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Jack, About the complexity, you are I think in large measure right. As to how it was organised, what I suspect happened was a bizarre mixture of the ‘orchestrated’ and ‘organic.’ It would seem likely that the central driving force was Brennan. However, this was not simply centrally directed. And it seems to me clear that when the discovery that materials from the DNC had been leaked to ‘WikiLeaks’ caused the conspiracy to move into higher gear, in the late spring/early summer of 2016, the need to respond quickly led to failures of co-ordination and sloppy errors. The limited interested of today’s MSM in investigating complexity has made it easier for the conspirators to cover-up some of the vulnerabilities this created. However, the complexity problem is not really material in relation to the lawsuits which Biss and Clevenger have filed on behalf of Butowsky in response to the smear campaigns used to frustrate his efforts to bring the actual truth about the life and death of Seth Rich to light. This means that, as it were, the obfuscations designed to obscure the fact that he provided the materials from the DNC to ‘WikiLeaks’ may be a relatively weak point in the fortifications set up by the conspirators. If it can be successfully attacked, then the use of complexity to obfuscate may no longer work so successfully elsewhere. In addition to the cases I mentioned, there is the most recent suit filed by Clevenger and Biss on behalf of Butowsky, against Douglas Wigdor and Rod Wheeler. A mass of materials on all these suits is available on the invaluable ‘CourtListener’ site, and although one needs a PACER subscription to access many of them, key documents are freely available. (See ; ; .) At the time when Larry posted on Magistrate Judge Caroline M. Craven’s denial of the Motion to Dismiss filed by Folkenflik and NPR back in April, the full text of her ruling was not openly available. It now is – see entry 58, dated 17 April 2019. The ‘Amended Complaint’, entry 54 dated 5 March, is also well worth reading. On the most recent case, against Wigdor and Wheeler, the ‘Complaint’ is entry 1, dated 31 July 2019. Those whoever who do not have the time to delve in any detail but want to see how potentially explosive these cases are should read the ‘Second Amended Complaint’ in Butowsky v Gottlieb, which was filed on that same day, and is entry 105 in the ‘CourtListener’ materials. In this, which followed the attempt by Michael Isikoff to renew the smear campaign, Butowsky ‘outs’ two key sources, Ellen Ratner and Seymour Hersh, who he appears to think have not given him the support they might have. The audio of the conversation between Butowsky and Hersh has been in the public domain for a long time. Unfortunately, the only transcripts I can find are grossly inadequate. It would help if, in addition to the edited excerpts including in their filings, Biss and Clevenger, or someone else, could arrange for as accurate as possible a transcript of the full fascinating 20-minute conversation to be prepared and made readily available. This conversation, moreover, now needs to be read in the context of a key claim in the ‘Second Amended Complaint’, that ‘In a separate phone call with Mr. Butowsky, Mr. Hersh said he obtained his information about Seth Rich from Mr. McCabe, the deputy FBI director.’ What is not clear to me, having both read the transcript and listened to the audio, is whether Hersh had actually seen the FBI report to which he refers, or whether he relied upon his source’s account of it. If indeed the source was McCabe, then we have to 1. to wonder why he should have talked to Hersh at all, and 2. whether what he was providing was a ‘limited hangout.’ This is particularly important, because the dating both of the original contact between Rich and ‘WikiLeaks’, and of the discovery of this by Western intelligence/law enforcement agencies, may be critical to making sense of all kinds of elements of this story. Among these is the history of Smolenkov, about whom Scott Ritter has published some interesting reflections on the ‘Consortium News’ site. (See .) I see that one hypothesis he takes seriously is that put forward by ‘J’. My own inclination had been to suspect that, as Larry’s friend suggested, this may have been a version of an ‘Our Man in Havana’ situation, with Brennan in the role of the ludicrous ‘Chief’ in Greene’s novel, who clearly reflected his creator’s experience in the wartime MI6. However, one does need to keep an open mind, as making premature decisions as to what one can rule out as absolutely unthinkable is the route to getting things comprehensively wrong in matters like this. That said, Hersh's suggestion to Butowsky that this was ‘a Brennan operation’ obviously needs to be put together with Ritter's claim that that ‘intelligence’ from Smolenkov which claimed to vindicate the claim that the DNC materials were hacked, not leaked was presented to the White House in August 2016. If both are right, it would seem that this tends to narrow the available range of interpretations of what various actors were doing. I do find myself wondering whether, when the smoke has finally clearly – if it ever does – we will find that Ed Butowsky has played a kind of Colonel Picquart role in all this.
Apologies for failure to proofread. When I wrote 'phone', I meant to write 'phoney.' That said, if Americans find a conspiracy to subvert constitutional government not really very interesting, the prospects of their continuing to enjoy the benefits of such government for very long do not seem bright. Moreover, part of the problem is precisely that questions to do with the subversion of the Constitution have got tangled up with questions to do with the relative merits and demerits of Trump versus Hillary Clinton, and Trump versus Obama. There has never been a guarantee that constitutional government will necessarily produce the best governors. What it quite often does is create a situation where people can accept the prospect of losing, both because they recognise the outcome as fairly arrived at, and because they believe it can be reversed, and because they do not see it as a catastrophic threat. It is precisely these fundamental preconditions for minimising the -- omnipresent -- cut-throat elements in politics which people like the Ohrs, Strzok, and Pientka, with behind them, among others Brennan, Clapper and Comey, have threatened. This is why they, together with their British co-conspirators, including Steele, Dearlove and Hannigan, these people remain very materially more dangerous than Trump.
Larry, Having been away from base, I have not been able to comment on some very fascinating recent posts. Both your recent pieces, and Robert Willman’s most helpful update on the state of play relating to the unraveling of the frame-up against Michael Flynn, have provided a lot to chew over. Among other things, they have made me think further about the 302s recording the interviews with Bruce Ohr produced by Joseph Pientka – a character about whom I think we need to know more. On reflection, I think that the picture that emerges of Ohr as an incurious and gullible nitwit, swallowing whole bucket loads of ‘horse manure’ fed him by Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson, may be a carefully – indeed maybe cunningly – crafted fiction. The interpretation your former intelligence officer friend puts on the Smolenkov affair, and also some of what Sidney Powell has to say in the ‘’Motion to Compel’ on behalf of Flynn, both ‘mesh’ with what I have long suspected. The dossier attributed to Steele, it has seemed to me, showed every sign of being the proverbial ‘camel produced by a committee.’ Although I know that fabricating evidence and corrupting judicial proceedings is part of its supposed author’s ‘stock in trade’, I think it is unclear whether he contributed all that much to the dossier. His prime role, I think, was to contribute a veneer of intelligence respectability to a farrago the actual origins of which could not be acknowledged, so it could be used in support of FISA applications and in briefings to journalists. Although it had started much earlier, the moving into ‘high gear’ of the conspiracy behind ‘Russiagate, of which the dossier was one manifestation, and the phone ‘digital forensics’ produced by ‘Crowdstrike’ and the former GCHQ person Matt Tait another, were I think essentially panicky ‘firefighting’ operations. They are likely to have been responses, first, to the realisation that material leaked from the DNC was going to be published by WikiLeaks, and then the discovery, probably significantly later, that the source was Seth Rich, and his subsequent murder. Although the operation to divert responsibility to the Russians which then became necessary was strikingly successful, it did not have the expected result of saving Hillary Clinton from defeat. What I then think may have emerged was a two-pronged strategy. Part of this involved turning the conspiracy to prevent Trump being elected into a conspiracy to destabilise his Presidency and ensure he did not carry through on any of his ‘anti-Borgist’ agenda. In different ways, both the framing of Flynn, and the final memorandum in the dossier, dated 13 December 2016, were part of this strategy. Also required however was another ‘insurance policy’ – which was what the Bruce Ohr 302s were intended to provide. The purpose of this was to have ‘evidence’ in place, should the first prong of the strategy run into problems, to sustain the case that people in the FBI and DOJ, and Bruce and Nellie Ohr in particular, were not co-conspirators with Steele and Simpson, but their gullible dupes. This brings me to an irony. Some people have tried to replace the ‘narrative’ in which Steele was an heroic exposer of a Russian plot to destroy American democracy by an alternative in which he was the gullible ‘patsy’ of just such a plot. In fact there is one strand, and one strand only, in the dossier which smells strongly to me of FSB-orchestrated disinformation. Some of the material on Russian cyber operations, including critically the suggestions about the involvement of Aleksej Gubarev and his company XBT which provoked legal action by these against BuzzFeed and Steele, look to me as though they could come from sources in the FSB. But, if this is so, the likely conduit is not through Steele, but from FSB to FBI cyber people. How precisely this worked is unclear, but I cannot quite get rid of the suspicion that Major Dmitri Dokuchaev just might be serving out his sentence for treason in a comfortable flat somewhere above the Black Sea. Indeed, I can imagine a lecture to FSB trainees on how to make ‘patsies’ of people like the Ohrs. If this is so, however, it mat also be the case that these are attempting to make ‘patsies’ of Steele and Simpson.
All, For many years, I paid for subscription to the ‘Financial Times’, and used from time to time to comment on articles. As elsewhere, I intermittently got censored. My favourite occasion was when – I cannot remember whether it was in response to an article by Simon Schama or Lord Skidelsky – I suggested that contemporary Western élites made the pre-1789 French aristocracy ear-to-the-ground, and in touch.
