrated on the form (ad-hominem attacks on the author by people who haven’t read the book) rather than the substance (the degree of penetration of the Roosevelt administration by Soviet agents in the 1930s and 1940s) of the debate. This post will adjust the balance by providing excerpts from substantive critiques and analyses written by people who know far more than I do about the topic.
For those who are interested in what Ms. West has to say about her book, among other topics, see these radio appearances:
- Dan Cofall program in Dallas-Fort Worth 1190 AM
- With Frank Gaffney at Secure Freedom Radio (third segment)
- Ransom Notes Radio with John Ransom
And now on to the substantive discussions of American Betrayal.
Diana West has posted a partial rebuttal of the Front Page article by John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr at her blog:
Harry Hopkins: Did He Warn the Ambassador or Did He Warn the Embassy?
by Diana West
John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have posted a new article titled, “Was Harry Hopkins a Soviet Spy?”
There will be more to say about the Hopkins debate in the future, but I would like to call attention to one passage in the Haynes and Klehr article.
Referring to the Mitrokhin archive of KGB documents, they write:
The only new material Mitrokhin provided on Hopkins was a 1943 report that Hopkins had notified the Soviet ambassador in Washington that the FBI had observed a Soviet diplomat meeting covertly with Steve Nelson, who supervised San Francisco area operations of the Communist Party of the United States.
For now, I would simply like to address this matter of the Soviet “ambassador.” Haynes and Klehr’s source on this information is Andrew and Mitrokhin, Sword and the Shield, 111. However, the relevant passage from Andrew and Mitrokhin tells us:
Earlier in the year he [Hopkins] had privately warned the Soviet embassy in Washington that the FBI had bugged a secret meeting at which Zarubin (apparently identified by Hopkins only as a member of the embassy) had passed money to Steve Nelson, a leading member of the US Communist underground.64
I don’t see any mention of Hopkins warning the “ambassador.”…
Read the rest at Diana West’s place.
For text taken directly from the book, see Chapter 9, the latest installment of Breitbart’s excerpts with an introduction by the author:
David Horowitz has recently leveled grave charges at Breitbart against my credibility as a writer based on my new book, American Betrayal. Indeed, according to Horowitz, I “should not have written this book.” Thankfully, he is not in charge of free speech in this country, and St. Martin’s Press, which also published my first book, The Death of the Grown-Up, had other ideas.
Horowitz bases this stunning statement on the “extreme claims” he alleges are contained in my book, which, he says, “not only serve to discredit her work but lead her into insoluble dilemmas.” He says the problem — my problem — is “intellectual.”
It’s difficult to tell what he’s talking about, at least with regard to what I have actually written. He goes on to list a series of historical fragments related in some way to events covered in my book — for example, the debate over whether to invade Europe in northern France vs. Churchill’s favored strategy to expand from the Italian front into the Balkans.
I do treat this debate at length, particularly with regard to the machinations of Harry Hopkins, FDR’s top wartime advisor and undeviating booster of what would be the famed Normandy invasion. Readers of the following excerpt from American Betrayal (below) should know that there is a case to be made from varied sources that Hopkins was an agent of Stalin’s influence inside the FDR White House. I lay that case out in detail in American Betrayal.
If the work that went into my book is solid, even more history needs rewriting — regardless of whether, as David Horowitz says about my book, “this is not how anyone should think about history-making events and the political forces that shape them.” The fact is, if the record I have assembled (citing 900-plus endnotes) is correct, FDR might not be as great as we think he is, and, to address the flip side, Sen. Joseph McCarthy might not be as awful as we think he is, and just that changes almost everything about what we “know” as a people.
I believe it is this explosive topic that seems to be driving my critics to ad hominem attacks, perhaps unexpectedly, at conservative sites from Frontpage Magazine to The American Thinker, to National Review Online and the New York Sun. Instead of discussing the contents of my book, they attack my accuracy, honesty, even my sanity; also, instead of just ignoring my book, they try to make me radioactive so readers won’t even to think about the ideas inside it for themselves.
This becomes a question readers will have to make up their own minds about. To that end, I am happy to provide to Breitbart Chapter 9 of American Betrayal in full, including its 84 endnotes. I look forward to reading comments from people who have, for a change, read at least part of my book.
The full text is at Breitbart.
In an article entitled “Major Jordan, Carroll Reece, Birchers, Buckley and the Attack on Diana West”, Stacy McCain considers some of the evidence that suggests FDR aide Harry Hopkins was a Soviet agent:
One of the stories Diana West tells in her new book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character is about Army Maj. George Racey Jordan, whose tale about Lend-Lease shipments to the Soviet Union you can read beginning on page 110 of the book.
West recounts, on pages 139-140, Major Jordan’s narrative of an April 1943 incident in which his Russian liaison, Col. Anatole Kotikov, put him on the phone with top FDR aide Harry Hopkins. According to Major Jordan, Hopkins told him about “a certain shipment of chemicals,” ordering him to “just send it through quietly, in a hurry.”
Has anyone disproven Major Jordan’s account of that incident, or otherwise contradicted his tale of how, he said, the Lend-Lease program aided the Soviets in stealing U.S. secrets and materials necessary to the development of atomic weapons? I am unaware of any such contradiction or disproof, and the question is why — in the wake of what we have learned about Soviet espionage since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of the Venona decrypts — scholars have not done more to investigate Major Jordan’s tale, which made headlines when he testified to Congress in 1950.
