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Fellow Travelers, Useful Idiots, and Other Innocents

Commentary by Greg Lewis / WashingtonDispatch.com
February 19, 2004

The AOL headline trumpeting National Guardsman Ryan Anderson's alleged attempts at peddling information about weaknesses in American armored vehicles to what he thought were agents of Al Qaeda read, "Reaching Out To the Enemy?" In this case, it appears, on the surface at least, that Anderson's intent was to aid and abet a mortal foe of United States. It's less clear, however, and has been since as far back as the 1920s, that other Americans, engaging in what they think is idealistic protest against American "imperialism," are in fact also reaching out to the enemy.

From the beginning of Josef Stalin's reign of terror in Soviet Russia, high-profile "fellow travelers" (as communist sympathizers were called), often innocent of the fact that they were dupes of Communist agents, have spread falsehoods against American interests and in support of communism that has done enormous damage to the cause of freedom and justice in the world. The case of John Kerry bears close scrutiny in this regard.

A hawk's eye history capsule is necessary for background. From the beginning of his regime, Stalin's espionage agents recruited, coached, trained, cajoled, hung around with, and even married western liberal intellectuals for the purpose of recruiting them to the cause of communism. Where they recognized that it was not prudent to openly enlist their aid to the communist cause, Stalin's agents frequently played on the egotism and the idealism of these westerners, encouraging them to broaden the scope of their "anti-Fascist" inclinations to include, not only Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini, but the "imperialist" and "war-mongering" United States as well.

As Stephen Koch tells us in his book, Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas Against the West, the Anti-Fascist movement, an international coterie which boasted such members as writers E. M. Forster (British), Andre Gide (French), Ernest Hemingway (American), and Boris Pasternak (Russian), among hundreds of others, was a front for Stalinism. The American journalist Lincoln Steffens was in fact married to Communist agent Ella Winter, and they lived together until his death in 1936, with Steffens' leftist political utterances being stage-managed by Winter, apparently without his being aware of the depth of her involvement as an espionage agent.

Because the "Popular Front" (this term emerged in the 1930s to describe the movement) was marshaled against the growing evil of Nazism, it was difficult to be against it; to be against it was, in fact, tantamount to allying yourself with the cause of Hitler. On the other hand, the communist position regarding "fellow travelers" (whom Stalin also called "useful idiots") was one of contempt for their gullibility mingled with recognition of their value to the communist movement. The bottom line was that "fellow travelers," often innocently and for what they saw as highly idealistic purposes, aided and abetted the cause of a ruthless dictator and a political/economic system that enslaved (and continues to do so) those who are unfortunate enough to live under it.

With this in mind, it is instructive to look at John Kerry's record. In the early 1970s, Kerry's group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, was highly visible in the antiwar movement in America. North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap goes to far as to report that Hanoi was considering surrendering to the United States during the early '70s, but that groups such as Kerry's convinced them to stay the course because America was not firm in its resolve. According to Fox News Analyst and decorated Vietnam Veteran Colonel Oliver North, "The Vietnam Veterans Against the War encouraged people to desert, encouraged people to mutiny." North puts it bluntly: "John Kerry has the blood of North American soldiers on his hands."

Since becoming a Senator, Kerry has consistently voted against the security interests of the United States. He has cast negative votes for the most important weapons and aircraft systems currently deployed, including the B-1 bomber, the B-2 stealth bomber, the Apache helicopter, virtually every new jet fighter (including the F14A, F14D, F15, and Harrier jets), and the Patriot and Trident missile systems.

Kerry's positions also include his embracing a subversive and self-serving "internationalism." He recently "reached out" to Arab countries with an e-mail that clearly undermines our nation's interests in the war against terrorists. In it, Kerry states that the U.S. is following "policies of unilateralism and rejection of important international initiatives, from the Kyoto accords to the Biological Weapons Convention." He also worries that we have "alienated" much of the world, and would apparently change that by working for approval of such ill-advised and potentially economically disastrous agreements as the Kyoto accord.

In his book, Koch presents a vivid description of what it means to be a "fellow traveler" — one which echoes eerily the words and attitudes of John Kerry — in this characterization of the words of Babette Gross, one of the most important women in the Communist movement prior to World War II: "You claim to be an independent-minded idealist. . . . You are shocked, frightened by what is going on right here in our own country. You are frightened by the racism, by the oppression of the working man. . . . You believe in peace. You yearn for international understanding. You hate fascism. You think the capitalist system is corrupt. You say it over and over and over again. And you say nothing, nothing more."

Now assuming that he is not, following his service in Vietnam, suffering from long-term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which puts the soundness of his judgments in question — and based on his record, I don't think this can be ruled out — John Kerry is at best a tool. By "at best" I mean "if he doesn't realize that he has been and continues to be a poster boy for groups such as the radical peace and environmentalist movements which advocate the overthrow of the United States Government and way of life in the name of totalitarianism."

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