Issue 8, September 2008 | Jamie Miller

Once Were Warriors: Wilfred Burchett, Robert Manne and the Forgotten History War


‘Guilt is the premise’: History According to Quadrant

Manne was merely the vanguard of a campaign against Burchett’s reputation waged by Quadrant magazine over the next year.[94] However, where Manne utilised footnotes, research and adductive reasoning, the supporting contributions of Santamaria, Frank Knopfelmacher and filmmaker Edwin Morrisby employed no such pretences. With the exception of Morrisby’s uncorroborated and soon discredited first-hand observations - he recanted much of his first article in his second - these contributions provided negligible original research. They simply circled the wagons. Just as previously Kane and Manne had closed ranks around Warner, now Manne became the focal point for the anti-communist assault:

If there was any lingering doubt, that the only appropriate departure platform for Wilfred Burchett from the here and now into hell was the gallows, Robert Manne’s splendid sifting of the historical evidence in the August Quadrant must have dispelled it.[95]

What fuelled the campaign was the threat Burchett’s life posed to the moral-ideological nexus integral to the staunchly anti-communist world view championed by the Quadrant community. In its eyes, after all, he was communist collaborator who had worked behind enemy lines and through his writings had encouraged others to abandon liberal democracy. The campaign was as much crusade as intellectual inquiry and its casuistic language reflected this. Where Manne had compared Burchett to Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher,[96] Knopfelmacher saw him as more akin to Josef Mengele.[97] Burchett deserved ‘hell’; those rehabilitating him threatened ‘the foundations of our existence as moral beings deserving of political freedom’.[98]

But if hyperbole was the greatest beneficiary of this devotion to a higher moral-ideological calling, then intellectual integrity was the biggest casualty. New sophisms were introduced to halt the continued erosion of the case against Burchett. Santamaria promulgated a novel definition of treason unrecognisable to the Australian legal system:

treason, whether or not, for procedural or other reasons, the charge can be legally established… [is a matter of] the political or ideological responsibilities of the citizen of any country of the Western liberal tradition caught in the central conflict of the twentieth century, the struggle between Soviet Communism and Western liberal democracy.[99]

Being a communist was not tantamount to being a traitor, it was by definition the same thing. However, the irony was lost on Santamaria. His definition of treason dismissed due process and the presumption of innocence as mere procedures in precisely the totalitarian tradition of those he opposed.

To compensate, he applied his definition selectively. Morrisby’s work contained new evidence of Burchett’s alleged KGB links, yet simultaneously detailed his own relationships with communist regimes.[100] Santamaria argued that in stark contrast to Burchett, Morrisby was an ‘unasailable’ (sic) witness and his uncorroborated evidence ‘not circumstantial’ because ‘it was a matter of indifference which government or agency thought it worthwhile to pay the bills’.[101] Even the narrowest interpretation of Santamaria’s impossibly dichotomous definition, casting its net wide enough to catch Burchett, clearly took in Morrisby as well: the communist governments who ‘thought it worthwhile’ included those in Albania, China, Bulgaria and Cambodia.[102] When it came to Burchett, however, even the most tenuous hearsay sufficed for condemnation. Santamaria noted that ‘other tenants of the flats [in which Burchett lived in Moscow] included Shered Nishenko, an actress of whom [KGB defector Yuri] Krotkov said “She was later involved in KGB activities”.’[103] In other words, in order to prove Burchett’s KGB links, an allegation based largely on Krotkov’s testimony, Santamaria cited as corroboration the same source’s similar allegations concerning another person living in the same building.

Indeed, so tenuous were the KGB claims[104] that they were soon surreptitiously substituted for allegations that Burchett was an “agent of influence” for global communism.[105] The term “agent of influence”, the title of both Manne’s 1988 republishing of his Quadrant essay and of his 2008 Monthly article, remains exceptionally problematic. It tars with the stigma of being an ‘agent’ those promoting communism but for whom the requisite evidence of an actual agent relationship with a foreign government is not forthcoming. The charge is both emotive and nebulous, ideal for the McCarthyist “guilt by association” that Quadrant sought to establish. Its conceptual shortcomings were particularly evident in Burchett’s case. Burchett supported the Chinese against the Soviets during the Sino-Soviet schism,[106] and later the North Vietnamese against the Chinese.[107] Yet according to Santamaria, Warner, Morrisby and Manne, as an “agent of influence” he was apparently working for all of them under the umbrella of global communism simultaneously. Manne toes this line even today.[108] The reality was much more complex. Burchett was, at various points during his life, a socialist, an anti-fascist, a committed communist, a supporter of Asian self-determination, an Australian nationalist, an anti-imperialist, an anti-American, and much more besides. He consciously established himself in places – within the parameters set by his not holding an Australian passport – where governments were in line with his politics. When the two diverged, he moved on.