All, It has been argued in this discussion that ‘Stalin’s Soviet Union was still a totalitarian dictatorship and British conservatives were 100% correct to distrust it’; also that ‘the Brit and French Staffs sabotaged military negotiations with the Soviets’. It was not the British military who sabotaged the negotiations. From a useful short summary on the British ‘Spartacus Educational’ site, explaining the way the debate in Britain changed after the German occupation of the rump of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 rendered central premises of the ‘appeasement’ strategy incredible: ‘The chiefs of staff supported the idea of an Anglo-Soviet alliance. On 16th May, Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield, Minister for Coordination of Defence [he was an Admiral – DH], strongly urged the conclusion of an Anglo-Soviet agreement. He warned that if the Soviet Union stood aside in a European war it might “secure an advantage from the exhaustion of the western powers” and that if negotiations failed, a Nazi-Soviet agreement was a strong possibility. Chamberlain rejected the advice and said he preferred to “extend our guarantees” in eastern Europe rather than sign an Anglo-Soviet alliance.’ (See .) The decision to send Admiral Drax, a relatively low level figure, by slow boat to Moscow with no authority to conclude an agreement was the responsibility of the civilians, and above all Chamberlain. Also quoted in the ‘Spartacus Educational’ piece is that figure’s justification of his position in a letter written to his sister shortly after the German occupation of the rump of Czechoslovakia: ‘I must confess to the most profound distrust of Russia. I have no belief whatever in her ability to maintain an effective offensive, even if she wanted to. And I distrust her motives, which seem to me to have little connection with our ideas of liberty, and to be concerned only with getting everyone else by the ears. Moreover, she is both hated and suspected by many of the smaller States, notably by Poland, Rumania and Finland.’ The issues involved have contemporary resonance. So, the suggestion that Chamberlain was ‘100% right’ has been made in a succession of articles and books by the GRU defector Vladimir Rezun, who uses the pen name ‘Viktor Suvorov’ – likely, I think, to be a British intelligence asset. In addition to restating the view held by Chamberlain – partly because he accepted the advice of MI6, incompetent then as now – that Stalin had a long-term strategy aimed at finessing Germany and the Western powers into war, in his writings from 1985 onwards Rezun/‘Suvorov’ has attempted to defend Keitel’s defence at Nuremberg. According to this, ‘Operation Barbarossa’ only pre-empted an imminent attack by Stalin. Apologias for ‘appeasement’ are now, it appears, becoming fashionable in rather unexpected quarters. So Ron Unz, whose site I have often found extremely useful, appears to have swallowed Rezun/ ‘Suvorov’ hook, line and sinker. Meanwhile, according to Christopher Steele’s amanuensis, Luke Harding of the ‘Guardian’, in a December 2018 interview with that figure: ‘From his new home in the UK, Suvorov wrote one of the most influential books of the perestroika era, Icebreaker. When it was published in 1988, his argument was heretical: that Stalin had been secretly plotting an offensive against Hitler’s Germany, and would have invaded in September 1941, or at the latest by 1942. Stalin, he wrote, wanted Hitler to destroy democracy in Europe, in the manner of an icebreaker, thereby clearing the way for world communism. The book undermined the idea that the USSR was an innocent party, dragged into the second world war. Russian liberals supported Suvorov’s thesis; it now has broad acceptance among historians.’ (See .) This is the reverse of the truth. Competent Western historians, in particular, those who actually have serious understanding of military strategy, do not agree with the kind of ‘liberals’ to whom people like Harding and Christopher Steele listen. A pre-eminent – if not the pre-eminent – American historian of the war in the East, Colonel David M. Glantz, published in 1998 a study entitled ‘Stumbling Colossus’, specifically devoted to demolishing Rezun/‘Suvorov.’ Shortly before that figure produced the first version of his thesis, in 1985, the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky had published a pathbreaking study of the mission of Sir Stafford Cripps to Moscow in 1940-42, based upon deep familiarity with the English archival material. Greatly disturbed by the way that so many Russian intellectuals were swallowing apologias not just for Chamberlain but for Hitler, Gorodetsky spent the next decade and a half in detailed research designed to demolish these. Unsurprisingly, he was given access to Russian archives. This, combined with his use of writings and advice from competent Western military historians, including both Glantz and his Fort Leavenworth colleague Bruce W. Menning, produced an account which now actually does have ‘broad acceptance among historians.’ (For a useful summary, and some relevant criticisms, see .) An interesting feature of this history is that, while it is clear that Stalin gravely miscalculated in the summer of 1941, it turns out that his suspicions of ‘Perfidious Albion’ were hardly without foundation. A difficulty he confronted was that it can be very difficult to know whether a given pattern of military preparations is an exercise in coercive diplomacy, or indicates that a decision to resort to war has been made. However, the appropriate courses of action may be diametrically opposed, according to which interpretation one adopts. It is now clear that, until the evidence from Bletchley Park pointed unequivocally to the latter conclusion, the British were pretending to the Russians that they believed Hitler was intending to attack, while actually thinking he was engaged in coercive diplomacy. As Gorodetsky brings out, one of the few dissenters from the conventional wisdom was the economic historian Michael Postan, then in charge of Russia at the Ministry of Economic Warfare. A Jewish refugee from Bender/Tighina, once part of the Imperial Russian province of Bessarabia, now of the breakaway Transnistria region, he was, rather obviously, not keen on Hitler, but he was also, to put it rather mildly, no friend of communism. As my late father was a pupil of his, I heard anecdotes about Postan’s views on communism when young. It was thus with a mixture of interest and amusement, that I read, in Gorodetsky’s earlier study, about his attempts to explain to rather stupid British officials, in the period between the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the onset of ‘Barbarossa’, that Stalin’s policy was motivated above all by fear of Germany. This, he pointed out, had resulted in ‘appeasement’ of Hitler, but there was no reason why this should be permanent – and it was imperative that Britain should not do anything that would jeopardise the possibility of a reversal. One then comes to an irony. In essence, Gorodetsky’s work is a restatement of the interpretation of Stalin’s policy which was developed, at the time, by the diplomats of the German Moscow Embassy. His account can usefully be complemented by that given in the 1981 memoir by its sometime official, Hans-Heinrich (Johnnie) Herwarth von Bittenfeld, entitled ‘Against Two Evils.’ (A good quality used copy of this extraordinarily fascinating, and also very readable, book can be purchased for $5, including postage.) As both Gorodetsky and Herwarth explain, the ‘house view’ of the Embassy was that, in essence, Trotsky was right: that Stalin was indeed betraying the Revolution, and, with judicious encouragement – what one might call ‘appeasement from strength’ – he could be encouraged to betray it some more. In essence, they thought that he was turning more and more into a ‘national socialist’ – and the spectacle of him killing or sending to the camps all the ‘international socialists’ he could lay his hands on was hardly a matter of great grief to them. Like Postan, and unlike Chamberlain, the German Moscow Embassy diplomats thought that Soviet policy was dominated by fear of Germany, and they also thought that creating this fear was dumb. Rather than pushing the Soviets into the arms of Britain and France, in the view of the then German Ambassador, Friedrich Werner, Count von der Schulenberg, the appropriate course of action for Germany was to include in the Anti-Comintern Pact the power against which it had been directed. Doing so would form an invulnerable ‘continental bloc’ of Germany, Italy, Japan and the Soviet Union. Something of this kind could easily have been the result of the preference of figures like Chamberlain for allowing their policy to be dictated by ‘distrust’, rather than serious analysis. Fortunately for them, Hitler chose to ignore the advice of the German Moscow Embassy diplomats, who told them that, while Stalin was, and was likely to remain, far too fearful to attack Germany, hopes of easy victory would mean ‘finis Germaniae.’ One then comes to the ultimate irony. Without realising it, precisely those Western élites who have spent so much time screeching ‘Munich’ at every opportunity have pursued a policy towards a – no longer communist – Russia based upon precisely the same premises as that of Chamberlain. Just as the result of the earlier strategy was to push Stalin into the arms of the Germans, the result of the current one has been to push Putin into those of the Chinese. A ‘continental bloc’ is now, once again, a very real possibility. And there is, I think, not overmuch reason to be confident that we will be saved by Xi Jinping’s disregard of good advice, as we once were by Hitler’s.
All, A few observations in support of the arguments made by our ‘tusked’ colleague. It is of interest to look at comparisons between the GDP figures for China and Russia from 1990 to 2013. In the early ‘Nineties, China is hovering around an annual increase of 10%, Russia a decline of a similar amount. Since the ‘KGB thug’ Putin came to power, his country’s performance has still been very markedly inferior, but it is a great deal better than it was in the days when Westernising ‘liberals’ had been given their head. (See .) If one wants to know why the Russian ‘deplorables’ are unlikely to allow the kind of people who demonstrate in Moscow, and are taken as authoritative in the Western media, anywhere near power, at least until the memories of the ‘Nineties are well dead, which may take a long time, those figures give a major part of the answer. It is also interesting to revisit the article ‘Russia at the Turn of the Millennium’ which Putin published in December 1999, shortly before becoming Acting President. It is noteworthy that he laid primary blame for the fact that his country was in the gravest danger of falling into an irretrievable backwardness on the fact that ‘Communism vividly demonstrated its inaptitude for sound self-development, dooming our country to a steady lag behind economically advanced countries.’ (See .) The criticism of his predecessor, and of Russian ‘liberals’ is muted, but clear in the suggestion that: ‘The experience of the 90s vividly shows that our country’s genuine renewal without any excessive costs cannot be assured by a mere experimentation in Russian conditions with abstract models and schemes taken from foreign text-books. The mechanical copying of other nations’ experience will not guarantee success, either.’ A key part of the argument was, I think, designed to counter an historically common propensity of Russian ‘liberals’. In reacting against the patent brutalities of their country’s authorities, such people commonly forgot that any effective programme of economic ‘modernisation’ depended upon what one might describe as a state which was strong, but not ‘totalitarian.’ Here, Putin was simply restating a familiar argument made, before 1917, by Russian ‘conservative liberals.’ Implacably opposed to revolutionary socialists, such people commonly thought that premature political liberalisation in Russian conditions would produce anarchy. If this happened, the ‘totalitarian’ visions of precisely those revolutionary socialists would be accepted, partly because, to those who have experienced anarchy, almost anything else seems better. It also becomes interesting to look at the changing views of a group whom I am often tempted to describe as ‘liberals mugged by reality’ – including, the experience of anarchy. One place where these appear is in the journal ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ which has been published, with the participation of ‘Foreign Affairs’ whose design it imitates, in English only, since 2002. Among contributions I have found particularly interesting are those by Alexander Lukin, who among other things is ‘Director, Center for East Asian and SCO Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’. So, he may be a figure of some moment in his country’s shift towards a ‘Eurasian’ orientation – a rather major threat to the United States. (See .) The most recent entry on the site reprints an article Lukin wrote for the ‘National Interest, entitled, ‘How the United States Got Russia Wrong: The West today is paying for its collusion with Russia in the 1990s’. Published in February, it is a chillingly contemptuous response to an article by Strobe Talbott. Also of particular interest is Lukin’s response, in June 2014, to the crisis in Ukraine, which is entitled ‘Chauvinism or Chaos? A Vicious Choice for Russia.’ In these and other pieces, Lukin does not merely argue that post-Cold War Western thinking has come to be dominated by a neo-Bolshevik utopian ideological universalism, which is incapable of coming to terms with the fact that the practical results were inherently bound to be chaos. Harking back to the same arguments which, I have suggested, shaped Putin’s ‘manifesto’ back in 1999, Lukin argues that the intense hostility of very many Western liberals to the ‘totalitarian’ Soviet state led them to endorse, and go on endorsing, ideas and whose natural result is chaos and national humiliation. As a consequence, he writes: ‘The current situation puts Russians before a vicious choice: either they support democratization but oppose Russia’s growing role in the international arena to become a junior and subordinated partner of the West, or they support Russia’s strengthening to be inevitably accompanied by dictatorship, nationalism and threats to everyone around; either Dugin and Prokhanov or Nemtsov and Kasparov. On one hand, there are new idols of society represented by thievish oligarchs, glossy TV presenters and party girls engaging in sexual intercourse with chickens in supermarkets and doing pranks in churches; on the other hand, there are aggressive and possessed nationalists who wear one and the same uniform and match in columns along the streets of Moscow; and there is nothing in-between.’ Against this background, it becomes even more interesting to look at what another disillusioned ‘liberal’ the Publisher of ‘Russia in Global Affairs’, Sergei Karaganov, had to say four years later. Usually, I would hesitate have the temerity to disagree with Stephen F. Cohen, a great scholar of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. And much of what he had to say in his article back in January entitled ‘The End of Russia’s ‘Democratic Illusions’ About America; How Russiagate has impacted a vital struggle in Russia’ is I think cogent. (See ) But Cohen’s reading of an interview with Karaganov in ‘Ogonyok’ magazine, which appeared in translation in ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ in September last year under the title ‘We Have Used Up the European Treasure Trove’, seems to me flat-out wrong. (For the interview, see .) Commenting that ‘Russiagate’ has revealed the ‘low esteem’ that many in the American political and media has revealed for the ability of voters to make ‘discerning, rational electoral decisions,’ Cohen writes: ‘It is worth noting that this disdain for rank-and-file citizens echoes a longstanding attitude of the Russian political intelligentsia, as recently expressed in the argument by a prominent Moscow policy intellectual that Russian authoritarianism springs not from the nation’s elites but from the “genetic code” of its people.’ What Karaganov’s article actually represents, I think, is a seismic shift. Historically, a strong strand among ‘conservative liberalism’ in Russia has defended ‘authoritarian’ solutions on the basis that the cultural backwardness of the population made a Western-style ‘liberal’ politics unworkable. Implicit in this position was the conclusion that, if an ‘authoritarian’ government could successfully ‘modernise’ Russia, such a politics might become possible. And indeed, this position used to be echoed in Putin’s writings. The argument of Karaganov’s article represents a total repudiation of this position. Contrary to what Cohen suggests, he is telling his fellow intellectuals that that the deep-seated preference of the Russian ‘deplorables’ for authoritarian rule is a perfectly rational response to the harsh imperatives of survival in the ‘heartlands’ of Eurasia. Rather than being held captive by a sense of inferiority in relation to ‘Western’ culture, Karaganov is arguing, the Russian ‘intelligentsia’ need to realise that their culture is, as he puts it, ‘a rather odd and original mixture of European, Byzantine, and Asian civilizations.’ There is a familiar saying, ‘Scratch a Russian and you’ll find a Tatar.’ What Karaganov is saying is that it is time that his fellow intellectuals stopped being ashamed of this situation. They need to, as it were, rediscover their inner Mongol, and realise not only that is he nothing to be ashamed of, but in the world into which we are moving, he may be a key to survival and success.
