A similar shock, caused probably the "Gulag Archipelago" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, years ago. But while Solzhenitsyn presented the interior of the Soviet empire, the book of the American journalist shows the export of the ‘Cheka’ operatives to the New World. It exposes the manipulation and indoctrination of the U.S. carried out by the Soviet agency located high, in the vicinity of the U.S. presidents, starting from F.D. Roosevelt until now.
Diana West, based on documented sources, reveals a systematic infiltration of the U.S. Government by the Soviet intelligence. And it only appears to cover the years 1930 to 1955. Although this period is indeed the core of author’s considerations, she then clearly shows that the soviet-state-of-mind influences on many American opinion leaders have consequently continued to this day. This influence was so enduring that, after reading the book of D. West, some of them in disbelief and rather suddenly started asking rhetorical question: has the American diplomacy become an extension of Soviet strategy?
Is the origin of this entanglement actually as long as its roots dating back to the 1930s?
The book clearly indicates exactly that.
The author, who is not a historian but a known CNN journalist with a great current affairs and media experience, has based her hundreds of pages long book on precise and detailed sources such as Mitrokhin Archives, collection documenting agreements Bush-Gorbachev in Malta, and the materials of the "Venona" project .
The listed [reference] items do not cover the entire source base used by D. West, nor those collections which are still unavailable to researchers. Many sources that D. West wanted to access, which document the wide angle of infiltration of the U.S. by Soviet Russia are still in restricted deposits. There are those which had previously been known to a few historians, but it turns out that in recent years some [sources] mysteriously disappeared!
Materials [of the project] "Venona" are quite new: these are, decrypted but revealed only after 1995, cables sent to Russia by its agents in the United States during World War II and the Cold War (see footnote 1). They enabled revealing many names from the entourage of F.D. Roosevelt and from the departments of the U.S. administration. Within the top of this group are earlier unknown materials incriminating Mr and Mrs Rosenberg who had betrayed details of the "Manhattan project" (the A-bomb) to the Russians. The reports show an advanced degree of penetration of all major state governance structures in the USA by the Soviet agency.
Many of the issues presented by the author have been unknown to the Polish reader (or known marginally), and considering the detailed character of the individual review that D. West performed as first, on the grid of Soviet agents in the USA - most of those names the Polish reader might yet come to know .
I write this in the future tense, because it is definitely worth to reliably translate this book and make it available to all Polish readers.
My note is not a thorough professional review of the book by D. West. It would be good if it could be written by a Polish expert on American affairs, probably because neither a sovietologist, nor even a historian of Russian espionage could show the diversity of conditions over the U.S. which provoked Diana West to take up the subject of betrayal. A wider sense of betrayal: the betrayal by the U.S. government of the American nation tradition of freedom, and as the betrayal of the idea of the free world to protecting the interests of the bloody Soviet regime instead.
Have there been further betrayals? Well, hasn’t the history of the last two decades shown a continuation of the earlier disloyalty of the U.S. politicians and their tendency to sacrifice the idea of freedom for the subsequent ideologies of violence and crime? This is probably the only perspective at which one should discuss the validity of author’s theses.
They are clear:
- the level of the U.S. government infiltration by Moscow agents since the end of the 1930s and during WW II was unimaginable and unrecognized by the majority of the so called sovietologists. Their assessments of the Soviet state are certainly incomplete, and in many ways - just unbelievable. Knowledge on that subject is since the 1930s indeed filtered by.. Russian agents themselves.
- neither the contemporary America, nor the one of the past decades, is/was ever interested in the unique analytical "dissection" of the nature of the former Soviet Union; she [America] has never been strongly anti-communist and was never prepared to declare fight to the death to the communism. She betrayed repeatedly the world freedom by cooperating with the Soviets - as the countries of Eastern Europe felt the hard way many times in the twentieth century. And it does not matter whether the Soviet Russia was led by Stalin or if Russia is managed by Putin.
- Russia, in the twentieth century, was never accounted for her crimes, and this century does not promise many changes. Likely, there won’t be a ‘Nuremberg’ [trials] for the Soviets soon.
