January 24, 2004

Why Do So Many Right-Wingers Have Such a Soft Spot for Tail Gunner Joe?

Now comes Juan Non-Volokh, pushing ahead of himself an effigy of Irving Kristol engaged in praise of Joe McCarthy, for Joe McCarthy was no pinko-lover, but the spokesmen for American liberalism were, or might have been, or something.

The Volokh Conspiracy: Randy and Sasha's posts on the alleged soft-spot some liberals had for the Soviet Union during the Cold War brings to mine the closing line of Irving Kristol's 1952 Commentary essay on civil liberties and Communism. While noting Joseph McCarthy was a "vulgar demagogue," Kristol argued that there was reason to suspect more than a few of McCarthy's most vociferous critics -- the anti-anti-Communists -- were indeed soft on Communism. He then concluded (and I paraphrase) that there was one thing most Americans knew about McCarthy, and that was that he, like them, was unequivocally anti-communist. Yey about the spokesmen for American liberalism, they knew no such thing. Needless to say, this is arguably the most controversial thing Kristol ever wrote.

The first big lie is the claim that McCarthy hunted Communists. McCarthy didn't hunt Communists--McCarthy was remarkably uninterested in catching any Communists or other totalitarians. (In fact, his principal lifetime contact with any real totalitarians was his attempt to free the Nazis of Sepp Dietrich's 6th SS Panzer Army who perpetrated the Malmedy massacre.) McCarthy hunted centrist Democrats--like Truman, Marshall, and Acheson. The Republican establishment looked on with great approval--it was only when he started hunting centrist Republicans in the Defense Department that Eisenhower and others decided it was time to pull the plug.

In my view, people should be forbidden to praise or excuse Joe McCarthy on pain of heavy fines until they have submitted a signed and notarized declaration that they have (a) reflected upon the careers of Dean Acheson and George Marshall, (b) acknowledged that the World Communist Conspiracy had no greater or more effective foes in the aftermath of World War II than Dean Acheson, George Marshall, and their boss Harry Truman, and (c) read Joe McCarthy's Senate speech of June 14, 1951:

How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this Government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men.

Who constitutes the highest circles of this conspiracy? About that we cannot be sure. We are convinced that Dean Acheson, who steadfastly serves the interests of nations other than his own, the friend of Alger Hiss, who supported him in his hour of retribution, who contributed to his defense fund, must be high on the roster. The President? He is their captive. I have wondered, as have you, why he did not dispense with so great a liability as Acheson to his own and his party's interests. It is now clear to me. In the relationship of master and man, did you ever hear of man firing master? Truman is a satisfactory front. He is only dimly aware of what is going on.

I do not believe that Mr. Truman is a conscious party to the great conspiracy, although it is being conducted in his name. I believe that if Mr. Truman bad the ability to associate good Americans around him, be would have behaved as a good American in this most dire of all our crises.

It is when we return to an examination of General Marshall's record since the spring of 1942 that we approach an explanation of the carefully planned retreat from victory, Let us again review the Marshall record, as I have disclosed it from all the sources available and all of them friendly. This grim and solitary man it was who, early in World War II, determined to put his impress upon our global strategy, political and military.

It was Marshall, who, amid the din for a "second front now" from every voice of Soviet inspiration, sought to compel the British to invade across the Channel in the fall of 1942 upon penalty of our quitting the war in Europe.

It was Marshall who, after North Africa had been secured, took the strategic direction of the war out of Roosevelt's hands and - who fought the British desire, shared by Mark Clark, to advance from Italy into the eastern plains of Europe ahead of the Russians.

It was a Marshall-sponsored memorandum, advising appeasement of Russia In Europe and the enticement of Russia into the far-eastern war, circulated at Quebec, which foreshadowed our whole course at Tehran, at Yalta, and until now in the Far East.

It was Marshall who, at Tehran, made common cause with Stalin on the strategy of the war in Europe and marched side by side with him thereafter.

It was Marshall who enjoined his chief of military mission in Moscow under no circumstances to "irritate" the Russians by asking them questions about their forces, their weapons, and their plans, while at the same time opening our schools, factories, and gradually our secrets to them in this count.

It was Marshall who, as Hanson Baldwin asserts, himself referring only to the "military authorities," prevented us having a corridor to Berlin. So it was with the capture and occupation of Berlin and Prague ahead of the Russians.

It was Marshall who sent Deane to Moscow to collaborate with Harriman in drafting the terms of the wholly unnecessary bribe paid to Stalin at Yalta. It was Marshall, with Hiss at his elbow and doing the physical drafting of agreements at Yalta, who ignored the contrary advice of his senior, Admiral Leahy, and of MacArtbur and Nimitz in regard to the folly of a major land invasion of Japan; who submitted intelligence reports which suppressed more truthful estimates in order to support his argument, and who finally induced Roosevelt to bring Russia into the Japanese war with a bribe that reinstated Russia in its pre-1904 imperialistic position in Manchuria-an act which, in effect, signed the death warrant of the Republic of China.

It was Marshall, with Acheson and Vincent eagerly assisting, who created the China policy which, destroying China, robbed us of a great and friendly ally, a buffer against the Soviet imperialism with which we are now at war.

It was Marshall who, after long conferences with Acheson and Vincent, went to China to execute the criminal folly of the disastrous Marshall mission.

It was Marshall who, upon returning from a diplomatic defeat for the United States at Moscow, besought the reinstatement of forty millions in lend-lease for Russia.

It was Marshall who, for 2 years suppressed General Wedemeyer's report, which is a direct and comprehensive repudiation of the Marshall policy.

It was Marshall who, disregarding Wedemeyer's advices on the urgent need for military supplies, the likelihood of China's defeat without ammunition and equipment, and our "moral obligation" to furnish them, proposed instead a relief bill bare of military support.

It was the State Department under Marshall, with the wholehearted support of Michael Lee and Remington in the Commerce Department, that sabotaged the $125,000,000 military-aid bill to China in 194S.

It was Marshall who fixed the dividing line for Korea along the thirty-eighth parallel, a line historically chosen by Russia to mark its sphere of interest in Korea.

It is Marshall's strategy for Korea which has turned that war into a pointless slaughter, reversing the dictum of Von Clausewitz and every military theorist since him that the object of a war is not merely to kill but to impose your will on the enemy.

It is Marshall-Acheson strategy for Europe to build the defense of Europe solely around the Atlantic Pact nations, excluding the two great wells of anti-Communist manpower in Western Germany and Spain and spurning the organized armies of Greece and Turkey-another case of following the Lattimore advice of "let them fall but don't let it appear that we pushed them."

It is Marshall who, advocating timidity as a policy so as not to annoy the forces of Soviet imperialism in Asia, had admittedly put a brake on the preparations to fight, rationalizing his reluctance on the ground that the people are fickle and if war does not come, will hold him to account for excessive zeal.

What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing to the strategy of defeat? They cannot be attributed to incompetence. If Marshall were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve this country's interest. If Marshall is innocent of guilty intention, how could he be trusted to guide the defense of this country further? We have declined so precipitously in relation to the Soviet Union in the last 6 years. How much swifter may be our fall into disaster with Marshall at the helm? Where Will all this stop? That is not a rhetorical question: Ours is not a rhetorical danger. Where next will Marshall carry us? It is useless to suppose that his nominal superior will ask him to resign. He cannot even dispense with Acheson.

What is the objective of the great conspiracy? I think it is clear from what has occurred and is now occurring: to diminish the United States in world affairs, to weaken us militarily, to confuse our spirit with talk of surrender in the Far East and to impair our will to resist evil. To what end? To the end that we shall be contained, frustrated and finally: fall victim to Soviet intrigue from within and Russian military might from without. Is that farfetched? There have been many examples in history of rich and powerful states which have been corrupted from within, enfeebled and deceived until they were unable to resist aggression. . . .