Pat, I posted quite a long comment on what has been happening in relation to the cases bought by Ed Butowsky, who I think may be acquiring the mantle of hero – justifiably. Of course, I could be wrong about this, but so far, his opponents are using familiar ‘information operations’ tactics, including both the kind of exploitation of legal technicalities, and also bullying, bribery, and blackmail, which become easy if you have ‘open door’ access to ‘krysha’, as the Russians term it. Also, to declare an interest, in my own undistinguished, and mildly irreverent, student career at Cambridge (UK), I heard Christopher Andrew give an – actually interesting and useful – series of lectures. It thus dispirits me to conclude that, unless he can provide a coherent answer to the claims made in the complaint filed by Biss on behalf of Lokhova, he should feel utterly and unalterably ashamed of himself. (The Cam is a small river, ill-adapted for suicide. By contrast, at GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, particularly as the nearby Severn flows into the Avon, there are various options, if one wishes to face up to what one has done.)
Fred, What you write takes me ‘off topic’, but it raises another range of rather important issues, which may be more relevant than immediately appears to questions raised by Colonel Lang’s remarks. When I first came across ‘victim culture’, back in the ‘Seventies, it was not actually among ‘victims’, but rather among certain kinds of what might be called WASxPs (meaning ex-Protestants) on the Left. It often seems to me that a lot of the ‘victims’ were, as it were, taught it. Another phenomenon which was developing at that time, and a bit later, was what Steve Sailer, following Michael Barone, calls ‘Lennonism’ – very aptly in my view. (See .) (There is, not uncommonly, a kind of ‘xP’ element to this: John Lennon himself was a product of the complex contradictions of Liverpool, including his complex responses to an upbringing by Aunt Mimi, a classic North-of-England Protestant matriarchal type. But then, in Liverpool, the ambiguous responses to a traditional Irish Catholic culture were also important – Cherie Blair being a case in point.) A weird thing – which Sailer brings out in that piece, by linking to his discussion of what he calls ‘the Washington Establishment’s Invite-the-World/Invade-the-World conventional wisdom’ as exemplified in a seriously weird May 2016 speech by John Kerry – is that this kind of thinking has spread way beyond those who would be considered ‘left’ in any traditional sense. An irony of the speech is that Kerry can evidently see, clearly, some of the pressures for a ‘Völkerwanderung’ which have been steadily increasing over past decades. He uses this however as reason for clinging to the delusion that somehow it is both necessary, and possible, to combat terrorism by using military force to remake the world in the image of the contemporary West. It is symptomatic that Kerry’s address was given at a Northeastern University graduating class. Unsurprisingly, this was very ‘diverse’. Idiots like Kerry take that as vindication of the assumption that the kind of people who pay large sums to study in American – or British – universities 1. are representative of the societies from which they come, and can collaborate in remodelling them, and 2. can be assumed to be absolutely honest and uncomplicated when, as often, they profess agreement with what people like Kerry say. An even odder element of the current situation is that people like Kerry really aren’t helping anyone – up to and including themselves. The tensions that would eventually produce ‘Brexit’ have been quite visible to anyone who cared to look for decades. Those of us who were not happy to lock ourselves up in the developing ‘bubble’ could also see that concerns about immigration arose among a range of different people for a range of different reasons. Then, as now, there was plenty of what could genuinely be called ‘racism.’ But that, rather clearly, was only part of a very complex set of responses. In the lead-up to the June 2016 vote prominent supporters of the ‘Remain’ campaign explained how, really, mass immigration was unstoppable. They appeared absolutely unable to understand that what they said was liable to be interpreted, in my view quite correctly, as indicating that, like John Kerry, they had no desire whatsoever to stop it. Likewise, because they had taken what one might call the ‘Alf Garnett’ /‘Archie Bunker’ types – to hark back to notable British, and American, ‘sitcoms’ of the late ‘Sixties and ‘Seventies – as representative, and had never had sympathy, or compassion, for those characters, they completely failed to realise that elements of their anxieties were now, with reason, very much more widely shared. As often, when it came to opinion polls, the responses people gave were influenced by what they recognised it was ‘acceptable’ to say – within the current ‘élite’ style of talking. A predictable result of all this was that those who had ‘talked the talk’ made no serious attempt to head off the ‘populist revolt’ which was clearly brewing. And, as was – famously – said of the Bourbons, they have ‘learnt nothing and forgotten nothing,’ Rather than trying to make sense of, and try to find a response to, the reasons why people voted for Brexit, or Trump – or indeed Corbyn – they prefer to invoke ‘foreign devils.’ It is a well-worn strategy, one pursued by Stalin and Mao. However, people like Kerry and Hillary – not to speak of Mueller and Comey – really do not have very much of the low and brutal cunning possessed by, at least, the former of those two not very loveable figures.
All, I think the comment by ‘Elliot’ back in May reflects assumptions which are very deep-seated in the West, are questionable, and if wrong, could prove extraordinarily dangerous. So an extended response seems appropriate. Of course the Russians have far more limited resources than the United States. What is important is to understand the implications of that fact for their strategic thinking. On this I would strongly recommend two pieces at the top of the ‘Russia’ page on the ‘World Hot Spots’ section of the ‘Army Military Press’ site. (See ) The first is a translation of a 2017 article from the journal of the ‘Academy of Military Science’, entitled ‘Color Revolutions in Russia’, by A.S. Brychkov and G.A. Nikonorov. Among other things, this illustrates very well the rather central fact that Russian military strategists are very well aware that one of the things that wrecked the Soviet Union was the attempt to maintain permanent preparedness for a prolonged global war with a power possessing an enormously greater military-industrial potential. As to the implications for contingency planning for war, these are spelt out in a piece, also published in 207, by the invaluable Major Charles K. Bartles of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, entitled ‘Recommendations for Intelligence Staffs Concerning Russian New Generation Warfare.’ At the risk of glossing his meaning overmuch, what is involved is a kind of ‘higher synthesis’ of the ideas of two figures who were on opposing sides of the arguments of the ‘Twenties of the last century, Georgiy Isserson, the pioneering theorist of ‘deep operations’, and Aleksandr Svechin, who cautioned against an exclusive focus of the ‘Napoleonic’ strand in Clausewitz. Both are quoted by the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General Valery Gerasimov, in his crucial and much misunderstood address to the Academy of Military Science in February 2013, reproduced on the same page as the articles to which I have referred. What Svechin was saying, in essence, was that an attentive reader of Clausewitz would realise that ‘toujours la’audace’ should be replaced as a motto by ‘l’audace at the right place and time’. It was crucial to be able to judge when an offensive approach was absolutely the right choice, and caution suicidal, and when the promise of a decisive victory was a snare and a delusion, and defensive and attritional responses appropriate. (This argument crops up in many contexts: the ‘Tabouleh Line’ strategy adopted by Hizbullah, which Colonel Lang discussed in posts during and following the 2006 Lebanon War, and also that advocated by James Longstreet at Gettysburg, are classic examples of what Svechin would have seen as circumstances where a sound ‘defensive’ strategy was the key to victory.) As regards contemporary Russian thinking, an implication is that one of things they have been trying to create is the ability, in appropriate situations, to use characteristics of ‘deep operations’ – surprise, speed, shock – in support of clearly limited objectives. The kind of possibility involved was alluded to in the conversation between the ‘Security Adviser’ and the ‘American Soldier’ – seemingly involved on the ground in the ‘deconfliction’ process – which accompanied Seymour Hersh’s June 2017 article in ‘Die Welt’ on the Khan Sheikhoun sarin incident the previous April, and the U.S. air strikes that resulted. (See ) A key exchange: ‘SA: There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran. What the people around Trump do not understand is that the Russians are not a paper tiger and that they have more robust military capability than we do. ‘AS: I don’t know what the Russians are going to do. They might hang back and let the Syrians defend their own borders, or they might provide some sort of tepid support, or they might blow us the fuck out of the airspace and back into Iraq. I honestly don’t know what to expect right now. I feel like anything is possible. The russian air defense system is capable of taking out our TLAMs. this is a big fucking deal...we are still all systems go...’ And that brings one to another critical strand in the approach of contemporary Russian strategic thinkers. Not simply for war-fighting, but, critically, for ‘deterring’ the United States from escalating if the Russians do successfully achieve limited objectives, they have been concentrating on ‘asymetric’ involving focused investment in specific technologies. So, Bartles explains that the Russian Ground Forces are ‘significantly ahead’ of the U.S. Army in electronic warfare, key objectives being to disrupt the demonstrated American capability for precision strikes, and also exploit the latent vulnerabilities involved in the dependence of so much equipment on GPS. (As an Army man, he does not discuss the interesting question of naval and air applications.) And crucially, there has been a focus on developing a very wide range of missiles which ‘missile defence’ technologies are not going to be able to counter effectively in any forseeable future, and which have steadily increasing range, accuracy and lethality. One central purpose of this, which Gerasimov has spelt out in later addresses to the Academy of Military Science, also available on the page to which I have linked, is to provide non-nuclear ‘deterrence’ options. It is, of course, always difficult to be clear as to what is, or is not, hype in claims made for new weapons systems. That said, it is I think at least worth reading some contributions by the Brussels-based American analyst Gilbert Doctorow. In February, he produced a piece entitled ‘The INF Treaty is dead: will the arms race be won this time by the most agile or by the biggest wallet?’, and another, headlined ‘The Kremlin’s Military Posture Re-considered: strategic military parity with the U.S. or absolute military superiority over the U.S.’ (See ; .) Certainly, a good many assertions Doctorow made merit being taken with a pinch of salt, if not a great deal more. However, before one empties the full salt-cellar over them, a few observations are worth making. How much salt should be applied to Shoigu’s assertion that the cost of the systems being developed is hundreds of times less than that of the systems being developed by the United States against Russia I cannot say. Some questions are however worth putting. It would be interesting to be clearer than I am as to how relevant, or irrelevant, is the fact that for a long time now Russian universities have, frankly, wiped the floor with their Western counterparts in international programming competitions is one. Another relevant range of issues relates to how expensive the ‘software’ component of the relevant weaponry actually produced, once it is developed. A third relates to that of how far the new missiles, with their greater range, can be effectively deployed, either by updating old platforms – like Soviet-era bombers – or by creating relatively low cost-ones. And then of course one comes to the question of how the technical military issues interact with the ‘geopolitics’ involved. In recent years, a range of different Russian analysts have been claiming, in essence, that the ‘Petrine’ era of Russian history is over. Three examples, from Dmitri Trenin, Sergei Karaganov, and Vladislav Surkov, can be found at ; ; . If, as Trenin argued back in 2016, Russia has moved from aspiring to become part of a ‘Greater Europe’ to seeing itself as a central part of a ‘Greater Eurasia’, then this has implications for how it should react to the asymetry which was central to Soviet views of INF in the ‘Eighties.’ Put simply, INF in Europe can pose a ‘decapitation’ threat to Russia, while Russian INF do not do so to the United States. At that time, the deployment of cruise and Pershing II helped to encourage a burgeoning awareness among important sections of the ‘security intelligentsia’ in Moscow of the extent to which their own security policies – of which the SS-20 deployment was just one of many examples – had created suspicion, fear and antagonism. The conclusion – classically expressed in Georgiy Arbatov’s joke about the terrible thing that Gorbachev was going to do to the United States, deprive it of an enemy – turned out hopelessly naive. The liquidation of the existing Soviet security posture did not lead to any lesssening of Western antagonism. In his second piece, Doctorow has an interesting discussion of views expressed by Yakov Kedmi, the sometime ‘refusenik’ who became a pivotal figure in organising Russian Jewish emigration to Israel, and is now a regular guest on Russian television. And he writes: ‘Perhaps Kedmi’s most interesting and relevant observation is on the novelty of the Russian response to the whole challenge of American encirclement. He noted that for the past 200 or more years the United States considered itself secure from enemies given the protection of the oceans. However, in the new Russian military threat, the oceans will now become the most vulnerable point in American defenses, from which the decapitating strike can come.’ Putting the point another way. Potentially at least, the ‘Greater Eurasia’ as Trenin describes it includes the Western European countries – indeed, it appears to include Ireland. It is, obviously, enormously in the interest of the Russians to include these, in that doing so both makes it possible to isolate the ‘Anglo-Saxons’, and also to provide a counterweight to Chinese preponderance. To do so however – and at this point I am moving towards my own speculations, rather than simply relying upon better-informed observers – requires a complicated balancing act. On the one hand, the West Europeans – above all the Germans – have to be persuaded that if they persist in following with the ‘Russia delenda est’ agendas of traditional ‘Anglo’ Russophobes, and ‘revanchists’ from the ‘borderlands’, they should not think this is going to be cost-free. But on the other, the promise has to be implied that, if they ‘see sense’ and realise that their future is with a ‘Greater Eurasia’, without their needing to ‘remilitarise’ in any serious way, then they will not be threatened militarily. This balancing act, ironically, makes it absolutely imperative for the Russians not to threaten the Baltics – particularly given their historical links to Germany. By the same token, it provides a particularly cogent reason for threatening to respond to new American IMF deployments in Europe with ones that target the United States.
