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Feb 26

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:43 AM 


FDR's decision to "normalize" diplomatic relations with Stalin's dictatorship of blood on November 16, 1933 is the seminal event in modern American history, I argue in American Betrayal -- one reason I was very happy to participate in the 80th commemoration of the event presented by CSP, hosted by Frank Gaffney, and also featuring M. Stanton Evans, Chris Farrell, and Stephen Coughlin. The moral, intellectual and strategic repercussions plague us to this minute.

From American Betrayal, starting p. 193:

When Franklin Roosevelt finally extended “normal diplomatic relations” in exchange for a page of Soviet concessions signed by Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov (who, Prohibition beer on his breath, then returned to the Soviet Embassy “all smiles . . . and said, ‘Well, it’s all in the bag; we have it’), the U.S. government found itself derailed onto a strange, new track through an unfamiliar, soon monotonous, land of endless apologetics.

The crux of the U.S.-USSR agreement rested on a series of promises, accepted and signed by Litvinov, that listed very specifically what the Soviet Union would not do “in the United States, its territories or possessions”: namely, it would not attempt to subvert or overthrow the U.S. system. The declaration “scrupulously” stated the USSR would refrain and restrain all persons and all organizations, under its direct or indirect control, from taking any act, overt or covert, aimed at the overthrow or preparation for the overthrow of the United States. It further specifically stipulated that the Soviet government would not form or support groups inside the United States—such as the Soviet-supported CPUSA, myriad “front groups,” the Soviet-directed underground espionage networks Bentley and Chambers later broke with, or the CPUSA-Comintern group on the West Coast that Harry Hopkins found out J. Edgar Hoover was bugging (and knowingly told the Soviets). The agreement, in other words, was a bunch of lies, the first bunch of lies of many. To make it all stick, however, to keep this sorriest of bad bargains, to perpetuate the myth of U.S.-Soviet accord, the United States had to pretend otherwise. The United States had to retire to a new fantasy world of its own creation in which the Soviet Union was keeping its word, in which Soviet-directed and -financed espionage did not exist . . . in which Communists were not under every bed, in which even the act of looking was “Red-baiting” and anti-Communists were paranoid about “bugaboos.” As our most respected and beloved leaders increasingly sought refuge in this world of pretend, they led the nation on a disastrous retreat from reality from which we have never, ever returned. In our retreat, we left morality behind, undefended. 

Now, as far as we know, Harry Hopkins had nothing to do with this beginning. Then again, I have found that we don’t know much about who did. “Four presidents and their six Secretaries of State for over a decade and a half held to this resolve” not to recognize the Soviet government, as Herbert Hoover, one of those four presidents, wrote in Freedom Betrayed, his posthumously published (2011) history of World War II and the early Cold War. These American leaders understood that the Bolsheviks’ seizure of the government by force, their reign of blood, their pledge to conspire against other governments, made the “mutual confidence” required for diplomatic relations impossible. However, Hoover doesn’t explain the shift in thinking. Indeed, who or what specifically inspired FDR to undertake this momentous decision is largely glossed over in the historical narrative in general, although we do know Soviet recognition was applauded by businessmen eager to sell their rope to Lenin. The interchanges that followed, the relations that evolved, were marked and warped by paradoxes we would later understand and explain as “Orwellian.” Some of them Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would bring to our attention some forty years later.

In his very first speech on his very first trip to the USA in 1975, the fifty-six-year-old Solzhenitsyn asked the question he had wanted to ask America most of his adult life. He set it up by comparing America’s historic aversion to alliance with czarist Russia to Roosevelt’s rush to recognize a far more repressive and infinitely more violent Bolshevik Russia in 1933. Pre-Revolutionary executions by the czarist government came to about seventeen per year, Solzhenitsyn said, while, as a point of comparison, the Spanish Inquisition at its height destroyed ten persons per month. In the revolutionary years of 1918 and 1919, he continued, the Cheka executed without trial more than a thousand per month. At the height of Stalin’s terror in 1937–38, tens of thousands of people were shot per month. The author of The Gulag Archipelago put it all together like so:

Here are the figures: seventeen a year, ten a month, more than one thousand a month, more than forty thousand a month! Thus, that which had made it diffi- cult for the democratic West to form an alliance with pre-revolutionary Russia had, by 1941, grown to such an extent, yet still did not prevent the entire united democracies of the world—England, France, the United States, Canada, and other small countries—from entering into a military alliance with the Soviet Union. How is this to be explained? How can we understand it?

Presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover all rejected relations with the Bolshevik regime. This would seem to mark these men as belonging to the earlier era of Albert Dreyfus, when, as Robert Conquest notes, “the conscience of the civilized world could be aroused by the false condemnation to imprisonment of a single French captain for a crime which had actually been committed, though not by him.” A generation or two later, the conscience of the civilized world couldn’t be aroused, period, not by the false condemnation of one nor the false condemnation of thousands, tens of thousands, or hun- dreds of thousands, as Conquest explains. “The Soviet equivalent of the Dreyfus Case involved the execution of thousands of officers, from Marshals and Admirals down, on charges which were totally imaginary.” What happened to the “conscience of the civilized world”?

The West’s decision to recognize the USSR—and its determination to keep recognizing it, no matter how much lying and acquiescence to betrayal that entailed—did more to transform us than any single act before or since. The profound diplomatic shift—part Faustian bargain, part moral lobotomy—didn’t just invite the Soviet Union into the community of nations. To make room for the monster-regime, the United States had to surrender the terra firma of objective morality and reality-based judgment. No wonder, then, that tens of thou- sands of Dreyfus Cases in Russia meant nothing to the “conscience of the civilized world.” Implications had already been officially sundered from facts.

To be sure, there was something new in the way recognition ever after reor- dered the priorities and actions of our republic, something that marked the beginning of a different kind of era. The fact is, the implications of normalizing relations with the thoroughly abnormal USSR didn’t just reward and legitimize a regime of rampantly metasticizing criminality. Because the Communist regime was so openly and ideologically dedicated to our destruction, the act of recognition defied reason and the demands of self-preservation. Recognition and all that came with it, including alliance, would soon become the enemy of reason and self-preservation. In this way, as Dennis J. Dunn points out, we see a double standard in American foreign policy evolve, and, I would add, in American thinking more generally. It was here that we abandoned the lodestars of good and evil, the clarity of black and white. Closing our eyes, we dove head first into a weltering morass of exquisitely enervating and agonizing grays.

This is the journey that forced open our psyches to increasingly expansive experiments in moral relativism. Only a very few refused to go; only a very few saw the sin. There is something poignantly allegorical in Solzhenitsyn’s recollection of being a young Red Army soldier flummoxed by what he and his comrades heard as Roosevelt’s disastrous misreading of Stalin at around the time of the Tehran Conference. As they marched on the Elbe, he said, they hoped to “meet the Americans and tell them.” He added, “Just before that happened I was taken off to prison and my meeting didn’t take place.” Just before that happened, just before he was going to tell his American compatriots the truth about Stalin, about the Soviet Union, the twenty-six-year-old was arrested by the NKVD for the most mildly derogatory statements about Stalin written in a letter. He was sentenced to a labor camp for eight years.

Solzhenitsyn would have been too late anyway. Having abandoned the Western moral tradition and Enlightenment logic as a precondition of the U.S.- USSR relationship, we already inhabited a brave new—and dangerous—realm. Wishful thinking was in. Evidence was out. Ideology was in. Facts were out. With an exchange of rustling paper at the White House, the revolution was here, the epicenter of American betrayal. ...

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