"J: The British do not think that the U.S. is their ‘colony/state to use and abuse at their whims.’ The key divisions here are less between states, than within them. The problem is that the neocons have gained ascendancy both in your country and mine. In both, there is a very visible reaction against this. In Britain this has probably had less effect than in the U.S. at the level of high politics — probably more at the mass level. Tony Blair really is a neocon — so are influential figures around the Tory leader David Cameron. As for what used to be the conservative press: I go the Times website, and find Irwin Stelzer — author of "The Neocon Reader". I go to the Telegraph website, and find Irwin Stelzer. I open the Spectator, supposed to be the Tory ideas magazine. Who do I find — Irwin Stelzer! As to Sir John Scarlett, there is an irony here — in that he was case officer for Oleg Gordievsky, who was a double agent working for us, rather than the Russians. This was the reverse of the situation depicted in Le Carré’s novel, where the ‘bureaucratic whore’ Percy Alleline is persuaded that the Russian spook who Bill Haydon runs is our double agent, while in fact Haydon is theirs. But the evidence produced by the Hutton Inquiry made clear that Scarlett is a ‘bureaucratic whore’ — although perhaps ‘corrupt courtier’ would be a more appropriate term. As chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee — supposed to apply a filter of critical analysis to material produced by the agencies — Scarlett played a key role in the dissemination of the intelligence which suggested, quite incorrectly as it turned out, that Saddam had WMD he could launch at 45-minutes notice, and had sought uranium from Niger. In so doing, he played a played a significant role in getting both you and us into a disastrous war. That he should be colluding with elements in Israeli intelligence — and doubtless, elements in the U.S. — in what appear to be moves to soften public opinion up for another disastrous war is hardly surprising. Unfortunately there is a lot of evidence that the rot at MI6 goes a lot deeper — as also the rot in British journalism. When Scarlett was appointed as head of MI6, the Observer journalist David Rose defended him against the suggestion that his role in the Iraq intelligence fiascos disqualified him for the job. Explaining why his colleagues had come round to think Scarlett the best man, Rose wrote: "What has changed? The biggest factor is the evidence to Lord Hutton, which suggests that if Scarlett did cross the politico-intelligence frontier, then others were also culpable – none more so than the current C, Sir Richard Dearlove. On 12 September 2002, in response to a last, desperate call for new content for the dossier, it was Dearlove who went to see Blair at Downing Street, bearing the false and fateful claim that Iraq could deploy its WMD within 45 minutes. "At the time, there had been no attempt to assess this report by passing it to the JIC’s intelligence analysts, nor to the acknowledged WMD experts at the Defence Intelligence Staff – including David Kelly. Supplying raw intelligence to a Prime Minister ‘is just never done,’ one official says. ‘It’s rule number one. Dearlove was undermining Scarlett’s position – and it’s just not fair that Scarlett alone should be blamed.’ "Moreover, the final dossier was ‘signed off’ by all the members of Scarlett’s committee, Dearlove included, who had the support of all his most senior colleagues – some of them eventual rivals for Scarlett’s new job. As for the Butler report, it will deal with methods, not individuals. If it did, all four men who were candidates to be the next ‘C’ might have been criticised." (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/may/09/davidkelly.uk.) So it seems that even if an incoming prime minister had actually wanted to appoint a head of MI6 who would tell him the truth, rather than what he wanted to hear, he could not have found one within the organisation. But apparently this does not worry David Rose one bit — which is hardly reassuring, particularly as he writes for the independent Guardian group, not the Times or Telegraph. Not long after retirement, incidentally, Dearlove signed the Declaration of Principles of a new organisation called The Henry Jackson Society, which champions the agenda for ‘global democratic revolution’ beloved of the neocons, and involves both leading American neocons and their British fellow-travellers. I suppose if one has an intelligence chief who is happy to associate himself with the memory of ‘Scoop’ Jackson, whose record at threat inflation and the politicisation of intelligence is almost unrivalled, one should not be surprised that one ends up with a dysfunctional intelligence organisation. " David Habakkuk
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Electing either Hillary Clinton or John McCain will not change any of this one whit. Electing Obama might. Might. Might not also.
Anent Neocons, for those of us who are not familiar with the Brit scene, could you give some more examples? Any particular publications like the Weekly Standard and Commentary they are known to edit? Any foundations or institutes like AEI they lurk around in?
Is there a relationship between Neocon-ism and some sections of Fabian Socialism? It seems both share some utopian notions about a “New World Order” and how to get there.
One of the best studies over here on Fabian Socialism and how it penetrated the US a century or so ago is:
Rose Martin, Fabian Freeway. It was published back in the 1960s by several small houses. I wonder if George Orwell simply added 100 years to the founding date, 1884, of the Fabian Society to get his title.
It seems there are circles of French Neocons lurking around Le Figaro and elsewhere. Also, one might have to place the Spaniard Aznar somewhere in their orbit I would guess given his role with Blair as Euro cheerleader for the Iraq War.
Side note to Kiracofe’s comment: Orwell got the title of the book 1984 by reversing the last two digits of the year he wrote it in: 1948. See the counterpart novel 1985, by Anthony Burgess with explanatory foreword.
Mullen is talking again:
“I actually am very hopeful that we don’t get into a position where we have to get into a conflict,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Israel’s Channel Ten television when asked if he might recommend that U.S. forces strike Iranian nuclear facilities preemptively.
Top U.S. officer says would prefer no war on Iran
props on the original dust jacket!
David Habakkuk wrote:
“But the evidence produced by the Hutton Inquiry made clear that Scarlett is a ‘bureaucratic whore’ — although perhaps ‘corrupt courtier’ would be a more appropriate term.”
Aw David, don’t you think you’re being a bit hard on Mr. Scarlett? Aside from being wrong on Saddam and WMD’s is there any other evidence that he wasn’t just wrong and isn’t otherwise just a patriotic guy who’s devoted his life to his country’s work and has in the main worked diligently and as well as anyone else at it? (And, like most government people, is doing so for a helluva lot less than what the rest of us are making?)
After all didn’t damn near all intell. agencies in the world think similarly about Saddam and WMD? And didn’t Saddam even say in interrogation that he *purposefully* led everyone to think that?
For all we know Scarlett’s gonna laugh at whatever the Israelis say they’ve now got and then suddenly he’ll be our hero. (If we can ever even find out.) Plus I think it’s too easy to expect everyone in positions of responsibility to always and on everything to be 100% pure. Look at history; is there one even great figure who hasn’t compromised or “given in” on this or that aspect of this or that issue? It’s easy to be on the outside and play holier and smarter than thou (and I’ll plead guilty to having been so provoked at times too). But there’s plenty of great and good men and women throughout history—indeed, maybe the great majority of them, and maybe all of them in government today even—who’ve felt that the choice in life is to either stand on the sidelines and be spotless, or to get involved and sometimes have to compromise on this or that but in the main to contribute positively.
Of course this isn’t to say that such people shouldn’t be criticized when they have compromised. But isn’t there a danger of seeming to be overly full of ourselves in issuing blanket-like ethical condemnations of them as “corrupt” and “whores” and ignoring the fullness of their lives and careers?
(And isn’t this somewhat exactly the tool if not stigmata of so many of the neo-cons too? I.e., the constant, sneering denomination of others as being appeasers or “anti-semites” or other moral blackguards?)
Beyond that it’s always so seductively easy for those who don’t have to put their judgments out on the line to criticize others who do. I know that before the war I would have bet that Saddam had at least some WMD’s (although I still thought war was crazy); are you on record as unambiguously saying he had no such weapons at the time? If so I am humbled by your prescience. But if not, then what’s the difference between you and I and Mr. Scarlett?
And what about now? Aren’t we all conveniently dodging the risk that the Scarlett’s of the world have to take? So what’s your up or down non-hedged opinion: By the end of the Bush presidency is the U.S. and/or Israel going to attack Iranian nuclear installations, or not? I say no.
The neocons have a long history of involvement with the European left.
Back in the Fifties, Irving Kristol co-edited Encounter Magazine, which was owned by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a CIA front used to keep tabs on European socialists.
I have written about some of this background here:
The obvious neocon manifestations in Britain today include the Henry Jackson Society, the Euston Manifesto Group, and two think tanks; the Centre of Social Cohesion, and Policy Exchange.
A key figure is Policy Exchange’s Dean Godson, who has called for a strategy towards Islamists modelled on the CCF’s approach to fighting communism.
Interestingly, the Pentagon neocons were looking to fund this kind of activity back in 2002:
At the time, I also thought they probably would find some WMD programmes in Iraq, but much less than was being claimed, and certainly not enough to justify an invasion.
But there is a difference between us and Scarlett. As chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, he had access to the full range of information — including secret information — available to his government. I did not, and I imagine you did not.
His job, as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was to bring the lot together and apply critical reason to it. This he patently did not do. And, if you ask, I have to say I think I would at least have made a better fist of it than he did.
It took analysts at the International Atomic Energy Authority a matter of hours to identify the documents purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger as forgeries, apparently using little more than a check with Google. I think I would have ensured that claims made by MI6 had been tested against easily publicly available evidence.
On the 45-minute claim, fascinating information was provided by the evidence presented to Lord Hutton’s enquiry and by discoveries following the invasion of Iraq, which illuminate very clearly both the unscrupulousness with which British intelligence practice disinformation against their own people, and their own mishandling of evidence.
Particularly fascinating is the exchange of emails between Dr David Kelly and the veteran BBC reporter Tom Mangold, relating to an article drafted by the latter on the basis of information from intelligence sources.
