Red Meat for Conspiracy Buffs

Jeff Lipkes has published a response to our critiques of his series of articles about Diana West’s book American Betrayal entitled “An Outbreak of Paranoia at Gates of Vienna”. Below are excerpts from his piece at American Thinker:

According to the website Gates of Vienna, my 3-part article series last month on Diana West’s American Betrayal and the controversy surrounding it was “commissioned” by “the arbiters of ‘accepted history’“ who wanted to see “a 12,000-word rehash of all the arguments.” And they paid me a tidy sum:

[quote inserted from Gates of Vienna]

We screed-writers may expect to be paid, but it seldom happens. No one gets reimbursed for reviews, whether they’re in scholarly journals, independent book reviews, the anemic book sections of newspapers, or websites. And very few websites pay for articles. Maybe Gates of Vienna is one of the exceptions. In any case, for the record, I was not asked to write anything on the subject, and received no compensation of any sort.

I wrote what’s called a “mixed review.” I admired some things about West’s book and said so, and thought some of Radosh’s criticisms were unfair and his tone regrettable. While Communists in the Roosevelt administration undoubtedly influenced some decisions during the Second World War, I disagreed with West’s claims about their role in launching Lend-Lease (and her misrepresentation of the program), in planning a Second Front, in determining the response to overtures from anti-Nazis, etc., and I took issue with her speculations as to what would have happened had alternative policies been adopted.

Apparently, for some of West’s fans, American Betrayal has become an object of religious veneration. Any criticism of the book is “Westphobia,” and must be the result of some dark conspiracy by malevolent psychopaths, along with the greed of those willing to work for the conspirators.

One critic who has taken a different tack, and whose piece is posted above the article excoriating the infidels, is the estimable Andrew Bostom. But Dr. Bostom, after briefly recommending that readers compare my critique with West’s chapter on the Second Front, the subject of his post (fine with me), launches into a long exposition of Hanson Baldwin’s 144-page book, published in 1950, Great Mistakes of the War.

I dealt with one of these “mistakes,” that “Russia might make a separate peace with Germany.” The mistake is Baldwin’s: negotiations were conducted intermittently for about six months in and around Stockholm by Peter Kleist and Edgar Clauss, beginning in December of 1942. Kleist writes about them in his memoir European Tragedy, and a number of historians have discussed the negotiations.

As for the Second Front, it’s not clear why Dr. Bostom relies on a short section of a 64-year-old book by a N.Y. Times journalist when there are literally shelves of books by military historians on the Mediterranean theatre.


The contrast between blinkered, craven Leftist “academic historians” and bold iconoclasts outside the discipline is red meat to conspiracy buffs.

But the real debate about the chapters in which West attempts to “connect the dots” is between those who know something about the Second World War and those who don’t — or would be if the former were to take the trouble to read the book.

Read the rest at American Thinker.


I exchanged several emails with Mr. Lipkes over the weekend. At one point he expressed a sentiment similar to what he wrote in the article above: “I visit the site and will continue to do so, but I don’t think it helps your credibility to treat American Betrayal as Muslims do the Holy Koran.”

This was my response:

Actually, if you’d read my previous posts, you’d have noticed that I haven’t read the book. My eyes are bad (hyperopia, and now macular degeneration) so that the tiny font her publishers chose made the book impossible for me to read. I recently acquired a Kindle, and set it on a very large font, but even that I have to use sparingly. This large computer screen set at 800×600 is mostly all I read nowadays.

Once all the fuss began last summer, I decided it would better if I didn’t attempt to read the book, anyway. That way I can defend Diana as a friend who has been treated abominably, without addressing the content of the criticisms against her. Because, truth be told, there wasn’t much content in those early reviews; it was almost entirely invective.

I’ll remind you of some of the terms and phrases employed by several prominent reviewers in those first few weeks:

  • West’s fictions
  • unhinged theories
  • dangerous one dimensional thinking
  • truculent recklessness
  • a right-wing loopy
  • [who had not yet been] house-trained
  • very angry, very self-centered and very reckless partisan
  • organized a kook army
  • unutterable myth-making and jejune dementedness, as they hurl the vitriol of
  • the silly and the deranged
  • she should not have written this book, which betrays a conspiratorial mindset
  • a preposterous book
  • paranoid fantasy
  • conspiracy mongering
  • farrago of lies

Those are not scholarly critiques, nor arguments on the merits. They are singularly nasty ad-hominem attacks, and they came out of the blue. No matter how erroneous her conclusions might have been, she did not merit that sort of treatment. Actually, to my mind, no one does.

