Claire Berlinski on Soviet Espionage: A Misleading Article Appears in City Journal

Her point is that no one seems to care, since “the rules are different…for Communist fellow travelers.” She also writes that other material implicate then Senator Joe Biden and Senator Richard Lugar who, in 1979, evidently said “they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.” If so, their statements reveal that  the two senators were  so anxious for détente that they would have gladly sacrificed doing anything to help imprisoned and persecuted Soviet era dissidents. Other similar statements were made in the past regarding the late Senator Edward Kennedy. They may or may not be true. But are they surprising? I think not.  Neoconservatives first came to prominence as critics of the realpolitik practiced by members of  both political parties in that era. Remember the great opposition to Henry Kissinger from neoconservatives, especially by Washington’s Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

Finally, Berlinski addresses the issue of why Stroilov could not find anyone willing to publish his material as a book, and why Bukovsky, whose Judgement a Moscou was published in France and Moscow, could not get it published here. Bukovsky told her that Random House bought it but insisted that he “rewrite the whole book from the liberal left political perspective,” something which he nobly refused to do. Did she check with Random House to get their version of the story? If so, she does not tell us.

More shocking is her implicit attack on one of the giants of American publishing, a man who has done more to educate the public about the secret history of the Soviet Union, including Soviet espionage, than any other person in the industry. This, of course, is Jonathan Brent, formerly editorial director of  Yale University Press, and editor of the seminal series “Annals of Communism,” of which many volumes Brent had to force the press to publish against much opposition. (Much of the details of Brent’s accomplishment can be found in this profile by John J. Miller that appeared in National Review, also available on Miller's personal website for non-NR subscribers.)

Taking Stroilov’s word, Berlinski accepts that he and Bukovsky approached Brent, who supposedly was at first enthusiastic, and who then asked Bukovsky to write a book based on the documents pertaining to the first Gulf War and the Soviets. Strolilov told her he sent them off, and simply never heard from him again, despite sending e-mail after e-mail. “I can only speculate what so much frightened him in that book,” he told her. She tried herself to contact Brent, she says, but also got “no reply.” She sees this as simply a sign that Brent had other things on his mind, but she cites Stroilov’s belief that the “Establishment” would rather let “sleeping dogs lie.” Berlinski has an easier reason: “No one much cares.”