Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nixon and the Grape

When Jack L. Davies, a graduate of both Harvard and Stanford, organized fourteen other investors to join him in purchasing a vineyard in 1965, he probably never guessed the manner in which their wines would become famous.

By early 1969, Richard Nixon was in the White House, and by early 1972, Nixon was making a historic journey: the first visit by a U.S. president to communist mainland China. Nixon had only one meeting with Mao, but many with Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

Both Nixon and the Chinese placed emphasis on ceremony and protocol. They visited historic locations and arranged for full media coverage. Concerning one meal, Leon D. Adams writes:

In February 1972, Schramsberg Champagne became world-famous overnight. President Richard M. Nixon had flown an American champagne to Peking to serve at his historic, globally-televised banquet for Red Chinese Premier Chou Enlai. On the day of the banquet a Washington newspaper columnist identified the shipment as thirteen cases of Schramsberg, Nixon’s favorite champagne. Press, TV, and radio spread the name, Davies’s story, and the fame of Napa Valley wine.

The results of Nixon’s trip to China were a gradual normalization of the diplomatic relationship between the United States and mainland communist China, and the sudden popularity of Schramsberg sparkling wine.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Haldore Hanson - Inconspicuous Danger

During the years of the Soviet Union, infiltration and the planting of subversives into various positions in the United States government was a standard tactic of the KGB. The list of such moles, when mostly, although not entirely, revealed after the fall of the Soviet Union, was longer than most observers had suspected.

In addition to such plants, however, were those who freely supported the Soviet cause without being directly employed by the Soviet intelligence agencies. These individuals were equally dangerous to the lives and safety of United States citizens.

The tension between liberty and security was highlighted as the United States worked to preserve freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of assembly, even while it worked to protect itself from the Soviet espionage apparatus which aimed to destroy the United States.

An interesting example is offered by Haldore Hanson, a pro-communist author who came to the attention of the United States government in early 1950. Merely writing a book which was favorable to the expansion of communism in Asia was no crime. But there was evidence which suggested, if it did not at first prove, that Hanson was involved in a more direct connection with the Soviet government.

Hanson had lived in Peiping (now known as ‘Peking’ or ‘Beijing’) and had substantial contact with Chinese communist leaders. At this time, the Chinese communists were solidly in league with the Soviet communists. Two historians, L. Brent Bozell and William F. Buckley Jr., report that:

For three years Hanson had taught school and had written as a freelancer, mostly while living in Peiping. The turning point in his career had come in 1937, when Japanese and Chinese troops clashed at the Marco Polo Bridge: he then took a job as war correspondent with the Associated Press. Two years later, at the age of twenty-seven, he published a book called Humane Endeavor.

Hanson’s writing career would include working with Edgar Snow and Helen Foster Snow. The latter used the pseudonym ‘Nym Wales,’ and both were known members of the Communist Party. In addition, Louis Budenz, who had been a well-connected member of the Communist Party, testified to Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut that Haldore Hanson was a member of the Communist Party.

In Hanson’s book, he clearly expressed his pro-communist views, and portrayed the communists sympathetically, while depicting the non-communists as, at best, mediocre. The book also apparently influenced John Service, a State Department employee. Concerning this, M. Stanton Evans writes:

The book was full of plaudits for the Red Chinese similar to those expressed a few years later by John Service, a Hanson friend and sometime roommate. In the 1930s, a united front was in effect between the Reds and Chiang Kai-shek against Japan, and in this context Chiang merited some kind words from Hanson, as well as some that weren’t so kind. However, Hanson showed no similar ambiguity toward the Red Chinese, on whom he showered lavish kudos.

Because he was an United States citizen, Hanson certainly had the right to freely believe, write, and publish whatever he wanted. But being a communist during the Soviet era was not merely a matter of expressing certain political views. Members of the CP took action.

In the early 1950s, to be a member of the Communist Party was not like being a member of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. The Communist Party was not merely a subversive organization, it was a clandestine organization, involved in compromising military security, subversively influencing U.S. policy, and even sabotage. It was a direct threat to the lives and safety of United States citizens. To be a member of the Communist Party was to be advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government, the end of American civil and human rights, and destruction of the American physical infrastructure. To be a member of the Communist Party was to advocate, plan, and work toward the deaths of many innocent civilians.

The Communist Party, in the 1950s, was not merely a group which advocated free speech, free thinking, and free debate about policy questions. The Communist Party advocated violence, destruction, and the end of civil rights and of human rights. The Communist Party was organically and directly connected to Moscow and to the Kremlin’s actions, e.g., the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians in an artificially-created famine.

Haldore Hanson was connected to this Communist Party, and in the meantime, Haldore Hanson had obtained a job in the State Department. Hanson’s case contained an added urgency because he was now working within the United States government, where he might gain access to sensitive information and might have input into the thought process of policymakers.

