FDR: WHAT IS A US PRESIDENT TO DO?

From day one in his first administration as the nation’s Commander-in-Chief FDR kept steady vigilance standing by on the bridge preparing for the inevitability of war and final American acceptance necessary to get in it. A full two years before Pearl Harbor and America’s declaration of war on Japan and Germany, FDR wrote his ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy on October 30, 1939, “We over here, in spite of the great strides towards national unity during the past six years, still have much to learn of the ‘relativity’ of world geography and the rapid annihilation of distance and purely local economics.” Kennedy installs his eight children with him in the Embassy compound at the Court of St. James with its floral gardens and grand mansion that once belonged to banker JP. Morgan. But Kennedy is not very popular here for his pro-German views confident that Hitler would crush England. MI5 keeps him under close surveillance; his phones are tapped, associates are followed and secretly searched. When the bombs began to fall on London, “the American Embassy was, to Roosevelt’s disgust, the first to flee from the capitol”, writes Churchill’s personal secretary Jock Colville. Kennedy prefers refuge in his large country home. Roosevelt promptly fires him. (John Colville, The Fringes of Power, 753)

Ever since the disillusionment of Wilson’s promises during America’s strategic role in WWI and its turn inward into euphoric isolationism shackled suddenly by the mind-numbing economic Depression, popular conditions convinced President Roosevelt that only an overt act of war against the United States would rally the people to fight. When Hitler was on the verge of invading Czechoslovakia, ambassador Kennedy held a cozy press conference and exposed high ranking anti-Hilter coup plotters including General Ludwig Beck, Chief of the German General Staff and his deputy General Franz Halder. Kennedy’s pro-Hitlerite defeatism persists up to 1941 when in his commencement address at Notre Dame his constant anti-British remarks were reported back to the White House, and particularly infuriated the Roosevelt team for having said, more or less in a paraphrased summary of his remarks that “Hitler was the greatest genius of the century. (His) diplomatic ability was superior to anything the British could hope to muster. … Britain is hopelessly licked and there will be a negotiated peace within sixty days.”

Seymour Hersh disclosed in The Dark Side of Camelot that British intelligence compiled a secret file on ambassador Joe Kennedy “known as the ‘Kennediana’ file, which would not be declassified until after the war. In those pages Sir Robert Vansitart, Undersecretary of the Foreign Office in early 1940: ‘Mr. Kennedy is a very foul specimen of a double-crosser and defeatist. He thinks of nothing but his own pocket. I hope that this war will at least see the elimination of his type’.” (M. Hastings, Inferno, “We over here …”, 180; re. Kennedy at Notre Dame, Joseph E. Persico, “A Secret Unshared”, Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage, NY: Random House, 2001337; S. M. Hersh, 65)

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a grandmaster at handling the American press. Driving hard against the isolationist currents resisting American intervention in the European war FDR artfully cultivates their support with the sharpest instincts of a political animal. He steadily held firm his course towards nothing less than unconditional surrender of the enemy. The man in the wheel chair is most unsuspectingly undetectable and formidable adversary. His closest advisers are often baffled by the secrecy of his intentions. In a style not unlike JFK a generation later, Roosevelt forbids newspapers to photograph his steel braces needed to overcome painful adversity and earns him the confidence of the nation, winning an unprecedented four presidential terms in the White House, and he lives to see American troops embarking to the Normandy coast on their way to Paris and Berlin. Knowing that America soon has atomic weapons, and with victory nearly in hand, FDR sits for a presidential painting in the White House, then feels a blaring pain in the back of his head, and dies a few months before Hitler commits suicide in his underground steel and concrete bunker.

Two years after American rearmament had begun with a $1.15 billion Naval Expansion Bill, passed in May 1938, and then a Cash-and-Carry Bill, passed in November, 1939 which also modified the Neutrality Act officially opening the door for weapons sales to France and England, in particular, Hitler invaded Norway in April 1940. Then, two months before France’s capitulation, the President holds another carefully contrived and artfully controlled press conference. The press love Roosevelt and he has them eating of his hand.

