MARK TAPSON ON DIANA WEST’S “AMERICAN BETRAYAL”
Seven weeks ago at FrontPage Mag I reviewed Stalin’s Secret Agents, M. Stanton Evans’ and Herbert Romerstein’s book which demonstrated that widespread government infiltration by Soviet spies sabotaged our foreign policy and molded the post-WWII world in favor of the Soviet Union. Now comes a brand new book that serves as a sort of companion piece to that work, while being an even deeper, more detailed exploration of that infiltration and its consequences.
The author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character is the fearless, incisive columnist and blogger Diana West, who also wrote The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization, and who is the co-author of Shariah: The Threat to America. With her characteristic fierce passion, West argues in her new book that the Communist infiltration led to a successful “assault on our nation’s character” during the Cold War that left us the “heirs to a false and hollow history” and “unwitting participants” in “a secretly subverted pageant.” In other words, perhaps we didn’t win the Cold War after all.
For West, one of the clear indications that something in the American consciousness had changed is the fact that, thanks not only to Soviet propaganda but also to domestic peer pressure, many Americans were more outraged by Ronald Reagan’s unapologetic phrase “evil empire” than by the evil empire itself. This is the result of “the hocus-pocus transformation of liberty-loving anti-Communism into a force of repression to be reviled” and its flip side: “the hocus-pocus transformation of totalitarian Communism into a force of liberalism.”
Thus, post-Cold War generations of Americans have a kneejerk revulsion toward the witnesses and investigators who tried to raise the alarm about the presence of traitors in positions of influence. “In each and every instance,” West writes, “it was the anti-Communists, the ex-Communists, and the Cassandras who were punished and castigated by the Washington Establishment, and then ostracized for their ‘crimes’ of exposing treason.” The names of those demonized Cassandras either have been forgotten by history or live in infamy.
The most notable example, of course, is Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose name has become synonymous with red-baiting and Cold War “paranoia.” True, McCarthy’s hyperbolic theatrics “enabled lots of people to dismiss the whole issue as a witch hunt or the product of a demagogue,” notes Harvey Klehr, author of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. But West is certainly correct that McCarthy and Whitaker Chambers and their ilk were and still are hardly hailed as patriots.
And yet the infiltration and deception of which they warned was vaster than most Americans know. “Expert estimates,” West writes, “now peg the number of Americans assisting Soviet intelligence agencies during the 1930s as exceeding five hundred.” She quotes the former chief of intelligence in Communist Romania, who told her, “During the Cold War, more people in the Soviet bloc worked for the dezinformatsiya machine than for the Soviet army and defense industry put together.” She quotes Joseph D. Douglass Jr. as saying, “The Soviets live and breathe deception. You cannot understand what they are doing without understanding this. Indeed, you can’t even begin to understand Communism without understanding deception.”
Along the way in her new book, West raises new revelations for many readers, such as the fact that “Soviet possession of an atomic bomb in 1949, due to the treachery of American Communists, helped precipitate the Korean War in 1950.” It wasn’t just the Rosenbergs who enabled the Soviet theft of U.S. atomic secrets; West describes a “massive looting effort” underway inside the U.S. government itself, overseen by senior Washington officials.
A central figure in the book is Harry Hopkins, FDR’s most intimate, ubiquitous, enigmatic, and even sinister adviser. Hopkins was the driving force behind the Lend-Lease program, whereby the United States supplied thousands of tons of war supplies and aircraft to the USSR, China, Great Britain and other Allied nations during the war (West devotes considerable attention to the consequences of this bounty to the Soviets, and quite a bit of space to Hopkins himself). His hand was often at the wheel of U.S. foreign policy. “Few men of this century,” wrote diplomat Robert Murphy about Hopkins, “have exerted more influence upon American politics, domestic and foreign.”
West argues that the impact of this “deep occupation” did not simply fall away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It lives today in our embrace of the Communists’ false historical narrative, exemplified in our “denial of the Soviet regime-engineered Famine in the Ukraine… a seminal moment in the history of the world. The seminal moment, perhaps, of the twentieth century.” It lives also in our weakened resistance to their ideology. “Americans are not equipped,” West notes, “not prepared, to regard anything resembling Communism… as an existential threat to liberty.” Instead, we still romanticize Moscow’s agents as “idealists” and “are continually conditioned to embrace Communistic principles, all serving to expand the power and authority of the state over the individual.”
Another “measure of the success of Soviet subversion in America” is Hollywood’s complicity and support, “the near-total absence of movies that dramatize arguably the primary historical drama of the last century: the struggle – military, guerrilla, spiritual, artistic, personal – against spreading Communist totalitarianism… Not a single Hollywood film has ever shown Communists committing atrocities.”
As if these revelations weren’t disturbing enough, West also raises the specter of many thousands of American servicemen left behind, possibly in Soviet gulags, after WWII. Then she goes on to note the striking parallels between America’s former engagement with Communism and our current one with Islam. Just as Washington D.C. was once “penetrated by Communist networks and agents to the point of occupation, today we are again allies with adherents of a totalitarian ideology whose agents and apologists have penetrated Western institutions, both overtly and covertly.” Her purpose in the book “is to recognize their common endgame… a world where [the] core Western institutions are no more.”
American Betrayal is an eye-opening, unsettling read. But it is also a call to action, to upend the manipulated narrative, “break open the conspiracies of silence,” and “avenge the American betrayal of Liberty herself.”
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