The Conversation

M. Stanton Evans Defends West

Veteran conservative journalist, author, and scholar M. Stanton Evans wrote a piece at CNS News defending Diana West author of the new book American Betrayal. Evans, an expert in cold war Soviet era policy in the United States, examined the brutal attacks against West and her book, which investigates, among other issues, Soviet connections and infiltration within the U.S. government during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration. 

The book strongly defends the concerns of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy in regards to Communist espionage within the federal government. Evans wrote a book defending McCarthy in 2007, titled Blacklisted by History and was attacked by the same individuals who are hitting West now. Conservative author Ann Coulter, who wrote the 2003 pro-McCarthy book Treason, defended Evans when he was attacked. Coulter called a 2007 attack against Evans  from long time neo-conservative writer Ronald Radosh "slanderous." Coulter got the treatment from Radosh previously. When her book was released in 2003, Radosh called it "crap."   Now West is going through the same ringer and Evans writes:

At ground zero of this new dispute is author Diana West, whose recent book, American Betrayal (St. Martin's), is a hard- hitting critique of the strategy toward the Soviet Union pursued in the 1940s by President Franklin Roosevelt, his top assistant Harry Hopkins, and various of their colleagues. Ms. West in particular stresses the infiltration of the government of that era by Communists and Soviet agents, linking the presence of these forces to U.S.  policies that appeased the Russians or served the interests of the Kremlin.

For making this critique, Ms. West has been bitterly attacked by writers Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz, Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black, and a considerable crew of others.  The burden of their complaint is that she is a "conspiracy theorist" and right wing nut whose views are far outside the mainstream of historical writing, and that she should not have presumed to write such a book about these important matters.

Though the professed stance of her opponents is that of scholarly condescension, the language being used against Ms. West doesn't read like scholarly discourse. She is, we're told, "McCarthy on steroids," "unhinged," a "right-wing loopy," not properly "house trained," "incompetent," purveying "a farrago of lies," and a good deal else of similar nature.  All of which looks more like the politics of personal destruction than debate about serious academic issues.

Evans rebuts the pieces that hit West with a his own scholarly overview as to why he believes West's analysis is on target. Evans covers the massive infiltration of Soviet agents in the federal government as well as the "policy debacle of the war years" that happened  in 1945 at Yalta.  Evans wraps up his piece saying:

Granted, getting at the primary data takes some digging, as many relevant records have been buried, censored or omitted from official archives.  Presidential secrecy orders, disappearing papers, folders missing from the files, two manipulated grand juries (that we know of) used to cover up the extent and nature of the penetration ; all these methods and more were employed in the 1940s to keep the shocking story from Congress and the public.  And, sad to relate, in some considerable measure the cover up continues now, in court histories that neglect  archival data to repeat once more the standard narrative of the war years.

Diana West's important book is a valiant effort to break through this wall of secrecy and selective silence.  Her work in some respects touches on matters beyond my ken-such as Soviet treatment of American POWs-- where I am not competent to judge .  But on issues where our researches coincide-and these are many-I find her knowledgeable and on target, far more so than the conventional histories compared to which she is said to be found wanting . As the above suggests, her notion of wartime Washington as an "occupied" city, and the data that back it up, are especially cogent.



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