Down the Rabbit Hole, Again

The following review of “American Betrayal” was originally published at Europe News.

Book essay: Down the Rabbit Hole, Again
by Henrik Ræder Clausen

American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character by Diana West, St. Martins Press, May 28 2013. 416 pages, $20.23 (hardcover), $12.99 (Kindle)

Every once in a while, something happens that turns a whole structure of preconceived ideas upside down, shattering tales and narratives long taken for granted, destroying prejudice, clearing space for new understanding to grow. Diana West’s latest book, American Betrayal, is such an event.


To those of us in Europe who grew up under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella, with US troops still stationed in Germany to deter a Soviet invasion of our countries, history seemed solid: The heroic Americans saved us from the national socialist menace, rolling back the occupations that had plagued our countries for half a decade.

Afterwards they protected us from yet another great threat, that of Soviet communism. A solid Good vs. Evil story, where we had the great fortune to be on the side of freedom, and eventually prevail when the Wall came down.

But what if the real tale is a somewhat different one? What if the US government had quietly been subverted into supporting the Soviet Union, in spite of its being documentably as evil as Nazi Germany, already in the 1930’s? What if Soviet infiltration into the US government had siphoned off vital information, extensive material support, path-breaking scientific knowledge including the crown jewels of nuclear research, and given it all to the Soviet Union, for free? Would that work for good, or for evil?

Worse yet, suppose a Soviet desire to utterly destroy Germany and afterwards occupy half of Europe had quietly become official US policy?

And a similar unspoken acceptance of the Soviet Union supporting Mao in taking control of China? This would make the US complicit in spreading communism from the Soviet Union to many other countries, and thus in the suffering and death of millions of innocents, from Berlin to Saigon, and beyond. What if World War II had merely a single real winner, the Soviet Union?

This is what American Betrayal is about. Major topics, stuff that matters. For our understanding of history influences our decisions today, future development and what eventually will also become history. Accepting false narratives is enslaving; proper understanding is liberating.

But initially, her book was not meant to be about this. The intention of the author was to trace the origins of political correctness, aiming at uprooting this debilitating disease of modern-day politics. It just happened that tracing political correctness led to

… tracing references and footnotes backward along a well-mapped historical route that has simply fallen into disuse — reads like the history of a mirror-image universe. Certainly not like the history of the United States of America as I knew it.

And this description of going through the looking-glass comes from a certified conservative American, writing about topics important to us Europeans, too.

Into the substance

The book starts out around that fateful year 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the “New Deal” in response to the Great Depression, when the United States of America formally recognized the Soviet regime as the legitimate rule of Russia, and when Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.

It follows the work and activities of quite a number of persons working for the US government and in many New Deal agencies such as the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and the National Recovery Administration. It traces well-known Soviet agents such as Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers and (most controversially), Harry Hopkins.

Naming Hopkins as a Soviet agent inside the US government has been surprising to many. Yet Diana West is not alone in that assessment. Apart from the pattern of Hopkins’ systematic promotion of Soviet interests over than American ones, the position of Hopkins was confirmed by none other than the KGB themselves, as summarized by Robert Stacy McCain:

Chapter by chapter, American Betrayal highlights a number of Communist infiltration approaches, detailing the persons, the connections and the organizations behind them. The American Communist Party and their newspaper Daily Worker get the special mention they deserve, including the assertion it made that it was not a puppet of Moscow policies — an assertion taken at face value by US authorities, who failed to properly investigate the elaborate trails leading from that party to Moscow.

Likewise, treaties and agreements with the Soviet Union are shown not to have been worth the paper they were written on. One such was entered into in 1933, as a precondition for the US recognition of the Soviet regime.

In that agreement, the Soviet Union pledged not to engage in any subversion of the United States, a pledge violated so openly and systematically that it should have triggered a major diplomatic crisis and a retraction of the recognition.

Yet it did not.

Instead, an estimated 500 agents of the Soviet Union were working in various positions in the US government, usually paid for and fully trusted by the American government and public. While the New Deal initiatives that many of these persons worked for were certainly harmful, the greater harm was yet to come.

The Soviet Union even had the audacity (in 1937 and in 1943) to request the firing of specific anti-Soviet persons from the US government, requests that were granted. Speaking out against the Soviet Union could obviously be hazardous to your career and employment.

