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David Habakkuk
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All, Has anyone seen an iota of evidence that Steele actually had a ‘Primary Sub-Source’, that could be relied upon to survive critical examination, had Horowitz approached questioning both the FBI people and Steele in a manner that might be deemed appropriate with people under suspicion of having colluded in a seditious conspiracy?
EO, What you write is very much to the point. Unfortunately, I have been very tied up, and have not been able to comment adequately on recent developments. It looks as though the current strategy of the conspirators, on both sides of the Atlantic, is to make Steele the ‘patsy’, thereby making it possible for the full scale of the conspiracy to remain disguised. It also makes it possible to replace one ‘Russophobic’ narrative by another. Instead of Steele as the heroic unmasker of a sinister Russian plot to undermine Western democracy, we have him as the gullible dupe of just another plot. Among other things, this was the sense of Fiona Hill’s testimony, in which she showed herself a worthy pupil of the late unlamented Richard Pipes – the man who got everything wrong, and was lamentably devoid of common honesty – and a disgrace to a fine university (St. Andrew’s.) My ‘SWAG’, particularly following Solomon’s report and others like it, is that Horowitz is hewing quite close to the line she was marking out. It seems a shame that a journalist who has done a lot of very useful work on ‘Russiagate’ looks to be falling ‘hook, line and sinker’ for a classic ‘limited hangout.’ But a lot of people who one might have thought had better judgement seem to be doing this – Chuck Ross and Representative Jim Jordan being obvious examples. It seems clear, contrast, that Lee Smith has got the main point: that the dossier was a ‘camel produced by a committee’ in Fusion GPS, and that Steele’s essential role was 1. in disguising the sources, insofar as they were any, and the material was not either direct invention or invention by ‘sources’ who specialised in it, and 2. providing an appearance of intelligence legitimacy to the resulting farrago, so it could be used both to legitimise FISA applications, and a ‘whispering campaign’ in the MSM. If Smith has ‘got it’, it seems likely that Devin Nunes, who is a pivotal figure in all this, also has. However he, as also Barr and Durham, have to reckon with the complex politics of all this, and of course the problems of all three get materially worse if the likes of Solomon Ross and Jordan are happy to be played for suckers. An area where caution is particularly necessary, incidentally, is in relation to the disavowal of Steele by Sir Mark Lyall Grant which Sidney Powell is hunting down. If you look at it in context, it is clear that it was largely the product of a failure of liaison between different people. It seems key conspirators on the U.S. side wanted the dossier published, while those on our side were not really ‘in the loop.’ It was at this point that the strategy of making Steele the ‘patsy’ first became evident – with a kind of ‘bulldogs under the carpet’ struggle rapidly developing over whether to follow that route, or close ranks behind him. The Lyall Grant letter was the product of the first strategy, but it is clear that the mainstream – including for example Sir Alex Younger, clearly a worthy successor to Dearlove and Scarlett – came round to the alternative strategy. In my view, a key to the whole situation remains the actions in which Ty Clevenger and Steven S. Biss are involved, acting on behalf of Ed Butowsky, Devin Nunes, and also Svetlana Lokhova. Also relevant are the two cases against Steele and Orbis going through the courts here in London. Unfortunately, we do not have anything like ‘PACER’ or ‘Courtlistener’, so it is very difficult to be clear as to what is happening either with Gubarev’s case or that brought by the Alfa oligarchs.
vig, (aka?) While I know little about what Steve Sailer’s history, a great deal of what he has written recently seems to me very much to the point. Yesterday, his blog on the ‘Unz Review’ site featured a piece headlined: ‘David Frum Accuses Tucker Carlson of Dual Loyalties to the Moscow-Fox Axis of White Evil’ As it bears rather directly on what I was trying to argue, and Sailer is – characteristically – succinct – it seems appropriate to quote what he wrote in full: ‘As I mentioned yesterday, a lot of the current push for World War III is coming from media types who are getting themselves all worked up over their feelings that the World Is Already At War between the Moscow-Tehran-Fox News Axis of Evil and the Beltway-Jerusalem-Kiev Alliance of Niceness. For example, just now: ‘“David Frum @davidfrum ‘“Major theme of Trumpapocalypse: Trump admirers like @TuckerCarlson describe themselves as ‘nationalist.’ But their nationalism attaches not to the multiracial American nation and its capital in Washington, but to a multinational white race with a capital in Moscow.” ‘But really, if David could just come visit the Ethnic Foods aisle in my dad’s old Jon’s Supermarket in Valley Village, CA, he could see how all sorts of people who are some fraction of both sides in this conflict inside David’s head. Yet, they all seem to get along well enough. So we really don’t need to get into a tank war on the Eastern Front.’ (See .) In fairness to Frum, he has advocated reducing immigration, so I cannot regard it as a completely open-and-shut case that he is ‘guilty as charged’ in relation to the indictment of Jews which Kevin Macdonald presents. The ‘tweet’ which Sailer quotes however does generate a rather strong ‘prima facie’ case that he is one of a very significant body of influential Jews in relation to whom Macdonald’s analysis has great force. It is highly relevant that there are many Jews in whom ‘universalist’ pretensions have in the past, and still do, masked concern for the interests of their own group; and it is also rather important that some such people patently do have an almost hysterical fear of traditional ‘Anglo’ culture, and think that Jews will be safer if it is diluted by ‘multiculturalism.’ The suggestion that somehow ‘Whites’ who see they are being targeted, and perceive this as an ‘existential threat’, are part of some kind of ‘multinational white race with a capital in Moscow’ lets slip the undertones of manic hysteria which one can often find in these people. Another very revealing piece was the article headline ‘A Return to National Greatness’ which David Brooks published in the ‘New York Times’ in February 2017. (See .) He explains his version of the ‘American myth’, which, he claims was ‘embraced and lived out by everybody from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan’, claiming that: ‘It gave America a mission in the world – to spread democracy and freedom. It gave us an attitude of welcome and graciousness, to embrace the huddled masses yearning to breathe free and to give them the scope by which to realize their powers.’ Having noted some of the reasons the ‘myth’ had been ‘battered’ – and here, he is partly right – Brooks continued: ‘And so along come men like Donald Trump and Stephen Bannon with a countermyth. Their myth is an alien myth, frankly a Russian myth. It holds, as Russian reactionaries hold, that deep in the heartland are the pure folk who embody the pure soul of the country – who endure the suffering and make the bread. But the pure peasant soul is threatened. It is threatened by the cosmopolitan elites and by the corruption of foreign influence.’ Here, I have to take a deep breath, before trying to work out how far sheer ignorance and intellectual incompetence is at issue, and how far trauma, often understandable, but which, if people cannot even try to work their way through it, renders them totally unfit to have a shaping role in the politics of any country, anywhere. Perhaps Brooks might usefully read the 2006 Elie Kedourie Memorial Lecture, ‘Nation and Covenant: The Contribution of Ancient Israel to Modern Nationalism,’ by Anthony D. Smith. (See .) Ironically, Kedourie, a Jew who found refuge here from the shipwreck of the Ottoman Empire, together with his fellow Jew Ernest Gellner, who found refuge here from the ruins of the Hapsburg Empire, and is also referred to in the lecture, are among the key theorists of ‘nationalism.’ There are two pathetically primitive delusions which Brooks might not have put on show, had he displayed any indications whatsoever of having made the least attempt to read any of the relevant scholarly literature. To suggest that ‘ethnonationalism’ is somehow distinctively Russian tells you 1. that one is ignorant of the history of nationalism, which is hardly a invention of that country, and 2. one is unable to escape the traumas relating to some of its effects there. It also suggests a total inability to cope with the fact that ‘nationalism’ is a part of the modern world, and is shot through with ambivalences. Anyone who tells you that there is some kind of simple thing, which can be categorised as simply ‘bad’ or ‘good’, is either a fool or a knave, if not both. And then, there is the subject matter on which the lecture by Antony D. Smith is illuminating, although he does not draw out some implications of his argument. Put simply, Frum and Brooks are trying to use some of the resonances of the ‘Old Testament’ roots of common ‘nationalist’ narratives, in a ‘post-Holocaust’ world, to suggest that when ‘Whites’ incline towards ‘ethnonationalism’, we are on the slippery slope towards genocide, but when Jews do, nobody can object. As to the notion that ‘ethnonationalism’ is a distinctive characteristic of contemporary Russia. Perhaps Frum and Brooks are too ignorant to know what the late Yevgeny Primakov, the shaping influence behind Putin’s foreign policy was, technically speaking, a Jew: his maternal grandmother was a Jewish mill owner’s daughter, who rebelled, and married a common worker. As for the ‘Old Mohican’ General of the Army Makhmut Akhmetovich Gareev (note names), founder-President of the ‘Academy of Military Sciences’, where, supposedly, the schemes for the destruction of the West by ‘hybrid warfare’ are worked out, he is an ethnic Tatar, who from time to time invokes Allah. (See .) Anyone who takes the trouble to do quick searches with ‘Google’ on key figures – try Sergei Shoigu, Vladislav Surkov, Margarita Simonyan, Sergei Lavrov, and Valery Gergiev – should be able to see how utterly intellectually incompetent Frum and Brooks are. It would not be simply silly to suggest that Putin is a certain kind of ‘cultural nationalist’ – in which case, the appropriate analogy, in an American or British context, would be with people who are not worried about the ‘ethnic’ identity of immigrants, so long as they are prepared to assimilate to ‘Anglo’ culture. Also relevant is the fact that Putin rather clearly represents a reaction against the Bolshevik version of the kind of ‘universalistic messianism’ of which Frum and Brooks have been leading champions. A corollary of this, of course, was well-expressed in the phrase ‘axis of evil’, which Frum coined for George W. Bush, and which was the title of the book he subsequently co-authored with Richard Perle. The enemies of a supposedly universal truth are naturally cast as demons. And the 'axis of evil' notion would, of course, be further ‘grist’ to the ‘mill’ which Kevin Macdonald is ‘grinding’, as the universalist ideology was being used to demonise enemies of Israel. From my own point of view, another part of the indictment against Frum relates to the fact that, from 2014 to 2017, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of a British ‘think tank’ known as ‘Policy Exchange’. Its Director is Dean Godson, brother of Roy and son of Joseph. His successor in the post was Alexander Downer. From an item on their website from September 2016: ‘Policy Exchange’s Director, Dean Godson, has been recognised as one of the most influential figures in London. The Evening Standard’s ‘Top 1000’ list references Godson’s work in their annual index. ‘“Fiercely bright Godson, formerly chief leader writer at the Daily Telegraph, has been described as Britain’s acknowledged expert on the problem of social cohesion. The establishment of an “integration hub” at the think tank this year may prove timely as the Government looks to tackle issues connected to immigration and integration.”’ (See .) The notion of Godson as ‘fiercely bright’ is a bad joke. In fact, he is a silly man – as is indeed illustrated by his inability to see that the natural effect of attempt to disseminate, and defend, patently absurd ‘narratives’ is that the ‘counter-narratives’ of Kevin Macdonald and people like him gain increasing traction. But at that point, I have to say, ‘a plague on both your houses’. Precisely as Steve Sailer suggests, there are all kinds of people, of many different origins, including very many Jews, both here and on your side, who have no desire to fight some kind of ‘war’ against ‘Anglo’ culture. Such people can often see that ‘invade the world, invite the world’ is suicidal for us all, but can also often value many things not only about ‘Anglo’ but also other, include prominently Jewish, heritages.
