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The Continuing Stalinist Delusions of Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick: A Final Assessment

Attempting to hit back, Stone and Kuznick wrote the following letter to the editor that appeared recently in The Wall Street Journal. Here is what they write:

Wallace Had the Right Ideas on U.S.-Soviet Relations

In his Jan. 11 opinion piece "Just When You Thought Soviet Propaganda Was Dead," Ronald Radosh attacks our "Untold History of the United States" as "discredited leftist Cold War 'revisionist' history." But his main point of contention is that we have not only rescued Franklin Roosevelt's Vice President Henry Wallace from the dustbin of history but that we've restored him to the heroic stature we believe he deserves.

What most rankles Mr. Radosh is our applauding Wallace's effort to prevent the Cold War and nuclear arms race and our assertion that had he remained on the ticket in 1944, as 65% of voters wanted, we might have avoided one of the darkest and most perilous periods in human history. In that convention eve Gallup Poll, Harry Truman came in last with 2%. Staying on as secretary of commerce, Wallace did everything he could to change U.S. policy.

Mr. Radosh attacks Wallace because, in October 1945, he told a Soviet intelligence official that he wanted atomic weapons and know-how turned over to the United Nations, a view supported by such notorious radicals as future Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Atomic Energy Commission head David Lilienthal, the two of whom Truman commissioned to draft a plan to that effect, and by just-retired Secretary of War Henry Stimson and General Dwight Eisenhower.

Wallace understood that the U.S. atomic monopoly, which Secretary of State James Byrnes had just used to bully the Soviets at a foreign ministers meeting in London, was exacerbating the already tense relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. He told the Soviet intelligence officer that mankind's future depends on good relations between the two countries and asked for unspecified Soviet assistance in supporting the progressive faction in the Truman administration against the anti-Soviet hard-liners. What that probably meant, given Wallace's views at the time, was Soviet liberalization in Eastern Europe to take away the Soviet-bashers' main issue.

That Wallace would speak so openly to a representative of the nation that only one month earlier had been one of our two principal wartime allies makes him in Mr. Radosh's view a "willing tool of Moscow." We see him as a visionary. Franklin Roosevelt said that though some called Wallace a "communist," there was "no one more American . . . no one more of the American soil." If forced to choose between Mr. Radosh's view of Wallace and Roosevelt's, we'll take the latter.

Oliver Stone Los Angeles

Peter Kuznick Bethesda, Md

Let me pause to dissect this nonsensical and rather pathetic attempt at an answer. FDR, who wanted Wallace off the ticket in 1944, agreed to allow the Democratic convention to pick the vice-presidential candidate, a sure sign that he was not happy with keeping on the ticket his current sitting vice president.  They write that Wallace had the support of 65 percent of the voters. Yet four years later, when Wallace ran on the Communist controlled Progressive Party ticket (a campaign that Stone and Kuznick support in their documentary), Wallace and his running mate Glen Taylor won only 2.4 percent of the vote. The huge expected vote some polls had Wallace and Taylor winning did not materialize, and only in New York did enough people vote for the two that the state went to the Republican, Thomas E. Dewey.

The main part of their argument is nothing but completely preposterous. They make it appear that proposals for an international agreement on atomic energy and manufacturing of an A-bomb by others were precisely the same goals favored by Wallace. Wallace, however, favored attainment of the know-how for a bomb by the Soviets, as Truman himself wrote in a famous diary entry quoted in the documentary by Stone as if Truman was foolish. Moreover, Stone and Kuznick make light of Wallace’s secret meeting with the KGB station chief in Washington, D.C.,  while in the President’s cabinet. They think nothing of Wallace asking his help in his fight against those he saw as anti-Soviet hardliners in the administration.