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Jul 29

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 6:40 AM 

Venona intercepts indicate that Soviet GRU officer/State Department official Alger Hiss was awarded the USSR Order of the Red Star (above) after the Yalta conference.

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Readers of the often-perverse National Review will have noticed that FDR biographer and convicted felon Conrad Black has opened an extended firefight with Angelo Codevilla over Codevilla's review-essay in the Claremont Review of Books about Henry Kissinger's recent book. 

Codevilla notes

My review’s one and only reference to Conrad Black was to quote his praise of Kissinger’s book: “brilliantly conceived and executed . . . even by Henry Kissinger’s very high standards.” Black construes this as an “attack” on him, of “extreme belligerence.” Who am I to disagree?

Who, indeed. But such galactic departures from reality are quite routine for Black. 

Recall that after scrawling a series of bathroom-wall-style attacks on Yours Truly --  "right-wing loopy," "occasionally aroused cautious hopefulness that she has been house-trained," "the West farrago of lies," "jejune dementedness," etc. --  Black turned around in Attack Piece No. 2 (of four) and wrote:

I am not one of those whom she can possibly include as making an ad hominem attack on her; I don’t know her, and have never commented on her as a person.

Fantastic! Just as Black imagines "extreme belligerence" where nothing belligerent appeared, he imagines that ever-linkable ad hominem attacks he, himself, committed never appeared.    

It is with a similarly loose grip that Black takes up his battering ram in defense of FDR, Churchill, Yalta, and the rest.

But wait, you say: This is supposed to be an argument over Codevilla's Kissinger review -- which, mark well, Black originally called a "farrago of  insults."

Since one good farrago deserves another, here's Codevilla to explain how FDR & Co. entered the fray:

Whereas Black’s first defense of Kissinger attempted to distance him from the last half-century’s foreign-policy failures, his second tries to sidestep scrutiny of his legacy by embedding it in “the most spectacular world-scale strategic victories since the rise of the nation-state,” achieved by an Establishment of which Kissinger is part. Think Kissinger? Think Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan. ...

Then he devotes the bulk of his article to arguing that although this “establishment did not conceive and engineer” the past 80 years’ triumphs, individual members of it did. Black’s list includes: “the Roosevelt–Churchill leadership of the Western Alliance and the leadership of, in varying degrees of proficiency and success, all the U.S. presidents from Truman to George H. W. Bush,” as well as “Generals Marshall and MacArthur, Dean Acheson, and many others.”

According to Black, “Codevilla largely dismisses [these] as devotees of defeatist accommodation of America’s enemies” or as “lucky amateurs.” One problem with all this is that my critique of Kissinger’s legacy never mentioned General Marshall, praised MacArthur, and never said or implied that anyone was amateurish or defeatist. Moreover, it was Kissinger (pp. 281-282), not I, who criticized Truman and Acheson’s refusal to confront the Soviets on Berlin, in 1948.

Oh, never mind. But here's where things get particularly interesting. 

Codevilla:

I linger on Black’s diversion because it shows where, as they say, he is coming from: “Codevilla appears to subscribe to part of the Yalta Myth.” What that “myth” is and to what part of it I “subscribe,” he does not say. But he implies that it is illegitimate to criticize the statesmanship that led to the Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe for nearly half a century as well as the conduct of Western “containment policy.”

Averse though I am to arguing from authority, I cite the memoirs of Winston Churchill and George Kennan, who urged policies and deployments that would have avoided this domination, as well as historian Christopher Andrew’s research on the influence of the network of Soviet spies and agents in the Anglo-American hierarchy: the British Oxbridge homosexual ring that Andrew terms “the Homintern”; the U.S. government’s covert Communists, of whom Alger Hiss is but the best known, and of course Harry Hopkins, FDR’s alter ego, whom the Soviets considered their agent (regardless of what he might have thought). For Black, the Soviet Empire was inevitable. ...

If Codevilla ever gets a chance to read American Betrayal, he will find additional evidence supporting the opposite point of view: that the Soviet Empire was not inevitable, but was rather crucially assisted by veritable armies of agents and other assets, covertly embedded along the halls of power in Washington, London, Berlin, Chungking and elsewhere, working assiduously for the expansion of global Communism, i.e., Stalin's police state.

Adding to memoirs by Churchill and Kennan, he will find testimonies from other Allied officials and senior military officers (including Gen. Eisenhower) "urging policies and deployments" that likely would have pre-contained the Soviet Empire before the Red Army could roll in on those 500,000 Lend-Lease Dodge trucks and Jeeps to seize half of Europe; such measures would surely have saved millions from being killed in the final phase of war. He will even find evidence (Soviet and American sources both) of off-the-record activities by FDR alter ego Harry Hopkins that might well have earned Hopkins his high NKVD/KGB esteem.       

But about Black's myth of the "Yalta myth." Again, Codevilla:

I linger on Black’s diversion because it shows where, as they say, he is coming from: “Codevilla appears to subscribe to part of the Yalta Myth.” What that “myth” is and to what part of it I “subscribe,” he does not say. But he implies that it is illegitimate to criticize the statesmanship that led to the Soviet Union’s domination of Eastern Europe for nearly half a century as well as the conduct of Western “containment policy.”

Codevilla's observation is quite true: Black does try to protect Yalta as a shining-Western-triumph from even a second glance. But it is worth remembering also that Yalta was about much more than the political division (or Soviet domination) of Europe -- although that is what FDR falsely told Congress in 1945.

Even a cursory overview of "Yalta" -- a climactic, but not definitive episode in ongoing wartime/postwar planning -- reveals strategic and moral wreckage. For example, in exchange for belated, unnecessary Soviet military help in the war on Japan -- five days in August 1945, as it turned out -- the "Big Three" allies agreed that Stalin would get not only the southern part of Sahkalin Island north of Japan, and the Kurile chain between Japan and Russia, but, as M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein note in Stalin's Secret Agents, also control of Outer Mongolia and Manchuria, "the main industrial zone and richest part of China."  

Evans and Romerstein explain:

This was done though China's leaders weren't at Yalta, weren't consulted, and would learn to their dismay about the concessions only later. The pact gave the Soviets commanding power over Manchuria, along with a sizable store of munitions the Japanese would leave behind them. A substantial portion of these would be turned over to the Red Chinese, who flocked to Manchuria once the Soviets were in control there. 

Thanks to Yalta (where Soviet agent Alger Hiss exerted great influence), thanks also to that Communist-"occupied" government of ours (and others), the pieces were falling into place for the Communist seizure of China by 1949. Two disastrous American wars in Asia would follow: Korea and later Vietnam. 

Also from Yalta came provisions for human war reparations -- i.e., slave labor. U.S. officials there would agree to a pact known as Operation Keelhaul, which would force, very often very violently, anti-Soviet refugees and prisoners of war in the Western zones into Soviet control. (See, for example, The Secret Betrayal by Nikolai Tolstoy, also published under the title, Victims of Yalta.) This made British and US forces guilty of a colossal crime: the forcible "repatriation" of at least two million people to the Gulag and/or the firing squad.

That's no myth. And criticism -- a frank assessment of the facts and no more "court history" -- is long overdue.

 

 

    

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