Vegetius, What I was talking about was one kind of crap producing another. It is absolutely fair comment that the application of modern ‘victim culture’ to Jews, which is actually the responsibility of ‘Anglos’ as well as Jews – the notion that hostility to them is always and invariably a matter of irrational prejudice – is BS. And the point of my post was quite precisely to argue that the behaviour of large sections of the Jewish élites in both the United States and Britain is destructive for everyone, up to and including themselves, and it is causing a very great deal of extremely unsurprising resentment. (If I was David Brooks, I would not be keen on sending young American men from ‘flyover country’ to fight unwinnable wars, while having no objections to my own son serving in the Israeli, rather than American, armed forces. That again seems to me a clear case of ‘incitement to anti-Semitism.’) But then, one of my central objections is to all kinds of ‘totalitarian’ thinking, which treats groups – be they Jews, Germans, Muslims, Americans, Brits, or whoever – as though they were monolithic wholes. Among what I find particularly insufferable about Rabbi Sacks is quite precisely the fact that he has had the infernal arrogance to imply that, for instance, Marc Bloch or Osip Mandelstam were not Jews. Rather more serious consideration might have told him that the positions of Jews, and their relations with non-Jews, have been very different in different places at different times. What counts is ‘local knowledge.’ You write: ‘A couple of war heroes and a personal anecdote prove nothing.’ Do you know any Jews from Britain? As it happens, my SWMBO and I have quite a lot of relevant ‘local knowledge’. So, I was mentioning a tiny fraction of a very large sample we have known, some very well, over a rather long time, ranging from erstwhile members of the German and Czech ‘haut bourgeoisie’, to people from the East End of London (many of them.) The sample includes some of the admirable people we have known, some of the most contemptible, and a lot in between. As it happens, the last thing which Peter Stern suggested was that he was some kind of ‘war hero.’ As to Peter Ganz, in the light of your somewhat roseate view of what happened on the Eastern Front in 1941-5, I suggest you might usefully dip into the 2011 study ‘Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing and Dying – The Secret Second World War Tapes of German POWs’ by Söhnke Neitzel and Harald Welzer’. It is based on the tapes that Ganz and others like him recorded, at Trent Park and elsewhere. Having done so, what strikes me as interesting is that he was not anti-German – and nor indeed was Peter Stern. This brings me to your suggestion that: ‘Here DH (hereafter You) have misrepresented the ideas he has spent the last quarter century developing.’ As I have already made clear, I think that a good deal of Macdonald wrote he wrote in response to a silly triumphalist account by Sletzkine is cogent. However, the piece to which I linked made it absolutely clear that Macdonald is every bit as much in the grip of ‘totalitarian’ thinking as Rabbi Sacks. What I learnt from Peter Ganz and Peter Stern is that there were always many different Germanies. Unfortunately, it is clear that this is not something Macdonald is prepared to concede – or rather, he denies the legitimacy of any but the rather grim ones he likes. So the sentence which I quoted reads: ‘Slezkine cites Heinrich Heine as a prime example of a Jewish intellectual with sincere and tender love for German culture, but the Germans, from Wagner to von Treitschke to Chamberlain and Hitler, didn’t see it that way.’ As it happens, Houston Stewart Chamberlain was not German at all, but a self-hating Englishman, who wanted to be German, of a certain kind – the Wagner/Treitschke kind. And then becomes material that, while I have only qualified belief in the self-evident virtues of ‘Anglo’ culture, it just happens to be my own culture. So, you must understand, I am not very keen on Chamberlain. (In ill-tempered moments, I might indeed say ‘traitor.’) Let us then see who else is given the same treatment that Rabbi Sacks gives to Bloch and Mandelstam. Obviously, the gentle genius of Robert Schumann, some of whose greatest songs are settings of Heine, is excommunicated. And what can one say about Friedrich Nietzsche? This deplorable human being – clearly a traitor to the ‘Volk’ – started out as an acolyte of Wagner. Later, he changed his mind, declaring Offenbach (a Jewish refugee from Germany to France, who converted to Roman Catholicism!!!???!!!) the appropriate antidote. Also, you might read Nietzsche’s tribute to Heine in ‘Ecce Homo.’ And then, Macdonald suggests that Hitler should also be seen as the representative of the ‘true’, ‘real’, ‘authentic’, Germany. As you may, or may not, be aware, there was this entity known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I had a rather complicated history, and the relations of Germans, and Jews, as well as other peoples, from its territories, with people elsewhere are not exactly a simple story of black and white. This brings me on to another figure whom Macdonald has, implicitly, excommunicated, the novelist Thomas Mann. Among other things, he was the author of a classic German statement of what many in the country felt they were fighting for in the First World War, the ‘Reflections of an Unpolitical Man.’ He also had a Jewish wife. However, his radical change of view, towards support for the Weimar Republic, was decisively shaped by a concrete event: the assassination of Walter Rathenau in June 1922. It was actually the Jewish industrialist Rathenau who had kept the German military-industrial machine functioning, in the face of the British naval blockade. After the war, he had taken on the ultimate poisoned challenge, the role of Foreign Minister. Unfortunately, the last thing the German High Command wanted to do was to accept their – quite large – share of responsibility for their country’s defeat. So, they enthusiastically embraced the ‘stab in the back’ myth. And one of the ‘StratCom’ experts the ‘Reichwehr’ hired to disseminate it was a – somewhat traumatised – veteran called Adolf Hitler. And he enthusiastically embraced the notion that the German defeat was really the responsibility of ‘the Jews.’ In the event, he also radicalised the ‘geopolitical’ thinking which had shaped the war aims defined by figures like Ludendorff in the later period of the war. If you want, I can supply more references for this. A key point, however, is that Hitler had spent his war fighting forces from the British Empire. Unsurprisingly, he had been impressed by the fact that Germany had ended up fighting a coherent ‘Anglosphere’ – which came to include the decisive presence of the United States. What Hitler concluded – see the ‘Zweites Buch’ of 1928 – was that Germany needed to conquer ‘Lebensraum’ in the East. One key presumption being that the Slavs could be treated as the Americans had the ‘Red Indians.’ Supposedly, it was only the diabolically clever Jews who could prevent the – slavish – Slavs receiving their just deserts, so creating a situation where Germans could face Americans on equal terms. (I do not much like Timothy Snyder, any more than Rabbi Sachs or Kevin Macdonald, but a 2017 piece entitled ‘Hitler’s American Dream: The dictator modeled his racial campaign after another conquest of land and people – America’s Manifest Destiny’ – is I think to the point. See .) However, precisely as Peter Ganz and Peter Stern taught me, the fact that, at a time of great crisis, Germans did come to see Hitler as their ‘representative individual’ did not mean that ‘Anglo’ Germanophobes were right in seeing this as representing a fundamental truth about German culture, a direction in which it had been heading for centuries. Likewise, the stupid abuse of the ‘cult of the Shoah’, to use Babak Makkinejad’s term, does not justify turning it on its head, and inverting a kind of silly – ‘Disneyland’ one might say – drama of Jews as eternal victims so it reverts to something close to Hitler’s vision, which destroyed Germany.
Diana C, EO: Similarities between dialect English and German were the subject of one of the poems that Thomas Hardy wrote during the First World War. It opens: ‘I walked in loamy Wessex lanes, afar From rail-track and from highway, and I heard In field and farmstead many an ancient word Of local lineage like “Thu bist,” “Er war,” “Ich woll”, “Er sholl”, and by-talk similar, Nigh as they speak who in this month’s moon gird At England’s very loins, thereunto spurred By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are.’ (See .)
jdledell, As ever, I find your explications of matters to do with Israel extremely illuminating. A very great many of the most interesting Jews here have always ‘married out.’ Sometimes this was because refugees came from assimilated or assimilating families, and simply did here what in other circumstances they would have done in their native countries. But there were all kinds of other reasons – among other things, people often married spouses they met at work. The effect though is that there are a great number of people for whom Jewish origins are important, but who do not belong to any kind of ‘Jewish community’ – which tends to become more isolated and out of touch with the surrounding society. At the same time, the gap between the conditions of life in Israel and those over here, always wide, gets wider. It may be that there is actually a kind of desperation between Rabbi Sacks injunction to be ‘ambassadors for the State of Israel.’ I think the last thing a lot of young people of Jewish origin want to do is to cast themselves as alien in this way.
Babak Makkinejad, I think this illustrates the difficulty of making generalisations about Jews in different places, It is certainly not true here that all people of Jewish origin and ethnicity are enthusiastic Zionists. See my response to Barbara Ann, above.
Barbara Ann, There is a lot here around which I am still trying to get my head. To illustrate the fact that it is nonsense to see Jews as monolithic, it may be helpful to hark back to two pieces by Benjamin Schwarz which I have found helpful. In May 1995, he published a piece in the ‘Atlantic’ headlined ‘The Diversity Myth’; the sub-heading read: ‘The hortatory version of our history, in which America has long been a land of ethnic tolerance and multicultural harmony, leaves us with nothing useful to say to the failed states and riven polities of the post-Cold War world.’ (See ) A central claim he was making, I think it was fair to say, was that, historically, the unity of the United States had come from the imposition of an ‘Anglo’ culture by a self-confident élite. He argued, in essence, that resistance to confronting the difficulties of ‘multiculturalism’ at home led to an inability to psychological resistance to confronting the realities of ethnic and religious conflict abroad. In January 2016, Schwarz published an article about Britain in ‘The American Conservative’, headlined ‘Unmaking England: Will immigration demolish in decades a nation built over centuries?’, which had useful things to say about the backlash against ‘multiculturalism’ and so the background to the ‘Brexit’ vote that June. Unfortunately, the version available on the website leaves out both the second part of the headline, and all the discussion it provoked, so one needs to go back to that on the ‘Wayback Machine.’ (See .) As I pointed out in my comments, the article was excessively ‘Marxist’, in its discussion of the background to the ‘New Labour’ enthusiasm for unrestricted immigration, but and I also wanted to qualify his – in general rather good – portrayal of the late Enoch Powell, who I actually met a couple of times. This also brings up a rather important difference, in you have always been a ‘settler’ society, while we historically have not. (This is not said to approve our condemn, in either case.) In a ‘settler’ culture, a ‘second identity’ is natural, in a way that, historically, it simply was not here. To cut a long story short, the outcome, over here, is a bizarre polarisation On the one hand, we have a very active, not to say strident, ‘Jewish community’, partly I think modelling itself on its American counterpart, which is trying to hold on to two patently contradictory positions. It insists that to be a be a Jew is to belong to a ‘people’, whose central history is of ‘exile’ from, and return to, their ‘homeland’ in Palestine, while also claiming that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to suggest that ‘dual loyalty’ may be an issue. But, on the other, there is an extensive body of people, wholly or partly of Jewish ethnic origin, whose lives are inextricably intertwined with those of non-Jews, and who have an extraordinary variety of attitudes to their own Jewish roots, the countries from which their forbears came, the complexities of the culture of the host country, Israel, etc etc. Where, as often, such people have no desire at all to identify with the version of Jewish identity put forward by the likes of Rabbi Sacks, a common response is not to attempt to assert an alternative version of that identity, but simple to move further away from it.
Petrel, It only seems like a caustic remark because the context is missing. I was responding to a response by Keith Harbaugh of my attempt to elucidate the role of the Maxwells in the Epstein affair, provoked by a query from ‘Ishmael Zechariah.’ At the end of his comments, Keith said, ‘I, for one, feel the need to “defend the Shire.”’ As it happens, my late mother’s family was English High Anglican, (also a Scots admixture), with a bizarre mixture of country and small town Tory and Anglo-Catholic Christian socialist, so the worlds of ideas one finds in Tolkien and his fellow ‘Inklings’ are part of my own history. (He was Catholic, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams Anglican.) There is however an unresolved conflict with elements of the culture of industrial South Wales, which my father left. In his case ‘Enlightenment’ ideas and values were superimposed upon a ‘Nonconformist’ culture with strong Calvinist undercurrents. These however are tensions one finds on both sides of the Atlantic.
