The New York Sun has a book review that sheds more light on the case of Julius Rosenberg and his participation in Soviet spy rings. Ronald Radosh reviews Engineering Communism, a look at the escape of two Rosenberg recruits from the US and how they helped transform the Soviet Union into a military powerhouse — using American technology:
It has taken almost half a century, but Steven Usdin, in “Engineering Communism” (Yale University Press, 329 pages, $40), has finally told the story of the two men recruited by Julius Rosenberg to be Soviet spies and how they evaded the FBI and escaped to carry on their work on behalf of the Soviet state. Barr and Sarant rose to the pinnacle of power in the Soviet establishment and managed the building of the postwar modern Soviet military machine and microelectronics industry.
Mr. Usdin’s greatest accomplishment is to clear up remaining gaps in the story of the Rosenberg espionage network. The Rosenbergs’ defenders have long claimed that whatever the couple did, it was for genuine anti-fascist motives and that they only were concerned with helping an American ally. Mr. Usdin puts that argument to rest. He emphasizes that Rosenberg was recruited as a Soviet spy before June 1941 – i.e., during the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact – and his primary motive was that he saw himself “as a partisan fighting behind enemy lines … on behalf of Soviet Communism.” He and his recruits wanted to “do anything they could to help the Soviet cause – before, during, and after the war against Hitler.” Barr, Sarant, and Rosenberg were Soviet patriots above all else.
The book clearly details the importance of the military information the network stole for Stalin. They passed on the 12,000-page blueprints for the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, the first American jet produced in large quantities and the workhorse of the Air Force in the Korean War. The detailed knowledge helped the Soviets build the MIG-15, whose superiority shocked the U.S. military in Korea. Barr and Sarant gave the KGB information on every project they worked on, including airborne radars for nighttime navigation and bombing and other new radar technology. One of these, an exact copy of the American device, was used in both Korea and Vietnam to direct artillery fire against American planes. “Rosenberg’s band of amateur spies,” Mr. Usdin writes, “turned over detailed information on a wide range of technologies and weapon systems that hastened the Red Army’s march to Berlin, jumpstarted its postwar development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and later helped communist troops in North Korea fight the American military to a standoff.”
Since the case of the Rosenbergs usually gets treated as true-belief dogma by their defenders on the Left, who ignore even the data from the Soviets showing their involvement, I suspect this will change few of those minds. For the rest of us, this book might make a fascinating read and a warning about allowing our technology to escape to potential enemies. That warning should have been heeded long before now, especially in regards to mainland China. Our long debate over the nature of the Rosenberg perfidy clouded that issue and made it more difficult to remain vigilant against such thefts.