What Does It Take for American Thinker to Permit an Author to Respond?

By: Diana West

Jeff Nyquist has posted a new entry to add to his ruminations about ex-Communist conservative critics of American Betrayal and related topics. His latest is a brief but pointed discussion of an anything-but-brief series on American Betrayal and the “controversy” around it which appeared at the American Thinker website on July 4, July 5, and July 6 — 12,000 words in all by Jeff Lipkes that someone chose to title “Diana and Ron.”

You can find the Nyquist discussion and relevant links here.

Nyquist makes note of two “interjections” awkwardly tacked onto the end of Lipkes’ final installment. These little poison pen letters were drafted by none other than Ronald “McCarthy on Steroids” Radosh and David “She should not have written this book” Horowitz, American Betrayal’s leading detractors. By my count, this makes the sixth or even seventh eruption over the book by Radosh and the fifth one by Horowitz. It really does seem to be the case, as in the old nursery tune, that everywhere that American Betrayal went, Radosh/Horo were sure to go.

Interestingly enough — at least to me, the author of the book that so fascinates and terrifies my detractors — American Thinker did not extend to me this same “courtesy,” if that’s what it was. (This seems to be a pattern.)

After crafting a defense against just a few points of attack extracted from the massive Lipkes critique, I sent it in as my response. American Thinker rejected it unless — get this — I agreed to accept the editorial guidance of American Thinker in rewriting my own defense of my own book. This becomes extra-jaw-dropping since the editor presuming to direct my own defense of my own book had also declared himself hostile to it.

So extraordinary is the whole exchange on this subject that I am publishing it in full so that interested readers can evaluate for themselves American Thinker’s committment to fair play and open debate.

It will also explain why no author’s response has appeared at the American Thinker following the publication of a three-part, 12,000-word series by Jeff Lipkes about American Betrayal.

My response, by the way, will be appearing soon — just not at American Thinker.

But first, the email exchange with American Thinker editor JR Dunn, which I copied to editor in chief Thomas Lifson. Emphasis occasionally added for darkly comic relief.

On Sun, Jul 13, 2014 at 4:28 PM, Diana West

For American Thinker in response to Jeff Lipkes’ three-part series about my book.
Diana West

On Jul 13, 2014, at 10:39 PM, J R Dunn
Is this intended as a submission? That’s not clear.

JR Dunn

On Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 7:35 AM, Diana West

Yes, this is an open letter submitted in response to the Lipkes series.

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 15, 2014, at 6:07 PM, J R Dunn wrote:


Thanks for your patience. We will, of course, be happy to schedule this, in the interests of balance. But there exist a number of flaws in the piece as it stands, which we’d like to see corrected before we proceed further.

First, there are several errors of fact. The statement that Armand Hammer was lobbying on behalf of the Soviets to obtain Lend-Lease aid for the UK “in 1940” is doubtful, to say the least. 1940 was the peak of the Hitler-Stalin pact period (August 1939 – June 1941), when the USSR and Nazi Germany were allied and cooperating vigorously against the British, among others. If the correct year can’t be established, this should go.

Carl Spaatz, as commander of the 8th Air Force, was responsible for strategic bombing over Northwest Europe, not Europe as a whole. The 14th Air Force, under command of Ira Eaker, covered Southern Europe.

Too much emphasis is put on the “scholarly apparatus” question. If St. Martins wouldn’t allow it, then that’s it. Mention it and drop it. Lipkes didn’t know this was the case and can’t be attacked for it

[DW: I explicitly told Lipkes in writing about St Martins’ space limitations in advance and he chose to ignore it].

The second point involves the tone. I find the superciliousness and scarcely veiled insults troubling, and I’m sure that most readers will think the same. It’s like being locked in a room with someone screaming at full volume. This needs to be removed in toto, including the paragraph dealing with Lipkes’ doctorate, the repeated uses of “Jeff”, and the tendentious repetitions concerning misspellings – once is enough for these. If you don’t feel up to it, I’ll be happy to handle this myself. I think you will find this works much better. As the old saying goes, honey attracts more flies than vinegar.

But the major problem is this – Jeff Lipkes is right.

