Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Our Deadly World of Post-War Politics – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 23, 2019


The Unz Review

…During the 1990s, I occasionally read reviews of new books based on the Venona Papers—decrypted Soviet cables finally declassified—and they seemed to suggest that the Communist spy ring had both been real and far more extensive than I had imagined. But those events of a half-century earlier were hardly uppermost in my mind, and anyway other historians still fought a rear-guard battle in the newspapers, arguing that many of the Venona texts were fraudulent. So I gave the matter little thought.

Only in the last dozen years, as my content-archiving project made me aware of the 1940s purge of some of America’s most prominent public intellectuals, and I began considering their books and articles, did I begin to realize the massive import of the Soviet cables. I soon read three or four of the Venona books and was very impressed by their objective and meticulous scholarly analysis, which convinced me of their conclusions. And the implications were quite remarkable, actually far understated in most of the articles that I had read.

Consider, for example, the name Harry Dexter White, surely unknown to all but the thinnest sliver of present-day Americans, and proven by the Venona Papers to have been a Soviet agent. During the 1940s, his official position was merely one of several assistant secretaries of the Treasury, serving under Henry Morgenthau, Jr., an influential member of Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet. But Morgenthau was actually a gentleman-farmer, almost entirely ignorant of finance, who had gotten his position partly by being FDR’s neighbor, and according to numerous sources, White actually ran the Treasury Department under his titular authority. Thus, in 1944 it was White who negotiated with John Maynard Keynes—Britain’s most towering economist—to lay the basis for the the Bretton Woods Agreement, the IMF, and the rest of the West’s post-war economic institutions.

Moreover, by the end of the war, White had managed to extend the power of the Treasury—and therefore his own area of control—deep into what would normally be handled by the Department of State, especially regarding policies pertaining to the defeated German foe. His handiwork notably included the infamous “Morgenthau Plan,” proposing the complete dismantling of the huge industrial base at the heart of Europe, and its conversion into an agricultural region, automatically implying the elimination of most of Germany’s population, whether by starvation or exodus. And although that proposal was officially abandoned under massive protest by the allied leadership, books by many post-war observers such as Freda Utley have argued that it was partially implemented in actuality, with millions of German civilians perishing from hunger, sickness, and other consequences of extreme deprivation.

At the time, some observers believed that White’s attempt to eradicate much of prostrate Germany’s surviving population was vindictively motivated by his own Jewish background. But William Henry Chamberlin, long one of America’s most highly-regarded foreign policy journalists, strongly suspected that the plan was a deeply cynical one, intended to inflict such enormous misery upon those Germans living under Western occupation that popular sentiment would automatically shift in a strongly pro-Soviet direction, allowing Stalin to gain the upper hand in Central Europe, and many subsequent historians have come to similar conclusions.

Even more remarkably, White managed to have a full set of the plates used to print Allied occupation currency shipped to the Soviets, allowing them to produce an unlimited quantity of paper marks recognized as valid by Western governments, thus allowing the USSR to finance its post-war occupation of half of Europe on the backs of the American taxpayer.

Eventually suspicion of White’s true loyalties led to his abrupt resignation as the first U.S. Director of the IMF in 1947, and in 1948 he was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although he denied all accusations, he was scheduled for additional testimony, with the intent of eventually prosecuting him for perjury and then using the threat of a long prison sentence to force him to reveal the other members of his espionage network. However, almost immediately after his initial meeting with the Committee, he supposedly suffered a couple of sudden heart attacks and died at age 55, though apparently no direct autopsy was performed on his corpse.

Soon afterward other Soviet spies also began departing this world at unripe ages within a short period of time. Two months after White’s demise, accused Soviet spy W. Marvin Smith was found dead at age 53 in the stairwell of the Justice building, having fallen five stories, and sixty days after that, Laurence Duggan, another agent of very considerable importance, lost his life at age 43 following a fall from the 16th floor of an office building in New York City. So many other untimely deaths of individuals of a similar background occurred during this general period that in 1951 the staunchly right-wing Chicago Tribune ran an entire article noting this rather suspicious pattern. But while I don’t doubt that the plentiful anti-Communist activists of that period exchanged dark interpretations of so many coincidental fatalities, I am not aware that such “conspiracy theories” were ever taken seriously by the more respectable mainstream media, and certainly no hint of this reached any of the standard history textbooks that constituted my primary knowledge of that period.

Sometimes rank newcomers to a given field will notice patterns less apparent to those long familiar with the topic, more easily discerning the forest amid the trees. My own very superficial knowledge of 20th century American history burdened me with fewer preconceived notions of the pattern of those times, and the substantial body-count of accused Soviet spies during the late 1940s gradually made me wonder about other sudden fatalities during that same era.

As an example, I came across Target Patton by Robert K. Wilcox, providing some very strong evidence that the 1948 fatal car crash that claimed the life of Gen. George S. Patton was not accidental, but was instead an assassination by America’s own OSS, fore-runner of the CIA, which was then also heavily infiltrated by Soviet agents. Unlike the above deaths, which were merely highly suspicious in their timing and concentrated sequence, in the case of Patton the evidence was considerably stronger, even including the eventual public confession decades later of the OSS assassin responsible, with his claims supported by the contents of his personal diary.