It is the great crime of the Truman administration that it has refused to undertake the job of ferreting the enemy from its ranks. I once puzzled over that refusal. The President, I said, is a loyal American; why does he not lead in this enterprise? I think that I know why he does not. The President is not master in his own house. Those who are master there not only have a desire to protect the sappers and miners - they could not do otherwise. They themselves are not free. They belong to a larger conspiracy, the world-wide web of which has been spun from Moscow. It was Moscow, for example, which decreed that the United States should execute its loyal friend, the Republic of China. The executioners were that well-identified group headed by Acheson and George Catlett Marshall.

How, if they would, can they, break these ties, how return to simple allegiance to their native land? Can men sullied by their long and dreadful record afford us leadership in the world struggle with the enemy? How can a man whose every important act for years had contributed to the prosperity of the enemy reverse himself? The reasons for his past actions are immaterial. Regardless of why he has done what be did, be has done it and the momentum of that course bears him onward. . . .

The time has come to halt this tepid, milk-and-water acquiescence which a discredited administration, ruled by disloyalty, sends down to us. The American may belong to an old culture, he may be beset by enemies here and abroad, he may be distracted by the many words of counsel that assail him by day and night, but he is nobody's fool. The time has come for us to realize that the people who sent us here expect more than time-serving from us. The American who has never known defeat in war, does not expect to be again sold down the river in Asia. He does not want that kind of betrayal. He has had betrayal enough. He has never failed to fight for his liberties since George Washington rode to Boston in 1775 to put himself at the head of a band of rebels unversed in war. He is fighting tonight, fighting gloriously in a war on a distant American frontier made inglorious by the men he can no longer trust at the head of our affairs.

The America that I know, and that other Senators know, this vast and teeming and beautiful land, this hopeful society where the poor share the table of the rich as never before in history, where men of all colors, of all faiths, are brothers as never before in history, where great deeds have been done and great deeds are yet to do, that America deserves to be led not to humiliation or defeat, but to victory.

The Congress of the United States is the people's last hope, a free and open forum of the people's representatives. We felt the pulse of the people's response to the return of MacArthur. We know what it meant. The people, no longer trusting their executive, turn to us, asking that we reassert the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to declare the policy for the United States.

The time has come to reassert that prerogative, to oversee the conduct of this war, to declare that this body must have the final word on the disposition of Formosa and Korea. They fell from the grasp of the Japanese empire through our military endeavors, pursuant to a declaration of war made by the Congress of the United States on December 8, 1941. If the Senate speaks, as is its right, the disposal of Korea and Formosa can be made only by a treaty which must be ratified by this body. Should the administration dare to defy such a declaration, the Congress has abundant recourses which I need not spell out.

"A conspiracy so immense" indeed. Those who do not remember history--those who forget or pretend to forget who exactly Joe McCarthy was and who he saw as his enemies--are indeed condemned to repeat it, but the real problem is that the rest of us are condemned to repeat it with them.


UPDATE: Why Can't Juan Read?

Juan non-Volokh writes, "nor do I accept Brad DeLong's suggestion that I 'praise or excuse' McCarthy." Glad to hear that he regards McCarthy as sinister pond scum. But I never wrote that Juan praises or excuses McCarthy. I wrote that Juan brings to the party an effigy of Irving Kristol engaged in praise of McCarthy--which Kristol is, and which Juan does.

Posted by DeLong at January 24, 2004 11:42 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
Comments

How can you possibly say that Juan Non has any praise for McCarthy in his post? Let no one forget that McCarthy was a "vulgar demagogue", but too many liberals and progressives would be more than willing to demonize McCarthy while giving Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and of course Fidel a complete pass. The point of the whole series of the Volokh posts was to point out that many of those “progressives” that were willing to overlook the millions of deaths directly attributable to those men, and their system, still are not cognizant of their mistake.

And then you change the subject to what a bad man McCarthy was? How many people did he kill?

Posted by: Kozinski on January 25, 2004 12:15 AM

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Hi Brad,
Any comments on the Senate bill to prevent government contract work being outsourced to India?
What happened to you guys who are so vociferous about "free trade"? Doesn't it prove your hypocrisy once again??
An angry indian,
Sathish

Posted by: Sathish on January 25, 2004 12:21 AM

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Hi Brad,
Any comments on the Senate bill to prevent government contract work being outsourced to India?
What happened to you guys who are so vociferous about "free trade"? Doesn't it prove your hypocrisy once again??
An angry indian,
Sathish

Posted by: Sathish on January 25, 2004 12:21 AM

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Sathish,
It seems kind of strange to see Indians protesting about protectionism. India has long been one of the most protectionist economies on the globe, and it hurt no one as much as it has hurt India. Now that India is starting to see the upside of globalization, why don't you start working to remove all the barriers to all trade and start in India? I'm a computer programmer myself, and while many of my co-workers are worried about outsourcing, I'm not the least bit afraid of competition from anyone. Hiding from competion doesn't make anyone stronger.

Posted by: Kozinski on January 25, 2004 12:40 AM

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Nicely done, Brad. Calling Marshall a communist should have automatically disqualified McCarthy from being taken seriously.

Posted by: Tom on January 25, 2004 02:47 AM

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McCarthy is a hero to conservatives because he was what they all secretly would like to be. And they haven't forgotten history. Conservatives would much rather that Communism had never fallen. After all, there must always be an Eastasia for Oceana to be at war with.

Posted by: Rich Puchalsky on January 25, 2004 04:52 AM

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Kozinski,
I'd say twenty years of controlled disinvestment, deregulation and opening of economic borders should excuse India from sentences like "has long been one of the most protectionist economies on the globe". For better or worse, much of this was done at the behest of the west, so its a bit hard for us to swallow western protectionist policies now.

(Note that twenty years is roughly 35% of the total time India has been a nation)

Posted by: taj on January 25, 2004 04:53 AM

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The modern Republican party has always been based three principles. First, that its members are more virtuous than others. Second, when this is proven not to be the case, that the truth must never be spoken. Third, that whatever harm flowed from their actions is always less than that of the horrid enemy which they virtuously battled even as the traitorous Democrats were adding fluoride to the water.

Under principle 2, Republicans must deny the damage McCarthy did to American power, as well as to the free speech necessary to run a sensible foreign policy. Damage to American power because the immense ferment of American science that led to rapid scientific and engineering advances was replaced by loyalty as the highest virtue. The talents of brilliant men like J. Robert Oppenheimer were wasted because their loyalty was suspect.

The First Amendment is based on the principle that when truth and falsity contend on a level playing field, truth will prevail. The modern Republican party has never believed this; its members have repeatedly attempted to censor speech and demonize political opponents. And so we have ended up with foreign policy disasters like Vietnam, in which the Lyndon Johnson believed even before escalation that the was unnecessary and potentially disastrous-- but was afraid to be labeled soft on communism.

Mr. Kozinski asks how many people McCarthy killed. This is a foolish, demagogic sort of question. The same question could be asked of many of the worst men on earth, and the answer would be the same as with McCarthy. The reality is that most powerful men use others to do their killing for them. One cannot determine relative virtue by stacking corpses.

If one looks at the needless, senseless deaths that flowed from the intimidation of free speech in this country by demagogues from McCarthy to DeLay, they would run into the millions, if not the tens of millions.

Naturally, they do not have the sole, personal responsibility that dictators have. Their acolytes and even those who let fear and self-preservation rather than conscience govern their actions share responsibility.

But especially responsible are those who know the evil that these men did and try to twist it into seeming good.