I am a military historian, with some familiarity with the WW II European campaigns. With only minor caveats, I agree with Lipkes’ analysis as opposed to that in America Betrayed [SIC].

As I understand it, the main thesis in question here — that U.S strategy vis a vis the Third Reich was driven by Soviet infiltrators active in Washington policymaking circles – is supported by means of what I call “iconoclast syndrome”, which involves putting aside the established record in favor of constructing a thesis with outlier data – odd little bits of unrelated, isolated information, in this case consisting largely of quotes.

Using quotes as the basis of historical interpretation violates one of the major principles of historiography – that primary sources consist of documentation and reports made at the time. Quotations from figures even closely involved in an event can reflect confusion, lack of information, prejudice, and even dishonesty. Quotes are inherently unreliable in the historical context.

(Take Mark Clark, for instance, an incompetent commander with a nearly unbroken string of disasters on the Italian front – Rapido, Cassino, and Anzio, not to mention his disgraceful performance in rushing to Rome in June 1944 mentioned by Lipkes. Clark remains the only American general to be taken to court by one of his own units – the Texas National Guard Division – for his tactics and actions at the Rapido River. Clark had a lot to hide, and any quotation from him must be taken advisedly. It cannot under any circumstances be used to support an argument.)

You make much of Eisenhower’s quote concerning the Aegean. This mystified me – no major American operations were carried out in the Aegean throughout WW II. In fact, only one Allied operation occurred there following the disaster at Crete in 1941. This was Operation ACCOLADE in 1943, a British attempt to take the Dodecanese islands southeast of Greece. ACCOLADE was a Churchill brainstorm and like many of those ended up as a disaster – Luftwaffe bases on the Greek mainland were only 50 miles away, while Allied bases in Egypt were 300 miles away; end of story. If Ike was referring to ACCOLADE – and it can’t be anything else by process of elimination — he was being diplomatic. The quote has no further relevance to actual Med operations, which after 1943 were concentrated on Italy and, yes, the Adriatic.

Let me see if I can make clear to you what you are missing. The major debate concerning European strategy involved gaining a foothold on the continent and using it to defeat the most powerful army in the world. U.S. and British attitudes strongly differed.

The British had lost nearly a million men in Picardy and Flanders in WW I. Many of the men in power during the 40s had served on the Western Front – including Churchill, who commanded a battalion in 1916-17. They were terrified of another such stalemate against a much more powerful German army.

Thus was born the “soft white underbelly” strategy, with Churchill as midwife. The concept was to forego an attack on France in favor of attacks from the Mediterranean through the weak and relatively undefended southern frontier of the Reich – Italy, the Balkans, and Greece. At first sight, this seems convincing, until a glance at a map of Europe reminds us that – with one exception – there is no “soft white underbelly.” Southern Europe is girded with two mammoth mountain chains, the Pyrenees and the Alps/Carpathians, reaching from the Atlantic to the Ukraine. (Ironically, Churchill and the British staff fought long and hard against an Allied operation – DRAGOON, August 1944 — using that exception, the French Riviera.)

Few attempts to attack Europe from the south across these chains have ever succeeded. WW II was not the exception. ACCOLADE was an effort – promoted by Churchill — to set up Greece for an invasion. It was a disaster. Italy was another effort to pierce the “soft underbelly” which resulted in one disaster after another. It took Clark ten months to go from Salerno to Rome, another ten months to advance to the Po. How long would it have taken him to get across the Alps (or to attack through Istria – another Churchill brainstorm.)? Another ten months? This puts Stalin’s Red Army at Dunkirk.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs saw no alternative to attacking through Northwest Europe and made plans on that basis. The record shows that they were correct to do so. They had to wait past their original target date of 1943 for the Battle of the Atlantic to be won. But in June 1944 the Channel was crossed and the Nazis engaged on the only front that actually mattered.

What did American communists have to do with this? Absolutely nothing. The CPUSA demanded a “Second Front Now” beginning in 1942. It didn’t happen, then or in ’43 either, which suggests that communist influence on European strategy was minimal.

