American Betrayal


A Review


“How cynical!” was my thought when I saw that Diana West, on the page preceding the introduction of her second book, had quoted the words of Jesus Christ.  It’s from the third chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 20 and 21 on the Godliness of openness and truth as opposed to the darkness and deception necessary for evil to thrive.  West is Yale educated, grew up in Hollywood, and is a major promoter of the interests of Israel.  With American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character I was expecting a replay of her very shallow, propagandistic The Death of the Grown-Up.  


My opinion began to change quite rapidly when, in her introduction, I heard for the first time the saga of prominent school reformer William A. Wirt of Gary, Indiana, who had warned the country in 1934 about the Communist infiltration of the Franklin Roosevelt government and had been pilloried for his efforts.   The following Chapter 1 is largely a disposable, obligatory warning about the current Muslim threat, but then the nationally syndicated Washington Times columnist, West, hits her stride as she wades into the history behind her book’s title.  It didn’t take me long to rethink the motivation for the opening Scriptural quote when I saw all the light that she had shone upon important things that remain hidden to most of the public.  In so doing West has written a masterpiece that every American should read.


West’s accomplishment is all the more amazing because she follows the same formula in American Betrayal that she does in The Death of the Grown-Up. Her purpose, like that of America’s opinion molding machine generally, is evidently to garner sympathy for poor little beleaguered Israel by showing how America’s internal defenses have been undermined, making the country unable to stand up forthrightly against the worldwide Muslim menace.  That menace threatens Israel first and foremost and we Americans must be shown how we are similarly threatened, so that we identify more completely with Israel and will continue to fight Israel’s enemies for her. 


In the first book, the undermining of the defenses came through the breakdown of traditional morality.  In the second book, the disruptive agent is Soviet Communism, which thoroughly penetrated the Franklin Roosevelt government right up to the White House, with at least three aides there actively working for the Soviet government, Harry Hopkins, Lauchlin Currie, and David Niles.  The main result of this subversion was that world Communism came out of World War II as the big winners, not the democratic West.


I expected West’s second book to be even more cynical than the first, because those Communist subverters of the government were overwhelmingly of the same Jewish background as those subverting traditional morality and the fruits of that subversion were far worse.  We would not expect West to call our attention to the prevailing ethnicity of the subverters, and with only two significant exceptions (more about them later), she does not. 


Transformed by the Evidence


So how does it happen that, almost in spite of herself, Diana West has written a great book?  She gives us an inkling with the first paragraph of her short twelfth and last chapter:


The funny thing about this book—if there is a funny thing about this book—is that in setting out to explore the breaches in those bastions of tradition (assumed to be manned by conservatives) that became apparent as the Western world struggled with an expanding, flexing, and combusting Islam, I expected to focus mainly on the disconnect between facts and conclusions about Islam—not Communism.  Communism, it seemed, was an erstwhile threat, supposedly vanquished decades ago.  Then the past eleven chapters took shape.


In other words, as she delved more and more deeply into the question of the penetration of the government and the society of the United States by the minions of Joseph Stalin the more carried away she was by what she found, and it took over her book.  She obviously learned a lot of things that she didn’t know before and it shocked and outraged her, and with her writing skill, she has done a very effective job of conveying to the reader that feeling of outrage.  Throughout the period of the FDR administration, and even well into the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to a much lesser degree, the U.S. government was complicit in the greatly under-publicized massive crimes against humanity of world Communism that was led by the Soviet Union. 


Why shouldn’t I like this book?  With her high profile as a syndicated columnist and by getting her book published by the prestigious St. Martin’s press, she has brought the sort of attention that I never could to the things that I have discovered and written about.   You will find them listed under the categories “The Red Decade and After” and “World War II” on the ARIWatch web site.  But my exposition has been piecemeal, with relatively short articles written as I have made my discoveries.  West has done an extraordinary job of tying everything together in a very vivid way. 