Posted by: Charles on January 25, 2004 07:41 AM

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Kozinski's comment raises two points that must be responded to:

1. How many people did McCarthy kill? About as many as Bill Clinton did while trysting with Lewinsky, I suppose. The communist witch hunts of the '40s and the '50s unfairly ruined many lives -- when communism was in vogue decades before amongst certain liberals, dabbling in it became an excuse to derail people's livelihoods. Moreover, any such witch hunts are indefensible due to bedrock First Amendment principles. This country was founded by revolutionaires who engaged in the violent overthrow of a colonial master. The motivation behind the First Amendment was to allow citizens the freedom to dissent that the colonial masters had suppressed. (Also, I'm sure Ben Franklin was prescient enough to foretell Internet porn...) Granted, our leaders have had no problem forgetting this in times of crisis, real or imagined.

2. This overlooking Stalin, Mao, etc. stuff. This is akin to accusing those against the war of supporting Saddam Hussein (or accusing 1940 isolationists of being Nazis). In the 21st Century, I think only the most zealous Communist Party supporter would give props to regimes that were Communist in name only -- the Soviet and Red China governments were anything but liberal, and in their absolute state control, really quasi-fascist in nature.

One more point -- McCarthyism is truly indefensible. And, for a while, something that was hysteria trumpeted by a disturbed egomaniac was actually taken seriously by the American Public. Thankfully, an active Fourth Estate played a large role in deflating the McCarthy threat. It's too bad that we don't have an Edward R. Murrow nowadays who could take on those who are following in McCarthy's footsteps now to get a nation to act under false pretenses.

Posted by: MikeB on January 25, 2004 08:14 AM

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The speech's content is ridiculous, but it's a good speech. Why do politicians (or speech writers) never produce as well written speeches anymore I wonder.

Posted by: Tom Flanigan on January 25, 2004 08:21 AM

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So let me get this straight, as I know very little about American history of this era - you are saying that nothing of McCarthy's diatribe against Marshall is true? Is this capable of independant confirmation, or stated merely because you have learned anti-McCarthyism at your mother's knee? I am posing a serious question here. Where do I go to find out?

Posted by: HKD on January 25, 2004 08:27 AM

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One of the seldom-remarked upon drivers of the Vietnam morass was the political correctness inspired by the witch-hunts of the late 40s and early 50s that made it career suicide for national security bureaucrats in the late 50s and early 60s to suggest that the Vietnam insurection might be anything other than pure communist subversiion. It definitely was communist-led subversion, the people leading it were ruthless bastards, and subsequent history has shown that the success of the revolution was a disaster for the Vietnamese people. But the faith-based vs. fact-based strategic thinking that sucked the US into that morass prevented us from taking into consideration the burden of Vietnam's colonial history, how we would inevitiby inherit that burden with our intervention, and how we might play the situation to exacerbate the emerging split betweeen the USSR and China, of which it was a bad career move to speak its name, instead of mitigating it by the way we involved ourselves in the Vietnam war. And, of course, the outcome was not helped by the tactical ineptness with which we fought the war. Westmoreland, who came up through artillery, was a classic example of the old saw that 'when the only took you know is a hammer, everything looks like a nail'. Thus one of the more durable legacies of the likes of McCarthy, Nixon, Jenner et al are the granite slabs on the Mall with nearly sixty thousand names on them.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 08:45 AM

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To further Chuck B's point a bit, how much of the obloquy, and plain old violence, directed against the nascent civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's was encouraged by the movement's loudly trupmeted ties with the great engine of Communist subversion?

It provided a perfect way to screw the black man without being an out-and-out racist.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 25, 2004 09:03 AM

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HKD:
Read Forrest Pogue's multi-volume biography of Marshall. In my view this man was probably the greatest American public servant of the 20th century. It was he who managed the transformation of the chronically underfunded US Army from something like the 15th largest in the world in 1939 (behind the likes of Portugal, e.g.)to the 6 million person force it was by early 1945. It was he who had been keeping track of promising officers in his personal "little black book" since early in his career, a practice that paid off in his astoundingly good record of selecting the officers for high command in WW II. And all the while he was managing the growth and staffing of the Army he was one of the key drivers of Allied strategy in his role on the Combined (US & Britain) Chiefs of Staff.

Although not yet a general officer, Marshall also played a pivotal role in the Army's success in World War I as Pershing's operations officer if I recall correctly. I recall reading somewhere (it may have been in Pogue but that was many years ago) that one of the questions on his WW I era efficiency report was "Would you want this man to serve under you in combat?" His CO (it may have been Gen. Fox Connor but I'm not sure; in any case it was a general. Connor was also influential in Eisenhowers early career. See DDE's memoir "At Ease".) wrote "No. I would rather serve under him."

As for his personal qualities, when Marshall was solicited to write and publish his memoirs at the end of his career he refused on the grounds that the nation had already paid him once for his services and it was not right for him to profit from them again. So he left his papers for historians to sort through.

McCarthy was not worthy of licking this man's bedpan.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 09:25 AM

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One irony is that the first significant figure to stand up against McCarthy, at a time when even Ike was ducking, was Prescott Bush, the Conn. Senator and grandad of the worthless W. Proof that the Bush family is a rapidly degenerating strain.

Posted by: Bob H on January 25, 2004 09:26 AM

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HKD -- It isn't that every factual statement is untrue, but that the motivations attributed to them are bogus. All of the strategic decisions regarding the conduct of major operations in WWII were the subject of differing opinions (e.g. advancing through Italy vs a cross-Channel invasion). McCarthy attempts to make it appear that Marshall's backing of various positions was motivated by a desire to help the Soviets rather than a difference of strategic judgement. Of course in hindsight it is easy to call some decisions "disastrous" but the military commander has to make the judgement beforehand. Other stuff is similarly bogus -- for instance, Chiang Kai-Shek (sorry I realize that is probably an obsolete spelling) was a disaster during WWII, preferring to stockpile much of the aid we provided for the eventual battle with the Communists rather than fight the Japanese; Chiang also demonstrated that he was pretty incompetent as a military leader. However, all people like Marshall could do was try to keep us from dumping more money down that hole -- it was unacceptable to trash Chiang publicly since he was anti-Communist. Interesting how many times we repeated THAT mistake. Despite the fact that McCarthy was correct about one thing (democracy good, communism bad) demagogues ALWAYS damage the situation because they reduce or eliminate rational discourse.

And finally: what Chuck said.

Posted by: Stein on January 25, 2004 09:49 AM

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Thanks for the quote, and thanks for the comments, especially Chuck.

The content of that quote is eerily similar to current right wing discourse. No wonder so many of their extreme commentators (led by Coulter) are trying to repaint McCarthy as a hero.

Posted by: Moniker on January 25, 2004 09:51 AM

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It is amazing how a simple post can be so misread. As Kozinski points out, I nowhere "praise or excuse" McCarthy, and repeat Kristol's (accurate) description of him as a "vulgar demagogue." What Kristol noted in his (in)famous 1952 essay was that McCarthy had a wellspring of popular support because he, like most Americans at the time, was unavowedly anti-communist, whereas it was not always clear the same could be said about anti-anti-communist intellectuals movement, based on their public statements, etc. (and no, neither I nor Kristol would put Acheson, Truman or Marshall in the anti-anti-communist camp). Like it or not, many of McCarthy's critics did appear "soft" on Communism. Their credibility was further weakened by their villification of leftist intellectuals who adopted a strong anti-Communist line (e.g. the contributors to The God that Failed anthology). This doesn't excuse McCarthy's actions in the least, but it does help explain his political influence. In addition, the anti-anti-communists' posture weakened their (noble) efforts to protect civil liberties from anti-Communist hysteria. If DeLong is such a history buff, he should know all this, but apparently he forgot.

JNoV

Posted by: juan Non-Volokh on January 25, 2004 10:14 AM

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What always gets to me was Eisenhower's behaviour. Marshall was somewhat of a mentor to him, but Ike, making a political calculation, did not defend Marshall.