At one point, however, it seemed that suspicions about Hanson might be wrong: in one hearing, Senator Bourke Hickenlooper of Iowa questioned Earl Browder about Haldore Hanson. Browder was a former member of the Communist Party, and while a member, had engaged in communications with the KGB and the NKVD. Browder worked with Philip Jaffe, who was an editor of a periodical called Amerasia. Jaffe and his fellow editors were found to be in possession of classified documents from the OSS and other branches of the United States government. Jaffe and Browder had met with a highly-placed Chinese Communist named Tung Pi-Wu (Dong Biwu). Clearly, Browder was well-placed in the networks of the international communist conspiracy, and Senator Hickenlooper wanted to hear what Browder said about Haldore Hanson.

Hickenlooper then questioned Browder about the meeting at Philip Jaffe’s New York home five years before this, attended by Browder and Red Chinese official Tung Pi-wu. When Hickenlooper asked if either John Carter Vincent or John Stewart Service had been at this meeting, Browder refused to answer. Hickenlooper then read a list of names, nine in all, asking if they were known to Browder as CP members. Two of the people on the list were Dorothy Kenyon and Haldore Hanson. In these cases, as in others, Browder said, “I refuse to answer.” This caused great distress to McMahon and Tydings, both of whom implored the witness to reconsider. Appealing to standards of “fairness and truth,” Tydings at last got Browder to say neither Kenyon nor Hanson “had any organized connection to the Communist Party.”

This latter statement seemed, at first, to possibly exonerate Hanson. The 1995 release of information from the the “Venona” project - finally declassified after the fall of the Soviet Union - confirmed Browder’s resume as an important Soviet agent. There was even some evidence that Browder may have had a hand in planning the assassination of Leon Trotsky. So his statement that that Hanson had had no “organized connection to the Communist Party” would seem to carry weight.

But one historian, M. Stanton Evans, noted Browder’s curious qualification in the statement: “organized.”

If Hanson had no “organized” connection to the CP, did he have some other type of connection? It was known that the Soviets sometimes used casual social connections to infiltrate various agencies. Along these lines, M. Stanton Evans writes:

The locution used here by Browder, who was careful in his choice of words, seemed odd, speaking of an “organized connection.” Did this mean there was some other kind of connection on the part of Kenyon or Hanson to the Communist Party? Browder’s way of putting the matter cried out for clarification, but no effort of this nature was made by an inert committee.

Senator Hickenlooper, and the others investigating the matter, failed to follow up on this tantalizing clue.

Informally linked with the Amerasia periodical was the Institute of Pacific Relations, a network of business and academic leaders around the Pacific Rim. IPR had been infiltrated by confirmed Soviet agents, including T.A. Bisson. Two historians, M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein, note that:

Among U.S. officials who at various times served on the board of the IPR were such prestigious mainstream figures as General George C. Marshall and Undersecretary of State Sumner Wells, plus others who were of lesser stature but in their way important. Government staffers who served as IPR trustees included Soviet agents of influence Hiss and Currie and State Department official John Carter Vincent. Meanwhile, Owen Lattimore and Joseph Barnes, both on the IPR payroll in the 1930s, would become government information specialists in the war years. Others connected to the IPR included State Department Far East experts Michael Greenberg and Haldore Hanson and Soviet intelligence asset T.A. Bisson, who like others mentioned shows up in the pages of Venona.

There are many questions about Haldore Hanson. The most relevant one is not whether or not he was a member of the Communist Party, or whether he was an active Soviet agent, but whether the State Department was guilty of negligence for not having discerned him as a security risk.

Perhaps Hanson was neither a CP member nor a Soviet agent. He was, however, beyond all doubt surrounded by, and in constant contact with, both. They could, perhaps even without his knowledge, use him, either to gain information or to steer U.S. policy decisions.

The case of Haldore Hanson reveals a lack of care, and a lack of due diligence, in the hiring processes used by the State Department.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dorothy Kenyon: an Unexpected Danger

When the Soviet Union’s spy network was active in the United States, the distinction between an active Soviet agent and an unwittingly utilized instrument was not always obvious. Such was the case of Judge Dorothy Kenyon.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many of the Venona project’s files were declassified, and the large extent of the KGB network inside the United States became widely known, it is not clear to which extent Judge Kenyon understood that she was being used as a tool of espionage.

Dorothy Kenyon first came to the attention of authorities in early 1950. At that time, it was discovered that she was a member of at least twenty-eight different communist front organizations. These were groups which had been identified, usually by the United States Attorney General or by legislative committees in one of the forty-eight states, as being substantially linked to the Soviet government.

Such organizations served several different purposes. The KGB - and its predecessor, the MGB - could found the group, working under the cover of one or more of its agents in the United States. To the public, these organizations appeared in various guises, never disclosing their links to Moscow.

These groups could then recruit members, some of whom were knowingly and deliberately seeking to harm the safety and security of United States citizens, and others of whom had perhaps no idea that they were being shaped into either intelligence gathering tools or policy-influencing tool of the Soviet Union.

