Diana West Responds to Conrad Black

Some of the most recent salvos in the ongoing intramural war against Diana West’s book American Betrayal have been fired by Conrad Black at the National Review Online — no fewer than three of his vitriolic attack have been published at NRO since the controversy began back in August.

Ms. West sent yet another rebuttal to NRO, which has now been published in the “Letters” section of the site. I’ll let Ms. West handle the details of her response — the entire piece is reproduced below — and confine myself to a consideration of some of the meta-issues.

Ten or twelve years ago I used to be a big fan of NRO, and spent a lot of time online every day reading it. However, over the next few years, it (as well as the print magazine) gradually morphed into an unabashed cheering section for the Republican Party, including the RINO establishment that has so egregiously sold its conservative base down the river. By the time Bill Buckley died in 2008, there wasn’t much left of the National Review I remembered (with the notable exceptions of Mark Steyn and John Derbyshire — the latter has been consigned to the Outer Darkness in the interim for his politically incorrect sins).

Conrad Black has never attempted any reasonable arguments — much less any conservative ones — against the points made in Diana West’s book. Among those who have fought so strongly against American Betrayal, the two principal forms of attack against its author are:

1.   To make completely bogus claims about what she says in her book and then argue against those; or
2.   To assert that certain of her conclusions are totally imaginary and unfounded, when in fact they are well-sourced and explained in detail.

Mr. Black seems to have chosen the latter option: he maintains that her observations are mere figments of her imagination, yet his proposition can easily be disproved by simply examining the text in the book itself.

That Conrad Black should grow so ferocious in his defense of his beloved FDR is understandable. But why does NRO continue to retail his frenzies, over and over again?

Why has National Review become the court jester for the hagiographers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Do I detect the beginnings of rotary motion in the earthly remains of William F. Buckley Jr. somewhere beneath the soil of New England?

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Here’s what Diana West has to say:

Conrad Black has now published three attacks at NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE against my book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, but I would bet the $4.1 million Black has to pay the U.S. government in fines related to his fraud conviction that he hasn’t read the book.

In his most recent attack — this time against a positive review of American Betrayal by famed Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov at Breitbart News — Black mocks Bukovsky for, in Black’s telling, imagining that FDR believed that the capitalist and Communist systems were on a path of “convergence.”

“Convergence theory” shows up in more than half a dozen listings in American Betrayal‘s index. Nonetheless, Black writes:

Where it [the review] all starts to go horribly wrong is in the sudden metamorphosis of Duranty into Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, Bukovsky has learned, presumably from whatever unimaginable emanations possessed him in his decades of brave resistance to Communism and in his apparently incomplete convalescence since, sought a “convergence” of Stalinist socialism with American constitutional government.” (Italics added.)

Before I establish the well-founded points of FDR’s oft-stated belief in “convergence,” I will note for readers that this same exercise — demonstrating the baselessness of an attack on my book (or, in this case, on a positive review of my book) — is, to date, the main mechanism of “debate” about American Betrayal. (See The Rebuttal: Defending American Betrayal from the Book-Burners for the gruesome details.) Distortion, fabrication, sloppiness — these are the hallmarks of “discussion.” While I realize American Betrayal‘s findings are shocking (they were to me as I uncovered them), I still rather expected the book to be debated civilly, and not continually mauled.

I will mention for readers who have only seen the claw marks that Bukovsky and Stroilov, both scholars of Soviet subversion, have called American Betrayal “huge and brilliant.” I will also add — because my detractors never do — that M. Stanton Evans, the celebrated conservative author and foremost expert on the McCarthy era, has called American Betrayal a “long-needed answer to court histories that obscure key facts about our backstage war with Moscow.” Evans has himself written an article about the campaign against my book at CNSNews.com titled “In Defense of Diana West.”

No comment from the commentariat at the larger outlets over this heated clash, however, which is noteworthy in itself. A battle royale is joined over a book with “names” on both sides — not your everyday occurrence — and none of the capital-p pundits says (dares say?) a word about it, not even to write a book review.

But if the reasons for the silence remain somewhat murky, the point about FDR subscribing to the theory that the U.S. and Soviet systems were moving toward each other is clear and traceable to many sources — supporters, administration officials, and political opponents alike. To Cardinal Spellman, senior State Department official Sumner Welles, House Un-American Activities Committee chairman Representative Martin Dies, among others, FDR spoke about convergence — even, as we find in their writings about these discussions, using the same terminology.