- the degree of sensitivity to the interests of modern Russia in the U.S. strategy is, compared to the fall of the twentieth century - significantly greater under the presidency of B. Obama, who is ideologically perceived - if not directly as a socialist, then - as one fully on the side of the Left. This does not offer good prospects to settle accounts with Russia. And questions posed by D. West - for example, why so many dates, symbolizing Soviet crimes and treason, are widely unknown in the West? - seem to have always one and the same answer: the Soviets should not be reminded their dark history pages because irritating Russia is not in anyone's interest. This is an important conclusion for the Poles.
- a recurring theme of the book, throughout all chapters, is to show the similarities between the U.S. media generated matrix – the past one, which was supposed to be profoundly anti-Communist, and its new incarnation - allegedly anti-Islamic. For D. West the analogy here is clear: it is the same kind of betrayal of America: burying the idea of freedom for the defacto support given to blood stained systems and ideologies.
So much for a general review.
My thoughts after reading this book are many; I have recorded a few.
First of all, I followed with interest threads new to me that analyze the Russian agency grid: from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. President’s inner circle, through the senior American diplomats and various government agencies, the supply structures to the USSR under the “Lend-Lease” program to the strictly professional area of the decryption of messages [cables] in the "Venona" project, identifying Russian spies by name.
Known to us – and only in general - was previously only the strategy of the Comintern (Communist International) carried out in the 1930s: saturation of the West European countries (not to mention of Central Europe) with own agents and its strong impact on the influential P.R. circles in the United States. But as for America, we looked mainly through the lens of the of Hollywood and leftist Democrats. However, we knew nearly nothing about such presence of Russian professional agents already in the 1930s in the U.S. research labs and within circles of their influential politicians.
For example - as D. West shows this now – the case of betraying secrets of American nuclear weapons to the Russians by the Rosenberg couple could have been clearly explained earlier. But, for a long time it was presented as an example of priority to unfair death sentences in the era of "paranoid" extermination "of alleged communists" across America by J. McCarthy and convicting innocent people on the basis of dubious circumstantial lawsuits. However, the documents in this case had confirmed Rosenbergs’ betrayal and justified their death penalty. But they were only declassified in 1995.
In other cases it has not been so easy. D. West points out that many important spies/agents have never been identified. This means that they could continue to operate throughout further years, they could freely develop their nets and safe they can feel now.
The successes of Russian spies operating in the nuclear sector, including the Rosenbergs, would not be possible without other earlier focused operations incl. the group of Harry Hopkins (F.D. Roosevelt's adviser), managing supplies to the East under the "Lend-Lease" (I refer to the never repaid huge materials and war supplies to the Russia via Murmansk), who "screened" secret documents on uranium already in 1943, and also used to send them to the Soviet Union. In this entire operation, each captured document sent to Russia, any information, were worthless.
D. West shows that it was that first period from 1930, which created the foundation for future sustained presence of Soviet agency in America and decided on the later significance. [A foundation which was] strong enough to make the "Venona" project (deactivation of the Soviet spy grid) never fully completed, while making the greatest enemies of communism in the United States ridiculed, demonized and marginalized by highlighting their "paranoia" because [all this] was filtered by the people from.. the Russian agency itself.
The European reader not once may feel surprised by conclusions of the author. For example, the idea of a total, almost profound identification of F.D. Roosevelt's idea of New Deal with the Communism, its plan economy and overgrown administration. It follows indirectly that, even John M. Keynes' ideas were based on the model of the Soviet state, while the phenomenon of response to the Great Depression 1929-1933 with wider interventionism is seen in Europe as more nuanced. Similarly [Europe] perceives clearly differences between the planned economy of the Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany and interventionism used commonly in most countries in case of a global crisis of free trade.
Another surprise may be attributing B. Obama motivation by the ideas of socialism, such as the reform of the healthcare system. I do not consider here the general assessment of the policy of the current president of the USA, which links him - no doubt rightly so - with the political Left. Nevertheless, identification in the Law on Health Insurance, an extreme left or straight Bolshevik bias, is probably quite difficult to understand from the European perspective.
