Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review - Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case by R. Bruce Craig

R. Bruce Craig has written a comprehensive study of Harry Dexter White, Treasury Secretary Morgenthau’s most influential advisor. By 1945 White, “was numbered among the most powerful and influential men in the government.” He was also what can be termed a “trusted individual” by the Soviets. According to Soviet defector Igor Gouzenko a trusted individual was “worth 20 agents to us.” Craig provides a detailed account of White’s activities. Yet he can still come to the conclusion that White was looking out for the best interests of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union and the United States were wartime allies. It is natural that their interests would “dovetail.” However, when White met with Vitalii Pavlov to discuss U.S. policy toward Japan, the Soviet Union was allied with Nazi Germany. The Soviets were attempting to manipulate U.S. policy in order to cause conflict with Japan.
White was the major architect of the Morgenthau Plan. Craig states, “There is simply no convincing evidence in the Venona decrypts , the Russian archives, or in any other collection to conclude that the Morgenthau Plan was devised to weaken Germany so the Soviets could march in and take over the country as claimed by right-wing conservatives.” There is no written confession, no video tape, nothing. Therefore is cannot be true. Many of White’s defenders rely on the contention that this economic genius was naive. When White helped the Soviets obtain material to produce German occupation currency, Craig remarks, "Neither White nor anyone else in a position of authority in the Treasury or State departments could have anticipated the serious economic repercussions that developed in the ensuing months as a result of the War Department's failure to address occupation-currency redemption policies and practices."
Craig makes much of White’s apparent attachment to Lithuania. White was born in Boston of Lithuanian immigrant parents. He writes, “White’s loyalties transcended any that he may have felt for his ancestral homeland, Mother Russia, the country of his birth.” Of course Craig was aware of White’s birthplace. Considering the atrocities committed by the Communists if he had any affection for Lithuania he would have been a rabid anti-communist.

Harry Dexter White was a devoted Stalinist. For some reason Craig does not want to admit that. He claims both Morgenthau and White “possessed strong humanitarian instincts.” “The internationalist solution was perceived by representatives in both departments (State and Treasury) as the soundest means for averting the punitive vengeance embodied in the peace of Versailles that ended World War I.” These are odd statements to make about the authors of the genocidal Morgenthau Plan. In spite of what I believe are erroneous conclusions, I give the book four stars for its thorough research.

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