A major problem with granting the Soviet Union such covert influence on the US government was the fact that already at this point, during the 1930s, the Soviets had proven themselves an evil fully on the level of the Hitler regime — a regime so patently evil that the Allied powers, ultimately led by America, dedicated huge resources to its defeat, including millions of human casualties. Yet, there was no real resistance to the Soviets’ taking control of Eastern Europe after WWII? This is severely chilling.

Don’t worry, it gets worse

Now, infiltration may sound relatively innocuous compared to the wonderfully dramatic world of spying and counter-spying, as has been the subject of countless popular novels and movies. Yet infiltration is considerable more effective than simple spying, for in co-opting foreign powers, it is possible to discreetly steer their policies in the direction desired, getting crucial support, agreements or concessions that would be unobtainable by normal diplomatic bargaining.

One such support programme was the well-known Lend-Lease agreement. This was initially publicized as a support measure for the democracies of England and France facing off against the totalitarian enemy on the European mainland.

Then, when totalitarian Germany attacked the equally totalitarian Soviet Union, Lend-Lease was quietly extended to also cover the Soviet Union, which would certainly not have been in a position to win World War II without this support.

This fact opens the gate to an uncanny thought: What would have happened if the Western powers had not supported the Soviet Union against the German assault, which would probably have led to a German defeat of the Soviet Union in 1941 or 1942? It’s impossible to tell.

Yet the war went on, and in 1943, it became clear that the Germans were unable to defeat the Soviets. In that situation, abolishing the Nazi regime and ending the war would have been an interesting option to prevent the ensuing Total War and immense destruction.

But again, Soviet agents in the US government advocated a total defeat and even destruction of Germany, including the infamous “Morgenthau Plan” for complete de-industrialization of postwar Germany.

In any case, pragmatic proposals to end the war early, while the Red Army was still inside Russia, were put aside, giving way to a demand for an unconditional German surrender. The following two years are probably the darkest in European history, ever.

Furthermore, Lend-Lease was also used to hand the Soviet Union much more than immediate material support for the wartime effort. Directed by Harry Hopkins personally, Lend-Lease also transported massive information about the Manhattan Project, the top-secret US nuclear research programme.

This transfer of information was topped off with sending a significant amount of actual uranium ore, obviously a strategic national asset at the time, guarded by Soviet soldiers stationed in America.

This transfer of top-secret wartime research enabled the Soviets to detonate their own nuclear bomb by 1949, setting the stage for the balance of terror at the heart of the Cold War, as well as for future confrontations, such as the Korean War. That the transfer of information took place is confirmed in the memoirs of Andrei Sakharov, who in 1948 was assigned to work on the Soviet hydrogen bomb.

As these examples demonstrate, some hundreds of individuals with sympathy for the Soviets can indeed make a long term impact when holding suitable government positions.


It is not easy, however, to write an entirely perfect book, and some reservations do apply. While the sheer number of American names and references can be confusing to the European reader unfamiliar with any of them, the trickiest passages of the book are those that concerned themselves with military events and alternative scenarios. The persuasive power of the infiltration narrative spills into those, which is not unconditionally a good thing.

Take as an example the fall of Singapore to Japanese forces in February 1942. Diana West asserts that diverting military assets, including 200 fighter aircraft, to the Soviet Union opened the gates to its conquest by the Japanese, implying that this major defeat could have been avoided if the support pledged to Britain had been delivered. This is unsupported by solid military analysis.

[Full disclosure: My granduncle was captured and killed by the Japanese in Singapore].

Another case in point is the discussion of Operation Overlord (the Allied invasion of France) versus the option of continuing the Italian campaign up through Austria into the heart of Germany. If that was feasible from a military point of view (and mountain warfare is inherently difficult), the German war machine could have been halted by 1943, and World War II brought to a halt before the Soviet onslaught into Eastern Europe, before the massive bombing campaign against the cities of Germany, and before the Holocaust really picked up pace. The implication of such a scenario is staggering, and deserves a qualified discussion that the book does not have space for.

On a different note, some readers, academics in particular, will take issue with the quite personal style of the book. Here there is little in the way of academic distance that university historians consider best practice. Diana West is emotionally engaged in the material she writes about, infuriated not only by the historical record as such, but also by the fact that it has been covered up and fallen into oblivion, and actively so by a variety of actors. Fortunately, this does not keep her from following the actual historical trails in great detail, keeping the reader free to judge them for himself.