"Eisenhower was prepared to deliver a defense of Marshall, praising him "as a man and a soldier," and condemning the tactics of McCarthy as a "sobering lesson in the way freedom must not defend itself." But noble intentions gave way to political reality. Aware of McCarthy's huge base of support and not willing to risk losing votes in a crucial state, Eisenhower delivered his speech minus the defense of Marshall and the condemnation of McCarthy. It was a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life."

Posted by: J on January 25, 2004 10:20 AM

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For some reason, the link didn't come out. It's http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/34_eisenhower/eisenhower_politics.html

Posted by: J on January 25, 2004 10:22 AM

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Let me add my praise for Chuck's comment about Vietnam. An excellent point.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov on January 25, 2004 10:50 AM

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The issue is not McCarthy or his tactics, but the motivations of his critics, some of whom were tolerant if not supportive of the Soviet regime and it’s allies. And these people were wrong on just about everything. They were wrong about the existence of the Gulag, the terror famine in the Ukraine, the massacre at the Katyn Forest, the Spanish Civil War, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the guilt of the Rosenbergs, and Hiss-Chambers controversy. And they were wrong about the nature of socialist regimes, like Yugoslavia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Nicaragua, to name but a few. New examples keep popping up every day as historians dig into declassified Soviet archives. The Beria memo shows J. Robert Oppenheimer was a Soviet asset.

Faced with emerging mountain evidence against their positions, the Left has adopted a new tactic. Now it seems it was ok and even patriotic (!) for people like Julies Rosenberg, Ted Hall, Klaus Fuchs and presumably Oppenheimer to have given Stalin US military secrets.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 25, 2004 11:36 AM

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That last line is brilliant, Brad.

Posted by: Kelly on January 25, 2004 11:52 AM

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>>So let me get this straight, as I know very little about American history of this era - you are saying that nothing of McCarthy's diatribe against Marshall is true?<<

Of course nothing of McCarthy's diatribe against Marshall is true. George Marshall, the organizer of victory in World War II? George "Marshall Plan" Marshall, the single man key to the successful recovery of Western Europe after World War II?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:00 PM

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>>That last line is brilliant, Brad.<<

It's my father's. I steal it whenever possible.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:01 PM

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>>The issue is not McCarthy or his tactics, but the motivations of his critics<<

No. The issue is McCarthy and his tactics, and his motivations. McCarthy didn't hunt Communists, he hunted centrist Democrats--like Harry Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:02 PM

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Juan Non-Volokh writes:

>>neither I nor Kristol would put Acheson, Truman or Marshall in the anti-anti-communist camp<<

But William F. Buckley would--and did. And Joe McCarthy would--and did. And I think Elliott Abrams does. And I'm not so clear as you about Irving Kristol.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:04 PM

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>>I nowhere "praise or excuse" McCarthy<<

I didn't say you did. I said you push ahead of yourself an effigy of Irving Kristol engaged in praise of Joe McCarthy.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:05 PM

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McCarthy was a reaction of the nation betrayed.

Brad, that he "hunted" Truman is a lie. McCarthy:

I believe that if Mr. Truman bad the ability to associate good Americans around him, be would have behaved as a good American in this most dire of all our crises.

This is much less than "President Empty Suit" or "Richard Cheney: Underbriefed, Insane, or Senile?"

About Acheson and Marshall (and partially Truman): they lost China to the Communists. Communists killed millions in China. If not traitors, they were clueless and should have been removed from US foreign policy leadership. McCarthy about Marshall:

If Marshall is innocent of guilty intention, how could he be trusted to guide the defense of this country further?

Indeed, how?

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 12:12 PM

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Man, ain't that Zarkov something?

As I've been told, McCarthy was tolerated when he was going after Marshall and Truman, but when he started getting too close to Eisenhower and the Army he got gonged out of there.

One conclusion we can come to, based on the many conservative Republican defences of McCarthy, is that Eisenhower is no longer a Republican. The heavy Republican resistance to putting a statue of Lincoln up in Richmond, Virginia, tells us that Lincoln has been bounced from the party too.

We see exactly the same hysterical witch-hunt logic in the new defenses of McCarthy that we saw at the time. Nothing has been learned, it seems. So when McCarthy accused non-Communists of being Communists, anyone who denounced him must be soft on Communism. A pretty classic pathology there.

When we made peace with Eastasia and declared war on Eurasia around 1946, some people didn't jump quick enough. They were wrong, but what they did didn't come out of a vacuum. And I do dimly remember from the Fifties and early Sixties that a lot of the loudest anti-Communists thought that integration, unionization, and the progressive income tax were Communist. By their opportunism the right wing certainly contributed to confusing the issues.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on January 25, 2004 12:19 PM

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could those making assertions about McCarthy include substantiating evidence? not a historian, I thought Mao defeated the KMT, not the US. I'd love some documentation of a US defeat in China and of Acheson, Marshall and Truman's involvement.

thanks in advance.

Zarkov is an entertainment. as his posts on subjects I know (e.g., Brecht's citizenship) consistently favor storyline over fact, I am unconcerned. critical readers will have discarded such sources; uncritical partisans are not to be helped. save your breath and ignore trolls.

Posted by: wcw on January 25, 2004 12:26 PM

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The issue is, too, about McCarthy and his tactics, especially the recklessness and cynicism thereof, even though there's no denying that a lot of people on the American left in the 30s and 40s were taken in by Stalin and communism. Those who took action against the USA during those times directly on behalf of the USSR or its agencies should have been pursured and prosecuted, ane many were. There was even a legitimate role for someone in the bully pulpit of Congress to use that platform to raise public consciousness about the danger inherrent in communism and USSR espionage. But McCarthy went way beyond that when, drunk on the attention he was getting, he began slinging mud in all directions hoping a blob or two here and there might stick enough to keep his name in the papers. If someone else's good name got trashed in the process, well, that was OK as long as it kept McCarthy's own name in the public eye.

I don't recall the specifics but some years ago I read that right after one of McCarthy's hearings the senator found himself on the same elevator with the witness he had just trashed on nationwide TV. When the witness berated him for making accusations the senator knew to be untrue McCarthy just shrugged and said something to the effect "Of course I know that. Don't take it so seriously; it's just politics."

As Stein points out, in hindsight not every decision Marshall made or influenced proved the best choice. But when you look at Marshall's entire career and the testimony of those who worked with him it's simply ludicrous to suggest that he ever did, said or decided anything in any capacity that he did not sincerely believe, based on the facts he had at hand, was in the best interests of the USA. As J points out, Eisenhower's failure to take on McCarthy during the 1952 campaign was not one of his better moments. He owed the success of his career to Marshall.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 12:31 PM

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wcw:
You'll find information about Marshall's service as a special envoy to China in the late 1940s covered in depth in the Pogue biography I referred to in an earlier post. Probably the last volume. Truman sent him there in '47 or so to evaluate the situation when the Reds started to roll up the turf under the Nationalists. If you want some background on the military capabilities of Chaing Kai Chek (sp?) find and read the wartime diaries of Gen. "Vinegar" Joe Stilwell, who was trying to get "the peanut", as he refers to him, to fight the Japanese. Stilwell, who had many years of duty in China under his belt and was fluent in the language, is often pointed to as one of Marshall's less successful personnel decisions, but it's unlikely that anyone else would have been more successful. Certainly Wedemeyer, his replacement in late 1944, wasn't.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 12:51 PM

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I intended to mention that Marshall came back to advise that if the US had to choose between trying to prop up Chaing, which he thought was unlikely to succeed, and fighting off communist encroachment in western Europe (especially France and Italy, where the party was strong) the US must focus on the latter.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 12:54 PM

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>>About Acheson and Marshall (and partially Truman): they lost China to the Communists.<<

Ummm... Are you kidding?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 12:59 PM

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Brad writes: Ummm... Are you kidding?