At the time of his death, Patton was America’s highest-ranking military officer stationed on the European continent and certainly one of our most famous war-heroes. But he had bitterly clashed with his civilian and military superiors over American policy towards the Soviets, whom he viewed with intense hostility. He died the day before he was scheduled to return home to America, there planning to resign his commission and begin a major national speaking-tour denouncing our political leadership and demanding a military confrontation with the USSR. Prior to stumbling across the book in question, which had been totally ignored by the entire American media, I had never encountered a hint of anything untoward regarding Patton’s death, nor had I been aware of the political plans he had formulated prior to his sudden fatal accident.

Once a possible pattern has been observed, accumulating additional pieces becomes a much more natural process. A year or so after encountering the strongly substantiated claims of Patton’s assassination, I happened to read Desperate Deception by Thomas E. Mahl, a mainstream historian, whose book was released by a specialized military affairs publishing house. This fascinating account documented the long-hidden early 1940s campaign by British intelligence agentsto remove all domestic political obstacles to America’s entry into World War II. A crucial aspect of that project involved the successful attempt to manipulate the Republican Convention of 1940 into selecting as its presidential standard-bearer an obscure individual named Wendell Wilkie, who had never previously held political office and moreover had been a committed lifelong Democrat. Wilkie’s great value was that he shared Roosevelt’s support for military intervention in the ongoing European conflict, though this was contrary to virtually the entire base of his own newly-joined party. Ensuring that both presidential candidates shared those similar positions prevented the race from becoming an referendum on that issue, in which up to 80% of the American public seems to have been on the other side.

Wilkie went on to suffer a landslide defeat at Roosevelt’s hands in November, but quickly reconciled with his erstwhile opponent, and was sent abroad on a number of important political missions. Future historians would surely have been fascinated to learn some of the internal details of how British intelligence operatives had managed to “parachute” an obscure lifelong Democrat into leading the top of the Republican ticket in 1940, thereby fatefully ensuring American entry into World War II. But unfortunately all of Wilkie’s personal knowledge of such momentous events was forever lost to posterity when he suddenly took ill and died of a heart attack—or according to Wikipedia 15 consecutive heart attacks—on October 8, 1944 at the age of 52.

One of the most powerful political figures of Roosevelt’s dozen years in office was his close aide Harry Hopkins, who actually moved into the White House in 1940 and remained a permanent resident for nearly the next four years. Although Hopkins hardly bore an exalted title, being an administrator of various New Deal programs and later serving as Commerce Secretary, he was frequently referred to as “the Deputy President” and certainly carried more weight than any of FDR’s vice presidents or Cabinet members, generally being regarded as the second most powerful political figure in the country.

Hopkins, a former social worker and political activist, was decidedly on the left, having his roots in a New York City progressive tradition that shaded into socialism, while being very strongly pro-Soviet in his foreign policy views. There are some indications in the Venona Papers that he may even have actually been a Soviet agent, and Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel took that position in their book The Venona Secrets, but John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, the leading Venona scholars, doubted this likelihood based on technical arguments.

In the last year or so of Roosevelt’s life, his relations with Hopkins had frayed, and when FDR died in April 1945, thereby elevating Harry S. Truman to the presidency, Hopkins’ remaining influence disappeared. Having spent so many years at the absolute center of American power, Hopkins planned to publish his personal memoirs of the momentous events he had witnessed during the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, but he suddenly took ill and died in early 1946, age 55, surviving his longtime political partner FDR by only eight months. According to the authoritative references provided in his Wikipedia entry, the cause of death was stomach cancer. Or malnutrition related to digestive problems. Or liver failure due to hepatitis or cirrhosis. Or perhaps hemochromatosis. Although Hopkins had been in poor health for many years, questions do arise when the death of America’s second most powerful political figure is ascribed to a wide variety of somewhat different causes…

Excluding the much larger number of less notable fatalities, here is a short list of six prominent Americans whose untimely passing during 1944-1949 surely evoked considerable relief within various organizations known for their ruthless tactics:

  • Wendell Wilkie, lifelong Democrat nominated for President by the Republicans in 1940, Died October 8, 1944, Age 52, Heart attack.
  • Gen. George Patton, highest-ranking American military officer in Europe, Died December 21, 1945, Age 60, Car accident.
  • Harry Hopkins, FDR’s “Deputy President,” Died January 29, 1946, Age 55, Various possible causes.
  • Harry Dexter White, Soviet agent who ran the Treasury under FDR, Died August 16, 1948, Age 55, Heart attack.
  • Laurence Duggan, Soviet agent, Prospective Secretary of State under Henry Wallace, Died December 20, 1948, Age 43, Fall from 16th story window.
  • James Forrestal, former Secretary of Defense, Died May 22, 1949, Age 57, Fall from 18th story window.

I do not think that any similar sort of list of comparable individuals during that same time period could be produced for Britain, France, the USSR, or China. In one of the James Bond films, Agent 007 states his opinion that “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.” And I think these six examples over just a few years should be enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most cautious and skeptical.

Foreign leaders outraged over America’s destructive international blundering have sometimes described our country as possessing physical might of enormous power, but having a ruling political elite so ignorant, gullible, and incompetent that it easily falls under the sway of unscrupulous foreign powers. We are a nation with the body of a dinosaur but controlled by the brain of a flea.

The post-war era of the 1940s surely marked an important peak of America’s military and economic power. Yet there seems considerable evidence that during those same years, a varied mix of Soviet, British, and Zionist assassins may have freely walked our soil, striking down those whom they regarded as obstacles to their national interests. Meanwhile, nearly all Americans remained blissfully unaware of these momentous developments, being lulled to sleep by “Our American Pravda.”

Be seeing you



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