In writing such a book, Diana West would rightly expect some trouble to follow, and sure enough, it did. Much to her surprise, however, the assaults on her character that followed came from other anti-communists — people one would never expect to become upset over a book revealing communist conspiracies in America. Leading the assault on Diana West was David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh, followed by Conrad Black at National Review Online. Also, Gatestone Institute fired Clare Lopez after a positive mention of American Betrayal.

One may wonder why certified conservative and anti-communist pundits would speak up against a book revealing communist infiltration in the United States. David Horowitz gave the following explanation for it:

I see it as a threat to everything that I’ve done, and that Radosh has done, and that Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes and all of the conservatives who have dredged up the information from the archives about Communist influence.

While major conservative commenters preferred not to enter the fray, the historian Andrew Bostom, the journalist Robert Stacy McCain, the security expert Frank Gaffney and others supported Diana West and her analysis of Soviet subversion of the US government. This is spread in a variety of articles on several different web sites, but Gates of Vienna does provide a comprehensive overview here.


But the initial responses merely managed to let the credibility of American Betrayal hang in a limbo of uncertainty. That uncertainty lasted until September 26th 2013. On that day Vladimir Bukovsky, one of the major Soviet dissidents, with co-author Pavel Stroilov, published his response “Why Academics Hate Diana West”. In that comprehensive piece, he entirely vindicated Diana West and American Betrayal, comparing her book to major anti-Soviet classics:

Groundbreaking books about the history of communism, such as Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago or Viktor Suvorov’s Ice-Breaker, are never written by “professional” historians. Indeed, historians typically meet those books with remarkable hostility.

That closed the case, letting Diana West enjoy the appreciation she deserves for getting the story out, and setting readers free to absorb her book and understand the implications, also concerning the current infiltration of the White House by persons affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Center for Security Policy now expresses its opinion of American Betrayal by giving Diana West the 2013 Mightier Pen Award. This is a fitting appreciation of a work that started out merely as an attempt to track down the origins of political correctness, but ended up rewriting major parts of the narratives of World War II and the ensuing Cold War.


As should be clear from the above, American Betrayal is quite an experience. It is highly recommended reading for historically interested Europeans and Americans alike. But be prepared to have a series of preconceived ideas shattered along the way, as well as to get a chilling understanding of just how dangerous infiltration of a major government can be.

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

22 thoughts on “Down the Rabbit Hole, Again

  1. “This would make the US complicit in spreading communism from the Soviet Union to many other countries, and thus in the suffering and death of millions of innocents, from Berlin to Saigon, and beyond.”

    USA today is also secretly, stupidly, unwittingly, foolishly, misguidedly, unwisely, betraying their own people and soldiers by helping Islamists, and Muslim Brotherhood in ways and methods that the American people will take them 100 years to understand how their own government is helping their enemies.
    So called democracies claim that they go around the world and save people from their own rulers. This claim has the effect of magic and it is a great weapon of Mass Distraction, to put their own people to sleep and there is no one to save them from their own rulers because they were elected by them. Stir things in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somali, Syria, Egypt, Britain, Sweden, Holland, France, … etc. and import a treasure of immigrants and future jihadis. What a wonderful policy democracy is! You see all other forms of govs. have been tried. Then democracy was tried. Compare and see how democracy is way better. Just look at the success in France, Britain, Sweden, and Holland. We should not forget Norway the humanist. You have come a long way baby.

  2. ” But be prepared to have a series of preconceived ideas shattered along the way, as well as to get a chilling understanding of just how dangerous infiltration of a major government can be.”
    Is it more serious than today’s White Black House being invaded by Muslim Brotherhood appointed by Obama siphoning millions of dollars while paving the way for the Islamist takeover.
    But who knows that? How many know that?

    • Is it more serious than today’s White Black House being invaded by Muslim Brotherhood […]?

      That infiltration is easily the most important reason to read American Betrayal. For infiltration is vastly more effective and dangerous than simple spying, yet is very poorly understood. Everyone has heard of James Bond through the books and movies, few have heard of Alger Hiss or other trusted agents of the Soviet Union – trusted by the US Government, that is.