This moving of the goalposts time and again on the charges directed at Burchett – from the nature of his interaction with POWs to the applicable definition of treason to his relationship with Moscow - epitomised an ideologically consequentialist academic ethic. It also inherently conceded that the existing accusations against Burchett could not be sustained. McCormack could not have put it better when he commented that for Burchett’s prosecutors:

the framework of evidence has always been subordinate; outworn or discredited bits have been thrown out and new ones substituted without the underlying proposition – Burchett’s guilt – being affected. Guilt is the premise; the evidence a series of subordinate and crucial deductions from it.[109]

Often, the leaders of the witch hunt were simply contemptuous of the need for consistency and integrity in their case. Morrisby asserted in 1985 that Burchett was ‘probably’ a KGB agent,[110] then a year later, in a rare retraction, that he was ‘not an agent of the KGB’.[111] But by that stage, according to Santamaria, ‘Burchett’s membership or non-membership of the KGB d[id] not matter’ any more.[112] The goalposts had moved yet again.

In Defense of Civil Liberties: The Australian Left

Perhaps even more disturbing than the manner in which Warner’s straightjacket debased the academic standards of Australia’s self-declared ‘small anti-Communist intelligentsia’ was the more subtle way in which it restricted the ability of others to challenge their hegemony in the discourse on Burchett.[113] At the height of the Forgotten History War, Ben Kiernan responded to the Quadrant campaign with Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-83,[114] featuring key chapters by McCormack and the late Alex Carey. By covering a much larger tract of Burchett’s life than had previously been considered,[115] thus weakening the anti-communists’ grip on the scope of the discourse, the anthology attempted to construct a new understanding of Burchett in the context of a quite different political paradigm, that of the New Left or Vietnam Generation. Burchett was portrayed as a resourceful, radical, politically committed journalist, illegally exiled by his own government because his access to the other side of the Korean and Vietnamese Wars put him in a unique position to discredit the arguments advanced for Australia’s involvement in them:

For Burchett’s especial benefit a whole new theory of citizenship was developed under which Australian citizenship became not a right of birth but a privilege which governments might confer or withdraw at will, according to whether they approved or disapproved of a citizen’s values and conduct.[116]

The image was no longer that of Burchett the communist, but of Burchett the anti-American, fighting for Asian nationalism and self-determination. And instead of being in the pay of various communist governments, he was portrayed as the ultimate independent journalist, advocating on behalf of oppressed peoples.[117] This was certainly how Burchett saw himself.[118] But it was hardly the whole story. As Manne would later illustrate, it was an extremely misleading description of Burchett’s often fawning coverage of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe and China’s Great Leap Forward.[119] It also ignored that Burchett was often close to the very governments that oppressed those peoples. Nevertheless, the anthology’s ideological paradigm gave a coherence to the Left’s depiction and intrinsically emphasised the human rights issues that paradigm valued, particularly the illegality and immorality of the Australian Governments’ persecution of Burchett.

The problem was that this New Left paradigm had itself developed largely out of dissatisfaction with, and in opposition to, the orthodox binary Cold War mentality. Consequently, even as the Left attempted to be revisionist on evidentiary grounds, rather than merely contrarian on ideological ones, its own political agenda unavoidably contaminated its analysis. What transformed Burchett into a cause célèbre for them, as for the anti-communists, was his ideological significance. Burchett had been one of the very first Western journalists to avidly oppose American involvement in Vietnam; those whose ideological identity emanated from the trail he blazed were hardly going to be detached critics.[120] This ideological attraction intersected with professional affinity. McCormack was a specialist in East Asian history whose writings often displayed a revisionist streak,[121] while Carey was a close colleague of Noam Chomsky.[122] Their respective theories that Burchett was persecuted because of his opposition to the Korean and Vietnamese Wars significantly reflected their own politics and academic interests.[123] One of McCormack’s articles even culminated in a passionate call for a reappraisal of the line between democratic dissent and treason.[124] Whether this was valid or not, it only played into the hands of Manne and his colleagues, exacerbating the already overbearing ideological dimension of the historical debate at the expense of evidentiary concerns.

Another consequence of this ideological dimension was that the Left failed to fully take into account the issues concerning Burchett’s past that their ideological nemeses were most concerned with. The Left focused on negating the charge of treason and voicing the issue of Burchett’s rights while never really convincingly addressing his relationships with several of the most dangerous governments the world has ever known, such as Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China and Kim Il Sung’s North Korea.[125] Their depiction of Burchett, as a whole, also failed to satisfactorily accommodate the sometimes slavishly pro-government lines present in his work, or to incorporate that any amenities he received from his host governments might have coloured his reporting. The Left did acknowledge these as grave flaws,[126] but they were not integrated into the overall depiction. On the other hand, the anti-communists were so obsessed with these same issues that they were blinded to the unjust way in which Burchett was treated by his Government and allowed their obsession to corrupt their intellectual integrity. For all the anti-communists’ hysteria and sui generis scholarship, there was indeed legitimately something about Burchett at the root of their grievances. But just what that something was shifted shape with astonishing frequency.

Thus, even when the Left attempted to force the discourse on Burchett outside Warner’s straightjacket, the origins of their own political philosophy made this impossible. At every turn, what was ostensibly an historical conflict over the life of Wilfred Burchett was distorted by, and ultimately subsumed in, a clash between two ideologically incompatible camps which disagreed fundamentally even on what the terms of the debate were and what counted as evidence. Aggravating this was that many of the contributors personally had a great deal invested in the outcomesof their historical inquiries, rather than the academic processes involved. Warner was motivated by a personal grudge; McCormack sought to buttress his campaign to reopen the question of whether the US used biological warfare in Korea; and Manne’s association with Quadrant, for both ideological and professional reasons, essentially dictated the outcome of his inquiry before it began. Both sides were hardly hostage to the ideologies to which they subscribed. Rather, to varying extents, the historical methods they employed were skewed so as to arrive at the appropriate conclusions.

‘Removing the Ideological Blinkers’: 1988-2008

This was never more evident than in Burchett’s first biography The Exile: Burchett: Reporter of Conflict.[127] The author was Roland Perry, Denis Warner’s literary agent.[128] Devoid of source notes, a serious shortcoming on a subject where even the most elementary facts were hotly contested, The Exile was riddled with inaccuracies. It promulgated numerous unsubstantiated theories, most notably that Burchett was involved in the defection of British double agent Kim Philby to the Soviet Union. As both Phillip Knightley and Kiernan quickly pointed out in their reviews, Philby arrived in the Soviet Union in late January 1963, while Perry’s account of the Philby-Burchett encounter implausibly placed both in Cairo in mid-February.[129] This was merely representative of the casual relationship with the truth displayed throughout the rest of the book. As Knightley put it with judicious understatement, ‘It is when Perry tries to assess the evidence… that the book’s shortcomings are apparent’.[130]

A far more comprehensive effort was Tom Heenan’s From Traveller to Traitor: The Life of Wilfred Burchett,[131] published in 2006. In contrast to Perry’s work, Heenan’s biography was grounded in extensive archival research. No doubt in response to the way in which previous writing about Burchett’s life had been plagued by the selective use of evidence to reach ideologically acceptable conclusions, Heenan sought ‘to remove [the] ideological blinkers’[132] and carefully situated his work as a detached and definitive account. Even so, Heenan relied too much on Burchett himself as a reliable source for highly contentious events.[133] Given that both Burchett[134] and the Left[135] willingly admitted that Burchett’s journalism was designed to promote his particular world view, rather than being objective in any meaningful sense, Burchett’s own writings remain a particularly compromised source for the construction of historical narratives. However, by treating them as authoritative, Heenan’s biography integrated Burchett’s unconventional work into mainstream accounts of history. This constituted a significant rehabilitation of his reputation, one furthered over the next two years by the release of Burchett’s unedited autobiography[136] and a collection of his writings,[137] both organised by his son George.

