Probably the greatest triumph in public opinion manipulation in modern history was the West’s elevation of the Soviet Union into a symbol of righteousness and a country beyond criticism. This triumph was all the more notable because from day one of the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin’s system, to quote Robert Conquest, “had as one of its main characteristics falsification on an enormous scale.”

This successful manipulation of Western public opinion was made possible because of Soviet penetration of Western journalism and the academy and the political culture of the Western democracies. The British public, for example, was recently in a flap over the revelation in the London Spectator that one of Britain’s distinguished dailies, the Guardian, had as an editor an admitted Soviet spy who took money from the KGB. In resigning from the newspaper, the editor, Richard Gott, admitted he had taken the money but said it was only for travel expenses to European cities to meet a Soviet official sent from Moscow. His admission that he took these secret KGB payments, of course, taints his demurrers. The KGB does not hand out money except for services rendered, as Aldrich Ames and other KGB spies have testified.

The British press has also opened up about British citizens who were recipients of Soviet subsidies not for actual spying but for acting as propagandists for the Soviet cause, as agents of influence. In time, American public opinion will also demand to know who our agents of influence were during the Cold War, those Americans who were always ready in the name of world peace or socialism to explain away Soviet or Maoist atrocities and in the process to denounce anticommunism as Cold War propaganda.

The self-willed assignment of such agents of influence was not necessarily to act as spies for the Soviet Union, as Kim Philby or Alger Hiss did, but under a cloak of innocent respectability to exploit their prestige and moral authority in support of Soviet actions, particularly in foreign policy. Some of these agents of influence were probably on a KGB payroll; others, businessmen like Armand Hammer, were on a different kind of “payroll.” They benefited financially from their Soviet connection and still others, true believers, were unwitting agents of influence.

That the United States had a plethora of such agents during the Cold War is undeniable. Even without any KGB archival revelations, there is no question that men like Vice President Henry A. Wallace or American ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph Davies were, in every awful sense of the phrase, witting agents of influence, whose apologies for Soviet foreign policy were helpful to the enemy’s cause.

Hollywood even took Davies’ pro-Stalin book Mission to Moscow, and with the help of Warner Brothers turned it into one of the sleaziest pro-Soviet propaganda films ever made outside the Soviet Union. Later in 1946, Davies, ever the Soviet agent of influence, said in an Associated Press interview: “Russia in self-defense has every moral right to seek atomic-bomb secrets through military espionage if excluded from such information by her former fighting allies.” For helping Russia to exercise that “moral right,” as Davies called it, spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg went to the electric chair.

While Wallace and Davies were witting agents of influence, Harry Hopkins, on the other hand, was probably an unwitting agent of influence. Here is what Mr. Hopkins, probably the advisor closest to President Roosevelt during the war years, said in 1945, after the calamitous Yalta conference: “In our hearts we really believed a new day had dawned. . . . The Russians had proved that they could be reasonable and farsighted and neither the President nor any one of us had the slightest doubt that we could live with them and get on peaceably with them far into the future.”

Regarding Henry Wallace, we will one day have to decide what role he really played during Stalin’s reign. From my studies of his career as wartime Vice President, there is no question that Wallace was the preeminent witting agent of influence whose political activities served the Soviet cause to an extraordinary degree. One shudders to think what might have happened had President Roosevelt, running for a fourth term in 1944, allowed Wallace to remain on the Democratic ticket as his running-mate instead of switching to Harry Truman.

As Secretary of Commerce, until Truman fired him in 1946, as well as in the years thereafter, Wallace engaged in so many pro-Soviet activities—defending the 1948 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, running for President in 1948 as the candidate of the openly Communist-controlled Progressive Party—that there is no escaping the conclusion that Wallace was an ally of Joseph Stalin. Wallace did not break with Moscow until 1950, when he blamed the Soviet Union for instigating North Korea’s aggression against South Korea.

