Monday, October 08, 2012

Book Review: "The Sword + the Shield" by Christopher Andrew

Sometimes I miss the Cold War. I do. The USSR was the standard bad guy when we played with toys guns, and if you lost the coin flip, your team was the USSR during backyard sports games during the Olympics. They were also "commies". They had smoking hot bad women. They spied. They had the power to obliterate us. We had an enemy that we could call our equal, even if we kind of new we had advantages and much nicer lives. I'm happy now that their nukes are not automatically on American coordinates. It's fine that that threat is done with, but it does seem simpler than now at times. It's just nostalgia inside looking for something from my childhood to comfort me. I picked up the two part Soviet spy book series by Christopher Andrew on the Mitrokhin archive that was exfiltrated in the early 1990s. "The Sword and the Shield" is book one, and it is a great read. It is tough sledding at times because it is so detailed and you might lose track of names if you don't pay careful attention. If you love spy stuff, check it out. It's 500+ pages of spy recruitment, close calls and eventual capture or forced retirement.

Some thoughts inspired by the book....

This book did make me consider Walter Duranty's reporting incredibly dangerous and one of the greatest crimes against national security to the USA and UK ever. His reporting covered the misery and horros of Stalin's USSR. Because of this, the myth of the worker-peasant state lived for decades. It fed young socialists and pinkos with the illusion that the Soviets were the only ones fighting fascism and not that bad. It kept the romantic lie alive. This created the rationale behind many early traitors to the UK and USA, most critically in the Magnificent Five in the UK and the US nuclear program. Those traitors hurt the UK and USA, creating problems that haunted us in the '50s. How long would it have taken the Russkis to make the bomb had they not received two perfect copies of the details from two sources? It is frustrating to read those sections and not curse why children don't learn more about this and less about the evils of McCarthyism.

Wait, I know why. McCarthyism did work to destroy the CPUSA in the US and destroy the Russian illegal spy network. If you read the book, McCarthyism did work and did halt Soviet spy rings. It didn't help with technology spies, but the Soviets only had walk ins to use for spies after McCarthy. Every movie set in the '50s now has the overzealous anti-Commie and the aww shucks, nice liberal guy who gets blackballed. More people have been blackballed in movies than in real life (pure guess). My theory on why kids hear about the evils of McCarthy and not the evils of Hiss, White, the Magnificant Five and the scientists who betrayed the US/UK is that so many people questioned and attacked by McCarthy were academics and yes, Jewish. Academics have long institutional memories, and so do the Jews. Hollywood is also heavily Jewish (and proud of it). They crank out a Holocaust documentary or movie every year, yet skip over Stalin's murderous rule. They also love to showcase those evil McCarthites. Why? Jewish hollywood and the CPUSA, which had a ton of Jews were his targets. They will demonize McCarthy even if he did have some rationale, which turned out to be valid. The Communist leaning ring of the Rosenbergs and Fuchs gave the Soviets the bomb secrets.

The author does have a blind spot, and my guess is that he didn't want to wade too far from his subject material, but there is more to the lack of new spy recruits than just their loss of faith in the worker-peasant myth and enthusiasm for the new left in the West. Reading up on history of that period in US academia, those students would have been getting tons of commie propaganda and glorification from their professors. The economic growth rates of the 50s in the USSR were pretty high. These students didn't want to turn on the US to send secrets to the USSR because they viewed the USSR as successful. Their goal was to turn the USA into a commie state. The hippies and yippies of the '60s were pretty radical, and they wanted to overthrow the entire system. Why waste time sending secrets to the USSR when you can turn the USA into the USSA? It was outside the scope of his book, but that is the impression I get looking at contemporary American history.

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