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Harry Dexter White, the seventh and youngest child of Joseph Weit and Sarah Magilewski, was born in Boston on 9th October, 1892. His parents were Jewish and came from Lithuania, who had settled in the United States in 1885.
During the First World War he joined the United States Army. He was commissioned as a lieutenant and served in France in 1918. On his return home he studied economics at Columbia University and Stanford University. He did not complete his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1930. It was published three years later as The French International Accounts, 1880–1913.
In 1934, Harry Dexter White was appointed to the Treasury Department. Soon afterwards he joined what became known as the Ware Group. It was led by Harold Ware, the son of the well-known radical, Ella Reeve Bloor. Ware was a member of the Communist Party of the United States and a consultant to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). He established a "discussion group" that included Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, Nathaniel Weyl, Laurence Duggan, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, Henry H. Collins, Lee Pressman and Victor Perlo. Ware was working very close with Joszef Peter, the "head of the underground section of the American Communist Party." It was claimed that Peter's design for the group of government agencies, to "influence policy at several levels" as their careers progressed".
Whittaker Chambers, a Soviet spy, was a key figure in the Ware Group: "The Washington apparatus to which I was attached led its own secret existence. But through me, and through others, it maintained direct and helpful connections with two underground apparatuses of the American Communist Party in Washington. One of these was the so-called Ware group, which takes its name from Harold Ware, the American Communist who was active in organizing it. In addition to the four members of this group (including himself) whom Lee Pressman has named under oath, there must have been some sixty or seventy others, though Pressman did not necessarily know them all; neither did I. All were dues-paying members of the Communist Party. Nearly all were employed in the United States Government, some in rather high positions, notably in the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the National Labor Relations Board, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, the National Research Project - and others."
Susan Jacoby, the author of Alger Hiss and the Battle for History (2009), has pointed out: "Chambers, among others, would testify that the eventual penetration of the government was the ultimate aim of a group initially overseen in Washington by Hal Ware, a Communist and the son of Mother Bloor... When members did succeed in moving up the government ladder, they were supposed to separate from the Ware organization, which was well known for its Marxist participants. Chambers was dispatched from New York by underground Party superiors to supervise and coordinate the transmission of information and to ride herd on underground Communists... with government jobs."
Harry Dexter White was recruited as a spy by Jacob Golos. White (codename Kassir, later changed to Jurist, Lawyer and Richard) joined a spy network that included Laurence Duggan (Frank), Michael Straight (Nigel), Nathan Silvermaster (Pel), Ludwig Ullman (Polo), Martha Dodd (Liza), Victor Perlo (Raider), Mary Wolf Price (Kid), Helen Lowry (Madlen), George Silverman (Aileron), Charles Kramer (Plumb), Frank Coe (Pick), Harold Glasser (Ruble) and John Abt (Moris). Chambers claimed that White was willing to "turn over to him certain official Treasury documents which could then be photographed." The photographs were then passed on to Joszef Peter, the "head of the underground section of the American Communist Party." Chambers had also received (and kept) four pages of handwritten notes on important Treasury and State Department business.
Whittaker Chambers was his main source of contact: "Harry Dexter White, then the chief monetary expert of the Treasury Department, had been in touch with the Communist Party for a long time, not only through his close friend, George Silverman, but through other party members whom he had banked around him in the Treasury Department. He was perfectly willing to meet me secretly; I sometimes had the impression that he enjoyed the secrecy for its own sake. But his sense of inconvenience was greater than his sense of precaution, and he usually insisted on meeting me near his Connecticut Avenue apartment. Since White was not a party member, but a fellow traveler, I could only suggest or urge, not give orders. This distinction White understood very well, and he thoroughly enjoyed the sense of being in touch with the party, but not in it, courted by it, but yielding only so much as he chose."
Whittaker Chambers worked for Boris Bykov who complained about about the poor quality of the documents they were receiving from Harry Dexter White. Chambers now contacted Joszef Peter, the "head of the underground section of the American Communist Party."I explained the problem to him and asked for a Communist in the Treasury Department who could 'control' White. Peters suggested Dr. Harold Glasser, who certainly seemed an ideal man for the purpose, since he was White's assistant, one of several Communists whom White himself had guided into the Treasury Department. Peters released Dr. Glasser from the American Communist underground and lent him to the Soviet underground. Glasser soon convinced me that White was turning over everything of importance that came into his hands."
In an interview Harold Glasser gave to the FBI Glasser admitted that by 1936 he had become an important figure in the President Franklin D. Roosevelt government. He claimed he was “engaged in assisting President Roosevelt in the inauguration of various economic plans in furtherance of the New Deal” and worked “on nights and weekends at the Treasury Department and at White’s residence” and put in “considerable overtime working on these plans requested by the President.”
In August 1939, Isaac Don Levine arranged for Whittaker Chambers to meet Adolf Berle, one of the top aides to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After dinner Chambers told Berle about government officials spying for the Soviet Union: "Around midnight, we went into the house. What we said there is not in question because Berle took it in the form of penciled notes. Just inside the front door, he sat at a little desk or table with a telephone on it and while I talked he wrote, abbreviating swiftly as he went along. These notes did not cover the entire conversation on the lawn. They were what we recapitulated quickly at a late hour after a good many drinks. I assumed that they were an exploratory skeleton on which further conversations and investigation would be based."
According to Isaac Don Levine the list of "espionage agents" included Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, Donald Hiss, Laurence Duggan, Lauchlin Currie, Charles Kramer, John Abt, Nathan Witt, Lee Pressman, Julian Wadleigh, Noel Field and Frank Coe. Chambers also named Joszef Peter, as being "responsible for the Washington sector" and "after 1929 the "head of the underground section" of the Communist Party of the United States. Chambers claimed that Berle reacted to the news with the comment: "We may be in this war within forty-eight hours and we cannot go into it without clean services." John V. Fleming, has argued in The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books that Shaped the Cold War (2009) Chambers had "confessed to Berle the existence of a Communist cell - he did not yet identify it as an espionage team - in Washington." Berle, who was in effect the president's Director of Homeland Security, raised the issue with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "who profanely dismissed it as nonsense."
In December 1941, Harry Dexter White was appointed assistant to Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury, to act as liaison between the Treasury and the State Department on all matters bearing on foreign relations. He now had access to extensive confidential information about the economic situation of the USA and its wartime allies. At this time White was being supervised by Jacob Golos and was part of a network led by Nathan Silvermaster. In January 1942, a senior officer of NKVD in Moscow stated that White was "one of the most valuable agents".
White and Silvermaster were now two of the most important spies that the Soviets had. Golos was now forced to had over this network to Vassily Zarubin. He reported in October, 1942, that "Silvermaster and his people... were productive sources... We already receive from them... valuable materials... One could satisfy one's self with it. However, if... one can count on them as a serious base now and in future, they must be taught our work, included in our network, and attached to us." Zarubin was told that "at one time Lawyer (White) was a probationer (agent) of the neighbours (GRU)". He added that as White was such an important agent he should be "singled out a special illegal (a spy without diplomatic cover) to work with him".
In 1943 they became concerned that some people in positions of authority had correctly identified him as an agent. (This was possibly reference to the details of the list of agents that Whittaker Chambers had passed to Adolf Berle. It was not until 1943 that the FBI began investigating the names on the list.) However, the Soviets believed that had happened because his close associate, Nathan Silvermaster, had been named as a communist by the House of Un-American Activities Committee. An investigation by the Civil Service Commission could not confirm Silvermaster's Communist associations nor could an Office of Naval Intelligence inquiry. Lauchlin Currie used his position as special adviser on economic affairs to President Franklin D. Roosevert, to help quash the inquiry. Vassily Zarubin reported in October 1943: "Recently (Silvermaster) told us that (Currie) made every effort to liquidate his case: when (Silvermaster's) case was given for examination to the committee (White House security personnel) attached to Captain (the President), (Currie) managed to persuade the majority of members of the committee to favor repealing this investigation... He believes that the investigation will be stopped."
Iskhak Akhmerov took over the running of the Silvermaster group in December 1943. Akhmerov met Silvermaster for the first time on 15th March, 1944. In his report he commented that Silvermaster was "a man sincerely devoted to the party and the Soviet Union... politically literate, knows Marxism, a deeply Russian man... known in Washington as a progressive liberal... and understands perfectly that he works for us."
Allen Weinstein, has pointed out in his book, The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999): "Silvermaster's major government's sources remained faithful... Treasury Department official Harry Dexter White remained an ongoing source of information, documents, and policy assistance, using his friend Silvermaster as a conduit to Soviet intelligence throughout the war years." White was also making good progress in his career. Vice-President Henry Wallace later claimed that if President Franklin D. Roosevelt died during this period (1940-44) he would have appointed White as his Secretary of the Treasury.
Vassily Zarubin replied that White was "a very nervous and cowardly person" and was constantly worried about the possibility of exposure. White told another Soviet agent on 31st July, 1944, that he was "ready for any self-sacrifice; he himself does not think about his personal security, but a compromise would lead to a political scandal... and the discredit of all supporters of the new course. Therefore he would have to be very cautious." Although he agreed to meet again the following month he "proposes infrequent conversations lasting up to half an hour while driving in his automobile."
Harry Dexter White was the principal architect behind the Morgenthau Plan. The original proposal outlined three steps after the defeat of Nazi Germany: (1) Germany was to be partitioned into two independent states. (2) Germany's main regions of industry were to be internationalized or annexed by neighbouring nations. (3) All heavy industry was to be dismantled or destroyed. The plan was discussed at the Quebec Conference on 16th September, 1944. Winston Churchill agreed to the plan. The memorandum drawn up by the two countries concluded that "is looking forward to converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character."
White passed a copy of the agreed plan to Iskhak Akhmerov. However, someone in White's department with access to details of the plan leaked it to the press. Although President Franklin D. Roosevelt denied the existence of the plan, Joseph Goebbels used the Morgenthau Plan as a propaganda coup to encourage their troops and citizens to fight on against Allied forces. As Toby Thacker, the author of Joseph Goebbels: Life and Death (2009) has pointed out: "He (Goebbels) welcomed the news of the Morgenthau Plan, which entailed the punishment of German war criminals and the destruction of German industry, when this emerged after the Quebec conference, and served as a useful confirmation of the line he had previously promoted."
In 1944 Harry Dexter White was most probably the most important figure at the Bretton Woods conference. He argued for an end to economic blocks and a greater use of free trade agreements. Henry Morgenthau, Jr claimed that by the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), would see an end to "economic nationalism". These institutions were intended to prevent some of the economic problems that had occurred after the First World War. White argued strongly that the Western nations should develop better economic and political relationships with the Soviet Union.
White argued that in the 1930s "the necessary monetary and financial basis for international prosperity had been weakened by competitive currency depreciation, by exchange restriction, by multiple currency devices." After the war "only through international cooperation will it be possible for countries successfully to apply measures directed toward attaining and maintaining a high level of employment and real income which must be the primary objective of economic policy."
James M. Boughton has pointed out that Broughton shared many of the views held by John Maynard Keynes: "Part of the conventional wisdom about the origins of the IMF is that it was a response to the depression of the 1930s and was designed primarily to prevent a recurrence of global deflation. Certainly the avoidance of ruinous competitive devaluations and of trade and exchange restrictions was uppermost in both Keynes's and White's thinking, but they saw those policy errors as creatures of the 1920s, as the result of the mercantilist debacles that flowed from the Versailles peace conference. Such mistakes had contributed to the depression and then had fed on it, but they would have been just as disastrous if they had led instead to an inflationary spiral. White saw the avoidance of either deflation or inflation as a precondition for sustained economic growth, as did Keynes. He was no fan of the classical gold standard, but he argued persistently within the U.S. Treasury for a stable monetary standard that the government could manage with some flexibility but that would still link the U.S. dollar firmly to gold. His plan for the IMF placed the dollar and its ties to gold at the center of the international monetary system, in the belief that it would provide a stable anchor for policies conducive to growth."
In December 1944, Anatoly Gorsky sent a report back to Moscow that White and his assistant, Harold Glasser, was still supplying the Soviets with information: "White... phoned me and asked me to come and get the information Gromyko was interested in. On December 11, I went to Morgenthau's department. (White) was not in the office, but one of his secretaries showed me to his assistant, on whose office door was written: Assistant to the Director of the Division of Monetary Research. (White's) assistant named turned out to be (Harold Glasser). We have tried to organize Glasser's work through Elizabeth Bentley, Victor Perlo and others... but these circumstances may be used to develop this official acquaintance in order to switch then to direct connection with a Soviet operative."
After the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt White felt less confident of holding his job in the Treasury Department. President Harry S. Truman sacked Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and replaced him with Fred Vinson. The new Secretary of the Treasury, did not share Morgenthau's confidence in White's abilities. White complained that Vinson no longer consulted with him about policy. Vladimir Pravdin reported back to Moscow: "Although Vinson outwardly treats him in a friendly manner... White is convinced that the question of his dismissal is a matter of weeks or months."
On 7th November, 1945, the Soviet agent, Elizabeth Bentley, met with Don Jardine, FBI agent based in New York City. On that first day she talked for eight hours and gave a thirty-one-page statement. She gave a long list of Soviet spies that included Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, George Silverman, Nathan Silvermaster, Charles Kramer, Victor Perlo, Mary Wolf Price and Ludwig Ullman. Jardine was convinced she was telling the truth. "There wasn't any question in my mind that we hit gold on this one." They soon discovered that White, Currie and Kramer had all been named by Whittaker Chambers in 1939.
Kathryn S. Olmsted, the author of Red Spy Queen (2002), has pointed out: "Within days of Elizabeth's first statement, the FBI launched a massive effort to verify her charges. Tom Donegan, the FBI's counterespionage chief, led the effort.... By December 1945, seventy-two special agents were working on the biggest espionage case in the FBI's history. Elizabeth had their attention now. These numbers were necessary because the bureau wanted to follow, spy on, open the mail of, and listen to the phone calls of the men and women Elizabeth had named in her statement. Within two weeks, agents were following Maurice Halperin, Robert Miller, Victor Perlo, Greg Silvermaster, Helen Tenney, Lud Ullmann, Harry Dexter White, George Silverman, Charles Kramer, Duncan Lee, and several other lesser figures in the network. The bureau also made plans to break into the Silvermasters' house. Soon, reams of reports would deluge FBI headquarters detailing who had attended a party with Harry Dexter White and who had been invited for Christmas dinner at the Silvermasters."
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a hand-delivered letter to the President's Military Aide, General Harry H. Vaughan, at the White House, reporting information that "a number of persons employed by the government of the United States have been furnishing data and information to persons outside the Federal Government, who are in turn transmitting this information to espionage agents of the Soviet government." The list included the name of Harry Dexter White.
On 4th December, 1945, the FBI sent a detailed report entitled "Soviet Espionage in the United States". It was based on the Bentley accusations and the follow-up investigations. Truman later claimed that White had been "separated from the Government service promptly" upon receipt of this information. However, on 23rd January, 1946, Truman nominated White as U.S. Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Elizabeth Bentley testified before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on 31st July, 1948, that Harry Dexter White was a Soviet spy. On 13th August, White appeared before the committee. Before the hearing, White had sent a note to J. Parnell Thomas, the chairman of the HUAC, asking for rest periods of five or ten minutes for each hour of testimony as he was recovering from a severe heart attack.