TTG, Very many thanks. Much appreciated.
Keith Harbaugh, I had not looked back at this thread, so had missed your response. There will, I think, be better occasions to take up the issues you raise, which are very important ones. For now, a few remarks. In the interests of clarity, I should perhaps say that insofar as I am ill at ease with the ‘Hobbits’ of Tolkien’s ‘Shire’, it is because of forefathers who were ‘dwarves’ in the coalfields and smelters of South Wales. My possessing the name of an Old Testament prophet betokens Calvinist origins, not Jewish. But then, radical Protestants have commonly been philo-Semitic. There is a figure called Kevin Macdonald, whose writings on Jews as an ‘hostile élite’ you may well know. (See .) As it happens, I do not much like him. His reference to ‘the Germans, from Wagner to von Treitschke to Chamberlain and Hitler’, disliking the irony of Heine, seems to me to demonstrate an inability to grasp that groups, be they Germans, Jews, Muslims, or whoever, are rarely monolithic wholes. That said, an important part of the background to his writing – as of the piece by Lawrence Auster to which you link, which seems to me far superior to Macdonald’s writing – is that very many of the most influential American Jews seem to be queuing up for starring roles in versions of the ‘hostile élite’ drama. Quite a few of them appear to be doing their level best to persuade people who place any value on the traditional ‘Anglo’ culture of the American Republic that they are something close to an ‘existential threat’ to it. In Britain, also, ‘tribal’ Jews – ‘ghetto Jews’ sometimes seems to me an appropriate term – have claimed the right to speak for some kind of coherent ‘Jewish people.’ So, for example, concluding his May 2015 article ‘We never forget Jerusalem’, our former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, wrote: ‘We have had the privilege to be born in a generation that has seen Jerusalem reunited and rebuilt. We have seen the Jewish people come home. ‘Today God is calling on us all to be Guardians of Zion. Never has this been more important. We must all stand up for the one home our people has ever known and the one city our people has loved more than any other. We are all shagrirey medinat Yisrael (ambassadors for the State of Israel) and we must all make Israel’s case in a world that sometimes fails to see the beauty we know is here. Let us all take on that task. With Hashem’s help, we will succeed and we pray may the world make its peace with Israel so that Israel and Israel’s God can bring peace to the world.’ (See .) As it happens, I think this is an ‘open-and-shut’ case of ‘incitement to anti-Semitism.’ That there are some Jews who have their ‘home’ in this country – and are more than temporary residents – seems to be beyond our former Chief Rabbi’s capacity to imagine. That he cannot see the possible implications of implicitly defining all Jews as ‘resident aliens’ is, I think, indicative of extraordinary stupidity and recklessness. It also completely obscures the fact that, for many Jews here, their history is one of lost homes, and the equally important fact that very many of them had long abandoned the Jewish religion. I mentioned Peter Ganz, for whom ‘home’ had clearly been Mainz: clearly not a Jew, in Rabbi Sachs’s definition. What then can I say about Peter Stern, who likewise made it over here just before the outbreak of war, leaving relatives who died? He also ended up as a professor of German, having been a sergeant in His Majesty’s Armed Forces. Again, the comparison with Maxwell is interesting, in that like him Stern came from Czechoslovakia – he served in No 311 Squadron, the Czech bomber squadron in the RAF, hunting U-boats over the Atlantic. I well remember two fingers clawed around a pipe, a relic of one of the ultimate lucky escapes, when the Wellington bomber in which he served as ‘tail gun Charlie’ was shot down by Ju-88s, and the survivors were picked up, by pure fluke, after fourteen hours in the water. While Peter Ganz was an agnostic brought up as a Lutheran, Peter Stern was brought up a Catholic, and remained a kind of ‘Jewish Christian’ to the end of his life. Like so refugees from ‘assimilationist’ families, both completely failed to maintain the concern for group survival which Macdonald appears to think a Jewish characteristic, marrying out. And then, what can I say of a lifelong friend of my mother’s from schooldays, the daughter of a secular Jewish lawyer, who herself ended up as a pillar of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Kensington? I vividly remember their house, with the walls covered in prints of the St. Petersburg which the father had left in the Civil War, leaving his coat on the door, before finally making it over here through Crimea. My ‘few remarks’ have got longer than I intended. What is important is that the kind of ‘tribalism’ which Macdonald sees as a general Jewish characteristic is found among some Jews, but not others. An obvious fact is that ‘assimilationist’ Jews tend over time to disappear. However, a situation where the ‘tribal’ Jews who do not want to ‘assimilate’ attempt to shape the fate of non-Jewish polities is, quite patently, fraught with potential for disaster. That however, does not provide good reason for accepting the simplicities either of Sacks or Macdonald – who agree on a ‘totalitarian’ vision of all true Jews as essentially the same, but simply differ on whether the largely mythical identity in which they believe should be given a ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ sign.
vig, There is no reason why it should be ‘either/or’. If people discovered there had been a leak, it would perfectly natural that in order to give ‘resilience’ to their cover-up strategies, they could have organised a planting of evidence on the servers, in conjunction with elements in Ukraine. So far at least I cannot rule out the possibility that that this could have involved an actual ‘false flag’ hack. A possible calculation would have been that this could have made it easier for Alperovitch and ‘CrowdStrike’, if more people had asked serious questions about the evidence they claimed supported the ‘narrative’ of GRU responsibility. The issues involved become all the more important, in the light of the progress of Ty Clevenger’s attempts to exploit the clear contradiction between the claims by the FBI, in response to FOIA requests, to have no evidence relating to Seth Rich, and the remarks by Ms. Deborah Sines quoted by Michael Isikoff. What she suggested was that the FBI had found evidence, after his death, of a hack of Rich’s laptop, designed as part of a ‘false flag’ operation. On this, see his 8 October, ‘Motion for Discovery and Motion to Accept Supplemental Evidence’ in Clevenger’s own case against the DOJ, document 44 on the relevant ‘Courtlistener’ pages, and his ‘Unopposed Motion for Stay’, document 48. Both are short, and available without a ‘PACER’ subscription, and should be compulsory reading for anyone seriously interested in ascertaining the truth about ‘Russiagate.’ (See .) It is eminently possible that Ms. Hines has simply made an ‘unforced error.’ However, I do not – yet – feel able totally to discount the possibility that what is actually at issue is a ‘ruse’, produced as a contingency plan to ensure that if it becomes impossible to maintain the cover-up over Rich’s involvement in its original form, his laptop shows ‘evidence’ compatible with the ‘Russiagate’ narrative. And here, is is also material that he may have had more than one laptop, that ‘hard drives’ can be changed, and that the level of computer skills that can be found throughout the former Soviet Union is very high. Another matter of some importance is that Ed Butowsky’s ‘Debunking Rod Wheeler’s Claims’ site is back up online. (See ) Looking at it from the perspective of an old television current affairs hack, I do think that, while it is very helpful to have some key material available in a single place, it would useful if more attention was paid to presentation. In particular, it would be a most helpful ‘teaching aid’, if a full and accurate transcript was made of the conversation with Seymour Hersh which Ed Butowsky covertly recorded. What seems clear is that both these figures ended up in very difficult positions, and that the latter clearly engaged in ‘sleight of hand’ in relation to his dealings with the former. That said, the fact that Butowsky’s claims about his grounds for believing that Hersh’s FBI informant was Andrew McCabe are clearly disingenuous does not justify the conclusion that he is wrong. It is absolutely clear to me – despite what ‘TTG’, following that ‘Grub Street’ hack Folkenflik, claimed – that when Hersh talked to Butowsky, he believed he had been given accurate information. Indeed, I have difficulty seeing how anyone whose eyes were not hopelessly blinded by prejudice, a\nd possibly fear of where a quest for the truth might lead, could not see that, in this conversation, both men were telling the truth, as they saw it. However, all of us, including the finest and most honourable of journalists can, from time to time, fall for disinformation. (If anyone says they can always spot when they are being played, all I can say is, if you’re right, you’re clearly Superman, but it is more likely that you are a fool or knave, if not both.) The question of whether the ‘timeline’ produced by Hersh’s FBI informant was accurate, or a deliberate attempt to disguise the fact that all kinds of people were well aware of Rich’s involvement before his murder, and well aware of the fact of a leak before he was identified as its source, is absolutely central to how one interprets ‘Russiagate.’
fredw, What you are articulating is precisely the delusion that has caused the United States and its allies to push Russia into the arms of China. Consider how the situation looks, if you are a Chinese strategist, trying to work out the implications of the fact that the very success of your country’s economic strategy has massively increased its dependence on sources of raw materials and markets, which are potentially vulnerable to interdiction by American naval power. Looking at Russia’s weakness, do you then say – this is a wonderful opportunity to take back the territories lost to that country when we were weak? Or do you say: What we need is what might be termed a ‘Mackinderite consolidation’, providing us with access to raw materials and markets which cannot be interdicted by American naval power? If you draw that conclusion, then rather obviously you are going to want to exploit Russia’s weakness to build a lasting ‘entente.’ Meanwhile, a prudent Chinese strategist could also be expected to look for means of combatting American naval power. As it happens, working out how to sink American carrier battle groups, and neutralise the threat from American submarines, was something to which the Soviet Navy devoted a vast amount of effort throughout the Cold War. Since the ‘honeymoon’ with the West broke down, it has again been a central focus. Getting access to relevant technologies – and perhaps also learning from Russian strategic arguments – might perhaps be considered a sensible thing to do by Chinese naval planners. In addition, for both countries, there are obvious advantages in a situation where a substantial proportion of U.S. naval assets is directed at the other, and therefore not at them. Awareness of this does not mean that the Russians are unconcerned about the possibilities of become an appendage of the economically far more successful Chinese, far from it. However, precisely this fact gives them every incentive to dilute Chinese preponderance by incorporating as many countries as possible in the ‘Mackinderite consolidation.’ When this project started – after the late Yevgeny Primakov became Foreign Minister in January 1996 – the accent was on developing a tripartite relationship with China and India. As or more important now appear to be the hope that the leading continental European powers – in particular France and Germany – will, as it were, come to their senses and realise that, they too, have no interest in becoming involved in a conflict with China, but can best carve out a ‘niche’ for themselves by ‘balancing it’ in collaboration with Russia. The argument, obviously, will be that it is not in the interest of the Germans or the French to have their policies hostage to a combination of ‘Russophobia’ which a long history among ‘Anglos’, and the ‘revanchism’ of the ‘insulted and injured’ of Eastern Europe, above all the Balts and the Poles. There is nothing particularly concealed about Russian thinking on these matters. A useful recent report from the annual Valdai Group meeting by Anatol Lieven was posted on the Russia Matters’, run out of Harvard University, under the title ‘Valdai 2019 Shows Russia’s Disappointment with West Amid Hopes for New Kind of Link With Europe.’ (See .) For a very helpful discussion by a leading Russian ‘policy intellectual’ directly concerned with these matters, see a September 2018 article entitled ‘China and Russia: new BFFs thanks to an insecure US’ by Alexander Lukin, who among other positions is Director, Center for East Asian and SCO Studies, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (See .) For a rather vivid musical representation of the change, one can perhaps usefully look at a performance of the classic Russian song of wartime commemoration, ‘Zhuravli’, by the late Joseph Kobzon, at the concert at the 70th anniversary ‘Victory Day’ celebrations, boycotted by the West because of Ukraine. The performance is staged, rather spectacularly, in front of a mock-up of the path leading up to the statue ‘The Motherland Calls’ at Stalingrad. (See .) There are no prizes for guessing who the young soldiers are being told they may have to fight, if the worst comes to the worst. Equally revealing, however, is the cutaway in the middle, to Putin and Xi Jinping sitting side by side.