Frankly, there are too damned many such questions that ought to be of interest to historians, and too few historians working to investigate accusations made during the Cold War that got laughed off as ridiculous or denounced as “witch hunts.” We should be grateful that Diana West is picking at the dangling loose ends of history.
Instead, she’s been denounced for her methodology and condemned as a conspiracy theorist by both Ron Radosh and David Horowitz. There have been some people who, persuaded by the arguments of Radosh and Horowitz, have condemned Diana West without ever reading her book. And I suppose the reputations and persuasiveness of these eminent critics are such that, if you went and bought American Betrayal right now, it would be impossible for you to view it in an unprejudiced light. How can she be right — an intelligent and honest investigator — if Radosh and Horowitz say she is so wrong?
Let me attempt to answer this by asking another question: How much do you know about the Reece Committee?
Think about this: A congressional committee with subpoena power to command testimony and requisition evidence as part of an investigation into how major non-profit philanthropic foundations — Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller, etc. — had influenced policy in a direction that some have called “un-American” or “subversive.”
And they shut that committee down.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist ranting about Commie infiltrators and pinko subversives to see the implications of this.
About 80 years ago, a certain elite in American society decided — more as a consensus than a conspiracy — to bring about this shift that Norman Dodd called a “revolution,” and this shift has proven impossible to reverse, I would argue, because so few educated people are aware of how the shift took place, or what the consequences of that shift have been. This in turn explains why the investigation of Major Jordan’s account, like so many other Cold War mysteries, remains so mysterious to this day: To be “educated” now means to believe that it is impossible for Harry Hopkins to have done what Major Jordan said Hopkins did.
Think about it. Try not to get paranoid, but remember what Stan Evans says: “However bad you think it is, it’s probably much worse.”
Read all the details at Stacy McCain’s place.
In an essay entitled “Conrad Black’s Vitriol Masks His Own Historical Blindspot”, Dr. Andrew Bostom points out Mr. Black’s predisposition to whitewash anything and anyone associated with Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
Conrad Black’s willful blindness to Hiss’s well-documented machinations, before and during Yalta, should give serious pause to those who accept Black’s warped characterization of Diana West and American Betrayal at face value.
The late military intelligence historian Eduard Mark, whose 1998 analysis identified FDR “co-President” Harry Hopkins as “Source 19” in a cable putatively authored by Soviet spymaster Iskhak Akhmerov, lamented,
the indifference of American diplomatic historians to intelligence and of their predominantly liberal political orientation which has led them to ignore the whole question of the relationship between internal security and foreign policy as smacking of ‘McCarthyism’
Irrespective of Conrad Black’s current political orientation, his vitriolic attack on Diana West, and her book American Betrayal, epitomizes the mindset identified with rare candor by Mark—who was not a political conservative.
Black’s 2003 Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom includes this bowdlerized characterization of Alger Hiss, allegedly redressing “lurid allegations” by McCarthyite bogeymen, while trivializing Hiss’s influence at the seminal 1945 Yalta Conference (pp. 1079-80):
Because of the lurid allegations by McCarthyite Republicans in the early fifties, a word must be said about Alger Hiss, who attended the Yalta Conference as a junior State Department official specializing in international organizations. Hiss was eventually revealed as a former member of a Communist espionage ring in the United States, and was convicted of perjury on the dogged examination of Congressman Richard Nixon. Roosevelt had never met Hiss before Yalta, and never spent one minute alone with him at Yalta, according to [FDR interpreter Charles] Bohlen, who was with Roosevelt throughout as interpreter and counselor in Soviet matters, Hiss’s chief contribution at the conference was a sensibly reasoned argument against giving the Soviet Union three votes in the international organization. In this, as in all other matters, while he was competent and unexceptionable in his functions, Hiss had no influence whatever on Roosevelt or American policy at Yalta.
Black does not provide a single footnote for any of these assertions, including his final statement about Hiss’s alleged lack of influence. Fortunately, there is a well-documented corrective to Black’s sanitized court history account of the role Alger Hiss played at Yalta, written, collaboratively, by Cold War scholars par excellence, Herbert Romerstein, and M. Stanton Evans. In Stalin’s Secret Agents, which was just published this past November, 2012, they dedicate a chapter to the actual role Alger Hiss played at Yalta, dubbed eponymously, “See Alger Hiss About This,” based upon a telltale quote by former FDR Secretary of State Edward Stettinius.
Romerstein and Evans open their discussion by explaining how it came about that Hiss, whom the authors acknowledge, circa January, 1945, was “of fairly junior status—a mid-level employee who wasn’t even head of a division”—was in fact singled out by President Roosevelt himself as someone to accompany the President to Yalta. Citing the diaries of Edward Stettinius Jr., US Secretary of State at the time of Yalta, one month before the conference convened, they record how FDR told Stettinius, “he did not want to have anyone accompany him in an advisory capacity, but he felt Messrs. Bowman and Alger Hiss ought to go.“ (A note added by Romerstein and Evans clarifies that Dr. Isaiah Bowman was a Stettinius adviser who had been involved with the post- World War I Versailles Conference, but did not go to Yalta.)
Before elucidating the significant role Hiss in fact played at Yalta, Romerstein and Evans remind us, rather understatedly, who Hiss was…
Read the rest at Andy Bostom’s place.
Previous posts about the controversy over American Betrayal by Diana West:
|2013||Aug||11||Diana West: On the Question of “Scholarship”|
|13||Yet Another Circular Conservative Firing Squad|
|14||Cordon Sanitaire: FAIL|
|15||On Reading the Book|
|16||Banishing the Cathars