By: Diana West
CHAPTER 1: “GROUNDLESS AND WORSE,” HE SAYS.
BUT NOT IN MY BOOK
Radosh presents my entire book and its arguments as a “conspiracy thesis resting on five claims.” He writes: “In this review, I will focus on each of these claims in turn and show that they are groundless, and worse.”
I strongly reject this compression of my book and hope readers of the Radosh review, not my book, will one day discover for themselves that the nature, substance, thematic structure, and tone of American Betrayal are wholly unrecognizable next to the Radosh presentation.
For purposes of this rebuttal, however, I will address the five Radosh claims, one by one. I will be as brief–but also as comprehensive–as possible. I will focus on disproving unsupportable claims and rectifying the distortions inherent in these “five claims.” I will show that Radosh’s treatment of the subject matter bears little–and often literally no–resemblance to what is actually on the printed page. In other words, that it’s Radosh’s claims about my book that are “groundless and worse.”
In so doing, I will also point out a number of mistakes and inaccuracies–and outright fabrications–that pock and riddle the Radosh “take-down.”[i]
One final note: In rebutting these five charges, I will sometimes need to lead a reader more deeply into the weeds of fact and context than others. With that in mind, I will start with the most easily grasped set of Radosh misstatements.
The fifth and final section of the Radosh review is called “The Issue of the Second Front.” It runs more than 1,800 words, which makes it a little over 20 percent of the whole review.
Bear that in mind that it critiques a debate over the “second front” in World War II that is not in my book.
Radosh sets up Claim No. 5 as the debate over when to invade northern France: either in 1943 or 1944.
Let us assume for a moment that a cross-Channel invasion had been mounted in 1943 (before the Axis armies had been decimated in North Africa, Sicily and Italy) instead of at Normandy in 1944. In that case, as [historian Laurence] Rees argues, the Allies might indeed have reached Eastern Europe earlier in the fighting and Soviet influence would have been lessened. West, as we have seen, attributes the failure to Soviet agents who prevented Roosevelt and Churchill from following this course, allowing Stalin to take control. But Rees also writes (in a passage West also ignores) that “the cost in human terms for the Western Allies would have been enormous.
Just to be clear, Radosh is saying that my discussion of the “second front” debate concerns the timing of the invasion of northern France. The US and Britain failed to invade northern France in 1943, Radosh claims I argue, due to “Soviet agents.”
There is a surreal quality to what I now must write: This section, 20 percent of the Radosh review, in no way, shape or form tracks the debate over the “second front” that is examined in American Betrayal. It’s simply not the debate I work through in my book. I repeat: It’s not in my book.
Further, Radosh calls my “interpretation of this event” (the one that is not in my book) “shallow and erroneous.”
What American Betrayal does examine in Chapter 9 is whether the abundantly confirmed presence of agents of Kremlin influence inside the US policy-making chain turned, shaded or shaped “second front” planning to Stalin’s advantage in the epic debate among the so-called Big Three. This great debate was over whether to amass US and British forces in northern France or in the Italy/Balkan region.
In simplest terms, I wrote about France vs. Italy/Balkan–not, as Radosh erroneously asserts, France ’43 vs. France ’44.
The word “Italy” does not appear in this section of the Radosh review in relation to the “second front” debate. Nor does the word “Balkan.”
This is so incredible I must repeat it: Radosh missed my entire debate, from the crux of it to the fine details.
The chapter in American Betrayal in question is 13,500 words long with 84 endnotes.
This omission automatically renders a series of related Radosh charges against me non-applicable and therefore false.
West “ignores” the human cost of the early French invasion …”
–non-applicable and therefore FALSE
Another example: I “ignore” the unreadiness of Allied troops in 1943
–non-applicable and therefore FALSE
West doesn’t even consider the question of whether Churchill and Roosevelt would have been willing to sacrifice so much as one million dead British and American soldiers to keep Eastern Europe out of Soviet hands.
Where did that come from? This marks the intrusion of a “straw man argument.”
Something else: It should already be evident that Radosh is unlikely to know what I consider or don’t. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to matter to him anyway. His intentness on attack is such that he sees what he wants to and ignores what he doesn’t. (Evidence to come will further bear this out.)
Indeed, it seems fair to ask: Did Radosh read my book? Did he read it and not understand it? Or, did he read and purposefully distort it?
Such questions will recur in the discussion to come. I can only speculate on the answers, but the effect is clear each time: my work, and the reader’s trust of my work, has been harmed without cause, without evidence.
ANOTHER RADOSH CHARGE: FALSE
One of Radosh’s many introductory charges against my credibility is this:
“She disregards the findings of the sources she does rely on when they contradict her ….”
I have flagged four instances in brief (see “Radosh’s Introduction,” #10) where I make the reader aware of differences of opinion among the experts. But since we’re in the “second front” section, I now offer one of them in full.
On p. 267 of American Betrayal, amid talk of the Italian/Balkan strategy–which was supported in 1943 not only by Churchill but also by US Generals Mark Clark, Dwight Eisenhower, Ira Eaker and Carl Spaatz–I note:
“…There was a military argument to be made to refocus on France. In Wedemeyer Reports! Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, one of the early planners of the invasion of France, makes a compelling military counterargument against Churchill’s and [Gen. Mark] Clark’s `soft underbelly’ strategy. Essentially, when he looked at the map, Wedemeyer didn’t see the requisite harbors through which a massive Italian-Balkan could be supplied as it made its way through almost practically impassable terrain. To be sure, this military debate remains open-ended…”
I not only did not disregard Wedemyer’s military argument favoring France over the Italy-Balkan, I laid it out.
