Friday, December 2, 2016

New Scholarship Reveals Cold War Damage: Soviets Harmed U.S. Interests

Surveying the ways in which historians discuss the Cold War, a reader will encounter a narrative in which the primary, and perhaps only, purpose of Soviet agents in the United States was to steal secrets and send them back to Moscow.

To be sure, that was one purpose of the espionage network which the international communist conspiracy built inside the United States, starting as early as the 1920s, and flourishing in the 1930s.

Soviet “moles” were planted into both social and governmental institutions in the 1930s, a presence which would cause harm for decades to come.

Although their tasks included gathering confidential information and handing it on to various Soviet intelligence agencies, they had another role: skewing policy makers in matters of diplomacy. While the standard historical narrative offers the intelligence-gathering functions of Soviet spies, their role in policy formation is neglected. Reviewing new evidence about Soviet operative, historians Stan Evans and Herbert Romerstein reject the standard narrative:

Our view is quite otherwise, in emphasis as well as in some respects in terms of substance. It’s evident on the record before us that pro-Soviet spying did occur in the United States, sometimes in large doses, and was of great importance. This was most famously so concerning theft of our atomic secrets, but applied as well to confidential data such as the development of radar, jet propulsion, and other military systems. We not only acknowledge the significance of such spying, but stress it in most definite fashion. But that stipulation is different from the notion that spying was the only problem posed by Soviet agents. As important in some respects — and often more so — was the question of policy influence wielded by pro-Soviet apparatchiks on official payrolls (who were in fact dubbed “agents of influence” by their Moscow bosses).

So it was that Alger Hiss, on the payroll of a Soviet intelligence agency, worked his way up the ladder within the State Department, leading what seemed to be an exemplary career. Eventually, he became a trusted advisor to President Roosevelt, meeting with him face-to-face.

FDR was in poor health, and often delegated the development of policy to such advisors. Alger Hiss shaped policies which played into the hands of Josef Stalin in eastern Europe, and into the hands of Mao in China.

These policies, which caused the United States to offer only lukewarm opposition to the imperialistic expansionism of the international communist conspiracy, were directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people under Mao’s and Stalin’s harsh tyranny.

This should not be a surprise, if a paid Soviet agent was shaping U.S. policy!