Thursday, March 26, 2015

Soviet Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy

     I recently asked: did Soviet agents influence American policy before, during and immediately after World War Two?  I asked this in response to Harvey Klehr’s claim that Soviet agents within the U.S. government did not influence American policy.  Klehr wrote in the January 2014 issue of the New Criterion: “West’s American Betrayal makes serious historical interpretive errors that incorrectly attribute American military and diplomatic policy decisions to a coordinated plot by Soviet intelligence. In our more than twenty years of archivally based research on Soviet espionage in America, we have uncovered ample documentation of Soviet intelligence obtaining American technical, military, and diplomatic information but very little indicating successful policy manipulation.”  

I found Klehr’s assertion hard to believe.  I was wondering how widespread this belief was.  I wrote to R. Bruce Craig, the author of Treasonable Doubt, an excellent account of Harry Dexter White activities.  On March 15th he responded: “I can address the Klehr statement now without any hesitation: He is exactly and totally correct and its good to hear his views on the influence of Soviet espionage on American foreign policy has mellowed over time.  The evidence of policy manipulation is simply not clearly evident in the Soviet record or for that matter in the western sources I might add.  Policy manipulation, as you well know (as one who has focused years of work on the Morganthau Plan) is very difficult to prove and it is far too easy to stretch evidence to fit ones point of view.  That can be said of those who see sinister manipulation behind the Morganthau Plan (which as the evidence clearly shows was NOT the Soviet plan for Germany) and the same can be said of those who put great credence in the story of Operation Snow.  So often researchers have a theory and try to make the evidence fit their views ignoring the preponderance of evidence to the contrary.”

     I also contacted Benn Steil, the author of The Battle of Bretton Woods.  He responded: "I’m certainly not an expert on this subject, broadly, but with regard to White it is largely true.  FDR, for example, rejected a large post-war loan to Moscow despite White having lobbied for it intensively.  One episode in which White did make important policy on behalf of Moscow, however, was in 1944 when he managed to orchestrate delivery of US currency plates for the German occupation to the Soviet Union."

     I have a great deal of respect for these gentlemen.  Through their research they have become intimately familiar with the activities of men like Harry Dexter White.  However, evidence of Soviet manipulation of American policy is so overwhelming that it is hard to believe that well respected experts in the field do not recognize it.  I do not believe I have “stretched evidence” to fit my point of view.  I have studied U.S. postwar planning policy and found it highly favorable to the Soviets.  I am certain a study of America’s Far Eastern policy would prove the same.  White played a role in this policy also.

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