Tags: West | FDR | Soviet | US

New Disclosures on Red Plotting Under FDR

By    |   Monday, 20 May 2013 02:33 PM

Over the weekend, C-SPAN's Book TV ran several showings of a program called After Words on a forthcoming book by syndicated columnist Diana West titled "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character." The cryptic title is intended to refer to rampant plotting by communist operatives operating in the highest reaches of the FDR administration to advance the interests of the Soviet Union.

Much of the author's research is the result of archives uncovered as a result of the Venona Project, which has allowed scholars access to internal documents of the Soviet regime. While West did not mention him by name, one of those scholars is Herb Romerstein, a former staffer of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under the late Rep. John Ashbrook, R-Ohio, who has continued the research into his 80s, a gentleman I was acquainted with while working for Congress 40 years ago.

The format of the event was a conversation moderated by Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Sometimes it appeared as though the two were competing for time and talking over each other, and the author confirmed this on her blog.

This article is offered in the spirit of a recent report on the activities of pro-Soviet operatives in connection with the establishment of the Bretton Woods monetary system as World War II was ending and the so-called allies prepared for a redistribution of power from the British pound sterling to the U.S. dollar.

This debate also takes place against the background of competing books on the McCarthy period, when Ronald Reagan, then head of the Screen Actors Guild battled with Ed Asner for the conscience of Hollywood. Conservative journalist M. Stanton Evans famously quipped that the only thing about McCarthy he approved of was his methods. Next year will be the 60th anniversary of one of the first televised serial congressional hearings, decades before Brian Lamb created C-SPAN and Al Gore created the Internet.

West raised a number of issues that pose a challenge to the reader to evaluate her ideas with one's own knowledge, to try to develop a more coherent theory of the history and then consider how it relates to the nation's current predicament:

1. 1934 as pivotal year. William Wirt, a school superintendent from Gary, Ind., told a House committee about a dinner party he attended the year before where he heard frank discussion of plans for a Soviet-style revolution in the United States, but when he tried to report this, he was subjected to a show trial and railroaded into oblivion.

That same year, Whittaker Chambers came to Washington as an operative of Soviet military intelligence to extend communist influence beyond the Agriculture Department. Fourteen years later he would testify at the Nixon hearings in the same room where the Wirt testimony had occurred, and he would implicate Alger Hiss, a high-level FDR advisor, then ultimately switch sides and join William F. Buckley's team at the National Review.

Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, Stalin was persecuting the kulaks in order to advance the collectivization of agriculture and beginning to liquidate old Bolsheviks and generals to consolidate his power.

In addition to Hiss, West listed the usual suspects of White House advisers — FDR's "co-president," Harry Hopkins, Harry Dexter White (Treasury), Laughlin Currie (China) — but perhaps overlooked Henry Wallace, who as vice president was in line possibly to become America's first communist president.

2. Soviet operatives influenced U.S. strategy and policy. When she could get a word in edgewise, West charged that the Russians intervened cable traffic documents in both Washington and Tokyo to aggravate the Japanese and foster war between Japan and the United States and to ensure that Japan would not attack Russia.

She refuted Cohen's repetition of the conventional wisdom that defeating Germany was the top priority. Her review of the Russian interest in promoting an allied invasion in France, rather than Italy, has been well-reported, but she put more stress on the Soviet manipulation of lend-lease program than is generally appreciated. She was much more specific about the transfer of intelligence on the Manhattan Project, and she pointed to the role of Lavrentiy Beria as both the head of Soviet intelligence and of their bomb project.

I am reading Robert Conquest's "The Great Terror," and he points to Beria's role, but he didn't have the cable traffic that is now available. Conquest devotes considerable space to laying out the mechanics of the Soviet trials and subsequent punishment in the form of executions and deportations to labor camps.

Thus, West's charge that President Eisenhower not only turned over Eastern European prisoners to the Soviets for certain retribution but he also gave them at least 25,000 British and American prisoners who all perished in the Gulag is very powerful, given her additional charge that every administration after FDR covered this up for half a century. So there's no urgency to a memorial on the mall for Eisenhower.

3. Repeating the same mistakes? One might expect West to find the current challenge in the development of a socialist kleptocracy here in the United States. Instead, she focused on parallels between the Soviet cells of the FDR period and the proliferation of Muslim Brotherhood activities in the United States, particular on campuses. She also found that just as the Soviet activity was derided as witch hunting, warnings about the Brotherhood activity have been dismissed in some quarters as Islamophobia.

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Robert-Feinberg
Over the weekend, C-SPAN's Book TV ran several showings of a program called After Words on a forthcoming book by syndicated columnist Diana West titled "American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character."
West,FDR,Soviet,US
904
2013-33-20
Monday, 20 May 2013 02:33 PM
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