When asked if America faced a greater threat of war he replied with deliberate circumspection that veiled his steady preparation to enter the conflict. Roosevelt declares, “You can put it this way: that the events of the past forty-eight hours will undoubtedly cause a great many more Americans to think about the potentialities of war.” It was finally the fall of France that persuaded FDR to stay the course and win reelection to keep his hands on the helm as Commander-in-Chief for a third term. His close adviser at State, Adolf Berle Jr., – both are experienced veterans of the First World War–, recalls on May 15, “The question of whether Roosevelt would run is being settled somewhere on the banks of the Meuse River.” In a special meeting with his chiefs of staff Roosevelt instructed preparations for war and expansion of the armed forces. This same year the White House rams through Congress the Selective Service Act imposing the draft and his $15 billion rearmament plan.

America is slow to get into the war. Not everyone agrees with FDR’s foresight. Harvard’s treasurer William Clafin advises Harvard’s president, “Hitler’s going to win. Let’s be friends with him.” Two years after the disgrace of Chamberlain isolationists in America still held sway on national public opinion against intervention in a foreign war; Kingman Brewster, Yale’s controversial president signs an editorial manifesto published in the Atlantic Monthly September 1940 against armed intervention to save England from Nazi domination. Thirty years later students would teach Brewster and his friends a hard lesson about Consortium politics and support of murderous Right-wing fascist regimes supporting US Consortium politics in the State Department during the free love and rock & roll sixties and anti-Vietnam War protests as white middleclass students mixed with radical Black Panthers demanding an end to the war. The American youth had enough of the appeaseniks and Cold War hawks of the Kennan-Acheson-Rusk gang. The youth (and not those privileged sons too stoned and anesthetized in the drug culture of prep school nirvana) were fed up and had enough of the lies and deception of the older generation. Finally they had come of age to teach their fathers a lesson just how terribly wrong they had been for far too long waging their insanely Genocidal campaign about the national liberation struggle of Ho Chi Minh a pseudonym of Nguyen Sinh Cung), Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap and the Viet Minh (a youthful Giap, victor in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu studied Napoleonic strategy at the Ecole Coloniale in France) but only after over twenty years of armed struggle and over fifty thousand dead American soldiers and more than a million dead Vietnamese.

In a poll taken the day before FDR wins the presidential contest with 55 percent of the vote, Fortune found that only 16 percent favored sending US forces to join England’s war for freedom. FDR understood well in advance of the nation that to defeat Nazi Germany, Hitler’s enemies had to destroy his Wehrmacht.

In the events carefully calculated by FDR compelling Japan to launch a suicidal attack on America Undersecretary Berle remains throughout the war a key intelligence link between his Commander-in-Chief and the urbane Henry L. Stimson who received perhaps his worst brow-beating from the president over delayed 1941 Lend-Lease shipments to Russia, instead diverted to England. Weeks after the German invasion FDR harangued Stimson in a cabinet meeting August 1, 1941 that the Russians weren’t receiving fast enough what they asked for including some 140 P-40 fighter planes packed in crates and sent to England instead.

The Russians have been given the run-around,” then Stimson insists. “I am sick and tired of hearing that they are going to get this and they are going to get that. Whatever we are going to give them, it has to be over there by the first of October, and the only answer I want to hear is that it is under way.” As we enter the dark labyrinth of the war powers of these giant nation states it will become clear reader how the Stalin’s man-made Genocide Terror-Famine of the Holodomor figures into the steely cold-hearted calculations of rapidly cascading events and the spiral into the Second World War in 1941.

