Those familiar with the "long war" on American Betrayal will know why the publication of a letter I have written to the editor of a publication that has printed one of more than a score of lyin' attack pieces gets an exclamation point in the headline: So many journals have refused to publish my responses at all.
So, first, a cheer for American Communist History, Volume 14, Issue 3, which yesterday (finally) published the letter below.
But then we must ask ourselves: Why would a peer-reviewed academic journal publish such a slop bucket of lies and errors in the first place?
Letter to the Editor of American Communist History
Ron Capshaw's “review” of American Betrayal (Volume 13, Number 1) is one of five attacks on my book by this same reviewer (that I know of).
As usual, it contains a multitude of false statements about the contents of my book. For the sake of brevity and clarity I have listed them below.
Note: I am not taking exception to opinion, or historical interpretation. I am bringing to the attention to readers of American Communist History a series of falsehoods published in this journal about objective facts: specifically, what is, or is not, to be found inside the covers of my book.
The falsehoods begin with a series of accusations, which the reviewer then falsely claims appear in my book.
To get at the type of thinking that saw the above Presidents [FDR, Truman and Eisenhower] as consciously pro-Soviet, you have to go forward a few years from the early 1950s to the days of the John Birch Society.
This “type of thinking” is not in my book. Please note that the reviewer offers not one single quotation from American Betrayal to substantiate any of his charges against it.
It was this group [John Birch Society] — or, to be more specific, their leader, Robert Welch — who charged FDR with deliberately partnering with Joe Stalin against Hitler to advance the Soviet empire;
Not in my book.
who believed that Truman and his secretary of state Dean Acheson had deliberately led U.S. soldiers into a deathtrap in Korea, thus again aiding the Soviet Union by depleting American manpower;
Not in my book.
who accused Eisenhower, based on his attempts to negotiate with the Soviet leader Nikolei [sic] Khrushchev, of being a Soviet agent.
Not in my book. [Khrushchev's first name was Nikita.]
In short, the Birchers and their followers asserted what the Left accused McCarthy of doing – of finding pro-Soviets behind the Oval Office desk.
Not in my book.
Dianne [sic] West's American Betrayal advances these accusations
Not one of these accusations is advanced my book. Not one. [My first name is Diana.]
while including evidence from Venona.
For your information, myriad sources are cited in American Betrayal's nearly one thousand endnotes. Besides Venona, these sources include Congressional records, State Department records, FBI records, memoirs, letters, newspapers and journals, and many histories, intelligence studies, biographies, and the like. Prominent among these are works by Bukovsky, Conquest, Evans, Muggeridge, Sherwood and Solzhenitsyn.
Like the far Right of the 1940s and the Birch Society (but to his credit, not McCarthy), West sees the American entry into World War II as a proof of a Communist plot,
NOT IN MY BOOK. The American entry into World War II is not “a proof of a Communist plot,” nor do such nonsense appear in American Betrayal.
What does appear in my book, for example, is discussion of the evidence of Soviet influence, as applied by top Treasury Department official and Communist agent Harry Dexter White, on the rupture with Japan that helped lead to war in the Pacific.
As is always the case with this and other hit pieces, the actual contents of my book are never discussed.
consciously aided by Roosevelt.
Once again, calumnious invention. Not in my book.
Ms. West forgets the support of decided anti-communists [Winston Churchill] who strenuously advocated linking arms with the Soviet Union to fight Hitler.
I did not “forget.”
In fact, Churchill's views of the USSR and his place in the “Big Three” alliance are discussed at length in American Betrayal.
So, by the way, are views of other “decided anti-communists” (for example, the State Department's Loy Henderson, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). Such anti-communists made the case against “linking arms” with the Communist dictator, who, pre-Big Three alliance, had already murdered more souls that Hitler would.
Once again, it is painfully clear that the actual contents of American Betrayal have no place in the extended disinformation campaign against the book.
In accusing the Truman administration of being pro-Soviet
Not. In. My. Book.
If these presidents (Carter and Reagan) were Communist-controlled
Not in my book.
William F. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell denied the validity of [Senator McCarthy's] attacks on Secretary of State George Marshall as a conscious agent of the Soviet conspiracy. They assert that McCarthy mistook what was in effect folly for manipulation.… The same mistake has occurred with West.
Not in my book. Nowhere in American Betrayal is George Marshall discussed as a “conscious agent of the Soviet conspiracy.”
Truman may indeed have been naïve about Hiss being merely a “red herring”
“Naïve” is not the word. Falsehoods about the contents of American Betrayal are my subject here, but I will digress for a related moment.
The Truman administration was well informed that Communist agents had penetrated the U.S. government under FDR. Details about this national security disaster started emerging behind the scenes in the fall of 1945 as multiple reports from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, listing names of implicated government employees, began to arrive on the desks of top Truman administration officials. M. Stanton Evans documents this key episode in a chapter of his book, “Blacklisted by History.” The chapter is called “What Hoover Told Truman.”
Citing evidence and interviews gathered by Jerrold and Leona Schecter in their book, Sacred Secrets, American Betrayalalso considers the experience of a top Venona official, Oliver Kirby (described on his National Security Agency web page as “one of the few selected to distribute VENONA products to the small group of authorized readers”). Based on discussions with top officials, Kirby was convinced that Truman was informed that evidence was emerging from the code-breakers about the existence of a Moscow-directed Communist conspiracy within the US government (and elsewhere). According to Kirby, Truman, however, wanted no part of the information and its ghastly implications. Kirby told the Schecters that in 1950, Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss both were “positively identified” as Soviet agents by Venona code breakers, a date Robert L. Benson and Michael Warner affirm in their Venona study.
however, there is equal evidence that Truman was merely being stupidly partisan.
This is rich. Insane, but rich. As discussed in American Betrayal, it is exactly my own conclusion that Truman was motivated mainly by partisan politics.
From American Betrayal, p. 162:
“The Schecters cite three concerns Truman may have been guided by in the following order: Truman's concern about whether decoded cables could be introduced in court as evidence to prosecute Soviet agents; concern about damage to FDR's place in history that such revelations of Soviet infiltration would cause; and concern about political damage to the Democratic Party as the party in charge that had let the country down. Even without Venona's confirmation, Republicans were running on the platform that Democrats were ‘soft on security,’ a perennial GOP issue; at that time, of course, as Haynes and Klehr might say, they only knew the half of it.
“I've concluded that the Schecters’ order of concerns should be reversed. Truman doesn't seem to have regarded the revelations of Venona—confirmation of Communist infiltration of the U.S. government under FDR—as anything other than a partisan political problem, a cudgel Republican security hawks could use to bash Democrats in elections and, therefore, would have to be deprived of. Mainly for this petty reason, the sensational body of information, which belonged to a betrayed nation, remained on political ice at all costs. That didn't just mean national security costs. There was also the incalculable cost of continued concealment to the creation of a cogent, factual, reality-based record of history.”
It is odd that the largely discredited Bircher theories are again being dusted off.
I ask: Where exactly is it that these Capshaw-concocted “theories” are being dusted off? Not in American Betrayal.
I do not pretend to understand the malign obsession that has caused Ron Capshaw and others incessantly to “review” – i.e., make things up about – American Betrayal. But I do recognize a smear campaign when I see one. I am confident that any open-minded reader will do the same.
Sincerely, etc., etc., ETC.!