During his testimony Harry Dexter White denied that he was a communist: "The principles in which I believe, and by which I live, make it impossible for me to ever do a disloyal act or anything against the interests of our country... I believe in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of criticism and freedom of movement." He admitted that he knew some of the others that Bentley had accused of being communists. However, this was not evidence that they were members of a spy network but because they played softball and volleyball together. Thomas responded with snide humour: "For a person who had a severe heart condition, you certainly can play a lot of sports." Furious, White explained carefully that he had played sports before he developed a heart condition.
Harry Dexter White died of a heart attack three days later on 16th August, 1948. Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate claimed that White was "a victim of the Un-American Thomas Committee".
Expansion went on in other directions also. From time to time, Peters would mention Harry Dexter White as a candidate for the special apparatus. I still refused to have anything to do with Wilton Rugg, whom Peters always mentioned as his best contact with White. One day Peters admitted that he had a better one. The better contact was Abraham George Silverman, the research director of the Railroad Retirement Board. I suspect that Peters was moved less by any sense of urgency about Harry Dexter White than by a desire to get George Silverman off his hands. Silverman, said Peters, was a whiner. Worse, he complained about the heavy party dues he had to pay (nothing could have outraged Peters more). He said frankly that he could do nothing with Silverman without hours of wrangling. He wanted to see what I could do with him.
I got along with Silverman easily and pleasantly by the simple method of recognizing that he was a highly intelligent child, and by letting him, in so far as possible, do whatever he wanted in his own way. Then I would say no firmly or tell him why I thought that he was mistaken. I also listened patiently and sympathetically to his personal and financial woes. One of his griefs was that, on advice from Lauchlin Currie, he was occasionally playing the stock market. Currie's advice did not always turn out well. Treated with consideration, Silverman co-operated readily, for he was a convinced Communist. He soon introduced me to White, delaying, as he explained to me, only until he was satisfied that I could handle that odd character.
Harry Dexter White, then the chief monetary expert of the Treasury Department, had been in touch with the Communist Party for a long time, not only through his close friend, George Silverman, but through other party members whom he had banked around him in the Treasury Department. This distinction White understood very well, and he thoroughly enjoyed the sense of being in touch with the party, but not in it, courted by it, but yielding only so much as he chose.
He talked endlessly about the "Secretary" (Henry Morgenthau Jr. ) whose moods were a fair barometer of White's. If White's spirits were up, I knew that the Secretary was smiling. If he was depressed, I knew that the Secretary had had a bad day. For some time, White seemed extremely casual in his manner toward me. I sometimes found myself wondering why I troubled to see him. But when once, quite by chance, I kept away from him for two or three weeks, I discovered that he was plaintive and felt neglected by the party, was very friendly and co-operative. I never really worried about White. For he and Silverman were almost fraternally close. Of the two, White was the more successful tureaucrat, and, in his special field, perhaps, had the better mind. But in all other fields, Silverman was much more intelligent and knew it. Their relationship seemed to have hinged for years on Silverman's willingness to let himself be patronized by White to whom his sympathy was indispensable whenever, for example, the Secretary was snappish and White had one of his crises of office nerves. Each, in fact, was a tower of weakness-a leaning tower. But, as they leaned together, they held each other upright.
On December 9... (Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. Andrei Gromyko charged me with meeting "Richard" (Harry Dexter White) for the purpose of receiving additional explanations from Morgenthau's department about German postage-stamps prepared by him (Montenthau Plan). On the same day, (White) phoned me and asked me to come and get the information Gromyko was interested in. We have tried to organize Glasser's work through Elizabeth Bentley, Victor Perlo) and others... but these circumstances may be used to develop this official acqquaintance in order to switch then to direct connection with a Soviet operative.
Over the next few weeks, Elizabeth completed her statement. Besides naming sources she knew personally, she also gave tantalizing hints about individuals whom she could not fully name. For example, Kramer had told her about an agent in the State Department who worked for Soviet military intelligence. The only thing she had learned about this mysterious agent was his last name, "Hiss." She thought his first name was Eugene.
There was no Eugene Hiss in the State Department. But Alger Hiss was already under a cloud of suspicion, thanks to Chambers. In the margins of Elizabeth's comments about Eugene Hiss, someone at the FBI made a handwritten notation: "Alger Hiss."
Elizabeth also told what she could remember about an espionage ring of engineers in New York City. She described that evening in 1942 when Yasha had stopped the car on the Lower East Side and had met with a tall, thin man with horn-rimmed glasses. "(Golos) did not elaborate on the activities of this person and his associates," she said, "nor did he ever identify any of them except that this one man to whom he gave my telephone number was referred to as "JULIUS." She added that she doubted that was his real name.
There were moments of drama during the interrogation. On November 16, as Elizabeth met all day with special agents Thomas Spencer and Joseph Kelly, she told them how Al had tried to bribe her with the envelope stuffed with $20 bills.
The next day, as Elizabeth entered the hotel room where the agents were waiting, she opened her purse, took out an envelope, and casually tossed it on the bed, saying, "Here's some Moscow gold." For years, anti-Communists had been fulminating that the American Communists were bankrolled by money from Russia. Here was proof. The startled agents took the stash and put it in a safety deposit box.
Elizabeth's initial statements to FBI agents would later serve as a benchmark for evaluating her veracity. During that first month, she stuck mostly to the truth - or at least what her sources had told her was the truth. She was not afraid to venture her opinions, but for the most part she clearly labeled them as opinions.
For example, she said that she had never met Harry Dexter White. She did mention that she regarded him as a "valuable adjunct" to the spy network because of his friendship with the treasury secretary. But she did not hint at the vast conspiracies she would later attribute to him once the newsreel cameras were turned on.
She made it clear that Lauchlin Currie - as far as she could remember-did not give documents to her sources. Instead, he would pass information to George Silverman orally. One such briefing contained the gossip that the United States was "on the verge of breaking the Soviet code," she said. But she did not attach any special significance to that information. Far from indicating that Currie was one of her two most important sources, she allotted him only one-quarter of a page and two passing references in a 107-page statement...
Within days of Elizabeth's first statement, the FBI launched a massive effort to verify her charges. Tom Donegan, the FBI's counterespionage chief, led the effort. From the beginning, J. Edgar Hoover declared that there would be "no limit" to the number of agents assigned to her case." By December 1945, seventy-two special agents were working on the biggest espionage case in the FBI's history. Elizabeth had their attention now.
These numbers were necessary because the bureau wanted to follow, spy on, open the mail of, and listen to the phone calls of the men and women Elizabeth had named in her statement. Soon, reams of reports would deluge FBI headquarters detailing who had attended a party with Harry Dexter White and who had been invited for Christmas dinner at the Silvermasters.
The Communist Agent Who Caused Pearl Harbor — and Global Economic Havoc
“More than seven decades ago, on a calm Sunday morning, our Nation was attacked without warning or provocation…. On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the men and women who selflessly sacrificed for our country, and we show our enduring gratitude to all who fought to defend freedom against the forces of tyranny and oppression in the Second World War.”
— President Barack Obama, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Proclamation, December 07, 2013
President Obama’s Pearl Harbor remembrance proclamation is little different from those of his White House predecessors. Today, however, a great deal more is known than was known in previous years about the secret maneuverings and treasonous activities at the top levels of the Roosevelt administration that caused the Japanese attack on our naval forces at Pearl. Documents released from the decoded Venona Files, from the Soviet KGB archives, from our own National Archives, and memoirs of Soviet officials now confirm what noted anti-communist writers, Congressional investigations, Communist Party defectors, and FBI documents had stated for decades: Harry Dexter White (shown), assistant secretary of the treasury in the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a top Soviet spy and agent of influence who not only caused incalculable harm to the United States, but also materially assisted Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s spreading of terror and tyranny throughout the entire world.
Harry Dexter White, a top advisor to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and President Franklin Roosevelt, is remembered chiefly as the architect of the Bretton Woods Conference that created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, but he also played a key role in bringing about the “Day of Infamy,” by doing everything within his power to scuttle the peace efforts of the forces within the Japanese government that were striving to avoid war with the United States. White authored an ultimatum adopted as official policy by FDR that upped the ante of belligerent acts Roosevelt was directing at Japan.
White’s plan was calculated to inflame public opinion in Japan and undermine Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye, both of whom favored peace with the U.S. It was also aimed at guaranteeing the rise to power of Japan’s political forces that were beating the drums for war. This is precisely — and predictably — what happened. However, White did not undertake this move on his own initiative, it is important to note, but as a directive of the NKVD (an earlier name for the Soviet KGB). His Kremlin bosses were most anxious for assurance that Japan would not attack the Soviet Union they thus expended great efforts through their spy and propaganda networks in Japan, Europe, and the United States to ensure that Japan would strike America, rather than the U.S.S.R.
Interestingly, one of the most recent admissions concerning White’s crucial role in this comes from Benn Steil, senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). In the decades since World War II, the CFR’s very influential members in government, the media, and academe have been in the forefront of the efforts to debunk factual anti-communist charges of rampant Soviet penetration of the top levels of the American government. The CFR choir could always be counted on to defend Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs and their fellow “atomic bomb spies,” the Red China Lobby, and the many other Communist agents exposed operating in the top echelons of federal agencies. And the same CFR intelligentsia could be just as dependably relied upon to denounce as “McCarthyites” any responsible patriots who attempted to force officialdom to investigate, remove, and/or prosecute traitors in our government, especially those in positions most sensitive to our national security.
Benn Steil’s book, The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, published earlier this year by the CFR and Princeton University Press, makes some important concessions concerning White’s NKVD operations. As the book’s title suggests, the main focus of Steil’s attention deals with White’s central role in designing and implementing the plan to establish the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the post-war economic order.
However, in Chapter Two of his book, Steil discusses White’s crucial role as a Soviet agent in the decisions and events that brought about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Steil writes:
“We sighed a deep sigh of relief,” recalled the head of the American desk of the NKVD Intelligence Directorate, Vitali Pavlov. Yet this was not merely cheerleading from the sidelines. Pavlov had, secretly, been part of the game.
The Japanese decision to attack Pearl Harbor was the culmination of a series of critical political developments and, clearly, no single event, no single action, and no single individual can be said to have triggered it. Nevertheless, the most proximate cause has the curious connection with Pavlov and his most important American contact, Harry Dexter White.
Steil notes that, as a result of White’s fierce lobbying, FDR “authorized [Secretary of State] Hull to present the Japanese with what became known as the Ten-Point Note. Hull summoned Nomura and Kurusu on November 26 to deliver the austere ultimatum, incorporating White’s demands on China, without concessions. An alarmed Kurusu told Hull that the Japanese government would ‘throw up its hands’ if presented with such a response to their truce proposal. Hull did not waiver. The collision course had been set.”
And Soviet agent Harry Dexter White had set that course. Steil comments:
That White was the author of the key ultimatum demands is beyond dispute. That the Japanese government made the decision to move forward with the Pearl Harbor strike after receiving the ultimatum is also beyond dispute.
Steil notes that “the Soviets, American allies in the European war, were anxious to ensure that such an attack did take place.” He quotes Soviet spymaster Vladimir Karpov in this regard:
“The war in the Pacific could have been avoided,” wrote retired GRU military intelligence colonel and World War II “Hero of the Soviet Union” Vladimir Karpov in 2000, nearly sixty years after Pearl Harbor. “Stalin was the real initiator of the ultimatum to Japan,” he insisted.
How was that possible? Steil allows Karpov to explain:
“Harry Dexter White was acting in accordance with a design initiated by [NKVD intelligence official Iskhak] Akhmerov and Pavlov,” Karpov argued. “[White] prepared the aide-memoire for signature by Morgenthau and President Roosevelt.” The Soviets had, according to Karpov, used White to provoke Japan to attack the United States. The scheme even had a name, “Operation Snow,” snow referring to White. “[T]he essence of ‘Operation Snow’ was to provoke the war between the Empire of the Rising Sun and the USA and to insure the interests of the Soviet Union in the Far East…. If Japan was engaged in a war against the USA it would have no resources to strike against the USSR.”
Steil’s book allows only five pages to cover this abominable act of treason and Steil can’t quite seem to muster the moral outrage to unequivocally condemn White as a traitor like too many other intellectuals, he is inclined to explain away the treachery by suggesting that perhaps White’s motives were good, even if somewhat muddled and misguided. To be sure, Steil is not an outright apologist for White, as is Prof. James Boughton, the recently retired historian for the IMF, or R. Bruce Craig, author of the 2004 defense of White, Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case. Steil even takes Boughton to task in the book for his obstinate refusal to admit White’s espionage, in the face of overwhelming evidence proving it. (Steil develops this argument against Dr. Boughton in more detail in an August 15, 2013 article in Forbes here).
White’s infamous role in provoking the attack on Pearl Harbor is told in gripping detail in Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor by military historian John Koster (published by Regnery History, September, 2012) sans the moral equivocation of Steil.
The Steil/CFR admissions concerning White’s treason on behalf of Stalin’s Russia don’t signal any truth-telling trend from the disinformation artists at the Pratt House brain trust. Rather, they have merely adopted a new fallback position dictated by circumstances. They are sophisticated enough to realize that with all of the corroborating evidence that has surfaced in recent years, they risk losing all credibility by sticking to the Boughton/Craig denialist position, which has been the main position of the CFR thought cartel for the past six decades. Back when it mattered most, in the 1940s and s, when courageous civil servants, diplomats, military personnel, elected officials, and private citizens heroically fought to expose the Communist operatives in our government, the leading lights of the CFR did all within their considerable powers to squash any real investigations and exposure. Soviet agents such as Whittaker Chambers, Elizabeth Bentley, and Louis Budenz, who had defected from the Communist conspiracy and testified against their former comrades, were smeared far more effectively by the CFR-dominated press than by the communist press. Ditto for leading senators of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the congressmen of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
Now, at the safe remove of seven decades, the CFR has decided it can afford to acknowledge (partially) what it previously strove mightily to deny, cover up, suppress, and discredit, especially since it can now put its own spin on the perfidy. Soviet agent Alger Hiss, the top State Department adviser, is the most notorious of the Communist moles that were imbedded in the federal government. The lesser-known White, arguably, was more important than Hiss. Whittaker Chambers hinted at this in a December 29, 1953 article for Look magazine. “Harry Dexter White’s role as a Soviet agent,” Chambers wrote, “was second in importance only to that of Alger Hiss — if indeed it was second.”
The evidence that has come out since that time indicates that White was certainly of equal, if not greater importance, than Hiss. Of course, FDR’s advisor, friend, and confidante Harry Hopkins — another Soviet agent — is also in the running with them for most important traitor.
What Steil and his CFR colleagues are not in a hurry to bring up are the uncomfortable connections between their organization and the Soviet network of which Hiss, White, and Hopkins were prime exemplars. In addition to Hiss, Soviet agents Laughlin Currie (an FDR White House economic adviser) and Laurence Duggan (at the State Department) were CFR members. Far more important as an indictment of the CFR than the fact that their membership includes some very notorious traitors is the role played over the years by key CFR luminaries to aid and abet the traitors and to stop all efforts to expose them.
In addition to his perfidy in helping bring about the Pearl Harbor attack, White was also responsible for carrying out the following acts of treason to aid Stalin’s Communist regime:
— White was the primary author of what became known as the “Morgenthau Plan” to strip a defeated Germany of all industry and transform it into an agricultural society. The plan was leaked by Treasury (most likely by White) and was used by Nazi Germany to stiffen resistance of the German people and armed forces on the Western front. This undoubtedly prolonged the war and contributed more casualties to American and Allied forces, while also making many Germans more sympathetic to the Soviets.
