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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Yet Disturbing History From Paul Kengor, October 21, 2010
This review is from: Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century (Hardcover)
Professor Kengor's latest scholarly, thoroughly documented work, based upon recently released Soviet archives and FBI files, provides powerful evidence of how a number of American liberals directly contributed to the advancement of world-wide Communism - doubtless history's deadliest ideology, ultimately claiming more than 100 million lives. For some, that contribution was deliberately made - with the hope that Soviet communism would eventually overtake the west. For others, it resulted from an astonishing naivete, along with a willingness to ignore clear evidence, sometimes observed with their own eyes. These latter accomplices are the "dupes" of the title - leftists used by the Soviets and other communists to spread their deadly ideology to the west.

Professor Kengor shows how some, but by no means all, of these "dupes" eventually came around to see - if not outright reject - the destructiveness and danger of the Soviet menace, iconic academics like John Dewey among them. Interestingly, Kengor puts to rest some of the right's recent misgivings about Woodrow Wilson - no dupe he - and shows Wilson to have been a strongly committed anti-communist long before others realized the extent of the threat the west faced once Lenin seized Russian power.

Importantly, Kengor's research makes clear that the Soviet Union's world-wide ambitions during the cold war were every bit as real, powerful and extensive as the anti-communists of the period had claimed - and that the anti-anti-communists were, at best, misguided, irresponsible and blind to what was going on all around them.

Finally, as evidenced by some of the more disturbing passages, this book is not merely some exploration of ancient history. Rather, as Professor Kengor starkly illustrates, "dupery" of the left continues to the present day.

As with all of Professor Kengor's books, Dupes is well written, thoroughly researched and thought-provoking. Moreover, he has, with this book, performed a great historical and public service - helping us to better understand the threat we still face as a nation, as our leaders choose to let their ideology, rather than the overwhelming evidence laid out clearly before them, guide their foreign policy decision-making. One can only hope that our current leaders read, and heed, the lessons of this book.

Dupes is highly recommended.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 27, 2010 6:10:01 PM PST
f dabney says:
Wilson's anticommunism should not make him a conservative hero. Even there he was rather inconsistent:
BTW, Herbert Hoover (of all people) in his biography of Woodrow Wilson reveals that the relationship between the US and the Russian Revolution was pretty much the same. Britain and France were working with the Whites and pretty close to suppressing the whole thing, when Washington threatened to call their loans Suez style.
Other problems with Woody:
Any standard US history text will at least mention, in passing, the suppression of American antiwar dissent in World War I. The great conservative sociologist, the late Robert Nisbet, wrote in 1988 that:

"The blunt fact is that when [under Wilson] America was introduced to the War State in 1917, it was introduced also to what would later be known as the total, or totalitarian, state."

A bit harsh, what? American historians really hate coming to grips with what happened in America, starting in April 1917. They so fail because a fair reading would entail some responsibility for St. Woodrow, who oversaw the whole sorry show. Instead, his worshippers like to quote his little, operationally meaningless expressions of regret about it. But as Nisbet notes, Wilson "was an ardent prophet of the state, the state indeed as it was known to European scholars and statesmen.... He preached it.... From him supremely comes the politicization, the centralization, and the commitment to bureaucracy of American society during the past seventy-five years."

No, historians don't dwell on Woodrow's reign of terror. They imagine that "reactionary" subordinates and local bullies did it all, while Woodrow was busy running the war effort and planning the better world to come. Such a kindly fellow was our Woodrow. Historians, in short, would rather devote whole chapters to "McCarthyism," which inconvenienced a few Stalinists for a time, than deal with a real saga of repression and embarrassingly stupid violence.

The Hysterical Cretins Take Charge

To read the story of American official and popular attitudes toward our allegedly highly valued freedoms during World War I is to conclude that the country was overrun with vicious morons. Some of the morons were judges, legislators, and bureaucrats. Others arose from the masses, so to speak, to demand that the people make political war on themselves, the better to fight those terrible Germans. On any fair reading of the period, there was probably more real freedom of speech in Germany and in the German Reichstag in the same years than in the "home of the free" or the World's Greatest (and Least) Deliberative Body.
The Anglophile Wilson administration's decided lack of genuine neutrality toward the European war had produced a series of crises. By late February 1917, the President asked Congress for power to outfit American merchant ships with arms - a perfect way to insure an incident which would lead to war between the US and Germany. Senator Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin, Progressive Republican, led a filibuster - along with the few remaining antiwar Senators - against the bill. It was known during the debate that at least one Senator on the pro-war side had a loaded revolver on him. Tempers were strained, and Senator Lane of Oregon stood near LaFollette with a sharpened rat-tail file in his pocket, in case the latter needed defending from the ardent patriots in the world's greatest deliberative body.

