As reported here last week, Diana West was refused the right to respond to a 12,000-word series against her book that had been published at American Thinker, without first allowing the editor to alter the contents of her letter. The complete letter (unedited) has just been published at Breitbart. Some excerpts are below:
Author’s Note: This is my response to a recent three-part series by Jeff Lipkes devoted to my book American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character at American Thinker. It is an open letter to the writer.
This marks the second time in one year that American Thinker has refused to publish my own defense of my work as written.
Dear Jeff Lipkes,
When you asked me to answer questions for an article about American Betrayal and the attacks on the Right it has provoked, you told me: “I have a Ph.D. in history, but my interests are late 19th and early 20th c. British politics and culture, and, though I’ve taught courses on 20th c. Europe, have no expertise in the subject of your book.”
Not holding that Ph.D. in history against you, I, of course, agreed. Having been through the lengthy, three-part essay you have produced on the subject, however, I see once again that Drs. will be Drs. You tag the series “Diana and Ron” — Have you left no sense of decency??? (that’s a joke) — but a better title might have been “Another Ph.D. into the Breach to Avenge the Conventional Wisdom So Grievously Trespassed by “American Betrayal,” Alas.
That, of course, is the prerogative of the academic brotherhood (or siblinghood, if you’re one of those). After all, I have written a book that explores the 1930s and 1940s and beyond without including the conventional markers that make such excursions familiar before they begin. For example, American Betrayal, as you lament, fails to focus on Hitler, instead discussing him in relation to Stalin. And while American Betrayal reflects on what Stalin’s famine in the Ukraine, “normalization” of US-USSR relations, the Katyn Forest Massacre, etc., meant for Washington, you’re right, there is not a word about Kristallnacht. Nazi crime and Communist crime, meanwhile, are discussed together as I probe the origins of the double standard that condemned Nazism but whitewashed Communism — and which inspired the democracies to fight and revile bloody dictator Hitler, but embrace and apologize for bloody dictator Stalin. Maybe worst of all, I don’t quote a single British cabbie of the Blitz, one of whom you introduce from unsourced nowhere by way of vernacular reproach to re-assert the approved template. Readers (children), there was only one real enemy (besides Japan) in World War II, and that was Hitler’s Germany — or, to quote your taxi driver, “the bloody ‘un.”
I disagree. Veering completely outside the lines, my book explores the dirty intelligence war the Soviet dictatorship was waging against Britain and the US (covertly prosecuted in London and Washington by British and American traitors) all the while simultaneously fighting Hitler in military alliance with both democracies. I do recognize that this concept overwhelms the conventional template, conventional reactions, too. Your cabbie, for example, has a counterpart in American Betrayal in a British railway officer of the same period. On speaking with a passenger, returning British POW James Allan, a man broken by the torture and abuse he endured in the prisons of Our Great Soviet Ally, this railway officer was “obviously very reluctant to believe my story,” as Allan later wrote in his book No Citation. The source of this prevalent disbelief about facts of Soviet crime are much discussed in American Betrayal, even though admittedly this pushes the context of events far past “the bloody ‘un.”
Allan’s superiors believed his story (and his wounds), by the way. Allan received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, second only to the Victoria Cross, for what he endured at the hands of his Soviet captors. So comprehensive was the Allied effort to whitewash “Uncle Joe” Stalin, however, that Allan’s medal came to him literally with “no citation” — no official write-up of his heroism — and he was prohibited from publishing the story of his captivity until two years after the war ended. Why? The answer — the question — is just not likely to be found in the lore we all “know.”
I guess what I’m saying, Jeff, is that I expected a tad more engagement from you with what I actually wrote. I note that you are critical of core arguments I advance in American Betrayal but that you neglect to offer readers any quoted inkling of how or what I actually wrote to make these arguments. That is quite a feat: a word here and there, but virtually no passages quoted from the book in a 12,000-word-essay about the book. I guess you didn’t have room.
I notice other omissions, too. In your opening list of American Betrayal‘s supporters and detractors, you “forgot” to include American Betrayal’s most famous supporter of all: Vladimir Bukovsky, co-founder of the Soviet dissident movement, and, later, storied explorer of Soviet archives, thousands of pages of which he personally copied and smuggled into the West. With Pavel Stroilov (a younger Russian student and smuggler of Soviet archives), Bukovsky has co-written not one but two essays in support of American Betrayal. These are: “Why Academics Hate Diana West” and “West’s ‘American Betrayal’ Will Make History.” Since Bukovsky spent 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals, it does make me wonder what someone has to do to get noticed.
Another omission: You fail to inform readers that there are nearly 1,000 endnotes in American Betrayal even as you strongly lament the absence of a “scholarly apparatus” (“bibliography” to us plebes). How come? While we’re addressing scholarli apparati and what real “historians are taught” to do, the name is “Spaatz,” not “Spatz”; the name is “Wedemeyer,” not “Wedermeyer”; Pavel Sudaplatov was not a defector; Eisenhower referenced the Aegean, not the Adriatic (more below); and you truncated George C. Marshall’s stunning 1957 quotation about his division of labor with Harry Hopkins on behalf of FDR. The correct quotation is: “Hopkins’s job with the president was to represent the Russian interests. My job was to represent the American interests.”
Seeing how much the absence of a bibliography meant to you, I note also that you forget to mention, as I replied to a question, that my publisher, St. Martin’s Press, imposed space limitations that prevented me from including a bibliography in the first place! (You also neglected to link to the online annotated bibliography by Budd Kopman, a reader who kindly created it for me, which I also provided you. Here it is again.)