— White brought other Communist agents into the U.S. government, got them promotions, and repeatedly scuttled investigative efforts and attempts to expose and remove them.
— White provided the Russians with the actual printing plates, colored inks, varnish, tint blocks and special paper to enable them to counterfeit the Allied occupational currency for Germany, allowing them to flood the country with currency that U.S. taxpayers were forced to redeem.
— Through the infamous Lend-Lease program, White helped facilitate the transfer of billions of dollars in aid to Stalin.
— When Stalin requested a $6-billion loan in January of 1945 White upped it to $10 billion, and at better terms. Russia’s request had been that it be for 30 years at an annual interest rate of 2.25 percent. White proposed the larger sum with a more generous 35-year payment period at only two percent. Plus, he proposed that the U.S. grant an additional $1 billion at no interest.
— While providing the Communists with every possible assistance, White was doing everything possible to cut off aid that had been appropriated by Congress to assist our ally Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-communist government in China. White was a key operative in treachery that pushed China into Communist hands.
— As the chief architect of the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary conference, he designed the IMF and World Bank, the economic instruments that have been used to destroy national sovereignty, encourage global inflation, and wreak monetary havoc. White was appointed American director of the IMF and his co-conspirator in the Silvermaster spy cell, Virginius Frank Coe, was named secretary of the IMF.
— In 1945 White joined Alger Hiss in San Francisco for the founding of the United Nations. Hiss was in charge as the secretary of the conference. Other Soviet agents whom he had named as American delegates included Noel Field, Harold Glasser, Irving Kaplan, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Victor Perlo, and Henry Julian Wadleigh. Decoded Venona messages show that while in San Francisco White transferred information to Vladimir Pravdin, a KGB officer who was posing as a correspondent for the Soviet news agency TASS.
In the coming year, 2014, as the IMF and World Bank celebrate their 70th anniversary, it will be important to remember their paternity. The ghosts of Harry Dexter White and his fellow conspirators who fashioned these institutions and the post-war global monetary system continue to haunt us, threatening the financial stability, prosperity, and liberty of every nation and person on this planet. As the articles listed below from The New American demonstrate, the Council on Foreign Relations continues to push for transforming the IMF with vast new powers, something Harry Dexter White, no doubt, would heartily approve of.
Photo of Harry Dexter White testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities on August 13, 1948: AP Images
Soviet Mole Harry White’s Efforts to Trigger the Pearl Harbor Attack
The following is an excerpt from John Koster’s Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor. Using recently declassified evidence from U.S. archives and newly translated sources from Japan and Russia, it presents new theories on the causes of the Pearl Harbor attack. It is available to order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
In May 1941, Secretary of State Cordell Hull—the statesman who would not accept German-Jewish refugees when their ship was stuck in a Cuban harbor—delivered to the Japanese, who had accepted forty thousand Jewish refugees, another lecture about Nazi atrocities. Maintaining their composure, ambassadors Saburo Kurusu and Kichisaburo Nomura proposed a modus vivendi— a temporary solution until a permanent agreement could be reached. Though suspicious of Hull’s grip on reality and his palpable racism, the Japanese diplomats acted in good faith because they did not want war any more than General George Marshall did. They agreed to pull out of southern Indochina as soon as their oil was restored and to leave Indochina completely once peace was made with China. In return,
The Governments of Japan and the United States shall cooperate with a view to securing the acquisition of those goods and commodities which the two countries need in the Netherlands East Indies.
The Governments of Japan and the United States mutually undertake to restore their commercial relations to those prevailing prior to the freezing of the assets [on July 26]. The Government of the United States shall supply Japan a required quantity of oil.
The Government of the United States undertakes to refrain from such measures and actions as will be prejudicial to the endeavors for the restoration of general peace between Japan and China.
Both sides stood to gain: Japan could not win a protracted war with the United States, and most Japanese wanted to get out of China with minimum loss of face, while keeping Manchuria and Korea and fending off revolution. The U.S. would avoid a war for which it was not prepared. Even Chiang Kai-shek, for all his hurt pride, would have been better off to strike an armistice with Japan and go back to fighting the Chinese communists. To everybody’s amazement—perhaps even his own—Hull replied that he would see what actions on Japan’s part would be necessary for the flow of oil to be restored.
Harry Dexter White—a Soviet Mole who served as a U.S. Treasury Department official—was badly shaken. The possibility that Hull would head off a war with Japan just when everything seemed so promising was utterly vexing. Writing frantically through the night, despite an incipient heart condition, White composed for Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s signature a memorandum to the president proposing a set of demands so likely, if accepted, to incite revolution in Japan that their rejection would be assured.
I must apologize for intruding on your pressing schedule with this hurried note. I have been so alarmed by information reaching me last night—information which I hope and trust to be mistaken—that my deep admiration for your leadership in world affairs forces me respectfully to call your attention to the matter that has kept me from sleep last night.
Mr. President, word was brought to me yesterday evening that persons in our country’s government are hoping to betray the cause of the heroic Chinese people and strike a deadly blow at all your plans for a world-wide democratic victory. I was told that the Japanese Embassy staff is openly boasting of a great triumph for the “New Order.” Oil—rivers of oil—will soon be flowing to the Japanese war machines. A humiliated democracy of the Far East, China, Holland, Great Britain will soon be facing a Fascist coalition emboldened and strengthened by diplomatic victory— so the Japanese are saying.
Mr. President, I am aware that many honest individuals agree that a Far East Munich is necessary at the moment. But I write this letter because millions of human beings everywhere in the world share with me the profound conviction that you will lead a suffering world to victory over the menace to all of our lives and all of our liberties. To sell China to her enemies for the thirty blood-stained coins of gold will not only weaken our national policy in Europe as well as the Far East, but will dim the bright luster of America’s world leadership in the great democratic fight against Fascism.
On this day, Mr. President, the whole country looks to you to save America’s power as well as her sacred honor. I know—I have the most perfect confidence—that should these stories be true, should there be Americans who seek to destroy your declared policy in world affairs, that you will succeed in circumventing these plotters of a new Munich.
White held nothing back in this hysterical missive, mingling religious imagery (inaccurately at that—Christ was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver) with the basest flattery.
The next night, White wrote a second memorandum, this time under his own name. He opened with the assurance that, if the president were to follow his advice and if the Japanese were to accept his proposals, “the whole world would be electrified by the successful transformation of a threatening and belligerent powerful enemy into a peaceful and prosperous neighbor. The prestige and the leadership of the President both at home and abroad would skyrocket by so brilliant and momentous a diplomatic victory—a victory that requires no vanquish, a victory that immediately would bring peace, happiness and prosperity to hundreds of millions of Eastern peoples, and assure the subsequent defeat of Germany!” White pointed out the hopelessness of a Japanese war against the
United States, Britain, the Netherlands, and probably Russia while Japan was already engaged in China. Then he proposed ten aggressive demands to be presented to Japan:
- Withdraw all military, Naval, air police forces from China (boundaries as of 1931), from Indo-China and from Thailand.
- Withdraw all support—military, political, or economic—from any government in China other than that of the national government. [This referred to Pu Yi, the last Manchu emperor of China, who was the Japanese puppet ruler in Manchukuo, Japan’s colony in Manchuria.]
- Replace with yen currency at a rate agreed upon among the Treasuries of China, Japan, England, and United States all military scrip, yen and puppet notes circulating in China.
- Give up all extra-territorial rights in China.
- Extend to China a billion yen loan at 2 percent to aid in reconstructing China (at a rate of 100 million yen a year).
- Withdraw all Japanese troops from Manchuria except for a few divisions necessary as a police force, provided U.S.S.R. withdraws all her troops from the Far Eastern front except for an equivalent remainder.
- Sell to the United States up to three-fourths of her current output of war material—including Naval, air, ordnance, and commercial ships on a cost-plus 20 per cent basis as the United States may select.
- Expel all German technical men, military officials, and propagandists.
- Accord the United States and China most-favorednation treatment in the whole Japanese Empire.
- Negotiate a 10-year non-aggression pact with United States, China, British Empire, Dutch Indies (and Philippines).
White proposed that these demands be presented to the Japanese with a short deadline for acceptance:
Inasmuch as the United States cannot permit the present uncertain status between the United States and Japan to continue in view of world developments, and feels that decisive action is called for now, the United States should extend the above offer of a generous and peaceful solution of the difficulties between the two countries for only a limited time. If the Japanese Government does not indicate its acceptance in principle at least of the proffered terms before the expiration of that time, it can mean only that the present Japanese Government prefers other and less peaceful ways of solving those difficulties, and is awaiting the propitious moment to attempt to carry out further a plan of conquest.
Japanese industrial interests and the Army were certain to reject the loss of Manchuria, and the idea that Japan should be forced to sell three-quarters of its military equipment to the United States on demand was an affront to Japanese sovereignty that would have triggered revolution. White passed a copy of the memorandum along to Hull, who had been considering a three-month truce and limited oil shipments for Japanese civilian consumption.
On November 26, the secretary of state presented the final American offer—the so-called “Hull note”—to the Japanese. If Japan withdrew from China and Indochina immediately and withdrew support for the puppet regime in Manchukuo, the United States would lift the freeze on Japanese assets. When he received the offer, Kurusu stated that the Japanese would be likely to “throw up their hands” at the demand that they withdraw from China and abandon Manchuria. The Hull note—based on White’s two memoranda—was, as far as the Japanese were concerned, a declaration of war.
The Americans did not see it that way—except for White.
“I personally was relieved,” Henry Stimson would recall, “that we had not backed down on any of the fundamental principles on which we had stood for so long and which I felt we could not give up without the sacrifice of our national honor and prestige in the world. I submit, however, that no impartial reading of this document can characterize it as being couched in the terms of an ultimatum, although the Japanese were of course only too quick to seize upon it and give that designation for their own purposes.”
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Harry Dexter White - History
An Old Moral Judgment: Japan was the “Aggressor”
A Statement of Fact: Japan Fought for “Self-defense” and “Liberation from Colonialism”
Many Japanese were falsely taught that “Japan had invaded Asia during the War”. John Koster, the author of “OPERATION SNOW” which depicts what went on behind the scenes which led to the Pacific War, and Happy Science’s Director-General of Foreign Affairs, Yukihisa Oikawa, engaged in a dialogue to discuss this very issue. Furthermore, we spoke with Henry S. Stokes, former Tokyo Chief for the New York Times.
America’s War in the Pacific Greatly Benefitted the Soviet Union
The Author of “OPERATION SNOW,” Which Depicts What Went On Behind the Scenes that led to the Pacific War
Turned to journalism after retiring from the U.S. Army. He has written on American military affairs and history. His “The Road to Wounded Knee” won the Sigma Delta Chi Award chosen by the Society of Professional Journalists. He’s also written “Custer Survivor,” among other works.
Happy Science Director-General of Foreign Affairs
Born 1960 in Kanagawa prefecture. Graduated from Sophia University, Department of Literature. After graduation from ICU graduate school for Public Administration, joined Happy Science through a foreign securities company.
I was struck by the idea that it seemed incredible that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor when they knew they couldn’t win the war. And I wondered why that was. As I researched into it, I found out that the one country that did very well by the Japanese attack was neither Japan nor the United States but the Soviet Union.
Because of the war between Japan, the United States, and Britain, the Soviets were allowed to concentrate on their war with Germany. If they had to fight Japan and Germany at the same time, they probably would’ve been defeated. They had 15% of their army and many of their best tanks in Mongolia to protect themselves from the Japanese, and Pearl Harbor enabled them to move thousands of soldiers and hundreds and hundreds of tanks into Europe, just in time to stop the Germans in front of Moscow and Leningrad. It was the greatest thing that could’ve happened to them.
A Russian Spy Began the War Between America and Japan
But I had to ask myself, “Why did it happen?” I found out that there was a young Soviet agent named Vitali Prokhorov who was told to start a war between the United States and Japan, because even though Stalin didn’t believe it, some Soviets knew that the Germans were going to attack the country in May or June of that year. He went to Washington where he spoke with a Soviet sympathizer named Harry Dexter White, who was an enthusiastic Communist, but he kept quiet about it.
The American Historical Record for WWII Didn’t Make Any Sense to Me
Q: Why did you choose this topic?
A: On a personal basis, my wife is Japanese, my brother in law, my oldest brother in law, is one of the last living Kamikaze volunteers. I thought about them, and I often wondered why Pearl Harbor happened. It didn’t make any sense, neither from the American nor from the Japanese perspective. I became very interested in trying to find out why the attack on Pearl Harbor took place why it was a surprise, and what it really meant.
Who Believed the Pearl Harbor Story?
Q: Did you believe that it was a sneak attack?
A: Not always. My father, who was in the army in World War II, and my cousin, who was in the Navy in World War II, said there was something very fake about the surprise. They said they didn’t really believe that Washington was surprised by the attack. The people in Hawaii may have been surprised, but they believed that Roosevelt and the people in his cabinet knew that it was going to happen, but they didn’t take steps to prevent it or to even warn people to be prepared for it. That made them quite angry.
Leaders in Washington Knew That the Pearl Harbor Attack Would Happen
Q: Was there a conspiracy in Washington?
A: Yes, of course, there was. FDR knew before the attack. Twelve hours before the attack took place, FDR read the last part of the Japanese code. He looked up at Harry Hopkins, his advisor, and said, “This means war.” He knew it was going to happen, and several people have quoted it such as Jean Edward Smith, who loved FDR, and Finis Farr, who hated him. They both said, “This means war.”
Twelve hours before the attack, instead of making a telephone call to Pearl Harbor, he sent a Western Union telegram, which got there after the attack was almost finished. It was a worthless warning. FDR knew it. He didn’t plan the attack however, the attack was planned behind his back.
Russia Could Not Fight a War on Two Fronts
Q: Why did the U.S. and Japan have to go to war?
A: Vitali Prokhorov, a Soviet agent, was told to go to Washington and start a war between the United States and Japan. The Soviet Union did not want to fight Germany and Japan at the same time. The Japanese and the Russians had a battle in Mongolia early in 1939, and while the Russians won, because they had better tanks, the Japanese were much tougher than they had expected. The Soviets said if these people were to fight against us with full force, it’d tie up a quarter of the army in Asia, and they wouldn’t be able to fight the Germans effectively. They had to have a war between the United States and Japan, to keep the Japanese out of Siberia, and out of Russia.
The KGB Plotted To Create the Pacific War
A: Soviet Agents and the MKVD, later called the KGB, planned for the war to happen, and they made sure that it did.
The KGB Used a Russian Informant Who Worked with the Secretary of the Treasury
Q: How did the plan happen?
A: That young Russian agent, Vitali Prokhorov, was in Washington. He called up a man who had been providing information for the Russians for about five years, but then quit when he was frightened. His name was Harry Dexter White. He was senior official in the U.S. Treasury Department, and he was the real brains behind the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., who was very rich, but not very intelligent. White did most of his thinking for him.
White and Prokhorov talked Prokhorov told him, “It’s absolutely necessary that we have a war between the U.S. and Japan. We don’t want to fight Germany and Japan at the same time.” White said, “I’ve been thinking about it on my own, and I can make it happen.”
How the Secretary of the Treasury Allowed the KGB To Prevent FDR from Peace Negotiations with Japanese Leaders Prior to the Start of the War
First thing he did was to make sure that Japan’s oil supply and credit were cut off. Then, when the Japanese were willing to negotiate, he made sure that Roosevelt did not negotiate with Prince Fumimaro Konoe, who didn’t want war, which forced the war to happen.