That is how events unfolded. The entire Med/Northwest Europe debate was a British-U.S. affair, no communists necessary and none, as far as anybody has ever been able to establish, even involved. So there it stands. Unless the argument is made that Eisenhower, Wedemeyer, Patton, Bradley, Huebner, de la Mesa Allen, Spaatz, Quesada, and every other American officer except Mark Clark was a communist, no case exists here.

I don’t expect you to publicly accept this,, since it effectively guts your argument. But these are facts, not opinions or political platforms. They are points that need to be made, and we take this further, they will be made.

Let me know how you want to proceed on this. It’s been over a week since the series appeared, so I imagine we want to move quickly.


JR Dunn

Sent from DW’s I-phone

I am sorry you do not wish to run my response as is. I have never heard of any other journal or book review taking it upon itself to edit an author’s response, good, bad or indifferent. I am sorry also I dont have time to read yr history of WW2, alas. Before you take such pains in the future I suggest you actually read the book you are pronouncing on first..

Then I decided to write back and urge AT to allow me space to defend myself and my work as I saw fit:

On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM, Diana West

Bottom line, “in the interests of balance,” my piece must run as is. After the multiple attacks on my work and me personally already published at American Thinker, plus those final outbursts by Radosh and Horowitz, you owe space to me to respond as I see fit.

As for your comments, there are not several errors of fact. The Armand Hammer section re lobbying on the lend lease idea in 1940 is accurate and is sourced to Edward Jay Epstein’s noted biography of Hammer, Dossier. I commend the book to you.

If Spaatz’s title didn’t change until January 1944, you may make the change. According to Spaatz’s Air Force biography, however, you are incorrect that Spaatz only had responsibility for bombing over Northwest Europe earlier.


It says:

On Dec. 1, 1942, General Spaatz became commanding general of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. In February 1943, he assumed command of the Northwest African Air Force, which he organized. He received a temporary promotion to lieutenant general March 12, 1943.

After Rommel’s Afrika Korps had been driven out of the North Africa and the invasion of Italy was launched, General Spaatz became deputy commander of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, including the 12th Air Force in Africa and the 15th Air Force and the Royal Air Force in Italy.

It is my choice to emphasize the “scholarly apparatus” — just as it was Jeff Lipkes’ choice to emphasize it first. This is one of his lead-off points of criticism despite the fact, as noted, that I explained to him the limitations imposed on me, which he neglected to inform readers about, just as he “forgot” to mention the nearly 1,000 endotes. Quite disgraceful, really.

It is my piece and thus it is my tone. You people, meanwhile, thought it was the correct tone to run the Lipkes essay as a series quite nauseously titled “Diana and Ron.” Naturally, it is appropriate for me to write a response in kind to “Jeff.” I also note you had no problem with Rado-Horo’s tone when they said my book “besmirches conservatism,” has a “crackpot thesis,” is “preposterous,” that I am a “bad conservative,” “cockamamie” “warped” “ugly overtones,” etc. etc. No problem with tone there, huh?

As for your being a military historian, I regret that I have not read any of your books. (Is this your worldcat entry? https://www.worldcat.org/search?q=au%3AJ+R+Dunn&fq=x0%3Abook&qt=advanced&dblist=638)

It is very clear from your non-sequitors regarding historical events, however, that you have not read my book. As I noted earlier, it would behoove you to do so before weighing in so heavily and awkwardly. If you had read the book, or even this chapter


you would not have wondered about there having been no major Allied operations in the Aegean; that is indeed the point. And no, “American Communists,” as you also write in a display of sheer unfamiliarity with the book, are not the issue, either.

If American Thinker pretends to any semblance of fairness, run my piece.

Diana West

On Jul 15, 2014, at 9:02 PM, J R Dunn wrote:

Okay – you have insulted everybody involved in this debate. You have insulted Ron Radosh, you have insulted Jeff Lipkes, and now you’re insulting me.

In my experience, this kind of behavior occurs in hopes of causing a blowup so as to allow the instigator to pose as the aggrieved party. But we’re not going to play that game here. Instead, I’m going to show you how a pro handles it.