The bill failed, but Wilson asserted a new-found "presidential power" to arm the ships on his own motion. In April, he asked for, and received, a declaration of war. During the rather tense, even hysterical debate, pro-war speakers began handing out accusations of "treason" to their fellow members of the great deliberative body. LaFollette and a few others voted No. On his way out of the chamber, a "patriot" handed LaFollette a coil of rope, underscoring, one supposes, the refined good manners to which warmongers adhere, especially when they have gotten their way.

LaFollette later commented that "the espionage bills, the conscription bills, and other forcible military measures... being ground out by the war machine in this country" demonstrated the war party's "fear that it has no popular support." Certainly, the administration acted as if it thought so. A sedition bill so insanely broad that it would have embarrassed the Federalist Party was quickly passed. It was now a federal crime entailing draconian penalties to question the war, its conduct, its costs, or anything. A great steel door shut down on the American mind, such as it was.

Posted on Nov 27, 2010 6:23:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2010 6:28:51 PM PST
f dabney says:
Wilson does not deserve to be rehabilitated:
The "Great War" broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914. Wilson initially kept the United States neutral in the conflict, since few Americans thought there was any reason to spend their blood and money in the latest eruption of militarism across the Atlantic. He had, however, shown his interventionist predisposition by dispatching American forces to Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, and in the years 1914-1916, his insistence on meddling in Mexican affairs led to pointless, bloody conflict.

Feeling that it was his place to improve the government of Mexico, he ordered the U.S. Atlantic Fleet to the Mexican Gulf Coast in April 1914 following a minor incident. Marines were sent in to occupy Veracruz. Soldiers on both sides were killed and matters were becoming so tense that ambassadors from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile offered to mediate a settlement to the absurd dispute, a dispute that wouldn't have occurred except for Wilson's messianic view of himself. At the conference to resolve the dispute, he demanded "an orderly and righteous government in Mexico." It was a taste of things to come.

Bent on intervention
Once war broke out in Europe, Wilson paid lip service to American neutrality but took positions that were designed to assist the British and French. Most significantly, he supported Britain's naval blockade against neutral shipping of nonmilitary cargo to Germany. Britain intended to starve the Germans into surrender, but the blockade was a clear violation of international law. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan vigorously argued that the United States needed to stand up for the rights of neutrals and oppose the blockade. Wilson ignored him.

Wilson also refused to issue a warning to Americans traveling in the war zone, asserting a spurious right for citizens of neutrals to go wherever they pleased. During the conflict with Mexico, he had issued a warning to Americans in Mexico that they remained there at their own risk, but he wanted to provoke conflict with Germany and calculated that a few American casualties would give him a casus belli. Bryan again protested to Wilson, writing, "I cannot help feeling that it would be a sacrifice of the interests of all the people to allow one man acting purely for himself and his own interests to involve the entire nation in difficulty when he had ample warning of the risks which he has assumed." As usual, Wilson didn't bother to respond to an argument against a course he was determined to take.

In 1916, Wilson used the famous Zimmerman telegram for all it was worth in an effort to inflame public opinion against Germany. In a telegram from the German foreign minister to the Mexican government, which the British intercepted and decoded, the German government said that if the United States and Germany went to war, Germany would assist Mexico in regaining the territory it had lost to the United States in 1848.

Powell observes that the telegram was much ado about nothing, since, even if Germany and America declared war on each other, there was absolutely no way for the Germans either to attack the United States or to assist the Mexicans. Nevertheless, Wilson and his pro-war allies used the incident to whip up anti-German sentiment with ridiculous depictions of vicious "Huns" slaughtering American women and children.

By April 1917, Wilson thought he had sufficient support in the country for a declaration of war. He delivered a speech to Congress that was full of lofty rhetoric, such as the famous line about making the world "safe for democracy." Powell comments acidly,

He didn't explain how this was to be done by allying with the British Empire, which had colonies around the world; with France, which had colonies in Africa and Asia; and with Russia, which was ruled by a czar.
Wilson had done everything he could to bring the United States into the war. Why? So he could crush Germany and then bring about a new world order. Just as he had demanded a "righteous" government in Mexico, he envisioned a "righteous" remaking of Europe once the war was over. He was eager to sacrifice American lives so that he could play what he called "the noblest part."

Consequences of World War I
American troops did prove to be decisive on the Western front, where Germany, France, and Britain were at the point of exhaustion after four years of incessant killing. More than 117,000 Americans were killed in the fighting, lives expended for no reason other than the grandiose dreams of their president.

While the military commanders proved to be competent, Wilson proved to be a bungler of the first magnitude in diplomacy during and after the war. One blunder was his insistence that Russia remain in the war after the overthrow of the tsarist government early in 1917. The democratic government that had replaced the monarchy probably would have survived if it had bowed out of the fighting immediately. Russia had suffered horrendous casualties and its creaking, pre-capitalist economy could not deliver either guns or butter.