At the last minute, Roosevelt realized a war could happen. He didn’t particularly want a war with Japan. He actually wanted a war with Germany to save England. He tried to tell the Japanese, “We’ll give you back some of your oil, if you gradually withdraw from China.” The Japanese had an interest in his proposal.
Harry Dexter White wrote a hysterical letter for Henry Morgenthau to sign, and sent it to FDR. He wrote, “This is the greatest betrayal in history, if you do it, you’ll be ridiculed you must stand strong. We’ll win, They won’t attack.” Of course, he knew that they would attack, but Roosevelt got the letter, and he told everybody to stand tough. Then Pearl Harbor happened.
The Pacific Fleet Was Not Supplied Properly for the Start of War
A: The specific fleet was sent to Pearl Harbor in 1940 for reasons that nobody could understand. The admiral in charge, James Otto Richardson, said, “Why are we here? We don’t have the equipment we need, the sailors don’t like it here, and they want to go back to California.” He was just told, “Stay a little longer, stay a little longer, and stay a little longer.”
Admiral Richardson finally told FDR that FDR no longer enjoyed his confidence because he knew that they were not ready for a war with Japan at that time. FDR fired him without warning, and he placed Admiral Kimmel in charge Admiral Kimmel was a tougher article than Richardson, but he too, complained. “I’m not getting the equipment I need.”
When the attack came, he wasn’t ready for it. Not because he hadn’t expected it, but because he had not been properly equipped. Most of the weapons he needed were being sent to England rather than Hawaii.
People Manipulated FDR’s Ability to Make Decisions
A: FDR was not terribly well informed, but he did understand as he said to a group of people, “If we had cut off their oil supply completely, we would’ve had a war with Japan at a time we didn’t want a war with Japan.” However, war with Germany was okay. He said that comment, so he knew that it was a dangerous situation, but behind his back, other people in Washington, including Dean Acheson, made absolutely sure that the Japanese didn’t get their oil supplies restored. They really tried to strangle Japan.
Americans Preferred the Idea of a War with Germany Opposed to a Fight with Japan
FDR wanted to warn them, and Acheson wanted to provoke them. He, too, wanted a war. Acheson wasn’t a communist, he was an anti-communist, but he wanted a war to save England. He realized that most Americans did not want a war with Germany again, but they were accepting of a war with Japan, either due to racism or due to the fact that they thought it would be easy or both. And it backfired, because it was much worse than anyone expected. It wasn’t for years until American people found out how bad the damage at Pearl Harbor was.
There Were Americans Who Didn’t Approve of the War
Q: There were communists and anti-communists?
A: There were Anti-Communists who were in favor of Britain. They wanted to help Britain win the war. Many Americans did not want to fight. German Americans, Irish Americans, many other groups did not want to get involved in another war with Germany to help Britain. They said, that’s their war, let them fight it out. It’s okay to sell them equipment, it’s even okay to give them equipment, but don’t send American men overseas.
FDR Broke His Public Campaign Promises About Fighting Abroad
In November of 1940, when he was running for office, Roosevelt said three different times, “I will not send your boys into any foreign wars.” A year later, he sent American troops to war. He knew 80% of the Americans would not accept a war with Germany, but if Americans were attacked first, particularly by the Japanese, then the public would find war acceptable.
The Hull Note Provoked Japan To Fight
Q: Did Henry Dexter White develop the Hull Note?
A: He was the mastermind behind the development of it. The Hull Note was so tough that he knew the Japanese would not accept it. Without even having a revolution at home or a revolution in Korea, Japanese moral in China would’ve been undermined. It would’ve been a disaster had they gone along with it. The Japanese felt that they had to fight.
The Japanese Planned To Fight a Short War and To Negotiate for Peace Quickly
Japan never imagined that it could conquer the United States. Its plan was to take as much territory as it could in the first six months to a year. Then it wanted to give back the territory and keep the core of its empire intact.” Japan wanted to negotiate for peace.
That was the way World War I ended. That was the way every war in American history ended except for the Civil War. The Civil War was a rebellion by the Southern States. FDR didn’t know much about history. He adopted the idea of unconditional surrender because that was what the Americans had said in the Civil War. However, it was completely different the Civil War was an internal rebellion, and Japan was a sovereign nation with its own culture. An unconditional war was not a good idea. What they should’ve done was negotiate terms instead of all those horrible air raids.
America Made Unrealistic Demands of Japan to Guarantee the Beginning of a War
Q: Was the Hull Note what made Japan start the war?
A: The most critical part of the Hull Note was where the Japanese were told that they had to get out of China immediately, instead of 90 days, and that they had to get out of Manchuria, which Teddy Roosevelt had basically given to Japan in 1912. Roosevelt, the Taft Katsura Agreement, and part of the Root-Takahira Agreement said Manchuria was for Japan to control. They pulled the rug out from underneath the Japanese in regard to that promise because they knew that it would start a revolt if the news ever became public.
They also said that the Japanese had to give up a large part of their Naval and Military production to the United States, which was nonsense and totally unacceptable. It was like asking for surrender without a war. Japanese politics were very unstable at that time, and the requests were completely unacceptable not only for the Emperor and his generals, but also to most people.
Japan Never Planned to Maintain Its Occupation of Indo-China
Q: What about the other parts of the continent?
A: Well, the Japanese had already offered to leave Indo-China as soon as the war ended. The only reason they occupied Indo-China was to cut off supplies to China, but they had no intention of keeping Indo-China.
Japan Had a Better Military Than America at the Start of the War
Q: FDR used the Hull Note to try and push for a war?
A: White did. FDR was so far out in space that he didn’t really understand the Japanese. He thought that this would be a war with the Philippines. He didn’t realize he was fighting a naval power that had battle ships with bigger guns, that the Japanese had better fighting planes, and that the Japanese were willing to die much more readily than the Americans were. It was a disaster.
In the long term, because of its size and lack of resources, Japan was doomed, but in the short term, it could do a tremendous amount of damage, as it did, and FDR didn’t realize it. He figured Japan was some silly little place that he could win over.
America Initially Wanted Japan’s Help to Keep Russia out of Asia
Teddy Roosevelt actually admired the Japanese, and his house was full of Japanese souvenirs. He thought that the Japanese were great people, and that was the reason he told the Japanese, “You take care of Korea, I’ll take care of the Philippines, and lets not bother one another.” He also said, “You can run Manchuria if you do it with circumspection.
He gave Japan pretty much all that it wanted because he wanted to use the Japanese to keep Russia out of Asia, especially out of China and out of the British holdings in India. It was basically a three-part agreement between the Anglo-Saxon countries and Japan to assure that the Anglo-Saxon countries and Japan controlled Asia without the interference of Russia or to some extent Germany.
America Did Not Have Enough Money to Operate Its Military in Asia
Although the Anglo-Saxon countries wanted to keep Asia for themselves, Teddy Roosevelt knew that to control China, he would need a navy as good as Britain’s and an army as good as Germany’s. That was too expensive, and he wanted the Japanese to do it. They were closer, and they understood it better. It worked until the British and Japanese alliance fell apart.
America Was Interested in China, Even Though Japan Was a Better Business Partner
Q: How attractive was China to the U.S.?
A: There was a group called the “China Lobby”, which was made up of missionaries and businessmen who did a lot of business in China. They thought that China was very important for American interests. If you looked at it economically, America had ten times as much business with Japan as it had with China, and the Japanese paid off their debts ten times more often than the Chinese did.
Germany Was Number One in China
America’s real interest was to maintain peace with Japan first and China second. The big player in China was not the United States it was Germany. The Germans had an alliance with Chiang Kai-shek, which lasted till 1938. If you saw pictures of Chian Kai-shek’s soldiers, the soldiers in the good units wore German helmets, carried German rifles, and had German military instructors.
Perhaps Harry Dexter White also found that intolerable. He didn’t want the Germans running China any more than he wanted the Germans taking over the Soviet Union, because he was a great admirer of what he called “the Russian System”, as opposed to what he thought of as “Capitalism” and “Christianity”. He hoped that the Russian system would prevail, and he tried to make it happen.
Americans Tried To Control the Chinese Market Despite Its Limitations
Q: How attractive was China back then?
A: It was a huge market because the people had almost no manufacturing, but they understood money and credit. You could not go to most places in Africa or the Middle-East with the same expectations. In China, there was a mercantile culture where people understood that you had to pay for this, and you had to pay for that, that this was money, and that was credit.
Since America Couldn’t Afford a War with China, It Tried to Use Japan as a Puppet
However, China didn’t have much manufacturing. It was a huge, huge market, and the Americans did everything to control the market that they could in short of a war. America didn’t want to fight China because it knew that a war with China would be too expensive. It was a huge country. If America had invaded its territory, the Chinese would have gotten angry. Americans basically tried to use Japan to control China.
Japan Lacked Access to Natural Resources
Q: What strategy did FDR use to cause a war?
A: He cut off Japanese credit, he cut off their scrap iron, and above all, he cut off their oil supply, which Harry Dexter White had been talking about since 1935. A Soviet agent, who defected, became a Christian, and he left again as a Communist, stole some of White’s papers and saved them in a farm in Maryland. The papers were about Japan and a large part of them were about Japan’s oil supply.
FDR realized what White had known, that if he cut off Japan’s oil supply, Japan could not maintain its modern navy. It’d have trouble maintaining its modern army, too, which was where Japan was the most vulnerable.
America Prevented the Dutch Sales of Natural Resources to Japan in Return for False Promises of Protection
And that was what FDR did he threatened Japan’s oil supply to make sure it became intensely angry. Then, the Americans and the British manipulated the Dutch in Indonesia to make sure that the Japanese couldn’t buy oil from them, and to ensure that the Dutch were afraid of them. The Dutch would’ve sold oil to the Japanese just to avoid a fight with their country, but the Americans said, “Oh no, we’ll back you.” However, when the Japanese took over Indonesia, Americans didn’t do a very good job of protecting it.
A: It was forced into becoming upset its hands were tied.
Japan’s Reaction to America’s Black Ships
Q: Why didn’t Japan surrender?
A: In the 1850s, when Americans first went to Japan, instead of rolling over and playing dead, the Japanese modernized very quickly. Everybody was amazed to see the progress that they made, turning from a culture on the level of the Renaissance into a culture that equaled other cultures in the world in manufacturing, the navy, the army, business, railroads, and electricity. It was huge, people just couldn’t believe it.
America’s Early Attempts to Colonize Japan
How could the Japanese have done it in such a short time? The Americans probably hoped to invade Japan in the 1860s when there were several bombardments and the Americans wanted to take advantage of clan feuds to get involved, but what Americans realized was that they couldn’t do it at an affordable cost.
America had a ship called the USSY Wyoming. It used to sail around to Japanese cities at the same time that America was fighting for its life in the Civil War. America had a ship sailing around helping the British and the Dutch bard Japan.
America Failed to Conquer Korea
What sense did that make? In 1871, the Americans also attempted to invade Korea, but they lost. The Koreans chased them out. At that time, they got an idea. Why not allow Japan take care of Korea? America could take care of the Philippines, and it did.
Russian Spies Couldn’t Speak Japanese Well Enough to Forge a Letter
Q: What was the Tanaka Memorial?
A: It was a Russian forgery that was supposed to be Japan’s plan to take over the entire world. Three Russian officers wrote it in 1931. They apparently wanted to show that Japan was evil, and they wanted the world to fight that country.
They pretended that Japan not only wanted to take over China, it wanted to take over Germany, and then it wanted to take over England. They claimed Japan then wanted to take over the United States, South America, and Australia.
The Tanaka Memorial was a forgery. It was a fake, but people tried to use it. They wanted to translate it back into Japanese, but they found that it couldn’t be done, because it wasn’t written in Japanese style.
It was a classic Russian forgery. Forty years before, the Russians created a forgery called the “Protocol of the Elders of Zion” about how the Jews wanted to take over the world. It was very much the same idea. They took a few events, and then projected them as if they had been deliberately planned. When they were in the middle of their long winter, and they were tired of playing chess, they did forgery.
The Russian’s Story Spread
Q: How famous was the Tanaka Memorial?
A: It was made into two movies. It was made into one movie called Jack London, written by Isaac Don Levine who was an anti-communist. Jack London met Captain Tanaka, who told him about Japan’s plan to take over the world in a friendly sort of way. Then Jack went off to try and tell everyone about it, but no one believed him.
However, it never happened. Jack London was a promulgated drunk, and Japanese servants held together his whole life, because he couldn’t keep his act together. The other one was Blood on the Sun with James Cagney where he played an American reporter who tried to take the Tanaka Memorial to the West. However, since the Tanaka Memorial was not written in Japan, and the Russians wrote it, the whole movie was a fraud.
American Intellectuals Trusted the Forgery
Q: People became serious about the Tanaka Memorial?
A: People, who thought of themselves as intellectuals, believed that it was real. I mean, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, and he told everybody what he was going to do, and in his twisted way, he was actually telling the truth to them. Yet, the Tanaka Memorial, which was supposed to be Japan’s Mein Kampf, three Russians made up, and promoted it as Japanese when it was not. It was a Russian forgery.
The Japanese Didn’t Care What Foreigners Wrote About Them
Q: What did the Japanese government do?
A: No one thought anyone would take it seriously. There was so much stuff that Whites wrote when they were living in Asia at the time, which made absolutely no sense, and the Japanese thought that no one would believe the story. Giichi Tanaka was a real person, but he didn’t write a memorial to take over the world.
The Tanaka Memorial Made a Permanent Impression on the American Public
Q: But it still became famous?
A: Absolutely. Today, Americans are constantly telling the veterans still, “If it wasn’t for you guys, we’d all be speaking German, or we’d all be speaking Japanese.” Neither Japan nor Germany expected to take over the continental United States. They didn’t have the aircrafts, they didn’t have the power, and the Germans didn’t have the Navy. The Germans wanted to dominate Eastern Europe, the Japanese wanted to build buffer states to keep the Russians and to some extent, the Germans, from invading their territory. There was no world takeover plan. It was crafted fiction.
The Wealthy in America Did Not Want War with Germany
Q: Did the Democrats and Republicans share the same opinions?
A: Many people in both parties did not want war with Japan. In particular, in the Republican Party, members did not want war with Germany because a lot of them had money invested there as did some Democrats. Henry Ford had money invested in Germany President Bush’s father had money invested in Germany. Those people had one great fear, which was Russia or the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Union was a threat to everyone who was Capitalist as well as everyone who was Christian. They were not anywhere near as worried about Japan or Germany as they were about Russia.
People Hated Russia the Most
Harry Dexter White, who strongly supported Russia, hated Germany because he was Jewish, but he didn’t much care about Japan. Somehow, he had to make sure that the United States got into a war on the side of Russia, which at that time was the most hated country in Europe. White had to do it through manipulation.
In American schoolbooks, and when people take the SAT test to get into American colleges, there’s information that states the axis nations were Germany, Italy, and Japan. But that isn’t true. The axis countries were Germany, Italy, Japan, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and for a while, Vichy France, which was an ally of Germany.
Most countries in Europe hated Russia far more than they hated Germany, and many countries in Asia feared Russia more than they feared Japan. You won’t read this fact anywhere, but there were half a million Chinese soldiers who fought in the Japanese army against the Nationalists and the Communists, and many of them were very good soldiers. You can bet that if they had lived, they wouldn’t have talked about the war.