On the other side of the barricades, the Quadrant banner was taken up by the Australian. In its pages, few historical issues as Burchett’s life received such regular, if asymmetric, exposure. The News Limited broadsheet was now edited by Chris Mitchell and was home to Peter Kelly, both known for their involvement in accusations while at the Courier-Mail that historian Manning Clark was a Soviet agent.[138] Thus, Tibor Meray’s On Burchett,[139] produced by a virtually unknown publisher, received a full page’s promotion in the broadsheet in March 2008.[137] Similar prominent treatment was accorded to Kelly’s ‘Comrade Burchett was a party hack’. Based on former Quadrant contributor Peter Hruby’s research, Kelly’s article revealed that for all his denials,[140] Burchett had been an actual member of the Communist Party of Australia. That this research has been championed by Kelly, former Quadrant contributor Peter Hruby, and Manne as the ‘smoking gun’[141] – the single most important piece of evidence in the Forgotten History War – exemplifies the durability of Denis Warner’s “communist equals traitor” straightjacket. For them, that Burchett was a member of a communist party essentially closes the debate on his legacy.[142] For others, his formal membership has little impact on the key issues, namely whether Burchett engaged in activity deserving of the Australian Government’s response, and whether ideology influenced his reporting, which it did in ways so numerous and diverse as to go well beyond any party platform. What one side valued as indispensable evidence, the other dismissed as essentially irrelevant.[143]

An Honourable Manne

Yet it has been Manne’s 2008 article ‘Agent of Influence’ which has dramatically reignited the debate over the legacy of Burchett’s life. His old foes, Kiernan and McCormack, joining forces with Heenan, Stuart Macintyre and Greg Lockhart, responded by levelling against Manne the incendiary charge of a ‘tendency to consider selectively other scholars’ research and [a] penchant for redefining the terms of an argument to suit his current agenda.’[144] These criticisms had a lot of merit. What the background to this current dispute should have revealed, however, is that such scholarship was in no way uncharacteristic, but in fact represented a certain continuity with Manne’s earlier work. Despite having communicated my concerns with his 1985 essay,[145] Manne responded not by addressing them, but by ignoring his earlier claims entirely. This echoed his response to McCormack decades earlier. The style was similar too. Where McCormack had been a ‘neo-Stalinist’, I became a decidedly more tame ‘student Leftist’.[146] Where Manne had once compared Burchett to Julius Streicher, now his case was akin to that of Holocaust denier David Irving.[147] In contrast, unsupported praise was reserved for witnesses to bolster their credibility. Just as in 1985 star witness Derek Kinne had been ‘a man of extraordinary courage’,[148] by 2008 his replacement Meray had become ‘most convincing’ and ‘so honest a communist’.[149]

But these were minor concerns compared to how Manne utilised the available evidence. Entire pillars of his 1985 essay, such as the 1974 defamation case and the previously critical testimony of Kinne and Mahurin, were mentioned in passing or not at all. The result was that readers not specialising in the historiography of Burchett’s life would not know that such evidence had ever existed, that Manne had once been its foremost proponent, or that it had since been proved untrue.

The sources Manne used instead, particularly Morrisby and Krotkov, were relied upon to support essential claims without any acknowledgement of their severely damaged credibility. Morrisby once contributed to the debate that ‘Burchett apparently liked dog meat, but did not like North Korea because he could not find a good woman there.’[150] He also insisted that Burchett spoke Bulgarian despite Burchett’s Bulgarian wife’s denials.[151] Krotkov, whose testimony lay at the heart of allegations that Burchett had been a KGB agent, had long been proven to be an unreliable defector. Alongside Burchett, he had singled out economist John Kenneth Galbraith and intellectual Jean Paul Sartre, as well as the French and Indian Ambassadors to the United States, as KGB agents. Neither American nor British intelligence took him seriously.[152] Yet together, Morrisby and Krotkov’s evidence constituted the entire basis for the central assertion of Manne’s article: that Burchett was an ‘agent of influence’ funded ‘sometimes’ by the Soviet Union.[153]

In much the same fashion, Manne relied solely upon the testimony of American Korean War POW Paul Kniss to confirm Burchett’s role in interrogating US pilots.[154] This, as Manne well knew, was decidedly problematic: Kniss made two contradictory statements to US authorities on his repatriation. The first, made in September 1953 and cited by Manne, made no reference to Burchett at all.[155] The second, made later and contained in a US Army Intelligence Report,[156] described Burchett as ‘a chronic alcoholic’ and ‘a drug addict’ even though, as McCormack had revealed, Kniss and Burchett had enjoyed friendly correspondence during the war.[157] This was the statement Manne was really drawing upon, but it was anything but credible. As a cable to the Australian Government explicitly noted, the Report was designed to discredit Burchett given that he had by this stage moved to Indochina, the latest Cold War flashpoint.[158] For his part, Kniss had been caught in a classic conflict of disloyalties. In his desire to avoid recriminations from American authorities for confessing that the US had used biological warfare, he had chosen to disavow his friend Burchett. But by simply not mentioning any of these issues, raised in others’ work, Manne was able to present Kniss to the Monthly’s readers as an unimpeachable source.

It was not just specific evidence that found itself excised or misrepresented, but also entire charges from Manne’s 1985 essay. By 2008 there was no mention that Burchett was an agent paid to disseminate misinformation to UN war correspondents, nor that he orchestrated to have his passport withheld from him, nor that he offered to defect to the West after the Korean War in exchange for immunity from prosecution for his treasonous acts.[159] Other previous charges were fudged with partial retractions. Manne acknowledged that Burchett did not interrogate prisoners of war ‘as he was frequently alleged to have done’ by his ‘enemies’.[160] But the passive tense and impersonal agent directed readers away from his own vociferous earlier charge of not merely interrogation, but brainwashing. And despite the admission, Manne insisted that Burchett’s ‘role in the production of the forced and false confessions to germ warfare [wa]s clear’.[161] The specific charge was anything but clear – the sole support was the unreliable Kniss - just as in 1985 Manne had concluded that Burchett was involved ‘in one way or another’.

Even the most central points of Manne’s previous work were not immune from obfuscation.[162] In 1985, the issue of the Government’s denial of a passport to Burchett lay at the crux of his historical inquiry, even eliciting indignation: ‘how it can be seriously suggested that the Australian Government owed him – after his performance in Korea – its protection and good offices abroad I simply cannot understand.’[163] Today, Manne concluded, ‘surely it is clear why that is not the issue central to the assessment of [Burchett’s] life.’[164] In much the same vein, in 1985 Burchett was ‘in the deepest sense of the word a traitor’. By 2008, with minimal supporting argument and little consideration of treason as a legal offence, Manne mused opaquely that ‘Burchett’s enemies think he betrayed his country’.[166] One is reminded of George Orwell’s description of ‘words fall[ing] upon the facts like soft snow, blurring their outlines and covering up all details.’[167]

Yet while McCormack and his colleagues may have seen Manne as ‘conceding much ground but firing loud salvos as he retreat[ed]’,[168] the unspoken retreat was perceptible only to them. By making little reference to the research of other historians in any substantive sense, Manne left the Monthly’s readers, in true Ministry of Information style, with no accurate point of reference by which to gauge the concessions or changes in the historical record that specialists detected. By failing to acknowledge his previous errors or explain the ideological circumstances surrounding them, Manne portrayed himself as a leading authority on the subject instead of a discredited one. On both counts, the wool was pulled over readers’ eyes. In reality, old evidence surreptitiously absented itself, new evidence took its place, the argument was recast. The conclusion – that Burchett shared moral responsibility for the actions of the communist governments he was associated with – remained the same. Guilt remained the premise, and the facts remained subservient. In this way alone was Manne able to paradoxically maintain that he had reconsidered his stance with the advent of new evidence and that his ‘core position’ on Burchett remained unchanged.[169]

For all this, Manne fulminated against the Australian Left, rebuking them for ‘parochialism’,[170] being ‘incapable of reassessing their support for indefensible causes’,[171] and even ‘intellectual inertia, an unwillingness to re-examine judgments made during the Cold War’.[172] He went on, accusing the Left of being unable to address Burchett in a detached fashion because of ‘pride’ in not wanting to recant their prior beliefs, ‘rancour’ in being reluctant to make concessions to old ideological foes, and ‘political friendships’ – the desire not to betray one’s former comrades.[173] Such reasoning, of course, perfectly encapsulated the baggage Manne himself brought to the discourse. It has always been what Burchett represented ideologically - ‘the human catastrophe of communism’[174] – rather than the historical reality of what he actually did or did not do, which have constituted his ‘deepest’ concern.[175]

In short, in both his 1985 and 2008 articles, Manne’s academic rigour was dissolved in his ideological antipathy towards Burchett, leading him to draw upon the historical evidence in a way that can, at best, be described as selective and deceptive. Sources that he knew from others’ work to be completely unreliable were presented as impeccably trustworthy. Previous claims that have since been exposed as untrue were simply left out of the picture or obfuscated. Indeed, Manne’s imprecision has become such a concern that other historians in the field remain entirely unclear on where he stands on the most significant issues. In July 2008, he vehemently denounced his critics’ claim that he had accused Burchett of torture as ‘an absolute lie’.[176] Yet it is easy to see how they had arrived at that conclusion. In 1985, Manne had written that ‘[a US POW] was kept in strict solitary confinement, in irons and was beaten and maltreated until he agreed to the Burchett interview... Plus ça change.’[177] He may not have accused Burchett of torture directly, but to use a Manne-ism, under the broader definition of torture, he left no doubt as to Burchett’s collaborative role. And by not addressing the issue at all in his most recent article, he left other scholars with little clarification.


On one level, the Forgotten History War was a battle between ideologues, each appropriating aspects of Burchett’s life for their own ends and in which anything approaching objective truth was an unavoidable casualty. The two sides often talked past each other, with Australia’s anti-communists focusing on Burchett’s relationships with communist regimes, and the Left on his treatment by Australian Governments. The rancour was such that it remains difficult today for either to commit to what should be an emerging historical consensus based on the research. Burchett had a number of unique and imprudent relationships with nefarious regimes which, in combination with his own ideological commitments, resulted in journalism that was, variously, both liberated from common constraints, and rash, blinkered and biased. At the same time, he was persecuted for political reasons by his Government on the basis of information which it knew to be false, and neither that Government nor those who played a critical role in that persecution, like Denis Warner, or in its post facto justification, like Robert Manne, have ever fronted up to their actions. These positions are hardly as mutually exclusive as historians have treated them; indeed the former transparently explains the latter.

But this overlooks the more disturbing conclusions concerning the failure of the Australian public sphere. Throughout Burchett’s life, a number of Australia’s leading voices willingly colluded with the Government and its security services to persecute a citizen based on his beliefs. They not only fell into lockstep with the Government’s policy for decades on end, but invented entirely new justifications for that policy in a remarkable display of one-up-manship. So much for the fourth estate. And when after Burchett’s death a number of academics exposed the allegations against him as without foundation, a group of historians and writers, sometimes co-operating with those originally responsible, responded by disregarding the new exculpatory research on ideological grounds and simply resculpted their previous charges.

The perception that Wilfred Burchett, as a communist agent, interrogated, brainwashed or tortured POWs, has been revealed through painstaking research to be one of the great myths of Australian history, a con pulled by Australian Governments on the public sphere of the day. Yet those who have been exposed as complicit in its perpetuation and whose intellectual integrity has been revealed in academic journals to be gravely compromised have repeatedly found new and prominent opportunities to disseminate their versions of history. In response to Robert Manne’s recent article, Mark Aarons from the Australian even praised him for his ‘intellectual honesty in changing his views as new evidence has emerged.’[178] It is of concern for Australia’s entire intellectual community that its leading members, through exposure in prominent forums, can display indifference to both historical evidence and the research of others in order to support their ideological agendas and mitigate damage to their professional reputations – and be praised for it. The gap they create between intellectual rigour and popular myth, the same gap that enabled Burchett to be persecuted with only the most limited public opposition, does not bode well for the future ability of Australia’s small intellectual community to hold the powers that be in this country to account.

Jamie Miller has a BA (Hons) from the University of Sydney, and is studying for a Masters Degree in Modern European History at the University of Cambridge.

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[94] Frank Knopfelmacher, ‘Wilfred Burchett’s Treason: Drifting into the Morass of Equivalence’, Quadrant,September 1985; Edwin Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’, Quadrant, October 1985; B. A. Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’; Edwin Morrisby, ‘My Reply to Madame Burchett’, Quadrant, July-August 1986. Former National Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia Laurie Aarons contributed a riposte to Manne’s charges with ‘The Life and Times of Wilfred Burchett: A Reply to Robert Manne’, Quadrant, December 1985. No other view from the opposing camp of the Forgotten History War was published, and one suspects that Aarons’ invitation was motivated by the Editors’ belief that the intersection of his heretical political beliefs with a pro-Burchett line would actually help their cause rather than damage it. In the event, Aarons' article was far more comprehensive and knowledgeable than expected – Manne called it 'longwinded' - prompting the need for a response from Manne in the same issue.

[95] Knopfelmacher, ‘Wilfred Burchett’s Treason: Drifting into the Morass of Equivalence’, p. 32. See also Santamaria referring to Manne and Morrisby in an unpublished letter to the Editor of the Age, 22 September 1986, in B. A. Santamaria, Your Most Obedient Servant: Selected Letters: 1938-1996, Patrick Morgan, ed.,(Carlton, Victoria: The Miegunyah Press, 2007), pp. 430-1.

[96] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 30.

[97] Knopfelmacher, ‘Wilfred Burchett’s Treason: Drifting into the Morass of Equivalence’, p. 33.

[98] Knopfelmacher, ‘Wilfred Burchett’s Treason: Drifting into the Morass of Equivalence’, p. 33.

[99] Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’, p. 67.

[100] Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’.

[101] Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’, pp. 68, 71.

[102] Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’.

[103] Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’, p. 70.

[104] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 38; Kane, ‘Burchett on Trial?’, pp. 38-9; Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’, p. 30.

[105] Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’, pp. 68-9; Warner, Not Always on Horseback, p. 198; Morrisby, ‘My Reply to Madame Burchett’, pp. 36-7. Santamaria had described Burchett as ‘an agent of some kind’ as far back as 1970: Santamaria to George Albertini, 28 February 1970, in Santamaria, Your Most Obedient Servant,pp. 279-80.

[106] SLV MS 10254, Papers, Wilfred Burchett to George Burchett, his father, 28 March 1963: ‘There is no doubt at all in my mind that [China] is right and not just 80-90 per cent right but 100 per cent right’. Burchett also supported China’s policy on India, in contrast to the Soviet Union’s, three years earlier in 1960: Burchett, Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist, pp. 502-510. See also Kiernan, ‘The Making of a Myth: Wilfred Burchett and the KGB’, in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, p. 298.

[107] Wilfred Burchett, New York Guardian, 5 May 1976.

[108] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 28.

[109] McCormack, ‘The New Right and Human Rights: Cultural Freedom and the Burchett Affair’, p. 401, emphasis added.

[110] Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’, p. 32.

[111] Morrisby, ‘My Reply to Madame Burchett’, pp. 36-7.

[112] Santamaria, ‘The Burchett Case: Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy’, p. 69.

[113] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 42.

[114] Ben Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983 (London, Melbourne, New York: Quartet Books, 1986).

[115] For instance, there were articles on Burchett’s time in Portugal and its colonies in southern Africa, and his work in New Caledonia, neither of which had been covered at all by the Right.

[116] Alex Carey, ‘The Bureaucratic Passport War’ in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, p. 61.

[117] Kiernan, ‘Introduction’, p. xix, xxi; John Pilger, ‘Preface’ in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, pp. x, xv.

[118] NAA A432, 1969/3072 Attachment 2, interview with Malcolm Salmon of the Sydney Tribune late 1968.

[119] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 31

[120] See Wilfred Burchett, North of the Seventeenth Parallel (Hanoi: Reed River Publishing Co., 1957); Wilfred Burchett, The Furtive War: The US in Vietnam and Laos (New York: International Publishers, 1963); and Wilfred Burchett, Vietnam: The Inside Story of the Guerilla War (New York: International Publishers, 1965).

[121] See for example McCormack, Cold War, Hot War, pp. 147-158.

[122] Carey, Taking the Risk Out Of Democracy, pp. ix-xvi. See also the dedication of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988).

[123] For the arguments concerning Burchett and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, see respectively Gavan McCormack, ‘Korea: Wilfred Burchett’s Thirty Years War’, in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, pp. 204-5, 162-5, and Carey, ‘The Bureaucratic Passport War’, pp. 74-100. Both significantly underestimated the role played by homegrown anti-communism in Burchett’s exile and overplayed the significance of Australia’s desire to ingratiate itself with the United States.

[124] McCormack, ‘The New Right and Human Rights: “Cultural Freedom” and the Burchett Affair’, p. 403.

[125] In 1997, Burchett’s widow received the North Korean Order of Friendship, Second Class: Agence France-Presse 28 December 1997.

[126] See in particular Kelvin Rowley, ‘Burchett and the Cold War in Europe’, in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, pp. 41-60; Michael R. Godley, ‘The East Wind in China’, in Kiernan, ed., Burchett Reporting the Other Side of the World: 1939-1983, pp. 148-161.

[127] Roland Perry, The Exile: Burchett: Reporter of Conflict (Richmond, Victoria: William Heinemann Australia, 1988).

[128] Denis Warner, Not Always on Horseback, p. vii.

[129] Ben Kiernan, ‘Justice delayed, justice denied’, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 May 1988; Phillip Knightley, ‘A tireless supporter of the underdog’, Sunday Times, 2 October 1988.

[130] Phillip Knightley, ‘A tireless supporter of the underdog’, Sunday Times, 2 October 1988.

[131] Tom Heenan, From Traveller to Traitor (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2006).

[132] Heenan, From Traveller to Traitor, p. 9.