The facts are inescapable.  By gaining control of half of Europe, half of Korea, and as a consequence of the Yalta Agreement and other war policies of the United States, control of China and later of Vietnam, world Communism was the big victor in World War II.  West piles on the evidence in chapter after chapter that at the heart of those fateful decisions was FDR’s “co-president,” Harry Hopkins, and Hopkins was Stalin’s agent.  She has been attacked for concluding as others have that Hopkins was actually the agent 19 identified in the Venona intercepts when apparently the best, most recent evidence indicates that it was State Department official Laurence Duggan, instead.  I address that question in my concluding section entitled “Was Hopkins a Paid Spy for Stalin?” in my January 2014 article, “Harry Hopkins and FDR’s Commissars.”  My conclusion is that Stalin could hardly have gotten more out of him if he had been a paid agent, so the criticism of West over this point amounts to little more than a quibble. 


In fact, Stalin could hardly have gotten more out of FDR himself, starting with the highly questionable early decision to extend vital, long-denied diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union just at the time that Stalin was intentionally starving millions of people to death in Ukraine, right down to the sellout Yalta agreement and the abandonment of thousands of American POWs to Soviet slave labor camps. 


Our Soviet Ally Keeps our POWs


West’s 11th chapter, which should have been her concluding one but for the need to get the book published by taking gratuitous swipes at the thoroughly unrelated “Islamic threat,” is devoted to the question of our abandonment of American soldiers and sailors to the Gulag of our supposed ally.  She draws heavily upon The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia by Tim Tzouliadis, which I have reviewed here.  Here is a sample of my review:


The slain of all nationalities numbered in the tens of millions.  Many were summarily executed with a bullet to the back of the head or neck.  A far larger number were done to death by a sentence, of whatever length, to one of the many work camps.  Conditions were often such that the prisoners were hardly expected to survive.  The food was typically inadequate for replacement of the calories used up in the labor, and the clothes often provided insufficient protection from the elements.  That was especially the case at Kolyma, perhaps the harshest of all the labor camps.  One reason author Tim Tzouliadis focuses particularly upon Kolyma is that American memoirist Thomas Sgovio, who managed to survive ten years there because of his artistic skills and amazing good fortune, has left us a very good description of the experience.  It was also the place that one of the heroes of [Oliver] Stone and [Simon] Kuznick’s Untold History of the United States, Vice President Henry Wallace, visited in May of 1944 as part of his NKVD-hosted 25-day tour of the Russian Far East from which he returned with glowing reports on the Soviet pioneer spirit.


West’s emphasis, unlike that of Tzouliadis, is, as I have indicated, on members of our military upon whom we turned our backs.  Citing Joseph D. Douglass Jr.’s Betrayed, she uses as estimate of “as many as twenty thousand.”  “I can’t think of anything that puts a more American face on this uniquely twentieth-century record of perfidy,” she writes, “than the betrayal of our own fighting fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons, Americans of successive generations beginning back before the so-called Greatest Generation, all the way up to the baby boomers.  Along with their long-suffering families, they would become the uniquely American sacrifice to the conspiracy of silence that improbably held the Free World and the Un-Free World together, partners in crime, over the course of the twentieth century.  Sacrifices, all, to American betrayal.”


No one expresses outrage better than West.  She saves her best for the chapter’s concluding paragraph:


The question before us now becomes more pointed.  Do we leave our countrymen to this bottomless abyss of Kolyma’s vastness?  Or do we restore to our collective memory some trace of these lives seized, taken over, and destroyed by the aggressive evil Communist system and forsaken, erased, and denied by weak and corrupt American officials?  So long as the silence remains unbroken, so long as our national understanding remains incomplete, their betrayal is forever.  Glorified as fallen sacrifices to “the Good War,” they paid the ultimate price to the conspiracy against truth and morality that coincides with the dawn of the “American Century.”  Until we reclaim them, their memories, and all of the other victims—not by the baker’s dozen, not by the hundreds, not by the thousands, but by the millions—we remain prisoners, too, of a giant, acid-rinsed blankness, our own self-censored experience with lies that has made us what we are today.  Victims of American betrayal.


Outrage upon Outrage


In the slightly more than three terms (something of an outrage in itself) that Roosevelt spent in office he provided more than enough material for West’s eloquent expressions of righteous indignation.  One may get a small preview of the outrages described in the book by going to my web site and typing in a few words or terms in the “Find” box.  West addresses all of the topics at some depressing length: “Ukraine famine,” “Katyn Forest,” “Harry Hopkins,” “Lend-Lease,” “Major George Racey Jordan,” “Yalta,” “unconditional surrender,” “Morgenthau Plan,” “George Earle Canaris,” and “Operation Keelhaul.”