The Republicans Tried to Stop the War Between America and Japan
Q: What was the Republican’s view of Japan?
A: Joseph Clark Grew, who was a Republican, a fellow graduate of Groton Prep School and Harvard, tried to make peace between the United States and Japan through every responsible means. He said to Roosevelt, Prince Konoe did not want war, and if FDR were to meet with him, the prince would give him anything he wanted to make sure that there was no war.
FDR actually thought about it, but the people in the White House made sure that it never happened. Many Republicans did not want war with Japan. They knew that it would do America no good, and the war would help Russia a lot.
The Working Class in America Wasn’t Interested in Fighting in Foreign Countries
Q: How did the Democrats think?
A: There were some Democrats who didn’t want a war with Japan either, because they had just realized that their Democratic party in America was a party for the working people. They realized that in wars, poor people got killed, and rich people made money. The democrats didn’t want their guys supporting that scenario.
Irish people controlled the Democratic party in cities like New York and Boston, and the Irish hated the English. They hated England more than Germany did, and they didn’t want any war that could do England any good. Thus, they said, let’s keep out of this, let the British do their own fighting. They didn’t care about other people. They neither liked nor disliked Germany and Japan, and they didn’t want to help England.
There Was Little Enthusiasm for the Idea of War with Japan
Even in FDR’s own party, there was a lot of opposition to war. There were people from down South who thought that anyone who wasn’t White was bad, who would have been perfectly happy to fight the Japanese, in particular, because they thought it would be easy, which it wasn’t. Therefore, some of them might’ve supported the war. There were also people, who were extreme Leftists, and they saw a war with Japan as a way to get back into war with Germany. However, support for a war with Japan was not very big.
Teddy Lawson, who wrote 30 seconds over Tokyo, said “We never expected there’d be a war with Japan we were training for a war against Germany. It came as a complete surprise.” Everybody else felt that way too, because they didn’t read the newspapers. If people had read the newspapers in the last week before Pearl Harbor, everyone would have known had how desperate the negotiations had become.
FDR came back from his vacation and tried to negotiate. FDR sent a message to the Emperor that action was likely in the Pacific. I guess people were reading the sports pages instead. Of course, the front page headlines were, across all six columns, “DANGER, POSSIBLE WAR”, but nobody read into them.
Pre-Wartime Propaganda in Support of Air Raids over Japan
Q: What did you think of China’s plan to attack?
A: I haven’t heard about it. I’d like to investigate it further, but I have pictures showing how easy it would have been for the Americans to bomb Japan from Russia and from the Philippines, which were published in a national magazine in October of 1941, five weeks before Pearl Harbor.
Q: Can you explain the photos?
A: They were from the United States News and World Report. That publication died last year. It is now no longer in print, but back then it showed maps of various places, which included the Aleutian Islands, China, Russia, Guam, and the Philippines. The magazine talked about how easy it would have been for American planes to subdue Japan through air raids, if trouble were to break out.
The purpose of the article might have been to calm the American people and to tell them that America didn’t have to worry about the Japan. This news created the appearance that Japan wasn’t going to fight, and if it did, American would have an easy win.
Japan Liberated the Philippines
The magazine ran the story while America had some 20,000 American soldiers that were stuck in the Philippines. As it turned out, the story backfired. On the second day of the war, when nobody knew what was going to happen, but everybody knew there was a war going on between the United States and Japan, the Japanese bombed the Philippines. They destroyed most of the American planes. Then, the Japanese invaded the islands. Philippine Scouts were part of the American Army, and most of the Filipinos ran away.
The Americans found themselves facing an equal number of Japanese, and they could not defeat them. Consequently, Americans claimed that 250,000 Japanese invaded the Philippines, but the real number was actually 25,000. A friend of mine, who’s an American Indian, once said, “Every time the white man gets swamped, he adds a zero to the end of the enemy’s group.” Americans wanted to claim they had been beaten by ten to one odds, but it didn’t happen that way.
The Pre-War American Deals with Japan in Asia
Q: Were the Japanese aggressive?
A: Japanese aggression within the Asian community started with American support and encouragement. The United States, with the Taft-Katsura Agreement, gave the Japanese permission to take over Korea, and the Japanese did. In 1912, the United States granted economic control of Manchuria to Japan, because America knew that Japan needed the resources. When that agreement fell apart, because China and Japan both allied with the United States during World War I, there were a lot of politics.
Both wanted Shangtong, which the Germans took from the Chinese in 1897. For a while after the war, the Japanese held on to Shangtong. The Americans then told the Japanese to help them with an invasion of Siberia. The Japanese talked about it for a year, and inquired amongst themselves whether America would really support an invasion. Would America really support Japan, they questioned each other.
America Didn’t Keep Its Promises
Terauchi was the Prime Minister. He wasn’t quite sure. He didn’t trust America. He asked Americans to send some of their troops and money, and then he’d help with the fight. What happened next was the Americans, the British, and the French joined the Japanese with the plan to invade Siberia, but they then backed out. They left the Japanese stuck, which worsened Japan’s ability to get along with Russia. The Japanese eventually left. In most cases of Japanese aggression, the Japanese were told to do something, and then the carpet was pulled out from under them.
Japan Wanted to Prevent Russia from Overcoming China
Q: The Japanese were the aggressors?
A: No. They were trying to build a ring of buffer states to keep the Russians from dominating all of Asia, because the Russians were a real threat. At that point, the Chinese were not much of a threat. Chinese people were intelligent, hard working, and there were huge numbers of them. They were used to their bad government, and they took care of their families. They never put their trust in politics at all. Today, from what my friends have told me, the Chinese are still the same.
China was not a threat to Japan. Russia was a threat to Japan because Russia had a government that shot people for saying the wrong things. It was far, far more tyrannical than the Japanese could have ever dreamed.
Americans Didn’t Understand the Structure of Japan’s Government
American people back then didn’t realize that there was a Japanese diet and Japanese politicans voted laws into effect. People thought that the Emperor was up there, like some Turkish monarch, and could point to a man and have him killed. Japan was actually a constitutional monarchy. Americans had no idea.
Koreans Have Been Talking out of Both Sides of Their Mouths
Q: The Great East Asian War, was it a war of aggression or liberation?
A: The answer to that question might have depended on the crowd that you asked. Many Koreans would have told the Americans and other White people, “Oh, the Japanese, they were so terrible, they were so cruel to us.” If the same people had talked to my Japanese wife, they would have said, “You guys were really brave, and the Americans were sissies. You were so much smarter than them.”
There were people from Taiwan who absolutely loved the Japanese. There were a number of people in India who supported Japan like Mahatma Gandhi, who was sat in his jail cell and starved himself to promote peace.
Gandhi Wasn’t Upset with Japan
One day, the British resident general came in and said to him, “Gandhi, gee, we understand that there might be a war with Japan if you tell the Indian people to support us, we’ll give you your independence at the end of the war.” And Gandhi’s eyes opened and said, “Why should I accept a check when the bank is about to fail?” What he meant was, Japan would never try to take over India. His country was in a mess, and the only thing he could do was to kick out the British. That was good enough for him.
Japan Proved to the Rest of Asia That It Was Possible to Self-Govern
Q: Was independence hard to obtain?
A: Once the various Asian countries, except perhaps for Korea and China, saw that White men could be defeated with an equal number of Asian forces, they were no longer afraid. They had been beaten so often that the idea of taking on the mighty Europeans gave them the creeps. When they saw the Japanese do it, they said, we can do it, too, and they did it.
Colonial Powers Lost Their Ability to Oppress Asian Governments After WWII
European countries were so exhausted from the war with Japan and more especially, from the war with Hitler, that they had all the fight knocked out of them. Which people from the Netherlands were going to try and take over the colonial empire after they had been living on grass and potatoes for four years? The French were burnt out. The British lost Ireland after World War I, and they lost India after World War II, just because they were tired of fighting, and because they had been shown that they were wrong. Japan was one of the countries that showed them.
Americans Ignored the Press Before the War Began
Q: What happened in the American newspapers?
A: The idea, that Pearl Harbor was a complete surprise, was something that the American people made up in their minds after the fact. Because for at least seven days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the newspapers had headlines like “FDR RUSHES TO CAPITAL: FAR EAST CRISIS GRAVE!” They showed that the Americans had expected something to take place between America and Japan, which was very serious.
In other words, they were already afraid of a potential war. The date for that headline was December 1st, which was seven days before Pearl Harbor. “ACTION LIKELY IN PACIFIC” showed the situation had been getting worse. That was December 5th. People had four days of headlines that said there might be a war. “ANSWER TODAY: BREAK NEAR” that headline showed that a war was going to take place in the next day or two.
No one remembered those headlines. People only remembered a radio broadcast which said, “An unprovoked and dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor.” Well, it certainly was not unprovoked it had been deliberately provoked. Whether it was dastardly was anybody’s guess. Most of today’s countries have been invading each other first and declaring war second. I think that the newspaper reporters, in Pearl Harbor’s case, did their job, but people’s minds didn’t function properly.
FDR Started the Pacific War
Q: Do people still believe that it was a sneak attack?
A: My cousin was in the Navy he joined when he was 17. He knew that the United States started the war. He hated Roosevelt. He didn’t hate the Japanese. He got off his ship in Tokyo, and he went to a streetcar and went downtown to have drinks and stuff. He said, “Hey! This is a great place, I like it here!”
My father said Roosevelt would get American into a war any way he could, and so did most people. My uncle Al was English, and he was a little thick. He thought that it was a good thing. No one else believed it everyone knew that it was a set up.
Historical Facts Must Be Shared Openly and Honestly to Prevent Further Aggressions
Q: Is it hard to find the truth in history now?
A: Yes, and I think it’s time that people should. There are now eleven countries that can make an atomic bomb down the road there’ll be 20 or 30. Countries can’t go on acting like they’re the only world powers. People must be willing to talk. They must be willing to figure out what people really want, what people really need. How can countries work out their problems without nuclear wars or mass massacres and without sending 100,000 people who don’t know each other into other people’s countries. It’s retrograde, and it must stop.
Public Praise for My Publications from American Military Leaders
Q: You published your book Operation Snow two years ago?
A: Yes, it was September 17th, 2012. So far, I’ve had many reviews and most of them have been favorable. Four unfavorable reviews were written with a Russian accent. “Stalin won the war for America! Russia was good! The lend lease tanks were useless! The Russians were heroes!” Americans have said that FDR let them down, that they should have never had a war with Japan, that the Japanese did some things that were not good, but the Americans did, too, and the whole war was a set up. Those American comments were from people, who, in many cases, had been in the service themselves.
The first review was from a US Admiral. The second was from the son of the Admiral who was held responsible for Pearl Harbor. They said that this book was a breakthrough because people could finally discover the truth. The Russian guy, at the end, said Harry Dexter White was the most dangerous traitor in American history. He had become an American citizen, so he could say it and live.
Translations of My Book Are Available in Japanese
Q: Did the publisher print Japanese copies?
A: Yes, it promised to print five million copies in Japanese.
American Diplomacy Should Have Prevented War in the Pacific
Q: What would’ve happened if the US government had accepted Japan’s plans?
A: The Japanese basically made an offer to withdrawal gradually from Chinese territory and to give back Indo-China as soon as they signed a peace treaty with the Chinese. There would have been no war had the Japanese been listened to.
The Americans professed not to believe their words, because they couldn’t admit to themselves that the United States sponsored a large part of the so-called previous “Japanese Aggression”. The Japanese asked permission before they went into Siberia they asked permission before they went into Korea. They did attack Manchuria, but they had already been given permission to enter Manchuria before. The Japanese were portrayed as Darwinian carnivorous aggressors, but what they were actually doing was building a defensive perimeter to keep Russia as far away from Japan as possible.
Unrealistic Terms for the Conclusion of Aggression Between America and Japan
Q: What were your thoughts on the use of the atomic bombs?
A: Japan wanted to take as much territory as possible, and then to give back everything that wasn’t intrinsically part of its Empire in return for peace. The Americans wanted an unconditional surrender, which was unprecedented.
America didn’t demand an unconditional surrender from Germany after World War I. It didn’t demand an unconditional surrender and try to take over Spain during the Spanish American War. It didn’t keep Mexico City after the Mexican War, and it didn’t try to invade England but unconditional surrender was FDR’s silly idea based on the American Civil War.
The unconditional surrender put Japan in such a position that it could not give up unless something absolutely horrific happened. America had spent so much money on the atomic bombs that it intended to use on Germany, but the Germans were overcome before the bomb was ready.
America was stuck with a project that was hugely expensive, and it ensured no practical purpose. It was interesting to learn that neither Eisenhower, MacArthur, nor Curtis LeMay approved the use of the atomic bomb. It was unnecessary at that stage. As they said, it was a political decision, and those bombs should have never been dropped.
America Bombed Japan to Scare Russia
Q: What was the real purpose of the bombings?
A: They were to show Stalin what could be done to a city. Stalin, at that point, was pretty obviously not going to give back Poland. He was probably not going to give back East Germany either. America wanted to show Stalin that although it coudn’t throw away 20 million people the way Germany had, it could turn Moscow into a sea of glass. I think it was to intimidate Stalin as well as to force a Japanese surrender.
Americans Felt Better About Killing Asians than Europeans
Q: Was there a racial issue involved?
A: That was a big part of it. The United States believed that a war with Japan was more acceptable to most American people because of the racial aspects. It was certainly a part of the violence. Americans used to cut up Japanese bodies, and they made arms into letter openers or kept skulls as souvenirs. They didn’t do that sort of thing to German or Italian prisoners. The real reason that they didn’t use the atomic bomb on the Germans was because it wasn’t ready. The atomic bomb hadn’t been tested when the Germans gave up.
Racism was a serious factor for the start of the war. However, there was simply no opportunity for the use of the atomic bomb. America couldn’t drop a bomb on Berlin after it was an ally when the Russians had already occupied it. America just wanted to show its allies, the Russians, that it could do it to Moscow. The racial aspect was how Americans thought that they could kill a lot of Asian people and their actions wouldn’t matter that much. They didn’t have the same thoughts about the French or even the Germans.
America Wouldn’t Have Had To Fight in Korea If It Hadn’t Fought the Pacific War
Q: How were America and Europe impacted?
A: The United States wound up having to fight two wars in Asia, which it wouldn’t have otherwise ever fought. The Korean War happened because of a clash between Russia and the United States over who controlled Korea. If Japan had controlled Korea, there would have never been a war. The Americans didn’t care about going into Korea to rescue the Koreans when they had the chance to do it in 1919. They actually sat it out.
Japan Gave Vietnam Confidence to Overthrow French Rule
Vietnam once belonged to France. The Vietnamese were able to throw out the French because of the Japanese invasion, which showed the Europeans that they couldn’t beat Asian people in their territories forever. That was another war that would have never happened if it had not been for the result of World War II.
Japan’s Greater East Asian War Ended the Period of White Superiority
Q: What happened to the idea of white superiority after the war?
A: After the war, people of color knew that White men could not control their countries forever. In the 1950s, Asian and Africans countries threw out the colonialists. Africa used to be a map of Europe with black people, but every country became independent. Asia used to belong to Britain, France, the Netherlands, and one time partially Germany and all those countries have become independent. That was the beginning of the end of colonialism, which was probably the idea that Ito Hirobumi developed in the 19th century.