      Now, the Brotherhood infiltration is obviously our current urgent challenge.

      I first encountered this infiltration in 2009, when at OSCE in Warsaw, Kareem Shora ensured Bashy Quraishy that the election of Obama was proving a great advantage to their aim of getting influence in the US government system. Noone took interest in that.

      Later, in 2012, I took part in identifying Al-Marayati (also at OSCE), and that made the news – but only in the blogosphere, not in MSM, and only because Al-Marayati is also a known Israel-basher. The fact of infiltration simply wasn’t newsworthy, as if the political immune system said: “I have no idea what this is, and do not have any indication of it being dangerous. Nothing to see here, move on.”

      We are, in fact, in need of a Martin Dies or (and) a Joseph McCarthy to deal with the current situation – but here we tend to stumble upon another historical roadblock, namely the discrediting of McCarthy in particular. At least here in Europe, McCarthy and his work are widely considered mean, unjust, and “McCarthyism” a fallacy never to be repeated. Yet this is exactly what we should repeat, this time applied to agents of the Brotherhood.

      Reading American Betrayal and comprehending the implications can awaken our political immune system to understand that need.

  3. “The Center for Security Policy now expresses its opinion of American Betrayal by giving Diana West the 2013 Mightier Pen Award.”


  4. Can part of the American betrayal be viewed as being an anti-British Empire and European powers policy rather than a full blown pro-Soviet policy?

    • Only in part, and that would be anti-German, a follow-on to the WWI propaganda against Germany. Murray Rothbard has some telling details, but the main drift, as far as I can tell, is a pro-Soviet line. Which is plenty hurtful enough 🙁

    • Personally, I do think that the US was very hostile to the British Empire. Not to the point of a direct conflict, but not far off. FDR was quite clearly involved in decommissioning the Empire via loans and other demands.

  5. If I understand the author of this piece correctly he is saying that if the US had not become involved in Germany by strengthening Russia we might have avoided all that bloodshed. Even if I am wrong in my understanding it doesn’t change my comment. It would interesting to study the possibility of creating a computer simulation program that helps in policy decisions based on historical fact. Perhaps even giving the program the status of a vote as if human or super-human. This solves the dilemma of the decision makers who “forget history and are condemned to repeat history”. But the adage “garbage in garbage out” still would hold true.

    As an American I notice a pattern of motivation in decisions made public by couching them in noble terms- “it’s for the children” or “it’s to save the planet” or “human rights violations”. True or not it throws red flags especially now that we have who we have in our Administration.

    Look at it this way we have enemies piling over our ‘castle walls’ while dabbling in the politics of other kingdoms and THIS to our own destabilization. I am very much an isolationist and I believe in helping others in times of natural disaster and I believe the military is vital but only necessary in punishing the enemy for what he’s done.

    • If I understand the author of this piece correctly he is saying that if the US had not become involved in Germany by strengthening Russia we might have avoided all that bloodshed.

      That would be an overinterpretation, but not vastly so.

      I’d consider it certain that Soviet Russia had gone under in late 1941 or early summer 1942 if it wasn’t for massive Allied support (the trans-Iranian railroad, for one, was running at full capacity most of the time), and the Russians would, by their own admission, never have had the capacity to strike back and invade Germany.

      Such fall of the Soviet regime would also be due to it being massively unpopular in Russia herself, as evidence by probably well over a million Soviet citizens taking the German side in the war, as they considered the Germans liberators from an Evil Empire (thanks to R. Reagan for that one 🙂 I have scant doubt that without the West supporting Stalin, his rule would have been history in 1942.

      But that, in turn, opens a huge “Then what?” scenario.

      In that scenario, the national socialists would be ruling, mercilessly, over a vastly overextended empire, using an economical system that was basically crap, and was already causing major ineffiencies in Germany. That could have developed into mass murder of the Eastern peoples, and/or economical/logistical collapse, and/or infighting and rivalry in the Nazi causing the empire to break almost as fast as it was created.

      Given that Nazi Germany was also in solid control of Europe, Britain excepted, that would probably not have been a pretty sight.

      Then, I always proceed with caution when looking at alternative paths of history. In part because they are by nature extremely hypothetical and branch away from facts fast, in part because they contain inherent risks of quite destructive blame-games.

      • A crap economic system couldn’t have created the Wehrmacht.