The overlap between her work and mine is hardly total.  She says very little about the Pacific theater of the war, for instance, except to point out how so much of the materiel that we sent to Russia could and should have been used by General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines.  She has nothing to say about the baleful effect of the “unconditional surrender” demand on the war with Japan, as I do at some length, but by pairing it with the outrageous Morgenthau Plan to strip a defeated Germany of all its industrial capacity she shows forcefully how it undermined internal resistance to Hitler and lengthened the war in Europe, to the great advantage of the Communists.  She also has a great deal more to say than I do about the various overtures to us made by Hitler’s opponents within the regime, not just the one by intelligence chief Wilhelm Canaris to Roosevelt’s envoy to Turkey, former Governor George Earle of Pennsylvania. 


Since it occurred after the end of the war, the responsibility for perhaps the biggest outrage of all, “Operation Keelhaul,” can hardly be laid in the lap of the deceased FDR, but the Communist advisers that Harry Truman could well have played a role in the horrible decision, well summed up by the first two sentences of the Wikipedia page on the subject:


Operation Keelhaul was carried out in Northern Italy by British and American forces to repatriate Soviet Armed Forces POWs of the Nazis to the Soviet Union between August 14, 1946 and May 9, 1947. The term has been later applied – specifically after the publication of Julius Epstein's eponymous book – to other Allied acts of often forced repatriation of former residents of the USSR after the ending of World War II that sealed the fate of millions of post-war refugees fleeing the Soviet Union.


Imagine that!  You don’t have to imagine it if you read West’s valuable book.  She gives you a heavy dose of Epstein, and more, just as she does with Tzouliadis on the subject of American victims of the Gulag.


It did not take the powers-that-be long to realize that West had strayed too far off the reservation with American Betrayal.  The New York Times had reviewed The Death of the Grown-Up, albeit tepidly, as a good “liberal” news organ should do, but they at least gave it publicity.  This second book is far better in every way, but I can find no Times review of it online.  The large Fairfax County, VA, library system has three copies of The Death of the Grown-Up but not a single copy of American Betrayal.  Worst of all, her own employer, the putatively conservative Washington Times gave this very important book a review that is reminiscent of a high school student’s report on a book that he has not actually read.  It reflects precisely the popular myths about FDR and World War II that West does such a great job of demolishing.  The review is particularly unforgivable considering the treatment that the same supposedly conservative newspaper gave to David Roll’s biography of Harry Hopkins, the arch-villain of West’s book, which came out in the same year.  Roll puts Hopkins up on a pedestal with Roosevelt and The Times showered Roll’s book with praise.


Not the Whole Truth


American Betrayal is not without its shortcomings, but they are not the phony ones that neocon shills like Ronald Radosh of FrontPage Mag and Ron Capshaw of National Review would have you believe.  The problem with the book is not that it goes too far, but that it does not go far enough.  Like the tenuous and unconvincing connections that West attempts to make between Communist infiltration of FDR’s government and the current supposed Muslim threat, I think these shortcomings probably fall under the general rubric of “necessary to get the book published” in America’s current Pravda-like opinion-molding situation.  Let’s get down to cases.


Consider a paragraph on page 212.  Setting the stage, George Earle, previously referred to, has tried to persuade FDR that our allies, the Soviets, and not the Nazis perpetrated the Katyn Forest massacre, and that the Mission to Moscow propaganda painting a false rosy picture of Soviet Communism is doing enormous harm to the country, but he has made little headway with the president:


Earle’s audience with FDR came to an end.  “I felt pretty hopeless after that,” Earle said.  “In the anteroom there I met Secretary [James] Forrestal of the Navy and talked to him about it and he said: ‘My God, I think this is dreadful.  We were all alone over here.  Russia can do no wrong.  It is perfectly dreadful.’  He said, ‘They just simply are blind to the whole situation.’” Forrestal asked Earle to come over and talk some more about this dire situation at the White House but Earle never did, much, as he told Congress, to his later regret.  Forrestal committed suicide in 1949. (emphasis added)


