Commentary Magazine


Cold War Thinking

To the Editor:

I hope that David T. Bazelon’s perceptive review of Fred J. Cook’s The Warfare State [January, 1963] gets a wider reading than the book he so rightly calls a “silly black-and-white history of the cold war.” Mr. Cook’s opus ought to be recognized by thoughtful liberals and conservatives alike for what it is, an incredibly cynical distortion of past, present, and future, and a disservice to citizens in and out of uniform who are seriously trying to understand. . . .

Mr. Cook, who is described in book club promotions as a “prizewinning” author, is a hit-and-run journalist who doesn’t mind in the least smearing the many Americans in uniform who daily risk their lives to keep the cold war cold.

There is plenty of material, as Mr. Bazelon suggests in his review, for scholarly analysis that would lead to public understanding of the military impact on our society, but Fred J. Cook’s hysterical pen is scarcely the instrument for such efforts.

William Leavitt
Air Force Space Digest
Washington, D.C.

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To the Editor:

Considering the overwhelming importance of books such as Fred Cook’s The Warfare State, I believe that Mr. Bazelon’s review of it must rank as one of the stupidest and most vicious things of its kind to appear recently. Shrill, hysterical reviewers usually in a short space manage to commit and compound all the mistakes they attribute to the authors they are attacking. Bazelon’s review is an excellent example of this often seen phenomenon.

John Womack
Austin, Texas

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To the Editor:

In his review. . . David T. Bazelon writes: “. . . The old Stalinist middle-brow style of thought has survived the whole postwar period unregenerate, and we are back again with that puerile hunger for fairy tales. And one recalls, then, the reports of old-style Stalinist influence in the peace movement. Worst of all: the Stalinoid mentality seems to have learned nothing from the McCarthy period. . . .”

I am amazed to find statements of this character published in COMMENTARY. They remind me of the models of degenerate English which George Orwell used as exhibits in his “Politics and the English Language.” Is Mr. Cook being accused of being a Communist or merely of having a “Stalinoid mentality”? And what does the latter mean, if not the former? As for that little nudge in the ribs about the peace movement—what is the source of those dark reports that “one so impersonally ‘recalls’”? The House Un-American Activities Committee? How depressingly familiar these techniques of vilification are! Apparently the Stalinists are not alone in having learned nothing from the McCarthy period.

Morton D. Paley
New York City

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Mr. Bazelon writes:

“Stalinoid mentality” refers not to a Communist party member but to the mind of the kind of liberal who, out of an ungoverned disappointment with American life, was willing to believe most or at least too much of what the members told them. They believed, for instance, what the Soviet apologists told them about the Moscow trials, about the Soviet-Nazi Pact, and even about the takeover in Eastern Europe. The source of my statement about the peace movement was Robert Pickus of Turn Toward Peace, and has been confirmed by several other friends not associated with the HUAC. Moreover, not everyone who has attacked the Stalinists and the Stalinoid mentality was a supporter of McCarthy, or needed to learn anything about these subjects from the phenomenon he represented. (Some of them, including George Orwell, even write rather well.)

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