In March of the decisive year 1942 Roosevelt tells his close friend and cabinet adviser Morganthau, “Nothing would be worse than to have the Russians collapse…I would rather lose New Zealand, Australia, or anything else than have the Russians collapse.” The following year Russia took the offensive. (Beatrice B. Berle, and Travis B. Jacobs, Navigating the Rapids, 1918-1971, Harcourt Brace, 1973, 314, cited in M. Hastings, Inferno, 181-3; Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, NY: Simon & Schuster, The Free Press, 2000; Ted Morgan, FDR: A Biography, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1985, 593; Eric Larrabee, Commander in Chief: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, His Lieutenants & Their War, NY: HarperCollins, 1987, 629)

The senior officers of the Wehrmacht”, writes historian Max Hastings, “flattered themselves that they represented a cultured nation, yet they readily acquiesced in the barbarities designed into the Barbarossa plan. These included the starvation of at least 30 million Russians, in order that their food supplies might be diverted to Germany, originally a conception of Nazi agriculture chief Herbert Backe. At a meeting held on 2 May 1941 to discuss the occupation of the Soviet Union, the army’s armament-planning secretariat recorded its commitment to a policy noteworthy even in the context of the Third Reich: 1 The war can only be continued, if the entire Wehrmacht is fed from Russia in the third year. 2 If we take what we need out of the country, there can be no doubt that many millions of people will die of starvation.” The Hitlerian extermination plan also included total starvation and destruction of Petrograd to be replaced by a modern marvel of futuristic Germanic urbanism. (Germany and the Second World War, Potsdam, v. 4, Research Institute for Military History, Oxford Univ. Press, 341, in Max Hastings, Inferno, The World at War, 1939-1945, NY: Knopf, 2011, 138-9)

The peasants didn’t know what hit them. It was as though a sudden natural disaster, a tsunami or earthquake had toppled and swept away the innocents. They didn’t understand the monstrosity of the crime perpetuated against them in their utter weakness against the merciless crushing force of such a cruel fate. After all, they were only peasants, illiterate, uneducated tillers of the Earth. There were farmers. They knew what was in store for them,– government procurements by police agents stealing all their grain, and seed! The global picture of geopolitics was too high over their heads to comprehend. So it was easy for the Soviets and their state communist propaganda machine to blame the victims for their misfortune.

The peasants are the least to blame. But how could they even dream that the American leaders in the free world could be so utterly cynical and evil unless of course they were the corrupt bourgeois counter-revolutionary capitalists of the West. The name of President Hoover and the American Red Cross persisted as symbols of goodwill since the American intervention during the Russian famine immediately after the First World War. Was there no other way to build “the New Society” of the great new communist state? Did life in Soviet Ukraine have to be a fascist communist hell in a maze of absurd totalitarian nightmares? In 1929 in April when the Sixteenth Communist Party Conference adopted the first Five-Year Plan for the Development of the People’s Economy, the peasants made up over eighty percent of the total population in the Soviet Union. “A hundred thousand tractors will turn the muzhik, the peasant, into a Communist,” declared Lenin. Newsweek bureau chief in Moscow, Owen Mathews (of Ukrainian descent) writes that in that year there are only five tractors for the spring planting in the Ukraine. (Owen Mathews, Stalin’s Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival, NY: Walker, 2008, 25-6)

FDR cajoles that he is a farmer too, “a gentleman farmer” on his 1500 acre estate “Springwood”, high overlooking the Hudson River; his friendly neighbor and close adviser Henry Morgenthau, Jr., is also an apple farmer. His father, President Wilson’s politically appointed ambassador in Turkey in 1915 witnessed the Armenian Genocide and pleads with Ottoman government officials and his own State Department to intervene to cease the bloodshed of mass extermination but it was all in vain. Now his son enjoys trading secrets of good cultivation and prized fruits of their farm labor tilling the soil of the earth under the sun. FDR’s Secretary of Agriculture and future vice-president, is also a farmer. Whereas for the gentlemen farmers this work is a hobby; and relief from the stress of Consortium business, politics and war, for Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice-president during the Holodomor years, farming is a living passion that assumes a cosmic mystical delight. Wallace is fascinated by the life of plants, and what he calls plant “intelligence”. None of these men ever lift a finger to save the Ukrainian population of peasants from Stalin’s campaign of extermination by hunger and terror.