Pat, Your recollections of Collyer had, unfortunately, slipped my mind when I posted my comment above. So, unfortunately, had Larry’s post on Judge Caroline M. Craven’s denial in her report dated 17 April 2019 of the Motion to Dismiss filed by David Folkenflik and his NPR colleagues in the defamation case brought against them by Ed Butowsky. At the time of his post, the full text of the judgement was only available on PACER, which requires a subscription. However, looking at the ‘Court Listener’ site, I now see that both it and some other key documents in the case are freely available. (See .) Reading the full text of Ms. Craven’s report, I can see quite how well justified was Larry’s suggestion in his post that Folkenflik and NPR were on a very sticky wicket indeed (as we say in England.) And I can also see more clearly why, following the judgement, Butowsky and Ty Clevenger felt they were in a position to launch an action both against some of the major legal players in the cover-up of the fact that the materials published by the DNC were leaked by Seth Rich, not hacked by the Russians, and also key disseminators of the cover-up, CNN, the NYT, and Vox. The most important documents in that case are also now free available on ‘Court Listener’, at . What looks to have happened subsequently is a natural enough process of escalation. Among those who rather actively promoted the hogwash attributed to Christopher Steele was Michael Isikoff, who is, apparently, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. In April, he was reported in ‘Vanity Fair’ conceding that ‘I think it’s fair to say that all of us should have approached this, in retrospect, with more skepticism’. (See .) Any ‘investigative reporter’ worth his or her salt would have done elementary checks on the dossier immediately, and not touched it with a bargepole – again, as we used to say in England. Also, even among the incompetent and corrupt, common prudence might have suggested caution. However, ‘fools rush in’, as the saying goes, so Isikoff decided to conspire with Deborah Sines, apparently the former U.S. assistant attorney in charge of investigating Seth Rich’s murder, to suggest that suggestions that the victim had been the source of the material from the DNC published by ‘WikiLeaks’ originated as just another Russian plot. (See .) It appears that prior to the publication of his ‘report’, Isikoff talked to Butowsky, who in his efforts to dissuade him explained that his involvement in the whole affair began when Ellen Ratner, a news analyst with Fox, and sister of the late Michael Ratner, who had been an attorney for Assange, contacted him in Fall 2016 about a meeting she had with her that figure. Although Butowsky intended the conversation to be ‘off the record’, and the idea was emphatically not that Isikoff would contact Ellen Ratner, he did. It seems that – not particularly surprisingly, in the current climate – she lied to him, and he was stupid enough to think that this meant he could get away with publishing his story. (See .) And then, not particularly surprisingly, Butowsky and Clevenger abandoned their inhibitions about identifying Ellen Ratner as a source, and filled in a lot of ‘blanks’ in their ‘narrative’ about how Seth Rich lived and died. I am still in the process of digesting the new information. However, a couple of preliminary observations about the implications may be worth making. Among the many problems for Brennan and his co-conspirators – among whom, on the British side, Hannigan and Darroch, and also Sedwill, are very important – one relates to the way that the capabilities of ‘scientific forensics’, in all kinds of areas, have increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. This has meant that they have had little option but to corrupt the processes of investigation. The ludicrous claims by Dmitri Alperovitch of ‘Crowdstrike’ and the former GCHQ person Matt Tait, which nobody but a fool – congenital ‘useful idiot’ one might say – or a knave would dare to defend in public, are only one of many cases in point. What is really dangerous for the conspirators, however, is when the problems they have in contesting rational arguments about the ‘scientific forensics’ come together with problems relating to more ‘old-fashioned’ kinds of evidence: crucially, ‘witness testimony’. This, I think, may now be happening. It also seems to me quite likely that some of those ‘in the know’ – including perhaps Rosemary Collyer – had seen what was liable to happen a good while ago, and decided that a prudent ‘rat’ keeps its options open.
Larry, One does not like to admit to having been one of John Brennan’s ‘useful idiots’ – I had thought I could see through any of the ‘active measures’ which he and his co-conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, could dream up. But I had swallowed whole the notion that Michael Flynn had been stupid enough knowingly to get involved in Erdoğan’s feud with Gülen. In fairness, however, I do think that when dealing with spiders like the former head of the CIA, a prudent fly needs to be sure he, or she, gets competent legal advice at the outset. It may perhaps be interesting to put your account together with a post by ‘Sundance’ on the ‘Conservative Treehouse’ site on 14 July, headlined ‘Devin Nunes Discusses Upcoming Mueller Testimony…’ This takes up the issue, on which its author has commented extensively, of illegitimate access by contractors to the databases of NSA intercepts – an issue which is clearly bound up with that of the use of such material to create the ‘web’ in which Flynn found himself hopelessly entangled. The post by ‘Sundance’ suggests, just as you do, that the driving force behind what has happened was actually John Brennan. The April 2017 ruling by FISA Court Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer does not definitely establish that the illegitimate access of contractors started in 2012, but it definitely strongly suggests that it did. Reading the 6 September ‘Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity’ memorandum to Obama, entitled ‘Is Syria a Trap?’, whose signatories included both you and Colonel Lang, it seemed overwhelmingly likely to some of us who were familiar with both your writings that Brennan had to have been involved in a conspiracy with the Turks, Saudis, and Qataris. (To my surprise, this can no longer be accessed at the ‘Consortium News’ site. However, it is still available at .) One relevant question related to whether the role of the Americans involved in this conspiracy was simply ‘ex post facto’ exploitation of the patent ‘false flag’ sarin atrocity at Ghouta the previous 21 August to attempt to inveigle the United States into toppling Assad, or whether there was ‘ex ante’ complicity. Moreover, if, as the memorandum asserted, ‘British officials’ were also aware that the ‘most reliable intelligence’ exonerated the Syrian government, rather fundamental questions arose as to how the JIC had felt able to claim precisely the reverse in support of David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt on 29 August to win Commons’ support for British participation in air strikes. At the time, the Director General, Defence and Intelligence at the FCO was one Robert Hannigan, who in April 2014 would be appointed as Director of GCHQ. The National Security Adviser was a certain Sir Kim Darroch, whose appointment as Ambassador to the U.S. would be announced in August 2015. Both have been in the news, in relation to ‘Russiagate.’ Obviously, the same question arises about both of them as about Brennan: are they ‘Gleiwitz types’, who were actively complicit in preparing a murderous ‘false flag’, or were they simply part of a rather stupid Anglo-American ‘dog’, whom the ‘tail’, in the shape of the jihadists and their Turkish, Saudi and Qatari backers, could ‘wag’, as they chose? From the articles which Seymour Hersh published in the ‘London Review of Books’, and other materials, it became evident that the Defense Intelligence Agency, then headed by General Flynn, had been aware of the likelihood of fresh ‘false flags’ – after the small scale incidents in spring 2013. And it was clear enough, if one bothered to study the ‘open source’ material at all carefully, that the DIA had been a key locus of opposition to the strategies being pursued by Brennan, together with his British co-conspirators. Accordingly, the fact that an ‘interagency memorandum of understanding’, which according to Collyer’s judgement looks as though it may well date from 2012 – the year Brennan was appointed to head the CIA – appears to have led, in that year, to the granting of access to the material, through the FBI, to outside contractors, looks somewhat interesting. (This is well covered by ‘Sundance’.) So, I find myself asking whether in fact this gross abuse of the role of the NSA was not linked at the outset to the divisions within the American intelligence apparatus and military about policy towards the Middle East, and also whether this may not be relevant to assessing the role of Robert Mueller, who was FBI Director through until September 2013. An argument that ‘Sundance’ has repeatedly made is that a lot of what was happening in mid-2016, including the dossier attributed to Steele, had to do with the need to find justifications for these questionable surveillance operations. While I think there is something in this, I have long thought that the discovery that a mass of material exfiltrated from the DNC, and was going to be published by ‘WikiLeaks’, and the subsequent murder of Seth Rich, are likely to have been critically important triggers. Among other things, I do not think that the version given by ‘Sundance’ can explain the air of panic-stricken improvisation found alike in the dossier, and the claims about the ‘digital forensics’ made by Dmitri Alperovitch of ‘CrowdStrike’, and the former GCHQ person Matt Tait. I see that there has now been a dramatic escalation in the legal battles which began when Ed Butowsky bought his initial action against David Folkenflik and his ‘NPR’ colleagues in June 2018. The discovery process in that action was followed by an ‘Amended Complaint’ on 5 March this year. A week later, Butowsky filed a new action, in which the suggestion of a very-wide ranging conspiracy to suppress the truth about both the DNC leaks and Rich’s murder was turned into a catalogue of defamation claims against a long list of people, including, as well as a variety of lawyers involved, CNN, the’Nw York Times’, Vox, and the DNC. On 9 July, Michael Isikoff published a story alleging that the claims about Rich and his murder were the result of a Russian ‘active measures’ operation – to use a favourite phrase of TTG’s. A useful account, with links, is provided by our colleague ‘b’, at ‘Moon of Alabama’, at . Concluding his piece, ‘b’ wrote: ‘That Seth Rich was wacked because he stole the DNC emails and transferred them to Wikileaks is a conspiracy theory. It is possible and even plausible, but there is no evidence to confirm it. Many people seem to believe it because it makes more sense than the competing conspiracy theory, that Russia hacked the DNC and handed the emails to Wikileaks. Isikoff's claim, that Russia planted the Rich conspiracy theory, has no sound base. That theory existed before anything “Russian” mentioned it.’ As it happens, Butowsky and his lawyer, Ty Clevenger, obviously decided it was time to, as it were, ‘unmask their batteries’, and provide some of the evidence they have been accumulating. There is another useful post by ‘Sundance’, which in turn links to a very interesting post on the Gateway Pundit’ site. From there, you can access both Clevenger’s blog post, and the text of the ‘Amended Complaint.’ (See .) It seems likely that Butowsky and Clevenger were pushed into acting a bit sooner than they had intended. The fact that the name of Ellen Ratner, clearly a pivotal participant, was misspellled ‘Rattner’ in the ‘Amended Complaint’, is likely to be an indication of this. However, I also think that Clevenger, who seems to me a first-class ‘ferret’, could do with the services of an old-style secretary, who checked his productions before they went out.