Denying the claim by the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been ‘sexed up’, Mangold conceded that the information that Saddam could authorise the launch of WMD within 45 minutes had come from a single source, but suggested that ‘he happened to be an Iraqi Army officer of Brigadier rank — an MI6 agent in place, a hen’s tooth in the body of coalition human intelligence gathering from Iraq.’
In fact it turned out to be an interpretation provided by a Lieutenant Colonel of some crates he saw, forwarded to his father in law, a retired Brigadier General, and thence to the Iraqi National Accord, who passed it on to MI6. On this misrepresentation of the facts Kelly’s comment was: ‘Looks good to me.’
Unfortunately I am not as familiar as I might be with the British scene. As the fact that we have a Henry Jackson Society illustrates, in recent years British arguments have often followed American — so I have often found myself paying more attention to debates on your side of the Atlantic than to debates on mine. If there is a forum in the UK anything like as interesting as this blog, I have not found it!
I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in links between American and British neocons a sequence of articles by Tom Griffin, whom I see has just posted a comment in response to your query. I came across his work not long ago as a result of a comment of his on a piece of mine which Colonel Lang posted, and have found it very helpful.
His investigations alerted me to the fact that National Strategy Information Center, under whose auspices my old friends Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt developed their polemic against the analytic tradition in the CIA, has significant links to this side of the Atlantic. The president of the NSIC is Roy Godson, his brother Dean was special assistant to Lord Black and chief leader at the Telegraph. Following Black’s departure Dean Godson was got rid of, but the paper’s politics seem not to have changed much. Con Coughlin, Britain’s answer to Judy Miller, is still safely ensconced.
The father of Roy and Dean, Joseph Godson, was Labour attaché here in the Fifties, and was involved in Hugh Gaitskell’s campaigns against the Labour left. He was an associate of Jay Lovestone, the former head of the American Communist Party and associate of Bukharin. Some other Americans involved in campaigning against left-wing influence in the European labour movement did not take to Lovestone. As the historian Hugh Wilford put it in an article not long ago, it was charged that, despite his repudiation of communism, ‘he and his agents were continuing to use communist methods — “deceit, intrigue, bribery and strong-arm tactics”.’
I have mixed feelings about some of the matters that Griffin discusses, like the relationship between the CIA and Encounter, as my own political starting point was on the Gaitskellite right of the Labour Party. But one can begin fighting very genuine evils and end up coming to resemble the enemy — as indeed Kennan warned at the end of his Long Telegram. The making of intelligence subservient to the ‘global democratic revolution’, which appears to be a feature of the NSIC approach is one manifestation of this, I think.
I had some fun a little while back trying to get hold of the 1996 Schmitt/Schulsky Future of Intelligence Report from the NSIC and its authors, who patently do not want to let me get my hands on a copy. I don’t think they like open argument. But having been busy with other things, I’ve not so far been able to pursue this line of inquiry further.
On Fabianism. I think this is a complicated phenomenon. There clearly was a kind of ‘totalitarian’ element in the Fabian tradition, as manifested in Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s Soviet Communism: A new civilization’. And Élie Halévy, the great French liberal historian who I think knew the Webbs well, pointed in his 1935 presentation on the ‘era of tyrannies’ to the links between Fabian socialism and imperialism, setting them in context with the more general growth of ‘imperialist’, ‘national socialist’, and ‘Caesarist’ conceptions in Europe.
But the mentality of the right-wing Labour intelligentsia of the Fifties and Sixties was much more chastened. Crucial philosophical influences were Isaiah Berlin and Sir Karl Popper — refugees from the disasters of continental Europe who cautioned against utopian schemes.
One might see Popper’s polemic against ‘utopian social engineering’ as being Edmund Burke for social democrats. From a Popperian perspective, both ‘shock therapy’ in the former Soviet Union and the ‘global democratic revolution’ are Jacobin projects. And indeed, ‘shock therapy’ was denounced as such by figures in this tradition, both British and American — in particular the economists Peter Murrell and Joseph Stiglitz, both of whom see themselves as being in a tradition going back to Burke, and the political scientist Peter Reddaway.
Their polemics, incidentally, mesh very well with the reflections of the former Chief Political Analyst at the U.S. Moscow Embassy, E. Wayne Merry — who tried unavailingly in the early Nineties to restraint the millenarian enthusiasms of the Treasury Department and Harvard Institute for International Development.
Thanks for the data on Neocon orgs in Britain and the cite to your article. This is not so well known over here. I take it the anti-Bevan machinations related to his stance on the Middle East and the Zionist state.
There is a certain historical nexus: Anglo-American-Zionist. Presumably, this nexus situated itself in the post-WWII intelligence communities in the UK and in the US, etc.. Although one might examine Sir William Wiseman’s relationship with Kuhn Loeb after World War I, for example.
There may be some interesting trans-Atlantic connections to be turned up as one looks back into the American Jewish Committee, established a century ago, and publisher of the Neocon organ Commentary. It is said the AJC was a project of Kuhn, Loeb.
David, is this what you’re looking for? Our library appears to hold it.
Gary Schmitt and Abe Shulsky
The future of U.S. intelligence : report prepared for the Working Group on Intelligence Reform.
Washington, D.C. : Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, c1996.
xv, 83 p. ; 28 cm.
If you would find it useful I can scan it for you.
The immediate issues were more related to Bevan’s stance on nuclear weapons and the Cold War. (This was a time when Britain was much more vulnerable to annhiliation than the United States.)
If anything, Bevan had been a relatively pro-Zionist figure in the Labour cabinet that was in power when Israel became independent in 1948.
The Lovestoneites were only one constituency within western intelligence networks.
Others like James Burnham, who might otherwise be regarded as a precursors of neoconservatism, were quite critical of Israel:
Hugh Wilford describes the CIA as having had a management/labour style relationship with its agents on the non-communist left. Perhaps that that helps to explain the neocons’ later relationship with the agency.
Thank you for your comments. I especially focused on Halevy and “the ‘era of tyrannies’ to the links between Fabian socialism and imperialism, setting them in context with the more general growth of ‘imperialist’, ‘national socialist’, and ‘Caesarist’ conceptions in Europe.”
This is precisely the area in which I am interested: the Fabian sub-factions or circles with this totalitarian-imperial view. I will look for Halevy’s works now that the school year is winding down.
Vansittart says, “That Big Business has favoured a Great Germany and German heavy industry — that is, war potential — is notorious; and we shall have to thwart any Englishman who may wish to do the like again. What is less known, because it sounds more fantastic, is that some Left ideologists are carried even further by their ideologies. Here is a sample of them — the Fabian International Bureau’s Conference of 15 March 1941. The chief speaker, after asserting that “there is not much difference between the basic economic techniques of Socialism and Nazism” –sane Socialists will surely repudiate this assertion …. Here is Mr. Crossman closing the discussion: ‘The economic unity achieved by the Nazis is good and must be preserved. To hold the opposite view is reactionary.'” [Lessons of My Life, pp. xviii-xix].
Do we find some roots of Neocon-ism in such circles? Ledeen is entranced by Fascist Italy.
Irving Kristol spent considerable time in England as I recall. In which circles did he circulate? We could raise the same question about Leo Strauss and his London years in the 1930s.
To what extent does the “New World Order” (including the Greater Middle East and North Africa thing, etc.) the Neocons pursue parallel the ideologies Halevy critiques? That is, to what extent is the Bush43 foreign policy along this line?
A useful book about Neocon guru Leo Cherne is: Andrew F. Smith, Rescuing the World. The Life and Times of Leo Cherne, forward by Henry Kissinger (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2002).
In response to a post of mine David Habakkuk wrote:
“And, if you ask, I have to say I think I would at least have made a better fist of it [sic] than he did.”
Well David, for what it’s worth I’ll not only accept your assessment but second your nomination. But, again, alls I was saying was that I think it just oddly tarnished your argument by damning people who’ve merely made mistakes by calling ’em “whore[s]” or etc. And indeed in your title post you not only so crowned Scarlett but also said that every other person on the JIC to a man would have lied to their Prime Minister too, and then said that Sir Richard Dearlove was even worse. Didn’t see the need.
(Or indeed the basis really. For instance, as regards that “45-minute” issue that’s so central to your point, MI6 noted that by saying same in its dossier to the PM, Scarlett and the JIC obviously and reasonably meant such things as Saddam having chem weapons in artillery shells ready in such time. So in line with that one reporter’s humiliating retractions seems to me it clearly was the media and not Scarlett or the JIC that took this ((leaked)) line and presented it to the public as meaning nukes over London or etc. And as regards your citation to some of the “fascinating” evidence presented to Lord Hutton’s inquiry to support your point, nevertheless don’t you think you should have noted that Hutton’s conclusion was to the exact opposite and found that Scarlett and the JIC had *not* intentionally “sexed up” their dossier? ((Even if you do think Hutton was just yet another guy in the tank and did a white-wash job?))
No big deal of course, you’re entitled to all your assessments; just sayin…. And otherwise would just note that I’m enjoying your posts greatly.
You seemed to miss my question to you though: What’s your best judgment as to whether the Americans or the Israelis will strike Iranian nuke sites before George Bush leaves office? I’d be interested in your take.
And P.S., as the code name of the new Israeli source how does “Chutzpahball” sound? Seems to have a certain ring….
Thanks for your comments and clarifications on Bevan and the issues of the day and the reference to the interesting Canadian site per Burnham. Within Labour, however, were there not cleavages relating to the Zionist issue in the 1940s? Bevin, for example, was not particularly pro-Zionist. I would think the same type of cleavages could be found in the Conservative Party also with Churchill as a pro-Zionist, for example.