        You actually believe in economic systems?

        • You actually believe in economic systems?

          It doesn’t matter if I do or not – what matters is that this belief was widespread during the 1930’s:

          – Russia was running ‘Communism’, which in real life meant brutally enforced slave labour, disregarding human losses at an incredible scale.

          – Italy was running Fascism (by definition), also called syndicalism, which was spectacularily incoherent.

          – United States was running “New Deal”, a progressive (less-than-fascist) system which was not working well. Public works were funded by extensive borrowing.

          – Britain was on the surface running classical capitalism, but hampered by powerful labour unions and an overvalued pound.

          – Germany was running the ill-defined ‘national socialism’, but did so with greater apparent success than other countries. Voluntary labour brigades (as opposed to Soviet forced labour) were used for public works such as building the Autobahn system, and Germany dodged the currency wars by entering barter trades with South America and the Balkans. However, the state was, if my memory serves, running large deficits covered in part by the quiet plunder of rich Jews, for instance following the Kristallnacht.

          I call the German system ‘crap’ due to being based on plunder.

        • Oh I don’t know.

          “Let’s spend all our money – and borrow more – to build up a nice big army. To hell with everything else!”

          That just might do it, eh …

  6. I wonder at the idea in todays ‘News Feed’ exploring the idea that the democratic party is now the CPUSA. This is an idea which is supported by the reality of the current situation, even if the psychology of it is unacceptible.

    To me, the most important aspect of American Betrayal is how the ruling Democratic party dealt with the problem. It would appear that the first reaction was denial, and when denial no longer worked, then, in order to protect the party at all costs, the messengers were thrown to the wolves.

    O is a collectivist/communist, there is not much doubt about that so the entities that support him must also have collectivist sympathies, even to the extent that whatever their empathy with him is; greed, colour, etc., it overides the dire threat that colleectivism poses to the lives of American citizens.

    Socialist systems have always come to grief in a haze of bloodshed and poverty. China has gone through ‘communism’ to arrive at its current ‘fascist’ state, and fascism type collectivism is still very dangerous because it works better than communism, the Roman hegemony upon which Fascism is based lasted a thousand years or more and some of its institutions are still with us (the Senate?).

    The USA has a year to wake up to the danger inherrent in the current Democratic party and its collectivist aspirations. But the GOP is really not much better, in rejecting ‘conservatism’, it has made itself a clone Democrat party. All I, as a foreigner whose life may well hang in the balance of these mid-terms, ask is that the USA goes to vote in wisdom not ignorance.

    • “The USA has a year to wake up to the danger inherent in the current Democratic party and its collectivist aspirations. But the GOP is really not much better, in rejecting ‘conservatism’, it has made itself a clone Democrat party. All I, as a foreigner whose life may well hang in the balance of these mid-terms, ask is that the USA goes to vote in wisdom not ignorance.”

      The power of democracy eh … or maybe not.

      “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin.

  7. I think it’s only a matter of time before a historian of the academy, or several of them, take down the worship of the New Deal and the New Dealers of the 1930s and 1940s.
    Clausen notes that West’s emotional investment in her material tends to do a disservice to her research and argument.
    The most intriguing statement she’s made is that the U.S. government, in its policies of the era, served Soviet interests.
    Even if you did not make the case for infiltration, one could easily make a case for this contention. And that alone should be “chilling.”
    Then and only then could other questions arise about the reason for the peculiar, accommodating American attitude toward America’s new ally post 1933.
    What was it in American thought, society and culture that prevented policy-makers from separating American interests, clearly different, from those of the Soviet Union?
    What was it in American policy-making that allowed the U.S. to abandon Eastern Europe wholesale? Was it necessary?
    We hear so much about American politicians making friends with anti-Communist Germans, in fact, former Nazis, after the war. What, precisely, was the meaning of these relationships in the context of a pro-Soviet U.S. foreign policy? Were they window dressing of some kind?
    Either way, we served totalitarian ends with democratic means in this period.

  8. Readers who are familiar with my stance on this whole Diana West brouhaha know that I am proud to be on the extreme wing, balancing myself out here on the whipping winds of this Sopwith Camel (it’s safely on the ground, but there happens to be windy weather these days; but I digress…), in favor of West and against the Horowitz/Radosh/Black Bizarro Men.

