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Thursday, April 04, 2013

More Profiles in Asshattery

     "On the face of it, {OSS founder Bill} Donovan would seem poorly qualified to work with Britain in any sensitive capacity.  He was a Catholic of Irish descent, and a Republican who might seem also to represent all that was anathema to a Democratic administration.  But Roosevelt trusted him and had already sent him on personal intelligence missions abroad.  He was, in Stephenson's opinion, just the man to be taken into Britain's confidence.  It was an unparalleled display of faith at a time when another Irish Catholic, Joseph P. Kennedy, created such cold hostility.  Kennedy, quickly recovering from the scandal of his Embassy's leaky security, was now complaining that the President circumvented him altogether. 

      The reason for keeping Donovan's journey secret from the Embassy was Kennedy's continuing defeatism.  He had written Roosevelt:  'England is fighting for her possessions.  They are not fighting Hitler. . .They will spend every hour figuring how to get us in.'  And he warned American businessmen that Britain was broke and lacked even gold to pay for arms.

      This brought Donovan's Irish temper to a boil.  He prided himself upon hiding it;  his value to Roosevelt was built on iron self-control.  There had been a moment when he thought he should call on Kennedy at the U.S. Embassy.  Now, unsure about keeping his temper in check, he let the temptation pass.  'Joe's joined the knockers and the kickers,' he told Stephenson.  The Ambassador deplored the fact that Americans in London had formed the 1st American squadron of the RAF and wore British Home Guard uniforms with red eagles for shoulder flashes.  And Kennedy's dispatches, becoming more defeatist than ever, matched those of Ambassador William Bullitt in France, who believed the physical and moral defeat of the French had been so complete that 'they accept the fate of becoming a province of Nazi Germany [and] hope England will be rapidly and completely defeated.'  Just to make the British feel better about the desertions and betrayals, the French General Leon Huntziger told German General Walther von Brauchitsch:  'France is fighting with Germany against Britain." A Man Called Intrepid , by William Stevenson p.117, 120-21,and 131-32 

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