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Rambo ... Fact or Fiction Part three
The onslaught on the Isolationists who strove to keep America clear of both World Wars furnish the clearest illustration here of this antipathy. In the case of the Second World War, there is a mountain of evidence attesting to FDR’s prolonged, devious and ultimately successful campaign to get America into the war. The role of the British intelligence services in this enterprise has been slowly excavated down the years. Professor Thomas Mahl, who published a brilliant excavation of the covert British campaign in his 1998 book Desperate Deception – British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 writes in his introduction that “until recently, the study of the intelligence history of World War II has lacked respectability. The conventional charge is that it smacks too much of conspiracy – a word with a very unprofessional ring among American historians… |
Graduate students are warned about the ‘furtive fallacy.’… How does the historian avoid the charge that he is indulging in conspiracy history when he explores the activities of a thousand people, occupying two floors of Rockefeller Center, in their efforts to involve the United States in a major war? What should we properly call the public rigging of an opinion poll, the planting of a lover, or a fraudulent letter by an intelligence agency in order to gain information or to influence policy?”
The ruthless campaign to discredit Charles Beard’s pioneering 1948 book, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941 attested to the determination by the foreign policy and academic establishments to crush the Non-Interventionists and neutralize them as a political force amid the postwar rise of American Empire. Denouncing “conspiracy mongering” was an integral part of this campaign – never more vehement than when addressing the whole issue of FDR’s conduct in the run-up to Pearl Harbor.
Sometimes a conspiracy does surface, propelled into the light of day by a tenacious journalist. But by then the caravan has moved on. Webb’s charges became “an old discredited story”, just as the murder bids on Castro became, by the mid-80s, “alleged” once more. Despite the conclusive and damning record the assault on the US Liberty reverts in many references these days to the comforting rationale of a case of possible “mistaken identity on which the jury is still out.” As so often, the jury came back in and issued its verdict, but by then the press box was empty.
But maybe now, with the decline in power of the established corporate press, the far greater availability of dissenting versions of politics and history, the exposure of the methods used to coerce publish support for the 2003 US attack on Iraq, have engendered a greater sense of realism on the part of Americans as to what their government is capable of. And maybe in this more fertile soil, Sydney Schanberg’s long battle to get the press to focus on the fate of the POWs will be rewarded, with the bonus of McCain’s discomfiture in Arizona.