Fascism, pure and simple? Call a spade a spade. Is it not so that it was always meant to be the way it was? The America President Woodrow Wilson, a great expert on the Constitution and former President of Princeton University, saw it already infesting his government during the first year of his first term and fought valiantly but in vain for the ideals of democracy till his death in 1924, repudiated at home and abroad, isolated, and alone. In 1921 Lenin warns his band of Communist Party Commissars of the Politburo which this year becomes the real center of power in the country, to adopt his pro-capitalist New Economic Program (NEP) with food distribution rather than a food tax as the incentive of food production by the peasants still burdened in their backwardness, that fatal curse gripping Russia for centuries. His days are long but his time is brief. Lenin will be dead too soon to see it implemented. Uncertain of a new beginning he warns others in his political testament to remove Stalin, and slowly wasted away poisoned, “incapacitated by his third stroke in March 1923”, and, nearing his end he and his wife are kept virtually a prisoner of Stalin who he had fatally made General Secretary, head of the Secretariat of the communist bureaucracy in 1922 which allows him to stack the nomenklatura and emerge the incontestably the dominant master of the Party by 1929. For Mother Russia it was too late. (Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield, The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, NY: Basic Books– Perseus Books Grp, 1999, 31)

The seeds of fascism had already multiplied their deep roots into the culture of western democracy and totalitarianism. When foreign bankers and businessmen construct and invest in fascist regimes, with their arms soaked in the blood of dictators which they nurture and protect, financially and politically, does that not make them fascists too? Or were the duped American people not unlike the forlorn Ukrainian peasants, victims of the same injustice perpetrated against the poor people of the world by fascists with their incestuous and invisible links between government and corporations which today undermines codes of ethics by global corporations to justify their investment in corrupt pariah regimes.

The author is a child of the Cold War, born in 1954, a year after Stalin’s death. My father served 44 months in the Second World War mostly in Japanese-infested islands of the Pacific. A US Signal Corps officer he joined the US Army after Cornell and Wharton Business School. Nearly everyone alive today are creatures of that era, by-products of Cold War culture which makes this book more pertinent than ever. Both the US and the former USSR are still heavily engaged in “Cold War” mentality and burdened by gigantic military expenditures while civilian populations confront issues of declining health and welfare. Only near the end of his life did he tell war stories of his years in the Pacific while I wondered how the politics in the country sent him there and stole away his youth. My father was in San Francisco on his first leave home in August 1945 when two A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hunger occurs in various regions of the world as it did in Russia and in America in the thirties. The United Nations’ global food security program reported “more than one billion people – a sixth of the world’s population – are undernourished, according to a BBC report mid-October 2009. World hunger remains widespread increasing daily despite modern techniques of cultivation and mechanization by billionaire dollar corporations trading millions of shares daily such as Caterpillar, International Harvester, John Deere and others with improved seeds and fertilizer. How governments choose to deal with world hunger recalls an amazing story of greed, indifference and deceit during the Holodomor thirties when the gold-plated billionaire Consortium corporate culture was rotten to the core. Leaders and personalities of power in the governing institutions, giant businesses and banks combined to perpetuate a system that at present creates enduring situations of famine in the world worsening daily.

For example, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) based in Rome said there are today “more hungry people than at any time since 1970” during the Biafra crisis. The world financial crisis had seriously aggravated the problem reducing foreign aid and investment in poorer countries and cut remittances from those working abroad. More hunger. More poverty. More government corruption. More propaganda and unaccountability. American government leaders argue that Russia must change its “mentality”.