MY TRUE CRIME REVEALED: VIOLATING THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
Next in this foundationally erroneous “second front” section, Radosh raises “another point that West fails to consider.” This, he writes, is the “continuing fear shared by both FDR and Churchill that… Stalin might seek a separate peace with Nazi Germany.”
To be sure, I do not give this point the requisite emphasis that conventional consensus histories do in perpetuating the conventional consensus on our wartime alliance with and support for Stalin−an even greater totalitarian monster than Hitler, who (and American Betrayal argues) was secretly and continually waging a dirty intelligence war against both Britain and the US for the duration of the Allied war with Nazi Germany. That said, I didn’t fail to take into consideration this “fear.” In my treatment, however, it appears briefly as one of the “great mistakes of the war,” which is the title of a 1949 book by military analyst Hanson Baldwin, a Pulitzer-Prize winner who covered World War II from the Pacific, North Africa, and Europe for the New York Times.
From p. 112, American Betrayal:
Regarding the globe this way isn’t just a glass-half-empty exercise. It is a massive conceptual twist that forces what we “know” about “victory” into reverse. Hanson Baldwin’s 1949 book [Great Mistakes of the War] provides a good, solid point of analytical departure, particularly given that his four great and false premises of the war all have to do with our (incorrect) assessments and (mis)perceptions of the Soviet Union–head fakes, all–rather than conventional military blunders, as one might expect. They were:
That the Soviet Union had abandoned its policy of world revolution.
That “Uncle Joe” Stalin was a “good fellow,” someone we could “get along with.”
That the USSR might make a separate peace with Germany.
That the Soviet Union’s entry into the war against Japan was essential to victory or necessary to save thousands of American lives.
Such premises, in other words, fall into the category we would later identify as Soviet dezinformatsiya – disinformation purposefully planted, fed, primed, echoed, and amplified according to Kremlin plan. Accepting Baldwin’s list, then, we might consider two possible explanations. We, ourselves, arrived at these false premises. Or we, subverted from within by hundreds of agents loyal to a foreign power and aided and abetted by exponentially more fellow travelers and useful fools, were convinced to arrive at these false premises and were duped by a massive Communist influence operation into making these and many, many other mistakes. This is the shocking new scenario that begins to take shape with the overlay of intelligence history onto diplomatic, military, and cultural history.”
Radosh makes no mention of my thematic treatment of such “great mistakes”–in part, at least, the apparent fruits of Soviet propaganda/disinformation–even though it is discussed throughout American Betrayal. The reason, I surmise, may explain why Radosh also repeatedly distorts my study and analysis of Soviet influence over Roosevelt administration policy-making into Soviet “control” of FDR. Many readers, as Radosh no doubt hopes, will reject the cartoon of Soviet “control” he falsely claims American Betrayal depicts as being, as Radosh describes me work, “unhinged.” His pattern of caricature, I believe, is an effort to avoid, deny, and even hide the impact of Soviet infiltration on the formation of US policy that American Betrayal explores.
THE RADOSH PATTERN
While it is up to me to flag what is missing in the Radosh review, there is a discernible pattern to watch for.
Radosh will condemn me and my book for not bowing to the conventional consensus–in this case, the conventional consensus on “the fear of a separate peace.”
Next, he will lay out the conventional consensus, quoting from conventional consensus historians.
These, he labels “pre-eminent,” “definitive” and the like. I, on the other hand, fall not just outside this liberal orthodoxy, but am also a purveyor of “yellow journalism conspiracy theories.”
To make his calumny stick, he will, as usual, omit mention of my copious sources that led me to my non-conventional conclusions.
THE “MILITARY REALITY ON THE GROUND”
A piece of liberal consensus on World War II that Radosh defends to the death is the notion that the “military reality of the ground” dictated all manner of US and British appeasement of Stalin, from Lend-Lease profligacy to Yalta betrayal. Indeed, I have come to realize this becomes his battering ram against my book’s premise–my re-examination of the role Soviet agents of influence played in shaping US policy. His thinking seems to be that if the “military reality on the ground” made Soviet appeasement our only choice, then the influence of a Harry Dexter White or Lauchlin Currie or Nathan Gregory Silvermaster or Alger Hiss or Harry Hopkins is just so many moot points of mere academic interest. In other hands, such as mine, he condemns any other analysis of these spies and influence agents’ impact as “yellow journalism conspiracy theories.”
To prove this point vis a vis the separate peace fear factor, Radosh writes:
In March 1942, when the Allies were facing major military setbacks, Churchill wired FDR that the “gravity of the war” forced him to conclude that Britain and the U.S. could not deny Stalin the frontiers he wanted in Eastern Europe, even though it might contradict the goals of the Atlantic Charter. It was not Soviet agents who led Churchill to this judgment, but the military reality on the ground.
Who knows what led Churchill to this judgment? I don’t. Radosh seems to be now consulting historian Laurence Rees, in whose popular book, World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazi and the West, the “gravity of the war” anecdote appears (p. 127). Radosh will rely heavily on Rees throughout his “take-down” of American Betrayal. Rees is a British historian and BBC documentary-maker, and reliably mainstream (read: liberal). (Full disclosure: Rees is cited about a half-dozen times in American Betrayal.)
