Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jon Chait has to be pranking us?

I say this because of this review he posts of a book that seems deeply ahistorical:

The new right-wing book of the moment is American Betrayal, by Diana West, which offers the thesis that American foreign policy under presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower was secretly controlled by the Soviet Union. If this sounds like the sort of tract that would be written by somebody who thinks Joe McCarthy was absolutely right about everything, well, that’s exactly what Diana West does believe. She’s also quite the birther.

West argues not just that there were communist spies in the government or that American foreign policy failed to take a strong enough line, but that the Soviets controlled the American government in the way they controlled, say, East Germany. For instance, West argues that America provoked Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor — an American working for the Soviets “subverted relations between the US and Japan by inserting ‘ultimatum’ language into the cable flow that actually spurred the Japanese attack.”

So the downfall of the communist US government was due to John F Kennedy, lion of the right wing?  Who managed to squeak out a victory over Soviet pawn Rich Nixon (Eisenhower's Vice President, after all)?  Making JFK and Lyndon Johnson leading the only actual American led government in this 40 year period of subjugation?  Making the Great Society what a non-communist government would introduce in opposition to the communism of Richard Nixon? 

I am not saying that these things aren't possible in the sense of "logically possible".  But the Korean war and the Berlin blockage seem like odd policy decisions if the United States was a soviet satellite in the sense of East Germany.  Look what happened to Hungary in 1956 when it decided to buck Soviet control!  Now, this is completely separate from a claim that these presidents were rabid socialists or a competing strain of communist (kind of like China was).  It is the direct control from Moscow that seems to beg for a very high level of evidence.

So I guess I prefer to believe that Jon Chait got his facts wrong rather than actually imagining anybody would posit this theory of US history. 

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