Thursday, July 30, 2015

Stalin Plants Spies and Uses Dupes

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union quietly set up ‘front’ organizations in the United States. These groups appeared to be benign social groups - academic or cultural organizations, labor unions, educational foundations, etc. - but were in fact a facade behind which the USSR could carry out its spy operations.

One such was the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR). Founded in 1925, allegedly as an intellectual forum for the discussion of economics and policy, it had perhaps innocent beginnings. In any case, it was soon infiltrated and subverted by Soviet espionage agents, if it was not founded by them.

Front organizations typically had members who fell into various categories: the ‘dupes’ who were unaware of the group’s true nature and believed that they were simply working for some noble-sounding humanitarian goal; the ‘sympathizers’ who neither members of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA) nor Soviet agents, but who were inclined to support communism; those who were party members; and those who were employed by a Soviet intelligence agency like the NKVD, MGB, or KGB.

People in any of those categories could be immigrants or citizens born in the United States. The term ‘fellow traveler’ was sometimes also used.

To be a member of the CPUSA was not merely holding a set of political views or voting for certain candidates. It was not like being a Republican or a Democrat.

The CPUSA stated explicitly that it sought a “violent” revolution in the United States. To be a member was to advocate violence, to advocate the overthrow of the United States government, and to advocate the elimination of the political liberties which citizens enjoy.

Historian Willmoore Kendall writes:

The IPR found room in its organization not merely for a wide range of Communist sympathizers and dupes, but for Communist espionage agents a well - Michael Greenberg, for example, a British-born Communist who in 1941 became managing editor of IPR’s Pacific Affairs. (By 1942, Greenberg was the proud occupant of an office in the White House.) IPR’s reliance on persons with Communist affiliations who also had close ties with the State Department is fully documented in the IPR hearings.

Three main sources of information revealed the extent of the Soviet espionage network inside the IPR. First, investigations by the FBI and other American law enforcement agencies uncovered, bit by bit, links between IPR associates and Soviet spies. Second, some members of the international communist conspiracy defected and revealed information about IPR members and friends. Third, when the Cold War ended between 1989 and 1991, previously classified documents became available: from both sides.

Of the various front organizations operated in the United States by the Soviet Union, the IPR was particularly relevant to the situation in China. Starting in the 1920s, there was an internal struggle between Mao’s communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists. It was a civil war.

Stalin’s USSR supported Mao, and the United States lukewarmly supported the nationalists. Stalin tasked the IPR with weakening U.S. support for Chiang Kai-shek, by influencing the thinking of policymakers, and with providing the Soviets with classified information about the situation in China, by stealing confidential documents from various government agencies which had been infiltrated by IPR operatives.

The fact that Mao gained control over China - a fact which caused the deaths of millions - is due in part, but not in whole, to the communist infiltration of the IPR.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Seemingly Innocent Conversation

When a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) named John Service met with some members the Institute for Pacific Relations (IPR) in late 1944, it might have seemed like an obvious and mundane event - perhaps even boring. It would have seemed natural for a State Department bureaucrat, one of whose tasks it was to write regular reports from China about China and send them to Washington, to meet with a few members of what seemed to be an academic organization of scholars who studied contemporary eastern Asia.

Why would anyone care about, or be interested in, a bunch of tedious intellectuals gathering to discuss diplomacy between China and the United States?

Because they were all Soviet communist spies.

FSO John Service was actually working for Stalin’s intelligence agencies. He gathered information about the situation in China, and about U.S. policy toward China, and handed it off to operatives who forwarded it to Moscow. He had detailed, confidential, and sensitive information about the struggle in China: that nation was in the throes of a civil war between Mao’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

The Soviet were working to aid the Communists. The Soviets were also working to persuade the United States not to support Chiang’s Nationalists (‘Chiang Kai-shek’ is also spelled ‘Jiang Jieshi’).

John Service wrote reports from China to Washington, allegedly to inform U.S. policymakers about conditions in China so that they could shape U.S. diplomacy toward China. In reality, Service’s reports were Maoist propaganda pieces, designed to deflate U.S. support for Chiang.

While sending disinformation to Washington, Service sent accurate information to the Soviets, both about China, and about how Washington was thinking about China.

The Soviet operatives with whom John Service networked were an impressive list of communist spies: Owen Lattimore, who did not have academic credentials, was nonetheless given a post at Johns Hopkins University; the Soviets brokered this deal for him because it gave him a credible base from which to launch propaganda, and it gave him a cover for his espionage activity. Lattimore also worked for Pacific Affairs, the official publication of the IPR, and for Amerasia, the unofficial publication of the IPR.

The IPR had, on paper, no connection to Amerasia, but a list of IPR employees and Amerasia employees was essentially the same list. Those who sat on the board of directors for the IPR were also working at Amerasia.

This information became interesting when the FBI found plentiful evidence that the staff of Amerasia had stolen documents from the government which were marked ‘classified’ or ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’.