If Radosh had just turned the page, he would have seen, pace Rees (p. 128), that the US disagreed with Churchill’s moral and/or military position here, as did the British War Cabinet. Thus, Churchill’s “military reality on the ground” concession to Stalin at this time was rejected. This rather cancels Radosh’s point about the “military reality on the ground” dictating Soviet appeasement, at least this time around. And that rather cancels his point against me.
One might quote Radosh to Radosh himself to note that his “judgment” (see “Radosh’s Introduction”) here was “not only bizarre on its face, but also unwarranted by the evidence and refuted by the very authorities [he] draws on.”
Then again, even if Churchill were making judgments to appease Stalin based on “the military reality on the ground,” that “reality” certainly shifted for Churchill to a point where Churchill would come up against Stalin throughout the following year, 1943, in pushing the Italy/Balkan strategy.
But as noted above, Radosh completely missed the Italy/Balkan part of my book.
MILITARY ANALYST HANSON BALDWIN ON THE “SEPARATE PEACE” FEAR FACTOR
For an opposing view on the “separate peace” fear factor, I will now quote military analyst Hanson Baldwin.
In Great Mistakes the War, pp. 10-11, Baldwin writes:
In the same manner, a careful study of strategical facts and available military information should have indicated clearly the impossibility, from the Russian point of view, of a separate peace with Germany. Such a peace could only have been bought in the opening years of the war by major territorial concessions on Russia’s part, concessions which might well have imperiled the Stalin regime, and which, in any case, would have left the Russo-German conflict in the category of `unfinished business.’ In the closing years of the war, when Russia had everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing the struggle to complete victory, a separate peace would have been politically ludicrous. (Emphasis in the original.)
Nonetheless, Radosh raps me once more for failing to take the conventional consensus view.
“Instead of weighing these fears [separate-peace fear-factor], West turns to another anecdote…”
THE MISSING ANECDOTES
I now re-enter the surreal dimension of this rebuttal to note that the anecdote he now describes is not in my book.
This, too, is part of the Radosh “take-down” pattern: Imagining or fabricating events (I don’t know which), statements that are not in my book. The following is a particularly bizarre example.
The anecdote, he writes, is “telling how George Elsey found confidential files in the Map Room that showed FDR naively thinking he could trust Stalin, and instructed Hopkins to tell Soviet Minister Molotov that FDR was in favor of a Second Front in 1942.”
When I posted at dianawest.net the fact that this anecdote wasn’t in my book, Radosh replied at Frontpage Magazine (“Diana West Attempts to Respond”[ii]). Incredibly, he fought me about the contents of my book.
Maybe she couldn’t find the anecdote. But it is there in three different places where she writes how FDR told Hopkins to go into Molotov’s bedroom while he was staying in the White House so that he could meet with the President, and at that meeting, Hopkins told Molotov that FDR was in favor of a Second Front.
Please note how Anecdote 1 (George Elsey, confidential files, Map Room) has changed form–now it’s in Molotov’s bedroom. But in Radosh’s telling, it is still somehow the same anecdote and, yes, it still remains in my book–now in three places. Again, there is a surreal quality to what I am about to write: The anecdote is not in my book–not once, not three times.
Radosh even cites page numbers where these anecdotes are, in fact, not to be found:
“They can be found on p. 129, p. 268 and p. 296. She missed them because of a trivial error I did make which was to associate the anecdote she took from her source, Laurence Rees’ WW II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West, with the anecdote about Elsey’s find, which is in another part of Rees’ book.”
Are you following this? If not, the key point to remember now is Radosh’s claim that my source for this anecdote (that isn’t in my book) is historian Laurence Rees.
West may not have mentioned Elsey’s role in her own text, but it is the anecdote itself about the Second Front that is the crux of this matter and she does refer to it on three occasions.
Caught, Radosh blithely excuses his sloppy error and continues.
But Radosh is wrong again. Molotov’s name appears on p. 129 of American Betrayal, but not in a “second front” anecdote. The source, by the way, for the p. 129 Molotov reference is Robert Sherwood, not Rees.
There are ”second front” anecdotes on p. 268 and p. 296 (congratulations), but neither of them is about “how FDR told Hopkins to go into Molotov’s bedroom while he was staying in the White House so that he could meet with the President, and at that meeting, Hopkins told Molotov that FDR was in favor of a Second Front,” as Radosh maintains.
In my book–not Rees’s, which Radosh is clearly confusing with mine (and not for the final time)–it is Hopkins, not FDR, who is acting with volition, and there is nothing in my account about Molotov’s bedroom. On p. 268 I write: “Was it merely paradoxical back in May 1942, when, according to Soviet records, Harry Hopkins privately coached Foreign Minister Molotov on what to say to FDR to overcome U.S. military arguments against a ‘second front’ in France in May 1942?”
A different import entirely. Not surprisingly, my source for this isn’t Rees, as Radosh asserts. It’s Eduard Mark.
David Horowitz needs to reassess who is “incompetent” here.