Americans must do the same. So must many journalists responsible for honesty and integrity in their jobs of reporting the news and informing the public if not for anything more than to protect the rights of free speech and the freedom of information. For example, the two Wall Street Journal writers of recently published “Enough, Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty (Perseus Books 2009). A heart-wrenching story or an artful cover-up? First look at its funding sources: The Rockefeller Foundation, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Oh my God! I thought. What is this? What is going on here? And there it is, smack from page one the reader is told of the “patriotic duty” of DuPont; then followed by FDR’s Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace praised for trail blazing “from the beginning, the Green Revolution”; on the next page ultra-conservative Republican Consortium boss Herbert Hoover and often more aptly described as the mysterious wizard behind the curtain is introduced as the “wealthy mining engineer (who) organized private food-aid drives that fed millions of Europeans during World War I”. Reader, as we go hand-in-hand through this dense forest before catching your breath – keep up! Be careful! Try not to stray off the path for its so easy to get confused and feel lost,– that is what they want!, – we are told how Rockefeller Foundation’s president Raymond B. Fosdick is praised for its research to increase harvests with a team of agronomists led by Harvard and Cornell.

The Rockefeller team of Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman write, “Like Wallace, the professors were big believers in ‘scientific farming.” Bulls-eye! Here again with a traditionally correct twist smacks of elite propagandizing ingenuity aimed to protect the most powerful interests in America and around the world. Rockefeller-funded scientists lead the way to solving the world hunger problem! Amazing, yes? Perhaps. Ha! On closer scrutiny its apparent that these two authors for no odd reason fail to tell readers that from Berlin to Moscow, Rockefeller money led to famine across the whole of the Soviet Union, Genocide in the Ukraine, and the Second World War. Nice little war game this, eh?

Reader remember this: It’s all about money, power and influence, – using it, taking it, and never offending it. Woe to these guys who lost their place in what they liked to call “Our Game” when the USSR came tumbling down in 1991. Read John Le Carre’s novel by the same title and only five years with the British secret service to become England’s great spy raconteur on par with Graham Greene and Ian Fleming, also former FO operatives of the Consortium. The WSJ authors promoted their cause on National Public Radio (NPR), America’s most listened to propaganda agency with “news” virtually manufactured and approved for domestic consumption by the US government. Just substitute “Propaganda” for “Public” before the brainwashing begins. It never ends. Everyday, more of the same, more or less. That’s the way it goes.

Rising and uncertain oil prices, chemical fertilizers, biofuels, soil depletion, climate change, and a host of problems leave it strikingly unclear how world leaders will find the political will to resolve famine in the future. When Rockefeller oil money made the world what it is today, it will take more than money alone to change it. A free mind with new positive and constructive ideas is a good start. Even with a global push to increase food production by 50% by 2029,– and another 100 million people deprived by the 2008 economic slide of adequate means to buy food,– the awareness is growing that the problem is even more severe. Neil MacFarquhar, reporter for The New York Times listened intently for the record. A senior economist at the organization Kostas G. Stamoulis tells him, “‘The way we manage the global agriculture and food security system doesn’t work. There is this paradox of increasing global food production, even in developing countries, yet there is hunger.’” (Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, Enough, Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, Perseus Books, 2009; Neil MacFarquhar, “Experts Worry as Population and Hunger Grow”, TheNYT, Oct. 21, 2009)

Not so long ago in Russia during the lives of our parents and grandparents forced to survive under the terror of state communism, famine and Genocide happened in the Ukraine and other soviet territories. It was the result of orders of communist dictator Premier Joseph Stalin. Memories still haunt Ukrainian family survivors who were children when their mothers and fathers were killed or vanished. Some experts say perhaps at least ten million people were killed. One-quarter of the entire nation perished. Three million Ukrainian children perished in three months! They knew and the survivors and descendants remember how they suffered and died.