catherine, The cover-up over Levinson’s activities did not end with the AP revelation that he had been on a covert mission on behalf of Anne Jablonski et al. I summarised some relevant evidence in a post here in February last year, headlined ‘Habakkuk on “longtime” sources: Steele, Shvets, Levinson, Litvinenko and the “Billion Dollar Don”’, and the exchanges of comments that followed. (See .) In that post, I referred to material which had emerged in the 2016 study ‘Missing Man’ by the ‘New York Times’ journalist Barry Meier. Unfortunately, at that time I was still relying on reviews of the study – the actual text was still winging its way across the Atlantic. The book turned out, very clearly, to be part of the cover-up. For example, the first mention of any interest on the part of Levinson in Mogilevich, and Firtash, comes in an account of how, as he ‘needed to find new private clients’, in the summer of 2006 he got a ‘juicy contract’ from the Soros backed group ‘Global Witness’, to investigate the gas trade to and through Ukraine. When I last put ‘Mogilevich Levinson’ into Google, the fourth item was an ‘Observer’ preview of the December 1999 BBC ‘Panorama’ entitled ‘The Billion Dollar Don’, presented by Tom Mangold. According to the – easily accessible – transcript, Levinson, who plays a central role, and who had left the FBI the previous year, ‘remains the determined Nemesis of Mogilevich, the man he’s hunted for ten years.’ So, according to Mangold, Levinson had begun investigating that figure in 1989, and he would have seemed to have been a major preoccupation during the intervening time, through the ‘Nineties, not only for a single agent but for the Agency. Curiously, while Meier did not seem to think this part of his subject’s career worth mentioning, I recently came across a site which takes a different view. At the outset of a series by a group calling themselves ‘Citjourno’, we find it explained that ‘It is there for all to see. Here it is. There is a man who controls out President. And his name is not Vladimir Putin.’ (See .) The series goes on to explain that it is really Semyon Mogilevich who controls Trump, and that Levinson and Alexander Litvinenko were engaged in a heroic struggle against him. A crucial paragraph, in the third page, reads: ‘For the purpose of this story – the story of the hunters who came before, we’d like to highlight one detail of Semion’s decades-long empire: SEMION TRADES IN NUCLEAR MATERIAL AND ARMS WITH IRAN (you can easily research this yourself, or find it in several sources of our bibliography under Semion himself).’ As it happens, I have seen no reliable evidence at all about Mogilevich’s supposed trafficking in nuclear material, but a great deal of ‘information operations’ material put out by figures linked to Berezovsky, like Litvinenko and Yuri Shvets, about whose links to Levinson there is interesting, but patently evasive, material in the Meier study. Some of this is discussed in the February 2018 post. So, ironically, although patent nonsense, and probably ‘information operations’ material, the ‘Cityjourno’ pages point to a crucial ‘backstory’ behind ‘Russiagate’, in relation to which Meier, like others, is providing only the most limited of ‘hangouts.’ It is of how very significant elements of the British and American intelligence, foreign affairs and law enforcement bureaucracies made a ‘devil’s pact’ with figures like Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky, and their hangers on, like Litvinenko and Shvets. Much of this is discussed in the February 2018 post. What the ‘Citijourno’ pages put into sharp relief is that one of the things which the Berezovsky ‘information operations’ people were feeding to figures who were both Russophobic and Zionist, like Levinson (and Vindman) was a version of the ‘return of Karla’ interpretation of the Putin ‘sistema.’ According to this, Putin and his ‘siloviki’ associates were using organised crime to equip ‘rogue states’ and jihadists with advanced modern weaponry and in particular WMD. It is likely that the behind the scenes struggles within the U.S. intelligence apparatus, with the people in the Illicit Finance Group fighting a rearguard action against the conclusion reached by others in the CIA that the Iranians had not been actively pursuing nuclear weapons since the threat from Saddam disappeared, weres a key part of the background to Levinson’s disappearance. Despite Meier’s book being a very ‘limited hangout’, it does contain a number of useful pointers. Among them is the close involvement of Jonathan Winer in the ‘Illicit Finance Group’. Not only was he also linked to Khodorkovsky, but it turns out that Levinson was linked to that figure, through Robert Amsterdam, as well as the Berezovsky group, through Yuri Shvets. It then becomes of rather great interest to look at how reports from Christopher Steele – who must have had a large hand in a 16 December 2006 BBC Radio programme which Meier uncritically endorses, in which a pack of lies by Shvets and Levinson about the background to Litvinenko’s death were uncritically recycled by Mangold – were disseminated by Winer and Nuland. At that point, questions about what Levinson knows about activities in which Hillary was involved become interesting. It would surprise me greatly, however, if he wanted to talk about them. But then, one never knows. If, as has been suggested, she sabotaged a viable deal which could have led to his release, he might be feeling talkative. At the risk of pursuing a train of thought too far into speculation, however, a possible conclusion might be that in some circumstances Levinson might be safer staying in Iran.
J, The Iranians have denied the AP report. What I suspect they may be trying to suggest, in a roundabout way, is that the deal which Deripaska was negotiating is still on the table. (See .) I have long had a sneaking suspicion that, while Levinson is likely to be sitting in an Iranian jail somewhere, he is kept in perfectly tolerable conditions – with proper treatment for his diabetes – and the melodramatic photographs and statements were actually staged. If in fact there would be any chance that, if released, he would be more of an embarrassment to Hillary than to the Iranians (and Russians), this would reinforce these suspicions. It might also mean that those holding him would be at rather considerable pains, if they were going to release him, to ensure that he was delivered, safe and sound, to people who could be relied upon to ensure that he had a reasonable prospect of staying that way. What is that you think he might say, were he to be returned, which would give Hillary, and others, cause for concern?
IZ, The caravan has moved on, but in the light of the importance of the issue you raise, it seems worth hazarding some comments. Unfortunately, it takes me into areas where I do not feel in command of the evidence. Obviously, one cannot be sure that the recent claims by Ari Ben-Menashe are accurate. However, my impression is that most of what he wrote back in 1992 about Iran-Contra, and also about Maxwell’s involvement with Israeli intelligence, has stood up quite well. His recent suggestion that rather than the relationship between Ghislaine Maxwell and Epstein beginning after her father’s death in 1991, it started in the early ‘Eighties, and the daughter falling for the American led the father to bring the boyfriend into his activities with Israeli intelligence, seems to me to make better sense of the history. Be that as it may, I cannot see any other credible interpretation than that this is an Israeli intelligence operation, aimed at gathering ‘kompromat’ on people who could be influential. A $60,000 question, of course, was whether it was actually used for purposes of blackmail. But then, merely the possibility, and the fact of being involved in circles of complicity, could make the targets more prone to serve what those doing the targeting saw as the interests of Israel. I think one has to take into account the way that Zionism became, not for all its adherents but for a significant number of important ones, a kind of ‘corrupt holy crusade.’ Also, for very many Zionists – as with many Poles, Balts, and in particular Galician nationalists – the opportunity to secure ‘krysha’ from the United States, to use another Russian term, has been intoxicating. A not particularly surprising result is that end results are not necessarily in the long-term interests of these people, let alone anyone else. The antics of Lieutenant-Colonel Vindman are simply a rather extreme example of a wider problem. For a whole range of reasons, it has long been my view that, irrespective of what courses of action it followed, the long-term prospects for a settler Jewish state in the contemporary Middle East were going to be questionable. And while all courses of action seemed problematic, I have certainly never thought that their ‘least worst option’ involved pursuing the kind of goals set out in the Oded Yinon plan. Among the many pernicious effects of the approaches followed, has been that in order to neutralise criticism of the uses to which Israel and its fellow-travellers put the ‘krysha’ of the United States, the – very natural – post-1945 taboo on anti-Semitism has been exploited. To do this, however, it is necessary to disseminate what is actually a myth: that Jews have, from time immemorial, constituted some kind of coherent ‘people’, pining for a return to their ‘ancestral home’ in Palestine. Only by doing this can you hope to make the charge ‘anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism’ stick. As it happens, the case of Robert Maxwell – born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch – illustrates some of the problems. He was certainly an inventive businessman. Back in the early ‘Sixties, the bookshop he opened in Oxford had sofas and served coffee – and as my school was over the road, and its facilities were primitive, we used to go there quite often. But in a city where – both in the university and elsewhere – there were a lot of Jewish refugees from the disasters of European history and their children, it was very evident that Hitler had the effect of bringing together people who had nothing in common. The Pioneer Corps – digging not fighting – was the only place where young German Jewish refugees were allowed to serve, at the start of the war, because of the fear spies had been infiltrated. Apparently, although Maxwell was from Czechoslovalia, having got into problems with the Czech army he served there, before transferring into proper Army and winning the Military Cross. As it happens, we grew up thinking that Peter Ganz, a father of schoolfriend of mine, who was a scholar of medieval German literature, spent the whole war in the Pioneer Corps, and I only learnt after his death that he had transferred into highly sensitive intelligence operations. I see him referred to in a recent review in the ‘Times of Israel’ headlined ‘How Britain’s German-born Jewish “secret listeners” helped win World War II; A new book by historian Helen Fry details the daring operation in which the UK eavesdropped on Nazi prisoners, gleaning precious intel – and early graphic accounts of Holocaust.’ (See .) Noting how some of what those involved in the Trent Park surveillance operation heard was ‘utterly harrowing’, especially for Jews with families still trapped in Europe, the review continues ‘Some, such as Peter Ganz, would indeed discover after the war that members of their family had perished in the Holocaust.’ Unfortunately, this is a rather glaring instance of how the Zionist ‘narrative’ has become detached from reality. So, as I also only learnt after Peter Ganz’s death, the grandfather who died in Auschwitz had converted to Lutheranism, while his father had distinguished himself in the Imperial German Army in 1914-18. A radio play which my schoolfriend’s younger brother wrote about the ‘secret listeners’ has a character clearly based on their father describing to his – English – girlfriend arriving at the Buchenwald concentration camp after Kristallnacht. He was saying that the ludicrousness of the whole situation was that the Jews who had been sent there had nothing in common, and trying to explain the meaning of the German work ‘Heimat’: by which he meant Mainz, not Jerusalem. It seems to me unfortunate that Helen Fry is trying to use a fascinating history to do with German Jewish refugees for purposes of ‘Holocaust Education’, without realising that she is, unwittingly, reinforcing traditional, and false, anti-Semitic sterotypes: that the prime loyalty of Jews has to be to other Jews. I see that Ben-Menashe was born in Tehran, but is referred to as an Iraqi Jew. My suspicion is that his ‘whistleblowing’ may be partly the product of his history having have led to an initial belief that Israel was a refuge, followed by disillusion with the kind of East European Jews running the place – and quite possibly the belief that their approaches to the Middle East were ultimately futile. Ironically, the one other thing which Peter Ganz had in common with Maxwell – who was apparently born into a Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish family – was that they both ‘married out.’ So, technically, Ghislaine Maxwell is not actually Jewish. In a style completely different to most of the other Jews I have known, Maxwell used to like to throw about his money. A decade after I used to frequent his bookshop, when my own father was heavily involved in the administration of Oxford University, he would receive invitations to functions at Headington Hill Hall, where the family lived, which he always declined. His own background was in South Wales, and, as he said himself, he retained something of a smell of chapel whitewash about him. But a somewhat hysterical Calvinism – a tendency, as it were, to assume that the first drink you take may take you on a slippery slope down to the poorhouse – sometimes has its uses. A lesson I took from him is that there are people who are experts in, as it were, getting people to travel along ‘primrose paths’ – more commonly to do with sex or money than with drink or drugs. Often, this is done with concrete political ends in view. Sometimes, however, there is also element of pleasure in seduction – which can involve persuading oneself and others that people with pretensions and high-minded principles are really no better than oneself – and perhaps an element of revenge. After my father had retired, he still remained very much in contact with and involved with, university affairs. I remember talking to him about the negotiations which led to the creation of what is now called the Said Business School. It was a difficult time, because the University was trying to remain internationally competitive, in a context where funding was not easy to find. But, unlike others, my father had no delusions that the Saudis – acting through Wafic Said – were giving things out of the kindness of their hearts. If you want to see an example of quite how stupid the contemporary British can be, have a look at an interview with Said by Charles Moore in the ‘Spectator’ from January 2012. (See .) While I hope that experience has taught me to be less hysterically ‘Protestant’ than my father, a lesson I have seen no need to unlearn is that there are certain people to whom, unless you really fancy your skills at manipulation, you should give a wide berth, or at least handle with great care. Examples, as well as Maxwell, Epstein, and Said, include Ahmed Chalabi and Boris Berezovsky. If you have not the sense to see this, not only are you liable to get taken to the cleaners, but you may well find that you have no alternative but to become involved in criminality – or, to cover-up for the criminality of others. This, I think, has happened time and again in recent years.