No, I am not. When we compare US and Soviet foreign policy in the 1940s as if they were equals, we are making a fundamental mistake. The Soviet Union in 1940s was a starving country. Their economy was in ruins, their population loss from both war and Communist genocide - up to 1/4. Communist political victories of the time were not a tribute to the superiority of the system but a result of their ruthlessness -- and stupidity of their opponents, including Marshall and Acheson.

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 01:30 PM

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Brad, if you didn't say Juan Non praised or excused McCarthy, then to whom are you referring to when you say "Why Do So Many Right-Wingers Have Such a Soft Spot for Tail Gunner Joe?" Irving Kristol? Are we supposed to ignore the title?
Or when you refer to "those who forget or pretend to forget who exactly Joe McCarthy was and who he saw as his enemies" are you referring to Kristol or Juan Non? By your standards we should all be condemning you for trying to resurrect McCarthyism by quoting him at such length. Saying that Juan Non Volkh is a McCarthy apologist for quoting Kristol, making a reference to McCarthy, to make a completely different point, is ridiculous. You should have retracted your statements, rather than cloud it by repeating your non-sensical “you push ahead of yourself an effigy of Irving Kristol engaged in praise of Joe McCarthy”. Kristol wasn’t praising McCarthy, he was saying liberals would have been more effective fighting McCarthyism if they made the case that they too were Anti-Communist.

Posted by: Kozinski on January 25, 2004 01:51 PM

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If the issue is McCarthy and his tactics and not his critics, then we have a major topic shift. It’s no contradiction to condemn both McCarthy and also condemn some of his most vociferous critics for their tolerance of Communism. The context is the series of blogs over at the Volokh Conspiracy concerning Liberals and Communism. As I read them, I see no defense of McCarthy and that includes the Kristol remark. Kristol was only seeking to explain why the public tolerated McCarthy’s tactics as long as they did.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 25, 2004 01:54 PM

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Good call Brad. The GOP likes the scorched earth tactics of McCarthy. They are ideologues who want power and control and are ruthless in that pursuit. The GOP admires the way Joe was able to put the Democrats on the run. However, McCarthy is indefensible to most Americans, with exceptions such as Ann Coulter. It is easy for the GOP to praise McCarthy tactics. It is difficult to defend his words. Just as it was easy for Senator Lott to praise Strom Thurman but difficult to defend his words, actions and record.

Posted by: bakho on January 25, 2004 02:00 PM

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Interesting thread. I do not share the majority politics of this site but I do enjoy (some of) the postings. If I can add my $0.02:

RE: “It provided a perfect way to screw the black man without being an out-and-out racist.”
RE: “In addition, the anti-anti-communists' posture weakened their (noble) efforts to protect civil liberties from anti-Communist hysteria.”

Nothing is ever too simple. The early civil rights movement was also plagued by a commitment to violence, as per the doctrine of Malcolm X. There was anger and rage in the streets and pride was the issue. What is tragic about Malcolm X is that he converted to Islam just prior to his assassination and was poised to provide a different kind of leadership that depended on peace through the commonality of a brotherhood of spirit. He did not get the chance to implement. Slightly off-topic, but interesting.

RE: “One irony is that the first significant figure to stand up against McCarthy, at a time when even Ike was ducking, was Prescott Bush, the Conn. Senator and grandad of the worthless W. Proof that the Bush family is a rapidly degenerating strain.”

Genetic deterioration also affects critical thought, does it not?

RE: “McCarthy attempts to make it appear that Marshall's backing of various positions was motivated by a desire to help the Soviets rather than a difference of strategic judgement.”

I couldn’t agree more with putting history on center stage. This is a very interesting analogy to the present suggestion that the Bush War in Iraq is a Jewish conspiracy - the success of “Big Satan where Little Satan failed.”

RE: “The content of that quote is eerily similar to current right wing discourse. No wonder so many of their extreme commentators (led by Coulter) are trying to repaint McCarthy as a hero.”

If I understand correctly, today’s lesson is ‘learn from history.’ The objective of much radical thought is the attainment of a pedestal. One enduring strength of this country (forgotten, overlooked and underestimated by many to their peril) is the pervasive pragmatic thought of the majority of Americans. We listen, nod, and then go about our business. If Ann Coulter’s defense of McCarthy offends, perhaps a hobby is more appropriate than providing her the soapbox of a serious rebuttal. (IMVHO, the issue is the resurgence of totalitarianism via Islamic inspired fundamentalism, as per the thesis presented by Paul Berman in “Terror and Liberalism.” There appears to be some denial on the Left that this threat exists. Hence, the ‘reminder’ that communism, as one expression of totalitarian thought, was indeed very fatal for millions of people.)

RE: “It was a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his life."

Thank you for that contribution. I did not know that about Eisenhower and it is always interesting to know where important players in history made mistakes.

RE: “Let me add my praise for Chuck's comment about Vietnam. An excellent point.”

I agree and Bernard Yomtov please see my link to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp’s pending fiscal insolvency upon collecting underfunded pension obligations from the steel and airlines industries (under the NAFTA thread.) The link is below in case you are interested, but your point about the potential liabilities is real.

http://www.pbgc.gov/news/speeches/testimony_101403.htm

RE: “The Beria memo shows J. Robert Oppenheimer was a Soviet asset.”

A. Zarkov, is this true???? Can you please confirm?????

RE: “"Of course I know that. Don't take it so seriously; it's just politics."

I make no claim to relevance but that is almost word-for-word identical with Bill Maher’s response to Larry Cramer after Maher ate Kramer for lunch on Politically Incorrect.

Posted by: KLA on January 25, 2004 02:12 PM

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>>Brad, if you didn't say Juan Non praised or excused McCarthy, then to whom are you referring to when you say "Why Do So Many Right-Wingers Have Such a Soft Spot for Tail Gunner Joe?" Irving Kristol?<<

Exactly. Irving Kristol has a *big* soft spot for Tail Gunner Joe. So does William F. Buckley. So does Elliott Abrams. So do lots of others.

About Juan non-Volokh I am not sure. The most that I can say is that he does not visibly disapprove of Kristol's praise and excuse of McCarthy--although he should.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 02:13 PM

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I think some of the drive for rehabilitation of McCarthy might have something to do with the crowd that is funding the "conservative movement." See http://www.commonwealinstitute.org/reports/tort/Section1.html#t2

It's the same crowd that's urging the "Get the US out of the UN" thing, which the Bush admin. is sympathetic to. http://www.getusout.org/

Posted by: Dave Johnson on January 25, 2004 02:29 PM

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KLA: The Beria memo (dated Oct. 4, 1944) is reprinted in Appendix 2 (p. 315) in the book “Sacred Secrets” by Jerrold and Leona Schecter. The original Russian appears along with a translation (p. 316). The memo is to Beria from Merkulov. Beria was head of the Soviet Nuclear Weapons research program besides being People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR. Oppenheimer (the subject of the memo) is said to have been an “unlisted member apparat of Comrade Browder.” The memo says Oppenheimer informed us [USSR] about the beginning of work on uranium in the USA in 1942.

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 25, 2004 02:55 PM

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The group with the biggest soft spot for McCarthy are the Neo-cons. The Neo-cons have their origins in the anti-Stalinist / Trotskyite faction of the old left. (Does anyone read Blumenthal?) They come from a long history of Stalin hating and belief that Stalinism has to be challenged vocally and agressively. Thus they applaud McCarthy as they applauded Reagan and switched to the GOP because of the Evil Empire rhetoric. It is a very Eurocentric world view that does not adequately address US interests that extend far outside Europe. In fact, prescription for policy outside Russia is disfunctional.

Posted by: bakho on January 25, 2004 02:59 PM

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Thank you A. Zarkov. I might have more to say when I pick myself off the floor.

