Freedom Betrayed, by Herbert Hoover
The editor of this volume, George Nash, has included an appendix containing certain of Hoover’s writings regarding and related to what became the final version of Freedom Betrayed. These include instructions to his various assistants and others who helped check and identify facts and source documents. These also included passages and sections that are on topic, but for some reason not included in Hoover’s final presentation.
In what became the published volume of his magnum opus, Hoover decided to be less condemning of many of the actors on the stage – certainly Roosevelt and Churchill, but also (finally) Truman. The editor of this volume, George Nash, has included several of these passages in the appendix. He should be commended for including these additional drafts and for noting the distinction and change in Hoover’s tone.
Hoover made a deliberate decision to clean up the tone of the document. In a note to his research assistant, Arthur Kemp, on May 1, 1954, Hoover instructs him to…
…please note pages where there are acid remarks about Churchill and Roosevelt. We may want to consider some of them again.
Please consider whether a title different from “Lost Statesmanship” would not be more effective and more objective. For instance, Memoirs of Herbert Hoover….
Despite the often rich commentary Hoover makes against the western statesmen of the time in the “approved” text, his language in these prior drafts and removed sections is much more direct, forceful, and condemning. Following are some examples of Hoover unplugged.
Regarding Hoover’s attitude toward Great Britain:
I certainly objected to their manipulation of the United States into the war by power politics and propaganda.
Regarding Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor:
Roosevelt…undertook a series of provocative actions, beginning in 1940 and continuing with increasing violence until both national pride and national desperation led them to Pearl Harbor. [As Roosevelt] despaired of getting the American people into the world war on the European front, he was determined to provoke war with Japan as the method of entry.
Roosevelt apparently never understood the impact or violence of “economic sanctions” and played with them like the toys on his desk – or as I have said, deliberately used them to provoke war.
Hoover’s conclusion that getting into war was Roosevelt’s deliberate intent seems correct.
Hoover spoke with General Douglas MacArthur in early May, 1946 while Hoover was visiting Tokyo. In his written summary of these discussions, Hoover notes:
I told MacArthur of my memorandum of mid-May 1945 to Truman, that peace could be had with Japan by which our major objectives would be accomplished. MacArthur said that was correct and that we would have avoided all of the losses, the Atomic bomb, and entry of Russia into Manchuria.
I said that the whole Japanese war was a madman’s desire to get into war. He agreed and also agreed that the financial sanctions in July 1941 were not only provocative but that Japan was bound to fight even if it were suicide unless they could be removed, as the sanctions carried every penalty of war except killing and destruction, and that no nation of dignity would take them for long. He said that Roosevelt could have made peace with Konoye in September 1941 and could have obtained all of the American objectives in the Pacific and the freedom of China and probably Manchuria. He said Konoye was authorized by the Emperor to agree to complete withdrawal.
On the moral costs of America’s entry into the war:
Who would have believed America, without public protest, would drop an atomic bomb on helpless civilians whose government had already offered surrender?
Hoover is equally critical of Churchill – both his role before and during the war as well as his comments and statements made after the war. Again, in drafts found in the appendix, Hoover is far more critical than he was in the final version.
I had occasion to become acquainted with Churchill in the First World War, and later with Baldwin and Chamberlain. Intellectual integrity was not Churchill’s strong point; it was the outstanding quality of the other two. Churchill possessed a surpassing power of oratory and word pictures; the other two lacked in both these qualities. Churchill’s character was absolutely ruthless; the other two were men of scrupulous regard for the rights of others. Churchill was irresponsible in statement; while the other two statesmen were the soul of honest presentation. They were, therefore, no equal for Churchill in the arts of demagoguery. Churchill has imprinted on the world the notion that these two statesmen were inept, without courage, supine, and without direction in their policies.
As shall be noted later, Chamberlain was, in fact, quite consistent with 300 years of tradition of British foreign policy. It was Churchill that lacked direction – at least he lacked direction in a manner beneficial to the British people.
One of the most difficult problems with which the objective historian will need deal is that of Winston Churchill’s’ account of the origins and course of World War II in “The Gathering Storm.”…He ignores his own published attitudes at the time of events and when it suits his purposes, he ignores the vital and fundamental forces of the time. These forces were:
First, Hitler was preparing a land war; his face was turned east for ‘Operation Lebensraum”; his attitudes toward the Western Democracies were a determination to brook no interference, even at a cost of preliminary war with them…. Yet Churchill’s actions and writings assume Hitler as the major enemy of democracy to the neglect of the other equally potent enemy.
Second. He ignores the policy of Britain, which no Englishman probably ever will admit, from 1934 to prior to the Polish Guarantee (March 26, 1939). That policy was by acquiescence or otherwise to strengthen Germany as against Russia. It was the balance of power policy which the British had practiced for 300 years as their defense against domination from the Continent.
If they had not departed from their traditional “balance of power” policy with the Polish Guarantee of March 26, 1939, they would have kept the Western Democracies out of the war, at least until the two satans were greatly exhausted by warring on each other.