Petrel, I have been curious about precisely where both Srzok and Pientka came from, but have not had time to do any serious searches. What is the actual evidence that they have Galician origins? And, if they do, what are these? I would of course automatically tend to assume that Polish names mean that their origins are Polish. But then, if this is so, why are they enthusiastically collaborating with ‘Banderista’ Ukrainians? It has long been a belief of mine that one of Stalin’s great mistakes was to attempt to incorporate Galicia into the empire he was creating. Had he returned it to Poland, the architects of the Volhynia massacres of Poles – as also of the massacres of Jews in Lviv/Lvov/Lemberg – could have gone back to their old habits of assassinating Polish policemen.
Andrei and EO, I wrote what follows before reading Andrei’s response to EO, but do not see much reason to change what I had written. When in 1988 I ended up working at BBC Radio ‘Analysis’ programme because it was impossible to interest any of my old television colleagues in the idea that one might go to Moscow and talk to some of the people involved in the Gorbachev ‘new thinking’, my editor, Caroline Anstey, was an erstwhile aide to Jim Callaghan, the former Labour Prime Minister. As a result of his involvement with the Trilateral Commission, she had a fascinating anecdote about what one of his fellow members, the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, said about another, Zbigniew Brzezinski: that he could never work out which of his country’s two traditional enemies his Polish colleague hated most. Almost a generation after hearing her say this, in December 2013, I read an article Brzezinski published in the ‘Financial Times, headlined ‘Russia, like Ukraine, will become a real democracy.’ (See .) Unfortunately, it is behind a subscription wall, but it clearly expresses its author’s fundamental belief that after all those years of giving Russia the ‘spinach’ treatment – to use Victoria Nuland’s term – it would finally ‘knuckle under’, and become a quiescent satellite of the West. An ironic sidelight on this is provided in a recent article by a lady called Anna Mahjar-Barducci on the ‘MEMRI’ site – which actually has some very useful material on matters to do with Russia for those of us with no knowledge of the language – headlined ‘Contemporary Russian Thinkers Series – Part I – Renowned Russian Academic Sergey Karaganov On Russia And Democracy.’ Its subject, who I remember well from the days when he was very much one of the ‘new thinkers’, linked to it on his own website, clearly pleased at what he saw as an accurate and informed discussion of his ideas. (See ) There is an obvious risk of succumbing to facetiousness, but sometimes what one thinks are essential features of an argument can be best brought out at the risk of caricaturing it. It seems to me that some of the central themes of Karaganov’s writing over the past few years – doubly interesting, because his attacks on conventional Western orthodoxies are very far from silly, and because he is a kind of ‘panjandrum’ of a significant section of the Russian foreign policy élite – may be illuminated in this way. So, attempting to link his Russian concerns to British and American ones, some central contentions of his writings might be put as follows: ‘“Government of the people, by the people, for the people’ looked a lovely idea, back in 1989. But if in practice “by the people” means a choice of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn, how can it be “for the people?” ‘Moreover, it turned out that our “deplorables” were always right, against us ‘intellectuals’, in grasping that, with “Russophobes” running Western policy, a “real democracy” would simply guarantee that we remained as impotent and humiliated as people like Brzezinski clearly always wanted us to be. ‘Our past, and our future, both in terms of alliances and appropriate social and political systems, are actually “Eurasian”: a ‘hybrid’ state, whose potential greatest advantage actually should be seen as successfully synthesising different inheritances. ‘As the need for this kind of synthesis is a normal condition, with which most peoples have to reckon, this gives us a very real potential advantage over people in the West, who, like the communists against whom I rebelled, believe that there is one path along which all of humanity must – and can – go.’ At the risk of over-interpreting, I might add the following conclusion: ‘Of course, precisely what this analysis does not mean is that we are anti-European – simply that we cannot simply come to Europe, Europe come some way to meet us. ‘Given time, Helmut Schmidt’s fellow countrymen, as also de Gaulle’s, may very well realise that their future does not lie in an alliance with a coalition of people like Brzezinski and traditional “Russophobes” from the “Anglosphere”. ‘And likewise, it does not lie with the kind of messianic universalist “liberalism” – and, in relation to some of the SJC and LGBT obsessions, one might say “liberalism gone bonkers” – which Putin criticised in his interview with the “Financial Times” back in June. (This is also behind a subscription wall, but is available at . It is well worth reading in full.) An obvious possibility implicit in the argument is that, if indeed the continental Europeans see sense, then the coalition of traditional ‘Anglophobes’ and the ‘insulted and injured’ or the ‘borderlands’ may find itself marginalised, and indeed, on the ‘dustbin of history’ to which Trotsky once referred. Of course, I have no claims to be a Russianist, and my reading of Karaganov may be quite wrong. But I do strongly believe that very superficial readings of what was happening when I was working in the ‘Analysis’ office, back in 1988-9, have done an immense disservice alike to Britain and the United States.
Larry, The ‘honey badger’ was a species unknown to me, but having looked that animal up, it seems an apt comparison. Indeed, at the risk of being frivolous, I am tempted to quote the Kipling refrain about the ‘female of the species’ being ‘deadlier than the male.’ It seems to me quite likely that people at the FBI, and elsewhere, are still finding it difficult to grasp what has hit them. Something which interests me greatly is the possible knock-on effects of Ms. Powell’s breakthroughs in exposing the conspiracy to frame Michael Flynn on other cases, notably those in which Ty Clevenger and Steven S. Biss are involved. The pair are representing Ed Butowsky and Devin Nunes, and also, crucially, Svetlana Lokhova, in her case against the ‘ratfucker’ – the term used in the ‘Complaint’ – Stefan Halper and some of the MSM organisations who have collaborated in his ‘dirty tricks.’ In all of these cases, material freely available on the ‘Courtlistener’ site is a mine of fascinating information. Of particular interest at the moment, I think, are the efforts of Clevenger to ‘prise open’ the cover-up over the role over Seth Rich in leaking the materials from the DNC which the conspirators falsely alleged were hacked by the Russians, and that about the circumstances of his murder. These efforts have been aided by a remarkable ‘hostage to fortune’ given by Deborah Sines, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. who was assigned to the Rich case. On 8 October, Clevenger produced motions to ‘accept supplemental evidence’ and ‘permit discovery’ in the case he has himself brought against the DOJ, FBI and NSA. (His filing is freely available at .) The ‘supplemental evidence’ in question appeared back in July in Episode 5 of the podcast ‘Conspiracyland’ which Michael Isikoff produced for ‘Yahoo! News’. In this, Ms. Sines recycled the familiar disinformation from Andrew McCabe to the effect that it had been established that there was no connection between Rich and Wikileaks. She then suggested that the FBI had indeed examined his computer, but solely because someone had been trying to ‘invade his Gmail account and set up a separate account after Seth was murdered.’ The supposed purpose of this activity, by a ‘foreign hacker’, was ‘so they could dump false information in there.’ As Clevenger pointed out, this claim is rather hard to reconcile with the FBI’s insistence that it has no records pertaining to Rich, and makes the Bureau’s refusal to search its Computer Analysis Response Team (“CART”) for relevant records, and the Washington Field Office for email records, look even more suspicious than it already did. From the ‘Courtlistener’ pages it also appeared that, following a telephone conference, Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom ruled that the statement by Ms. Sines did not rise to the ‘level of bad faith’ required to justify the ‘discovery’ that Clevenger sought, on the basis of it. Also freely available on ‘Courtlistener’, however, is an ‘Unopposed motion for stay’ which Clevenger filed on 30 November. From this, we learn that Judge Bloom had ‘noted that Ms. Sines’ statements were not made under oath, further suggesting that the Plaintiff might try to obtain a sworn statement from Ms. Sines.’ In response, Clevenger made clear that he intended to subpoena that lady for a deposition, in the relation to the defamation cases brought against Michael Gottlieb et al, and also David Folkenflik et al, where he is representing Ed Butowsky. Accordingly, he asked the Court to stay his own case ‘until the deposition of Ms. Sines can be arranged and the transcripts can be produced.’ Apparently, there was no objection from the DOJ, FBI, and NSA. In addition, Clevenger asked the court to take ‘judicial notice’ of the fact that, in her reply dated 24 October to the lawyers for the USG, ‘attorney Sidney Powell laid out damning evidence that high-ranking FBI officials systematically tampered with records and hid exculpatory evidence for the purpose of framing the defendant, retired General Mike Flynn.’ So it looks as though what the ‘honey badger’ has been digging out in relation to Flynn may help in the burrowing efforts of others in related matters – who may be in a position to return the favour. Increasingly, it seems not entirely unthinkable that the cumulative effect of of the cases in which Powell, Clevenger and Biss are involved may blow open the whole conspiracy against the Constitution, irrespective of whether or not Horowitz, Barr and Durham are prepared to go substantially beyond a ‘limited hangout.’ Another important, and neglected, aspect here relates to the cases still ongoing against Steele and Orbis in London – that brought by Aleksej Gubarev, and that by the Alfa oligarchs. It is material that libel laws on this side are noticeably less favourable to defendants than on yours – not least in that the ‘fair report privilege’ retains its original narrower construction here. Unfortunately, we do not have here any equivalent to ‘PACER’ and ‘Courtlistener.’ The last I heard about the Gubarev case was in the spring, when his American lawyers suggested that it should come to court before Xmas. It would not at all surprise me if it was postponed. Ironically, however, I now think that it may be quite likely that his British lawyers see delay as being in Gubarev’s interests. A critical point is that Steele is making no attempt to defend the accuracy of the claims about the involvement of Gubarev and his companies in hacking in the final memorandum in the dossier. It seems quite likely that what is coming to light as the result of the lawsuits on your side may make it materially more difficult to mount any credible case that these were not very seriously defamatory. There have been repeated attempts to locate the dossier attributed to Steele in another version of a familiar ‘Russophobic’ narrative, suggesting that he was deliberately fed disinformation by his Russian contacts as part of an ‘active measures’ campaign. In my view, these are largely BS. However, a possible partial exception has to do with the claims about Gubarev, which follow on from the those made in Company Report 2016/086, which is dated 26 July 2015. My suspicion has long been that the sloppy misdating – 2016 is clearly meant – reflected the fact that the document was part of a panic-stricken response to the murder of Rich, which had taken place on 10 July. What I may well have happened is that FBI cybersecurity people, who had been cultivating sources among their FSB counterparts, put out an urgent request, which generated material that went into the dossier. If that was the case however, it would have been likely that some of their informants were playing a ‘double game.’ And my suspicion is that, when a further request was put in, following Trump’s election victory, those making it were fed a ‘baited hook’ about Gubarev, very likely cast in the hope of producing something like the outcome that materialised. I noted with interest that both Devin Nunes and Lee Smith are now expressing scepticism about the notion that Steele’s role was in actually authoring the dossier, rather than taking ownership of a compendium essentially produced within Fusion GPS. Another ground for believing this was put into sharp focus with the publication by ‘Judicial Watch’ in September of – heavily redacted – versions of reports from Steele circulated in the State Department prior to the dossier. (See ) These clarify a matter which has long puzzled me about the memoranda. Normally, one would expect the product of a serious business intelligence company to be properly presented, on headed stationery, without elementary errors. And one would not expect a numbering which suggests that the documents made public are part of a much larger series. A document dated 13 June 2014, headline ‘RUSSIA-UKRAINE CRISIS: Kremlin Emboldened to Challenge USG Sanctions and Anti-Russian Leverage On Financial Markets’, which is labelled ‘Report ID: 2014/130a’, suggests that we are actually dealing with a format used in an information service sent out to a large number of clients. Precisely what this would not contain was material attributed to highly sensitive sources. So the clumsy imitation of this formatting in the dossier gives further reason to believe that it was produced by people other than Steele, who were trying to attribute authorship to him. A further implication is that Steele may have ended up left facing libel charges in relation to claims for which he was not actually responsible. In addition to those about Gubarev, the use of the transliteration ‘Alpha’ instead of ‘Alfa’ for the Fridman/Aven/Khan group makes me think that the author of the relevant memorandum was not a native English speaker, but someone used to thinking in Russian and/or Ukrainian. If so, the memorandum may be part of ‘Ukrainegate’, which, unlike ‘Russiagate’, looks like being a real story. And here, of course, the question of what became of Seth Rich’s laptop, and what information the FBI is concealing about it, is again critical. It would not in the least surprise me if the kind of traces described by Ms. Sines are actually really present on some hard drive. If however they are, a quite likely explanation is that Alperovitch and his Ukrainian ‘partners-in-crime’ organised a hack, after the leak was discovered, as part of the more general attempt to obfuscate the truth.
