Conservative Corner: The Art Of Manipulation

Not long after Germany launched its blitzkrieg of Western Europe, a mysterious man from the British government arrived in New York. His name was William Stephenson, and his mission was to set up a new press and propaganda operation for the British. America was then anti war. No entangling alliance, as George Washington used to call it. In a book entitled: Those Angry Days, Lynne Olson reveals the pressures, both pro and con, in getting us into World War II. Stephenson’s organization, “British Security Coordination,” was just one of the groups selling, or unselling, the war. His group employed nearly one thousand people, at its Rockefeller Center headquarters on Fifth Avenue, NYC. Some two thousand additional staffers were stationed in Canada, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Ian Fleming, would model his famous fictional character, James Bond, in part on Stephenson. The goal appeared to be, to covertly, discredit isolationists, through disinformation. Working with and through the FBI, these agents handed them thousands of confidential reports. According to the official BSC history, among those who “rendered services of particular value” were the columnists Dorothy Thompson, Walter Lippmann, Walter Winchell, and Drew Pearson. Another prominent group was the Century Club, on Forty-third Street, in midtown Manhattan. Its critics saw the council as an invisible government, secretly setting the parameters of U.S. foreign policy. Many of the most prominent news editors and writers were members. William Allen White, a small newspaper publisher from Emporia, Kansas, was also prominent. His Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies became an unofficial public relations agency for the Roosevelt administration. White’s idea was to fill the radio and the newspapers and the Congressional mail with the voices of prominent citizens urging America to become the nonbelligerent ally of France and England. At its height, it had over 300 local chapters. And then of course, Pearl Harbor happened. These propaganda networks had done their work, softened up the isolationists, and the war was joined. We had shifted from 80 percent disapproval to just about unanimous support for England and her allies. One wonders about today. Who is pushing us to war now? Do we have forces at work today? Just as for the 1940’s?

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