Diana West, author of American Betrayal, graciously consented to an interview with Marcia. While garnering enthusiastic reviews, Ms. West has been excoriated by some members of the conservative media, accused of being a crackpot and closet John Birch Society member. Apparently many of her critics never bothered to read her book, though, or check her voluminous research. This reviewer has read her book and the subsequent rebuttal addressing her attackers — reviewed here and here, respectively.
Marcia: I’d like to start by inquiring about the mechanics of writing the book. Before conservatism was much more than a gleam in Bill Buckley’s eye there was scarcely a conservative publication or organization that didn’t have M. Stanton Evans’ fingerprints. Did he encourage you to write the book?
Diana: Perhaps you’re thinking of Stanton Evans’ father?
Marcia: Yes I am. Sorry, my confusion. They both wrote books about McCarthy and I conflated the two.
Diana: I didn’t get to know M. Stanton Evans until after I was already at work on American Betrayal. That said, I consider his seminal book, Blacklisted by History, an inspiration, and not only because it sheds new and vindicating light (and documents) on McCarthy’s career, and offers a damning case against his political enemies. What Evans’ McCarthy book also demonstrates is that it is possible, through much hard detective work, to assemble an archive of facts, primary-source materials, from which to reconstruct reality-based history – as opposed to the endlessly recycled “court history” our professional historians tend to produce. The “conventional wisdom” may be conventional but it is also, I find more and more, usually wrong.
While working on American Betrayal, I had a question related to something in Blacklisted – I think it might have been to ask Stan to elaborate on why it was, after he had assembled the facts about Joseph McCarthy, there was still no redress, and whether he thought there ever would be. I was still rather innocent about the lengths the Establishment goes to preserve its “narrative.”
Anyway, someone gave me Stan’s number and I just called him up. From that time forward, he was always generous with time and expertise. Later, when the disinformation campaign against American Betrayal was on – Stan labeled it a “mugging” – he was very supportive and actually wrote two related essays: Harry Hopkins, Diana West and Me, and In Defense of Diana West. It was a career highlight to be introduced by him last November when the Center for Security Policy gave me the Mightier Pen Award for American Betrayal.
Marcia: Congratulations. It is certainly deserved.
Diana: Thank you very much.
Marcia: How long did it take to write American Betrayal? Obviously, you put together an enormous amount of research. How did you manage it?
Diana: Glad you noticed! I knew I smelled a rat in the assault on American Betrayal (addressed in The Rebuttal, which you have kindly written about) as soon as I noticed that the book’s copious documentation was completely ignored as a means, I believe, to misrepresent my heavily sourced and careful work as “yellow journalism conspiracy theories” in the original Radosh “take-down” (his words) at Frontpage. With 900-plus endnotes to Congressional hearings, memoirs, letters, newspaper stories, Venona and FBI documents, presidential transcripts, and a wide array of very often out-of-print history books, this was nonsense, but, of course, injurious nonsense.
I wrote the proposal for St Martin’s in January 2009 to a book I called The Hollow Center. The book I finally wrote was published in May 2013 as American Betrayal. (The title change indicates how different the finished work was from what I originally envisioned.)
Since I do have other occupations (husband, twins in high school at the time, dogs, cats, and a weekly newspaper column), I got into the habit of rising at 4 am to write when I could be assured of two or three hours of blackness and true silence. There was a real rhythm to the week in order to accommodate that Wednesday-Thursday break for the syndicated column. So, how did I “manage it”? Good question! I think I managed it because I found the research so gripping. I really did feel as though I was returning to a scene of a historical crime, and going to work each day was quite exciting, if also horrifying, given the revelations I was encountering.
Marcia: Wow! I wish we could bottle your work ethic and inject it as needed, and it is needed!
American Betrayal was a real challenge to review because it is so packed with information that should be widely known and isn’t. Was there something else you wanted to include but for one reason or another could not?
Diana: Of course. Enough for other books! I did have to work within space limits set by my publisher, which left us without room even for a bibliography. A wonderful reader, however, has created an annotated bibliography, which will be available at a new site devoted to American Betrayal and my continuing research.
Marcia: That’s very good news. We will look forward to the new site.
I found the Bush/Gorbachev dialogue especially troubling because the president’s diffidence seemed so unnecessary. Is there a back-story here?