Over here, as I recall, the conservative National Review in 1956 castigated Eisenhower’s Suez policy and supported the British-French-Israeli operation. It has seemed to me the Buckley circle out of New York-Wall Street took a pro-Israel line which was different from the Old Right’s (and some traditionalist Republican Party factions) anti-Zionist position.
One might argue, the New York Buckleyite penetration of the Republican Party combined with later Neocon penetration of the party and thus impacted on foreign policy positions within the party. A fusion of these two political streams somewhat alien to the Republican Party set the stage for Bush43 foreign policy one could argue. The National Review crowd was quite happy with Bush43 policy –crusades in the Middle East and the like — and still seems to be.
A useful reference per “conservatism” in the US is: George Nash, The Conservative Movement in America Since 1945 (New York: Basic Books,1976.) The author is sympathetic. The “Conservative Movement” is not the same thing as the Republican Party, although it penetrated the party and has by and large taken it over ideologically. Buckley and Kristol as brothers in arms in this Great Work.
On the risk of war with Iran, what worries me is less a deliberate initiation of war, than a chain of events getting out of control in a situation of high tension in which there are parties on both sides who may be quite happy to see conflict break out.
There is a fascinating discussion by William Polk, drawing on his experience during the Cuba missile crisis.
Of its nature, the risk of such a thing happening is imponderable. Obviously there are people who have to make estimates of statistical probability for one purpose or another — military planners and economic forecasters among others. I suppose if I had to, I would guess something like a 20% risk of some kind of conflict by the end of the year.
In any case however what is involved are a range of issues on which I lack expertise — including both Iranian and American politics, and technical military issues. So frankly I would not regard my guesstimate as worth very much.
About the Hutton Inquiry however I do know something. The best verdict on the whole episode known to me came in an article in the Guardian by the former Cabinet Office Assessments Staff analyst Lieutenant Colonel Crispin Black. It brings out not simply the what was wrong with Scarlett and MI6, but also the scale of the disintegration of standards of public administration in Britain under Tony Blair, which has caused a very distinguished public servant, Sir Christopher Foster, to describe him as the worst Prime Minister since Lord North.
It is entitled ‘Blair’s claim is simply incredible’, and runs as follows:
‘Imagine you are a retired and very proud guards officer watching trooping the colour. How embarrassed and puzzled you would feel if things started to go wrong. Small things, initially, that others not brought up in the system might not notice. The columns of scarlet-clad troops slightly out of sync with the marching music. Some of the orders being given by men in suits rather than by the sergeant majors on parade. I used to work for the defence intelligence staff (DIS) and the Cabinet Office assessments staff – who draft the papers for the joint intelligence committee (JIC) and intelligence reports for No 10 – and that’s how I felt during the Hutton inquiry, and how I feel now.
‘I left the assessments staff just six months before the dreaded dossier was published. From what came out at the Hutton inquiry I could hardly recognise the organisation I had so recently worked for. Meetings with no minutes, an intelligence analytical group on a highly specialised subject which included unqualified officials in Downing Street but excluded the DIS’s lifetime experts (like Dr Brian Jones), vague and unexplained bits of intelligence appearing in the dossier as gospel (notably the 45-minute claim), sloppy use of language, that weird “last call” for intelligence like Henry II raving about Thomas a’ Becket – with “who will furnish me with the intelligence I need” substituted for “who will rid me of that turbulent priest”.
‘I looked forward to Lord Hutton making some serious suggestions about how to keep the intelligence process free of political manipulation and analysts free from the preparation of propaganda dossiers. I thought he might help explain, too, why the intelligence community had been taken by surprise by the aftermath of victory in Iraq.
‘When the report came I was puzzled at first – serious people seemed to be taking it so seriously. And then everyone started to laugh. Some of the passages – particularly “the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the prime minister … may have subconsciously influenced … members of the JIC … consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC” are masterpieces of comic writing.
‘In two years as an intelligence officer, and four-and-a-half years as an analyst at the highest level, I never once heard the phrase “consistent with intelligence”. It means nothing. I have often been asked whether I was sure that I had reviewed all the available intelligence or whether I was sure I was on the right track. But no one has ever asked me whether something was consistent with the intelligence. Intelligence is by its nature inconsistent. Very often the right answer, the answer closest to the truth, draws on just a small part of the material available to you because you have discounted the rest. It was consistent with the intelligence for the German high command to expect that the D-day landings were going to take place near Calais. Consistent – except that the intelligence was part of a deception operation.
‘But it has recently got even more embarrassing. The prime minister told the House of Commons that he was unaware at the time of the war debate that the 45-minute piece of intelligence referred only to battlefield rather than strategic weapons. Let me list just some of the procedures which must have been executed incorrectly to allow him to be kept in such a state of ignorance at such a crucial time on such a crucial matter when other members of his cabinet (Cook and Hoon) appear to have been in the know.
‘One: neither Cook nor Hoon saw fit to tell the prime minister, for whatever reason.
‘Two: the intelligence was not considered important or accurate enough to explain to him in detail – even though it appears in the September 24 dossier at least three times and in the prime minister’s own foreword.
‘Three: Blair had to rely on verbal briefings from the JIC chairman and others, who told him about the 45 minutes bit of the intelligence but omitted to mention that it referred only to battlefield weapons, and neither the prime minister nor any of the brilliant young staff asked the obvious question.
‘Four: the original SIS report mentioned the 45-minute time, but made no attempt to distinguish between strategic and battlefield weapons – even though the service was aware that the report was about battlefield munitions.
‘Five: the prime minister’s daily written intelligence brief from the Cabinet Office included the 45 minutes point but not the crucial distinction between battlefield and strategic weapons. And not a single member of the Cabinet Office assessments staff (the most brilliant intelligence analysts in the UK) spotted this or thought it important.
‘This is not the case of a few guardsmen out of step or a few trumpeters out of tune. This is like holding trooping the colour but forgetting to tell the Queen the correct date.’
This is precisely what I am looking for. And if you could scan it and sent it me, I would be most grateful. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had an interesting exchange of emails with Gary Schmitt, when I was looking around for a copy. He told me he no longer had one. When I asked whether Shulsky did, Schmitt said that he would contact him but he was overseas and not expected back for several weeks.
According to Schmitt, moreover, ‘ultimately our thesis has nothing really to do with Strauss at all but we were asked to write an essay with that tie in and so we did.’
I can’t see Sherman Kent explaining that one should not take an argument he had clearly stated seriously, because it had been cooked up in response to a request to write an essay with a certain ‘tie in’.
On Halévy. His communication on the ‘era of tyrannies’ was a three-page submission for discussion at the Société Française de Philosophie in November 1936, which I think is an extraordinary tour-de-force. There were comments from a range of French intellectuals to which Halévy responded — including an interesting short note from Marcel Mauss, a seminal figure in modern anthropology. The discussion was originally published in a posthumous collection of Halévy’s writings which appeared in 1938, and was translated into English in the mid-Sixties.
Both Halévy and Mauss looked back to classical times and thinkers, and in particular drew on Aristotle’s ideas on — as Mauss put it — ‘the way in which tyranny is normally linked to war and to democracy itself.’ And Halévy was very pessimistic — he feared that in combating the tyrannical regimes the democracies would be forced either to go under or to become like them.
In the event, we were saved from this grim fate, by the extraordinary sequence of events which by 1945 brought American armies into the heart of Europe. I used to think that this had invalidated Halévy’s fears, but a lot of what he and Mauss said looks uncomfortably prescient again today.
His lectures on ‘The World Crisis of 1914-18’, also included in the volume, are a marvelous antidote to all kinds of delusions — including not only Leninist delusions that one can explain imperialism and war purely in terms of economics, but also the fantasies of those who think that democratisation naturally leads to peace.
And above all, Halévy is a wonderful antidote to those imbeciles who at the end of the twentieth century could still persuade themselves that one can adequately explain human action in terms of ‘rational choice’ theories.
The way people’s ideas changed or did not change from the late Thirties onwards on the British left is incredibly complex. It was all after Crossman who edited the 1949 volume ‘The God that Failed’.
One issue which Halévy took up in the discussion, whose importance in the intellectual history of that time should not be underestimated, is the religious one — that of the relationship of secular power and religious authority. Having argued that imperial Rome had ‘two heirs, the Church and the Empire, both totalitarian in their ambitions’, Halévy drew parallels between the ‘anthropolatry’ — worship of the human — in imperial Rome and the modern ‘Caesarist’ regimes.
Interestingly, to illustrate this, Halévy quoted not a Russian, German, or Italian, but a young Englishman, wondering just before the onset of a war in which he would be killed ‘why the devil the world didn’t found a religion on Caesar instead of on Christ.’ Again I think he was stressing that ‘Caesarist’ ideas were part of a common European heritage, including Britain as well as continental Europe.
But of course to Christian socialists secular surrogates for the divine were anathema — and while it may be dead as a dodo today, Christian socialism was once a very important force in Britain, as on the continent of Europe and in Russia.
Thoroughly concur with Habakkuk on his description of Scarlett as a “whore.” I’d add the word “traitorous.”
One side of English neo-connery which hasn ‘t been touched is the Peterhouse connection, specifically Maurice Cowling, aka The Godfather of Thatcherism.
A revisionist historian who argued the case for Chamberlain and suggested that the war destroyed Britain’s empire and put the world under American/Soviet domination, he was at the head of an extremely influential clique of rightwing historians, politicians and journalists based in Peterhouse (Cambridge), who went on to have large influence, especially on successive Conservative front benches (including the present one).
The Scoop Jackson Society is based at Peterhouse.
I remember hearing in the past rumours of some connection between William Buckley and Cowling, but have not been able recently to track it down.