That’s why I defend Diana. She’s my friend, and I know her to be gracious and polite person. What was done to her was an outrage.

Add to that the fact that she was denied the opportunity to publish an uncensored reply, and you have the full motivation for the essays I have written. She has virtually no platform from which she can defend herself. So I provide her with one, minuscule though it be in comparison with the forums on which she was attacked.

Hat tip: Vinny.

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

28 thoughts on “Red Meat for Conspiracy Buffs

  1. “Apparently, for some of West’s fans, American Betrayal has become an object of religious veneration. Any criticism of the book is “Westphobia,” and must be the result of some dark conspiracy by malevolent psychopaths, along with the greed of those willing to work for the conspirators.”

    Citations, references … that whole “scholarly apparatus” thingy …

  2. I haven’t read the book either, nor do I know very much about the matter of the choice of the second front. However, what I understand about what Diana West is saying is consistent with some small pieces of the story that I do know something about. When the American troops entered Czechoslovakia, they were ordered to stop at the industrial city of Pilsen even though their commander was “screaming to go on to Prague” (according to my father, who was something of an expert on Central Europe, especially Czechoslovakia, which after WWII became part of Eastern Europe). The Soviets were allowed to take Prague. When they approached the city, the Czech underground rose up against the Nazi’s. The Soviet army waited for three days, until the Nazis had finished off the resistance fighters before moving in. They knew that people that were willing to make trouble for the Nazis would give them problems too. I was raised on the notion that the Communists and Nazis were essentially the same thing. My father’s explanation for Roosevelt’s actions related to that theater was that “Roosevelt was crazy” (He was a dedicated Roosevelt Democrat, at least when it came to domestic policy, and also very anti-Communist). Anyway, it seems that West’s explanation for what happened makes more sense, although it doesn’t necessarily preclude my father’s.
    I never was much one for conspiracy theories, but all this talk from leftists about “the great right-wing conspiracy”, when there all too obviously is no such thing, makes one wonder. People do very often accuse others of what they themselves are doing.

    • The story you tell of Prague was the same story of Warsaw too. Not only that: Poland had a substantial underground army, the AK — all they needed was some outside support, weapon drops, bombing of targets (including Auschwitz etc).

      Nada. They were left to fight the Soviets alone.

      • The west fought hard to keep their countries from the NAZIS and Communism only to be offered on a golden tray to Islam with dangling dhimmi heads. This is a strange world with minds and brains and behaviour so strange that “satan” was created to account for that weird behaviour of man.

    • “(He was a dedicated Roosevelt Democrat, at least when it came to domestic policy, and also very anti-Communist).”

      But, Roosevelt’s domestic policy WAS Communist….

      …which brings us to the point that I heard from another commenter at another time that past Eastern Europeans were NEVER convinced to be Communist because Communism was imposed upon them, but modern Europeans and Americans have largely been ‘convinced’ (often bribed by benefits) to support Communism. In other words, so far, Communism has captured the hearts and minds of modern Europeans and Americans.

      • You do have a point. Roosevelt was the savior who rescued us from the Great Depression. He had such a way with his fireside chats, what a calming voice the man had (according to my mother) etc. I was raised on this combination of viewpoints. However, Roosevelt didn’t directly confiscate industry, etc. he simply bribed a large segment of big business to go along with him. In that sense, he was more Fascist than communist. I certainly did not really start to catch on to the resemblances until the 80’s, well after I was out of the house and on my own. What really impressed me was THE NEW CLASS, an analysis of the Communist System by Milovan Djilas. The book was published in 1957, and concentrates on how a relatively small group took complete control of Soviet Russia. It could be a playbook for the Obama administration. For instance, the Soviet constitution has all kinds of guarantees for individual rights, but the law was overwhelmed by the multiplicity of regulations, lawyers couldn’t really understand it any more, so the inner circle of rulers had complete freedom to decide how it would be enforced. Ring any bells? We Americans are still pretty naive, in my opinion, including yours truly.