White Men Could Not Afford to Preserve Their Caste Systems
Q: How has the idea of racism changed?
A: Racism became politically unacceptable because it was too expensive to maintain.
Did Soviet Agents Help Plan Pearl Harbor?
The USS West Virginia Under Attack at Pearl Harbor
Editor’s Note: We welcome Taman Turbinton on the 74th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor to present his theory on Russian involvement in tragedy
Still after 74 years, the date of December 7 brings back remembrance of shock and devastation. The surprise bombing by the Japanese Navy against the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, cost the lives of more than 2,400 Americans. Various treatments on the tragic event have tried to reveal the United States government’s foreknowledge of the attack. Robert Stinnett’s full length treatment on President Franklin Roosevelt’s knowledge of an imminent attack on Pearl Harbor is one of the most detailed. 1 Although that issue is important in and of itself, there is another side of the story that needs to be more widely acknowledged. The task at hand is to briefly examine the very often neglected information by our “standard” historians, about Soviet Agents placed in high positions in the United States government and other places around the world, and their involvement in deliberate enticement of Japanese aggression which lead to the attack.
Before the attack there were multiple factors which led to further hostility between the U. S. and Japan. While the United States was in relatively good terms with China, in 1931, Japan annexed the northeastern province of Manchuria, and in 1937 began to further expansion in China against the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. During this time the U.S. was a significant financial power. America was the leading country in producing petroleum, and a banking center for nations around the world, including Japan. Japan was an island poor in resources and had to import oil for its economy and military. The transgressions of Japan against China led U.S. officials to impose sanctions against Japan. In the summer of 1941, the United States shut off oil exports to Japan and froze its financial holdings in U.S. banking channels. 2
The history between Japan and the Soviet Union also played a significant factor. Both countries were enemies, hostile in nature toward each other due to previous wars. In June of 1941, Adolf Hitler broke the Hitler-Stalin Pact (also known as the Molotov—Ribbentrop pact), by his German army’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Japan at this time was allied to Germany due to the 1940 Tripartite pact. The German Army’s invasion would have inevitably led to Japan’s involvement in the war against the Soviet Union. For Joseph Stalin this meant a two front war with Germany attacking the Soviet Union from the west and Japan attacking from the East. If a two front war were to happen it would have been detrimental to the Soviet Union. This became the dominant issue for Soviet Agents across the world thus Moscow wasted no time in planning a way out. The plans to guide Japanese aggression away from the Soviet Union were strategically planed from the Kremlin all the way to Washington D.C. Next is a brief history of what Soviet Agents in the U. S. did to entice an attack upon the U. S. instead of the Soviet Union.
Shortly before the breaking of the Hitler-Stalin Pact the most important operation which led to the attack on Pearl Harbor took place between a NKVD officer and a Treasury Department official working as a Soviet agent. The former NKVD officer, Vitaliy Pavlov, disclosed that he had traveled to Washington D. C. to brief Harry Dexter White, who was working in the U.S. Treasury Department, that there must not be a U.S.-Japanese rapprochement. It was Iskhak Akhmerov, a Soviet agent, and illegal in the U.S. who suggested that Pavlov go to White (who was noted as an agent of influence) in America to intervene in Japanese-America foreign relations. 3 White first infiltrated the U.S. government when he joined the Treasury Department in 1934 as a very capable economist. The Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, was influenced heavily by White. In 1938, White became the director of the Division of Monetary Research, and became assistant to the Secretary of Treasury in 1941. In 1945, President Truman appointed White as the American director of the International Monetary Fund, which was one of the chief institutional pillars of the postwar international economic order. 4 A brief account of what took place between White and Pavlov will provided the context to events in U.S. foreign relations with Japan and the Soviet Union shortly before and after the break of the Hitler-Stalin pact.
Vitaliy Pavlov earlier arrived in D.C. in April of 1941. In May of that year he slid into a phone booth and contacted White. Pavlov informed White that his old friend “Bill” wanted White to meet him. “Bill” was Iskhak Abdulovich Akhmerov (as mentioned above), the illegal resident, who was also a NKVD agent. Another NKVD agent, and spy recruiter, Joseph Katz had introduced Akhmerov two years earlier to White. White told Pavlov that he was busy, but Pavlov was prepared for a moment like this, as his NKVD informants expressed that White was a committed communist sympathizer and fellow traveler, but at times timid and cowardly. Pavlov convinced White to meet him, and they decided to meet at Old Ebbitt grill, as the walk was about five minutes away from White’s office. Pavlov described himself to White so that he could easily spot him. Pavlov was short and blond, a person who by his looks could pass as an American. The next day, Pavlov’s handler “Michael,” another NKVD agent briefed him on the proper things to do before he met with White. 5
As White and Pavlov met at Old Ebbitt Grill, Pavlov began to brief White on how “Bill” was doing, and how he admired him. White with approval acknowledged that he had a good impression of “Bill” when he met him two years earlier. Pavlov then put on the table a folded note, White grabbed it and carefully read it. White’s eyes and facial expression expressed amazement and apprehension as he read. White had just read a detailed outline of what Pavlov’s handler “Michael” briefed him on earlier. In the note was an identified need to counteract against the fascism of Germany, and Japanese militarism. Emphasis was made about a strong expectation of an attack by Hitler, and the need for protection from Japanese aggression and attack. The counteraction was to assist in strengthening and protecting the Soviet Union, not the U.S. Anything that would also deter Japanese expansion in China, Manchuria, and Indochina was also emphasized with a reminder to mention the Tanaka Memorial if needed. White told Pavlov that he could let “Bill” know that the ideas expressed corresponded to his own and that he already began thinking about what was possible and necessary to undertake. White asked Pavlov if he understood what he told him, Pavlov repeated the words back verbatim. Pavlov’s mission was a success as this would later lead him to be a lieutenant general of the KGB. Harry Dexter White, a highly respected and trusted assistant of President Franklin D. Roosevelt had just accepted a written NKVD order on the behalf of Josef Stalin to protect the Soviet Union from an attack on its Pacific flank, and provoke a war between the United States and Japan. White agreed to carry out what Soviet Intelligence described as “Operation Snow.” 6 Shortly after the meeting Pavlov reported to Moscow that everything went as planned. 7 Although Pavlov years later denied that White operated as an agent, he did acknowledge that White knew his activities would strengthen the Soviet Union. 8 White more appropriately should be labeled a “non-Party Bolshevik,” as his espionage activity is widely documented, and over two dozen KGB documents reveal his espionage work. 9
The Sorge Spy Ring
Richard Sorge was one of the most important double agents of the Soviet Union. Sorge was originally recruited into Commintern intelligence service, and was later transferred to the GRU (Soviet military intelligence). Soviet officials ordered him to join the Nazi party, and have his membership as a means of cover up for his espionage work for the Soviet Union. In 1933 he began working for a German newspaper as a correspondent in Tokyo, Japan. In Tokyo he maintained constant contact with GRU officers, Victor Zaitsev and Butkevich. 10 At one of Richard Sorge’s visits from Moscow he received a direct command to assemble an espionage unit in Tokyo, due to the influence and credentials he was gaining from his work Berlin. 11 Sorge, alerted Soviet officials in Moscow in early 1941, that even though Japan was planning to attack the United States after the sanctions, a Japanese-American rapprochement was possible. If the rapprochement were to take place Sorge warned that it could result in a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union. 12 The Chosu clan from Honshu wanted to attack north, for they saw Russia as the natural enemy. The Satsuma clan of Kyushu wanted to attack somewhere south. 13 Some of the most notable agents in Sorge’s ring were, Ozaki Hotsumi and Kinkazu Saionji, both were Japanese Communist. Also affiliated with the spy ring were Chen Han-seng—a Chinese Communist, Agnes Smedley—an American writer and Commintern agent, and the German born naturalized Briton, Guenther Stein. 14 Part of Sorge’s spy ring duties was to collect secret Japanese military information, and acquire knowledge on their upcoming attacks. The most crucial task was to make sure that America was one of the options of attack instead of Russia. 15 Trying to make his plan work, Sorge explained to Japanese officials:
It would be a shortsighted and mistaken view for Japan to attack Russia, since she cannot expect to gain anything in Eastern Siberia.…should Japan aspire to further expansions elsewhere than in China, the Southern area alone would be worth going into, for there Japan would find the critical resources so essential in her war-time economy, and there would confront the true enemy blocking her from her place in the sun. 16
Outside of the Sorge ring, Lauchlin Currie, a Soviet agent and senior administrative assistant to President Roosevelt, 17 aided in policy influence in favor hostility towards Japan. In a memo to FDR, Currie explained if the U.S. made a modus vivendi with Japan the good will built up in China would be damaged. 18 Harry Dexter White, after his meeting with Pavlov made similar statements to that of Currie in trying to prevent a modus vivendi with Japan. White sent out messages through Morgenthau to Roosevelt that some governmental officials planned to portray the Chinese people. Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State, entertained a proposal of a modus vivendi from envoy Saburo Kurusu and ambassador Kichisaburo Nomura that Japan would pull out of southern Indochina for the restoration of its oil supply. On an emergency visit to the White House, Kurusu and Nomura explained to Roosevelt and Hull that the Tojo government wanted peace. 19 White was deeply worried by the proposals, as “Operation Snow” was dissolving. To counter the modus vivendi , White in his memo to FDR through Morgenthau stated:
[P]ersons in our country’s government are hoping to betray the cause of the heroic Chinese people and strike a deadly blow at all your plans for a world-wide democratic victory. I was told that the Japanese Embassy staff is openly boasting of a great triumph for the “New Order.” Oil—rivers of oil—will soon be flowing to the Japanese war machines….To sell China to her enemies for the thirty blood-stained coins of gold will not only weaken our national policy in Europe as well as the Far East, but will dim the bright luster of America’s world leadership in the great democratic fight against Fascism. 20
White’s plea would gain credence, as he played on religious themes in his memo, although inaccurately. Christ was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver not gold. 21 In White’s May memorandum he proposed that Japan, “[w]ithdraw all support—military, political or economic—from any government in China other than that of the national government….Give up all extra-territorial rights in China….” and many other proposals that were not in Japanese interest. 22 White passed on his memorandums to Cordell Hull, and he used much of White’s harsh language in his ultimatum to the Japanese in November. Hull’s memo was virtually White’s declaration of war on Japan. 23 By December 1, Japanese officials would made the final orders to attack Pearl Harbor. 24 Earlier, Kilsoo Haan attempted to warn the United States eight times of an eminent attack on Pearl Harbor. Haan was a Korean anti-Japanese operative in the United States with underground information on Japanese policies. Haan represented the Korean Underground in America, and sent President Roosevelt a letter on August 29, 1941, stating that Japan planned to attack Pearl Harbor. 25 On September 6, 1941, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Japanese Navy was given orders in a cabinet meeting to attack Pearl Harbor unless peace terms were met with the U.S. 26 After Hull’s memo reached Tokyo the Japanese were dismayed. On December 1, Emperor Hirohito met with his council and there was a unanimous decision by the cabinet for war. The cabinet agreed that the Japanese fleet would attack Pearl Harbor on December 7. 27
What Did Agnes Smedley Do?
Also neglected in treatments in dealing with Soviet plots for stirring tension between Japan and the U.S. is the discussion of Agnes Smedley’s role. Smedley was far from insignificant in her role as a Soviet spy. Smedley worked for the Commintern while operating in the Sorge spy ring. The Mackinnon’s in their treatment of Smedley argued that she was not a Commintern agent, or a Communist Party member. 28 Ellen Chessler, a feminist biographer of Margaret Sanger, also emphasized that there were no formal ties that linked Smedley as a Soviet agent. 29 Accusations of her Communist activities were commonly explained as being the result of conservative, and “McCarthyite” smears. Due to the recent availability of declassified documents, claims of Smedley’s innocence do not corroborate with the historical information. The evidence is so compelling that some liberals who loved and honored what Smedley stood for had to disappointingly acknowledge she was indeed a Commintern agent. Ruth Price, a self-proclaimed leftist, despairingly admits this fact and her words deserve to be quoted at length:
As a self-identified leftist, I, too, initially dismissed the accusations against Smedley. My Smedley was an uncompromising rebel, and I was certain that the charges against her had been triggered by people as frightened by her unbroken, independent spirit as her supposed “Communism.” I hoped in my research to exonerate Agnes once and for all of the cold war accusations against her. But there were problems. Relatively early in my inquiry, I discovered a cache of materials written by Agnes that had been preserved in Moscow, making her the only American besides John Reed with a collection of papers in a Soviet literary archive….[I]n the summer of 1988, I was invited to China to conduct my research on Smedley….several elderly Chinese and foreign expatriates who had known Smedley spoke quite openly with me about her work for the Communist International during her years in China. One woman broke down and wept retelling—for the first time, she said—her own role in the CPUSA’s destruction of Smedley’s reputation in China more than forty years before….Then halfway through my first draft, while composing the chapter that dealt with Agnes’s activities in Berlin during 1927, I made a discovery that shook my assumptions….Muenzenberg’s close friendship with a Russian Jew named Jakob Mirov-Abramov…chief assistant of Iosef Piatnitsky, head of the Otdel Mezhdunarodnoi Svyazi (Department of International Liasion), or OMS…[in] an FBI interview with a man the agency referred to as “Confidential Informant T-1,” who identified himself as secretary of the League Against Imperialism, one of the front organizations Muenzenberg ran in Berlin, and for which Agnes was accused of working…said that he had received reports from Smedley in Shanghai “by medium of Moscow” on the terroristic rule of Chiang Kai-Shek…“T-1” noted, Agnes had “a very high standing in the Secret Department of the Commintern…” My Agnes—the invincible rebel of my romantic imaginings—was gone. Against my wishes, I had succeeded in proving what her worst enemies failed to accomplish in a half a century of trying….Although the possibility of further research in China abruptly ended with the Tiananmen Massacre of June 1989, I now had several articles I was given in China the previous year translated into English. Like my interviews, they corroborated Agnes’s connection to the Commintern, and the invaluable assistance that relationship had rendered to underground Chinese Communist and other Commintern operatives during Agnes’s years in Shanghai.
…I no longer think of Smedley as the tragic victim of a McCarthyite smear. In truth, I consider her as cunning and crafty an operator as her detractors on the right ever alleged…. 30
Besides the findings from Price, documents from other Commintern archives provide information that Earl Browder urged the Commintern to provide funds for Agnes Smedley to establish an English language anti-imperialist newspaper in Shanghai. Browder also mentioned that the CPUSA also was willing to provide Smedley with helpers. 31 Many other examples provide information as to her work as a Communist. During Smedley’s work as a Commintern agent she cleverly hid behind her activities with Margaret Sanger’s birth control movement, and used Sanger to defend and cover for her. 32
In regards to Smedley relation’s with Sorge, they existed of intimate relations and espionage work. The two engaged in a lengthy affair. Smedley also willingly committed herself to Sorge’s espionage activities. Sorge initially saw women as unfit for espionage work, but Smedley was different. For Sorge, Smedley had a brilliant mind, and was like a man in espionage work. Smedley was Sorge’s chief recruiting agent, and she was able to provide Sorge with information of Sino-Japanese and Sino-American relations. Her knowledge about the Nanking government’s activities to create closer relationship with the United States and Great Britain was important because it provided Sorge with information concerning the Anglo-American bloc, and indications that Japanese relations were growing further apart. Smedley was also the person who convinced Ozaki Hotsumi to do espionage work. Once Ozaki was in she introduced him to Sorge. 33 Sorge would also express that out of all the information from Japanese sources Ozaki’s was the best. 34 Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Smedley showed little shock as she criticized the incompetence of U. S. officials. Years later the Army’s public information division, released a report on the Sorge spy rings activities and Sorge’s knowledge of an attack on Pearl Harbor. 35 Needless to say, some of Sorge’s knowledge would have been impossible without “comrade” Smedley.