As of right now, I place odds at 40 per cent and rising that the USG and/or the GOI will attack Iran, either Iranian nuclear sites or more likely the Quds force or any other Iranian militia allegedly supplying Iraqi Shiites. So right now, I agree with you, as odds are less than 50 per cent.
However, I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that people within the USG and GOI want to execute the Wurmser option or a variation thereof. David Wurmser, with the imprimatur of the VP’s office, articulated the original version last autumn: an Israeli low yield strike against Iran. This, in turn, would trigger Iranian attacks in Iraq, thus endangering USG personnel and threatening the Baghdad-Basra supply line. The end result: a massive US retaliation against Iran.
The 07 NIE blocked an early execution of this plan. As a result, those who support the Wurmser option or a variation thereof have adopted two different tactics to date to circumvent the 07 NIE. One is a direct attempt to undermine the findings of the 07 NIE, primarily by working through the intel community (e.g. the Scarlett connection) as well as the msm. The second, I believe, is to emphasize the threat of the Quds force to US troops in Iraq, thus opening the door to military operations inside Iran.
The two different tactics only confirm the assumption that people within the USG and GOI want to execute the Wurmser option. So — and this is the crux of my comment — I believe all analysis about ME policy should factor in the desire for the implementation of the Wurmser option. It is an assumption, or if you prefer, a rebuttable presumption, upon which all analysis should proceed.
One other aspect. The Wurmser option is entirely consistent with an Israeli doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes. No evidence exists, as far as I am aware, that the GOI has abandoned such a strategy. Without casting a judgment (at least in this comment) it is the Israeli way and reflects the ethos of Jabotinsky’s form of Zionism. The 56 Suez Canal Crisis and certainly the 67 Six Day War are but two examples.
And the US invasion of Iraq strongly suggests that the USG has now adopted the Jabotinsky approach and abandoned the tradition derived from past experiences of the USM, particularly those gained from different historical circumstances. The campaign of “We are all Israelis now” succeeded, at least so far.
I also want to cite a meaningful passage from Dr. Helms who authored in 1990 the McNair Paper No. 10:
“This is the same period in which Israel–a non-Arab, non-Arab, non- Muslim state which, like Islam, is based upon the notion of a sacred community bound by a sacred language was inserted into the Middle East equation. It is of inestimable importance that this event could only have been accomplished with the active support and guarantees provided by foreign mandate powers as stipulated in the Balfour Declaration. During the 1950s, that is within a decade of the publication of Hourani’s book, Israel’s leader, David Ben-Gurion, elucidated the strategy that Israel’s natural allies in the Arab world were none other than minority groups. If turned against each other, these groups could stimulate instability within the Arab world, effectively dividing Israel’s enemies.”
I see no evidence that this national strategic goal has changed, although certainly how to implement this objective has adopted to changing historical circumstances. But I believe Dr. Helms’ observation leads to another presumption: a strategic aim to incite chaos instead of promoting a regional plan of peace. Chaos and pre-emptive military strikes. They appear to go hand in hand.
Finally, the possibility certainly exists for “false flag” operations as well as a unhappy chain of events, triggered by a misunderstanding and leading to a de-facto exercise of the Wurmser option. These are unknown variables, although the motivation for a false flag operation would appear to increase as the odds for direct implementation of the Wurmser option decreases.
If I believe odds rise above 50 per cent, I’ll let you know.
A visit to the Henry Jackson Society indicates that it’s primarily a front for the Israelis, and unfortunately an old school frined is one of its patrons…..I thought better of him.
Thank you again for your valuable insights. I am going to read the Halevy piece in the original French and in translation as I find them. I will also look into Mauss as suggested.
As it happens, I started a project about 15 years ago looking into the topic of the “divine election” of the Roman emperor with particular reference to Julius Caesar and then Augustus. The British “Journal of Roman Studies” is most interesting I found. The divinity of the emperor was an oriental/eastern cult which came westward to the Roman world.
The best single study on this point I found is J. Rufus Fears, “Princeps a Diis Electus: The Divine Election of the Emperor as a Political Concept at Rome (Rome: The American Academy at Rome, 1977), 351 pp. I can make a copy for you if you are interested.
We are witnessing Caesarism and Theocracy today, one might suggest, in the Bush43 Administration and the evolution of the Republican Party via the merging of the “New Right” and the “Christian Right” both of which have penetrated the party over the past 3 decades along with the Neocons. So there are THREE penetrations which must be considered as an ensemble: New Right, Christian Right, Neocon. I suggest this in my forthcoming book.
It seems to me that the classical understanding of Halevy and Mauss on war, democracy, imperialism and so forth parallels that of the Founding Fathers of the United States who all were quite well versed in classical studies: Aristotle and Cicero among the favorites of that day.
On the issue of tyranny in the ancient world, I very much like Professor P. N. Ure’s (University of Reading} study entitled “The Origins of Tyranny” first published in 1922 and the republished in New York by Russell and Russell, 1962. It gets into financial and monetary/currency issues.
Thank you for that extremely valuable comment pointing to Cowling etal. For those of us without any detailed knowledge of British politics this is quite helpful. I am sorry to hear of the degradation of Peterhouse, an ancient and honorable institution. Could you name some of the historians and politicians associated with Cowling? Also, who finances all this?
Also, are you indicating that Cowling and his circle in their revisionism argued against the need to defeat Naziism, Fascism, and Japanese militarism?
It is with some amazement that one notes British circles taking an interest in Scoop Jackson. But there is undoubtedly more to it than meets the eye which leads one to Mr. Dearlove’s (of MI6) relationship to the group.
While Scoop Jackson over here is a Neocon icon, “Republican” McCain has said of himself that he is a “Scoop Jackson Republican” whatever that may mean…a Republican brainwashed by flatheads I should think. Hence, McCain’s Neocon advisors.
IMO, this thread is very valuable in helping sort out the political landscape involving the nexus certain Neocon-ish US, British, and Israeli circles. More biographic and institutional data please!
I get the feeling that this thread is shining light into some very dark places.
BTW I note that one of the patrons of the Jackson Society is a director of Control Risk – a rather large British “Security” firm.
“Thoroughly concur with Habakkuk on his description of Scarlett as a ‘whore.’ I’d add the word ‘traitorous.'”
Geez guys, with all due respect I think this is just approaching nuts. I know everyone’s pissed off about what happened with Iraq. But as someone once said “an intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself” and I think this is just getting carried away: Scarlett’s a whore and a traitor. All the members of the JIC are too. So’s Dearlove. And then … so’s Lord Hutton and his inquiry commission for saying that they aren’t…. (And then presumably so is everyone who doesn’t go out and try, convict and lynch all the aforesaid people too, and then … who’s next?)
Yeesh. C’mon. Of course everyone’s got the right to be ticked off/outraged by what *some* in our gov’ts have done. But we all know those who lose their marbles at exactly the time when they need them most and it ain’t impressive. Brings to mind a shrink friend who keeps saying that indeed the first sign of insanity *is* an inability to recognize one’s friends.
Of course it makes us feel superior to see the high and mighty as oh-so-inferior to us. But someone who sees virtually *everyone* as inferior just suggests more about what legend exists in their own mind rather than what failures exist in the minds of all their alleged inferiors.
Sidney O. Smith III wrote:
“As of right now, I place odds at 40 per cent and rising that the USG and/or the GOI will attack Iran, either Iranian nuclear sites or more likely the Quds force or any other Iranian militia allegedly supplying Iraqi Shiites. So right now, I agree with you, as odds are less than 50 per cent.”
Interesting. My running tally puts the number at 6 now (?) who seem to have stepped up to the plate and made yes or no, unhedged predictions:
Feeney/Fromthebleacher, Andy, Kim (kind of), Curious, you and I.
And of this band of very possibly foolish but brave brothers, only Fromthebleacher is saying that there will be a strike.
Like I say, interesting. Kinda like a little future’s market in predictions.
Remember though, originally at least it was only about a strike on Iranian *nuke* targets since I figured that was the big kahuna. Much more unpredictable it seems to me about maybe a “little” U.S. strike here or there on this or that al Quds camp or camel. Easier for Bush to miscalculate Iranian reaction, and maybe their reaction to same would even be muted. So let’s just keep it as re U.S./Israeli strikes on nuke targets before Bush goes back to clearing bush in Crawford.
Also remember, anyone is free to change their opinion at any time (as reasonable people should given new evidence or even just after careful reconsideration), but depending on when/why they can lose relative shock and awe points by doing so of course. (Changing “no” to “yes” after it’s clear it’s gonna happen for instance.)
If the five of us and anyone who joins soon enough turns out right, I vote we form an Intell consulting company and clean up in Washington. If we’re wrong, I vote Fromthebleacher does so and we get him to hire us anyway.
Gotta say your 40% and rising estimate seems about right. Just read a Jerusalem Post article about how the Israelis are just now saying that Iran could have a nuke not by 2010 but by next year, and with Olmert saying some pretty squinty-eyed things about not letting it happen.
Too soon to change my prediction without excessive humiliation though. Sure wish Cold Zoomie would man-up here. If he, you, Andy or etc. suddenly started yelling “duck” I’d very probably be putting on my anti-radiation underwear and my aluminum foil cap.
Do have a question for the Colonel, who I guess reads lots of these things and who I hope sees this:
First, assuming the most reasonably likely scenario about this new intelligence the Israelis are touting which is that same is going to be at least reasonably ambiguous/questionable, right? (Because that’s the case with most of same I suspect, true?) Okay then, if so can you tell us (roughly) how much will it be discounted by our people or the Brits (if you know the latter at all) given the fact it *is* coming from the obviously self-interested Israelis?