It is truly unfortunate that in the course of debunking myths about WW II and the Roosevelt administration that she should perpetuate the myth that Forrestal committed suicide.  On pp. 151-152 West establishes the close connections of White House aide David Niles both to Soviet agents and to Harry Hopkins, and Niles was likely a key figure in Forrestal’s almost certain assassination.  Thickening the plot considerably, on pp. 293-294, West links the genesis of the Soviet-favoring “unconditional surrender” policy to a committee that included Niles, Lauchlin Currie, Laurence Duggan, Alger Hiss, Julian Wadleigh, and Harry Dexter White, “a partial roll call of the KGB all-stars in Washington,” as she characterizes them.


So many of the villains of West’s book would have wanted Forrestal dead, it is truly a shame that she would weaken her overall case against them by gratuitously passing along the fable of Forrestal’s suicide.


Crucial Omissions


West’s most obvious intentional weakening of her argument is her failure to mention the anti-Communist Jewish journalist Isaac Don Levine.  In my essay, “FDR Winked at Soviet Espionage,” I fault another conservative journalist, Ann Coulter, when, in her book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism she airbrushes Levine out of the picture as the man who set up and attended the fateful meeting in 1939 between Communist defector Whittaker Chambers and Roosevelt security chief Adolf Berle, in which Chambers revealed to Berle the existence of a Soviet spy cell that included State Department officials Alger and Donald Hiss, Treasury official Harry Dexter White, and even White House aide Lauchlin Currie.  I further fault Tzouliadis and imminent Red exposer M. Stanton Evans for protecting FDR by falsely stating that Berle never informed Roosevelt of what Chambers had revealed.  West goes them one better.  She inexplicably leaves out any mention of the meeting itself.   


What possible reason could there be for this shocking omission?  The fact that Roosevelt was told about these traitors in his midst who would later play major roles in the sell-out to the Communists thoroughly undermines West’s detractors, who argue that everything we did to cater to Stalin was simply to bolster an ally to help win the war.  But at the time that Chambers made his revelations, the non-aggression treaty between Hitler and Stalin was in force and they were de facto allies against us.  One of Chambers’ main concerns at the time was that the secrets that his cell had been stealing for the Soviet Union would be passed on to the Nazis. 


On page 65 West tells us that Chambers and another famous Communist defector, Elizabeth Bentley, “had both…been extensively debriefed by the FBI starting in 1945.” What West fails to tell us was that that was six years too late.  After spilling the beans to Berle, Chambers had waited hopefully for the FBI debriefing that didn’t come for six years.  He adopted a very low profile in fear for his life, and only came forward with his charges again when the House Un-American Activities Committee, in the wake of Bentley’s testimony, issued him a subpoena. 


In failing to mention Levine, she also leaves out of the picture his 1973 book, Eyewitness to History: Memoirs and Reflections of a Foreign Correspondent for Half a Century, which is even more revealing of what transpired at that fateful Berle-Chambers meeting than is Chambers’ book Witness because Levine took notes.  Why would she do that?


Still a Phony?


Let’s take a stab at an explanation.  One very real possibility is that she is simply not genuine.  In that case she might have weakened her argument intentionally, not wanting to undercut potential detractors like Radosh.  In that scenario, her verbal battles with her critics are all really internecine affairs, since they are really all on the same team. 


Related to that explanation would be her desire to stay away from the most important issue related to the Communist penetration of our government, that is, the degree to which Communism, in Russia, in the United States, even to some extent in China, has been a Jewish movement.   Heroic Jewish anti-Communists like Levine stand out as notable exceptions.  It’s enough that she gives credit to anti-Communist scholars like Julius Epstein and Herbert Romerstein, but too much attention to Jews begins to put the Jewish question into the center of the discussion, which she clearly does not want to do. 


She does give proper attention to Eugene Lyons and his early revelations about the horrors of the Soviet Union with his 1937 book Assignment in Utopia and his 1941 book about widespread Communist activity in the United States, The Red Decade: The Stalinist Penetration of America.  She does not tell us, though, that Lyons was Jewish.