        • Roosevelt is responsible for putting the “Great” in the Great Depression. He and his Brain Trust were deeply impressed and inspired by the socialist experiments going on in the 1930’s in Italy, Germany, and Russia. (The NRA eagle was taken from Mussolini’s Italy.) He cared little for the US Constitution and ruthlessly used the IRS to go after his political enemies. Read the whole gory mess in “New Deal or Raw Deal?” by Prof. Burt Folsom.

        • Thanks for the gracious reply. 🙂

          I was thinking of the many New Deal programs that promoted, enshrined, and institutionalized a vast welfare state under a centralized government controlled by a privileged class (i.e., an oligarchy).

          Ron Radosh (!) thinks that Communists wrote the New Deal!

          “You may not have heard of Leon Keyserling — he was one of the bright young men who rushed to our nation’s Capitol to work for FDR after he was elected president, and who helped to fashion a great deal of the New Deal legislation. As his obituary in The New York Times pointed out:

          ‘As an aide of Senator [Robert F.] Wagner, a Democrat, [NY] Mr. Keyserling helped draft such measures as the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the Social Security Act of 1935 and the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act.’

          “Later, as his Wikipedia entry shows, he went on to work for President Harry S. Truman and continued to advise him on major domestic programs.”

          “In her book, Storrs tells us that Keyserling and his wife Mary were ‘prime targets of the anticommunist right.’ Both ‘publicly dismissed their experience’ with the loyalty investigations of the 1950s, she writes, ‘as fleeting manifestations of Red Scare hysteria.’ Nevertheless, when Leon Keyserling advised Truman, Storrs acknowledges that the couple ‘took leading roles on behalf of policies that were at the top of conservatives’ most hated list, including price control, high wages, strong protection of union rights, and the European Recovery Plan.’ The essence of what they supported were policies that favored ‘directing more of productivity’s gains to wages rather than profits.'”

          “Both were not only secret Communist sympathizers and members of various Party front groups, but Leon Keyserling actually advocated violent revolution while he was in the New Deal writing reform legislation!”

          [Note: Be sure to read the comments about Diana West!]

          • From F. William Engdahl:

            “Once President, however, FDR moved swiftly with a specific set of legislative actions in his legendary First Hundred Days and beyond. The agenda was drafted for him by a small circle of intellectuals, whom he had known in some cases since World War I. The most influential of them were Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and his Harvard Law School protege, Felix Frankfurter, Louis Howe, Stuart Chase, and Columbia Professor Rexford Guy Tugwell. Only slightly in the background, playing a pivotal role of influence was London School of Economics Labour Party Marxist, Harold Laski, who had been a close friend of Frankfurter’s since Frankfurter won for Laski a lectureship at Harvard, where the latter taught from 1916-1920.”

            “In his Presidential acceptance speech in 1932, Roosevelt promised “a new deal for the American people.” The term was taken from a 1932 book by the same name, “A New Deal,” written by Stuart Chase. That book rapidly disappeared from the shelves after Roosevelt’s election. Its contents were the currency of White House economic policy discussion by Tugwell and other central planners around the new President.

            “Chase, along with Tugwell and Robert Williams Dunn, had jointly written a report, “Soviet Russia in the Second Decade,” following their 1927 travel to Stalin’s Russia.

            “In his 1932 book, “A New Deal,” Chase argued that the earlier transition out of feudalism into what he called laissez-faire capitalism, was essentially over. The era of Trusts, monopolies, capital concentration by large banks, must now give way to central or collective planning. Chase wrote, “modern industrialism, because of its delicate specialization and interdependence, increasingly demands the collectivism of social control to keep its several parts from jamming. We find a government meeting that demand by continually widening the collective sector through direct ownership, operation and regulation of economic functions.” He adds, “Competition is perhaps a good thing—in its proper place. Where is its proper place? Collectivism is beyond peradventure on the march.”

            “Much of Chase’s book was filled with fulsome praise for Stalin’s Russian model of central planning and its achievements, reflecting the fascination of numerous younger American intellectuals in the early 1930’s.”