    I’m curious to know, nonetheless, two things:

    1) whether those on my side are also saying, in effect, that during the ramp-up of WW2 and during the prosecution of that war, the Allies should not have used the Soviet Union as a “necessary evil” in order to stave off and ultimately destroy the Axis metastasis;


    2) whether they think Churchill would not have agreed (if, indeed, he actually did not explicitly agree) that we did, in fact, have to use the Soviet Union as a “necessary evil” in order to stave off and ultimately destroy the Axis metastasis.

    These two questions “become” (as William F. Buckley used to say) further questions:

    Are those on my side of the West Brouhaha saying that the Allies, during the ramp-up of WW2 and during the prosecution of that war, were not (as all humans in history are) limited by a lack of 20/20 hindsight whilst in the midst of a horrible and catastrophic problem (viz., the problem of Hitler and the Axis alliance)?

    And would they deny that the Churchillian thesis — that we “work with the Devil” (Stalin) in order to defeat another Devil (Hitler) — was tenable and necessary precisely because it could have been done in such a way as to make sure we betrayed Stalin and defeated him after his usefulness was over? And thus that the hoary problem West has unearthed and analyzed was not a problem of allying with Stalin adventitiously and cunningly (as we should have), but rather of allying with Stalin with starry-eyed stupidity?

    (Note: I have no truck with those who in articulating an adudication of the interrogatory meditation above would lurch off from the outer promontory of Diana West’s analysis without a propellor (much less wings) into the groundless air (and its whipping winds) overlooking the vertiginous canyon of a Diabolical Crypto-Totalitarian Cabal controlling America from approximately the 1930s to the present; which brings us to the broader and deeper question of just how broad and deep has been the Communist infiltration of America — for which question one ought navigate between the two extremes of the Horowitzian It’s Bad Enough to Help Me Sell My Book, But Let’s Not Get Carried Away and Think It’s Actually a Dire Problem Like that Kook Diana West Does, on the one hand, or the GOVian Diabolical Crypto-Totalitarian Cabal Is Now Controlling America As It Has All Along (Post-Marked After the President of Pre-FDR Yore of Your Choice, Depending on Your Particular Cranky Hobbyhorse Such As For Example the Crisis of the Gold Standard in the Late 19th Century, & Etc.. on the other hand.)


    1945 Pres. Roosevelt’s Last Trip – Kings and Emperors Calling (HD)

    January-February 1945. Amateur film of President Roosevelt’s last trip (Malta, Crimea and Middle East). This is the part with King Farouk of Egypt, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia and Haile Selassie visiting President Roosevelt aboard his cruiser.
    About King Ibn Saud, his can be considered the classic “jump over the winner’s charriot”, because the King of Saudi Arabia was an old friend of Hitler. He totally agreed on Hitler’s politic toward the Jews. In 1938 he sent an envoy to Hitler in Berchtesgaden, asking the Fuhrer not to deport European Jews to Palestine (deportation to Palestine or Madagascar was the Nazi’s early solution conceived around 1936 to solve the “Jewish issue”).

    We can see King Ibn Saud’s envoy giving the nazi salute arriving at the Berghof in this amateur film from the Eva Braun Collection:


    1945 Meeting of FDR and Saudi King Was Pivotal for Relations

    Flying from the Crimea to Malta, Roosevelt took the cruiser Quincy to Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, where it remained for three days during the meetings.

    Some members of the party thought Roosevelt was mainly interested in idle diversion–“taking in the colorful panoply of sovereigns of this part of the world who thought President Roosevelt of the United States could probably solve all their troubles,” wrote presidential speechwriter Robert Sherwood.

    In providing local color, the Saudi warrior-king did not disappoint, slaughtering a goat for his meals on the deck of the U.S. warship.

    But Roosevelt’s real interest was to engage King Saud on the issue of Palestine and the underlying animosities that divide the Middle East even now.

    The king bluntly warned Roosevelt even then that Arabs would take up arms rather than see an expansion of Jewish settlements.

    “The President seemed not to fully comprehend what Ibn Saud was saying to him,” Sherwood later recalled, “for he brought the question up two or three times more, and each time Ibn Saud was more determined than before.”

    Three months later, Roosevelt was dead, and it was left to his successors to deal with the partition of Palestine and the consequences the Saudi king predicted.