That is, I don’t suspect there’s any hard and fast methadological law the analysts follow about such things (because that would seem kinda dumb and they ain’t). But obviously it’s a factor they consider, true? So can you give us some insight into how much of one you think it will be? Again, assuming typical, usual ambiguity in the intell itself.
Seems to me on such a huge thing as whether the Iranians are about to get a bomb (or at least such a huge thing in the minds of so many American and Brit policy-makers apparently), “considering the self-interested source” would damn near rule out “officially” accepting anything less than extraordinarily *unambiguous* evidence, no? (“Officially” as in … changing the recent NIE.)
So, can you enlighten us here maybe a bit? I know it’s probably only possible to a degree, but still would be interesting. How is such a “self-interested/other Intell agency source” factor looked at?
Are you a Brit?
The intel agencies will accept what their political masters imply that they should accept. The only exceptions to this will occur in the event of a “revolt” as in last year’s NIE. pl
TomB, with respect if you knew what the people in intelligence and elsewhere had done in your name, you would agree that Scarlett and many others are indeed whores and traitors.
…However none of us are going to receive the full picture at all if the Neocons get their way, and if we do prevail and drive these loathsome creatures out of office and into jail, it will still take about 25 years of scholarly research to uncover the full depths of their iniquity.
Don’t let the scholarly tome of the postings here fool you. The people who facilitated the invasion of Iraq are plain evil and responsible for the death of at least 100,000 innocent Iraqis, let alone our own troops.
I hope we will have revenge one day.
I am not a professional historian. Everything I write should be checked.
Cowling was from a poor lower middle class background (as were many at Peterhouse). I suspect that much of his future animus towards liberals was that they tended to be upper middle class grandees. Cowling, while a Tory who loved to hate, was also a natural anarchist – behaviour-wise and in his sexually predatory nature. He was also a brilliant historian:
In the 50’s and 60’s his ideas were extremely unfashionable. Interestingly, he became a great drinking companion of Kingsley Amis – Martin Amis’s father – and journalists like George Gale. Colin Welch and Peregrine Worsthorne. (Michael Howard, future Tory leader, was at Peterhouse, but I don’t know if Cowling taught him).
But it was from 65-76 that a first group of right wing historians formed round him at Peterhouse – Vincent, Cooke, Jones – who in some ways laid some of the intellectual foundations for Thatcherism. Then in the 70’s came Edward Norman, Watkin, Letwin and Scruton.
In 1978 he was one of the founders of the Salisbury Group (Lord Salisbury was a British Tory Prime Minister in the 1890’s at the height of British Imperialism).
(The idea that we shouldn’t have fought the 2nd World War – it was an idea that was around in the Cowling group, but I don’t think any of them ever formally wrote a piece on it – was essentially a defence of British Imperialism. Chamberlain was an imperialist – from a very imperialist family – who saw European entanglements as disastrous to Britain, wished to do a deal with Hitler to iron out the inequities of the Treaty of Versailles so that he wouldn’t cause Britain any more problems, so that Britain could return to its natural position of dominating the world through its empire and thus restoring the emaciated British economy).
Others taught by him or influenced by his personality were Michael Portillo, Oliver Letwin, Charles Moore, Norman Stone, Niall Ferguson, Frank Johnson and Andrew Roberts:
An interesting re-alignment of class lines was taking place here (Apologies to American readers for this British obsession). While Cowling and his contemporaries had been largely grammar school and lower middle class, by now, with conservatism fashionable and “moral” once more, his adherents were mainly upper middle class and public school. I always treasure tv pictures of Andrew Roberts and his Salisbury Group chums meeting on gilded Lord North Street drawing room sofas and recreating an 1890’s atmosphere.
Then came the most recent Peterhouse creation – but I don’t know how much Cowling, now old, had to do with it. The Henry Jackson Society. Two shadow front benchers who are extremely close to Cameron – Vaizey and Gove – are members. Oliver Letwin, ex Petrean, might be. Other members include David Trimble, Colonel Tim Collins, Irwin Stelzer (another Cameron fan) and the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Their Lord High Patrons include Perle, Kristol. Woolsey, and other American neo-cons:
On Fabian imperialism, it might be worth investigating someone like Robert Cooper, British dilpomat and author of “The Post Modern State” which advocates the “new liberal imperialism” and had a large influence on Blair and other members of Nu Labor in the lead up to Iraq. He is now ominously Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. He is responsible to Javier Solana, High Representative of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, and has assisted with the implementation of European strategic, security and defence policy. (Wikipedia) Oh dear.
Other Fabians within the Labour government include Ed Balls, and I suspect our present seventeen year old Foreign Minister, Ed Miliband, leans that way more than a little.
Pat Lang wrote:
“The intel agencies will accept what their political masters imply that they should accept. The only exceptions to this will occur in the event of a “revolt” as in last year’s NIE”
Ah but I wasn’t asking what they’d be bullied into “accepting,” I was asking if there’s a generalized standard way this figures into their methodologies/how they consider such things themselves, amongst themselves. Secret from their masters even, under their covers, at night.
I have no desire to lynch anyone — nor have I written anything that could be interpreted as indicating any such desire.
All I want is a repeat of what happened in 1956, when Eden finally got fed up with the incompetence and shenanigans of MI6. He forced Sir John Sinclair to resign, and brought in an outside candidate — Dick White of MI5 — to clean the place up.
Re your question to Johnf about the revisionism of Cowling and his associates.
I have only read the discussions of others, and not the original works, and have no claim to be an expert on this material. But Cowling and those who think like him — such as John Charmley and the late Alan Clark — are I think skeptical about the wisdom of going to war in 1939. And they emphatically do argue that Britain should have made peace with Hitler following the fall of France.
Ironically, this puts them fundamentally at odds with the veneration for Churchill which is common among the neocons.
There is a fascinating account of Churchill’s dogged and ultimately successful fight against Halifax’s attempt to open up avenues for negotiations with Germany after the French collapse by John Lukacs, in his study Five Days in London, May 1940. Discussing the ‘revisionists’, Lukacs argues that Churchill:
‘Understood something that not many people understand even now. The greatest threat to Western civilization was not Communism. It was National Socialism. The greatest and most dynamic power in the world was not Soviet Russia. It was the Third Reich of Germany. The greatest revolutionary of the twentieth century was not Lenin or Stalin. It was Hitler.’
This is what I think; although communism was a grave threat, we were certainly much better off entering the nuclear age with the Soviet Union as the adversary than with the Third Reich in control of Europe.
It was always a moot point whether anything could ‘deter’ Hitler. But as the great American foreign correspondent and anti-appeasement polemicist Edgar Ansel Mowrer argued, if there was any hope of successful ‘deterrence’, it depended upon an alliance between the democracies and the Soviet Union.
Confronting German claims on Czechovakia in 1938 without a real threat of two-front war would have been a gamble on the success of a coup attempt against an overwhelming popular ‘Caesarist’ leader by a group of military men and diplomats without any broad base of popular support.
The kind of unilateral guarantee that Chamberlain gave to Poland the following year, without attempting to involve the Soviets, only gave Beck rope to hang himself with — as Montag noted incisively on an earlier thread.
It is however important to be aware of the counter-arguments of the supporters of appeasement. Central to Chamberlain’s diplomacy was actually an interpretation of Soviet foreign policy with important resemblances to that of the neoconservatives.
Like the neocons, Chamberlain and those who thought like him believed that the Soviets were masters of deception — and adept at exploiting the gullibility of naïve people in the democracies who took what they said at face value.
In concrete terms, this meant that many of the ‘appeasers’ — and their American fellow-travellers, including the former ambassador to the Soviet Union William C. Bullitt and many in the U.S. Foreign Service — thought that Soviet offers to collaborate in the defence of Czechoslovakia were a baited hook. Their actual purpose, according to this interpretation, was not to avoid war, but to encourage the democracies to a confrontation with Hitler, which they hoped would precipitate war.
As they had no land border with Czechoslovakia, and the intervening states, Poland and Czechoslovakia, were deeply reluctant to let Soviet troops pass through their territory, the Soviets could easily stand aside from the conflict, watching the European powers destroy each other and enabling the Soviets to acquire a dominant position in Europe at neglible risk.
In this view, opponents of appeasement, like Churchill, Mowrer, or indeed my own late father, were little more than ‘useful idiots’, invaluable tools of a cunning Soviet deception strategy.
The argument as to whether the appeasers’ view of Stalin’s foreign policy was right is still going on. Among recent restatements is the 1990 ‘Icebreaker’ study by the GRU defector — and likely British intelligence asset — Vladimir Rezun, who writes under the name of ‘Suvorov’, which was highly influential in the former Soviet Union in the Nineties. A far more scholarly presentation of the same view is the 1992 study Stalin in Power by the Princeton historian and former U.S. Foreign Service officer Robert C. Tucker.
The restatement by ‘Suvorov’ of an old German claim that Hitler simply preempted a Soviet attack on Germany was effectively demolished by the leading U.S. authority on the war in the East, Colonel David Glantz, in his 1998 study Stumbling Colossus. The argument that Stalin had pursued a consistent strategy to precipitate a war in Europe has been attacked by among others the Israeli military historian Gabriel Gorodetsky in his 1999 study Grand Delusion.
If Tucker’s view is right, then one can argue that the possibility of a common front of the Soviets and the democracies against Hitler never existed — and that ‘deterrence’ was ultimately impossible. If Gorodetsky is right, then there is obvious enormous force in the suggestion — made on another thread by Babak Makkinejad — that the British failure to respond to Litvinov’s ‘collective security’ overtures made avoidable catastrophes inevitable.