            “After leaving Harvard in 1910, Chase had joined the Boston Fabian Club and went to Chicago to work in Jane Addams’ Hull House. As a young bureaucrat with the Federal Trade Commission in 1917, Chase investigated charges against Armour & Co. meatpackers. This all shaped his social outlook, and the Soviet model gave it justification in terms of national planning. Chase first met Roosevelt in 1932, but his role was more as a writer than as a policy administrator in the New Deal. He held several official consulting posts in the New Deal, but was mainly influential through his good friend, Rexford Tugwell, and through his writings.

            “Rexford Guy Tugwell, the Columbia University economics professor who traveled with Chase in 1927 to the Soviet Union, was the central person of this collectivist group around FDR. Indeed, when it emerged that Tugwell was one of the inner circle of the new President, business leaders and newspapers began to research Tugwell’s economic writings, and came away shocked, leading some to nickname him, “Rexford the Red.””

            “A second, and increasingly influential faction of inner circle around FDR grouped around Harvard Law School Professor Felix Frankfurter, and his close friend, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. The Frankfurter group overlapped the Tugwell central planning faction, around their mutual hostility to banking and finance. Frankfurter turned increasingly towards a socialist outlook, without using the word, during a winter spent in England in 1933-1934 where his earlier friendship with London School of Economics Marxist economics professor, Harold Laski deepened. Laski, the inspiration for Labour Party nationalization of coal, steel and other industry after the war as well as of the Beveridge Plan creating the British postwar Welfare State, enjoyed regular access to FDR whenever he visited Washington in the mid-1930’s which was often. While in London that winter, Frankfurter also cultivated a friendship with economist John Maynard Keynes, recruiting Keynes to advise the New Deal on recovery.”

            “Writing to FDR from England in December 1933, Frankfurter stated that, “lines were fast being drawn between those to whom Recovery meant Return—return to the good old days—and those for whom Recovery was Reform—transformation by gradual process, but radical transformation no less, of our social and economic arrangements.” In short, Frankfurter used his enormous influence to urge the President to wage de facto class war against business rather than against economic depression, though clothed in rhetoric of war on economic depression.”

            “In 1932, just before Roosevelt won election for the first of an unprecedented four terms, Federal debt stood at some $30 billion. By 1941 it had risen to over $70 billion, and by 1945 to almost $280 billion, almost a tenfold rise in little more than a decade. More significantly, Federal government purchases of goods and services rose dramatically. At the time of the stock market crash in 1929, a mere 2.5% of GDP consisted of federal expenditures. That increased to a staggering 45% of GDP by 1945.”


          • Thank you for the link. I found it very interesting. getting back to the start of our little discussion, I found the following quote especially relevant. “it meant backing for the likes of Hubert Humphrey, the anti-Communist Minnesota political leader and future vice president, rather than the naïve Communist dupe Henry A. Wallace.” Humphrey was undoubtedly a liberal, but he probably lost the 1968 presidential election because he refused to repudiate the Vietnam war. My parents also held that the Vietnam war was necessary to contain communism. No surprise that my mother worked as a volunteer at Humphrey’s campaign headquarters during that election. Anti Communist Liberals may have been naive in their understanding as to what was and what wasn’t Communist, but they were a real phenomenon, not a front group.

    • A conspiracy is a set of actions taken by people who don’t want others to know their purposes. Obviously these things happen; i.e. conspiracies are real; therefore a theory about how things have come about is not ipso facto discredited by the qualifier “conspiracy.”

  3. Really, all we have to do to see the truth of what West has written is look back immediately following WWII and see the division of Europe with an iron curtain. That we did nothing to stop it. We all knew our history: Eastern Europe was sacrificed to the USSR. Peace in our time, baby. Peace in our time.

  4. Mr. Lipkes wrote: “…and must be the result of some dark conspiracy by malevolent psychopaths, along with the greed of those willing to work for the conspirators.”

    That’s the point, Mr. Lipkes. A very dark, sordid and long-running conspiracy. I see you still either a) haven’t read the book or b) still don’t get it.

    I have, and I do.

      • Among the arguments against DW (or anyone expressing doubts about aspects of the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union) is the huge numbers of Russians who died in the war — which might be a little like claiming that Hamas is morally superior to Israel because more Gazans than Israelis have died. Did Stalin care about all those Russian lives any more than Hamas cares about Palestinian lives? Did he make a gut-wrenching decision to sacrifice so many Russian lives in order to keep the world safe for democracy?

