Showing How Soviet Spooks Shaped American Foreign policy.(BOOKS)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Showing How Soviet Spooks Shaped American Foreign policy.(BOOKS)


Byline: Joseph C. Goulden, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan spent his last years in office seemingly competing with Al Gore for the title of "Dumbest Intelligent Man in Washington." Sen. Moynihan's favored oratorical hobbyhorse was the claimed irrelevance of intelligence agencies, foreign and domestic. Rather than contribute towards sensible foreign policy decisions, he contended, the spooks spent most of their time in meaningless spy-vs.-spy games.

I suggest that Sen. Moynihan pick up a copy of "Sacred Secrets," by the talented Washington writer-couple Jerrold and Leona Schecter, and flip to page 187, where they pose several questions: "How did the activities of Soviet intelligence agents change American government policies? Did they really affect American political thinking and cultural life? Did they change American history? The answer is, 'They did.'" And then the Schecters proceed to examples documented in their intensively researched survey of Soviet intelligence, which draws upon archival work and interviews in Moscow, as well as astute examination of the famed VENONA intercepts of U.S.S.R. spy traffic:

"The influence of American pro-Communist ideologues in the government heightened tensions that brought about the war between Japan and the United States," the authors assert.

The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin feared being drawn into a two-front war with Germany and Japan; hence it was essential to turn Tokyo's attentions elsewhere. The Soviets dispatched an intelligence operative to Washington, where he met with Harry Dexter White, a high Treasury Department official, at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

White had been under the control of GRU (Red Army intelligence) since the early 1930s, and he willingly followed Soviet instructions. Over the next month, in his role as a key economic adviser, White steered the Roosevelt administration into bargaining demands that he knew the Japanese would not accept, chiefly withdrawal of their troops from China and Manchuria and "an end to expansionism." He also urged an oil embargo - a taunt that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"An idealistic American diplomat gave the Soviet Union the West's bargaining positions at Yalta, helping to bring down the Iron Curtain on Eastern Europe."

Here the villain was Alger Hiss, of the State Department, whose role as a Soviet agent is no longer arguable by serious persons. Soviet documents examined by the Schecters "reveal that he secretly met with a high ranking officer of the GRU . . . during the Yalta Conference and laid out for the Soviets all the strengths and weaknesses of the Western allies' bargaining position." Thus Stalin knew the points on which the Allies would yield, giving him a blue print on obtaining Soviet domination of Eastern Europe:

"A high ranking American bureaucrat gave the Soviets the printing plates with which they issues so many occupation marks in postwar Germany that the Western allies had to change the currency to stop inflation; this led to the Berlin Crisis of 1948."

Once again, the American doing Moscow's bidding was White, in conjunction with Treasury colleague Nathan Silvermaster. At the Teheran Conference of 1943, the British and the Americans agreed to a common German occupation currency, Allied Military, or AM, marks, to be printed in the U. S. At White's insistence, and over vehement objections from Gens. …

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