Soviet Influence: Myth vs. Reality

John Dietrich is an expert on Soviet penetration of the United States government before, during, and after World War Two. He is the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (see the ad on our sidebar), and has contributed several comments over the past few months to the discussion at Gates of Vienna about American Betrayal. The essay below is his response to the unpleasant ad-hominem attacks mounted against Ms. West by Conrad Black, among others.

Soviet Influence: Myth vs. Reality
by John Dietrich

Diana West’s book American Betrayal has generated a great deal of heat. Her critics, many of whom proudly proclaim they have not read her book, resort to name-calling. Conrad Black has called West and her supporters “pernicious, destructive, fatuous idiots.” Her book is filled with, “yellow journalism conspiracy theories,” “unhinged theories,” and “counterfactual speculations.” She is “McCarthy’s heiress.” Her supporters “hurl the vitriol of the silly and the deranged.”

I suppose that this is different than the vitriol hurled by the serious and stable.

The intensity of the attacks on West reveal that she has struck a nerve. I differ with some of her conclusions, but I would not think of calling her an idiot. I disagree with almost everything Conrad Black claims, and the harshest thing I can say about him is that he is allowing his emotions to distort his findings.

These events bring to mind a quote from Margaret Thatcher: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Diana West’s book is significant. Vladimir Bukovsky has stated that it will make history.

American Betrayal contends that the U.S. government was thoroughly infiltrated by Soviet agents. These agents guided U.S. policy in a pro-Soviet direction, resulting in the Soviet Union being the major victor of World War II. Congressman Martin Dies even concluded, “We lost World War II.”

Diana West’s critics believe she has exaggerated the extent of Communist infiltration. In fact, West only scratches the surface of this infiltration. There is much that we don’t know and will never know. Many records are still classified and many have been destroyed. What would she have come up with if she had the backing of a major university, a research staff and access to sealed archives? Still, there is enough open-source information to help us come to logical conclusions that are the exact opposite of the conventional history promoted by “professionals” such as Conrad Black.

Black criticizes West for her claim that Harry Hopkins was a Soviet agent. He concedes that this is not original with West, but is “in fact, not true.”

How can Black make this assertion? We have been told this about the innocence of the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White and numerous others. Hopkins may or may not have been a Soviet agent. He certainly acted as if he was. This is the crux of the opposition to West. She would argue that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of officials in the Roosevelt administration who may or may not have been, Soviet agents. These officials formulated policies that benefitted the Soviet Union at the expense of the United States.

This brings me to one of my minor disagreements with Diana West. She believes that FDR and many of his followers were “duped.” I believe that FDR followed a consistent policy toward the Soviet Union from 1933 until his death. FDR’s more blatantly pro-Soviet policies are excused because his was misinformed or was in ill health. I agree with Jean Francois Revel’s statement: “One of the abiding myths of the twentieth century is that many Western intellectuals sympathized with the Soviet Union because they were unaware of the true nature of the regime established by the Bolsheviks.” Roosevelt had the greatest admiration for the Soviet system, yet he supposedly formulated many of his policies because, “the greatest Anglo-American fear had been that the Soviet Union might again cut a deal with Nazi Germany.” This appears to be inconsistent.

The conventional interpretation of American policy is that the Roosevelt administration followed the best course of action. The West got what it possibly could under the circumstances. The war ended and “we” rebuilt Western Europe and Japan. It was unfortunate that the Soviets chose not to join us in building a better world.

The reality is much different. The U.S. government contributed to the destruction of the two major powers that were containing the Soviet Union. The Roosevelt and Truman administrations followed policies the nearly led to France and Italy falling to Communism by 1947. These policies included U.S. involvement in the slave trade and an attempt to recreate the Ukrainian famine in the heart of Europe. They were included in the Morgenthau Plan devised by Harry Dexter White, a Soviet agent.

The Treaty of Portsmouth was abrogated, allowing the Soviet Union to fulfill Czarist claims in the Far East at the expense of our ally China. This contributed to the outbreak of the Korean War, the takeover of China by the Communists and even the Vietnam conflict. In light of the hostility created by wartime propaganda, a negotiated peace with Japan was out of the question. However, if Japan had been allowed to retain Manchuria and Korea following the war, the history of our age would have been completely different.

Black refers to Serhii Plokhy’s statement that the Soviets, “treated American POW’s fairly well.” One of the first acts of the Red Army upon entering Germany was to butcher 50 French and Belgian POWs at Nemmersdorf. The Soviets believed that all POWs were traitors. Stalin’s own son, a prisoner of the Germans, may have committed suicide as a result of this Soviet policy. Soviet treatment of U.S, POWs is more complex than can be dismissed with the statement, “the Soviets treated American POWs fairly well.”

I suggest that Plokhy read Nigel Cawthorne’s The Iron Cage.

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

18 thoughts on “Soviet Influence: Myth vs. Reality

  1. this history is very different than what I was ‘taught’ in school. I had always thought that what was taught in school was a bit too ‘convenient’ as it were as it was very easily believed.

  2. Quote:
    The conventional interpretation of American policy is that the Roosevelt administration followed the best course of action.