But at the time the world outside their villages and country was kept from knowing the reality because the leaders of the West including two Presidents of the United States refused to intervene to stop it. Instead President Roosevelt in his first year in the White House officially refuses to acknowledge it. And in the same year 1933 FDR officially recognized Stalin’s regime of socialist terror. The following year the Soviet Union is invited to join the League of Nations, in September 1934 to put a good face on the strategic alliance forged in betrayal and treachery of the ideal of freedom and the dignity of mankind, but the League “was still a taboo issue in American politics”, notes historian Joseph P. Lash in “From Pacifist to Anti-Fascist” from his book Eleanor and Franklin (1971). (Joseph P. Lash, Eleanor and Franklin, Forward by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., NY: W. W. Norton, 1971, 556)

While editing this book living on my fifty year old teak sloop in the Salt Pond at Block Island I came across a book in the Block Island Free Library, The Siberians by Farley Mowat. This prolific Canadian writer and naturalist, born in 1921 who before the war spent his boyhood exploring the vast wilderness of mountains and plains of his homeland in Saskatchewan in the northwest. A few years later Farley Mowat is commanding a rifle platoon in Operation Husky, the early Allied landings of Sicily; he and later does intelligence work on the surrender of Nazi troops in Holland and on Operation Manna of secret food drops saving thousands of Dutch lives.

One of the most honored and distinguished writers in Canada and recipient of countless awards, Farley is banned from entering the US during the Reagan administration, and later, again banned, in 1998 when invited to an ecology conference. Hostile to his politics, the US Justice Department discloses that Mowat is “on the watch list as a suspected war criminal”. After a public uproar the ban is lifted, but only temporarily.

Author of some twenty books (People of the Deer, 1952; The Regiment, 1955; Lost in the Barrens, 1956;Never Cry Wolf, 1963; The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, 1969 … ), and noted for his gregarious passion for ethnic peoples and the Arctic tundra in the mid-Sixties was invited to tour Soviet Russia. In Moscow attending a ceremony at the Tchaikovsky Theater in honor of the Ukrainian nationalist poet Ivan Franko (1814-1861) Farley was amused to find speakers addressing their distinguished audience in their national Ukrainian language although the Russian-speaking Minister of Culture for the Ukrainian Socialist Republic is obliged to ask for a translation.

On his tour through the Siberia taiga Mowat learns to appreciate the burden of false notions carried in the baggage of propaganda and their subtle differences between East and West. “Our belief (it is almost a tenet of faith),” Mowat writes, “that the Russians are mindlessly manipulated by their propaganda agencies like a bunch of automata is one of our more glaring misconceptions. In my experience most Russians are so immunized to the propaganda downpour that it runs off them like water off a duck. Furthermore, most Russian internal propaganda is so unpalatable, and is prepared by such unimaginative dullards, that nobody but a born fool would pay much attention to it. There are undoubtedly born fools in Russia but most Russians do not fall into this category. The real nature of the situation is summed up in the words of a Soviet correspondent who spent five years in the United States and with whom I once had a discussion about the relative effectiveness of propaganda in our mutual countries. ‘I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda,’ he told me. ‘Propaganda in the West is carried on by experts who have had the best training in the world– in the field of advertising– and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency.’

“ ‘On the other hand,’ he added, somewhat wryly, ‘we never had such a training ground because we had very little to advertise. Consequently, our propagandists are mostly old-fashioned and inept, and they try to make up by sheer volume of words for what they lack in ability. Yours are subtle and pervasive, ours are crude and obvious. This is one thing. Another is that we Russians are not, by nature, a gullible people. We are, and always have been, suspicious of what we cannot see for ourselves. You can call it the peasant mentality if you like. At any rate it is quite a different attitude from the rather charming naviété which makes many North Americans incapable of doubting or assessing what they are told by their leaders and their communications media. I think the fundamental difference between our two worlds, with regard to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours…and we tend do disbelieve ours’.” (Farley Mowat, The Siberians, NY: Penguin, 1970, 83-4)