Concerning Dorothy Kenyon, evidence is inconclusive, and will perhaps always be so. It is plausible and probable that she did not consciously enlist her services to weaken the security of the United States. She was more likely a well-intentioned, if naive and idealistic, individual who joined groups which claimed to favor some progressive cause.

How would these organizations have used Judge Kenyon? Most likely, she was not a major source of valuable information. Although well-connected in the government, her branch of the government was not a storehouse of military information, nor was it privy to private discussions of foreign policy.

She was, however, connected in a way which gave her the ability to informally influence policy. Not a source of intelligence, she was capable of nudging the thinking of policymakers and writers on policy topics. The Soviets could school her in ways which led her to favor policies which played into the hands of the Kremlin. These views she would then casually and unwittingly spread through her social circle, which included prominent leaders in government and in the media.

Given her role in government, away from military and foreign policy matters, and given her probable unawareness of the ways in which she was being used, it surprised many when her involvement in so many subversive organizations came to light. One historian, M. Stanton Evans, writes:

The case was that of Dorothy Kenyon, a former New York City judge and State Department appointee to a U.N. commission on the status of women. It seemed a curious selection. Judge Kenyon wasn’t a well-known or high-ranking official, and her connection to the State Department had recently concluded.

The organizations to which Judge Kenyon belonged were not merely interested in free speech and free debate about U.S. policy. These organizations had direct links to the Kremlin, to the KGB, to the MGB, or to other branches of Soviet military intelligence.

The surprise surrounding the revelations about Dorothy Kenyon support the hypothesis that she had not fully understood how she was being exploited. The Soviets valued her well-placed friends, and sought to influence the thinking of those friends through Kenyon’s social contacts. The Soviets would value the ability to steer an influential policymaker’s line of thought or the writing of a media personality.

Kenyon’s connections in the United Nations would also be valuable to the Soviets. Two historians, L. Brent Bozell and William F. Buckley Jr., write:

The name of Dorothy Kenyon was little known to the public - much less in association with Communist activities. Judge Kenyon was a reputable New York City lawyer, had once served as a municipal court judge, and had attracted some attention as a political activist, especially in the advancement of women's causes. She had been hired by the State Department in 1947 to serve as American delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

While there can be no doubt that Judge Kenyon served the Soviet cause, it may never be certain whether she did so knowingly, or whether she was exploited as an unwitting accomplice. In either case, however, her career path from municipal judge to State Department employee simultaneously made her more interesting to the Soviets, but also revealed a lack of discernment on the part of the State Department in creating, not only a security risk, but an actual security breach.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

In 2013, The National Association of School Nurses, citing a 2005 study titled “The influence of parent education and family income on child achievement: The indirect role of parental expectations and the home environment” published in the Journal of Family Psychology, summarizes the findings of the study’s author, P.E. Davis-Kean, this way:

Children from single‐parent households have an increased risk for dropping out of school, becoming teen parents, and face barriers to success in the workforce. Although many children from single parent homes fare well, others face challenges in their educational, occupational, and social well‐being.

In 2012, according to the Obama administration’s Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 27% of children aged 0 to 17 years live in single-parent households.

The problems identified in 2012 were visible a decade or more earlier. As noted author Ann Coulter writes,

A 2004 New York Times Magazine article on welfare families by Jason DeParle said, "Mounds of social science, from the left and the right, leave little doubt that the children of single-parent families face heightened risks." Calling a single-parent family "a double dose of disadvantage," the Times article cited as "the definitive text" a book by sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur that concluded, back in 1994, "In our opinion, the evidence is quite clear: Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents' race or educational background."

Mounds of statistical evidence show that children raised in a single-parent home are more likely to abuse drugs, end up in jail, have lower educational achievement, have lower adult incomes, have poor health, and have nearly any other measurable demographic disadvantage.

The problem has been repeatedly quantified, by university researchers, and by agencies at the federal and state levels:

Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent. By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. Seventy-two percent of juvenile murderers and 60 percent of rapists come from single-mother homes. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents, and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced. A 1990 study by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that after controlling for single motherhood, the difference between black and white crime rates disappeared.

Questions about policy responses to this situation have also been raised many times. One obstacle to any policy action is that such action could have an unintended result of further reducing the nation’s already too-low birth rate. Far from a population explosion, like those seen in some third-world countries, the United States has a birth rate so low that if it drops further, serious economic repercussions would threaten.

But a still larger obstacle also blocks policy action regarding single parenthood: it is a societal phenomenon, not a governmental one, and so the most direct solutions are to be found among the organic institutions of society, not in legislation.

Governments are not free to change the laws of nature, including the law which says that even well-intentioned federal programs, perhaps especially well-intentioned ones, will yield a result in direct opposition to their stated purpose. Thus, any governmental program designed to strengthen families can only, and will inevitably, weaken them.

Society, if unimpeded by governmental regulation, is often capable of self-correction. Legislation, while well intended, is often ham-fisted and triggers unintended consequences - often, consequences which effect precisely those results which are opposite to the intended ones.