“I have never heard of any other journal or book review taking it upon itself to edit an author’s response, good, bad or indifferent.” We will deal with this absurdity out of hand: every single submission goes through the editorial process. No distinctions, no exceptions. Once again, every other individual involved has submitted to editorial direction with grace and understanding. You are the sole exception. Once again, I take this as a tactic.

So to cut things short – no, we will not put this piece up “as is.” We have never put a piece up “as is” by anybody. We will never put a piece up “as is”.

It’s evident from your replies to me that you cannot moderate your tone. That being the case, I will take responsibility, if you choose to submit to professional editing, for elevating your prose and providing it with a civil tone suitable to a scholarly debate.

Every detail of your commentary will be fully vetted before it goes up, including the two at issue. As for the Hammer assertion, I stand on my claim. It is completely asinine to assert that the Soviets were seeking aid for Britain at the same time the UK was planning to attack the Baku oil fields and send troops to support the Finns against the USSR. Epstein is not the Pope speaking ex cathedra but just another damnfool journalist. He’s made plenty of wild-eyed claims in the past, going back to the 70s when I first encountered him. I defy him or anybody else to demonstrate the truth of that claim.

I repeat: we will be happy to schedule this once it is subject to the editorial process. As I recall, you refused to cooperate last year under the same conditions. If that is also the case here, we need take it no further.


JR Dunn

On Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM, Diana West

1) When an author is attacked in a journal or book review, it is common practice to permit the author to defend his work in reply. It is not common practice for editors to intercede with editorial direction as to how that author mounts his own defense. I am not offering you a “submission,” i.e., an article. I asked you to publish my response to a 12,000-word-essay about my book. It is part of the exchange of ideas we call “debate.”

You are correct that this same bottleneck happened at American Thinker last year. It was a disgrace then when Thomas refused to publish the response I wrote, insisting on a new piece entirely, written according to his direction. It is a disgrace now that you refuse to publish my response to this 12,000 word essay and assert that it is your place to “edit” and “elevate” my “prose,” which I crafted with much thought in my own defense.

Remember, it is my book that has been attacked (me personally, as well) at your website multiple times now, even by writers who admitted not to have read the book.
(I assume you consider that to be professional practice.)

I have once again defended my book against a critique that amazingly (particularly given its length) fails to engage with the arguments as carefully couched in the book. In the case of the Lipkes generals’ paragraph, as I have demonstrated, it quite carelessly misrepresents my research.

I will add that not only is editorial direction not appropriate in general to an author’s own defense of his work, it is even absurd when such “advice” comes from an editor who in offering guidance from on high simultaneously declares himself a vociferous critic — despite not having read the book. (More AT professionalism.)

2) That said, if your tone-editing and elevation efforts are evidenced in the Rado/Horo responses to Lipkes, I am not impressed. (Noted previously: “besmirches conservatism,” “crackpot thesis,” “preposterous,” “bad conservative,” “warped” “ugly overtones,” etc. etc. Also “cockamanie” [sic]. Next time you’re “vetting every detail,” at least use Spellcheck.)

3)You can read the sources of Epstein’s findings in the endnotes of his book — another book, like mine, you pronounce upon without having read. Indeed, just as American Thinker descends to name-calling in conducting “scholarly debate” (see #2), you react to Epstein’s research with more name-calling (“another damnfool journalist” with “wild-eyed claims”).

Your cartoonish rage and rationalizations aside, it’s clear that American Thinker is afraid of this debate.


From: J R Dunn
I’m sorry to see that you haven’t come around to the logical position. Your claim that authors can dictate content violates all norms of editorial practice and we will waste no more time on it.

It seems apparent to me that you live in a world where every criticism is a weapon and every attempt at open debate is an attack. This is must be a terrible burden for you, and you have my sympathy. But sympathy cannot overturn standards.

Feel free to contact me if you wish to comply with customary editorial procedure.


JR Dunn

The end.

Someone brought to my attention the following gem written by Dunn this week.

Dunn wrote:

A movement that fails to set boundaries on the behavior of its members, from the leadership on down, is effectively no movement at all.

The perfect motto — for the American Enforcer.


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