Ed Driscoll

Giving Back Cold War Gains; Revisiting Cold War Cliches

Jonah Goldberg writes that thanks to President Obama’s rhetoric, America is losing the intellectual and philosophical advantage around the world it won by our victory in the Cold War:

Obama talks a lot about wanting to move beyond the “stale arguments” of the Cold War. In one sense, that’s fine, since that twilight struggle is over. But in another sense, as we watch him apologize for America’s history, it is hard to shake the feeling that he only saw one side’s arguments as “stale.”

That wouldn’t matter if the past were a page one could merely turn, as Obama frequently claims. But the Cold War’s lessons aren’t irrelevant to the times we live in. The past is never completely irrelevant.

One small example: The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger asked a former Eastern European dissident imprisoned by Communists: “If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran, or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chavez, what would you think?”

The former dissident responded: “I would think that I was losing ground.”

When I see the president telling so many of America’s enemies and critics what they want to hear, I feel like we’re all losing ground — ground that was worth winning.

Elsewhere on the Web, two Cold War-era liberal shibboleths are demolished: First up, there’s I.F. Stone, who was once dubbed the “journalist’s journalist” by the late Peter Jennings and “the conscience of investigative journalism” by the Los Angeles Times.

As Ronald Radosh writes, “Sure, Izzy charmed a lot of his supporters. But as I noted, he was most well known for being an apologist for Stalinism, and a journalist who at the time of the Korean War, perpetrated Soviet disinformation that the war was started by South Korea with the backing of the United States.” And it only gets worse:

Until now, there has been only highly circumstantial evidence indicating that for several years Stone may have been a KGB agent. Now, John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev in their soon to be published book, Spies:The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, present new evidence that indeed this was the case. Actual KGB files they examined, scrupulously copied from the originals by Vassiliev, offer us proof that from 1936 to 1938, Stone was in fact a Soviet agent. The chapter giving the data now appears on the website of Commentary magazine.

There is simply no more room for doubt. As the New York KGB station agent reported in May of 1936, “Relations with ‘Pancake’ [Stone’s KGB name] have entered ‘the channel of normal operational work.’” For the next few years, the authors write, “Stone worked closely with the KGB” as a talent spotter and recruiter of other people for KGB work, including William A. Dodd, Jr., son of the US Ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. He also worked with the American Communist Victor Perlo, who while an economist at the War Production Group, led a Soviet espionage apparatus. Perlo compiled material for Stone that he could use in journalistic exposes beneficial to the Soviets.

As Jonah asked in 2005, “So which leftwing martyr/icon is left?”

Sacco & Vanzetti were guilty. The Rosenbergs: guilty. Hiss: guilty. Margaret Mead: liar. Rigoberta Menchu: liar. Duranty: liar. Kinsey: liar. Upton Sinclair: liar. I.F. Stone isn’t looking too hot (lied about America often, loved totalitarians, might have taken KGB money).

Martin Luther King Jr. — small flaws aside — is still looking good. But Bobby Kennedy is only a useful leftwing hero if you don’t look too closely. Ditto JFK. Jesse Jackson’s going to look awful to historians.

Who’s left?

As I wrote this past December, hey, there’s always John Kerry and Bill Ayers.

And speaking of the era in which Kerry and Ayers made their bones, Kathy Shaidle (whose blog is currently displaying the following metatag: Five of Fury: “where The Night Porter is a chick flick.” Heh, indeed.TM) lays to rest another Cold War-era cliche. This was one that sadly entered the mainstream in the 1970s and ’80s. But as Kathy writes in the Examiner, the notion of “crazy Vietnam vets” was purely a Hollywood invention; similarly, widespread Vietnam vet homelessness and incarceration rates were also concurrent leftwing myths of the era.

Finally, to see the leftwing cliches born of that era in their current incarnation, stop on by the “progressive” New School in Manhattan, where former Vietnam Vet turned liberal Democratic governor and senator Bob Kerrey is the current university president, and the students are revolting, to borrow the old gag from a far more benign world figure named Marx.