BACK TO THE “SEPARATE PEACE” FEAR FACTOR
Book-report-style, Radosh trots out John Lewis Gaddis’s The Cold War: A New History to comment on the main Radosh “claim” that is not in my book–Claim No. 5, northern France–as a segue back to another dressing-down for my not having embraced the conventional consensus on the “separate peace” fear factor as the catch-all explanation for Soviet appeasement during the war.
Before I go on, I would like to point something out about Gaddis’s book. Yale professor Gaddis, whom Radosh calls the “pre-eminent historian of this conflict,” wrote this history of the Cold War one decade after the US release of 2,900 KGB cables known as the Venona archive. These World War II-era cables quite dramatically confirm the Soviet espionage activities of many members of the US federal government (some extremely influential) during what we think of as the dawn of the Cold War.
Gaddis, however, in his “new” Cold War history, doesn’t mention Venona (or other KGB archives). He mentions Soviet agent/State Department official Alger Hiss once in passing. Hiss, of course, did many things while working on behalf of the “Soviet motherland” (as Radosh calls it), including presiding over the creation of the United Nations, a Cold War battleground, which Gaddis does mention. Gaddis doesn’t mention Treasury official/Soviet agent Harry Dexter White at all, although White presided over the creation of the global economy (IMF and World Bank). Nor does he mention Whittaker Chambers, the ex-Communist agent-turned-witness who exposed Hiss as a Soviet agent in momentous Congressional hearings in 1948. Indeed, it was not until preparing for a conference honoring Chambers’ monumental anti-Communist manifesto Witness last year that Gaddis, as he “confessed” to the audience, read Witness for the first time.
I reference and discuss all of the above in American Betrayal. Radosh, in his “take-down” of American Betrayal, relies heavily upon the Yale professor’s book as a shining example of the consensus I should have conformed to but didn’t.
For not conforming–in Radosh’s mind, for failing to conform–Radosh proceeds not to debate my book, but to impugn it as “yellow journalism conspiracy theories,” and to smear me personally as “unhinged” and a “crackpot.”
I quote Gaddis at length to indicate that the decisions reached by FDR and Churchill were not the results of being run by NKVD conspirators who had infiltrated Western governments, but because they needed to win the war against Hitler, which they realized would be impossible without Soviet military strength.
Just to underscore, Gaddis doesn’t discuss “NKVD conspirators,” as Radosh calls them, or agents of Soviet influence, as I call them, in the first place. Radosh is making a specious argument for the inevitability of the “military reality on the ground” as having been the only possible and totally objective factor weighing on the decision-making of FDR and Churchill. American Betrayal considers the impact of identified Soviet spies and agents on their policy-making chain. In Radosh-world, this is clearly verboten.
So Radosh re-states the blinkered, conventional-consensus wisdom. But this doesn’t make it so–and particularly not when Radosh again grossly mischaracterizes the relationship between the “NKVD conspirators” and the Western governments. “Influence” was the name of the game–and the subject of American Betrayal–not “control,” as I have noted with some frequency above. FDR and Churchill were not being “run” by “NKVD conspirators,” nor does my book make such a claim. American Betrayal examines the impact of Soviet influence operations on US policy-making. Radosh, through his repeated distortions and omissions, seems to want to change the subject. By extension, he has in his review prevented reader from learning that Soviet “influence” is the subject under consideration in my book.
Why does Radosh continually misstate the concept so clearly outlined in my book?
Out of thin air–or maybe out of another book–Radosh writes that I depict Winston Churchill in American Betrayal as a “Soviet dupe.” This, too, is not in my book.
Without offering any supporting quotations or anecdotes, Radosh states:
Even the most minimally informed reader will recognize the most obvious chink in West’s conspiracy theories: the failure to explain how the anti-Bolshevik Churchill, whose hatred for the Soviet regime went back to 1917 when he sought to crush it in its cradle, became a Soviet dupe.
This unsupported claim has been seized upon to bash my book, from the sundry attack-pieces that popped up quickly, like toadstools, to a string of one-star comments the book accrued on Amazon, post-Radosh.
Even cursory observation of Churchill’s actions vis a vis Stalin during the wartime alliance reveals the British prime minister did not follow a policy that could accurately be described as resolutely “anti-Bolshevik.” That aside: I have re-examined every reference to Churchill in American Betrayal, and my characterization of Churchill in no way resembles “dupe.” On the contrary, the portrait that emerges is of an increasingly powerless junior partner doomed to make a very bad deal. In focusing on Soviet influence on the Roosevelt White House, my spotlight reveals the advancing marginalization of Churchill by war’s end, particularly once he has lost the “second front” debate. In fact, some of the most perplexing and/or suspicious actions of Harry Hopkins–the controversial top aide to FDR whom, I argue, appears to have been an agent of Stalin’s influence inside the White House–catalogued in American Betrayal concern Hopkins’ documented efforts to contain Churchill. This includes Hopkins’ efforts to, in effect, “protect” FDR from Churchill’s influence, whether about sending troops into North Africa after the fall of Tobruk, expanding into the Mediterranean (more of the south-central Europe strategy), supporting anti-Communist Polish resistance, and so on. According to Charles E. Bohlen’s account, Hopkins all but ordered the prime minister of Britain privately to stop bringing up even an ancillary Balkan effort to FDR at the Tehran conference.
THE PATHOS OF CHURCHILL
In other words, there is in American Betrayal no evidence to support this Radosh claim that I portrayed Churchill as a “dupe,” or, as he writes elsewhere, one of “Stalin’s errand boys,” or an “unwitting tool.” Nor does Radosh offer any.
