The latest batch of reviews include a baddie at the Washington Times (fortunately, I'm not convinced the reviewer read the book), a favorable and interesting perspective from Poland (here in translation) and a perfectly splendid essay at Blue Ridge Forum by Susan Freis Falknor, published in full below.
My Skype interview with Newsmax is here, and a crackling interview by Helen Glover is here.
On "American Betrayal's" George Racey Jordan here.
Also, here is the "final cut" of my presentation at the Heritage Foundation.
More media and interviews here.
By Susan Freis Falknor
American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, Diana West, St. Martin’s Press (New York), 2013.
In this landmark analysis, Diana West surveys the great penetration of our national government by Communist agents of Soviet Russia, documented from early defectors, all the way through KGB archives published at the end of the Cold War.
Author West explores this unholy territory—not as some intellectual exercise–but to re-direct the public searchlight on today’s great totalitarian penetration by the agents of Islam and its all-encompassing code of Shariah.
Because the history of Communism is not routinely taught, she believes Americans are largely ignorant of its history of staggering bloodshed (at least 20 million killed under the Stalin regime), and its history of terror in Russia and abroad.
And because we are still in denial about our appeasement of World War II ally Joseph Stalin, Americans have “no context” to assess today’s totalitarian challenge: Islamist Supremacism and Shariah.
Our “deferential attitude toward the two ideologies is deeply and tragically related,” columnist West argues.
“It was a soul-selling deal our forefathers made with Communism as represented by the Soviet Union. We as their heirs, must come to terms with it. We will continue to pay until we do.”
West’s book argues that our government’s “failure to speak freely about Islam”—a policy that many of us have found so baffling in recent years—can be best understood as a case of the unacknowledged sins of the fathers being visited upon their blindsided children.
Her task is ambitious; her sweep of crucial but too-little-known facts of history is impressive; and her arguments are eloquent and witty.
Soviet Penetration of America
West does not talk much about those Americans in the 1940s and 1950s—the millions of American Christians, anti-Communist Jews, political conservatives, ordinary business owners, patriotic elected officials, and sidelined anti-Soviet U.S. diplomats—who did in fact recognize and speak out about Communism’s moral threat.
Understandably, she decries the narratives that won out, becoming dominant in our culture—the great successes of the Left to misrepresent, canonize, or smear various historical actors.
The Left, for example, has been largely victorious in painting three major mid-century political leaders—who did speak out on communism and its penetration—with derision (Barry Goldwater); dismissiveness (President Ronald Reagan); and bogey-man-like horror (Senator Joseph McCarthy).
She also tears the mask off the still-largely-successful project to shield the deeply flawed World War II leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his dark reliance on his top aide Harry Hopkins, later shown to be a secret Soviet agent (Venona Secrets, Romerstein and Breindel).
She points to America’s “lavish and almost indiscriminate” Lend Lease aid to the Soviet Union, to which Roosevelt gave precedence over supplying American campaigns and British allies. Modern and vitally needed fighter airplanes, for example, intended for Singapore (which fell to the Japanese in February 1942) were diverted to Russia.
West, whose father fought in the D-Day landing, asks whether the decision to make the invasion landing in Normandy represented a very unwise concession to Stalin. The better alternative, she suggests, would have been Winston Churchill’s recommendation to continue into south central Europe from Italy and via the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. This would have constrained the Soviet march across eastern Europe.
West asks whether both the Normandy Invasion and the Stalin-backed policy of unconditional surrender (the Allies declining to work with disaffected but also anti-Communist German generals) might represent, at heart, two highly successful Soviet “influence operations.”
Unconditional surrender, she writes, lengthened the war for years, increasing the toll of death and destruction; made it possible for the Third Reich to complete the “final solution” of exterminating the Jews; and enabled the post-war Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe.
Fast forward four decades: In negotiations at the end of the Cold War in 1989, president George H.W. Bush ceded to Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev what amounts to a self-imposed gag order—setting “a scrupulously nonjudgmental and even supplicating tone” in talking about our Cold War victory.
All these policy failures, West argues, amount to complicity with the murderous tyranny of the Soviet Union throughout its history and a cover up of the stunning successes of Soviet wartime penetration of America.
Because of this cover up, we have been largely dependent on invaluable gifts of intelligence information—such as documents from disaffected elements in the Russian secret police–and from our own intercepts many of which are finally available in the Venona Papers—for the inside story of wartime Soviet penetration.
And not facing up to the implications of our elite’s complicity in this lengthy cover-up increased our own vulnerability to a stealthy collectivism.
“You don’t have to win to win,” West dryly remarks.
Dhimmis and Fellow Travelers:
Totalitarianism Hijacks Morality Itself
Both Communism (with its disciplined operatives and true-believing fellow travelers) and Militant Islam (with its highly placed enablers of Civilization Jihad), seek to cloud our society’s moral judgment.
Civilization Jihad is the Muslim Brotherhood’s own term for its most ambitious influence operation.
For this campaign to make progress, West points out, Shariah apologists have to conceal the substantial, shocking evidence that Islam is not a religion of peace: Islam’s key role in the American slave trade; the ongoing practice of slavery today; forced conversion; death for apostasy; censorship; child rape; pillage and military conquest; and most recently, the advent of “no-go zones” ceded by police in European countries.
The War on Definitions
A key weapon of the totalitarian: instilling in our discussions the “conditioned reflex of rejection [of forbidden words], becoming instantly derisive and scoffing in disbelief”—in this case, to deny descriptive words such as “Bolshevik,” “Communism,” or “Socialism,” a place at the respectable table.
“What is being rejected,” West points out, “is definition itself, labeling, even with a factual basis.”
This “short-circuits” the thinking process, leaving us intellectually undefended.
Needed: A Personal Coming To Terms
The goal of Communism, Islam, and totalitarian systems in general, according to West, is to “suppress all individuality.”
This is done by stifling alternative points of view; attacking or denigrating those who think differently; and putting off limits certain inconvenient concepts, such as liberty, the right to defend oneself, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and even the most basic tools of logical, evidence-based argumentation.
This diabolical perspective, she notes, has made itself dominant in our colleges and universities, as well as in much of our public discussion.
The long march of cultural Marxism severely weakened America and the West, the author argues.
We now live in “not a West that simply fails to appreciate itself anymore but rather a West that isn’t itself anymore.”
The ultimate battleground in this struggle, however, is the individual mind, heart, and moral soul.
It is West’s comprehension of this individual battleground that makes this book so personal, so passionate, and so powerfully eye-opening.
In The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene described the role of a priest in confession as “to draw [the] mind slowly down the drab passages which led to horror, grief, and repentance.” Greene thus details a purgative psychological process, something like the now so-called “stages of grief.”
To lead us along a similar transformational path is the task to which Diana West sets herself.
And that is why American Betrayal is one of those books that will change the way many of us see the world.