Although FDR had knowledge of an imminent attack upon Pearl Harbor, those largely to blame were the traitors working against the interest of the United States. The brief information presented is an attempt to show that there were Soviet agents of influence in the U. S. government, and other parts of the world to have Japan attack the U. S., or somewhere else besides Russia. This was Richard Sorge’s chief concern in Japan. His activities not only consisted of espionage, but also influencing Japanese foreign policy to attack the U.S. 36 In the U.S., the betrayal is largely owed to Harry Dexter White, and Lauchlin Currie. White was the traitor with the most power and influence on foreign policy. Japan and the United States wanted peace. The activity of the Soviet agents had a tremendous effect on the turn of events. Frankly, in the words of John Koster, “Harry Dexter White gave us Pearl Harbor.” 37 In agreement with Koster, it is not dubious to suppose that if it was not for the work of White and others, Pearl Harbor would have been safe, and the Soviet Union dismantled much earlier than 1991.
An Aerial View of the Pearl Harbor Attack
1. Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor (New York: Frees Press, 2000).
2. M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government (New York: Threshold Editions, 2012), 90-91.
3. Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2000), p. 29, 37. Akhmerov is still a controversial figure in regards to his relation with Harry Hopkins, FDR’s closet adviser. Akhmerov claimed to have interacted Hopkins as a Soviet Agent. For further information on this issue see pp. 210-219 in Romerstein and Breindel. Also see Paul Kengor, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2010), pp. 124-26.
4. John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 258-59 John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), pp. 138-139.
5. John Koster, Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor (Washington D.C.: Regnery History, 2012), pp. 1-3.
6. Ibid., pp. 4-8. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Vitaliy Pavlov published the events of Operation Snow in his memoirs in Russian, with the translation entitled Operation Snow: Half a Century at KGB Intelligence (Moscow: Gaia Herum, 1996). “Snow” was a play on words from White’s name.
7. Romerstein and Breindal, Venona Secrets , p. 44.
8. Evans and Romerstein, Stalin’s Secret Agent s, pp. 96-97.
9. Romerstein and Breindal, Venona Secrets , pp. xv, 31 Christopher Andrew, and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 104, 106, 130, 142 Ralph de Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1967), p. 103 Haynes and Klehr, Venona , pp. 125-26 Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies , p. 258.
10. Romerstein and Breindal, Venona Secrets , pp. 36-37.
11. Ruth Price, The Lives of Agnes Smedley (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 237 Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats , pp. 66-68.
12. Romerstein and Breindal, Venona Secrets , p. 36.
13. Koster, Operation Snow , p. 23.
14. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy, and His Fight Against America’s Enemies (New York: Crown Forum, 2007), p. 68.
15. For some of the information Sorge discovered through Ozaki see, Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats , pp. 4-5.
16. Quoted in Evans and Romerstein, Stalin’s Secret Agents , p. 93 also reported in Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats , p. 110.
17. Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies , p. 262.
18. Evans and Romerstein, Stalin’s Secret Agents , p. 94.
19. Koster, Operation Snow , pp. 130-32.
20. Quoted in ibid., pp. 133-34.
21. Matthew 26:14-16. Koster rightly made this observation, see p. 134
22. Quotes from memo in Koster, Operation Snow , pp. 46-4
23. Ibid., pp. 136-37.
24. Romerstein and Breindal, Venona Secrets , p. 43.
25. Koster, Operation Snow , pp. 55, 141-42.
26. Ibid., p. 115.
27. Ibid., pp. 138-39.
28. Janice R. Mackinnon and Stephen R. MacKinnon, Agnes Smedley: The Life and Times of an American Radical (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 142.
29. Ellen Chesler, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), pp. 360-61.
30. Ruth Price, The Lives of Agnes Smedley (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 6-8, 9.
31. Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), pp. 61-63.
32. Price, Agnes Smedley , pp. 8-9 Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Peter C. Engelman, eds., The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger , vol. 1, The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), pp. 350, 414 Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Peter C. Engelman, eds., The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger , vol. 2, Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), p. 78 Chesler, Woman of Valor , p. 360
33. Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats , pp. 5, 34 Price, Agnes Smedley , pp. 198-200, 214-15.
34. Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats , p. 57
35. Price, Agnes Smedley, pp. 352-53, 393-94.
36. Toledano, Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats, p. 110.
37. Koster, Operation Snow , p. 215.
Andrew, Christopher and Vasili Mitrokhin. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB . New York: Basic Books, 1999.
Chesler, Ellen. Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America . New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.
Evans, M. Stanton. Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight against America’s Enemies . New York: Crown Forum, 2007.
Evans, M. Stanton, and Herbert Romerstein. Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government . New York: Threshold Editions, 2012.
Haynes, John Earl. and Harvey Klehr. Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Haynes, John Earl, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev. Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Katz, Esther, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Peter C. Engelman, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger . Vol. 1, The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928 . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.
———. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger . Vol. 2, Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 . Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Klehr, Harvey, John Earl Haynes, and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov. The Secret World of American Communism . New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.
Koster, John. Operation Snow: How A Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor . Washington D.C.: Regnery History, 2012.
Mackinnon, Janice R., and Stephen R. MacKinnon. Agnes Smedley: The Life and Times of an American Radical . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Price, Ruth. The Lives of Agnes Smedley . New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Romerstein, Herbert, and Eric Breindel. The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors . Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2000.
Toledano, Ralph de. Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats . New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1967.
Pearl Harbor: Operation Snow
The following is an excerpt from John Koster’s Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor. Using recently declassified evidence from U.S. archives and newly translated sources from Japan and Russia, it presents new theories on the causes of the Pearl Harbor attack. It is available to order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Historians have long discussed whether foreign espionage was responsible for Japan’s military attack on Pearl Harbor. But new research has connected major pieces of that Soviet activity within the United States in much detail. And most of it leads to one man.
Much of the evidence points to one American government worked-turned-spy: Harry Dexter White. He was the top official in FDR’s Treasury Department and had the ear of prominent New Dealers such as his boss Secretary Henry Morgenthau, as well as others in President Roosevelt’s Cabinet.
White was in close contact with Vitaly Pavlov, the “second-in-command” in the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB). The two plotted a strategy—”Operation Snow”—that initiated a toppling of dominoes that utlimately led to December 7, 1941. The main issue was oil. Japan didn’t have any and had to acquire it from the Soviet Union or the United States. White worked furiously to pull levels of American government power to provoke an attack from Japan, sparing the Soviets.
He did so by influencing the Roosevelt administration against reaching a diplomatic deal with the Japanese. White worked overtime once the Hitler-Stalin pact abruptly ended, since a Japanese attack on Russia would divert Russia’s forces away from its Western Front, making Germany’s conquest of the Soviet Union all the more likely.
Much of what we know about White comes from his August 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. But because the former Treasury official failed to exonerate himself in these committee appearance, he took his own life three days later in a disguised suicide
Read the articles below to learn about a largely-unknown story of Pearl Harbor, part of the still-unfolding facts about World War II.
This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Pearl Harbor attack. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to Pearl Harbor.
You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left.
June 5, 2013
The modern world economy materialized in the mountain air of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944. Three weeks after the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, delegates from forty-four Allied countries gathered at the Mount Washington Hotel to devise institutions meant to foster multilateral cooperation, financial stability and postwar economic reconstruction. Their expressed goals were not just economic the delegates were convinced that the success of the Bretton Woods conference would ensure world peace as well as prosperity. In the words of the most famous of the attendees, John Maynard Keynes, their efforts could create a world in which &ldquothe brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase.&rdquo But first they had to overcome deep divisions rooted in national interests.
The Battle of Bretton Woods
John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order.
By Benn Steil.
Buy this book
Two men dominated the planning for Bretton Woods and the negotiations at the conference. On one side, representing the declining power of Great Britain, was Lord Keynes, the most famous economist in the world and an unpaid adviser to the UK Treasury. For several years, he had been refining his plan to create an International Currency Union, a kind of global central bank that would create its own money (&ldquoBancor&rdquo) to lend to indebted countries like Britain so they could import more goods than they were able to export in the lean postwar years. On the other side, representing the ascendant power of the United States, was an obscure Treasury Department official named Harry Dexter White. Although he was hardly known outside Washington, White was a brilliant, Harvard-trained economist who was empowered and completely trusted by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., in turn a close friend and trusted adviser of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. For three years, White had been working on his own plan for an International Stabilization Fund that would steady foreign exchange rates by persuading countries to peg their currencies to the US dollar, while pegging the value of the dollar to a fixed price for gold. White&rsquos fund would lend dollars&mdashand, potentially, other convertible currencies or gold&mdashto debtor nations, but on tighter terms than were envisaged by Keynes. These two plans were reconciled at Bretton Woods to create the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The &ldquobattle&rdquo between Keynes and White was a tense and occasionally explosive but mostly collegial negotiation conducted in the midst of World War II. It was a struggle between two vastly different men on behalf of two countries that were immensely powerful in vastly different ways. White had the upper hand, and only partly because the United States held most of the world&rsquos gold and was the only creditor country of any relevance. Circumstances also gave White the high moral ground. Britain was desperate to hold on to its empire, its system of &ldquoimperial&rdquo trade preferences and its &ldquosterling area&rdquo of countries pegging their currencies to the pound. In the United States, the Roosevelt administration was eager to tap into markets in the British orbit, and it therefore favored a more rapid and complete opening up of trade and finance. In White&rsquos plan, lending by the fund would be secondary to its focus on creating an open multilateral financial system.
Because Roosevelt and Morgenthau saw the greater purpose of Bretton Woods as promoting a lasting opportunity for peace, White also viewed Great Britain as a secondary player in this scheme. Of far greater portent was the US relationship with the Soviet Union. Although the USSR, like Britain, was a US ally that was being impoverished by the war, White foresaw that it would hold the key to world security in the aftermath of the conflict. A prosperous Russia would provide a counterweight in Europe to Germany (still the enemy), and trade with Russia was potentially valuable for the West.
White spent some five months in the run-up to Bretton Woods in a series of meetings in Washington with a high-level delegation of experts from the Soviet Union, explaining the benefits of joining the proposed international agencies and responding to their concerns about the apparent capitalist nature of the enterprise. His efforts succeeded to the point of getting the Soviet delegation to sign the Articles of Agreement at Bretton Woods, but at the end of 1945 Joseph Stalin decided not to join the IMF, which he feared (not without cause) would be controlled largely by the United States.
The history of Bretton Woods and the creation of the postwar international financial system has been told often and well in numerous books and articles. The latest contribution, The Battle of Bretton Woods, by Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations, purports to add to our knowledge but gets the history consistently wrong. It would be tempting to ignore it, except that Steil&rsquos account creates a dangerously misleading history not only of how and why today&rsquos financial system came into being, but also of the motives that guided White&rsquos efforts.
Part of the problem is confusion about the economics. A central element of what Keynes and White were trying to create was a way to have stable exchange rates and prices and economic growth. That required limiting&mdashor in Keynes&rsquos view, eventually abolishing&mdashthe international role of gold as a base for money. No one at Bretton Woods was arguing for a return to the classical gold standard that had prevailed before World War I. That system suffered not only from its inflexibility but also from large, arbitrary and capricious changes in the supply of gold. In the gold-standard era, prices were stable on average over the decades, but they rose and fell in response to the presence or absence of new discoveries. Nations prospered or suffered depending on where and when gold might be found. The delegates at Bretton Woods wanted a new system that would depend importantly on the cooperative management of money by central banks. The only dispute was over how best to discipline the system by circumscribing central bankers&rsquo scope for discretionary policies.
Steil&rsquos analysis of the role of gold in the Bretton Woods negotiations is colored by his own nostalgia for the classical gold standard. He criticizes Keynes&mdashthe father of macroeconomic theory&mdashfor not understanding gold&rsquos monetary role. &ldquoKeynes blamed much on the gold standard,&rdquo Steil writes, &ldquothat he might just as well have blamed on the weather.&rdquo He concludes that Keynes favored controls on financial capital flows only because he failed to appreciate what a return to the gold standard could have offered: &ldquoKeynes argued that speculative capital would, without controls, periodically wreak havoc&hellip. Yet speculative capital does this precisely because of the lack of a credible anchor for the exchange rate, such as gold provided during the late nineteenth century.&rdquo In truth, Keynes understood exactly what the problem was, and he knew that a return to gold would not solve it. A system without the gold standard requires a means of allowing flexible policy-making within real constraints. Keynes never found a fully effective solution, but he was surely on the right path.
The second, and larger, problem is political. Steil accepts the belief&mdashlong propagated on the right&mdashthat White&rsquos negotiations with the Soviets amounted to espionage and were motivated by his secret admiration for the Soviet economic system. Steil makes much of a handwritten document that he claims to have discovered, but which he has simply misunderstood and misinterpreted. The document, which resides among White&rsquos personal papers in the manuscript library at Princeton University, is an incomplete first draft for an article on the postwar political arrangements that would soon be enshrined in the UN Security Council. Though undated, the draft was written soon after the publication of Walter Lippmann&rsquos bestselling 1943 book U.S. Foreign Policy, to which it refers admiringly, and probably before the formalization of the proposed United Nations organization at Dumbarton Oaks in October 1944.
In this unpublished draft, White argues&mdashas he regularly did in public&mdashthat the best way to prevent a postwar resurgence of military aggression by Germany or Japan would be to maintain the alliance among the four great powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and (Nationalist) China. That, of course, is exactly what was envisaged in the creation of the Security Council in 1945. (White omits France, which seldom got any respect in those days.) He notes that the main objection in the United States to continuing this Grand Alliance after the war is repugnance for the Soviet economic system, and he therefore dismantles that objection and argues that the Soviet system is not so different from every other country&rsquos as to make it unfit for cooperation with the West. Nowhere&mdasheither in the unpublished draft or anywhere else&mdashdoes he suggest a preference for the Soviet system over that of the United States. Although Steil acknowledges correctly that &ldquothere is no evidence that [White] admired communism as a political ideology,&rdquo he hints that heretofore dubious accounts of White&rsquos &ldquosecret&rdquo admiration for the Soviet economy are now &ldquowholly credible.&rdquo
Steil devotes a good part of his book to rehashing old charges that White spied for the Soviets by conveying documents and general information to them, and he suggests that the Bretton Woods agreements were skewed to favor the Soviet economy. In other words, the IMF was a Communist plot! Steil presents no new evidence for the charge, and his argument is dangerously misleading. Yet it&rsquos worth a closer look. White was not a Communist and had no obvious motive, so why do some people think he was a spy? Three reasons have been suggested, and each is suspect and weak.
First, White had several friends and associates who were involved with the US Communist Party. He certainly knew they were sympathetic to communism and the Soviet Union, and he seems to have been indifferent to their political views and activities. Those relationships fed accusations of guilt by association during the McCarthy era. More seriously, they exposed him to charges of complicity in specific crimes committed by people around him. At least one of his subordinates at the Treasury supplied documents, some drafted by White, to a cell of American spies known as the Silvermaster group. (Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, the alleged head of this group, was a longstanding friend of White&rsquos.) Whether White knew what they were doing is purely a matter of speculation. How much credibility does one grant secondhand accounts claiming that these spies said that a document came &ldquofrom Harry,&rdquo when one of their number had personal access to a copy of the document in the normal course of Treasury business?
