Back in 2013, when former Communist Party member Ron Radosh was whipping up a Pravda-style disinformation campaign against my anti-communist book, American Betrayal, New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait stepped up and wrote an essay knocking "West's paranoia." While I'm not certain, I strongly suspect Chait was inveigled by Radosh to write the New York Magazine piece; I imagine Radosh blanched at Chait's positive-ish headline: "Conservative Historian Has Interesting Ideas."
Still, Chait's essay bears the familiar stamp of the Radosh/Horowitz-led assault in its repeated misrepresentations of my footnoted analysis of the influence (not "control") on US policy-making potentially exerted by hundreds of Soviet "agents of influence" and fellow travelers covertly embedded inside the US government -- the subversive force that "court historians," who bestow glory on political favorites rather than shed light on the past, ignore or deny to this day. Not that it is likely journalista Chait cracked the book. All he had to do was pretend, a la Radosh & Horowitz, that I had advanced a theory, as Chait put it, that "the Soviets controlled the American government in the way they controlled, say, East Germany." As any reader knows, this is cartoonish rubbish -- but a handy way to deceive readers into dismissing the book as such.
I am reminded of this because Chait has now spun up an East-Germany-style vision of Donald Trump as Putin's Honecker, a traitor to the USA since 1987.
Titled "What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?," the Chait piece does not even rise to the level of "conspiracy theory," Chait having presented no conspiracy to theorize about. His technique is to raise, magnify and connect doubts. "How do you even think about the small but real chance — 10 percent? 20 percent? — that the president of the United States has been covertly influenced or personally compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?" he asks. One answer is, you write a few thousand pointless words.
But only about Trump. Chait takes everything back to Trump's July 1987 visit to Moscow. That's because in September of that same year Trump took out a series of full-page ads in prominent newspapers noting that "Japan and other nations have been taking advantage of the United States.″ In his open letter to the American people, Trump asked, ″Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests?"
Classic Trump -- or was it really Gorbachev in disguise? As Chait notes, it is the Kremlin's propensity to seek splits between the US and its allies. He writes: "The safest assumption is that it’s entirely coincidental that Trump launched a national campaign, with himself as spokesman, built around themes that dovetailed closely with Soviet foreign-policy goals shortly after his Moscow stay. Indeed, it seems slightly insane to contemplate the possibility that a secret relationship between Trump and Russia dates back this far. But it can’t be dismissed completely." (Emphasis added.)
OK, I won't dismiss it completely. But it is also a fact that Japan by this same point in the mid-1980s was making massive inroads into the US construction market, very much including Manhattan. One Japanese company even built a 20-story addition on top of a building formerly owned by Donald Trump, as the New York Times noted in an article on the expanding share of Japanese construction business in the US. In its story of July 27, 1986, the Times noted: "Japanese construction companies certainly have both the cash and the contacts to create more and more American business. `'Any major Japanese contractor has money to burn,' said an officer of one leading Japanese builder, who asked not to be identified."
Nah, that couldn't possibly have driven Developer Donald a little nuts, eventually inspiring him to take out those ads the following year to tell the American people that we (and he) were being taken advantage of. The Kremlin made him do it.
I jest, of course. The point is, Chait would have rather more credibility on this score if, when the "party line" was a little different, he had not previously rejected on cue the copious historical record of Kremlin influence assembled in American Betrayal as "West's paranoia." Indeed, I don't recall Chait raising, magnifying and connecting such doubts about, say, the Moscow trip of Bill Clinton, whose "themes" as a draft-dodging, war-protesting tourist certainly "dovetailed closely with Soviet foreign-policy goals" both before and after his1969-1970 winter travels to Brezhnev's Moscow, then Prague, still reeling from the Soviet crushing of "Prague Spring."
Then there's what has been regrettably nicknamed the Trump "pee tape." Chait: "There is growing reason to think the pee tape might indeed exist." Really? Well, there is also reason (whether growing, I can't say) to think that the Czech intelligence recruitment tape of Bill Clinton might indeed exist. Meanwhile, the tape of Barack Obama promising "flexibility" to, as Chait aptly calls him, "former KGB agent" Putin via Medvedev does exist. I know it does because I've seen it. Has Jonathan Chait? (Watch here.) While he's on this sudden Kremlin Influence kick, Chait would also do well to peruse the FBI files on the Soviet/communist connected family of Obama senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and also brush up on the Soviet/communist troika that politically birthed that winning 2008 team of Obama-Axelrod-Jarrett.
It's guaranteed he won't because Chait's pursuits are not about truth-seeking or intellectual stimulation; they are all and only about political manipulation. Nowhere is his agit prop more thickly laid on than when he talks about Donald Trump as Putin's "much-needed flank against not just Obama but his former secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aggressive position against Russia." In transforming Hillary "Reset" Clinton into a regular George Patton, Chait conveniently omits the valuable goodies Obama-Clinton bestowed on Mother Russia, from permanent normal trading status, long coveted by the "former KGB agent," to the massive "civilian" high tech transfer via the Clinton-Foundation-enriching Skolkovo set-up, where, as the Army warned in 2013, hypersonic cruise missile engine technology was already coming online. One has to wonder: Does Chait really think the KGB-linked bank in Moscow gave Bill Clinton that $500K speaking fee in 2012 for nothing? Meanwhile, ask yourself: If you are sitting in the Politburo and one US candidate is promising to revitalize the US military, very much including its nuclear arsenal (Trump), and the other US candidate is arguing that "the last thing we need" is next-generation nuclear-armed cruise missiles (Clinton), whom would you rather "collude" with?
Such thoughts, however, pose a clear and present danger to Chait's miasmic belief that "the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent."
For the record, I will note that American Betrayal argues America lost the "Cold War," that ever-undermined-from-within struggle against the expansion and entrenchment of communistic ideologies. This probably accounts for some share of the wrath it aroused on the part of Cold War triumphalists who seek to ensure Americans never actually understand how our institutions, from the halls of power in Washington (definitely including the "IC") to the pulpits to the campuses to the culture, were long ago Marxified according to well-executed and well-documented Kremlin strategy executed by masses of genuine American traitors.
If America lost the Cold War long ago -- after also losing World War II, American Betrayal's other argument, identifying the Soviet Union as the true victor (thanks to those hundreds of agents of influence at the beating heart of every government, Allied and Axis) -- then it cannot be "Reagan's party abetting the hijacking of the American government" in 2016; it was already a long way toward a fait accompli before Trump ever began his completely unlikely and wholly unexpected political rise on a heretofore unseen counter-revolutionary "America First" platform.
Chait's essay, then, is just so much narrative control, just so much framing, just so much warding off of the counter-revolution that President Trump's victory made possible, at least. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if it all didn't begin with a heavy dose of Radosh.