If that is so, one might say that Britain’s refusal to ‘appease’ Stalin in 1938-9 is quite as responsible for the Second World War, and indeed the Holocaust, as our attempts to ‘appease’ Hitler over the same period.
I tend, following the Cambridge (U.K.) historian Jonathan Haslam, to think that while Gorodetsky overstates his case, the ‘appeasement’ view of Stalin’s foreign policy is simply wrong. But then, I am not a specialist in this material, and my readings of the evidence may be distorted by filial piety!
Coming back to the claim that Britain should have made peace after the fall of France, this can be framed in two ways. It can be justified on the basis that the British Empire could have coexisted with a Europe dominated by the Third Reich. It can also be justified on the basis of a mirror image of the strategy that Chamberlain attributed to Stalin — that the likely outcome of Britain standing aside was that Hitler and Stalin would have fought each other to exhaustion.
In neither case, however, would one have been likely to see the kind of on the whole very beneficent Pax Americana which resulted from the deployment of American power from its bridgehead in Britain: and one might well have seen the New Dark Age that Churchill feared. Like Lukacs, I continue to think that Churchill was right.
The answer is as you would expect. The worker bees buzz together constantly. the grandees (mixed metaphor alert)are wholly political creatures who would be afraid to discuss the fallacies of the elected. Fear of betrayal would be too great. In the middle somewhere you have the working leader level. They are torn between these worlds. pl
Sure wish Cold Zoomie would man-up here.
My “Put Up or Shut Up” comment on 5 May:
Remember our “Train Travel” discussion months and months ago? My guess was that Republican congress-critters wouldn’t support any action against Iran due to the coming elections, and may actually exert enough pressure to stop it. As long as the Dems don’t completely implode, I think this is even more of a possibility now than then. Bush and Cheney are one big albatross for the GOP. My only concern is that the GOP congress-critters’ lizard brains no longer consider self preservation to be more important than authoritarian party cohesion.
My ever prescient gut tells me that this is the neocon’s Battle of the Bulge – the one last push for victory before all is lost?
To clarify my position, the neocons are fighting hard and will make gains only to lose in the long run.
That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it…until I change my mind later today…or maybe some other time…or maybe never…sorta…kinda.
Anent the Imperial Cult, I note a new book out in the US: Gene Healy, The Cult of the Presidency. America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power.
“Throughout American history, virtually every major advance in executive power has come during a war or a warlike crisis. Convince the public that we are at war, and constitutional barriers to action fall, as power flows to the commander in chief….”
Glenn Greenwald at Salon notes the book per McCain.
So after Pharsalia, Caesar goes to Egypt and, having read up on Alexander the Great, follows in his footsteps to be divinized as the “Son of God” (on Brumalia-winter solstice) at the Temple of Jupiter Ammon. He returns to Rome via Syria and stops at Pesinus, the seat of the Goddess Rhea-Cybele, in Galatia.
Here are some photos and description of the Temple of Jupiter Ammon at Siwa, Egypt:
“Divus Julius habuit pulvinar, simulacrum, fastigium, flaminem…” (Cic., II Phillipic)
Following the demise of Divus Julius, Augustus assumed the mantle of divinity as the Son of the Father (Julius). This cult was attended to by priests recruited from the Luperci, the most ancient order. This priesthood, the “Juliani”, was abolished in the sixth century around the time of Anastasius Silentiarius. The first chief priest (bishop) of this priesthood was Marc Antony.
The Dispensationalist Cult (Christian Zionists) leader John Hagee penned a campaign book endorsing Bush 43….there are about 50 million Americans participating in the Dispensationalist Cult which has a priesthood in the thousands across America. Dispensationalism, one could argue, is the official state cult for the Imperial American Republic at least during Bush43. Dispensationalism is, of course, a heresy from a traditional Christian point of view. I take it as more a pagan thing…Jesus as Wotan etc.
Chris Hedges makes some interesting points along this line in his book, American Fascists. The Christian Right and the War on America New York: (Free Press, 2006).
Compare with novelist Sinclair Lewis’ classic, It Can’t Happen Here. (Lewis in his research for the novel made a detailed study of Italian Fascism).
I think that’s a fair characterisation as regards Labour and Tory cleavages over Israel.
More biographic and institutional data please!
A good start for the Israeli end of the neoconservative movement might be the Jonathan Institute:
On recent neocon machinations in Europe (funded by the Department of Defense), check out Jim Lobe:
Johnf’s Peterhouse link is very interesting. According to his Times obituary, Cowling taught Charles Moore, Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts.
According to Stephen Dorril’s book MI6, Roberts was approached to join MI6 at Cambridge. He went to Caius and Gonville College rather than Peterhouse, as did Dean Godson and the former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson. The latter provoked this comment from Gideon Rachman:
“MI6 must be rueing the day that they ever tapped Richard on the shoulder. But it surprises me that they still recruit at Cambridge. After all, they had pretty mixed results with Philby, Burgess and McClean.”
It’s actually quite silly to take Israeli pronouncements of imminent Iranian weaponisation as if they’re discrete events – you need to look at the whole series, going back to the early 1990’s, and according to which Iran has become a nuclear power just about every year since the late 1990’s.
IIRC, back in 1991 Mossad was actually trying to convince the US that Iran had ALREADY acquired nuclear weapons from the FSU, and that a Desert Storm style operation was necessary.
Back in 2005, Israeli intelligence was confidently asserting that Iran would have a nuclear weapon by this year at the latest; in 2004 it was asserting the 2006 time-frame. These statements are not “intelligence” estimates as such – they are part of a political influence/propaganda operation that is designed to advance a policy objective, of long-standing, which is for the US to “do” something militarily to Iran, and, if they fail to “excite” the military option at least backstop the default position of “freezing” any possibility of normalising US-Iran relations, which is the worst-case scenario for Israel given current political realities in Teheran.
You can also go back and look at the series of US NIE’s on this matter that have consistently stated, since the early 1980’s, that Iran was 5-10 years away from becoming a nuclear weapons power. The 2005 NIE estimate repeated almost exactly the same formula as a 20+ year old predecessor.
If we’re going to play the odds game – the chance of any kind of US attack on Iran remains at less than 5% under current circumstances. Anyone who thinks that it’s an even money bet is just doubling down – again – from prior failed predictions.
David Habakkuk wrote:
“I have no desire to lynch anyone — nor have I written anything that could be interpreted as indicating any such desire.”
Naw, didn’t mean it literally David, sorry. And as you obviously keep a close eye on this stuff I’ll admit that based on same alone and what the Col. has said I’d at least be willing to bet that if these particular guys like Scarlett aren’t all whores then at least they’ve been too easy.
And thank you Col. Lang too. Kinda sad all this of course, almost like there’s two entirely distinct reasons evolved for all our huge Intell establishment: Maybe used as it should be on little things (“aha! Paraguay is going to join the WTO!”), while on the big things just a cover for politicians to manipulate and then say they’re following same.
Must be hard to attract (and even harder to keep) good people. Still, like I say, you gotta honor what most are probably trying to do. Paid a pittance, work twisted by the “grandees” … gotta feel thankless. We oughta remember them.
Wonder if there isn’t some merit in making heads of Intell like, say, the Fed chairmen. Terms not running consecutively with Presidents and all. I.e., divorce ’em from their pimps a bit.
Just out of curiosity, have you checked out Col. Lang’s essay, “Bureaucrats versus Artists”? Here’s a link:
It’s a good read and presents, at least in my view, a paradigm that has universal application, from the academic world to the blue stocking law firms to advertising agencies and far, far beyond. In fact, after I read it, one of my first reactions was “Holy Christ…if I read this correctly the Pentagon culture is no different than LA” You have Paddy Chayevsky as artist and then Michael Ovitz as bureaucrat but they all wear a uniform. Maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong. I dunno’.
Peter Hounam produced a documentary about the infiltration of the Pentagon into Hollywood. If I may, I find the reverse a far more interesting story. The transformation of the Pentagon into Hollywood. If this is true, then at least a few bureaucrats at the Pentagon represent a very low grade genre — action adventure. Not good. Not good at all. ‘Tis a pity because a comic book psychology portends pre-emptive strikes for no reason at all, except perhaps marketing.
I respect you for refraining from telling us your origin. Gratuitous exposition is the fastest way to undermine dramatic structure. I say let it serve as an act break.
While reading your comment, the Julius Epstein screenplay, “Cross of Iron” percolated up out of nowhere. One could certainly argue that the role of Stransky reflects neoconservative traits as no character in all of fiction. But it was really the ending that came to mind after trying to gauge the sentiment underlying your words. I could not help but see the following words of Bertolt Brecht that rolled across the screen, creating an ending to a film that, lo and behold, now serves the function of foreshadowing:
“Don’t rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world stood up and stopped the Bastard, the Bitch that bore him is in heat again.”
Of course, I reckon’ there is another response to Stransky. During the conflict, the grotesque “bastard” helps define one’s self and, further, which side one leans in the human drama. From this heightened sense of awareness, one can enter old age and even, maybe, just maybe, the death experience with gratefulness and thanks. (not sure about the last one). But such an interpretation is a mere attempt at the nonManichean approach and such an experience is unlikely to occur, I suppose, unless the bastard is defeated, if not dead and gone. Just had an image of Churchill kicking dust over Hitler’s ashes or something of that sort. Sgt. Steiner would have done the same with Stransky.