Babak Makkinejad, Many thanks for that reference. I see that the author, Michael A. Reynolds, links to a paper he produced in April last year, entitled ‘Outfoxed by the Bear? America’s Losing Game Against Russia in the Near East.’ (See .) The title is somewhat misleading, in that the paper actually deals with the whole history of conflict between West and Russia over the ‘southern rim’ of that country since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rather radical misreadings common in Washington – as also London. A paragraph from the opening I enjoyed: ‘For over three centuries, Westerners have likened Russia to a bear. The comparison is not generally flattering. Although bears are large and powerful, the metaphor is commonly deployed to suggest a lumbering and clumsy creature. Hunters and woodsmen who risk encountering bears, however, are rarely inclined to indulge in such smugness. They know bears are clever, agile, and fast.’ The author is apparently associate professor of Near Eastern Studies and Director of the Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies in Princeton University. A comparison with the – borderline illiterate – demonstrations of ignorance and bigotry produced by figures like Lieutenant-Colonel Vindman is sobering. In the United States, as in Britain, there is still real ‘area studies’ expertise. It has simply been marginalised from policy-making, in both countries, in favour of a kind of neo-Brezhnevite simplistic ideological dogmatism.
EO, You raise some fundamental questions, not least in relation to what our country should do. The caravan is now moving on, as it were, but I will attempt to say something about your final one. It is often difficult, with Trump, to know whether statements which are taken to be ludicrous reflect confusion or concealed calculation. One case in point was the reference to the ‘server’ in the conversation with Zelensky. If one assumes that the reference is to the DNC server, it appears absurd. An alternative possibility, that the actual suggestion is that ‘CrowdStrike’ collaborated with Ukrainians in producing a ‘false flag’ that left what appeared to be Russian traces on the DNC servers, does not seem to me absurd at all. And then we have Trump’s suggestion to Hannity, on Monday, in relation to the dossier supposedly compiled by Steele, that ‘he had been hearing about Ukraine, that ‘I heard Clinton was involved,’ and that ‘I heard they got somebody who wrote the fake dossier was out of Ukraine.’ (See .) It has long been my view that Steele’s primary role in that document was in giving a veneer of intelligence legitimacy to a ‘camel produced by a committee’, put together by his long-term collaborators inside Fusion GPS – and also making it possible to disguise where the material, insofar as the gang had not simply invented it themselves, originated. I have from the start been puzzled by the use of the transliteration ‘Alpha’ for the Fridman/Aven/Khan group. It could be expected that someone whose native language was English, like Steele, the Ohrs, and Simpson, would use the company’s own transliteration, ‘Alfa’. If the memo was drafted by someone whose native language was Ukrainian, and/or Russian, it would make better sense. Also, if you look at the ‘Manafort Chronology’ which Nellie Ohr produced within Fusion, and which her husband emailed to himself on 5 December 2016, you will see that it draws, repeatedly, on the ‘Third Complaint’ in Yuliya Tymoshenko’s lawsuit against Dymtro Firtash and others. By the time that document was submitted, in November 2014, those included Mogilevich, Yanukovych and Manafort. The document is freely available on the ‘Courtlistener’ site, as is its dismissal – ‘with prejudice’ – by Judge Kimba M. Wood in September 2015. (See ) Certainly, this dismissal does not mean that the factual claims made by the Tymoshenko camp on which Nellie Ohr relied can simply be assumed to be false. By the same token, however, there are no grounds for simply discounting the account of Tymoshenko’s allegedly criminal involvement in gas trading in the ‘Counterclaim’ filed by Firtash on 11 July 2011, which can be accessed at Docs/11-07-16 Universal Trading v Tymoshenko Counterclaim.pdf . When ‘pots’ are busily accusing ‘kettles’, a prudent person should be cautious about taking sides, as not only the Ohrs but very many people in Washington and London have done. In fact, the conventional wisdom according to which Yanukovych, Firtash and Manafort were instruments of a dastardly plot by Putin to keep Ukraine in the grip of his corrupt ‘tenacles’, from which Tymoshenko, Yushchenko, Poroshenko et al have been striving to free it, has always been BS. Rather obviously, the disasters to which the attempt to split Ukraine totally from Russia have led have meant that some of the proponents of this course in the former country have had every reason to do everything possible to prevent Trump’s election. By the same token the fact that powerful elements in the United States have so patently sided with Tymoshenko – among other things waging a protracted battle to get Firtash extradited to the U.S., on charges that look somewhat questionable – has provided his camp with strong reasons to use their intelligence capabilities, which I suspect may be formidable, on Trump’s side. Also needing to be added into the ‘mix’ are two recent pieces by Eric Zuesse – one of many figures writing about the post-Soviet space whose material needs to be handled with great caution, but is sometimes very useful. On 28 September, he published a piece on the ‘Vineyard of the Saker’ site headlined ‘Here is the dirt Trump wanted from Zelensky about the Bidens and why Zelensky doesn’t want to give it to him – hidden by rampant falsehoods in the press.’ A follow-up piece on the ‘Strategic Culture Foundation’ site, on 19 October, was headlined ‘Ukrainegate: Is It Waterloo for Trump, or for America’s ‘News’-Media?’ (See ; .) A central claim underlying these pieces is that control of Burisma, the company which is at the heart of all the questions relating to Biden and his son, passed in 2011 from Mykola Zlochevsky, who had been associated with Yanukovych, to the ferociously anti-Russian – and spectacularly corrupt and unpleasant – oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky: to whom Zelensky is linked. What makes this rather hard to ignore is that the research on which Zuesse is drawing was published back in 2014 on the ‘Naked Capitalism’ site by Richard Smith, who is a long-term collaborator of Susan Webber, aka ‘Yves Smith’, who runs it. Both have high and patently deserved reputations for analytical competence and integrity. One does not need to swallow Zuesse’s claims about the implications of this hook, line and sinker to agree that if indeed Hunter Biden was being employed not by Zlochevsky but by Kolomoisky, then the suggestion that his father was seriously concerned with corruption collapses – and a lot else with it. Also interesting here are the recent closed door testimony of William B. Taylor, who was U.S, Ambassador in Ukraine from 2006-9, and is now back there as Chargé d 'Affaires, to the House impeachment inquiry. In a discussion on the ‘National Interest’ site, Hunter DeRensis writes that this figure’s ‘Manichean introductory and concluding remarks suggested that he views Russia as an inveterate enemy of America and Ukraine as a white knight.’ (See .) One then comes back to the fact that the – common and egregious – misrepresentation of Manafort’s role is bound up with a peculiarly ‘Manichean’ understanding of the conflict between Firtash and Tymoshenko. Here, it becomes very interesting to read the cables which Taylor sent back to Washington, following visits by Firtash to the Embassy in December 2008 and March 2009, which have been published by ‘WikiLeaks.’ Some useful context is provided by cables from his predecessor, John Herbst, notably one from 14 April 2006. (See ; ; .) One thing that comes out clearly is that Firtash, like Manafort, had been championing an alternative strategy for wresting the whole of Ukraine away from Russia: based on the argument that Tymoshenko’s opposition to Yanukovych was deepening the East/West divide, and it was crucial to co-opt the ‘Party of the Regions’ into a pro-Western orientation. Also very interesting is the account which Firtash gave to Taylor about the history of his relations with Semyon (misspelled Seymon by both Taylor and Herbst) Mogilevich. This, however, needs to be set in the context of – thoroughly plausible – allegations discussed in the April 2006 cable from Herbst, that two key associates of Tymoshenko, the then chairman of the SBU, Oleksandr Turchynov and his deputy had ordered the destruction of ‘13 volumes of material on Mogilievich, dating back to 1993’ – the day before she was sacked as Prime Minister. In an interview with Betsy Woodruff of the ‘Daily Beast’ back in March, Firtash produced a clearly tongue-in-cheek response on the subject if his relations with Mogilevich. ‘“Half of the Soviet Union knows him, everyone knows him,” Firtash said. “He’s from Ukraine. Everyone knows him, I’m not the only one who knows him.’ (See .) The response to Ms. Woodruff’s question as to whether Putin was manipulating Trump was also entertaining: “Bullshit,” Firtash replied. “It’s just the Mogilevich fairytale, Part 2.” In fact, the whole history of the gas trade to and through Ukraine, and of the role of Mogilevich in it, which underpins the scare stories about that figure, is complex. It is symptomatic of the ‘Manichean’ mentality of Taylor and so many others that, commenting in his March 2009 cable on what Firtash had had to say about the recent gas dispute with Russia, he should write ‘Although no friend of PM Tymoshenko, he echoed her claims that 1) Russia caused the crisis, and that 2) Ukraine had not stolen any Russian gas.’ It is too complex to go into here, but an alternative view has long been that the background to the existence of the intermediary companies, and the involvement of Mogilevich and the ‘Solntsevskaya Bratva’, had to do with the difficulties of making the gas trade work in the chaotic world created by the collapse of the Soviet Union. And part of the problem, it has been cogently argued, is that Ukraine was exploiting its stranglehold on Russian gas exports to Europe to get gas without paying for it. However, so many have committed their reputations, and indeed their self-esteem, to an account of post-Soviet realities which is not simply ‘Manichean’ but frankly ‘fairytale’, that the ‘information operations’ contests in Ukraine are now being carried over into American politics.