In the realm of journalism, long before the Guardian‘s Richard Gott, there was another agent of influence of British origin, Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent. He and others like him in the early years of the Soviet Union concealed the truth about what is today recognized as one of the most inhuman dictatorships of modern times, exceeding even Nazi Germany in its barbarities. There was another New York Times correspondent, Max Frankel, who after years in Moscow wrote: “The ‘greatest story in the world’ is also the greatest secret in the world. And the lone correspondent is a poor match for a giant, totalitarian government. The story is only rarely to be had on the scene. The scholars will have to dig out what really happened.” What really happened! In other words, what Western correspondents, including Frankel himself, had been reporting about the Soviet Union to democratic publics over the years was either untrue, half-true, or meaningless.

Lying about the Soviet Union was made legitimate because it was supposedly done on behalf of a higher truth. When asked what he was going to write about the Stalin-induced Russian famine, Duranty replied: “Nothing. What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated.” It was not until 1990 that a Times editorial described Duranty’s coverage as “some of the worst reporting to appear in this newspaper.”

Beatrice and Sidney Webb, in their corrupt two-volume tract about the Soviet Union, described in these words Stalin’s organized famine against the Ukraine peasantry in the winter of 1932, when between five and seven million people died: “Strong must have been the faith and resolute the will of the men who, in the interest of what seemed to them the public good, could take so momentous a decision.”

As recently as 1987, KGB propaganda found its way into the American media. When the Soviet Union accused the United States of introducing AIDS as part of its alleged biological warfare research, Dan Rather—March 30, 1987—played this smear as news and offered no evidence other than the Soviet report. A year earlier, Stuart H. Loory, then CNN Moscow bureau chief, wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal (February 3, 1986): “I can say without reservation that if the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were to submit itself to the kind of free elections held in South Vietnam in the 1960’s or El Salvador in the 1980’s, it would win an overwhelming mandate. . . . Except for small pockets of resistance to the Communist regime, the people have been truly converted in the past 68 years.”

In his 1994 book about the Cold War, Martin Walker, Washington correspondent of the British guardian and earlier its Moscow correspondent, writes:

The similarities between Moscow in the early 1980’s and Washington in the early 1990’s became eerily acute to one who had lived through both. The contrast between the former Soviet Union’s release of its prisoners and the way that the U.S.A. had over one million of its citizens incarcerated, summoned the bizarre, dismaying thought of an American Gulag.

With the accession, following the death of Leonid Brezhnev in 1982, of Yuri V. Andropov as the ruling strongman of the Soviet Union, the credulity of the Western press became scandalous. Andropov, known in Hungary as the Butcher of Budapest for his infamous role during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and a longtime chief of the KGB, instantly became the beneficiary of a disinformation campaign which the American press lapped up with squeals of delight. Andropov was a “bibliophile,” a “connoisseur of modern art,” enjoyed American novels. The ineffable Washington Post described Andropov as a man “fond of cynical political jokes with an anti-regime twist . . . collects abstract art, likes jazz and Gypsy music [and] has a record of stepping out of his high party official’s cocoon to contact dissidents.” He also swam, played tennis, danced the tango gracefully. Even the Wall Street Journal fell for this disinformation campaign. Andropov, it reported, “likes Glenn Miller records, good Scotch whiskey, Oriental rugs, American books.” The New York Times and Time magazine also fell for this tripe, which included a revelation that Andropov “had a strange attraction for Western culture.” It will be remembered that it was during the Andropov reign that KAL 007 was shot down.

But it was not only influential Western journalism that failed to tell the truth about the Soviet Union. One of the great intellectual failures of this century has been the failure of distinguished scholars—political scientists, historians, philosophers, sociologists, many of them teachers at prestigious universities—to apply the standards of truth to their research into the Soviet Union and communism itself. As a result of their falsehoods camouflaged as “research,” a fictitious Soviet Union and an equally fictitious People’s Republic of China as utopias-in-being were created for Western policymakers. The relationship between the lies of academe and the extermination of millions of people within Soviet borders, in Eastern Europe, in China and Southeast Asia may be causal or coincidental, but there is no question that communist totalitarianism benefited from at least 50 years of academic indulgence and willful credulity. And of course, this lying went a long way to transforming Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Ché Guevara, and the Sandinistas into nation-building democrats.

The Soviet archives hold many secrets, none as important as the possible disclosure of the names of those who, while posing as friends of democracy, knowingly allied themselves with the foulest dictatorship in human history.