Posted by: KLA on January 25, 2004 03:18 PM

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Re: " Ummm... Are you kidding?" "No, I am not."
The USSR may have been a starving country in the late 1940s, but they had a standing army of close to a hundred divisions, most of which were pointed westward in East Germany and other eastern Europe satellites. The USA, by contrast, had begun rapidly demobilizing as the last shots were fired. To attempt to save China the US would have had to remobilize massively and quickly to put a large army on the ground there, plus still maintain enough troops Europe to counter the increasingly ominous threat from the East, plus a strategic reserve at home. To do this the government would have had to fight the intense "bring the boys home" tide. And oh, by the way, the country that posed the threat was being hyped as our ally just 3 years before. (I'm not saying they weren't a threat; just that it's hard to bring a country of 140 million, as we were then, around that fast short of something as traumatic as a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11.)

The Nationalist army was in dismal shape. The officer corps was deeply corrupt and the grunts were poorly trained and treated even worse. After months and months of cajolling, threats to cut off aid, Stilwell finally got Chaing to agree to send a couple of divisions to India where they could be trained by US advisors out of the purview of Chaing's minions. When the first pay day came the US advisors, per Stilwell's orders, personally paid the grunts in cash while they were standing in inspection formation. The divisions' officers, up and down the chains of command, were outraged because this eliminated their cuts. Word soon got back to Chaing and the expirment in training in India was soon ended. But not before those troops had aquitted themselves far better in battle than any other Nationalist formation had. Because the corruption didnt stop with pay but extended to the siphoning off of rations and other supplies, the grunts had to live by rapine and plunder off the population. Chaing, of course, couldn't figure out why his movement wasn't popular with the peasants.
Of course the Reds policy of not living off of the peasants without compensation turned out to be a tactic in the revolution, and by posting the above I in no way condone the inhumane manner in which that regime has treated, and still continues to treat (although in a somewhat attenuated manner) the Chinese people badly after the they won the revolution.
It was in this context that Truman, Acheson and Marshall, et al, made the decision to make sure that we saved Europe rather than make a very iffy bet on saving China that may cost us Europe as well. Nothing I've read about those events since convinces me that was an unwise decision, even on the basis of hindsight.

Posted by: Chuck on January 25, 2004 03:24 PM

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RE: “They come from a long history of Stalin hating and belief that Stalinism has to be challenged vocally and agressively. “

I assume you do not include Paul Berman in that group. He defines Stalinism as one manifestation of the totalitarian threat that continues to this day.

RE: “It is a very Eurocentric world view that does not adequately address US interests that extend far outside Europe. “

Then whence the abandonment of our ‘old allies?’ The fear of ‘totalitarianism’ is ‘Euro-centric?’ Possibly, but does the geographical confinement make it any less of a threat?

I don’t want to engage in an ideological flame war, and yet I am sure that is where this is going, but I think your definition of neo-conservative thought is narrow and very possibly self-serving. My take is that the Left is concerned about ‘pre-emptive’ aggressiveness while the Right is concerned about nutcases in uncomfortably close proximity to nuclear devices.

Posted by: KLA on January 25, 2004 03:38 PM

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Accusing people who aren't Communists of being Communists isn't a "tactic" in fighting Communism. It's a demagogic hijacking of anti-Communism for some other purpose.

When I was in Taiwan in 1983 the biography of Stillwell was handed around from person to person, but not available in stores.

The state of the USSR in 1945 had little to do with the outcome in China.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on January 25, 2004 03:57 PM

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Who lost China?

The Kuomintang, of course. Rotten to the core, and militarily inept, to boot.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on January 25, 2004 04:54 PM

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A. Zarkov's claimed memo about Oppenheimer is a classic example of how the so-called anti-communists managed to wreck American science.

1) In 1942, Russia was an ally of the United States.

2) The Manhattan Project began only in 1942. FRom what Zarkov states, the conversation could well have pre-dated classification.

3) The interest in uranium as a potential material for fission was hardly a secret.

4) Oppenheimer was *never* charged with having committed any wrong.

But from such flimsy bases do people fling reckless allegations of espionage.

Posted by: Charles on January 25, 2004 05:03 PM

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KLA, I was referring to the Neo Con movement. The reference to Blumenthal was his historical book on the NeoCon movement:
Rise of the Counter Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power

I don't know much about Berman, but I don't place him in the same group of Neocons as Podheretz, Kristol, Abrams and the other Neocons who moved from far left to far right when Reagan was elected.

By Eurocentric, I mean that the NeoCons were historically far more concerned with politics inside the FSU than US interests.

Certainly Stalin himself needed to be opposed and the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union. However, lumping all progressive movements with Stalinism and acting as if all progressive movements should be opposed as a means of opposing Stalinism is just bad policy. Trotsky was no Thomas Jefferson. The Neocons are and were never anti-totalitarians. They were only against Stalinism and for their own ideological brand of totality.

Posted by: bakho on January 25, 2004 05:03 PM

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Chuck wrote: The USA, by contrast, had begun rapidly demobilizing as the last shots were fired. ... And oh, by the way, the country that posed the threat was being hyped as our ally just 3 years before.

This is a point in favor of McCarthy. US needed to be ready to combat the spread of the Communism. In the democracy you need to change the public opinion - and McCarthy helped to do that.

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 05:16 PM

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Steven Rogers writes: Who lost China? The Kuomintang, of course. Rotten to the core, and militarily inept, to boot.

Communist China was much bigger threat in Asia than Hitler in Europe. If the local goverment is inept - change it, don't use it as an excuse to do nothing.

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 05:26 PM

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Charles writes: A. Zarkov's claimed memo about Oppenheimer is a classic example of how the so-called anti-communists managed to wreck American science.

Buddy, you are an idiot.

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 05:28 PM

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Calling someone a "vulgar demagogue" but "unequivocally anticommunist" constitutes praise? That's an interesting assessment. I'm tempted to ask who really has the reading problem here.

Juan Non-Volokh

Posted by: Juan Non-Volokh on January 25, 2004 05:28 PM

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Brad says that we must all acknowledge "that the World Communist Conspiracy had no greater or more effective foes in the aftermath of World War II than Dean Acheson, George Marshall, and their boss Harry Truman."

No greater foes? Really?

How does your theory explain the following facts:

1. Truman's infamous dismissal of the case against Soviet spy Alger Hiss as a "red herring."


2. Truman's decision to appoint Dexter White as head of the IMF, even though he had already been warned by the FBI that Dexter White was a Soviet agent. http://www.cia.gov/csi/books/venona/chron.htm


3. Dean Acheson's infamous statement that he would "not turn [his] back" on Hiss, even after Hiss's perjury conviction.
http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/rcah/html/ah_000600_achesondean.htm


I can only imagine the sort of vituperations that Brad would use if it turned out that, say, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney all knowingly defended a top-ranking State Department official who turned out to be an Al Qaeda agent. No matter how vigorously those three prosecuted the war against Al Qaeda, they would never be forgiven for wilfully overlooking an Al Qaeda agent in their very midst.

Posted by: Stuart Buck on January 25, 2004 05:49 PM

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Charles: American science has been wrecked? When did this happen? Most of us have failed to notice.

The work of Manhattan Project was called the “Uranium Problem” in the USSR and everything about uranium and nuclear chain reactions was highly classified. The Beria memo was not uncovered until a few years ago, so of course Oppenheimer could not be charged with anything we just recently learned about him. This story is still unfolding.

Posted by: A, Zarkov on January 25, 2004 06:38 PM

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RE: “However, lumping all progressive movements with Stalinism and acting as if all progressive movements should be opposed as a means of opposing Stalinism is just bad policy. Trotsky was no Thomas Jefferson. The Neocons are and were never anti-totalitarians. They were only against Stalinism and for their own ideological brand of totality.”