“He once said to me that he believed that if the world could remain at peace the following phenomena would probably take place,” Sumner Welles, who knew FDR well, wrote in his 1946 book Where Are We Heading? (quoted in American Betrayal). Roosevelt believed, Welles continued, that “if one took the figure 100 as representing the difference between American democracy and Soviet Communism in 1917, with the United States at 100 and the Soviet Union at 0, American democracy might eventually reach the figure of 60 and the Soviet system might reach the figure of 40…. He felt, therefore, even though the internal systems of the two countries could never conceivably become identical, some progress toward approximation had already been made, and that approximation made for a better understanding between the peoples of the two nations. He regarded this trend as making it more likely that no fundamental conflict between the countries need ever become inevitable, provided Soviet Communism had permanently abandoned its doctrine of world revolution.”

That was one dangerously absurd provision — and, not at all incidentally, a key point of Soviet propaganda, as William C. Bullitt, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, painstakingly argued to FDR (also explained in American Betrayal). This same false provision would underlie all manner of U.S.-USSR interactions for half a century, including “peaceful coexistence,” arms control, “détente,” “perestroika,” etc. In truth, the USSR never abandoned its doctrine of world revolution. FDR, however, believed otherwise — he certainly believed that Stalin had changed, as Bullitt publicly reported in 1948 (also discussed in American Betrayal). Describing a 1943 meeting with FDR in which Bullitt argued that there was no evidence of any such change, that FDR’s continuing course of Soviet appeasement would lead to a Soviet empire in Europe supplanting the Nazi Reich (exactly what happened), Bullitt quoted FDR as replying:

Bill, I don’t dispute your facts, they are accurate. I don’t dispute the logic of your reasoning. I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. Harry says he’s not and that he doesn’t want anything in the world but security for his country, and I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace.

“Harry,” by the way, was Harry Hopkins, whose dossier, American Betrayal explains, contains credible evidence that he was serving Stalin as an agent of influence while simultaneously serving as FDR’s closest adviser during the war. (Black, however, dismisses Hopkins as a foreign-policy non-entity.)

On September 3, 1943, then-archbishop Francis Spellman spent 90 minutes with FDR, later writing an aide-mémoire about their conversation. In it, Spellman recounts the disturbing fact that FDR was already resigned to leave half of Europe to Soviet domination — at a time in the war when Stalin’s Red Army was still inside Russia (also recounted in American Betrayal). What if the war ended before Stalin came into Europe? Why was FDR already assuming the USSR would turn half of Europe into vassal states? Spellman further states Roosevelt’s formula for convergence, including terms identical to those that Sumner Welles related. “The European people will simply have to endure the Russian domination,” Spellman reported FDR saying, “in the hope that in ten or 20 years they will be able to live with the Russians. Finally, he [FDR] hopes, the Russians will get 40 percent of the capitalist regime, the capitalists will retain only 60 percent of their system and so an understanding will be possible.”

As noted in American Betrayal, former representative Martin Dies (D., Texas) discusses Spellman’s contemporaneous 1943 account in Dies’s 1963 memoir, writing, “His aide mémoire is completely in accord with the opinions Roosevelt expressed to me over the years.”

In his 1998 book Caught Between Roosevelt & Stalin, history professor Dennis J. Dunn traces the impact of FDR’s belief in “convergence” on U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. (I discuss Dunn’s work in my book as well.) One of Dunn’s main sources is Averell Harriman, who served as an FDR adviser and U.S. ambassador in Moscow. “Harriman explained Roosevelt’s outlook to me in a personal interview in Washington, D.C., on 19 November, 1981.” Dunn writes, noting that Harriman earlier referenced “Roosevelt’s advocacy of convergence” in his own 1975 memoir, and again in a lengthy interview Harriman gave to Encounter magazine in 1981. Dunn adds that Harriman “emphasized the importance of the theory of convergence in explaining Roosevelt’s policies. I found his explanation convincing.”

In short, what Bukovsky and Stroilov were discussing are not “unimaginable emanations” but facts from the historical record.

Shocking? Yes, but no less shocking than other examples of Black’s loose grip on the subject matter, as when he dismisses arch-Soviet spy Alger Hiss altogether.