  5. Something that has puzzled me about the Second World War: why didn’t the Soviet Union help the USA in the Pacific sector by attacking the Japanese in Manchuria, Korea and Sakhalin, where they had land frontiers? They only came in after the A-bombs were dropped. There was no need then, but as reward they took the Japanese half of Sakhalin and the Japanese Kurile Islands. Korea was partitioned. What had Korea done to deserve that?

    • The Soviet Union was not officially at war with Japan, skirmishes notwithstanding. They agreed to come into that conflict, on the side of the western allies, six months after the surrender of the Axis powers in Europe (which would have been November 1945).

      I have seen it argued (I don’t have the expertise to offer a view) that the US and Britain agreed over the use of atomic bombs to shorten the Pacific War, not just to spare the lives of their own troops (and greater numbers of Japanese civilians?), but because by then it was already clear from the situation in Europe that Stalin would not honour agreements, and we did not want the additional difficulty of sharing the occupation of Japan with him.

  6. Churchill and Gen. Patton considered Operation Unthinkable: to re-arm 100.000 German soldiers and start to fight the Soviets on the 1st of July 1945.
    Wo called them back?

    • Maybe they figured enough had been asked of the German military, and the civilian population, for a while; also that the Soviets would still have the resources to resist and win.

  7. I just wrote in the comment section at American Thinker under the name Montana83. I read all 35 comments. All but one or two support Diana West and this blog. I think people who blindly support FDR disagree with Ms. West and those who have read the book support Diana.

  8. Diana West didn’t create anything. She just uncovered connections that we hadn’t seen–connections between @ 500 fans of Russia working in our government and unusually helpful things that happened to the USSR during WWII. It makes no sense to be critical of messenger Diana.

    It all came from others: references, quotations, documents, citations. She didn’t make up anything. We can’t unlearn or forget what she discovered. Sorry, you lose, Mr. Lipkes. Too late. It’s like wishing Pythagoras hadn’t discovered a^2+b^2=c^2 in a right triangle.

  9. If I was a jew living in a muslim area in France or Belgium right now, I would be in an constant state of paranoia. And that state would be the most logical answer to what is happening.

    Paranoia and delusion is not the same thing. Indeed, when time comes that give you every reason to be paranoic, the delusional behaviour is to keep saying to yourself that nothing happens and everything’s OK.

    Perhaps stating that Mrs.West has been targeted is paranoic. But denying it is complete delusion.

    • Or as the old saying goes:

      “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you”!

    • Justifiable fear of malicious attack is not paranoia. Paranoia is delusion; fearing a malicious attack, where one is not foreseeable.

      Since Jews and Christians are being attacked around the world, both violently and non-violently, it is not paranoid to fear yet more such attacks, if one is either a Jew or a Christian of the sort that is being attacked; that is to say, honest, brave, outspoken, critical of Islam and Socialism etc (not a cowardly traitor or a dhimmi).

  10. To underscore what Takuan Seiyo is mentioning in his comment, I recommend to read the very interesting book “Bloodland, Europe between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder to get an understanding what really was going on there, especially chapter 9. By reading it, one gets somehow the impression that both Sowjets and Nazi´s, although at each others throat militarily, cooperated to annihilate the Poles. And whether the fast advance of Patton would have made any difference is very much questionable.

  11. Notice that nowhere in his latest missive does Lipkes actually address the various points and corrections West has written in the wake of his original 3-part essay. Whether he’s a clever obfuscator or an inept pundit serving as a Useful Idiot to the former, the result seems to be the same. One thing we can say with confidence: the cleverness, and the success, of the obfuscation is wearing thin enough for more and more people to see through it.

  12. Me, too. I find that the publisher’s choice of typographical font and size makes the book difficult to read.

    Thought: When the “Powers” discovered they couldn’t convince the publisher to cancel their contract with Ms. West, did they – cloak & dagger like – “do lunch” with the publisher (in that dive three blocks east of HQ) and pressured them to print the book in the typography they did? Just to make it difficult for the likes of the Baron – and all those with, now, closing memories of how things went down in the “badlands” of the Potomac, and Eastern Europe.

    Still, regarding the publisher – brave souls, you are and our thanks.

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