This baseless characterization of Churchill, falsely attributed to me, is as disturbing as any personal false charge hurled at me in this affair. In fact, it is the pathos of Churchill in American Betrayal that becomes clear as when, in the eyewitness testimony of his physician, Lord Moran, we learn of his desperation after Tehran, bested in the “second front” argument for good, ill, determined to get to Italy to confer with “Alex,” Gen. Harold Alexander, top commander of Allied forces in Italy.
From American Betrayal, p. 275:
“This drew a medical rebuke from his physician. “I told him it was madness to set off on a journey when he was under the weather like this,” Moran recalled. “At this he lost his temper. `You don’t understand. You know nothing about these things. I am not going to see Alex for fun. He may be our last hope. We’ve got to do something about these bloody Russians.’”
That was no dupe.
Radosh’s charge is, in fact, baseless.
ABOUT RADOSH’S STRANGE YALTA APOLOGETICS
At Yalta Churchill did agree to the division of Europe with a Soviet sphere of influence in the East in exchange for a promise by Stalin to accept British hegemony in Greece. True, the way the agreement was sold to western publics was outrageous. Stalin was presented as a leader who wanted democratic regimes in his own sphere. But the Yalta agreements were concluded in order to win the war while minimizing casualties, and, in any case, merely registered what had already occurred on the ground. It was most certainly not the conspiracy that West conjures.”(Emphasis added.)
I will defer comment on how Radosh has just underplayed the catastrophes for humanity made manifest at this final meeting of the so-called Big Three in February 1945, to note my rejection of Radosh’s breezy denial of conspiracy at Yalta. I will simply refer readers to Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government by Herbert Romerstein and M. Stanton Evanss, for a cornucopia of detail about the “conspiracy” underway at Yalta that Radosh denies.
Stalin’s Secret Agents is a ground-breaking book, a documented chronicle of Soviet influence operations across the Roosevelt government. Interestingly, Radosh has mentioned the book favorably in print, which, of course, doesn’t mean he’s read it. In fact, it’s doubtful that he did read it. If so, he would have that learned Yalta was, in fact, much, much more than the “conspiracy West conjures.”
American Betrayal doesn’t treat Yalta in a systematic way, but I cannot let stand Radosh’s shocking distortion of the Yalta agreements as a means “to win the war while minimizing casualties.” Yalta was about making manifest postwar political concessions to Stalin arrived at in earlier conferences, and devising new ones.
As far as “minimizing casualties,” in an article cited in American Betrayal,[iii] war historian John Keegan raised the possibility that it was Stalin while at Yalta, which took place in early February 1945, who was behind the Allied decision to the firebomb Dresden later that month, killing at least 35,000 people, mainly civilians, just three months before war’s end. Keegan wrote:
The raid was intended to disrupt the German defense and to lend support to the Russians, who, it was alleged, had specifically requested it. In the days before the raid, when it was being planned, Churchill was at Yalta agreeing with Stalin and Roosevelt on the future of Europe.
It is said that Stalin asked for the bombing of Dresden at Yalta, though in conversation, not on paper. It is still difficult to identify who gave the critical order. Air Marshall Saundby, Harris’s deputy, admits to approving it `with a heavy heart’. Harris said later: `The attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by people more important than myself.’”
American Betrayal discusses the Yalta agreement by which the US and Britain participated with the USSR in what surely counts as a crime against humanity: Operation Keelhaul. This was the forcible, often violent “repatriation” of over two million Soviet-claimed nationals in Europe to Stalin to death and/or the Gulag, enabled and made possible by the participation of US and British authorities and military forces. Radosh doesn’t mention this crucial aspect of my book at all. Indeed, I have to wonder, did Radosh miss this part of my book, too?
He goes on, again, book-report-style, about Yalta as extracted from Harvard’s S.M. Plokhy’s Yalta: Price of Peace–more mainstream, conventional consensus history, this time drawing extensively on Soviet sources. Radosh picks up with conference developments that have little if anything to do with American Betrayal.
But as Stalin told Molotov when signing the Yalta accords, `Do not worry. We can implement it in our own way later. The heart of the matter is the correlation of forces.’ That correlation of forces is something West simply wishes away.” (Emphasis added.
NOT IN MY BOOK
This is a non-sequitur.
This relates to no part of American Betrayal. I repeat: This Stalin anecdote from the Yalta conference is in no way relevant to what is under discussion in American Betrayal.
The anecdote does, however, appear in both Gaddis and Plokhy, Radosh’s go-to mainstream, conventional consensus academics.
ABOUT OUR LOST MEN
I devote a chapter of American Betrayal to a discussion of American POWs/MIAs.
Chapter 11 of American Betrayal is the hardest chapter of the book to read just as it was the hardest to write because it is about what is the ultimate American betrayal, by successive US administrations, of American fathers, brothers, husbands, sons who became prisoners of war in 20th century conflicts, fell into Soviet hands, and never returned home. Worse, these men do not exist in the history we continue to tell ourselves as if it were true. Among other sources, I draw from a thorough, document-based investigation produced by staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1990, and focus on its findings regarding thousands of American GIs, ex-POWs of World War II, who seem never to have returned from Soviet territory.