It seems Churchill played fast and loose with both the facts and his own recollections. This carries the stench of a criminal defendant purposely spoiling the jury pool by making false and favorable public statements regarding his conduct and character. Others concurred with Hoover’s views regarding Churchill’s “recollections” in “The Gathering Storm.” Francis Nielson, writing in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology in January 1949, writes:
When I finished reading Winston Churchill’s book, “The Gathering Storm,” I was foolish enough to predict that no one at present would have the courage to point out the inaccuracies it contained. I was mistaken.
He goes on to list accounts by other analysts that dispute many of Churchill’s statements. He then continues:
There are so many passages in this work to which the industrious and well-informed student will take exception that it is difficult to know which one or two should be considered in a critique.
…many of his recordings should not be accepted as history but as the opinions of a man who has a personal case to present….
It is interesting to note the language used by Nielson, “a personal case to present,” as if Churchill knew that someday he would possibly stand trial in the court of public opinion.
Neilson goes on to identify one such of Churchill’s self-revisions – that regarding the guarantee for Poland. Hoover has previously indicated, and the historical documentation is clear, that Churchill at the time supported making this guarantee. Yet in “The Gathering Storm,” Churchill writes caustically of the guarantee to “…that very Poland which with Hyena appetite had only six months before joined in the pillage and destruction of the Czechoslavak State….”
Neilson continues: “The mass of contradictions of attitude of mind is most bewildering – certainly beyond the understanding of what is called ‘the intelligent reader.’”…
Joseph Kennedy, Ambassador to Britain during this period, wrote in the New York Times in September, 1948 (after noting several deficiencies in Churchill’s book):
Other judgments in The Gathering Storm suffer from the same cavalier treatment of recorded facts. They are numerous. Churchill’s misquotations of documents that are public make it difficult for one to rely on his quotations from documents that are not generally available.
Hoover summarizes the value of the recollections and statements of Churchill succinctly:
I have found it necessary to reject every fact, statement, and conclusion of Churchill which cannot be confirmed from other evidence, and to discard much of his text.
Hoover asks and examines a fair question: if Roosevelt wanted war, why did he desire it? Hoover offers that one reason Roosevelt wanted war was to cover up the failures of the New Deal, a Machiavellian strategy to divert the public mind. This does not hold water for me: certainly the New Deal was a failure if the objective was to improve the economic situation in the United States. Yet just one year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – and right during the time Roosevelt was beginning his provocative actions towards Germany and Japan – Roosevelt had just won his unprecedented third term in office, and he won it in no small part due to his pledge to keep U.S. boys out of foreign wars!
Mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars….
For whatever his failings regarding the New Deal and the U.S. economy, these failings did not cost Roosevelt when it came to holding office. He had just secured an additional four year term.
A second reason given by Hoover “was his own left-wing mentality and his left-wing officials in government.” These left-wing leanings caused him to bring many “fellow-travelers” into office with him, including “actual members of the Communist Party.” It is reasonable that to the extent there were such members in the administration, they would work to ensure policies favorable to communism generally and Russia, as the political embodiment of that philosophy, specifically.
This also is not a satisfactory explanation. Was Roosevelt blameless as to those who served at his discretion? Such people held power through the entire time of Roosevelt’s administration. If they were not performing satisfactorily, could not Roosevelt have taken some action? In my opinion, it was no accident that such people were in power, and not due to someone pulling a fast one on the President. Certainly Roosevelt might have been pushed toward war – and especially war against Germany and on the side of Russia – due to these administration actors, but then this begs the question: why did Roosevelt make and allow such appointments?
A third reason given by Hoover was “his consuming ego that he was a master of military strategy.”
This ego also pressed upon him the desire to be a “War President.” In his interpretation it was war and not peace that made the presidents who stood out in American history.
There may be truth in this; however it is a damning statement to make of any man. I have suggested elsewhere that – while in any election, there are several “vetted” candidates that will be satisfactory to the oligarchy – there are reasons why specific people are chosen by the oligarchs for specific roles at specific times. There is no doubt that Roosevelt had the personal characteristics necessary to plunge the United States into a war that was of no need or benefit for the people of the United States. (It would seem the same can be applied to Churchill.) So this third reason can have validity, but fits in nicely with the idea that the war had a bigger purpose, one much broader than anything identified here by Hoover. Roosevelt was selected for the time period he was selected precisely because of his personal characteristics.
Hoover ends by noting that some of Roosevelt’s supporters assert that he “led with transcendant adroitness an obstinate and unwilling people to their national duty.” Hoover doesn’t buy this malarkey, instead offering:
In view of his opponents, and the record abundantly shows, he led a people into a monstrous catastrophe by a multitude of sequent intellectual dishonesties, consuming ambitions, lies, intrigue, and by violations of the Constitution he was sworn to defend.
The reasons seem to me to be much more hidden and much more sinister. In an earlier section in my review of this work, I suggested that the true purpose of the United States entering World War Two was to create and enlarge the Communist enemy, thus ensuring an enemy capable of being a perpetual enemy – the fight against communism could be made to last for as long as there were a believable bogeyman playing the role of the antagonist.
The value of perpetual war for the health of the American state is incalculable, as war offers one of the best and highest means for the state to centralize control and power. Further, the value of the Second World War and the consequent perpetual war on communism in building the structures of world government was immeasurable.