Jack, One slip in my previous comment – I left out the 2007, in describing the ‘Losing Russia’ piece by Dimitri Simes as having been in the November/December 2007 issue of ‘Foreign Affairs’. More recently he has, unlike so many Western ‘experts’, taken the trouble actually to talk to relevant people in Russia about how their attitudes to China have changed. A useful account was published in an article in the ‘National Interest’ back in July headlined ‘Is Russia Worried About China’s Military Rise? Strained relations between Moscow and Washington are making Russians more accepting of Chinese military power.’ (See’s-military-rise-70201 .) The short answer is, yes, Russian experts can see plenty of potential problems with China, and might in private be less sanguine than they will be talking to an American. But they do not regard it as anything like the kind of threat they see the United States as being. Accordingly, creating a situation where the Chinese will have a long-term interest in co-operation is their least worst option. It is worth looking further at the intellectual evolution of one of those Simes quotes, Alexander Lukin, whom he describes as ‘A China scholar at the Higher School of Economics.’ Back in January, Strobe Talbott published an article in ‘Politico’ headlined: ‘It’s Already Collusion. We don’t need news reports to tell us that Trump is giving Putin what he wants. Take it from this longtime Russia hand: It’s staring us in the face.’ The following month, in response, Lukin published in the ‘National Interest’ an ‘insider’s account’ of the devastating effect of the ‘spinach strategy’ not just on the attitudes of his countrymen to the United States but on the prospects for liberalism in Russia – a cause with which he was once himself strongly identified, under the title: ‘How the United States Got Russia Wrong.’ (See .) A key paragraph: ‘Many Russians who advocated democratic reforms in the early 1990s and for whom both the Yeltsin kleptocracy and the Communist dictatorship were anathema now have reason to blame Talbott and his like-minded associates for contributing to authoritarianism in Russia. Those policies served to discredit Russia’s pro-Western forces completely because everything was lumped together in the public’s perception – kleptocracy, corruption, Western aid, pro-Western policies, and Russia’s abasement. And it was the policies developed by Talbott and his associates that gave rise to this perception.’ Developing his argument, Lukin suggests that people like Talbott are really ‘neo-Brezhnevites’, unable to understand the realities of other societies and their own because of a bizarre combination of outdated ideological dogma and humbug. And he concludes: ‘From this perspective, Trump’s policies are far more understandable because they are less ideologized and hypocritical. Trump candidly states that his goal is to preserve the U.S. hegemony and economic advantage. He wanted to improve relations with Moscow not because of some mythical collusion, but because he viewed Russia as less of a threat than China and Iran. This position is at least rational. Talbott and his like-minded associates in Washington’s political class, however, prevented Trump for pursuing this plan. I think both Russians and Americans will not be grateful to them for this, just as they will not be grateful to them for the U.S. foreign policy of the 1990s.’ Whether, if Trump’s efforts to make your country pursue a more ‘realist’ policy succeeded, apprehensions about China might again play a much larger role in Russian thinking is an interesting question. As it happens, evidence coming out as a result of ‘Russiagate’ has reinforced my longstanding conviction that the notion that, somehow, if they serve up more helpings of ‘spinach’, they can have the ‘Nineties back again, dies very slowly among American, and British élites. Unless there is a radical change in this situation, the Russians who matter are likely to continue to think ‘appeasement’ of China their least worst option.
All, In the light of this interesting discussion, some comments on an argument made by TTG may be to the point. He suggested that: ‘Russia is a formidable competitor, fully capable and willing to take prudent actions in pursuit of her interests.’ Unfortunately, this suggestion illustrates a problem with much ‘realist’ thought. Arguments about ‘national interests’ are of very limited explanatory value, unless one attempts seriously to explore the ways that such ‘interests’ are interpreted by different players inside the society one is trying to understand. Here, it is I think material to pay heed to the arguments made by the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Dmitri Trenin, published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ on Christmas Day, 2016, under the title ‘Russia's Post-Soviet Journey: From Europe to Eurasia.’ (See .) Having noted that Russian élites are still hoping for an improvement in relations with (continental) Europe, Trenin suggests a radical and irreversible change has taken place in their view of their country’s interests: ‘But such a thawing will not turn back the clock to the 1990s, when, for a brief moment, Russia fancied itself a part of Europe. The greater Europe for which Putin was advocating as late as 2010 will not emerge anytime soon. It has been replaced in the Kremlin's thinking by a greater Eurasia comprising China, India, Japan, Turkey, and – the EU.)’ Actually – as with other rather significant recent contributions easily available in English, by figures like Sergei Karaganov and Vladislav Surkov – Trenin is writing about something yet more fundamental. What all are suggesting is that the ‘Petrine’ period of Russian history may be over. This bears upon current discussions in a number of ways. So Larry referred, in his most recent exposé of the conspiracy, to the smearing of Dimitri Simes. In fact, one of the most fascinating moments in the frankly demented ravings which Glenn Simpson produced in front of the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017 was when the – even more demented – Adam Schiff asked what else, in the way of ‘active measures’, they should be investigating, The response: ‘So I guess the first one that I think that we haven’t covered at all, would be the Center for the National Interest and the people involved in the Center for the National Interest. And among other things – well, importantly Dimitri Simes is known in the Russian expat community as a suspected Russian agent. And I believe he is known to the FBI as a suspected Russian agent.’ As to what the real offence of Simes has been, one has only, I think, to look the article he published in the in the November/December issue of ‘Foreign Affairs’ entitled ‘Losing Russia: The Costs of Renewed Confrontation.’ (See .) What Simes had grasped was that underlying the Gorbachev-era ‘new thinking’ was, as it were, the emergence from the shadows of a very significant portion of the Soviet élite who had, over the years, been coming to the conclusion that communism was not in either the Soviet, or Russian, ‘national interest.’ Our colleague Dr. Patrick Armstrong has described the impact on his thinking of a key indicator of this change, the article which Yevgeny Primakov published in ‘Pravda’ in July 1987, under the title ‘A New Philosophy of Foreign Policy.’ As a result of having paid attention to others of the very small number of Western analysts who did not dismiss the ‘new thinking’ as ‘active measures’, I and a colleague ended up interviewing some of the leading figures involved in Moscow for BBC Radio in February 1989. Talking to people first-hand, it was clear that those who thought the ‘new thinking’ was largely ‘active measures’ were clueless. What only became clear to me later was that, in the background, there was a fundamental argument, as to what the Cold War was about. This was, I now think, reflected in what we were told by General-Mayor Larionov, who was the mentor and collaborator of Andrei Kokoshin, then Georgy Arbatov’s deputy at the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada. There was a very visible generational difference – Larionov, like Arbatov, was an ‘Old Mohican’, a member of the generation that had gone to war as teenagers, while Kokoshin was my generation, who were children in the immediate post-war period. One of the first things Larionov told us was that, to understand the ‘new thinking’, one had to go back to the realisation of Soviet planners, in the ‘Seventies, that it was not possible to win a nuclear war. He then talked at some length about a strategist of the ‘Twenties, Aleksandr Svechin, who he said had been ‘repressed’ under Stalin. And he also discussed the study ‘Game Plan’ which Mika B’s father had published in 1986, referring to him as ‘Brzezinski – “nash drug” (our friend) – a Pole.’ Unfortunately, at that time I had not come across what was then the Soviet Army Studies Office, now the Foreign Military Studies Office, and the work of Dr Jacob W. Kipp, who had already written extensively about Svechin. Only when I did, some years later, did I get a better grasp of what Larionov was trying to tell us. It turned out that he was in a rather good position to say that much of what Brzezinski was saying was wrong, because he had compiled and co-authored the book which was at the centre of debates about the role of nuclear weapons in Soviet military thinking, the original 1962 edition of the study ‘Military Strategy’ published under the name of Marshal Sokolovsky. And it also turned out that the book was actually a bluff. As Kipp explains in a 1999 discussion of Kokoshin, Larionov explained that Khrushchev wanted to reduce the heavy burden of spending on conventional weapons, so he was trying to persuade the West that he had a ‘credible’ strategic deterrent, when in fact he did not. So, according to Kokoshin, the instructions given to Sokolovsky and his team were ‘to scare them to death.’ Unfortunately, the bluff backfired. (See .) This history, I later realised, was also part of the complex background to the advocacy by Kokoshin and Larionov of a Svechin-style defensive military posture, which among other things involved abandoning contingency planning in which Eastern Europe was seen as an indispensable ‘glacis’, and ‘springboard.’ The $60,000 question in the background of what Larionov was saying, I also later realised, was how far the Cold War had been simply a Soviet ‘own goal’. An alternative interpretation, one that he certainly rejected at that time, was that Western policy was underpinned by ‘geopolitical’ interests and historical antagonisms, that would mean that the liquidation of the Stalinist security posture, and even the abandonment of communism, would do little to mitigate Western hostility. In the 2007 article by Simes, there is a section entitled ‘Eat Your Spinach’ – an allusion to a famous statement by Victoria Nuland, which rather well summed up the Clinton Administration’s approach to Russia: ‘That’s what happens when you try to get the Russians to eat their spinach. The more … he more you tell them it’s good for them, the more they gag.’ What Simes was arguing was that it might turn out that, in the end, this approach was really not in the ‘national interest’ of the United States. In fact, it was in 1996 that the same Primakov who had been a figure of moment in the ‘new thinking’, and became Foreign Minister that year, concluded that, if ‘spinach’ was all that was likely to be on offer, it was time for his countrymen to develop a taste for ‘Peking Duck’. It has long seemed to me that it was not in the American, or indeed British, ‘national interest’ to encourage this taste. The conventional wisdom however was the reverse. A most interesting discussion of the ‘spinach strategy’, as applied to Ukraine, comes in a recent article, also in the ‘National Interest’, by Nicholas K. Gvosdev, entitled ‘Where Will Ukraine Go from Here?’ A key paragraph: ‘For the last thirty years, U.S. policy towards Ukraine has been guided by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s aphorism: a Russia with Ukraine is an empire (and by extension, a threat to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area), but a Russia without Ukraine has the chance to become a “normal” nation-state (and, by implication, is better “balanced” vis-à-vis the principal European powers of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy). (See .) For a perhaps more relevant epitaph on all this, one can usefully read the interview published on 22 September in ‘Moskovskij Komsomolets’, entitled ‘Sergei Shoigu Revealed How The Russian Army Was Salvaged’. Also relevant is an interview on 3 October by in ‘VZGLYAD Newspaper’, headlined ‘Sergei Karaganov: Protecting the Whole World Could Become Russia’s New Mission.’ (For English translations, see ; .) These appear to represent a resolution of the argument of which I was dimly aware, back in 1989. A slightly tongue-in-cheek rendering of the conversation which appears to be implicit in these interviews might roughly as follows: Put vulgarly, Shoigu appears to be saying something along the lines of. ‘Phew. We had a lucky escape there. Had Clinton followed the kind of strategy Simes commends the George H.W. Bush Administration for following, then in the end the West would have succeeded in “destroying and enslaving our country.” ‘However, the “spinach strategy” had succeeded in making even the Larionovs, Kokoshins and Karaganovs realise that, both after the Cold War and during it, Western policy was really run by a coalition of ‘Anglo’ Russophobes and the “insulted and injured” from the “borderlands”.’ Meanwhile, Karaganov is making a ‘mea culpa’, along the following lines: ‘Yes, I admit it, our failure to grasp that the Western threat was real, and infatuation with “democracy”, did a lot to ensure that the Soviet Union was destroyed, rather than reformed. However, I have seen the light, am rediscovering my “inner Mongol”, and embracing “Eurasianism” with the enthusiasm of the convert.’ Bad jokes apart, there is a very fundamental point about perceptions of ‘national interest.’ As both Shoigu’s and Karaganov’s writings make clear, people in London and Washington have failed to grasp that their counteparts in Moscow see the potential threat in the ‘borderlands’ with China as one that can be managed, by a combination of ‘appeasement’ and ‘deterrence.’ A corollary is that they have had difficulty in grasping that, once Russia abandoned the project of integration into ‘Greater Europe’, both the imperatives of ‘appeasement’ and that of diluting a possibly overwhelming Chinese preponderance suggested that it was imperative that they should attempt to bring as much as possible of ‘Eurasia’ away from ‘Anglo’ influence. Precisely as Trenin intimated in his piece, key long-term targets with be India, and continental Europe, in particular Germany. However, one does not do this by crude and transparent interference in Western political systems. The people who have an interest in doing this are the ‘Galician’ nationalists, on whom suspicions are quite rightly falling. How far some of the Balts may also be involved is an interesting question.