Black writes: “Alger Hiss had no influence, ceased his incompetent efforts at espionage in the mid Thirties, and did not exchange a word with Roosevelt at Yalta; his only contribution was to recommend, unsuccessfully, that the USSR not have three votes in the United Nations general assembly.”

And thus we come not full circle, but 180 degrees. NATIONAL REVIEW, the magazine founded by William F. Buckley, whose moral hero was Whittaker Chambers, is now whitewashing Soviet military-intelligence agent Alger Hiss. Additionally, this magazine, whose founding editors were in part drawn together by their philosophical and political opposition to Roosevelt, may now claim to be the keeper of FDR’s flame.

It’s all rather strange — but what isn’t in this “debate”?

For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.

20 thoughts on “Diana West Responds to Conrad Black

  1. Im not precisely certain that I’d call the USSR an example of Rissian domination. Too many of the top Communists were not ethnic Russians for that to be the case.

    For me Russia was in bondage to minority groups. That’s why it required a huge police state to control the central Republic. minority groups in Russia never had it so good. Towards the 70s Russian nationalism revived somewhat but even that was hijacked by Oligarchs like Abramovic and Khordokovsky.

    There is no particular reason for Americans and Russians to have a bad relationship, most of the problems stemmed from watching the Russians get butchered by Commissars.

    • Napier – read some more history. Most of the non-Russians were ethnic sellouts that rejected their nationality for Russian chauvinism. Stalin was actually the model for this. And minority groups most certainly did not have it so good. Ukrainians lost 5 million in the Holodomor due to their resistance to Communism, and were subsequently subjected to harsh Russification, as were Belarusians. Balts were simply sent into Russia and replaced by Russians, so that at independence Latvia was only 50% Latvian. Even today in “independent” Ukraine, only 45% of the people speak Ukrainian at home.

      • Kojak,

        Let’s do a case study. Architecture never lies.
        The Communists wantonly destroyed this symbol of Russian Patriotism and national pride.


        Stalin was not a “Russian Chauvanist” whatever that term is supposed to mean. He was instrumental in destroying every Russian institution and was very much part of the Bolshevik mindset. The demo job on The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was a calculated slap in the face of the ordinary Russian, the destruction of the Orthodox church was likewise a calculated attack on Russian Patriotism.

        In the run up to ww2 the Soviet puppet masters realized that they had gone too far and began to reintegrate patriotic rhetoric into public life because the Nazis couldnt have been countered otherwise. This sort of thing probably sowed the seeds the eventual unravelling of the Soviet.

        Architecture never lies.

      • Kojak,

        Is this the act of a Russian Chauvanist?

        Architecture never ever lies. On 5 December 1931, by order of Stalin’s minister Kaganovich, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble. It took more than a year to clear the debris from the site. Some of the marble from the walls and marble benches from the cathedral were used in nearby Moscow Metro stations. The original marble high reliefs were preserved and are now on display at the Donskoy Monastery (see the photo). For a long time, these were the only reminders of the largest Orthodox church ever built.

  2. Do you think all these attacks are designed to prevent Diana West from starting on her next book the infiltration of the United States and other Western nations by the Muslim Brotherhood?

    • I think you will find that this is PRECISELY the intent of this well-funded (Islamic $$$$$$$$$$) attack on West’s book.
      We cannot dare examine any Islamic penetration of the PRESENT gummint of the PRESENT day . (Perish the thought of such a probe of past wars in Southeast Asia and the Middle East).

      • Mr Lusk –

        I think yhat you’ve hit on some of the motives. Others are murkier. For example, Lt. Col West, who called out the Communists currently serving in our Congress…and once said Diana West was his “sister” has not spoken up.

        Andy McCarthy, who worked on the Team B report with Diana West and is on NRO? Silence…dastardly, self-interested silence.

        Frank Gaffney, who DID speak up for West’s work, went it alone for a long time when he pointed out Grover Norquist’s work for the Muslim Brotherhood (at the same the that Norquist was Mr. Conservative when it came to limiting taxes and cutting back the size of govt). Norquist had a lot of clout when Gaffney began to publicly speak out.

        I don’t know if NRO ever admitted out loud that they agreed with Gaffney re GN’s obvious affiliations, but I did notice Norquist’s name no longer appears in their listing of the Authors’ Archives. However, his material is still on the site – just do a google search on Grover Norquist and NRO…lotsa essays pop up.