Another of Service’s discussion partners was John Carter Vincent, who was, like Service, an FSO who’d worked in China. Like Service, Vincent seemed more determined to undermine Chiang than to relay information about the situation. Historian Stan Evans writes:

At all events, Service did talk to the Washington IPR, and would thus plug into the shadowy network of pro-Red China watchers who would now figure decisively in his story. In attendance were the ubiquitous Lattimore, IPR employee Rose Yardumian, State Department official Julian Friedman (an aide to Vincent), and Friedman’s friend and federal colleague, Andrew Roth. A former IPR researcher, Roth was at this time a lieutenant in the Far East division of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), liaising with Vincent’s State Department office. He would prove to be a crucial liaison as well in the strange adventures of John Service.

Information flowed through a far-flung network of Soviet operatives who’d hidden themselves as “moles” inside various government offices. Rose Yardumian was married to Peter Townsend, a British journalist and link between Mao’s communists and English leftists.

If Yardumian and Townsend were the bridge to the communists hidden in Britain, then Andrew Roth was the bridge to Soviet operatives in postwar Germany. Roth was employed by the Office of Naval Intelligence and therefore privy to highly secret military information. Stan Evans writes:

Though a bit player in the Service drama, Roth was an intriguing figure, if only for what his career revealed about security standards of the era. In addition to his work at IPR, he had publicly defended the activities of something called the “Free German Committee,” a Communist operation based in Moscow. Despite this, he had been commissioned an intelligence officer in the Navy. The former head of ONI explained this, as quoted in a U.S. Senate report, by saying “The fact that an officer was a Communist was not a bar to a commission.” As seen, this was a perfectly accurate statement of the wartime practice.

The IPR also had offices in New York, which Service would later visit. Service would also travel to the West Coast to meet with communists in California.

Were John Service and individuals connected with the IPR responsible for the fall of China and for Mao’s communist tyranny which would execute millions of Chinese? While they may not bear sole responsibility, they were certainly a contributing factor.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

FDR at Yalta: Giving Poland to Stalin

In 1939, Stalin’s USSR was closely allied with Hitler’s Nazis, and they jointly invaded Poland. By the end of 1939, Poland was occupied by Soviet and German soldiers. Its political liberty had tragically disappeared.

The nature of the Soviet occupation manifested itself in 1940, when 22,000 Poles were executed by the NKVD, a branch of the Soviet secret police, in or near a place called Katyn. The victims were unarmed prisoners, mostly civilians who had nothing to do with the war effort: professors, lawyers, engineers, physicians, teachers, writers, and journalists.

The massacre at Katyn was not part of any combat operation: the fighting in Poland had ended in late 1939. This was an attempt, by the international communist conspiracy, to eliminate the intellectual and leadership potential among the Poles.

In 1941, Stalin’s political allegiances changed. After Hitler betrayed him, Stalin joined forces with the western allies. The USSR became an ally of the United States and of England.

President Roosevelt did a quick about-face: he presented the Russians, whom he’d previously presented as enemies to the American people, as our friends and allies. Overnight, Americans were told to stop viewing the Soviets as dangerous foes, and instead embrace them as partners in the fight against Hitler.

Although Stalin’s alliances had done a complete turnaround, swapping enemies for friends and vice-versa, the communist designs on Poland did not change. The western allies, hurriedly welcoming the Soviets, overlooked the USSR’s aggression toward Poland. Historians Stan Evans and Herbert Romerstein write:

The reason for this reversal was that, between the beginning of the war and its conclusion, the Soviets had been converted from foes to allies, and in this new guise continued to press their claims on Poland. When Hitler invaded Russia, the Communists were thrown willy-nilly into alliance with England. Grateful for backing from any quarter, Churchill embraced them as newfound friends and praised them in extravagant fashion. As has been seen, similar notions would prevail at the Roosevelt White House, in terms exceeding the views of Churchill. The pro-Soviet attitudes now suffusing Western councils would spell the doom of Poland.

At a famous series of wartime conferences, key Allied leaders met not only to coordinate the last phases of the war, but also to plan the postwar world. Among these meetings, the most famous were at Teheran in 1944, and at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945.

Stalin made his participation in the Allied war effort conditional on certain postwar demands. (Whether or not Stalin was truly able or willing to broker a separate peace with Hitler aside from the Allies, they yielded to his desires.)

Foremost among such demands was that the Soviets keep the part of Poland they had seized in 1939 in common cause with Hitler. Despite efforts by some in the State Department to oppose this, and occasional statements to the contrary by FDR, the Americans and British would concede the point early on, with virtually no resistance. Tentatively at Teheran, more definitely at Yalta, they agreed to bisect the prewar territory of Poland and consign roughly half of it to Russia.

President Roosevelt, it later became clear, was suffering from a variety of physical ailments which prevented him from thinking clearly at these conferences. Quite aside from the post-polio symptoms which he’d had for over two decades, by 1944 FDR was dealing with hypertension, cancer, and heart failure.

At the Yalta conference, in February 1945, Franklin Roosevelt was not simply ill. He was dying. By April of that year, he would be dead.

Participants at the conference were shocked by his condition. He fell asleep in the middle of conversations, and answered questions with nonsequiturs.

He was in no condition to participate in complex political, economic, and military analyses, even with the most honest of allies, let alone with the wily and deceitful Stalin.

In the end, the USSR received 77,000 square kilometers of Polish territory as a reward for having murdered thousand of innocent Polish civilians.