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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Profiles in Asshattery

      "The misgivings about {Ambassador to Britain Joseph} Kennedy could not be conveyed safely to Prime Minister Chamberlain, who was impressed by reports of German invincibility.  The Ambassador had even brought Charles Lindburgh to London with frightening stories of Germany's overwhelming superiority in air power.  Chamberlain listened.  The Czech Minister in London, Jan Masaryk, recorded that Kennedy assured him there was no question of his country being 'cut up or sold out,' just before German tanks moved into the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.  The New York Post reported that Kennedy was identified with 'the Germanophile clique' and sprinkled his conversations with anti-Roosevelt, defeatist, and profascist comments.  The Post reprinted an article by the London writer Claud Cockburn:' Kennedy goes so far as to insinuate that the democratic policy of the United States is a Jewish production.'
      Kennedy's performance seemed incredible.  Yet much of what he saw and heard in England led him to suppose that the leadership was sympathetic to German aspirations.  Even Japan's incursions into China were treated understandingly.  The London Times ran a letter on its editorial page explaining a Japanese raid on a Shanghai suburb:  'Such loss of life as has occured among the Chinese civilian population (many of whom were soldiers in disguise) has been unavoidable or accidental, and, we are convinced, is regretted by no one more than the Japanese.'
       Kennedy had domestic political reasons, too, for taking the line he did.  'He owes his position to the fact that he represents a Catholic, Irish, anti-English group in America which must not be offended if President Roosevelt is to be re-elected in November,' Stephenson noted.  'Mr. Kennedy therefore must exhibit the attitudes of the East Coast Irish, and isolationist groups loosely termed America Firsters.'

      The latest peace offer had originated in Rome while the German Ambassador was enciphering the last piece of information to leak from the U.S. Embassy in London:  Roosevelt's frank explanation of his difficulty in letting Churchill have the forty or fifty antiquated destroyers.  Stephenson now argued forcibly for the secure and co-ordinated intelligence alliance that would bring together those who opposed Nazism, no matter what their nationality, using the Tyler Kent investigation to make his case.  Ambassador Kennedy had been cleared of any responsibility for the leak, and Senate committees on Military Affairs put him in the same category as {Lord} Halifax.  That testimony was given shortly before Stephenson's first flying visit to Washington.  In it, Kennedy was emphatic that Nazi Germany could not be beaten.  He had recorded his view that Churchill was scheming and unscrupulous and 'willing to blow up the American Embassy and say it was the Germans, if that would get the Americans in.'"  A Man Called Intrepid, by William Stevenson pgs 87-88 and 96-97

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