Playing down the Jews and intentional-argument-weakening could both explain why she also leaves out completely one of the most important anti-Communist figures in the United States in the 20th century, who happened to be Jewish.  That is Alfred Kohlberg.  She writes at some length about the Amerasia spy scandal, Owen Lattimore, and the Institute of Pacific Relations.  There is no better authority on those subjects than Kohlberg, but she ignores him.  To get some idea of what her readers are missing see my article “The Institute of Pacific Relations and the Betrayal of China” and the note at the end of my “Why Senator Joe McCarthy Had to Be Destroyed.”


Her two mentions of Jews, as Jews, turn out to be very illuminating.  In the first, she talks about the genesis of organization that Harry Hopkins headed up and through which he rained largesse upon the Soviet Union:


In fact, the evidence suggests Lend-Lease was a con job, and a really big one, put over by another Soviet tool: Soviet go-between, Soviet money-launderer, Soviet hobnobber Armand Hammer.  So reports Edward Jay Epstein, who, in his groundbreaking 1996 biography of Hammer, assembled a convincing record indicating that Hammer was the person who floated the original Lend-Lease notion back in 1940.  As Epstein discovered, Hammer had transformed himself “virtually overnight…from a businessman specializing in importing art and barrel staves from Stalin’s Russia to a geopolitical strategist concerned with helping Great Britain get immediate aid from the United States.” Before Dossier, Epstein’s Hammer biography, which establishes Hammer as a traitor with revelations of Hammer’s pro-Soviet activities, the “international businessman” was generally billed as a nice old philanthropic “man of peace.”


That quick transformation of Hammer’s back in 1940 is odd on its face.  Given that Hammer had Soviet interests at heart (and in the bank), why would he start beating the drum—taking out newspaper ads urging British aid, contributing money to pro-British funds—for Britain?  Meanwhile, given the only marginal profitability of Hammer’s businesses at that time, Epstein notes “it was not clear where he was getting the funds of his campaign.”  While Hammer wrote of his concerns as a Jew regarding Nazi Germany, Epstein notes Hammer was simultaneously helping to facilitate oil trade into Germany—scoring a 10 on the hypocrisy meter.  The fact is, helping Britain at this early stage in hostilities helped the Kremlin, and was in fact the Communist Party line du jour.  “The longer the British pursued the war” against Hitler, Epstein explains, “the more time Stalin would have to prepare the Red Army” for what he considered to be an inevitable war with Hitler.  After all, they had read Hitler’s plans for them in Mein Kampf, and even had plans of their own. *


In the second instance she makes her only mention of Undersecretary of State Berle, the man to whom Chambers had spilled the subversion beans in 1939.  Berle proposed to make public an intercepted German communication in the spring of 1942 “that revealed the precariousness of Germany’s internal situation.” Berle thought that releasing it would so weaken German morale and so improve allied morale that it could greatly shorten the war.


Enter Robert Sherwood.  It’s quite fascinating suddenly to see the role Hopkins’s biographer [Sherwood] played when Berle consulted the literary light, who was also a keeper of wartime information on various government panels including OWI, which he headed with Katyn Soviet apologist Elmer Davis.  Berle brought Sherwood his plan to expose this secret German communiqué, a frank inside appraisal of Nazi weakness.  Sherwood then assembled a small intelligence group to consider Berle’s plan—Edmund Taylor, Wallace Deuel, and James P. Warburg, the latter, by the way, a scion of a famous German-Jewish banking family whose father, Paul M. Warburg, founded the Federal Reserve banking system in 1913.  James Warburg is best remembered as an outspoken proponent of world government “whether we like it or not,” as he put it to the Senate in 1950, and, as a cofounder of the Institute for Policy Studies, a crypto-Marxist think tank, in 1963.


They rejected Berle’s proposal.  “Maybe they feared that if Berle was right, the war would end too soon, before the so-called creative destruction [the world government devotees] yearned for could take place,” West speculates.