I am suffering from blog space ignorance. Take a look at “Terror and Liberalism” by Paul Berman. He appears to be an historian of liberal persuasion who agrees with the terrorist threat from Islamic fundamentalism but disagrees with (parts of) the Bush response. I am willing to believe that neo-conservative thought has been ‘cleaned up’ but I am unwilling to believe that it is as ideologically tainted by the focus on Stalinism, as you suggest. And I certainly reject the proposition that Bush and his administration are held captive by ‘neo-conservative’ thought. The definition of a ‘neo-conservative’ seems to be changing faster than an Elvis sighting at the mall.


Posted by: KLA on January 25, 2004 06:48 PM

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Leopold writes: Communist China was much bigger threat in Asia than Hitler in Europe. If the local goverment is inept - change it, don't use it as an excuse to do nothing.

Change the Kuomintang government, eh? How, pray tell? It took the ChiComs a Civil War to accomplish that little ffact on the ground. How was the USA going to do it, in your opinion?

Posted by: Steven Rogers on January 25, 2004 07:16 PM

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>>Calling someone a "vulgar demagogue" but "unequivocally anticommunist" constitutes praise?<<

Yep. *Read* Kristol's article. What's the most important thing in Kristol's mind?

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 25, 2004 08:19 PM

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A. Zarkov asks, "Charles: American science has been wrecked? When did this happen? Most of us have failed to notice. "

Evidently you weren't around for the Sputnik, A.

After World War II, the Soviet Union had suffered massive casualties. The nation and its industrial plant were in ruins. It was able to access a portion of German science, but only a portion. The best German (and Central European) scientists and engineers had already fled to the West. And so the United States began the post-war era with an enormous technological advantage.

Within a few years, that advantage had evaporated and the Soviets had bridged the technology gap. In right-wing mythology, they accomplished this through espionage. In reality, while they got some through espionage, they managed to narrow the technological gap mostly because the United States was engaged in a circular firing squad. Plus, of course, they had their own geniuses, men like Sakharov.

What you pose as charges against Oppenheimer are exactly the sort of unsubstantiated accusations that made the McCarthy era so damaging to American science.

Perhaps it will emerge that Oppenheimer did something wrong. But in this country, we presume people innocent until they are proven guilty. We don't accept smears like this one into evidence.

Posted by: Charles on January 25, 2004 08:31 PM

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Steven Rogers writes: Change the Kuomintang government, eh? How, pray tell? It took the ChiComs a Civil War to accomplish that little ffact on the ground. How was the USA going to do it, in your opinion?

Communists changed the political system. US only needed to put better people in place. How to do it? When similar change needed to happen in (South) Korea, they simply had a meeting and the goverment changed. Of course, Korean CIA director's gun just went off by itself during that meeting and the bullet - again, just accidentally - hit the dictator who promptly died. But that was a small detail in overall smooth transition of power.

Posted by: Leopold on January 25, 2004 10:14 PM

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Were the strategic situations identical? I think not. Offing Chiang would not have notably increased the efficiency of the Kuomintang. Posibly quite the reverse, he was personally the center of a lot of webs holding things together thanks to the fmily connections of Madame Chiang.

Given the material resources available to the KMT, the Civil war should have lasted a lot longer than 1949. Losing so quickly speaks volumes about the entire orgnization's lack of ability.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on January 25, 2004 10:25 PM

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Charles: “Evidently you weren't around for the Sputnik, A.”

Well I was around and the launch of Sputnik was no reflection on the quality of American science, here’s why. Because of the work done at the AEC (now DOE) weapons labs, the yield to weight ratio of US warheads increased dramatically. This was a combination of some clever physics, and the use of high speed digital computing to design an advanced “physics package.” This is why two weapons labs always got the first edition of every new super computer. The Soviet Union had great physicists, particularly Ya B. Zeldovich, their expert on hydrodynamics, but they lacked high speed computing equipment. Consequently their weapons while robustly designed were very heavy. Heavy means you need a rocket with a lot of thrust. In contrast US weapons were light (for the same yield), which means you can get by with a much smaller thrust. Thus the Soviets had big military rockets they could use to launch satellites. The US quickly closed the thrust gap once the race to space was on.

“Within a few years, that advantage had evaporated and the Soviets had bridged the technology gap. In right-wing mythology, they accomplished this through espionage.”

There never was a technology gap for reasons explained above. The Soviet Union did test a fission weapon earlier than expected and this was due to espionage. To make a plutonium weapon you need to design an implosion device and in the 1940s this was very difficult to do. John Von Neumann did the calculations for the “lens” design and he was one of a kind. No one else was able to do those calculations at that time. David Greenglass a machinist at Los Alamos provided diagrams of the lens design to Harry Gold a courier for the USSR. Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall and other spies also provided more information to the Soviets. Their surprise shot used a design almost identical to the first US plutonium bomb. Later thanks to Sarkarov and Zeldovich, the USSR did test a fusion weapon which was not the fruit of espionage information. But as I said before their designs were nowhere near as sophiscated as the US.

“Perhaps it will emerge that Oppenheimer did something wrong. But in this country, we presume people innocent until they are proven guilty. We don't accept smears like this one into evidence.”

There is much more against Oppenheimer than the Beria memo. See the book “The Haunted Wood” by historian Allen Weinstein who talks about 1944 memo to Vselovod Merkulov identifying Oppenheimer by the code name “Chester.” See also material in Richard Rhodes “Dark Sun” and “Brotherbood of the Bomb” by Herken. Evidently each new piece of evidence against Oppenheimer is simply a new “smear.”

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 25, 2004 10:31 PM

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>>Calling someone a "vulgar demagogue" but "unequivocally anticommunist" constitutes praise?Yep. *Read* Kristol's article. What's the most important thing in Kristol's mind?<

The most important thing on Kristol's mind washte Left's "confusion" (his word) over Communism and civil liberties. He believed liberals did not have a coherent anti-Communist strategy. In hs view, they spent too much time attacking anti-Communism and worrying about the civil liberties of Communist Party members, and too little providing a viable anti-Communist position of their own. The article was not a celebration of McCarthy. Rather, like the posts that prompted my initial reference to the piece, the focus was on the Left's relationship with Communism. Anything complimentary he said abot McCarthy was completely backhanded. (As in, "look, fellow liberals, you may not like McCarthy, but the American public listens to him because they know he's on their side; until you convince them of the same thing, you will be seen as dupes.) I don't agree with Kristol's policy conclusions in the piece, but have sympathy for his critique of the 1950s anti-anti-communist Left's inability to acknowledge the threat represented by Communism. It was also the sort of strong anti-Communist essay that was largely absent for Left-leaning publications of the time (and, at the time, Commentary sill leaned quite Left).

As a side note, it was this concern -- the lack of an effective liberal anti-Communism -- that led Kristol to join up with the Congress of Cultural Freedom and launch the liberal anti-communist journal, Encounter, with Stephen Spender. He was more interested in creating a viable anti-Communist Left than jumping on the McCarthy bandwagon. Kristol was a committed anti-Communist by 1952, but McCarthy was certainly not his hero -- at least not then.

JNoV


Posted by: Juan Non-Volokh on January 26, 2004 06:55 AM

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Gregg Herken in Brotherhood of the Bomb suggests that Oppenheimer was protecting his brother who was more actively involved in communist activities stateside relative to Robert. I read this book about two years ago and remember thinking that the newly released material brought Robert Oppenheimer right up to the door - about as close as you could get without actually stepping inside - or outside, depending on your perspective. I do not recall Herken referencing the Beria memo, but I could be mistaken. As one more piece of perspective, Herken also describes the staunch objection of Lawrence to Oppenheimer’s political activities. Lawrence was careful to maintain a safe distance whereas Oppenheimer seemed to enjoy flirting with compromising activities just to test ... what? Well, it’s damning enough being an armchair economist - I don’t have enough furniture to engage in armchair psychology.

