History Told to Provide a Tonic: Quite out of Keeping with the Book's Title, American Betrayal Tells How FDR Willingly Surrendered Our Government's Decision-Making to Communists and Those Loyal to Them

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American Betrayal--The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character, by Diana West, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2013, 403 pages, hardcover.

Reading the latest book by Diana West is not easy, but it is extremely helpful if one is to have a proper perspective on our nation's many tragic missteps before and during the Cold War, and the way in which moral malaise and ethical ambiguity came to rule the American psyche.

In American Betrayal the reader is confronted by the implications of the seeming ambiguity of the book's title: It is not a book chronicling the ways in which the Republic was betrayed at a crucial point in its history. Rather, American Betrayal is an account not only of the way in which the American Republic was betrayed by Soviet agents and "useful idiots," but of the multitude of ways in which the United States betrayed allies and undermined freedom-seeking individuals and movements throughout Europe and around the world. American Betrayal is a book that chronicles the course of a nation's spiritual decline as many leaders in government, business, education, and the media were either subverted by communist influences, or elected to become willfully blind to the subversion.

West is up to the formidable task of proving her thesis. Nearly a thousand footnotes document her charges, building the case for a subversion of the soul of the American Republic that began in 1933 with "the year of America's Fall"--a year when the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt became "a passive accomplice to Stalin in the Ukraine" when it chose to ignore a planned famine in that nation even as the U.S. pursued diplomatic relations with the totalitarian Soviet regime. And the effects of that "Fall" would--in West's assessment--fundamentally shape the entire course of the Second World War and the aftermath of that war.

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There are elements of West's story that a will be readily familiar to astute students of 20th-century American history. But even when treating the cases of well-known opponents of communism--men such as a Whittaker Chambers and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn--West connects their stories to the larger story of the systematic repression of anti-communism that took place over the course of decades. There was, West explains (and documents), a willful blindness within the ranks of the elite. It was, for example, not only the presence of communist agents such as President Roosevelt's closest advisor, Harry Hopkins, that subverted the Republic, it was the willful disbelief that refused even to acknowledge that such agents were present:

  For now, the compelling question is, How could their
  origins in Moscow have stayed swept under the rug?
  The answer has to do with the new gospel of falsehood,
  new commandments, new patterns of thinking, new modes
  of reaction. Emerging from the requirements of habitual
  secrecy and lies, this gospel inspired its followers,
  on an unprecedented scale, to decouple fact from
  implication, knowledge from conclusion, logic from
  judgment. In serving enemy ideology, they exonerated
  the guilty (example, Hiss), denied evidence (example,
  the Pumpkin Papers, which included microfilm), and
  flailed its source (example, [Whittaker] Chambers).
  Doing so, consciously or not, bent them. It bent their
  brains, bent their thought processes--and, by unavoidable
  extension and necessary entanglement, bent ours, too,
  undermining the solidity and credibility and worth
  of absolutes. Facts and evidence no longer had the
  same heft they used to. Givens were taken, or had to
  be nailed down going out the door, which left gaping
  holes. Oaths, so help me God, were flouted with a
  demystifying, cheapening regularity.

Thus, for example. West documents in Chapter Six that it was precisely such a toxic combination of treachery and willful blindness that concealed the efforts of Soviet agents to ship America's nuclear secrets--and nuclear materials--to the Soviet Union under the "Lend-Lease" Program without getting caught, despite the presence of evidence that should have brought such treachery to a sudden halt. …