Diana: I think the back-story is the psychology or world outlook of George H.W. Bush, which merits further scrutiny.
Marcia:I agree, but doubt that will happen until after his death.
It’s difficult to know if the Obama administration’s attitude toward Islam is just part of its general fantasy foreign policy or if it goes beyond that. Did your research shed any light?
Diana: It certainly goes beyond wishful thinking, if that’s what you mean by fantasy, and it also goes beyond the Obama administration. This whole subject of denial is something I’ve been thinking and writing about since 9/11 in my weekly column and at my website (www.dianawest.net). My first book, The Death of the Grown-Up (2007) was really my first deep-think whack at it. One strong impetus for American Betrayal was the similarity between Communist influence then and Islamic influence now – and the way truth-tellers on both counts were and are routinely smeared and isolated by the “mainstream.”
Marcia: As a reviewer I felt I had to concentrate on your historical excavations, which made it difficult to give proper attention to the Islam part of the book. It sounds like a book focused on Islam influence and infiltration is forthcoming?
Diana: Perhaps something along those lines — although certainly not another “wake-up call”! The horrors of Islamization — the ultimate Islamic influence — are there for all of us to see, if we want to look. A post-9/11 plethora of excellent books and articles already tell Christians, Jews or sun-worshippers everything they need to know about Islam, if they want to know. We have studies such as Shariah: The Threat to America (I am one of 19 co-authors including former CIA Director James Woolsey and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy). We have journalists and national security experts such as Steven Emerson, Frank Gaffney, Patrick Poole, Erick Stakelbeck and others, variously reporting on Islamic infiltration, particularly when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood. We have excellent works outlining the historical and contemporary impact of Islamic conquest by the great Bat Ye’or, historian of “dhimmitude.” (Bat Ye’or, not incidentally, comes from outside the academy and has thus had to confront Establishment hurdles of her own.) We have compendia of Islamic conquest (jihad) and anti-Semitism from Andrew G. Bostom — who, coming from the medical profession, is another outsider in this field so prone to apologetics and turf-guarding. We have the illuminating works of Ibn Warraq, eyewitness accounts by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. And I haven’t mentioned great Islamic scholars and observers in the past, whom these authors are heir to. I would also point to Geert Wilders’ book Marked for Death as, hands down, the best popular overview of Islam today told from the vantage point of a Dutchman who surrendered his own personal liberty and accepted the security required to defy (i.e., survive) Islamic death plots to speak in defense of liberty as a parliamentarian in the heart of Europe. Websites such as Gates of Vienna, Vlad Tepes, Tundra Tabloids chronicle in real time the jihad and, important to add, the counterjihad, which does exist in Europe; Jihadwatch, Atlas Shrugs, are vital clearings houses of all of this information. What else is there to say but — stop Islamic immigration to the US before there is a pro-sharia demographic? At this point, the problem is not a lack of information. The deafness, blindness and dumbness (mental) in the American public square where media report and politicians govern is just about 100 percent — the ultimate results, as I argue in American Betrayal, of Islam being the Second Totalitarian Wave. This is why it seems so vital to me for us to understand the true extent and unacknowledged impact of Communist subversion.
Marcia: Has Islam infiltrated the administration? If so please elaborate.
Diana: The indicators are all there, going back at least to the George W. Bush administration, which, from the start, told us Islam was a religion of peace, not violence and conquest. Congress has never inquired, for example, where such apologetics – and that’s a nice word for it — came from. “PC”? How about “Muslim outreach” to Muslin Brotherhood front organizations? How did we end up going to war in two Islamic countries without our military brass comprehending the “enemy threat doctrine” – Islamic jihad? How do decisions to invite jihad actors into counter-terrorism installations or to help set security policy get made? In recent years, when Rep. Michele Bachmann and four House colleagues requested Inspectors General at five federal departments to examine evidence of MB influence on the policy-making chain, she was crucified as the second-coming of Joseph McCarthy – another reason it remains so important to get the facts about the great Red-Hunters right.