Eugene Owens, I am very fond of It searches through all available sites, and often comes up with surprising bargains. A year ago, I wanted to look again at the Herwarth book, and found a decent ex-library copy for £2.49, including postage. Apparently, a good copy can be obtained on your side of the Atlantic for $3.99. A bit of background to my own interest. Reading the memoirs of George Kennan, a long time ago now, I was struck by a passing reference to the German Moscow Embassy of the ‘Thirties as ‘at all times excellent.’ When I followed this up, I discovered that it was either ignored by Western historians, or incorporated in a ‘narrative’ about the sinister Germans corrupting innocent Americans. In fact, two memoirs by former officials of the Embassy have been available in English for years. The first, ‘Incompatible Allies’, written by the long-serving Embassy ‘Legionsrat’ Gustav Hilger in collaboration with a young Jewish refugee, Alfred Gustav Meyer, who had learned Russian courtesy of the U.S. Army, was published as long ago as 1953. It is now available at The memoir by Herwarth was not published until 1981. The ‘backstory’ is interesting. A Junker with a Jewish grandmother, as well as serving as diplomat in Moscow from 1931-9, and then in the Wehrmact on the Eastern Front, he was involved from early on with the circles in the Foreign Ministry and General Staff where opposition to Hitler was concentrated. As a result, he realised, as Schulenberg and Hilger did not, that in the wake of the kind of agreement with the Soviet Union which all three of them had been energetically promoting, Germany would get involved in a war with the Western powers. This produced a dramatic ‘volte face.’ In the memoirs of Kennan’s fellow Soviet expert Charles ‘Chip’ Bohlen – a superior analyst in my view – published in 1973, there is a description of how Herwarth warned him of the negotiations leading up to the pact, as he did also with other Western diplomats in Moscow, in a desperate attempt to make them realise that they had to make terms with Stalin before Hitler did. Then, in 1976, in ‘A Man Called Intrepid’, his wildly inaccurate account of the British Security Co-ordination operation in the United States in the Second World War, William Stevenson gave a distorted account of Herwarth’s role in supplying intelligence to the then commercial attaché in the American Berlin Embassy, Sam Edison Woods, in 1940 on the plans for ‘Operation Barbarossa.’ This included the false – and obviously embarassing – suggestion that Herwarth had been an American spy since 1936. Actually, this part of the history in one area of the memoirs where I think that Herwarth was a great deal less than candid: I am profoundly sceptical about his claim not to have known that Woods was working for American intelligence, which in this case meant, it appears, being used as a private intelligence gatherer by Roosevelt. A lot about those connections has not I suspect been revealed. Both Herwarth and Alfred Gustav Meyer thought that Hilger’s long history of close contact with the Soviets – he had been born in Moscow – made his experience invaluable, and that is indeed a good reason for reading his book. Equally however, they both thought him too naive to be a reliable observer. On the other hand, I think Herwarth was just a terribly good analyst, and also a very brave man. The history of the connections between the veterans of the American Moscow Embassy of the ‘Thirties and their erstwhile German colleagues is of considerable importance in making sense of the early Cold War. Unfortunately, a lot of writing on this suffers from a failure to understand the complexities involved. So, on the one hand, we have John Lewis Gaddis’s 2011 authorised biography of Kennan, which contains three brief references to Herwarth, and apparently none to Hilger. That it is simply inexcusable to avoid looking seriously at Hilger’s role is evident from materials available on something called the ‘Gustav Hilger Research Library’, which has been started by a research associate at the Hoover Institution, Matt Ellison. (See .) However, the title of a piece he wrote last April – ‘The German Strategic Mastermind Behind America’s Post-War Order’ is I think over way over the top. To make any sense of these matters, it is necessary to make some attempt to understand how appalling can be the choices that people have to face. The record of George N. Shuster’s 13 August 1945 conversation with Hilger provides, in essence, a summary of the account given in the book. The German Moscow Embassy view had long been that Stalin was – and would remain – far too fearful of Germany deliberately to initiate, or indeed risk, general war. However, they also thought that if Germany initiated such a war, it would lose. Once however Hitler had gambled on war, the same logic led to the conclusion that the only way to avoid a cataclysmic defeat had to be to repeat the strategy which Germany had practised to great effect in the First World War – to make maximum use of the internal tensions of the adversary. The 8 November 1946 memorandum about Vlasov does indeed summarise the only strategy by which the Germans could have avoided defeat. Given that Ribbentrop had been opposed to the attack on the Soviet Union – he wanted to collaborate with it against Britain – it was hardly surprising that Hilger went on desperately trying to use him to influence Hitler. To make sense of the Hilger-Kennan relationship, I think, one needs to go back to a central point which Herwarth makes, which is also fundamental to the analyses Kennan produced at the end of the war, which are reproduced at the end of the first volume of the memoirs. It is actually brought up by your very apt comparison of Dzerzhinsky and Pilsudski. As it happens, a play about these two characters, which, according to a report in the ‘Baltic Times’, was ‘written in the genre of tragic farce’, was put on in Vilnius in 2011. The following year saw the publication of the study ‘The Bolsheviks and the Russian Empire’, by an American scholar teaching at Edinburgh, Liliana Riga – its conclusions are summarised in a 2008 paper. (See ; .) The key point is that Bolshevism was only very partly a movement of Russian proletarians – it was also one route which could be taken by non-Russian intellectuals in the ‘borderlands’ who were unhappy with ‘nationalist’ alternatives. A conclusion which Kennan drew was that Stalin’s attempt to bring under his control not just parts of the ‘borderlands’ which had been part of the Romanov’s empire, but also parts which had been under the Hapsburgs and Ottomans, was liable to create an ultimately unsustainable strategic position. On the one hand, they would run into the same kinds of problems as their Tsarist predecessors, in spades; on the other, if one gave in to ‘nationalists’ outside the Soviet Union, this might precipitate a process of disintegration carrying forward uncontrollably into the Soviet Union. In a 2010 discussion, a contemporary Russian scholar, Vladimir Pechatnov, noted that this analysis was prescient. (See .) However, Kennan’s conviction that the Soviet system could be pushed into collapse also meant that he took over a latent tension which had been present both with the strategy the Germans had successfully pursued in the First World War and that which Hilger and his colleagues wanted to pursue in its successor. Of necessity, this involved finessing the conflicts between non-Russians who were both anti-communist and anti-Russian, and Russians who were anti-communist. As regards the latter group, I think there is some reason to suspect that in documents like the discussion of Vlasov, Hilger was in part telling Kennan what he wanted to hear. This bears rather directly upon contemporary dilemmas. It was one thing to support anti-Russian nationalists when there was still a Soviet Communist ‘superpower.’ To continue to do so, when what is at issue is a project to exploit the heirs of some of those groups with whom the Germans collaborated in the war and people in London and Washington collaborated after it to wrest the whole of Ukraine, including Crimea and in particular Sevastopol, into an anti-Russian Western 'bloc', is to take large risks. An important one is that of convincing once pro-Western Russians that they were fooled. A related point comes into sharper focus if one brings into the picture the fact that Pechatnov comes out of the Institute of the USA and Canada, which was one of the ‘nodes’ from which the Gorbachev-era ‘new thinking’ spread. What Kennan actually anticipated from the subversion of the Soviet system he believed would result from the successful reconstruction of the West was not a happy ‘transition’ to democracy: it was chaos ‘beyond description.’ As Pechatnov notes, an attentive reader of Kennan would have chosen the path taken by Deng rather than that taken by Gorbachev. That however brings me to a final irony involved in the history of the German Moscow Embassy. The political project of Schulenberg became, in essence, to create an invulnerable ‘continental bloc’ by incorporating in the Anti-Comintern Pact the power against which it had been directed. A Russia which has lost faith alike in Western intentions and Western political models can be an invaluable asset to the Chinese, in creating a new version of such a world. And an obvious goal would be, over time, to persuade Germans to look again at Schulenberg’s vision.
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2019 on Turkey, NATO and Russia at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Larry, A fine piece. I think a large question is raised as to how far the kind of sloppiness in the handling of evidence which Judge Friedrich identified in the Mueller report may have characterised a great deal of the treatment of matters to do with the post-Soviet space by the FBI and others – including almost all MSM journalists – for a very long time. Unfortunately, one also finds this among some of the most useful critics of ‘Russiagate’. So, for example, in a very valuable recent piece in the ‘Epoch Times’ about the questions that need to be put to Mueller, Jeff Carlson discusses some of the problems relating both to Christopher Steele’s involvement with Oleg Deripaska, and the involvement of Fusion GPS with Natalia Veseltnitskaya which led to the Trump Tower meeting. (See .) He then however goes on to write: ‘In other words, not only was the firm that hired Steele, Fusion GPS, hired by the Russians, but Steele himself was hired directly by the Russians.’ And Andrew McCarthy, in the ‘National Review’, picks up one of the most interesting, and puzzling, moments in the fascinating notes by Kathy Kavalec of the conversation she had with Steele when Jonathan Winer brought him to see on her in October 2016. (See ) Commenting on the fact that, in her scribbled notes, beside the names of Vladislav Surkov and Vyacheslav Trubnikov, who are indeed a top Putin adviser and a former SVR chief respectively, Kavalec writes ‘source’, McCarthy simply concludes that she meant that he had said that these were his – indirect – sources, and that this was accurate. And he goes on to write: ‘Deripaska, Surkov, and Trubnikov were not informing on the Kremlin. These are Putin’s guys. They were peddling what the Kremlin wanted the world to believe, and what the Kremlin shrewdly calculated would sow division in the American body politic. So, the question is: Did they find the perfect patsy in Christopher Steele?’ If you look at Kavalec’s typing up of the notes, among a good deal of what looks to me like pure ‘horse manure’ – including the claim that ‘Manafort has been the go-between with the campaign’ – the single reference to Surkov and Trubnikov is that they are said to be ‘also involved.’ As it happens, Surkov is a very complex figure indeed. His talents as a ‘political technologist’ were first identified by Khodorkovsky, before he subsequently played that role for Putin. It would obviously be possible that he and Steele still had common contacts. The suggestion in Kavalec’s notes that Sergei Millian ‘may be involved in some way,’ and also that, ‘Per Steele, Millian is connected Simon Kukes (who took over management of Yukos when Khodorkovsky was arrested)’ is interesting, but would seem to suggest that he would not have been cited to Kavalec as an intermediary. All this is obviously worth putting together with claims made in the ‘New York Times’ follow-up on 9 July to the Reuters report on the same day breaking the story of the interviews carried out with Steele by the Inspector General’s team in early June. (See .) According to this: ‘Moreover, by January 2017, F.B.I. agents had tracked down and interviewed one of Mr. Steele’s main sources, a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West, according to a Justice Department document obtained by The New York Times and three people familiar with the events. After questioning him, F.B.I. officials came to suspect that the man might have added his own interpretations to reports from his own sources that he passed on to Mr. Steele, calling into question the reliability of the information.’ Some observations prompted by all this. Without wanting to prejudge things, it seems to me quite likely that what Horowitz has been contemplating is a kind of ‘limited hangout’. So, the idea could be to suggest that Steele did have sources, that however these were not as reliable as he thought they were, but everything was done in good faith etc etc. In the light of information coming out, including that in the Friedrich ruling, he may however have decided to ‘hold his horses.’ In trying to put together the accumulating evidence, it is necessary to realise, as so many people seem to find it difficult to do, that in matters like these people commonly play double games – often for very good reasons. To say as Carlson does that Fusion and Steele were hired by ‘the Russians’ implies that these are some kind of collective entity – and then, one is one step away from the assumption that Veselnitskaya and Deripaska, as well as ‘Putin’s Cook’, are simply puppets controlled by the master manipulator in the Kremlin. (The fact that Friedrich applies serious standards for assessing evidence to Mueller’s version of this is one of the reasons why her judgement is so important.) As regards what McCarthy says, to lump Surkov and Deripaska together as ‘Putin’s guys’ is unhelpful. Actually, it seems to me very unlikely, although perhaps not absolutely impossible, that, had he been implicated in any conspiracy to intervene in an American election, Surkov would have been talking candidly about his role to anyone liable to relay the information to Steele. Likewise, however, the notion of a Machiachiavellian Surkov, feeding disinformation about a non-existent plot through an intermediary to Steele, who swallows it hook, line and sinker, does not seem particularly plausible. A rather more obvious possibility is that the intermediaries who were supposed to have conveyed a whole lot of ‘smoking gun’ evidence to Steele were either 1. fabrications, 2. people whom without their knowledge he cast in this role, or 3. co-conspirators. It would, obviously, be possible that Millian, although one can say no more than that at this stage, was involved in either or both of roles 2. and 3. It is important that the general pattern of assuming that Putin is some kind of omnipotent Sauron-figure, which has clearly left Mueller open to a counter-attack by Concord, was given a classic expression in the testimony which Glenn Simpson gave to the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017. (See ) Providing his version of what was going on following his move from the Washington office of the ‘Wall Street Journal’ to its European headquarters in January 2005, Simpson told the Committee: ‘And the oligarchs, during this period of consolidation of power by Vladimir Putin, when I was living in Brussels and doing all this work, was about him essentially taking control over both the oligarchs and the mafia groups. And so basically everyone in Russia works for Putin now. And that’s true of the diaspora as well. So the Russian mafia in the United States is believed bylaw enforcement criminologists to have – to be under the influence of the Russian security services. And this is convenient for the security services because it gives them a level of deniability.’ A bit less than two years after Simpson’s move to Brussels, a similar account featured in what appears to have been the first attempt by Christopher Steele and his confederates to provide a ‘narrative’ in terms of which could situate the supposed assassination by polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. This came in a BBC Radio 4 programme, entitled ‘The Litvinenko Mystery’, in which a veteran presenter with the Corporation, Tom Mangold, produced an account by the former KGB Major Yuri Shvets, supported by the former FBI Agent Robert Levinson, and an ‘Unidentified Informer’, who is told by Mangold that he cannot be identified ‘reasons of your own personal security’. (A full transcript is on the ‘Evidence’ archived website of the Litvinenko Inquiry – one needs to search for the reference HMG000513 – at .) This figure, whose credentials we have no means of assessing, explains: ‘Well it’s not well known to Western leaders or Western people but it is pretty well known in Russia. Because essentially it is common knowledge in Russia that by the end of Nineties the so called Russian organised crime had been destroyed by the Government and then the Russian security agencies, primarily the law enforcement and primarily the FSB, essentially assumes the functions and methods of Russian organised crime. And they became one of the most dangerous organised crime group because they are protected by law. They’re protected by all power of the State. They have essentially the free hand in the country and this shadow establishment essentially includes the entire structure of the FSB from the very top people in Moscow going down to the low offices.’ The story Mangold told was a pathetic tale of how Litvinenko and Shvets, trying to turn an honest penny from ‘due diligence’ work, identified damning evidence about the links of a figure close to Putin to organised crime, who in return sent Andrei Lugovoi to poison the former with polonium. A few problems with this version have, however, subsequently, emerged. Among them is the fact that, at the time, Litvinenko himself, as well as having been a key member of the late Boris Berezovsky’s ‘information operations team’, was an agent, as distinct from an informant, of MI6: accounts differ as to whether Steele was his personal ‘handler’ (John Sipher), or had never met him (Luke Harding). Also relevant is the fact that Shvets, a fanatical Ukrainian nationalist, and an important figure in the original ‘Orange Revolution’, was also a key member of Berezovsky’s ‘information operations’ team. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the disappearance of Levinson, on the Iranian island of Kish, the following March, was not as was claimed for years related to his private sector work. His entrapment and imprisonment – from which we now know Deripaska was later involved in attempting to rescue him – related to an undercover mission on behalf of elements in the CIA. The account of his career by the ‘New York Times’ journalist Barry Meier in his 2016 study ‘Missing Man’ is a tissue of sleazy evasions, not least in relation to the role of Levinson in ‘investigating’ the notorious mobster Semion Mogilevich, a key figure in ‘information operations’ against both Putin and Trump, and also the opponents of Yulia Tymoshenko. A large question involved is how co-operation between not simply elements in MI6 and the CIA, but also in the FBI, with the oligarchs who refused to accept Putin’s terms goes back a very long way. And, among other things, that raises a whole range of questions about Mueller.
Eugene Owens, Tidewater, CK. On Cornford. The biography attached to the poems is misleading. He went to Spain to fight, and had already been a deeply committed communist at his ‘public school’ Stowe, a good while before he arrived at Cambridge in 1933. What one might call ‘aristocratic communism’ – for want of a better word, is an interesting phenomenon. A great-grandson of Charles Darwin, Cornford was the son of a Cambridge professor of ancient philosophy, and his actual first name, Rupert, came from the poet Rupert Brooke, a family friend, who had died on active service in the Aegean shortly before he was born, in 1915, actually of an infected mosquito bite. Among many other ‘aristocratic communists’, a particularly interesting example is the Polonised Lithuanian noble Felix Dzerzhinsky. If anyone believes that ‘metadata’ using that figure’s name establishes that ‘Guccifer 2.0’ was part of a Russian ‘information operation’ practised by the GRU, they are either completely stupid, or utterly ignorant of the complexities of Soviet/Russian history. (‘Round up the usual suspects: Steele, Hannigan, Dearlove, Strzok, Brennan, Jonathan Winer.’) As my late father was an exact student contemporary at Cambridge of Cornford, although from a completely different social and intellectual background, I have some sense of the way in which the climate at the time was overshadowed, not only be impact of the war, but by the onset of the Depression and the rise of Hitler. The – very fine – grammar school in the port town of Barry in South Wales of which my father was a product was the creation of Major Edgar Jones, a great Welsh educationalist. As a young woman, his wife, Annie Gwen Jones, had gone out to Ukraine to tutor the grandchildren of John Hughes, the Welsh engineer who created the Donbass. A delayed result was that their son Gareth, who had graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, some time before Cornford, did the only serious on-the-ground reporting of what is now called the Holodomor. Ironically, he would be killed by bandits in Manchukuo in 1935 – whether at the instigation of the NKVD or not I am unclear. His reporting from the time has now all been posted by his relatives on the net, see . Reading it has been interesting for me, because it is a central part of my own family history. Shortly before my late father followed Gareth Jones to Cambridge, the latter addressed the chapel my grandparents attended and described what he had seen in Ukraine – gives his own people a condensed version of the materials now available on the website. Particularly as my grandfather was also a former pupil of Edgar Jones, and as the education officer at the local council a close colleague and friend, my father had rather more confidence in what he was told at that meeting than in the dismissals of the reporting by Jones by his very powerful and influential critics, prominent among whom was Walter Duranty of the ‘New York Times.’ It may partly have been as a result of this that, addressing the student historical society in Cambridge in 1935, my father delivered a pisstake of Marxism-Leninism, suggesting that rather than the eternal conflict between classes, history could be seen as an eternal struggle between the old and the young. He was told by Cornford that no prediction of the creed either had been, or could be, proven wrong. As it happens, the Spanish Civil War is one of the many instances where I think the actual conflicts involved were incredibly complicated – far too much so for someone who has not studied the subject to have a clear view – and the only thing of which I am reasonably confident is that then as now, all too many people preferred projecting simplistic ideologies onto messy situations. Interestingly, a couple of years ago a distinguished British historian of modern Spain, Paul Preston, accused George Orwell of doing just this in his immensely influential ‘Homage to Catalonia’. A first point he makes is that the Republicans were forced into seeking arms and support from the Soviet Union – for which they paid – because they could not get these from the British and French. (A short version of Preston’s argument is at ; a longer version, which might disabuse anyone who thinks that the British in the ‘International Brigades’ who went to fight for the Republic were simply there for the money, or because they liked risking their lives to kill people, is at .) To have any hope of surviving against the Franco’s professional forces, Preston points out, the defenders of the Republic had to attempt to create a professional army, and build as much of a ‘Popular Front’ as they could. What they needed like a hole in the head was the kind of revolutionary upheavals championed by the POUM, with which Orwell identified, and Trotskyists more generally – and indeed it was his friends, and the anarchists, who were responsible for a very large share of the atrocities which did the Republican cause immense damage. According to Preston, the notion that Stalin’s obsession with destroying Trotskyists was responsible for the defeat of the Republic is simply false: indeed close to the reverse of the truth. A central priority of his policy at the time was to maintain France as a central element in a strategy of ‘containment’ of National Socialist Germany, and a central fear that if Spain went France would follow, laying the Soviet Union open to German attack. There is, here, yet another irony. The study ‘The Revolution Betrayed’ which Trotsky published in 1937 was read carefully in the German Embassy in Moscow. It was quoted at length in a speech drafted by his young subordinate Hans (‘Johnnie’) von Herwarth for his ambassador, Werner von der Schulenberg, to deliver to the General Staff Academy in Berlin in November of that year. Reading the 1981 memoir ‘Against Two Evils’ which Herwarth wrote in collaboration with the American scholar S. Frederick Starr some years back, I was struck by the ironic parallels between the – actual – view of the German Moscow Embassy diplomats, and the close of ‘Animal Farm.’ At the risk of caricature, the argument made by Herwarth and Schulenberg to Hitler – and he saw no reason to revise it in the intervening decades – might be summarised as follows: What is the point of risking Germany’s future in a great ‘crusade’ against ‘international Bolshevism’, when the ‘national Bolshevik’ Stalin is busily liquidating all those ‘internationalist’, Bolsheviks from the ‘borderlands’ he can lay his hands on? Again, if – rightly or wrongly, and Herwarth has interesting things to say about this – Stalin is so afraid of ‘Bonapartism’ that he liquidates the most intellectually sophisticated command group of any country anywhere in the ‘Thirties, and replaces them with unthreatening incompetents like Voroshilov and Budyonny, then that greatly reduces the dangers from Soviet military power. At the same time, Herwarth and his colleagues tried to warn Hitler that it was unwise to think that the Soviets were so weak that, as the figure they tried unavailingly to persuade put it before he made his crucial disastrous gamble, ‘We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.’ What Hitler was attempting to do would vindicate ‘national Bolshevism’: German armies would then find themselves fighting not on metalled roads in Poland, where there relative strengths were greatest, but on the banks of the Volga in midwinter – where everything favoured the other side. In relation to the politics of the ‘Thirties, there were rather complicated, and still partly unresolved, questions about who was fooling whom, and who was fooling themselves, by believing what they wanted to believe, and getting lost in their own rhetorics. (It becomes interesting to think what Herwarth’s candid view, alike of Cornford and Orwell, might have been), ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.’