“Actually, as Plokhy shows, the Soviets treated American POW’s fairly well,” Radosh writes–although I notice he doesn’t cite any of Plokhy’s evidence, either (I don’t know if there is any).
Here we see a recurrence of the Radosh pattern. Once more, he is holding up a conventional, secondary source – in this case, Plokhy’s book, Yalta: The Price of Peace–and simply declaring that my primary source research is not just wrong but so much “conspiracy theory.”
And, according to this same pattern, Radosh never mentions my primary source research, never frames my argument in the context of my sources, as drawn from 900-plus endnotes.
Regardless of what Plokhy “shows,” American Betrayal shows that from the start “the Soviets” did not treat American POWs in “well” by any standard.
Radosh either did not read my treatment of the subject, or he did not register the harrowing facts laid out therein, or he didn’t wish to present them to readers. Most Americans have never heard this story of betrayal because the US government and the media–and now Radosh–have, in effect or by design, hidden it from them.
I will not reprise the whole chapter here. I will however, provide the necessary background for understanding the extent to which Radosh gets both my book and the historical record wrong.
In the early spring of 1945 (as American Betrayal documents), amid rising frustration and anger on the part of General John R. Deane and Ambassador Averill Harriman, our chief military negotiator and ambassador in Moscow respectively, FDR wrote to Stalin seeking, even demanding permission to send US extraction teams into Soviet-held territory to rescue lost and sick American ex-POWs. To call these the toughest cables to Stalin of FDR’s presidency isn’t saying much, but it’s something. I quote directly from the cable traffic, which includes Roosevelt and Stalin’s exchange.
For the record, here is a partial list of the cables cited in American Betrayal:
FDR to Stalin, March 3, 1945
Stalin to FDR, March 5, 1945
Harriman to FDR, March 8, 1945
FDR to Harriman, March 11, 1945
Harriman to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, March 14, 1945
Churchill to FDR, March 16, 1945
FDR to Stalin, March 17, 1945
Stalin to FDR, March 22, 1945
FDR to Harriman, March 26, 1945
Now, back to Radosh’s inept or dishonest misrepresentation of my work, which, again, starts:
“Actually, as Plokhy shows, the Soviets treated American POW’s fairly well.”
Nevertheless, contrary to West, FDR `lost his temper with Stalin and sided completely with his representatives in Moscow, who by now were sick and tired of Soviet ways of doing things.
In case it’s not crystal clear, contrary to Radosh. I have laid out in minute and documented detail FDR’s angry if impotent attempt, completely in accord with his team in Moscow, to compel Stalin to permit US teams to extract our men from Red-held territories.
In other words, Radosh is making stuff up again.
THIS TIME, IT’S IN MY BOOK
Nonetheless, Radosh continues to criticize me for failing to include such information, which, contrary to Radosh, is, in fact, contained in American Betrayal:
He [FDR] sent stern messages to Stalin inspired by Averell Harriman, no pro-Soviet stooge, who was angered by the dictator’s behavior.
We know about both FDR’s and Harriman’s cables – from American Betrayal.
In other words, it’s in my book.
Radosh now veers once again into non-sequitur, writing:
FDR said to Anna Rosenberg Hoffman, his unofficial advisor on labor matters, “Averell is right: we can’t do business with Stalin. He has broken every one of his promises he made at Yalta.” He said this on March 24; a few weeks before his death.
I looked in vain for that statement in West’s book.
Why is Radosh looking in vain for a statement that is not relevant to American Betrayal? Because it’s in Plokhy?
As with the “separate peace” fear factor, or Stalin’s “correlation of forces,” Radosh is looking for the old, familiar notes of consensus (read: liberal) narrative in my book. He wants to be able to hum along to the old, familiar conventional (read: liberal) strains he already “knows”–and, apparently, wants everyone else humming along to forever.
He goes on, as if making a slam-dunk debating point:
“What is in West’s book is a condemnation of FDR for not doing more, for not scheduling retaliatory measures, and for not taking the advice of those who advocated turning against the Soviets although the war was not yet over.”
In fact, the war, at least for American and British armies in late March 1945, was largely a matter of being restrained or diverted so the Red Army could take up its positions in Berlin, Prague and Vienna. Except for that gross oversight, Ronald Radosh has actually written a factual statement about my book.
I notice, however, he doesn’t share my abhorrence at the failure of FDR and other US officials to do more to save thousands of American GIs, former POWs of Nazi Germany, who, according to the document trail presented in American Betrayal, appear to have been liberated from Nazi POW camps only to be imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag.
A word about “retaliatory measures.” The phrase is Averill Harriman’s, whom Radosh singles out for praise elsewhere in his review, but does not acknowledge in this instance. Rather than permit the conventional military understanding of “retaliatory measures” stand, I will turn to Harriman’s explanation on pp. 316-317 of American Betrayal:
On March 14, 1945, Harriman cabled the whole sorry story [of Soviet intransigence on POW negotiations] to the secretary of state. He detailed Soviet obstruction of U.S. evacuation and medical teams waiting to enter Soviet-captured territory; the “serious hardships” of sick and wounded American GIs after years of war and privation in German prison camps; and obvious Soviet evasions of responsibility, as when Foreign Minister Molotov tried to blame the (Soviet-controlled) Polish Provisional Government for the pure-Moscow snafu.