Jewish Power


When you find your way to people like the Warburgs, and to a lesser extent, Hammer, you are talking about Jewish Power (and I capitalize it intentionally), as opposed to individual Jews like Lyons and Levine and Kohlberg.  The gigantic elephant in the room that West would not have us go near is that during the first half of 20th century—and to a certain extent even now—Jewish Power in America heavily favored Communism.  It was more united behind Communism than it was behind Zionism.  No opinion-molding organ better reflected the Jewish Power position on Communism than did The New York Times.  Their infamous Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, serving as Stalin’s mouthpiece during the genocidal worst years of Stalin’s reign, was no renegade, as we make clear in “The New York Times and Joseph Stalin.” In some ways it looks as though little has changed at The Times when we consider the glowing obituary it gave to American turncoat to Mao’s China in 2005, Israel Epstein.  In between was their unbroken string of glowing reviews of pro-Communist books on China in the 1940s as we discuss in the concluding paragraphs of our previously referenced article on Kohlberg.


West draws upon many of the same sources that I do for “Elia Kazan, American Hero” when describing the long-term solicitous attitude toward Soviet Communism demonstrated by Hollywood, and there is no better bellwether of Jewish Power in the country than Hollywood.  West certainly knows this because her Brooklyn-born father, Elliot, raised her there as he practiced his craft as a screenwriter.


Perhaps the most important Jewish name that is conspicuously missing from a would-be book about Communist influence on the Roosevelt administration is Felix Frankfurter.  This is from John Beaty’s 1951 book Iron Curtain over America.


In fact, Mr. Justice Frankfurter is frequently referred to by those who know their way around Washington as the “President” of the United States.  In a recent “gag,” the question “Do you want to see a new picture of the President of the United States?” is followed up by showing a likeness of Frankfurter.


Mr. Justice Frankfurter is influential not only in counsel but in furthering the appointment of favored individuals to strategic positions.  The so-called “Frankfurter boys” include Mr. [Dean] Acheson, with whom the justice takes daily walks, weather permitting (New York Times, January 19, 1949); Alger Hiss, Lee Pressman, David Niles, long a senior assistant to President Truman; Benjamin V. Cohen, long Counselor of the Department of State; David Lilienthal, long Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission; John J. McCloy, Joe Rauh, Nathan Margold; Donald Hiss, brother of Alger, and “now a member of the Acheson law firm”; Milton Katz; and former Secretary of War Robert Patterson, “a hundred per cent Frankfurter employee” (all names and quotes in this paragraph are from Drew Pearson’s syndicated column, February 1, 1950).


One will find this quote and much more to indicate that FDR was far from being his own man and could be characterized much better as an instrument of Jewish Power in my essay, “Was Franklin Roosevelt a Communist?


Whither Diana?


So is Diana West the same tool of Jewish Power that she obviously was when she wrote The Death of the Grown-Up? Or has she turned into a Eugene Lyons?  Lyons started out toeing the Communist line but eventually reached the point where he could no longer submerge the ugly truth under preconceptions, ideology, and wishful thinking.  Then he wrote the truth about Soviet Communism and the pernicious influence of that evil ideology and its agents on the United States, but the tide of Jewish Power in the country was running in a different direction and he was ignored.


Whether or not West has experienced her Eugene Lyons moment, don’t let my criticisms of the book and my vigorous attack on her previous book put you off from reading American Betrayal.  It is absolutely packed with useful and important information.  If I were teaching a course on twentieth century history or World War II I would have to make it assigned reading.


Putting the best face on her various important omissions and on her transparently irrelevant comparisons of Communist infiltration of the government with the current “Muslim threat,” I am inclined to take them with a grain of salt, as necessary measures to get her book accepted and publicized by a major publisher.


Now that I’ve read her extraordinary work, I’m leaning toward the belief that rather than being cynical in quoting from Christ, indeed, rather even than having experienced a Eugene Lyons moment, she has experienced a Saul of Tarsus moment. ** It will be interesting to see what happens to her career after she has committed so much truth.




* West makes no mention of the fact that Hammer was a primary financial supporter of Senator Albert Gore, Sr., for what it is worth.  It is of some interest, further, that Al Gore, Jr.’s daughter Kareena, is married to the great, great grandson of Leon Trotsky’s patron and major contributor to the Bolshevik Revolution, Jacob Schiff.


** Where might she have learned about this passage?  Is it just a coincidence that I begin Part 6 of “Who Killed James Forrestal?” written in 2010, with John 3:20 (taken from a different translation than the King James Version that West uses)?


David Martin

September 24, 2015




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