Odd. But it does set a pattern of omission.
Take your discussion of my discussion of that not-so-small intelligence army of Soviet “occupation” in Washington, which, by the onset of World War II, had covertly embedded some 500 agents and agents of influence (at least) inside the federal government and related institutions. (Some of these agents reached the levers of power as top aides to the President, Cabinet Secretaries, the director of OSS, precursor to the CIA, and the like.)
Oh, I forgot — you don’t discuss my discussion! Instead, you dismiss this rather elaborately developed thesis by rapping my repeated use of the “occupied” phrase as “bound to irritate Cold War historians.”
I agree with you there, of course. But soothing the Keepers of the Conventional Wisdom has never been one of my priorities. Call my “occupied” discussion a “metaphor out of control” if you like, but without arguments explaining why, all you’ll get are huzzahs in the faculty lounge.
To be sure, you said some very nice things, too — and I am glad you liked Chapter 4.
Still, I do wonder why you say that readers of American Betrayal will have “no clue” that the British were the original recipients of Lend Lease aid. “No clue?” That would be true only if readers skip, for example, p. 134, where I recount how Lend Lease became law in March 1941, giving the president exclusive powers to lend, lease or transfer war materiel that would go first to Great Britain; China, too. (See also pp. 135-137 for theories on Lend Lease’s origins, including Edward Jay Epstein’s explanation of how Soviet agent Armand Hammer was toeing the Moscow line by lobbying US law-makers in 1940 on lending/leasing war aid to Britain.) That said, unravelling the dark mysteries of Soviet Lend Lease — how and why it could be, for instance, that Soviet supply was given first priority over British and even American supply — is indeed American Betrayal’s preoccupation, and I freely acknowledge that this is an exercise not to be found on the conventional wisdom checklist.
Naturally, I appreciate your score-keeping on a number of Ronald Radosh’s egregious fabrications and distortions as cobbled together in his epically disgraceful “McCarthy on Steroids.” As you also might have thought to mention while revisiting the controversy, I wrote a detailed rebuttal to Radosh, 22,000 words published first at Breitbart News and later as a book and e-book titled: The Rebuttal: Defending ‘American Betrayal’ from the Book-Burners.
I certainly don’t want to tucker anyone out, least of all myself, so I will highlight only one key area of substance where a response seems appropriate: your treatment of my treatment of the “second front” — the ostensible subject of your 5,000-word second installment. Once again, I find that your approach seems less about engaging with what I wrote and the historical record, than with restating the conventional wisdom.
Again, restating the conventional wisdom is fine with me. It’s what academics do. But there is one paragraph of yours I would like you to reconsider for fairness and accuracy.
Part of my discussion of the so-called second front (Normandy really numbered around the 9th front) includes testimonies from the 1940s from significant American military figures, who, along with British strategists, strongly supported an Allied assault in Italy or southern Europe rather than or in addition to the invasion of northern France we know as D-Day.
This becomes a point of interest in American Betrayal‘s quite non-conventional “second front” investigation: my search for indicators that covert Soviet influence might have played a role in the debate’s final outcome. This is not to suggest that Soviet influence was the only influence; this is not to suggest that the “debate between the British and US general staffs” you reference was not conducted in good faith. But logic compels us to open our minds to the possibility that covert Soviet pressure was perhaps a crucial factor, particularly given the curious leading role that a former social worker and possible-Soviet-asset named Harry Hopkins played in this military debate.
After all, we now have evidence that Soviet influence operators affected the run-up to Pearl Harbor (“Operation Snow”), the formation and execution of Lend-Lease, the control and dissemination of US war information by Soviet agents on many desks of government’s Office of War Information; the destruction of anti-Communist allies including Chiang Kai-shek and Draza Mihailovich, the drafting of and also execution of much of the Morgenthau Plan (as JCS 1067), agreements at Yalta and many other milestones of the war. It is practically impossible to imagine that Soviet intelligence wouldn’t have tried to steer the debate over the climactic US-British military assault in the direction of Moscow’s best interests.
Moscow’s best interests, by the way, were to ensure that the mass of US and British forces stormed northwest Europe, not south-central Europe. It’s easy to see why: The Red Army needed Germany and points East free of US and British troops in order to expand its evil empire into Europe.
The outcome of the “second front” debate would set the stage for what we know as the Cold War, as certain commentators ruefully noted in the war’s aftermath. Hanson W. Baldwin, the respected military analyst and war correspondent whose book Great Mistakes of the War I discuss at length in American Betrayal, would write the following in 1949/1950: “Today, some of the principal architects of our policy understand their mistakes; and many of our great military figures of the war now freely admit that the British were right and we were wrong. For we forgot that all wars have objectives and all victories conditions; we forgot that winning the peace is equally as important as winning the war; we forgot that politico-military is a compound word.”
It seems fair to say we have now forgotten that we ever forgot.
With that Soviet intelligence army of “occupation” in mind, however, American Betrayal wonders whether it really was just a matter of “forgetting.” That is, were we helped along in any way? Did Soviet influence operations — “disinformation,” for example — play a role in helping Stalin get the “second front” he wanted? I don’t pretend to have the definitive answers, but American Betrayal considers an array of evidence, patterns of behavior, that suggest this might have been the case. I focus particularly on Hopkins’ role, but I note, Jeff, that in the second installment you devote to the “second front” you neglect to mention Hopkins.
Oh well. It’s a free country.
But the following is something else again…
Read the rest at Breitbart.
For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.