The policy-intelligence relationship has long been a contentious one and much has been written on the topic. There is no perfect solution IMO. Policymakers and politicians, by nature, believe intelligence should serve their preferred policy choices, so it’s no surprise they are not happy when it doesn’t, nor when they appoint people in high positions who share the same biases and policy preferences. The US and UK are actually better than most – for example, Castro pretty much ignored his own intelligence apparatus during the Cuban missile crisis, preferring instead Soviet estimates. In many countries there is no separation between intelligence and policy.
There is little the intelligence community can do about this beyond very carefully vetting and wording its analytical products and, on occasion, leaking to the press.
Speaking of which, the press doesn’t help much and are even more apt to cherry-pick conclusions (often the most sensational) and either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent them. Five years after Iraq, most in the press still show a shocking ignorance of military matters in general and intelligence in particular. For example, it seems most reporters still believe the CIA is the head of the intelligence community.
All these factors together make it virtually impossible for the average Joe or Jane to separate the BS from reality. It’s very difficult even for someone like me who has experience in the intelligence community and who has been trained in analysis and evaluation. It’s one reason I’m inherently skeptical of what most purport to be “facts” and anything that’s reported in the press. Today’s hyper-politicized environment only makes things worse and allows those with agendas to operate with greater freedom.
Johnf, Tom Griffin, David Habakkuk,
Many thanks for the real help on British politics and foreign policy. I will try to work through this data to get a sense of the networks and dynamics and policy. One key area to flesh out is how the British networks interface and overlap with the American (and Israeli) networks.
1. Dean Godson’s name came up as the brother of Roy. I am not clear on this Dean Godson’s citizenship…is he a British subject? US citizen? both? Israeli also?
I can say that it is my understanding that some of Roy’s work on Soviet disinformation appears to have been lifted from a retired veteran US government Soviet specialist without attribution. Before she died, at 101, she gave me that story on one of my visits to her home in northern Virginia.
2. Per WWII, from President Roosevelt’s perspective and his military and diplomatic advisors, I think it is fair to say that the Pacific as a Japanese Imperial lake and the Atlantic as a Nazi lake combined with a cluster of Latin American dictatorships under Nazi sway was not a good prospect for our long term national interest. With a European balance of power in German hands and a Pacific balance of power in Japanese hands and subversion south of the border we would in effect have been encircled and constrained.
From our perspective, it can be argued, the road to WWII started in earnest with the Japanese aggression against Manchuria in 1931. The official US State Dept. publication “Peace and War. United States Foreign Policy 1931-1941” (Washington, DC: 1943)begins the sequence of events with Chapter II “Japanese Conquest of Manchuria, 1931-1932”
William Langer’s two volumes — The Challenge to Isolation (1952), and The Undeclared War (1953) — present I think a realistic appraisal of the situation written close to the time by a participant with wide access to US intelligence and high policy circles. Another of his books, Our Vichy Gamble is also important.
American historians generally consider the Fall of France in June 1940 as the wake up call over here for the public. It was a shock to Americans and brought the ominous geopolitical situation into sharp and dramatic focus.
I must say to hear that some British historians, politicians and others TODAY argue that the UK should have just cut a deal with Hitler after the Fall of France gives pause. But it is an indication of a certain mindset current today not just in Neocon-ish circles.
3. IMO, Vansittart on the British side saw things correctly in the mist procession…as did Walsingham in times past.
There is evidence that at least one of the players in the drama may have thought as Cowling did. According to Simon Sebag Montefiore in “Stalin, Court of the Red Tsar” p308, Europe in 1939 was in Stalin’s words a “Poker Game” in which each of the three players hoped to persuade the other two to destroy each other, leaving the spoils to the Third. The players being Stalin, Hitler and Chamberlain/Daladier.
However, I would have thought that the signing of Russian/German non aggression treaty would have removed the appeasement option from the table in the minds of many people at the time. I’ll have to find my copy of Lukac’s excellent book and see what role it might have played in Halifax and Churchill’s thinking.
What concerns me is that there are uncomfortable parallels between Stalin’s worldview (and domestic activities)in 1939 and the Neocons today.
WWII was the continuation of WWI. It did not have any other independent and suffcient cause.
On Dean Godson, two facts which may be relevant:
He served as special assistant to US Naval Secretary John Lehman:
His mother, Ruth Perlman, was in the Haganah:
Britain has been at the Great Game for well-over 200 years. While the sun now sets on the British empire, it would be folly to presume that the practitioners of the Great Game have thrown in the towel. It was the British White Paper that provided the “16 words” in Bush’s State of the Union message, and John Scarlett, along with Tony Blair’s inner circle of neocons (Alastair Campbell, Phil Bassett, etal.) were fully integrated into the agitprop apparatus, called the Coalition Information Centre. Was there a larger element of the British tail wagging the American neocon dog than has been generally presumed? I keep thinking about the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney hardly made a move vis. the Middle East, without first dining with that old Arab Bureau fox, Bernard Lewis, at the Naval Observatory mansion.
Just some further thoughts, provoked by the recent postings on the Scarlett efforts, and the pending tryst with Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
Yes, that is often said and of course our military was prudently preparing for the next war the day after Versailles one might argue.
Why? 1) The “incomplete victory” General Pershing spoke of owing to the premature Armistice. We certainly should have taken Metz, don’t you think? 2) The political-military time bombs in the Versailles Treaty thanks to the grossly incompetent Woodrow Wilson among others.
How do you see it? Would you say that the fall of Bismarck was an indicator of things to come? What of the UK-France-Russia alignment of the 1890s against Germany? How does the rapprochement between the UK and the US in the 1890s fit in? Any comments on the Hamburg-Berlin-Baghdad project? And what about Haushofer’s idea to replace the exiled Kaiser with the “Fuehrer konzept.” And then what about Stinnes and German heavy industry. And then the linkages of this complex with certain British and French (and American) circles who were all too pleased with that odd little pervert from Austria. And how about the Cecil Bloc? The Milner Circle? And come to think about it, just how did Lenin manage his coup d’etat…little help from the German General Staff? Little help from London? Elsewhere? And what about French politics? The sleezy Laval and so on? And what about international banking circles such as Lazards (London-Paris-New York) who favored fascism? And the Harriman interests?
thanks for the data anent the Haganah membership of Godson’s mother. John Lehman, as I recall, was close to the Strausz-Hupe circle at the University of Pennsylvania (FPRI – Foreign Policy Reserach Institute) and the “protracted conflict folks.” Strausz-Hupe, an Austrian emigre to the US curiously was an investment banker who then became transformed into an “authority” on geopolitics. Like Paul Nitze. Lehman is linked to Frank Gaffney’s Neocon paper mill called the Center for Security Policy. It is VERY influential on Capitol Hill. Lehman is an advisor to Senator McCain. See Wiki entry
While you’re at it, don’t forget the journalism of Con Coughlin for the Daily Telegraph, a British Judith Miller. He specializes in re-cycling forged intelligence material. He especially shone during the attempt to smear George Galloway with receiving money from Saddam. Galloway got substantial libel damages from the Telegraph.
The system as it now operates started in the days of Clinton. A lot of the most damaging accusations against Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal were originally made in Murdoch’s London tabloid The Sun. These were then headlined by the ex-Murdoch journalist Matt Drudge on his website, from where they passed out into the American mainstream.
The Telegraph operated this system under the neo-con Conrad Black, and it is still operated by today’s partly neo-con Telegraph through Coughlin’s journalism. The last time I saw it in operation was, I think, during the Syrian “nuclear” ho-ha, when I’m pretty certain one of Coughlin’s “stories” – presumably from the Israelis – was high-lighted on Drudge. A lot of Murdoch’s London “Times’s” “stories” on this subject have also been similarly bled into the American media this way.
Feeling I’d said all I could I furled my flag defending Scarlett, et. al., and then read your post to me reminding of the misery that this war has inflicted and etc. I guess my only defense is that when it comes to issues of even the most felonious or profound the only logic we seem to have is the same that exists for judging the misdemeanors and the mundane. But of course however true it’s still a tragedy and so I did take your larger point, and thank you.
Cold War Zoomie: Great Israel’s last push/Battle of the Bulge analogy. Assuming otherwise merited, response could be shortest, coolest NIE ever, no? I.e., “Nuts.”
londanium: I sensed but didn’t know any of that. But as Homer Simpson might say, no fair making a guy feel shallow just because you aren’t. (And am amazed you see only a 5% chance. Wow. Do you mean to encompass the chance of an Israeli attack in that too?)
Sidney: No I haven’t read the Col.’s thing and I will certainly try to now. Thank you too.
Andy: And you. I think in a way you said what I was trying to, only with the benefit of your experience. (And elegance, which of course I hold against you.)
In any event, my running prediction tally as of now is as follows:
Andy, Kim (still kind of, I think), Curious, Sidney, me, and now CWZ and londanium (at least as to the U.S.) all saying no attack. Feeney/Fromthebleacher saying yes with worrisome logic.
From the newest thread I think GSB, arbogast, JohnH and abraham seem to have some strong opinions on the issue and might join Feeney/Fromthebleacher, but I don’t know. I guess I’ll ask and then maybe quit bugging people; enough will have seen it to know whether they want to weigh in or not and maybe some slight conclusions will be drawable.
What one really needs are ways of bringing together information about these various networks, so they a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on.
One network which has not been mentioned on the British side I know something about, as it came out of the current affairs department of London Weekend Television, where I worked in the early Thatcher years.
An important part of the evolution of British neoconservatism has to with the rightward shift of many in the Labour Party whose political formation — like that of Blair himself — was in the student radicalism of the late 60s and early 70s. This shift was actually going on, under the surface, even at the time when the radical tide in the Labour Party appeared at its height, in the years immediately following Thatcher’s election victory in 1979.