        Sad to see them become so compromised. But then Buckley could be a bully at times and perhaps every founder’s karma shapes the subsequent generations. Which means that David Horowitz’ ‘org is sure to be problematic long after he’s gone…

        Neo-cons aside, it is disheartening to see real conservatives going it alone rather than working in concert.There are 30 Republican governors and the lot of them should be making that fact well-known.

        They could’ve stood up to BHO on the closing of their parks and preserves, but the only one to tell BHO none of his state’s
        public parks were closing was Wisconsin.

        Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) is trying to get a consortium together but I don’t know if he’s had any luck. It could be that it’s going well and the usual media blackout is in place.

        For the most part, Republicans and conservatives on the state level are doing well. They don’t depend on national media. Our state, VA, is an exception. The Democrat has scads of Soros funding and Billy Boy Clinton is campaigning for him. Obviously, he’s not asking Obama to help…or maybe he’s a last minute surprise? It’s getting cold in VA and DC for golf. And BHO does have to stick around and watch his signature health care program crater.

        If the conservatives haven’t any more integrity than NRO, it’s no wonder we’re going down the tubes.

  3. William F. Buckley purged true conservatives from National Review and staffed it with neo-cons, so called ex-lefties. Years ago when I finally learned this I ceased subscribing to National Review and never looked back.

  4. Am I just succumbing to old age, or do I remember correctly that, once upon a time, the ACLU and the Brookings Institute, among others, were what they advertised themselves to be? Just as was the National Review. It is not just academe and the bureaucracy that have been infiltrated and tilted, but so-called neutral, non-partisan and public service organizations. We must be thankful that there are still individuals like Diana West who are both intelligent and incorruptible.

  5. Baron, I agree with you regarding Mr. Buckley’s possible revolving in his grave. Mr. Black’s poor writing – and the fact that it has been published – is embarrassing for his baby the National Review.

    Btw. I bought American Betrayal the 11th of September, but it hasn’t arrived yet. It is probably on a Slow Boat to China instead of being shipped to Martenique.

    • The bying date was completely coincidental – I didn’t realize it until now. But it inspires me to go a “little” of topic.

      I think everyone in the world – except those who didn’t have the possibility – remembers what they did the 11th of September 2001. In my case, as a Swede, I lived in the heart of Copenhagen, Denmark. In a pause in my writing, I went down to the the little “dögnkiosk” on the other side of the street to bye cigarettes (At that time, I smoked like a chimney. I stopped smoking 8 years ago.). The shop owners advised me to immidiately return to my apartment and switch on the TV.

      In 1986, Olof Palme was murdered at Sveavägen in Stockholm after having seen a movie together with his wife.

      I recieved the message on the morning radio when I was having breakfast with my two sons, 6 and 3 years old at that time. Explaining to them what had happened – without lying to them – was not easy. I tought my kids the following replica: “We are children! This is none of our business!”. As you might guess, what I did was very politically incorrect.

      The murder investigation was a giant farce. If you want the truth, you must seek the threads that has not being followed up and the threads that have been covered up.

      My point with this post is to put focus in the role of the medias and the politicians. In the Olof Palme case, the medias maximized their revenus, and the Social Democrats maximized their political advantage of the murder.

      A more recent example is the massmurdering of Anders Breivik in Norway. The traditional medias were quick to blame small bloggers like Fjordman and Gates of Vienna to have inspired to the atrocities.

      Europe has developed to be pirayal.

      • Generally I tend to find that when a socialist is assassinated another socialist is the trigger man.

  6. I just read an excellent review of Reza Aslan’s Zealot.


    Dr Nadler is a very good scholar. He makes a great point that some evidence of Jesus’s violent proclivities would have shown up if he’d been a man preaching violence.
    Someone really ought to look at who
    is standing behind Aslan. I’m also mystified as about who is actually buying the book. Read Nadler it’s very well written.

  7. This is sad news.

    I had sympathized with Conrad Black after he had started a purportedly conservative newspaper, and then some (likely leftist) Chicago prosecutor put him behind bars for years on what I supposed were trumped-up charges. Black said his Christian faith helped sustain him during those prison years, burnishing his halo in my eyes.

    But now he’s bad-mouthing patriot Diane West?

    This is as bad as hearing Tommy Robinson joined a Muslim front group.

    Come Lord Jesus.

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