Defaming the Cold Warriors

tags: Cold War, Communism



Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, A Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

It is a painful but implacable duty to return to the dismaying subject of Diana West’s book, American Betrayal, about which she has written, in the last few days, “The war of words is over.” Her authority for this triumphalist expression of relief is that Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and his co-commentator Pavel Stroilov have described Mrs. West’s book as “huge and brilliant.” Part of their review of her book, and much of the debate, has been a fierce firefight including a considerable, though often somewhat entertaining, volume of recriminations that asperse the rigor, motivations, ideological orientation, integrity, and sanity of the two sides. I do not fit any of the stereotypes erected and riddled with high-explosive projectiles by both sides, and am merely a non-American biographer of Roosevelt and strategic historian (as well as other occupations), of impeccable conservative credentials, who has uttered no personal critique of the protagonists (I have enjoyed the previous work of Mrs. West that I have seen). And I am generally outside the circular firing squad that has been debating these issues, and so have not had to repair to the field hospital or even the dressing station, and am unafflicted in wind and limb by the tremendous exchange of ordnance this debate, if it can be so described, has provoked.

I will try to illuminate the battlefield without injuring anyone unnecessarily, since I am usually in some sympathy with all the combatants. Vladimir Bukovsky, after twelve years in Soviet labor camps and psychiatric hospitals, commands respect as a man, but his article with Mr. Stroilov is, to say the least, unrigorous, and certainly does not end the war of words. It merely escalates it, though I will not reply with greater violence. Let us consider what he wrote, in defense of Mrs. West’s assertions that the United States was betrayed by its governments, opposite Soviet Communism, from the 1930s through the 1980s, and then let us return, very succinctly, to the indisputable facts....



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