One of Bachmann’s areas of concern was the fact that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton counted among her closest advisors Huma Abedin, a woman with such close and so many familial and personal ties to Muslim Brotherhood organizations that Congress should have inquired 1) how Ms. Abedin was ever able to receive a security clearance, and 2) whether US tilt toward jihadist groups in the “Arab Spring,” or Mrs. Clinton’s support on Islamic curbs on free speech in the so-called Istambul Process, etc., were in any way a product of such influence.
You know Islamic influence is strong in the US government when US soldiers are ordered to handle the Koran “as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art,” and US Marines in Afghanistan are instructed not to relieve themselves in the direction of Mecca (thousands of miles away).
Marcia: The drubbing you have been taking has been targeted on your more colorful statements in American Betrayal. The worst howls seem to be directed at statements taken literally that were not intended that way, or were journalistic devices. Nevertheless, people seized upon them whom, I suspect, knew better. I thought your antagonists used them to draw attention from what they could not refute and did not want to discuss. All of which is a long way around to asking if you had it to do again would you moderate your language?
Diana: The short answer is no. I think you got it right when you said that these sorts of attacks were designed “to draw attention from what they could not refute and did not want to discuss.”
But this is a good moment to discuss the book’s style a little further. As you indicate above, American Betrayal tells a kind of “hidden history” that will come as a great shock to most readers because it departs so radically from the “court history” we have all been taught. It certainly came as a great shock to me — to use the word “world-rocking” is not hyperbole. My entire outlook was forever changed by this research, one horrifying revelation after another.
One of the concepts I develop at some length in the book is how the lack of historical context renders the single, odd shocking event almost incomprehensible. Take Operation Keelhaul, the forced quite violent repatriation by British and US troops of at least two million Soviet-claimed persons who in Soviet hands would be shot or sent to the slave-labor camps of the Gulag. The story of how the Allies ended World War II participating in what surely counts as a war crime, not to mention the slave labor trade, doesn’t appear in our standard textbooks and histories and biographies about the era, so its appalling details have to compete with our entrenched notions of the so-called Good War and its noble leaders. How could Gen. Eisenhower, Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, even Churchill and others have permitted and indeed enabled such a massive crime to happen — even as the Nuremberg Trials were underway?
Marcia: I am confused, did you mean this? FDR died before this happened, didn’t he?
Diana: Actually, the program spanned 1944-1947. M. Stanton Evans and the late Herbert Romerstein devote a chapter of their excellent 2012 book Stalin’s Secret Agents To Operation Keelhaul, reporting on its emergence in US proposals under the hand of Soviet agent and Treasury official Harry Dexter White in the summer of 1944.
Without context, the very notion that British and US troops participated in forcibly handing over millions of anti-Communists who had made their way West during the war – in some cases, Russians who had never even lived as Soviet citizens – is extremely difficult to accept and absorb. But, as as I develop in American Betrayal, there is a long and also unknown chain of real events that led to to this moral and strategic cataclysm (and it wasn’t the last). This was the accruing context I had to present to make such near-fantastic betrayals comprehensible.
The way I decided to manage this was simply to present this difficult, world-rocking material just as I encountered it, uncovered step by uncovered step, often featuring the truth-teller who tried, futilely, to bear witness, to forestall disaster, to enter reality into the record. This makes the book a first-person and highly subjective narrative, replicating my own discovery of these hidden cataclysms, and, I think, quite natural outrage. As I approached and came to understand things, then, so, too, does the reader. As a first-person narrative, American Betrayal never pretends to be a conventional history. I think we have been utterly failed by our conventional historians. I am a journalist, and I see these horrific, conventional-wisdom-changing revelations as “breaking history,” and think it is important that we “read all about it.”
One of my favorite comments about the book came from best-selling novelist Brad Thor who wrote: “If you haven’t read Diana West’s American Betrayal yet, you’re missing out on a terrific, real-life thriller.” The book is written as best I can in my long-honed voice to be readable — not to “pass muster” with conventional historians who missed the story of the century.
Marcia: American Betrayal is absolutely an attention grabber and keeper. This reader found the content absorbing and depressing so at times I was an unwilling but addicted reader.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would particularly like to address about the controversy or something you feel has not received the attention you would like it to have?
Diana: No doubt, but I’ll leave it to you to ask about what interests you!
Marcia: Finally, are you open to follow up questions, based on your answers to the above?
Diana: Sure. I hope this is helpful – and thanks again for your interest and time.