D. West, and with her, the entire system of values [orig.: representations] of the average conservative American, seems to disregard the part of Europe’s social history from the late nineteenth century and the social thought of the Catholic Church (1891 encyclical "Rerum Novarum"). They really churned Europe of the turn of the century, although they had little to do with Marxist ideas. At the earliest, this brought quite revolutionary social security [components] in Germany, which then spilled over the entire Europe, and after 1918 they became common.
Europe has always been more social than the U.S.; Europe, did not really enjoy piecework scheme introduced in factories of H. Ford, which revolutionized the U.S. productivity. Social ethos in the Old Continent has always been a component of all local ideology. And regardless of whether or not the Bolsheviks ended their adventure in the history as early as in 1917, the "social" [issues and services] would seriously influence locally undertaken decisions. Only it would be expected that the accepted versions of the welfare-equipped state were social-democracy rather than Marxist. The state was to serve the interests of the "demos", rather than "demos" be subservient to the state.
In turn, some assertions of D. West may appear in the region of Central Europe a bit delayed, such as the "revelation" that the Communist Party of United States (CPUSA) has become an addition to Soviet intelligence. We have known that in Poland since the '60s, on the basis of the fate of the CPP [Communist Party of Poland] and the history of the Comintern. This used to be published even by the regime [approved] historians (eg, J. Kowalski, “History of the CPP 1935-1938”). Knowledge about the situation at the Comintern from the 1930s clearly pointed to this very nature of communist organizations after 1933. Moreover, we know that the Soviet intelligence penetrated not only state structures – it used to enter directly political and civil rights movements, and the idea of the People's Fronts was a deceptive cover for overtaking control over socialist and rural peoples groups. Wherever a particular party/movement had winning chances in the struggle for power, there the Communists played a leading role in their decision-making circles. This practice was improved in the 1940s and since then this technique became common throughout all Soviet zones.
In the communist movement itself changes occurred as well: the old generation of idealists of the early twentieth century, has been completely replaced by apparatchiks: disciplined soldiers of the civilian front. And that was the suit of departmental cynics which was exported to America at the time described by Diana West.
Today, Americans are shocked by the role of the pro-Soviet diplomats in U.S. embassies, pro-Soviet professors in university campuses.. and they are surprised that Hollywood is a communist cell, which never screened [material about] true communist crimes.. European readers are dismayed by this..
For example, the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow himself, J. E. Davies, not only in the 1930s was an admirer of Stalin and the Soviet system, but he officially would justify, praise and endorse the policy of Soviet purges of the late 1930s. And yet he gained an opinion of an outstanding expert on Soviet affairs..
Given the background of only bits and pieces of reliable knowledge about the Communists and Soviet affairs breaking through to the American public, the solid [sources] from the school of Polish diplomats of the late 1930s make a great impression today - quoted in declassified archives - and are worth at least a reference:
The source base of the book by D. West are mainly published items:
American press of the late 1930s, biographies and memoirs, available studies of Soviet archives, works based on archival documents, papers by A. Solzhenitsyn, V. Bukovsky; party documents of the CPUSA, works related to the second WW, F.D. Roosevelt and other.
An example set (of analysed and available in the U.S.) archives and works:
- Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield:
The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB(New York:
Basic Books, 2001),
- The National Security Archive, online database, points out that the
transcript it offers “ is a translation of the Soviet record from the Gorbachev
Foundation, since the U.S. memcons remain, astonishingly, still classified
at the George H. W. Bush Library in Texas”;
- John Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009)
- Stephen C. Coughlin and I are coauthors of Shariah: The Threat to America, Report of Team B II (Center for Security Policy, 2010),
- Spencer Ackerman, “ FBI Purges Hundreds of Terrorism Documents in Islamophobia Probe,” Wired, February 15, 2012,
- Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov, EUUSSR: The Soviet Roots of European Integration
(Worcester Park, Surrey, UK: Sovereignty Publications, 2004).
- Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—the Stalin Era (New York: Modern Library, 2000),
- Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy,
1932–1945(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995),
- publications based on the outcomes of the „Venona” project.
For the latest Polish source, refer to review by Rafał Brzeski: