This is a reference to the article by Dan Flynn in the right-wing American Spectator here. It is an anticommunist attack on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade memorial unveiled in San Francisco on March 30, 2008.
Conservative and liberal criticisms of the International Brigades normally focus their attack on the fact that the Communist International and the Soviet Union, led by Joseph Stalin at the time, were by far the major force supporting the Republic generally. This is usually collapsed into something like "the International Brigades were fighting for Stalin," as Flynn does here.
I have written a little about this issue in some earlier publications.
But the "anti-Stalin" issue requires a lot more scrutiny.
The conservative, liberal, left-liberal, Trotskyist, and Fascist political interpretations of the Spanish Civil War (SCW) all agree in one respect: their assessment of Stalin. According to all of them, Stalin was bad, bad, BAD. And therefore, everything "he" did was "evil". This is Flynn's view, but it's not his alone. It is common to writers and historians of all these viewpoints -- conservative, liberal, left-liberal, Trotskyist, Fascist. And many Marxists have been persuaded, intimidated, or otherwise convinced to accept and repeat this interpretation.
And so the International Communist Movement (ICM) was "evil", since Stalin headed it. And everything the ICM did was "evil" too -- including support for the Spanish Republic. In this false view the International Brigades were, at best, "dupes", fighting for a little "Stalinist dictatorship" in Spain instead of for an independent liberal capitalist Republic.
There is, of course, much more to say about this, and in my view a discussion of this subject would be a healthy and potentially useful thing. In such a discussion I would insist that there is no reason to apologize for the leading role of the USSR and Stalin's important support.
Since the end of the Soviet Union a huge number of formerly secret Soviet documents have been published, mainly in Russia. This evidence shows that most of the anti-communist, and specifically anti-Stalin, allegations that have long been taken as "proven" are, in reality, not true.
For example, Nikita Khrushchevs infamous "Secret Speech" of 1956 is a complete fabric of falsehoods. Not a single allegation Khrushchev made in that Speech is true.
And that is just the beginning. Specifically, many, or most, or perhaps even all, of the accusations and allegations made against the communist parties, the Soviets, and Stalin, concerning their actions during the SCW are false.
Nobody's perfect, and the IBs, communists, Soviets, and Stalin weren't, either. That they made errors is a given. No human endeavor is without error.
However, the Soviets, the Red Army advisors, the NKVD, and the IBs, all acted responsibly. Specifically:
Flynns article goes far beyond slandering the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the International Brigades, the international communist movement, and Stalin personally to include Harry Bridges, W.E.B. DuBois, and Paul Robeson in his attack. In this view all of these men, and many others, were "communist dupes", or something. As, according to this view, are the historians like Peter Carroll whose writings, while balanced, fail to condemn the IBs.
Articles like Flynns have currency and influence because there is little attempt to refute the falsehoods particularly those falsehoods that concern the Soviet Unions role -- which he cites as fact. It would be good to discuss this question.
*Incidentally, we should avoid the collapsing of the whole Soviet leadership into "Stalin". There was a lot more than just this one man involved.