    The Roosevelt administration, before and during World War II, had been doing everything it could – usually in secret and sometimes close to illegally – to help advance American interests in the Saudi Arabian oil development.

    Saudi Arabia was not central to America’s war effort, but in 1943, Roosevelt was persuaded that paying Ibn Saud was essential, even if a lot of the money was going to pay for his wives, slaves and concubines. So he ordered Lend-Lease money diverted to Saudi Arabia, asserting that, “I find the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States.”

    Oil – or its potential – was the only thing Saudi Arabia had to offer, and it was not in danger of being occupied by the Axis powers. Had Roosevelt been interested, he might have learned that the regime in Saudi Arabia – “vital to the defense of the United States” – was not much different than the Taliban regime knocked off recently by the United States in Afghanistan.

    Ibn Saud had conquered most of the Arabian peninsula and consolidated it into one kingdom with the help of the fanatically religious Wahhabi Bedouins, who believed, among other things, that dying in battle was a ticket to paradise, that all images, from pictures to statues, had to be destroyed, that drinking and smoking and singing and dancing were sins punishable by whipping, and so forth.

    Sound familiar? Many of the rules are still in effect in Saudi Arabia. Some speculate that Osama bin Laden is a Wahhabist.

    Ibn Saud had been a great and fierce warrior. He loved to sit around talking of great battles he had won and how he had personally killed his enemies. Possibly most important to him after his devotion to God was his honor and his belief that a man’s word was his honor.

    So when Roosevelt made this promise about Palestine, it never occurred to Ibn Saud that another president could come along and break that promise.

    But Roosevelt died a week after sending the letter to Ibn Saud.

    Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, came to office suddenly and unexpectedly.

    Truman placed the United States forcefully and decisively in support of the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state in 1948. The sentiments of the king of Saudi Arabia were not considered important.

    “I’m sorry, gentlemen,” Truman explained to worried Arabists. “But I have to answer to hundreds of thousands of people who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”

  12. From Andrew Bostom, elaborating on Eisenhower and the option of proceeding through Italy against Nazi Germany, rather than engaging in the high-risk Operation Overlord:

    As I learned from reading Diana West’s opus, American Betrayal, General Dwight D. Eisenhower extolled the suitability of both the Italian Po Valley, and the Aegean Sea “Second Front” approaches during the late November, 1943 Cairo Conference. Specifically, Ike opined the following at Cairo on November 26, 1943, as reported in United States Department of State, Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, (1943), pp. 359-60:

    Italy was the correct place in which to deploy our main forces and the objective should be the valley of the Po. In no other area could we so well threaten the whole German structure including France, the Balkans and the Reich itself. Here also our air would be closer to vital objectives in Germany.

    The next best method of harrying the enemy was to undertake operations in the Aegean… From here the Balkans could be kept aflame, Ploesti [Rumanian; a significant source of oil for Nazi Germany ] would be threatened and the Dardanelles [a Turkish strait, connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara] might be opened.

    • Churchill’s misgivings about Overlord persisted until D-Day. Sir Frederick Morgan, the D-Day planner whose rancour was increased by being denied an operational role in the landings, said later: ‘Until the invasion of NW Europe was actually demonstrated to be successful, I believe [the prime minister] had the conviction it could not succeed.’ This is an overstatement and oversimplification, but there is no doubt of Churchill’s unhappiness about Allied deployments. All through the spring of 1944 he chafed at the inadequate resources, as he perceived it, committed to Italy, and about continuing American insistence upon Anvil, the planned Franco-American landing in southern France. Ironically, after so many clashes between Churchill and his chiefs of staff, they were now brought together by opposition to US European strategy. ‘ Difficulties again with our American friends,’ Brooke wrote on 5 April, ‘who still persist in wanting to close down operations in Italy and open new ones in the south of France, just at the most critical moment.’ The same day, Churchill minuted the chiefs: ‘The campaign in the Aegean was ruined by stories of decisive battles in Italy. The decisive battles in Italy were ruined by pulling out seven of the best divisions at the critical time for Overlord.’ On 19 April he talked of the invasion to Cadogan: ‘ This battle has been forced upon us by the Russians and the United States military authorities.’

      Hastings, Max (2009-09-03). Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940–45 (Kindle Locations 8087-8098). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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