Then Harriman suggested something novel and sensible. In the event that a follow-up cable from Roosevelt failed to move Stalin, the administration should consider `retaliatory measures.’ What a concept. Harriman suggested restricting the movement of Soviet contact officers riffling through Displaced Persons camps in the Western zone for hapless returnees (there were over 150 Soviets at Eisenhower’s own headquarters where a special section of the staff was designated to assist them; Americans and British had no equivalent setup with the Red Army), or perhaps halting further consideration of `non-military’ Lend-Lease material (Stalin was angling for another big `loan’). Harriman also recommended something even more effective—something for the ages. Harriman tentatively suggested `that consideration be given to allowing our prisoners of war en route to Naples to give stories to the newspapers of the hardships they have been subjected to’ in the Soviet zone.
This was what was lacking, and this was what was needed. At any point, exposure, loud and clear, could have changed the U.S.-USSR dynamic in every way. It was the reality that We, the People were almost always, always deprived of in order to drive the Soviet conspiracy of Western silence forward, fueled by acquiescence, accommodation, participation and incorporation of all the Big Lies going back to the very first, the Terror Famine.
Continuing his pattern of overlooking what is actually in the book, Radosh sums up by criticizing me again for something that isn’t in the book – namely, Truman’s “line in the sand opposing further Soviet expansion” that “led to a Cold War that ended with the collapse of the Communist system.”
I “show no awareness” of the Truman doctrine, Radosh writes; nor, he continues, do I confront this argument “because it would be inexplicable if America was a Soviet occupied state run by Stalin’s agents.”
Having been through the excruciating exercise of rebutting this “review,” I have come to see more clearly that Radosh’s undue focus on criticizing me for elements that are not covered in my book–in this case, Truman’s “line in the sand”–is a sustained if desperate act of misdirection. We are all supposed to look at Truman’s “line in the sand,” Stalin’s “correlation of forces,” and the “separate-peace” fear factor, etc.–and nothing else. We are certainly not supposed to look behind the curtain at what Soviet agents, fellow travelers and dupes might have been doing back in de-facto-occupied-Washington to promote or use or be influenced by these same elements as ways and means to shape US policy-making.
The latter, of course, is exactly what American Betrayal does, It does not, once again, characterize wartime Washington as a “Soviet-occupied state” akin to Poland under Jaruzelski, as Radosh’s phraseology repeatedly and distortingly implies.
MY TRUE CRIME REVEALED–AGAIN
I can only surmise that my offense, once more, is to have written a book outside the confines of the conventional consensus narrative that Radosh wants to read, over and over again–and, more important, wants everyone else to keep reading. The sources I list, which Radosh consistently fails to acknowledge–while falsely and repeatedly impugning my credibility, temperament and even sanity (“unhinged”)–simply do not support this narrative of conventional consensus academia which Radosh upholds. Thus, no “Truman’s line in the sand.” No “correlation of forces.” No “Anna Rosenberg Hoffman.”
Is this why David Horowitz wrote: “She should not have written this book”?
AGGRESSIVELY ATTACKED DETAIL #1: “19”
For the remainder, I will be defending a series of details isolated by Radosh, one in each of the remaining four sections of his attack. The Radosh technique here is to build each detail into a supposed “pillar” of my “conspiracy thesis,” distort and misconstrue it, and then try to take it down.
Indeed, one commenter on the Radosh “take-down” seized on this discernible pattern. He observed that the Radosh method is “to aggressively attack a detail in a text–of course with the intention to disturb the holistic impression.” He called the technique the “Language of Violence.”[iv]
The Radosh review–a series of aggressive attacks on details – leaves no “holistic impression” of American Betrayal. Nor can I, for that matter, leave a “holistic impression” of my own book in my rebuttal, alas.
The most aggressive Radosh attack on detail is his “claim” regarding “Agent 19.” It appears to be part of an all-out, no-holds-barred effort to protect Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s top wartime advisor, from consideration as a Soviet spy or agent of influence, perhaps in an effort to preserve Roosevelt’s place on history’s pedestal.
A key assertion for West is that FDR’s closest advisor, Harry Hopkins, was actually the Soviet agent known in the Venona decrypts as “Agent 19.”
Worth noting is that in this first sentence Radosh has not only distorted my work, he has misstated the work of the late Eduard Mark, who, in a famous 1998 essay, identified “19” as Hopkins, but did not ever identify Hopkins as a “Soviet agent.”
The identification of Hopkins as Agent 19 is the linchpin of West’s conspiracy case.
Radosh has made another categorically false statement about my book (which he continues, gratingly, to label a “conspiracy case”). In fact, I once again re-enter the surreal dimension of this rebuttal to deny yet another feature that is not in my book.
I performed an electronic search of American Betrayal to quantify quickly for readers the extent to which this claim–that the identification of Hopkins as “19” is the ”linchpin” of anything in my book–is false.
My book’s 403 pages include 900-plus endnotes, which I keep mentioning because Radosh did not. After searching, I find that Hopkins’ name appears on 107 pages. My discussion of the Eduard Mark thesis that Harry Hopkins was “Agent 19” is confined to two pages. There are several passing references.
“Agent 19” is hardly the “linchpin” of my book. (I trust my discussion and debunking has already dispelled the repetitious, poisonous charge that American Betrayal is a “conspiracy case.”)