Toggle Commented Jul 11, 2019 on Turkey, NATO and Russia at Sic Semper Tyrannis
CK, Coming, belatedly, into this argument. You appear to think that nationalism is the only thing for which people can fight, except self-interest. In relation to Spain, I can perhaps refer you to two poems by Rupert John Cornford, a British volunteer for the International Brigades, who died in August 1936. As it happens, both my late father, and an old lady who I got to know in my days as a Cambridge (UK) student, knew him quite well. (See ) She once said I reminded her of him. But both of them, from very different perspectives, were fundamentally opposed to his – communist – politics. And yet, the first of the two poems reproduced on the site to which I have linked is I think one of the most beautiful love lyrics written in English in the last century. As to the second, the phrases ‘the dialectic’s point of change’, and ‘We are the future. The last fight let us face’ sum up everything which, tutored by my father and the old lady who knew Cornford, I have thought nonsense throughout my adult life. Nonsense, moreover, which was in no sense harmless, but which it was absolutely necessary to fight. With time, I have come to think that the ‘Fukuyamist’ version of this nonsense is actually materially worse than the Trotskyite or Stalinist. But one needs to understand the complexity of reasons for which people will fight for causes, even those one thinks are very bad ones.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2019 on Turkey, NATO and Russia at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Fred, If, after interviewing Steele for sixteen hours, anyone professes to find him credible, then in my view they are either fools or knaves – if not both. Having once been involved – successfully I hasten to add – in a protracted libel case in relation to a programme I made, I can easily see many lines of questioning to which he could quite clearly not have provided a satisfactory answer. The cover-up of the circumstances of the life and death of the late Alexander Litvinenko, which Steele was instrumental in orchestrating, is a matter I have discussed on and off here on SST. I now have a ‘smoking gun’ – it is clear there were honest detectives in Counter Terrorism Command, who got fed up with the lies he was mass producing (as is his wont). The maps they produced purporting to show Litvinenko’s movements on the day Steele claimed he was poisoned were craftily constructed, so as to pretend to support the cover-up, while actually blowing it apart. It was done very ingeniously, with a sense of humour. More on this, I hope, shortly. A very interesting question however arises as to how the Reuters report by Mark Hosenball which is the source of TTG’s claim, originated, and what its implications are. (See .) According to the report: ‘One of the two sources said Horowitz’s investigators appear to have found Steele’s information sufficiently credible to have to extend the investigation. Its completion date is now unclear.’ In fact, however one interpreted Steele’s claims, it would be extremely likely that what he said would have provided good grounds to ‘extend the investigation.’ All kinds of interpretations are, rather obviously, possible. It could turn out that Horowitz is part of what is by now quite clearly a conspiracy to subvert the constitutional order in the United States. How people can continue to defend this, without calling in to question their ability to understand what a ‘constitutional republic’ means, has come rather to defeat me. But then, Horowitz could be playing different sides. It might be convenient to disseminate a story which was partly disinformation, in order to gain time to pursue investigations undisturbed. Or, people concerned to put a ‘gloss’ or ‘spin’ favourable to Steele might have been those who leaked to the media. Obviously, my hypotheses reflect my conviction that Steele is a form of pond life – the ‘scum’, rather than the ‘dregs’ of society – born in part out of experience with superannuated Cambridge and Oxford student politicians of his kind. There may be other interpretations, for which a serious case can be made, more favourable to him. But to take the Hosenball report at face value is really not sensible.
Tidewater, In matters like this, it is helpful I think to proceed from opposite ends. Obviously, one needs to work out what ‘Occam’s Razor’ suggests is the most obviously plausible hypothesis. But, in ‘information operations’, a vast amount of effort and ingenuity commonly goes into what one might call ‘cheating Occam’s Razor’: making it seem that true explanations are so wildly improbable that they are not worth further thought. So, one needs to be cautious about moving from concluding that something is improbable to dismissing it as impossible. With Carter Page, I am reasonably confident that he really is just an ‘ingenu’, who was framed by Steele and his co-conspirators, in their panicky attempts to create bogus links between Trump and the Russians. By contrast, although I have no doubt that Papadopoulos was framed, I cannot make him out. My grasp of Mediterranean ‘oil geopolitics’ is not strong enough to hazard firm judgements about what he says about the issues involved and his own role. I would be happy to be persuaded that he can be taken at face value, but alternative hypotheses do seem worth further thought. It may or may not be material that, as well as being Greek, Papadopoulos also appears to be Orthodox. (It is sometimes important to bear in mind the extent of disillusion among people from the Orthodox world who used to see the West as allies in a common struggle against atheistic communism, and have come to suspect that they were naive.) By the same token, I am keeping an open mind about Mifsud. A great deal of rather crude disinformation has been disseminated, in an attempt to conceal his clearly abundant links to Western intelligence agencies, notably MI6. But then, there are interesting issues to do with his friend and lawyer, Stefan Roh, who has a White Russian wife. I do not build a great deal on the fact that a month after the Salisbury incident that figure changed the name of one of his companies to ‘No Vichok’ – it appears that on this point at least, ‘BuzzFeed’ managed to report correctly. (See .) However, as well as raising questions about Roh’s allegiances, the change brings up another thorny issue. The sheer ludicrousness of the Western ‘narrative’ on so many matters, among them what happened to the Skripals, is I suspect opening up opportunities for Russian intelligence. And in the case of Mifsud, there does appear to be evidence that he is fond of money. As to how the involvement of Benjamin Rhodes in the exchanges Larry discusses is to be explained, however, I am somewhat sceptical about the notion that any of these people display much in the way of refined concern for proper procedure. My scepticism has been strengthened by the palpable fact that, the more information comes out, the more it becomes clear that a lot of crucial actors on the Western side were doing in June-July-August 2016 shows signs of total panic. The initial memoranda in the dossier attributed to Steele, the claims by ‘CrowdStrike’ and the former GCHQ person Matt Tait about ‘smoking gun’ evidence implicating the GRU in what it now seems clear was a leak of material from the DNC to ‘WikiLeaks’, alike have an air of desperate improvisation. (This sense of panic, incidentally, comes over in waves in the description by Kathleen Kavalec of her conversation with Steele the following October. She checked a simple point: his claim about a supposed Russian consulate in Miami, and found it was wrong. I suspect that the story behind the – progressively less, but still heavily redacted – materials that have been made public about this meeting is that of more and more people realising there was a conspiracy and that they needed to distance themselves from it.) I think there is a lot more to be learnt about the 30 July 2016 breakfast meeting at the Mayflower Hotel between Bruce and Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele. It seems to me extraordinarily unlikely that her testimony that until that point she had been unaware that her old British acquaintance was also working for Fusion on Trump-Russia research is accurate. Also, Larry’s explications have reinforced my curiosity about the involvement of the NSA in this, particularly as it appears to be the case that Admiral Rogers had closed down improper access to contractors – who it seems likely included Nellie Ohr – on 18 April 2016. If, as is now suggested, this improper access went back to 2012, I think a great deal of effort may have been put, over the intervening four years, by people in the NSA and GCHQ in conjunction with outsiders, into analysing intercepts of people who were, in any way, under suspicion (of a range of different possible misdemeanours, as seen by the conspirators.) Given my generally low opinion of the intellectual capacities of many of those involved, including Nellie Ohr as well as Christopher Steele, it seems to me perfectly possible that this produced some howlers – an obvious possibility being the claim about Michael Cohen’s visit to Prague. It could quite conceivably however have produced some accurate information which cannot be made public, both for ‘sources and methods’ reasons and because doing so would reveal the scale of the conspiracy to subvert the Constitution involved in ‘Russiagate’.
Pat -- I posted a comment on Ty Clevenger's subpoenas to the FBI and CIA for materials relating to Seth Rich. It has gone into spam. Belated Happy 4th of July.
Eugene Owens, As an old television hack – my SWMBO and I between us have quite a large experience of ‘TV’ – I think your reading of the implications of Trump’s experience in the medium is quite wrong, A good deal of ‘Reality TV’ – and the different versions of the ‘Apprentice’ format on both sides of the Atlantic were a classic example – has a strong ‘panem et circenses’ element. This is, commonly, inherently ‘transgressive.’ A successful presenter not uncommonly ‘works’ because he taps emotions, often very unlovely ones, which is audience feels, but would not want to acknowledge publicly. To do this, one has to start off with empathy with those emotions. And a successful performer, over time, will hone that. And it is critical to be able to gauge, from the responses of the audience, where ‘transgression’ will pay off, and where it may go too far, and blow up in his – or her – face. A central problem with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as with that of the ‘Remainers’ in Britain, was that they listened to the kind of people who approach ‘TV’ in the spirit of those who decide what programmes to make by ‘market research.’ They came up against someone who actually understood, from direct personal experience (although probably assisted by the advice of competent producers and researchers) the complex relations which successful presenters have with audiences. These are not dissimilar to the complex relations successful politicians often have with audiences. So, Clinton and the ‘Remainers’ alike got thrashed – and appear to have learned absolutely nothing from the experience.
All, I wonder whether the people who cooked up this kind of bright idea have looked at who tends to win the annual International Collegiate Programming Contest, which is headquartered at Baylor University. (See ) This year, highly untypically, an American University – MIT – actually managed to make it among the Gold medallists, winning second place. (British universities as ever failed to make it among the top twelve.) Also as ever, the Russians were way ahead of the field, with Moscow State University coming out winners, and two others in the top twelve. In the twelve years since 2008, the Russians have won ten times, the Chinese twice. And there is strength in depth – the pattern where, in a leading global competition, around a quarter of the top universities are Russian is also familiar. Another long-term change may also be relevant. In the 2005 study ‘The Soviet Century’ in which he summarised his life’s work, the late Moshe Lewin discussed a report submitted to Andropov in November 1960 on the state of opinion among students in Odessa. (See the chapter ‘Kosygin and Andropov’, pps. 248-268.) What the then KGB chief was told by his subordinates, unambiguously, was that contempt for the system and its ideology was endemic among the students, that the bright ones chose the natural sciences and technology because the ‘social science’ they were offered was so awful, and that this garbage was of interest only to those set on a career in the party. And Lewin’s summary of the report to Andropov concludes: ‘Students’ preference for anything Western was scarcely surprising, given their lack of respect for those whom they heard criticizing the West.’ Actually, however, in the years that followed researchers at institutes associated with the Academy of Sciences, such as the Institute of the USA and Canada under Georgiy Arbatov, and the Institute for World Economy and International Relations under Alexander Yakovlev and Yevgeney Primakov, did a lot of rather good ‘social science.’ The conclusion key figures drew was the same as that of the students: that the ideology and the system were bankrupt. And that was a key part of the background to the Gorbachev-era ‘new thinking.’ Three decades later, perceptions of the West have, quite patently, radically changed. One interesting case study is that of Primakov, another that of Sergei Karaganov, who went with Vitaly Zhurkin from Arbatov’s Institute to found the new Institute of Europe in 1987-8. As Patrick Armstrong recalled some time back, it was what Primakov was writing in mid-1987 that was instrumental in alerting some of those in the West who had been interested in trying to figure out how the Soviet system worked to the recognition of the failure of the system which underpinned Gorbachev’s attempts at reform. Both American and British intelligence agencies were utterly clueless. (For a good treatment of the key July 1987 article in ‘Pravda’ to which Patrick referred from the time, see a piece in the ‘Christian Science Monitor’ headlined ‘Soviet shift in world policy. Revision of long-held view – of West as constant military threat – seems sign of new Soviet flexibility’, at .) By the time when, as Foreign Minister in March 1999, Primakov turned his plane back from Washington in response to NATO’s bombing of Serbia, he had already executed ‘Primakov’s Loop’ in a far deeper sense. In 1996, he had put forward an ‘Eurasianist’ vision for the future of Russia, based on a rapprochement with China, and the attempt to bring that country and India together. (For a discussion by an Indian commentator sympathetic to his vision, see an obituary tribute by Rakesh Krishnan Simha published in June 2015, headlined ‘Primakov: The man who created multipolarity’, at .) It took Karaganov much longer to abandon the dream of being reintegrated into ‘Western civilisation’: a key event, I think, being the 2008 Georgian war – as with Valery Gergiev. Today, however, Karaganov is an impassioned champion of the ‘Eastern orientation.’ As such, he explains in article after article – generally available in good English translations – that the ‘Petrine’ period in Russian history is over. Ironically, even such an admirable – and invaluable – commentator as Stephen F. Cohen appears to have difficulty grasping the radicalism of what is involved here. Commenting last October on the disdain for ordinary American voters revealed by ‘Russiagate,’ he wrote that: ‘It is worth noting that this disdain for rank-and-file citizens echoes a longstanding attitude of the Russian political intelligentsia, as recently expressed in the argument by a prominent Moscow policy intellectual that Russian authoritarianism springs not from the nation’s elites but from the “genetic code” of its people.’ (See ) Actually, the ‘Ogonyok’ interview with Karaganov to which Cohen alludes says almost the reverse of Cohen suggests. It is, among other things, a plea to his fellow-intellectuals to stop regarding the weakness of a ‘democratic’ culture in Russia as a mark of inferiority. Instead, Karaganov is suggesting, they need to grasp that it has been, and continues to be, a perfectly ‘rational’ adaptive response to the harsh imperatives of survival in the ‘heartlands’ of Eurasia, which is ‘genetic’, in the sense that traits which work for organisms over long periods of time become entrenched. (While the ‘deplorables’ may get a lot wrong, this one they called right, and the Moscow/St. Petersburg ‘intelligenty’ got it, as we sometimes say in England, ‘arse about face.’) (See .) All this, I am afraid, puts me in mind of a crucial moment in British history. By 1937 the then head of the Government Code and Cyper School, Alastair Denniston – viciously caricatured in the film ‘The Imitation Game’ – had realised that in the wars of movement which was now likely on land as well as on sea, encrypted communications were going to be even more important than they had been in 1914-18. And he also realised that the problems of breaking the codes were becoming vastly more difficult, and required top-class mathematical talent. (See .) As a result, Denniston went to dinner at ‘high tables’, in Oxford and Cambridge. From the connections he established, came the work done by Turing and other less well-known but crucial mathematicians, like Gordon Welchmann and Jack Good (born Isadore Jacob Gudak.) A central part of the background to this, however, was that in the late ‘Thirties very many British intellectuals who had thought that Hitler was just a loud-mouth – a very easy ssumption to make in the early ‘Thirties – shifted towards the view that there was a potential ‘existential threat’ from Germany. Of its nature, this would demand the utmost not just from those who had to fight the wars, but also from those who used the most sophisticated intellectual tools to make sure that, in so doing, they had the crucial advantage of intelligence superiority. I am not sure the thought has crossed many people’s minds, in Washington and in London, that not only does Russia now have what looks to be a rather competent ‘general staff’, who are looking for ‘asymetric’ ways to counter the power of NATO, but that Western policy over the past thirty years may have created a not entirely dissimilar sense of ‘existential threat.’ If one thinks this is so, obviously one will conclude that an unintended consequence of rather stupid Western policies may have been to make it much easier for Soviet strategic planners to recruit and exploit some at least of the best scientific minds. Moreover, if my suggestion is remotely near the mark, then a ‘cyberwars’ contest may be precisely that in the ‘relative advantage’ does not lie with the West, because throwing money at the problem does not help that much, if on the other side there are people who want other things – honour among them, and glory. Can anyone imagine how either honour, or glory, could inspire anyone to do what Robert Hannigan told them to do, as both motives once inspired people who worked for his predecessors? But then, people in London and Washington seem to find it difficult, these days, to understand that people could work for anything other than money. That, or ‘insiderdom.’