    This is not an “interpretation.”
    It is a value judgment, precisely the thing every historian is told NOT to make.
    The best course of action.
    Yeah right, Reverend.

  3. “This brings me to one of my minor disagreements with Diana West. She believes that FDR and many of his followers were ‘duped.'”

    As I recall, Wikileaks showed that the modern diplomatic corp is NOT as ‘duped’ by Islam as they would have us believe.

    Just like modern politicians know full well about the pernicious effects of huge budget deficits, mass third world immigration, and Islam, FDR understood the Soviet Union.

  4. I have read the book and, even if it were the purest fantasy, it is wonderfully written. However, I suspect it is at the opposite end of the spectrum to fantasy. I suspect it is true. Obama and his ilk, with regard to communism, remind me of the discovery of dark matter by astro physicists. They knew it was there before they could observe it because they could observe the range of its effects. America now is Stalinist absent the gulags and the lack of anything to eat. Which reminds me; I’ve had no breakfast. Whatever happened to Takuan Seiyo, by the way?

    • Alive and kicking, happy to report, though struggling with the ripples of the staggered Gotterdammerung just like everyone else is except the two tails of the wealth distribution curve: the banksters and bitsters (tech), and the moochers — the former two growing and subsidizing the latter, directly and indirectly. You’ll find that several of my pieces appeared at GoV this year, one just a couple of weeks ago, and another one will be coming out shortly. The only thing I am stalled on is the “Bee and Lamb” series — it’s difficult to write and difficult to accept that such prodigious effort at a considerable personal sacrifice is read by so few. I am stalled on the publishing only, not the work itself. The work, however, has resulted in my categorizing 40 different ways in which we are being undone, all of them by our own (i.e. Islamization is not one of the 40; it’s a symptom not a cause). Moreover, only two thirds of the 40 are ascribeable to the Left. Which leads me to wonder in what spectrum of public opinion do I have a niche.

      • Takuan, press onward, con gusto, on your 40 ways we are killing ourselves. Couldn’t you say that as America is weakened, Islam is given a place to grow and flourish?

        As an aside, I believe that America was manipulated by Communism with the aid of our Socialist “leadership” just as we are now being guided down the trail to “Islam” by the same folk.

    • There is no doubt that what West writes is mostly or all true, but the lack of street-cred on FDR is surprising. I’m
      three-quarters way through and it seems an obvious
      conclusion at this stage that FDR WAS aware of what was going on in Lend-Lease to the Soviets. Which in turn
      leads to the conclusion that FDR was completely prioritising the all-out war against Germany irrespective
      of the Japanese conflict or any other. Which leads to a
      likelyhood that FDR was sponsored by some group or

  5. I agree with Egghead’s comment.

    And we must not forget that there is still a lot of secreted information, that will I hope, eventually find its way into historical records that has been, and this is in my own opinion, deliberately withheld from public knowledge by those who manipulate us for their own advantage.

  6. The other aspect to what this ‘exposure’ is now bringing to us is that the old system is broken and doesn’t work anymore. We need a new and more personally accountable system of politicking if we are to survive into another millennium without the persecution of thought that is so prevalent today.

    • The persecution of the common folk’s thought, coupled with the protective secret cloak over the actions of many who have done harm to the USA.

      There should not be a doggone thing kept ‘secret’ that was performed by the USA federal government before 1950 .

  7. Pingback: Soviet Influence: Myth vs. Reality- John Dietrich | RUTHFULLY YOURS

  8. “However, if Japan had been allowed to retain Manchuria and Korea following the war, the history of our age would have been completely different.”

    How different?

    A Communist China would not have tolerated a Japanese Manchuria, nor would
    It have tolerated a Japanese occupied Korea. The Soviets, having a Japanese colony
    on its borders would be as agitated as China. My guess is that there would be more
    war, China kicking the Japanese out of Manchuria, and egged on by the Soviets,
    kicking them out of Korea. We might not have a divided Korea now…it would
    all be communist. Maybe that’s what the author meant by the outcome being

    • Hoss asked; ‘How different?’

      Well for a start it was American political interference in China during and after WW2 that allowed Mao to go on his ‘Long March’ to bring China under communist influence.

      The alternative China is now living in Taiwan.

      If Chiang Kai Chek had not been double crossed through political manipulation China would now be similar to Taiwan in political makeup and the two Koreas would not have eventuated.

      As for Uncle Joe’s Russia – Stalin was pressuring Truman to bring the war in the Pacific to an end. But for what reason/s would Uncle Joe have in bringing a war to an end that had nothing to do with Russia?

      In my opinion, there were more political reasons than loss of American lives that got those two bombs dropped on Japan.

  9. I have read Diana West’s book as well as much of the criticism that has been hoisted about by various parties. It is of interest to me that most critical remarks have been made by those not of the Left or not of the Left as of late. Denials, ad hominem attacks, bluster and emotional reassurances that it ain’t so have all lacked footnotes. No sources is a sure giveaway there are no contradicting substantive arguments. Also telling, is that no one from the current Left has bothered to respond, indicating that they feel they are in the ascendancy. History, to the Left, is just not worth arguing about. Ditto about the truth

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