In fact, I use the Mark thesis to kick off my own search for a wider dossier on Hopkins. In other words, having introduced the Mark thesis on p. 147, I all but leave it behind on p. 148 to seek my own Hopkins sources and references in order to assess for myself whether he might be described as a Soviet agent or at least an agent of influence (see note for partial list of my Hopkins sources[v]).
It is one thing to point this out [Hopkins’ “pro-Soviet” beliefs] and analyze its implications, and quite another to claim that Hopkins was an actual Soviet agent., a claim that is not original with West, although it is, in fact, not true.
Notably, Radosh does not mention the authorities who label Harry Hopkins a Soviet agent so I will.
In his 1990 book KGB, co-written with Christopher Andrew, Oleg Gordievsky (former KGB colonel and British double agent), recalled that as a young KGB officer he attended a lecture given by Iskhak Akhmerov, the most renowned KGB “illegal” spymaster of the World War II period. Akhmerov, Gordievsky wrote, told the assembly at KGB headquarters that the most important of all the Soviet wartime agents in the United States was none other than Harry Hopkins.
The late Herbert Romerstein, a towering expert on espionage and Soviet subversion, having studied the matter for himself, agreed.
Radosh breezily states this is “in fact, not true,” but that’s no argument.
Radosh now takes the reader into his confidence to spread a little slander:
“When I sent her a collegial email questioning this assertion, and requesting that we get together to talk about it, she became quite huffy: `Dialoguing is one thing,’ she emailed back; `issuing directives is another.’”
Rather than take up too much space to demolish this childish and dishonest aside, I will simply quote the opening of that “collegial email” Radosh sent me, and note there was no request to get together.
“You have to acknowledge that you and [M. Stanton Evans] are dead wrong about Hopkins. …”
Once again, Radosh is making stuff up.
Having demonstrated that the Hopkins/”19” matter is in no way the “linchpin” of my book (or “West’s conspiracy case,” as Radosh keeps repeating), I will now point out that Hopkins/”19” is a linchpin of the Radosh attack on American Betrayal.
Having over-inflated the significance of Hopkins/”19” in my book (two pages) to a point of absurdity, Radosh sets out to destroy Hopkins/”19” as a valid argument and, in the process, destroy the book. To do so, he cites John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, whose latest published work–as of 2013, after my manuscript was complete (to debunk another Radosh charge that I neglected more recent Haynes’ commentary on Hopkins/”19”)–contends that Mark’s 1998 thesis was wrong due to numerous references in the Vassiliev notebooks (copies of KGB documents) identifying Soviet agent Lawrence Duggan as “19.”
Then Radosh goes further still–and maybe a little too far. He describes a dramatic scene at a 2009 gathering of espionage experts and authors that he helped preside over at the Wilson Center in Washington. Among those present were Michael Dobbs, M. Stanton Evans, John Earl Haynes, Mark Kramer, Herbert Romerstein, and Alexander Vassiliev.
Eduard Mark died the following week. Romerstein passed away in May of this year.
In his “take-down,” Radosh writes that in front of this august company, Mark “publicly” recanted his 1998 findings that identified Hopkins as “19.”
Radosh reports this as the final point of this “19” section, climactically concluding:
At a conference on Soviet espionage held a week before his untimely death, West’s source, Eduard Mark, publicly stated that he now acknowledged that Harry Hopkins was not Agent 19, and that the conclusion he had reached in his 1998 article was false.
… OR DID HE?
If Radosh is correctly reporting Mark’s public recantation of his Hopkins/”19” paper circa 2009, why did Radosh send me an email on June 13, 2013 on this topic, reprising the same arguments (Mark was wrong about Hopkins/”19,” Duggan was “19”) that concluded:
Were Mark still alive, I’m certain he would have conceded the point.
What was that again? If Mark were still alive … he would have conceded the point?
This construction of Radosh’s sentence clearly indicates that Mark did not concede the point – at least not while he was alive.
In this same email of June 13, Radosh also quotes John Haynes, another participant of the 2009 conference, as having “just” emailed Radosh that “Ed Mark was wrong about 19….”
Haynes’ message to Radosh also suggests that the Mark thesis was still standing–not that Mark had recanted the whole thing in front of the experts four years earlier.
It is worth noting Haynes also treated the Mark thesis as current in a January 2013 essay arguing that “19” was Laurence Duggan. Referring to Mark, Duggan wrote: “But on the matter of Venona 812 he and I disagreed.”
Note that he didn’t say, “He and I disagreed until Mark publicly recanted his paper’s findings in 2009.”
In August, however, two months after Radosh e-mailed me stating with certainty that had Mark lived, he would have conceded the “19” point, everything was different.
In his self-described “take-down” of American Betrayal in August, Radosh states with certainty that Mark in 2009 “publicly stated… that the conclusion he had reached in his 1998 article was false.”
Later, in a paper on “19” Haynes co-authored with Harvey Klehr, the authors include a footnote referencing the public 2009 recantation: “During one of the question-and-answer periods and in informal conversations at the symposium Mark remarked that the Vassiliev notebooks had convinced him that `19’ was Duggan and he no longer held to his 1998 position. He died unexpectedly shortly after the symposium and, consequently, never published a formal statement on the matter.”[vi]
You know what? It’s one or the other. It’s not both.
I will be publishing a chronicle of this burgeoning academic controversy at a later date.
Part Three will appear tomorrow.