Defaming FDR
And other great men besides.


Conrad Black

The strange plague of psycho-Roosevelt-ementia, which suddenly springs to life and infects factions of the Left and Right, has been reported in several severely afflicted cases recently. Diana West, a right-wing loopy who has occasionally aroused cautious hopefulness that she has been house-trained, has published a novel presented as a non-fiction work, entitled “American Betrayal,” which holds that the United States under Roosevelt and Truman was “an occupied country” governed by robotic agents and stooges of Josef Stalin. In producing this volume, Ms. West has eased out Oliver Stone himself, who inspired and lent his name to the Oliver Stone Mythmaker Trophy, as this year’s recipient of it, albeit after fierce competition. Many readers will recall the Oliver Stone/Peter Kuznick television chronicle that claimed that after Henry A. Wallace was sacked as vice president in 1944 in favor of that infamous warmonger Harry S. Truman, Truman started the Cold War and propagated the false allegation that Stalin had any interest in oppressing Eastern Europe (or anywhere else), subverting democracy, or creating a state of international tension.

When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Truman — then a U.S. senator from Missouri — said that this was a war between two equivalently evil men, and that although the human devastation that would result from their conflict was tragic, the mutual enervation of two such wicked and ghastly regimes as those of Hitler and Stalin and their adherents was a useful phenomenon. He spoke from compassion for the agonies inflicted on Britain and her affiliated states, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in facing without the support of any other Great Power the full weight of the formidable German war machine.

Even allowing for the superlative public-relations talents of Churchillian Britain —  claiming to be David to a goose-stepping Goliath with greasy hair and a Charlie Chaplin mustache, and shrieking “Sieg heil” while hurling his straight right arm compulsively into the air — Great Britain and the Commonwealth were underdogs against Germany. Churchill exaggerated for his own purposes when he said that the Royal Air Force had won the Battle of Britain “at odds of seven or eight to one.” It was more like three to two, which became one to one when the comparative ease of the refueling and return to the skies for the home air force is taken into account, but it was a great victory and Mr. Churchill spoke nothing but the truth when he said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

But Germany had all the Eurasian land mass as occupied, satellite, or friendly territory, to the deserts of Araby and the gates of India. The Greater Reich then included most of France and Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Norway, and Benelux, a combined population about as great as that of the United States and with an almost equivalent industrial capacity. Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Horthy (Hungary), and Antonescu (Romania) were in varying but extensive states of compliance with the German lead, and Stalin was a cordial non-aggression contractant, until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union with four million well-trained soldiers, preceded by the aerial well-wishing of the German air force and bringing the Gestapo in their wake.

The victory of Hitler would have made it extremely difficult for the Anglo-Americans ever to dislodge him in foreseeable time from control of Europe. Roosevelt had extended American territorial waters from three miles to 1,800 miles, ordered the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard to fire on detection at any German ship, and at the same time had offered to “lend” the sinews of war to the British and Canadians, with soft eventual repayment, and compared this to lending your neighbor your garden hose when his house is on fire. It was an idiosyncratic definition of neutrality. Hitler concluded, with some reason, that Roosevelt was going to bring the U.S. into war with Germany eventually, and he gambled that he could knock Stalin out of the war before Roosevelt could fairly enter it, and thus have an impregnable position in Europe. It was a huge gamble, but he had built his whole career on gambles and they had always succeeded. Roosevelt also condemned the Soviet invasion of Finland and told a meeting of American socialists that Stalin was no better than Hitler, doubtless to disguise the status that Ms. West imputes to him of being a Stalin puppet. The West farrago of lies has been thoroughly debunked, especially by Ron Radosh in his FrontPageMag piece titled “McCarthy on Steroids.”