[133] In one passage, Heenan related Burchett and Winnington’s exceptionally controversial allegations of prisoner abuse at the main UN POW camp on Koje Island, Korea, as though it were uncontested fact. Heenan attributes no fewer than sixteen consecutive footnotes to them, even though, as he conceded, Burchett and Winnington never visited Koje Island and relied on others’ first-hand accounts: Heenan, From Traveller to Traitor, pp. 110-112; see p. 127 for footnotes

[134] Burchett, Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist, pp. 229-55; Burchett, Passport, p. viii.

[135] Kiernan, ‘Introduction’, p. xxi.

[136] Wilfred Burchett, Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist: The Autobiography of Wilfred Burchett, George Burchett and Nick Shimmin, eds., (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2005). An abridged version of the same manuscript can be found in Wilfred Burchett, At the Barricades (London, Melbourne and New York: Macmillan Australia, 1981).

[137] Wilfred Burchett, Rebel Journalism: The Writings of Wilfred Burchett, George Burchett and Nick Shimmin, eds., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[138] Stuart Macintyre, The History Wars, (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2004), pp. 67-8.

[139] Tibor Meray, On Burchett, (PO BOX 293, Belgrave, Victoria: Callistemon Publications, 2008).

[140] Australian, 22-23 March 2008.

[141] See, as just one of many examples, Burchett, Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist, p. 757.

[142] Peter Kelly, ‘Comrade Burchett was a party hack’, Australian, 7 January 2006; Peter Hruby, ‘A Private Scribe for Hire: Wilfred Burchett’, personal communication, received 24 July 2007; Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 26.

[143] This presented an unusual contrast with the anti-communists’ insistence that Burchett not being a formal KGB agent, as once argued, should have little impact on how he should be understood today.

[144] When I questioned the significance and meaning of the ‘smoking gun’, both Kelly and Hruby responded with invective: Peter Kelly, private communication, 10 July 2007; Peter Hruby, private communication, undated, late 2007.

[145] Manne of Influence, p. 1.

[146] Most of the concerns in this article were communicated to Manne by email in late 2007, long before his Monthly piece.

[147] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 22.

[148] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 32.

[149] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 33.

[150] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, pp. 26, 29.

[151] Morrisby, ‘Wilfred Burchett of the KGB?’, p.31

[152] Morrisby, ‘My Reply to Madame Burchett’, p.36

[153] Kiernan, ‘The Making of a Myth: Wilfred Burchett and the KGB’, pp. 296-9; Heenan, From Traveller to Traitor, p. 271.

[154] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 28.

[155] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 30.

[156] NAA A1838/370, 852/20/4/114, statement by Paul R. Kniss, September 1953. Burchett was also absent from statements made at the same time by Kniss’ fellow pilots. All of this was mentioned in Heenan, From Traveller to Traitor, pp. 152-3, and in the thesis I sent Manne.

[157] NAA A6119, 15/Reference Copy, Far Eastern Command Report.

[158] M 3787/1, 55, [Personal Papers of PM Gorton] Burchett, Wilfred, 1952-70, Burchett to Kniss, 30 November 1952. See McCormack, ‘Korea: Wilfred Burchett’s Thirty Years War’, p. 190.

[159] NAA A432, 1952/1677, Australian Embassy, Tokyo, to Department of External Affairs, 16 July 1954.

[160] For this last claim, see Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 36. The others are covered above.

[161] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 29.

[162] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 30.

[163] This was despite Manne’s recent admission that when re-reading his 1985 article he ‘found in it only one seriously discordant note’: Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2004.

[164] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 42.

[165] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 32.

[166] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 28.

[167] George Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language’ (1946).

[168] ‘Manne of Influence’, p. 1.

[169] ‘New brawl over Burchett’s reputation’, Age (online), 7 July 2008.

[170] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 22.

[171] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 24.

[172] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 22.

[173] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, pp. 22, 24.

[174] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 24.

[175] Manne, ‘Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett’, p. 31.

[176] ‘Manne of Influence’, p. 1. For Manne’s response see ‘New brawl over Burchett’s reputation’, Age (online), 7 July 2008.

[177] Manne, ‘The Fortunes of Wilfred Burchett: A New Assessment’, p. 42. See also Knopfelmacher, ‘Wilfred Burchett’s Treason: Drifting into the Morass of Equivalence’, p. 32: ‘tortured with Burchett’s help’.

[178] ‘New brawl over Burchett’s reputation’, Age (online), 7 July 2008.