Everyone was sick of the war, but Wilson wanted Russia to stay active in the battle against the undemocratic allies Germany and Austria-Hungary. He accomplished that through bribery. American officials informed the new Russian leadership that massive loans ($325 million) would be forthcoming from the United States, provided that Russia continued fighting. (Too bad that the Constitution gives the president power to lend money to foreign governments. Oh wait - it actually doesn't. Too bad that presidents so often ignore the document they're sworn to uphold!) So, to get the desperately needed money, the Russian government launched one last offensive. It was mauled with heavy casualties.

That military disaster sowed the seeds of the destruction of the democratic government. Powell argues convincingly that Lenin would have had virtually no chance of establishing his communist dictatorship if the democratic government hadn't thrown away much of its support by continuing in the war. Wilson had no idea about the conditions in Russia and his blind insistence that everything possible had to be done to crush Germany and Austria militarily set the stage for the later communist takeover in Russia in 1917. But for his meddling, the world would probably have been spared the 70-year horror of Soviet communism.

Powell also demonstrates that the shorter-lived but equally destructive phenomenon of Nazism (socialism with the added toxin of nationalism) would have been avoided if Wilson had kept the United States out of the war. The likely outcome of a negotiated peace between the combatants - and by 1917, both sides were quietly moving in that direction - would have been some minor and essentially meaningless territorial adjustments, just as in previous European wars.

The decisive military defeat of Germany, however, made possible the vindictive Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Wilson evidently thought that he would be able to achieve his vision of a democratic world free from warfare. Instead, the Treaty, with its harsh terms, led to seething discontent in Germany and virtually guaranteed the rise of a demagogic leader. Adolf Hitler filled that role perfectly. Even though Woodrow Wilson was long dead, we might well conclude that World War II was actually his war.

A very informative book on Wilson:
The Illusion Of Victory: America In World War I

Posted on Nov 27, 2010 6:43:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2010 7:00:38 PM PST
f dabney says:
More on Woody and the Bolsheviks:
For example, Herbert Hoover, in his biography of Woodrow Wilson, notes that:
During the Armistice all of the Allied and Associated Powers were involved in supporting attacks by "White" armies against the Soviet Government. In Siberia, the United States and Japan were supporting the White Army of General Kolchak. From the Black Sea, the British and French were supporting the White Armies of Generals Denikin and Wrangel. The Allies, including the United States, had taken Murmansk on the Arctic to prevent large stores of munitions, sent to aid the Kerensky regime, from reaching the Communists. Later the British supported a White Army under General Yudenich in an attack directed at Petrograd from the Northern Baltic.

The British and French exerted great pressure on Mr. Wilson for Americans to join in a general attack on Moscow. General Foch drew up plans for such an attack. Winston Churchill, representing the British Cabinet, appeared before the Big Four on February 14, 1919, and demanded a united invasion of Russia.
The Americans then experience a sudden change of heart. Not only that, they ponder the large war debts owed by their allies to them. In an internal note by Tasker Bliss:
"It is perfectly well known that every nation in Europe, except England, is bankrupt, and that England would become bankrupt if she engaged on any considerable scale in such a venture."
Ie: "Hey, can you guys really afford that?" Hoover himself supplies additional reasons, in a letter to Wilson (bear in mind that Hoover had considerable experience as an engineer in Czarist Russia):

"We have also to... [consider], what would actually happen if we undertook military intervention. We should probably be involved in years of police duty, and our first act would probably in the nature of things make us a party with the Allies to re-establishing the reactionary classes. It also requires consideration as to whether or not our people at home would stand for our providing power by which such reactionaries held their position. Furthermore, we become a junior in this partnership of four. It is therefore inevitable that we would find ourselves subordinated and even committed to politics against our convictions."
In other words: no way is the Light of Democracy, the Republic of Eagles, going to help put the old Baltic barons back in charge. Time's arrow has moved on, baby. The wind of change is blown. The great experiment must commence.

Posted on Dec 12, 2010 2:03:36 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2010 11:49:23 AM PST
Hmm. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh - all self-proclaimed Communist leaders, all totalitarian despots and murderers, but perhaps they were lying.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2010 5:34:45 AM PST
Tom Zampino says:
You got my interest . . . can you expand on this theory please? I'd sincerely like to hear more.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2013 5:44:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2013 5:49:26 PM PST
R. Lacy says:
TO: 'Coerced Consumer Customer Wage Slave Prole' "What part of communism's ideology is deadly?"

You must be TOTALLY ignorant of history! Stalin killed 60+ million of his own people and Mao approximately 100 million! That is ONLY two of THE Communist LEADERS. If we add Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and the DOZENS of other 'Little Marxist/Leninist' the count is over 300 million DEAD! NOT DEADLY?? Go kiss a WILD Lion while you are at it!

See the book, "Death by Government".
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