Tom Wonacott, For a perhaps slightly more nuanced view of the ‘Holodomor’, you might read a review of Anne Applebaum’s 2017 ‘Red Famine’ study by the British historian Christopher Gilley. (See .) Another interesting aspect of this has to do with the recently released film ‘Mr Jones’, with a script written by one of the members of the Chalupa clan, Andrea. As I have not seen it, I cannot be sure that it restates the narrative ‘Holodomor’ as an attempted genocide by Russians against Ukrainians, but it seems to me likely. What I can say for certain is that Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who what I think is the only, or virtually the only, on-the-ground reporting of the famine, on whose life the film is based, emphatically did not endorse this narrative. On the website set up by niece, which reproduces all his reporting from this time, one will find among other things a report of his work by the great American foreign correspondent Edgar Ansel Mowrer, then based in Berlin, dated 29 March 1933. (See .) An extract: ‘Jones saw famine on a huge scale and the revival of murderous terror. The Russians are thoroughly alarmed over this situation and, he explains, the arrest of the British engineers recently as a maniac measure following the shooting by the government of thirty-five prominent Russian agricultural workers, including a vice-commissar in the ministry of agriculture. ‘“I walked through the country visiting villages and investigating twelve collective farms,” Jones today told the correspondent of The Chicago Daily News. ‘“Everywhere I heard the cry, ‘there is no bread, we are dying.’ “This cry is rising from all parts of Russia; from the Volga district, from Siberia, from White Russia and from the Ukraine black dirt country. I saw a peasant fish out a crust of bread and an orange peel which I had thrown into a cuspidor in the train. (See .) Note that: ‘from all parts of Russia.’ I doubt you will see that quoted in Ms. Chalupa’s script, but perhaps I am wrong. Meanwhile, on the wider political implications. A rather important one relates to your country’s domestic politics. Having encouraged ‘Banderistas’ to think they could take the kind of reckless gambles of which the Maidan ‘false flag’ was the culmination, a not very surprising result is that they will stop at nothing to ensure that there is no chance of a President who might display some concern for American interests being elected. While ‘Russiagate’ is patent nonsense, ‘Ukrainegate’, as reporting by John Solomon in ‘The Hill’ has brought out, is very much a live issue – and Andrea’s sister Alexandra is at the heart of it. (See .) Meanwhile, that incompetent Polish ‘gepolitician’ Zbigniew Brzezinski held the – deluded – view that wresting the whole of Ukraine entirely away from Russian influence was the key to preventing a revival of Russian power. In fact, as should have been evident to him had he not been in the grip of hysterical Russophobia, it was the last stage in a process which has seen the Russian élite move away from the dream of reintegration into a ‘global Europe’, which would include North America, Europe proper, and Russia, which had been central to the Gorbachev ‘new thinking.’ As the Carnegie Moscow Center director Dmitri Trenin chronicled in his 2016 discussion of ‘Russia’s Post-Soviet Journey’, this vision survived, if increasingly battered, through until 2012. Since then, it has been decisively abandoned. In common with a number of other commentators who are in no sense instinctive ‘Eurasianists’, such as Sergei Karaganov, Trenin is now suggesting, in essence, that we have seen the end of the ‘Petrine’ epoch in Russian history. (See .) On the implications, Trenin’s article – originally published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ – was blunt: ‘This shift in thinking came with a change in strategy. Russia, which is one of the few states in the world with a truly global reach, sought to rebalance its Western-oriented policies with a broader strategic vision. Moscow turned south to the Middle East and North Africa, intervening in Syria and deepening its ties with Egypt. It looked east, upgrading its energy and military partnerships with China. And to the north, in the Arctic, it began to expand the Northern Sea Route, claim vast areas of the region's continental shelf, and rebuild some Soviet-era military installations. Europe, having ceased to be a mentor and a model, is now just another neighbor, part of a Greater Eurasia stretching from Ireland to Japan.’ Note who are, by implication, definitively excluded from this ‘Greater Eurasia.’ It should, one would have thought, have been reasonably clear for a rather long time to anyone with any pretensions to ‘geopolitical’ insight that, if there was to be a major great power competitor to the United States, it was going to be China. The degree of ineptitude in strategic thinking involved in allowing the ‘revanchist’ aspirations of the ‘insulted and injured’ of the erstwhile Soviet and Russian Empires to push today’s Russia into the hands of China frankly beggars belief. An interesting coda comes in a recent piece by a very fine analyst of both Chinese and Russian military strategy, Lyle J. Goldstein, a professor at the Naval War College. He appears to be proficient in the languages of both countries, and regularly discusses interesting commentaries from the technical military press, alike from China and Russia, in, among other places, the ‘National Interest.’ His most recent piece in that journal is entitled ‘Chinese Nuclear Armed Submarines in Russian Arctic Ports? It Could Happen: What once seemed completely farfetched has now evidently become a topic of semi-serious discussion.’ (See .) It was already amply clear that Russian planners have been working on low cost ways of turning the ocean, which has a guarantor of invulnerability for most of the history of the United States, into a point of maximum vulnerability, with submarines positioned just outside the the Exclusive Economic Zone which can implement a range of escalation options against both seaboards of the country. What the Russian strategist whose article Goldstein discusses is suggesting is that his country could help the Chinese overcome their problems in developing a capacity for ‘strategic’ nuclear attacks on the United States – as positioning SSBNs in the Arctic would both drastically reduce their vulnerability and also greatly reduce flight times. His discussion of this Russian strategist’s views ends with a nuanced conclusion, involving a warning which people might do well to heed: ‘In closing, it must be emphasized that this article’s importance should not be exaggerated. The musings of a single Russian strategist do not equal a new approach to Russia-China strategic cooperation, let alone a concrete bilateral military cooperation agreement on the deployment of the most prized, nuclear assets. Neither Moscow nor Beijing have given anything close to an official imprimatur to such eccentric ideas. And yet there is a small possibility that this one vision of the future could reach fruition in coming decades if current trends toward cold war are not reversed. Moscow would have its fully built out Arctic infrastructure (both military and commercial) with ample Chinese capital and engineering assistance. In return, Beijing would gain a reliable way to strike America and thus enhance its nuclear deterrent.’ It really is time that the policy of the United States was once again run – as it once was – by people whose prime loyalty is to their own country, and whose thinking is not distorted by traumatic experiences in the countries from which they sought refuge.
All, In April 2017, a piece by Anatol Lieven appeared in the ‘National Interest’, under the title ‘Is America Becoming a Third World Country?’ The subheading read: ‘Conspiracy theories about Russia suggest that the awful prospect for the USA is of a global superpower with the domestic politics of the Philippines or Argentina.’ (See .) I would strongly recommend the piece to members of this ‘Committee of Correspondence.’ Do not, incidentally, make the mistake of thinking that because its author is born and bred in Britain this is a case of ‘Brit’ arrogance. There seems to me little reason to believe that Lieven thought his native country was in a less parlous state than he suggesed you were. (I certainly don’t!) Part of this is to do with what I am tempted to call a ‘Cassandra complex.’ The Lieven brothers – Anatol and his elder brother Dominic – are among the very best British commentators on international affairs. This may be partly because their origins are not actually British. On the father’s side, they were Baltic German servants of the Tsars, on the mother’s, Catholic Irish servants of the British Raj (hence the balance of names – Dominic for the first son, Anatol for the second.) The background provides a useful introduction to some of the complexities of modern history – and also, ironically perhaps, may have helped both brothers absorb some of the better elements of British culture (unlike most American ‘Rhodes Scholars’, who seem often to absorb the worst.) But the result appears to be that, as with Cassandra, people do not listen to them. So, Anatol teaches in Qatar. His brother, after spending many years in the thankless task of trying to educate ‘political scientists’ at the London School of Economics, is now back in Cambridge. However, Dominic’s – brilliant – summation of large elements of his life’s work on the centenary of the October Revolution was not delivered, as in a rational world it might have been, at Chatham House, or Brookings – but at that year's Valdai Group meeting. (See .)
Tidewater, If you think you can trust any British law enforcement agency to produce an objective investigation into matters of this kind you are living in lalaland. What finally did for the late Boris Berezovsky was hubris encouraged by his success in manipulating the British legal system caused him to bring a civil suit against Roman Abramovich, and as a result he was effectively destroyed by Jonathan Sumption and Mrs Justice Gloster. I see that Steven S. Biss, who filed the suit, has also acted, together with Ty Clevenger, on behalf of Ed Butowsky, as well as acting for Devin Nunes. What we may be seeing is a – sensible – attempt to short circuit the problems of getting law enforcement agencies to do their job, by making maximum use of the civil law.
All, The ‘Zero Hedge’ link to the complaint still allows one to read it, if one scrolls through the document. However, attempting to download it, I found a notice explaining ‘This document has been removed from Scribd.’ It seems that Lokhova has not posted it on her blog, which is however very well worth a visit – see If anyone can find a link to a downloadable copy, that would help, as this whole history is clearly central to the conspiracy to subvert the Constitution and the document clearly will repay close study. The fellows of Pembroke College Cambridge, who elected Sir Richard Dearlove Master in August 2004, thus providing a base from which he could use Cambridge to continue corrupting the British – and it now seems American – intelligence and law enforcement apparatuses, have a great deal to answer for.