A. Zarkov: Very interesting take on the technology gap.


Posted by: KLA on January 26, 2004 07:04 AM

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>>Kristol was a committed anti-Communist by 1952, but McCarthy was certainly not his hero -- at least not then.<<

But at that point Kristol did think that McCarthy knew one thing--one important thing--the one important thing--the one most important thing--that "liberals" did not.

It's difficult to argue at the same time that (a) Kristol was not praising McCarthy and (b) nevertheless this was the most controversial thing Kristol ever wrote.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 26, 2004 08:00 AM

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Commies: 100,000,000 murderd.

Nazis: 10,000,000 murdered.

Via straight-line arithmetic logic, our humanitarian impulse should be to be 10 times more harsh on the commies. Yet our culture, our colleges and their curricula are all slanted towards an "understanding" of the worst humans in history. Understand? Understand! They murdered 100,000,000! They should be hated. We should be "understanding" of those who went after these bastards and made mistakes along the way; even egregious mistakes. For liberals, the big story is not the unequaled evil of communism, but the mistakes an opportunistic, cynical politician made in fighting it. You guys (Delong, et al)really and truly don't get it.

Posted by: Dugger on January 26, 2004 10:29 AM

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I can’t resist one last post on this thread.

Leopold, you really need to read up on the history of the US involvement in China prior to the revolution of 1949. During the 1940s support for the Chaing regime was one of the highest voltage third rails of American politics. Any office holder of either party who even mumbled in his sleep that maybe Chaing wasn’t the best horse to bet on was almost sure to lose his next election. This was so because Chaing, due to the influence of his wife and her wealthy Christian family of origin, had the vociferous support of the missionaries in China and their sponsors. (Chaing himself, IIRC, wasn’t Christian.) Practically every protestant church in the USA was supporting at least one missionary there, either alone or in conjunction with other churches. And the Catholics were active there too. The network of ex-missionaries, missionaries’ children who grew up in China and just plain folks who were active in the state-side support of the movement had deep and powerful hooks into the Washington establishment.

One of the reasons General Stilwell had so little success in getting Chaing to point his US- supplied guns toward the Japanese instead just hording them or aiming at the Reds or his own purported subordinates when they wandered off the reservation (many of whom were essentially warlords) was that whenever he tried to exert pressure on the Generalissimo Madame Chaing would cable her brother, Ambassador T. V. Soong in Washington, to crank up the network. Roosevelt knew that if he ignored the phone calls from spear-carriers like Henry Luce (the founder and publisher of Time/Life and a missionary’s son) or Congressman Walter Judd of Minnesota (an ex-missionary himself) his and the Congress’s offices would soon be deluged with mail. So, more often than not, he leaned on Marshall to order Stilwell to back off. One of history’s many unanswerable questions is what Stilwell might have been able to achieve in influencing the Chaing government toward better governance and a more effective military if his efforts hadn’t been continually sandbagged, if inadvertently, by the China Lobby.

In view of these realities, to suggest that skilled politicians like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman would let anyone in their administrations breathe even a word about regime change in China is nothing short of laughable. If a Republican had been in office in those years it would have been no different. Then as now, most of the vociferous supporters of the Nationalist regime and its successors in Taiwan are in the GOP. And this doesn’t begin to address the fact that there was no alternative to Chaing with any shred of a claim to legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese people except Mao, who was, of course, out of the question.

Posted by: Chuck on January 26, 2004 10:59 AM

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Zarkhov states: "KLA: The Beria memo (dated Oct. 4, 1944) is reprinted in Appendix 2 (p. 315) in the book “Sacred Secrets” by Jerrold and Leona Schecter. The original Russian appears along with a translation (p. 316). The memo is to Beria from Merkulov... . Oppenheimer (the subject of the memo) is said to have been an “unlisted member apparat of Comrade Browder.” The memo says Oppenheimer informed us [USSR] about the beginning of work on uranium in the USA in 1942."

Before you give too much credence to the Schecters' book, read Harvey Klehr's review at http://hnn.us/articles/816.html
"Unfortunately, Sacred Secrets is marred by a number of errors and contradictory stories...
[S]ince no sources and no archives are identified, and there are so many small errors, even those of us disposed to believe many of the Schecters' claims will remain unsatisfied."
(Although he does say, re the memo you cite: "While this document is most likely genuine, the frequent use of confidential sources and confidential documents is a serious problem the authors do not surmount").
Personally, I don't believe the story about Oppenheimer, in the absence of examination of the Schecters' "evidence" by real historians.

Posted by: bob on January 26, 2004 12:17 PM

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Brad --

You're misreading again. Kristol didn't write that liberals didn't know Communism was bad, but McCarthy did. Rather, he wrote that the American public did not know that liberals believed Communism was bad (whereas they did know that McCarthy knew this). It's quite a difference -- and the different emphasis is due to the context. As I believe I've already noted, he was explaining why there seemed to be more public support for McCarthyism than anti-anti-Communism, and seeking to encourage the development of a more vigorous anti-Communism on the Left. In the process, he explained why the liberal response to McCarthyism -- focusing on civil liberties and criticizing anti-Communism more than Communism itself -- was misguided.

As for why the article was controversial, it touched a nerve because it attacked prominent liberals in a liberal publication -- and expressed sympathy for things, such as loyalty oaths, etc. -- that were quite illiberal. I think it's

(And, for the record, I do not endorse these recommendations. Communism was a real threat, but requiring loyalty oaths for teachers and otherwise suppressing civil liberties were not the answers.)

JNoV

Posted by: Juan Non-Volokh on January 26, 2004 02:28 PM

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Add the next sentence, "And with some justification." on to your Kristol quote. It reads differently then.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on January 26, 2004 02:59 PM

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Bob writes: Personally, I don't believe the story about Oppenheimer, in the absence of examination of the Schecters' "evidence" by real historians.

Do you think the Beria memo is a fake? Klehr certainly doesn’t, he merely has some reservations about the book as a whole, which covers much more than Robert Oppenheimer. The preponderance of evidence stands against Oppenheimer. We know he lied about his membership in CPUSA, which means he also must lied on his PSQ form (Personal Security Questionnaire) to get security clearance. His brother Frank (also a member of CPUSA) got caught lying by the FBI on that form when he wanted to do work for the AEC. Oppenheimer the Soviet asset also explains his actions in Chavlier-Eltenon affair much better than the idea that he was somehow protecting his brother Frank. Why reach for unlikely and tortured explanations when the obvious is more plausible?

What is a “real” historian? Are the Schecters in some sense unqualified?

Posted by: A. Zarkov on January 26, 2004 09:03 PM

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And people think politics today is too partisan.
He's calling these guys traitors from Truman on down. Republicans and a lot of democrats were loving it. Marshall & company weren't even liberal democrats. Wow.

Posted by: Daryl on January 27, 2004 12:09 PM

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Marshall didn't lose China. When you say that you excuse Chiang Kai Shek's (sorry) total incompetence. I hate Mao but he was not going to be denied.

I think if Marshall is in cahoots with Stalin the last thing he would do is implement a plan to save Europe from his boss who was trying to actually take over Europe and whatever else he could get. Stalin wanted to do what Hitler couldn't which was hold on to it with the UK thrown in for good luck. Uncle Joe was real. He wanted the world just like his part-time buddy Adolf. Thank you George Marshall for being the worst double agent in the history of spying.

In David McCullough's (?) book Truman. They knew what they were up against early. In I believe '47 Stalin said in the Politburo that communism and capitalism were going to have a showdown in the near future. "Will see who wins" was his thrust.
He was unhinged.

Posted by: Daryl on January 27, 2004 12:38 PM

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A. Zarkov wrote, "What is a 'real' historian? Are the Schecters in some sense unqualified?"

Yes, they are. *Despite* not being unsympathetic to their views, Klehr's remarks, if you add them up, point to extremely shoddy work.

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