A couple of years ago, I debated a professor from American University named John Doolittle who, prompted by me, admitted that Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wisconsin (1908-1957), may have exposed some real communists working in the federal government. “But I saw the Edward R. Murrow broadcasts,” Dr. Doolittle added. “He was a bad man.”
Veteran journalist M. Stanton Evans, who has studied more of the government files from that era than Dr. Doolittle or his peers, or for that matter, Edward R. Murrow himself, have ever seen, reaches a different verdict. “Measured by the total record of his cases and political battles, McCarthy, whatever his faults, was a good man and true—better and truer by far than the tag teams of cover-up artists and backstage plotters who connived unceasingly to destroy him,” Evans writes in his masterful book on the senator’s life and times. “The truth he served, moreover, was of the greatest import—the exposure of people who meant to do us grievous harm, and of long standing indifference toward this menace by many at high official levels.”
“In so doing, he summoned the nation to a firm-willed resistance to the Communist challenge, both abroad and on the home front.” Full disclosure: I am listed in the acknowledgements of the book.
Although perhaps not a cast of thousands, McCarthy’s suspects easily numbered more than a hundred. As Evans found combing through Senate records, FBI files, State Department reports and the Venona transcripts that our government made of cables sent by the Soviet Union to its agents, Sen. McCarthy’s suspicions were more than warranted.
Moreover, many of these agents were in key policymaking posts and some remained there even as Sen. McCarthy was in the process of investigating them. Their subsequent exodus from the government that resulted from McCarthy’s attentions gave them victim status but what of the actual victims of the policies that they put in place?
As Evans shows in Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, Taiwan and South Korea might owe their freedom to the brawling Irishman from Appleton, Wisconsin. Four weeks before Sen. McCarthy made his famed Wheeling, West Virginia speech in 1950, President Harry Truman’s Secretary of State gave a lecture of his own at the National Press Club.
Senator McCarthy, of course, talked about security risks in the federal government focusing hard and heavy on the Far East Division at State while Dean Acheson wrote off Formosa and South Korea as beyond the sphere of American interests. Ultimately, the former revelation derailed the latter policy.
For one thing, the United States entered the Korean War. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, more lethal plotting was derailed, Evans pointed out on The Right Hour with Paul Weyrich.
The “Old China Hands” whose suspect connections McCarthy exposed had already done their best to insure that communist rebel leader Mao Tse Tung bested Chinese leader Chiang Kai Shek on the mainland. Their enabling of the greatest mass murderer in 20th Century history was apparently not enough for the striped pants boys.
The professional diplomats concocted schemes to overthrow Chiang in his Formosa retreat, as seen in now declassified documents Evans obtained. McCarthy suspect John Paton Davies helped plan this scheme. Nonetheless, other officials at State including future diplomat-in-chief Dean Rusk, showed great enthusiasm for it.
“Though this wasn’t an assassination plot, per se, the likelihood that such a scheme would lead to the death of Chaing and those loyal to him was implicit and in keeping with the record of military risings elsewhere,” Evans writes in Blacklisted By History. “(In which respect the obvious parallel would be the murder of South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, after a virtually identical U. S.-supported coup in November 1963 when Rusk was Secretary of State.)”
“They started on me with Diem, you remember,” President Lyndon Baines Johnson told Sen. Eugene McCarthy, D-Minn., recalling the words of the coup’s advocates. “‘He was corrupt and he ought to be killed,’” President Johnson remembered hearing when he was second in command to JFK.
“So we killed him,” LBJ recalled in that phone call to the Minnesota solon. “We all got together and got a goddamn bunch of thugs and assassinated him,” World Net Daily reported the Texan saying. “Now, we’ve really had no political stability [in South Vietnam] since then,” LBJ said on the tape of the phone call that WND obtained and quoted from.
The implication boggles the mind. Might South Vietnam be free today if the motley collection of liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans who people Blacklisted By History not undercut Sen. Joseph McCarthy?