Second, after the end of the war, when White had become famous as the author of the Bretton Woods agreements, two notorious fabulists told the FBI, and later the general public, that White was a spy for the Soviets. One, Elizabeth Bentley, had been a member of the Silvermaster group. She turned informant for the FBI and eventually linked White to Silvermaster through the people who had conveyed Treasury documents. She never met White and had no direct knowledge of whether he was involved in the Silvermaster ring other than by having such people working in his office. Even the FBI had serious doubts about her credibility.
The other informant, a Time magazine journalist named Whittaker Chambers, may have met White in the late 1930s Chambers was in the Communist Party and at the time associated with many people on the left. When suspicions arose a decade later, White denied having ever met him, but Chambers habitually used a variety of aliases, so the truth is obscure. Chambers dramatically produced a microfilm for the FBI, dubbed the &ldquoPumpkin Papers,&rdquo literally pulling it out of a pumpkin on his farm in 1948. The film contained, among other items unrelated to White, images of four pages of lined paper on which White had scribbled notes on various topics. Anyone who has worked in a bureaucracy like the Treasury Department would recognize these pages as the kind of notes taken during the meetings that consume so much of an official&rsquos day. Chambers claimed, to the FBI and later in his autobiography, that White had given him the notes to convey to Soviet intelligence. But when called to testify before a grand jury, Chambers admitted that White had never personally given him any documents. As with almost every aspect of Chambers&rsquos stories, the truth is elusive: how he obtained the notes and why he never gave them to his friends in the party are unanswerable questions.
Third, in the 1990s, the US government declassified several thousand Soviet cables from the &rsquo40s that it had intercepted, partially decrypted and translated in a project known as VENONA. Some fifteen or so of those cables include references to White. Taken out of context and accepted as literal truth, these reports from Soviet intelligence agents appear to confirm White&rsquos complicity in espionage. In context, however, the story is more benign. Although the VENONA interceptions lasted throughout the war and into the early postwar years, all of the cables mentioning White date from April 1944 through June 1945. Several refer or relate to two meetings in April and August 1944 between White and a Soviet agent code-named Kol&rsquotsov, or to Soviet efforts during that period to gain better access to White and even to recruit him as an agent. At that time, White was meeting regularly and with full public disclosure&mdashthe Treasury even issued a press release&mdashwith a delegation of Soviet officials in preparation for the Bretton Woods conference. At least one of those delegates was periodically reporting back to Moscow, suggesting that he was succeeding brilliantly at gaining access to White. (Kol&rsquotsov was most likely N.F. Chechulin, the deputy head of the state bank.) Those cables look incriminating until you realize that they are a one-sided and self-serving depiction of conversations with a US official who was simply doing his assigned job. Moreover, the seemingly nefarious implications of the cables have never been corroborated.
In May 1945, during the conference in San Francisco to establish the United Nations, White granted an interview to a Russian named Vladimir Pravdin, who was accredited to the conference as a journalist for Tass, the Soviet news agency. Pravdin cabled his gleanings to Moscow in terms similar to Kol&rsquotsov&rsquos. In each of these cases, it looks suspicious that White was freely discussing US policy issues, including matters such as how strongly the United States might object to a proposed veto for the Soviet Union over Security Council discussions. (If the transcription is correct, White was wrong in implying that the United States might yield on that issue.) But even if one accepts Pravdin&rsquos report as gospel, the revelations were, at worst, indiscreet gossip and far from espionage.
To understand Steil&rsquos aim in this book, consider again the &ldquoeureka&rdquo document that is supposed to reveal White&rsquos secret longing for a Soviet-style economy. White noted there, with some satisfaction, that every modern economy&mdashSoviet, American or what have you&mdashrelies on a mix of government and private sector activities. The differences in economic systems are important and large, but not so fundamental as to deter the United States and the Soviet Union from continuing to cooperate in an alliance with other major powers. To Steil, White&rsquos position is heresy because it elevates government alongside the private sector as an important actor in the economy. White&rsquos &ldquoprivate views on the inevitable global spread of Soviet-style planning,&rdquo Steil writes, &ldquosuggest he was far more interested in locking the United States and Russia into political alliance than in the creation of a system to revive trade among private enterprises.&rdquo Not only does this passage distort White&rsquos views, it also reveals Steil&rsquos politics. Get government out of the way, eliminate bureaucracies like the IMF, bring back the gold standard, and the world will be a better place. White had a different view, and that was all it took to set the hatchets in motion.
How did the conservative ideas of Friedrich Hayek and the Austrian school become our economic reality? By turning the market into the realm of great politics and morals, wrote Corey Robins, in &ldquoNietzsche&rsquos Marginal Children&rdquo (May 27).
James M. Boughton James M. Boughton is a historian of the International Monetary Fund.
The son of Lithuanian immigrants, White was born in Boston, Massachusetts. As a young man, he served in the U.S. Army, fighting in France during World War I.
After leaving the military, he began his education at Columbia University, then transferred to Stanford where he earned a degree in economics. He received a doctorate degree in economics from Harvard University in 1932. White also studied Russian with the intent of gaining a fellowship to study economic planning in Russia. White took up a teaching post at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1933.
In 1934, Jacob Viner, a professor at the University of Chicago working at the Treasury Department, offered White a position at the Treasury, which he accepted.
After the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, White was appointed assistant to Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the Secretary of the Treasury, to act as liaison between the Treasury and the State Department on all matters bearing on foreign relations. He was also made responsible for the "management and operation of the Exchange Stabilization Fund without a change in its procedures." White eventually came to be in charge of international matters for the Treasury, with access to extensive confidential information about the economic situation of the USA and its wartime allies.
According to Henry Morgenthau's son, White was the principal architect behind the Morgenthau Plan. The Morgenthau postwar plan, as authored by White, was to take all industry out of Germany, eliminate its armed forces, and convert the country into an agricultural community, in the process eliminating most of Germany's economy and its ability to defend itself if attacked. A version of the plan, limited to turning Germany into "a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character", was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Second Quebec Conference in September 1944. However, someone in White's department with access to details of the plan leaked it to the press, and White himself provided an advance copy to Soviet intelligence. Public protests forced Roosevelt to publicly backtrack. The Nazis and Joseph Goebbels were ecstatic at the revelations, using the Morgenthau Plan as a propaganda coup to encourage their troops and citizens to fight on and to nullify emerging German criticism of the war and arguments for a separate peace with Western governments. White's actions also benefited the Soviet Union, virtually ensuring that the Nazi government or its successors would not negotiate a separate peace with the West. In the end Morgenthau still did manage to influence the resulting occupation policy, particularly through the Occupation Directive JCS 1067, which was in effect until the summer 1947, and which forbade activities designed for economic reconstruction in Germany. In a report on the German situation after 2 years of occupation, former President Herbert Hoover would in March 1947 remark:
Dismantling of German heavy industry in the west, agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference, continued until 1951.
White was the senior American official at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, and reportedly dominated the conference and imposed his vision over the objections of John Maynard Keynes, the British representative. After the war, White was closely involved with setting up what were called the Bretton Woods institutions—the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These institutions were intended to prevent some of the economic problems that had occurred after World War I. As late as November 1945, White continued to argue for improved relations with the Soviet Union. White later became a director and U.S. representative of the IMF.
On June 19, 1947, White abruptly resigned from the International Monetary Fund, vacating his office the same day.
The Lonely Crusade Of An IMF Historian To Whitewash The Spy Career Of The Fund's Founder
American economist James Boughton recently retired from the International Monetary Fund after nearly two decades as the institution’s official historian. Over his long tenure at the Fund, Boughton labored, according to an article in the Fund’s Finance and Development magazine, to shed light on “an organization long criticized for its secrecy and lack of transparency.”
Yet when it comes to the subject of the Fund’s founding architect, FDR Treasury official Harry Dexter White, Boughton was, and continues to be, demonstrably and wilfully inaccurate. Boughton is now virtually alone among contemporary chroniclers of White in exculpating him - in spite of overwhelming documentary evidence, the authenticity of which Boughton does not challenge - of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union.
President Harry S. Truman’s efforts to keep secret the FBI’s investigation of White’s illegal activities was the reason why White never became managing director of the Fund – and indeed the reason why the tradition of a European heading the Fund, rather than an American, began in the first place. What Truman, and indeed the FBI, had been unaware of in 1946 was that intercepted wartime Soviet intelligence cables would establish White’s culpability. Decrypting of such cables, part of the top-secret “Venona Project,” took place over many decades, and the first one mentioning White’s activities was not known to the FBI before 1950. The cables were only declassified nearly half a century later, in the mid-1990s. Reviewing thousands of them, a Senate commission led by the late New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan officially concluded in 1997 that White’s complicity in espionage “seems settled.”
Yet Boughton is still having none of it. His latest rendering of this “benign” story in The Nation insists, incredibly, that the cables reveal nothing more than White engaged in “indiscreet gossip” with official Soviet contacts.
In fact, the 18 cables referencing White which I found among 13,000 pages of FBI documentation on him, dated from March 1944 to January 1946 (considerably longer than the range indicated by Boughton), reveal far more than this. They show White passing confidential strategic information to Soviet intelligence through American moles, as well as directly to Soviet operatives, and expressing grave concern over whether and how his activities can continue to be kept secret.
These facts are logically inconsistent with the absurd claim that White was merely being “indiscreet” with foreigners.
Soviet cables dated April 29, 1944 and January 18, 1945 report information from White on high-level Roosevelt administration discussions of a possible multi-billion dollar loan to the Soviet Union. The second cable in particular provides evidence of White coordinating with his handlers, in this case former Treasury colleague George Silverman, his pursuit of Russian interests at the highest levels of the U.S. government. The Soviets had on January 3, 1945 formally requested a $6 billion loan at 2 ¼% interest repayable over 30 years White successfully lobbied Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau a week later to petition the president for more money at better terms: $10 billion at 2% interest repayable over 35 years. “In RICHARD’S [White’s] words,” reports the January 18 cable to Moscow, using one of White’s codenames, “we could get a loan under more favorable conditions” than Moscow was seeking. FDR, however, never approved a loan.
Another cable on the same day provides corroborating evidence for allegations that White used his position to secure appointments for other underground members. “According to ROBERT’S [Greg Silvermaster’s] report,” the cable reads, “he may be presented with an opportunity of obtaining from RICHARD [White] ROUBLE’S [probably Harold Glasser’s] appointment to RICHARD’S post, as the latter will soon be appointed assistant secretary.”
Between White’s House and Senate testimonies on the Bretton Woods accords in the spring of 1945, White had been sent to San Francisco as a technical adviser to the U.S. delegation. State Department official Alger Hiss, who also appears as a source in the cables, was the conference’s acting secretary general. On April 6, a week after Secretary of State Edward Stettinius invited White to join the delegation in San Francisco, Soviet NKVD intelligence official Iskhak Akhmerov received instructions from Moscow to “make arrangements with ROBERT [Silvermaster] about maintaining contact with RICHARD [White] and PILOT [White’s assistant William Ludwig Ullmann] in BABYLON [San Francisco].” A month later, cables began arriving in Moscow from San Francisco. “Truman and Stettinius,” a May 5 message from KGB officer Vladimir Pravdin reports White stating, “want to achieve the success of the conference at any price.” The United States, White told Pravdin, “will agree on the [Soviet] veto.” Other deciphered fragments of cables sent between May 4 and June 8 reveal White discussing the private views of other American delegation members, such as Leo Pasvolsky and Nelson Rockefeller of the State Department, Senator Arthur Vandenberg, and Congressman Charles Eaton, and later evaluating Latin American delegates (one of which White appears to call “a fool”).
Pravdin was in San Francisco working undercover as a TASS news agency journalist, and what White knew of Pravdin’s primary occupation is unclear. But White was certainly aware that what he was telling Pravdin was not meant for the press.
Confessed spy Whittaker Chambers had provided hard evidence that White was writing down and distributing classified information. KGB files only first seen by Western scholars in the 1990s record Silvermaster telling Akhmerov in mid-1944 that “‘J’ [White] knows where his info. goes, which is precisely why he transmits it in the first place,” and the Venona decrypts suggest that White was passing official documents. One cable dated August 4-5, 1944 has White telling a Russian agent codenamed “KOL’TsOV,” whom the FBI concluded was likely Nikolai Fedorovich Chechulin, a State Bank deputy president and Bretton Woods delegate, that “attaining the document [is] extremely risky.” Pravdin, according to KGB archives, wrote to Moscow on October 29, 1945 that White was “convinced that the question of his dismissal is a matter of weeks or months,” and complained that White was no longer passing “information or documents.” White was now only “giving advice on major political and economic matters.” His Treasury colleague Frank Coe was also “hiding from” Pravdin. “Nobody [in the Silvermaster spy group] . . . wanted to work” any longer.
The Russians with whom White met, like Pravdin, all had cover identities, and the Silvermaster contacts, according to confessed spy Elizabeth Bentley, had told White that his information was destined for the Communist Party USA, rather than the Soviet underground. White’s handlers clearly sought to provide him with a degree of plausible deniability, yet the Venona decrypts leave little doubt that White was well aware of where his information was headed. A deciphered portion of the KOL’TsOV cable reports that “As regards the technique of further work with us [White] said his wife was . . . ready for any self-sacrifice.” White “himself did not think about his personal security, but a compromise . . . would lead to a political scandal and . . . the discredit of all supporters of the new course, therefore he would have to be very cautious.” The cable further suggests that White took steps to hide his meetings, as he did with Chambers. “[White] has no suitable apartment for a permanent meeting place all his friends are family people,” a term referring to followers of the Soviet “new course.” White suggested that “Meetings could be held at their houses in such a way that one meeting devolved on each every 4-5 months. He proposes infrequent conversations lasting up to half an hour while driving in his automobile.”
The decrypts further suggest that White’s wife used her husband’s position as a bargaining lever to benefit her family. According to a cable titled “FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR ‘RICHARD’” dated November 20, 1944, Terry Ann White told Silvermaster that her husband was looking for a job in the private sector “since this would relieve them of heavy expenses.” Silvermaster took the hint, and “told [White’s] wife, who knows about her husband’s participation with us, that we would willingly have helped them and that in view of all the circumstances would not allow them to leave CARTHAGE” that is, Washington. Silvermaster thought “that [White] would have refused a regular payment but might accept gifts as a mark of our gratitude.” Akhmerov told Silvermaster “that in his opinion we would agree to provide for [White’s] daughter’s education,” expenses for which “may come up to two thousand a year,” but “definitively advised [Silvermaster, Ullmann] and the rest against attempting to offer [White] assistance” directly. White, the cable closed, “has taken the offer of assistance favorably.”
In their 2003 book In Denial, examining the writings of revisionist historians of the early Cold War, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr document the way in which Boughton consistently “misuses evidence, confuses facts and ignores inconvenient data” to exonerate the IMF’s founder. That Boughton continues in retirement to do so in public Fund forums should be a source of embarrassment to an institution dedicated to “transparency” about its mission and its past.
The Fund’s historian position is currently vacant. It ought to remain so. To be transparent about its history, the Fund doesn’t need to payroll anyone. It need only give outside scholars the same access it gave Boughton.
Benn Steil is Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order.