Mark Atwood (fallenpegasus) wrote,
Mark Atwood

Wow. The stuff I learn online. In re "Reagan won the Cold War", it turns out that the more correct answer is "Robert Hannegan". Who is he, you ask? Read on...

Pete McCutchen wrote:
Note: I also credit the Dems from Truman until the takeover of the Democratic Party by the McGovernite left and Republicans after Eisenhower got rid of the last isolationists. Reagan was in a position to deliver the final blow because of Truman and Eisenhower.

Jeffrey C. Dege replies:
If I were to select the single most critical individual in our winning the Cold War, it would have been Democratic party chairman Robert Hannegan, who was largely responsible for the rejection of Henry Wallace as FDR's running mate in 1944.

To which, Steve Brooks wrote:
I'd never heard of Henry Wallace so I did a quick google and skimmed most of the many words I found. I see that Wallace was considered a Soviet sympathiser and favoured a closer relationship with the USSR. But I don't understand why you see him as so uniquely important.

And then Jeffrey C. Dege replies:

Henry Wallace had been Franklin Roosevelt's vice president, until Roosevelt decided to replace him with Harry Truman in 1944. Wallace had admired the USSR since the 1920s; a visit to Russia in 1941, including a tour of the notorious gulag camp at Magadan, only confirmed his enthusiasm. At the end of World War II, as historian Allen Weinstein has revealed, Wallace even arranged a secret meeting with the NKVD's Washington station chief, offering him access to American scientists working on the atomic bomb.

In 1946, Wallace publicly broke with President Truman over the issue of opposing Stalin's bid for domination of Europe. Two years later Wallace ran as the liberals' antiwar candidate. He opposed the Berlin airlift and blamed the fall of Czechoslovakia to the Communists on the United States. His campaign attracted many academics and intellectuals who saw him, not Truman, as the true champion of New Deal liberalism.

But the real backbone of his Progressive Citizens of America was the American Communist party. Its chairman was a secret Communist; John Abt, its general counsel, was a Soviet spy who was part of the same Communist cell as Alger Hiss (Hiss himself worked for Wallace when he had been secretary of agriculture). The campaign's platform committee was headed by another secret Communist, Lee Pressman. Every aspect of the official platform faithfully reflected the Stalinist party line.


Wallace himself was not a Communist; nor was he a conscious Soviet agent. But the famous Venona decrypts do reveal that his favorite speechwriter, Charles Kramer, was an active NKVD spy who kept in regular contact with his Russian superiors. And Wallace knew more about what was really going on than his public denials of Reds under the Progressives' bed implied. In fact, when Hubert Humphrey complained about the prominent role Communists were playing in the election, Wallace blithely told him to go talk to the Russian embassy - it had more influence over his campaign officials than he did.


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