Babak Makkinejad, I have, unfortunately, not read ‘Albion’s Seed’, but looking at the ‘Wikipedia’ entry, the basic argument sounds extremely plausible. I am slightly concerned at the apparent description of the Welsh and even more the Scots as ‘satellite’ peoples – particularly given that the British Empire was to a substantial extent run by the latter. You might also usefully read an introduction which the historian C. Vann Woodward wrote in 1959 to a republication of George Fitzhugh’s 1857 polemic ‘Cannibals All! or, Slaves Without Masters.’ (See .) There are parts of Peter Laslett’s account of the roots of the ideas of the royalist polemicist Sir Robert Filmer in the sociological reality of the society of the gentry of Kent, on which Vann Woodward relies, which may need to be revised in the light of subsequent scholarship. But the basic point that Laslett makes, that this society replicated itself in Virginia – a world created by younger sons, one might say – I think stands. When I read the first novel in our host’s Civil War trilogy, I was forcibly reminded of Vann Woodward’s argument. But, matters get even more complex. Among the few British films which I think are works of genius are some of those which resulted from the collaboration of Michael Powell – who was actually a gentleman of Kent – and Emeric Pressburger, an Hungarian Jewish refugee. These include two classic treatments of British military cultures, in both of which the ‘male lead’ is played by the great Roger Livesey. The 1943 film ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’ is a complex reflection on ends and means in warfare. Although produced in the middle of the war, it is also the story of a friendship between an Englishman and a German. In the 1945 film ‘I Know Where I’m Going’, ironically, we see a portrayal of a Scots society which is still recognisably similar to the society of the Kentish gentry. So the character Livesey plays, a Royal Navy officer on leave, is at once very ‘modern’ – industrial war was a central concern of the Navy, much more than the Army – and also a Scottish laird.
TTG, I am now back at base, and can look back at my files, rather than having to rely on memory. Did you, by any chance, read the 29 April post here entitled ‘Fake News Media Suffers Body Blow on Case Linked to Seth Rich by Larry Johnson’? In addition to the – very great – importance of the piece itself, some of the discussion it produced looks very relevant in the light of subsequent developments. (I am rather proud of my own remarks on the ‘politics of Lilliput’ and ‘Galician Gamblers.) (See .) The post led me to look at the materials from a range of cases in which the lawyers Ty Clevenger and Stephen S. Biss are involved, which are freely available on the invaluable ‘Courtlistener’ site. At the time Larry wrote the piece, the – devastating – denial issued on 17 April by Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven of the ‘Motion to Dismiss’ filed by Folkenflik and his NPR colleagues in relation to the defamation suit the pair filed on behalf of Butowsky in response to the article you quote, and a range of companion pieces, required a ‘PACER’ subscription. It can now be accessed without one, as also can other key materials from the case, including in particular the ‘Amended Complaint’ filed by the two lawyers on March – before Judge Craven issued her judgement, but after the hearings on which it was based. (See .) I suspect it may have been the growing confidence resulting from these proceedings which was reflected in the ‘Second Amended Complaint’ against Michael Gottlieb et al submitted by Clevenger on 31 July, which contains the claim that Hersh had said his FBI source was McCabe (see section 57, p. 20.) On the same day, a ‘Complaint’ against Douglas H. Wigdor and Rod Wheeler was entered on Butowsky’s behalf by the two lawyers jointly. (See .) It is a matter of some moment that both the Folkenflik story to which you link, published on 17 August 2017, and that in the ‘Nation’ by Robert Dreyfuss, to which you also link, follow, and take at face value, the ‘Complaint’ filed on 1 August by Wigdor on behalf of Wheeler against Fox, Malia Zimmerman, and Butowsky. This is freely available on the relevant ‘Courtlistener’ page. So also is the acceptance of the defendants’ ‘motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim’ on 2 August 2018, in which Judge George B. Daniels ruled that: ‘In this case, Plaintiffs and Defendants embarked on a collective effort to support a sensational claim regarding Seth Rich’s murder. Plaintiff [Rod Wheeler – DH] cannot now seek to avoid the consequences of his own complicity and coordinated assistance in perpetuating a politically motivated story not having any basis in fact.’ (See .) The rather obvious point here was that, as one of the principal supports of the claims about Rich’s death which Wheeler and Wigdor were attacking were statements which the former had demonstrably made, he was hardly in a position to sue Fox and Butowsky for repeating them or making allegations based on them. What however has been provided in the current versions of the ‘Complaints’ against these various figures is a mass of evidence suggesting not only that the initial versions provided by Wheeler were the honest ones, but that they were essentially accurate. This brings me on to questions to do with the remarks about and from Hersh you quote. My reading of the evidence here reflects the fact that, in days long past I was once involved – successfully I hasten to add – in a protracted libel suit in relation to a programme I had made. A sometime colleague of mine, Sean McPhilemy, became involved in a much more protracted series of legal battles, over rather more dramatic matters: a programme, and then a book, he made about the collusion of the Royal Ulster Constabulary with loyalist death squads in Northern Ireland. At the centre of the protracted lawsuits – on both sides of the Atlantic – that followed was the fact that his story had essentially relied on a single source, and that source had then retracted his initial claims. (For a useful account of the affair, see ; Sean’s book is now freely available at .) As it happens, while in general I am uneasy about ‘single source’ stories, I had known Sean – actually a Northern Irish Catholic married to a Northern Irish Protestant – well enough to be confident that, although his emotions were clearly engaged, he was not in the habit when dealing with Ireland of allowing his loyalties to compromise his capacity for objective analysis. And I have long thought that the obvious interpretation, in his case as in those around Butowsky, is that a key witness had started by giving an honest account, and then persuaded by pressures and/or inducements to retract. It is very often easier to provide a coherent account of why people should tell the truth first and then obfuscate latter, than it is to explain the reverse movement in a way that will withstand serious examination. In relation to the lawsuits involving Butowsky and Zimmermann, and in particular the role of Hersh, some other points arising out of my own experience and Sean’s may be relevant. It is very commonly the case that, if one produces the kind of articles/programmes which precipitate libel suits, there is a rather large gulf between what one thinks one has good reason to believe and what one is confident one can prove in court. In particular, very many people who may have provided entirely credible information privately will not be prepared to testify in your favour. And there can be very good reasons why witnesses are not able to stand up against the kind of sustained pressures and inducements that can frequently be deployed against them. So, when plaintiffs and defendants are preparing their cases, the question of who can actually – by fair means or foul – persuade critical ‘witnesses’ to support their version, or at least not oppose it, is commonly important. Equally important are the dynamics of the ‘discovery’ process. A critical aspect of the preparation for hearings is, commonly, to employ evidence one cannot produce publicly – yet at least – to identify documentation for which one can legitimately ask, which will help your case and undermine that of the other side. There is a great deal here which I am still trying to think may way through. What I can see is a possible line of defence which a good defamation lawyer might use, in relation to the subterfuge involved in secretly recording Hersh. What might be argued is that Butowsky had already seen the Rich family – in particular Aaron – and then Wheeler ‘turned’, by a combination of pressures and inducements. In such a situation, he could have had quite rational reasons to calculate that, if there was any possibility of anyone else changing their story, he needed to ensure that he could prove they had done so. One then comes on to the – extraordinary – claim that Hersh had identified McCabe as his FBI source. My initial assumption had been that this was likely to be true. Among other things, a lawyer providing ‘good counsel’ could surely have been expected to tell Butowsky that, if Hersh got up in court and said he was lying, he would have difficulties. What we now have, however, is testimony from an eminently well-qualified ‘character witness’ – Larry – that it would be quite extraordinary if Hersh had identified a source. If I were the judge in the case, I would take this as very strong, although not quite absolutely conclusive evidence. Quite possibly, of course, Butowsky, Clevenger and Biss are simply bungling. However, I can see another interpretation that, at least, merits investigation. It is here relevant that it appears that Hersh did not actually see the FBI report which he described in the recorded conversation, but relied upon a description of it by his source. For one thing, it is clearly going to be a central objective of Butowsky, Clevenger and Biss to obtain the document as part of the discovery process, or alternatively provoke the kind of excuses for its non-production which incriminate those who make them. I also think it eminently possible that they have obtained, from sources whose identity they want to conceal, what they believe to be reliable evidence that Hersh’s source was McCabe. If that was so, it would be a top priority to cross-examine both men about what happened. All in all, I can see possible ‘Machiavellian’ arguments for inventing a second – unrecorded – conversation with Hersh. Also relevant here is the fact that, if the source was McCabe, the possibility that the account of the contents of the report which was provided in the conversation that was recorded is disingenuous on some key points needs to be taken seriously – and those of us who accepted it as accurate have to ask themselves whether they may have been duped. This brings one back to the possibility – whose central importance I tried to bring out in my comments on Larry’s piece back in April – that the fact that material was going to be coming to ‘WikiLeaks’ from the DNC may have been identified, as a result of surveillance on Assange, significantly earlier than is generally recognised. The identification of Rich as the conduit could have come very much later. In the account given to Hersh, the dating of the initial approach by Rich to ‘WikiLeaks’ is given as some time in late spring/early summer 2016 (the dividing line was given by Hersh as June 21, not June 22 as I wrote earlier.) If it was significantly earlier, a lot of elements in the ‘timeline’ might look markedly different. I have gone on too long to go in detail into your – tendentious – readings of the various accounts of what Hersh said. As is evident, your recycling of Folkenflik’s account, according all the claims about the FBI report were simply a ruse to get Butowsky to reveal his sources, would suggest that he is cynical and unprincipled. This is I think wildly implausible, both as a reading of the man in general, and of the recording. It seems to me that he is an honest man, and a very fine journalist, in a very difficult position. What are also however critical are the grounds on which Folkenflik and his colleagues sought the ‘Motion to Dismiss’ which Judge Craven refused. They were trying to circumvent criticism of the evidential basis of the relevant articles, including the one you quoted, by use of the ‘fair report privilege’ and an attempt to deny that the claims about Butowsky were defamatory. This strategy – which clearly irritated Judge Craven – does not suggest to me that Folkenflik and his lawyers are looking forward with confidence to cross-examining Hersh, and seeing him blow Butowsky’s claims out of the water.