In their identification with the shop stewards’ movement in the trade unions, and ideas of nationalisation and economic planning, the Labour left was actually moving in a direction diametrically opposed to that of informed opinion. Before the 1983 election I tried to find an economist who would defend the economic proposals of the Labour election manifesto in a studio discussion. It was easy to find economists who had believed in industrial interventionism — simply impossible to find credible ones who still did.
Among the most important popularisers of Friedmanite ideas was Peter Jay at the Times — the son of Douglas Jay, who had been a prominent figure on the Gaitskellite right of the Labour Party, and was later our ambassador in Washington. Along with Sam Brittan at the FT, he was instrumental in disseminating the monetarist ideas that Thatcher would take up. (He later told a friend of ours — an old-style one nation Tory — that he felt rather like a man who had shown a map of the world to Attila the Hun.)
After LWT won its franchise, the current affairs producer John — now Lord — Birt brought in Jay to present the new company’s flagship current affairs programme, Weekend World, which started broadcasting in 1972. The programme also popularised monetarist ideas. Its economic consultants, first Terry Burns then Alan Budd, both moved on to become Chief Economic Advisers at the Treasury.
Rather pompously, Birt and Jay proclaimed that Weekend World had a ‘mission to explain’. But whatever the department’s failings, we did take our research seriously, and one consequence was that a lot of former Seventies left-wingers were in some measure ‘mugged by reality’.
In terms of influence, the most significant person to come out LWT was undoubtedly Peter Mandelson. In fairness, although he had flirted with the Young Communist League as a student, Mandelson’s mentality was always that of a Labour machine politician, in the tradition of his grandfather, Herbert Morrison. Later he put his television experience to good use, when along with Alastair Campbell he taught New Labour spin doctoring.
Two genuine former communists who passed through the department — John Lloyd and David Aaronovitch — went on to become leading journalistic cheerleaders for the Iraq War. Lloyd wrote a long article in the Financial Times just before the war, treating Richard Pipes as a prophet vindicated on Soviet nuclear strategy, and on this basis recommending the ideas of Daniel Pipes. Aaronovitch moved from the Independent, through the Guardian, to the Times: an interesting example of the way political alignments in Britain have changed.
Birt himself was brought in by the then BBC Chairman, Marmaduke Hussey, first to run BBC current affairs, then as Director-General. Actually I think this was largely done to appease Mrs T, and prevent her destroying the institution. Later, Hussey came to repent what he had done. Asked if he thought Birt was a ‘successful arse-licker’, he replied: ‘Oh yes, and it’s done him very well.’
Without doubt, the BBC did need reforming. But Birt relied far too heavily on management consultants, and treated the views of his staff with contempt — indeed almost going out of his way to antagonise them. He contributed greatly to the final marginalisation of the ‘artists’ and triumph of the ‘bureaucrats’ at the BBC, to use the Colonel’s terminology. Despite the shambles he had produced, he was employed by Blair to do ‘blue skies thinking’. Incidentally, Birt’s close LWT aide, Barry Cox, had managed Blair’s campaign for the Labour leadership.
Birt’s successor as Director General, Greg Dyke, who was forced to resign in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, also came out of LWT. By background he was a popular newspaper journalist — also a dynamo of energy, and a natural leader of men. In 1979 I had virtually to have a stand up row with him to get anything critical about shop stewards into a programme. Later he went into management, and they sent him to Harvard Business School. When I knew him he spoke and wrote a clear and blunt English. He came back from Harvard mouthing a kind of management Volapük.
Not longer ago Dyke told another ex-LWT colleague that while people like the colleague (and I) had made the programmes we wanted to make, he made the programmes people wanted to watch. Why, in terms of such a populist philosophy, there should be a BBC, is not clear.
Initially Dyke supported the Iraq war — he was bounced into a premature defence of Andrew Gilligan’s reporting by Alastair Campbell’s bullying, and made a hash of things. It was reported that Mandelson, who had been Northern Ireland Secretary, was instrumental in the appointment of Hutton, who as a Northern Irish judge was instinctively sympathetic to the security forces, and hostile to journalists.
A lot of Sixties and Seventies radicals actually came from families that had generally voted conservative — this was true of Blair, also probably I think of Dyke. A depressing thing is where people who fought Thatcher on the points where she was patently right — trade unions and industrial intervention — ended up with a complete intellectual capitulation to Thatcherism.
One consequence is that they really do believe that economic self-interest is the essential motivator of human action — and that the key to creating effective institutions it to channel it. A lot of them also swallow the Thomas Friedman ‘flat world’ nonsense. It is very easy to shift from believing that there is some kind of natural teleology of the world towards socialism, to something like the Fukuyama ‘end of history’ view.
One of the worst aspects, however, is the obsession with information management. A reservation some of us had about Weekend World was that it came to be preoccupied with producing opinion polls or interviews that would make a splash in newspaper headlines. What Mandelson and Blair created was a system of government dominated by an obsession with headlines.
And this, among other things, led a very distinguished public servant, Sir Christopher Foster, to call Blair ‘the worst prime minister since Lord North’.
Thank you for your comments.
US was irrelevant to the process that led to WWI – in my opinion. The economic foundations over which the peace of Europe had rested had ended by 1899. It was a tribute to its profound success that the European politics continued for another 14 years before imploding.
As far as I can tell, there was an emotional desire by all sides to go into war but perhaps not by equal amounts. I recall watching grainy footage of enthusiastic crowds in UK, in France, and in Russia. And how the socialists split and supported each state. And how Jaurez was assassinated because he stuck to his pacifism.
Consider: in France, for example, you had these border regiments whose officers took themselves and their men into Alsace at nights coming back in the morning with faces drenched in tears. And did not the Kaiser say: “Germany has kept her powder dry and her sword sharp.”?
There was also the expectation of a short while and quick settlement of the colonial holdings as well as the disposition of the Ottoman Empire.
The War’s duration,, it seems to me, lasted unexpectedly long to most Europeans, leaders and followers alike. They (the European leaders) had no excuse since the American Civil War had already delineated the shapes of wars to come.
Reading the novels of Martin du Garde, Mann, and Musil one is left with the impression of a dumb, fat, and bored population that sought war as a diversion. (And all sides thought that they would win!)
It reminds me of a line that I read about the Roman Civil War after the assassination of Julius Creaser; “The day the ruling class committed suicide.”
Having said all these, I cannot see WWII taking place without WWI.
Does everyone on this blog work for Hollywood?
LWT was also, I feel, responsible for the single most destructive act in British television – even worse than Birt at the Beeb. Namely, all those super well-groomed liberals and lefties on the Board like Melyvn Bragg, who, under the honeyed whispers of chairman and merchant banker Sir Christopher Bland, decided to privatise the whole operation and make themselves millionaires overnight. Sometime in the early 90’s.
ITV has plummeted ever since. And, with wonderful irony, its not only the programmes which have disintegrated but also the profits. So viewers don’t always want the lowest common denominator.
And while we’re on the subject of old Trots mooring themselves to Attilla the Hen, lets not forget Sir Alfred Sherman.
It wasn’t LWT who were responsible for the ITV auctions.
The idea was recommended in 1986 by the Report of the Committee on Financing the BBC, chaired by the economist Professor Alan Peacock, with the FT economics columnist Sam Brittan a key member.
It was a conception so idiotic that only rather simple-minded free market economists like Peacock and Brittan could have thought it up. Anyone with the least knowledge of the industry was aware that, given the immense imponderables, there was no rational method of forecasting advertising revenue. So the idea actually involved awarding franchises either to the most reckless, and leaving them without money to make programmes — or to those bidders lucky enough not to face serious challenge.
That key staff in the companies could then explain that because they might be poached by other bidders, they needed ‘golden handcuffs’ was simply one of a whole series of unintended consequences of the original silly idea. It certainly may very well be that it was the LWT group — Bland, Dyke, Bragg, and Barry Cox — who thought it up.
The destruction of the old ‘public service’ culture in ITV followed very rapidly — with LWT and Dyke in the lead.
In one sense, this does not matter all that much. On Weekend World, we tried to write as though for an intelligent sixth-former — that is, someone curious but without prior knowledge. In those days, such a person had to look for information to newspapers and television programmes. These days, they have the immense resources of the internet.
The decline of serious investigative journalism does matter, although there is very good investigative work done on the net. What matters most of all is the disintegration of standards in the television news programmes. I think this has probably gone further in the U.S., than in the U.K., but even here they are shadows of what they were.
When someone can make a convincing argument for Israeli capacities to attack Iranian nuclear sites that doesn’t involve using nuclear missiles launched from within, or close to, Israeli territory, I’ll assign a value; currently, it stands at zero.
I don’t understand why you think that my odds are so out of line; ludicrously high odds of a US attack on Iran have been assigned for several years now, which I can only put down to a serious analytical failure when this presumptive high-probability event continually fails to materialise.
The objective circumstances that are required to “enable” US military action have deteriorated every year since the invasion of Iraq, and continue to deteriorate on a near-daily basis.
What one really needs are ways of bringing together information about these various networks, so they a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on.
An online wiki is one way of doing this. Sourcewatch is a good example:
Spinwatch runs a similar wiki called SpinProfiles in the UK, but it is not currently publicly available.
“I don’t understand why you think that my odds are so out of line….”
No no, not “out of line” at all; certainly defensible and indeed between this post and your last on the subject as well reasoned as my somewhat higher estimate, if not moreso. And in fact as it was significantly lower than mine and what seemed to me that of others’ here too I very much liked its bold and provocative nature. So often these blogs can turn into embarrassing echo chambers it seems to me.
I guess my somewhat higher general estimate just stems from a relative lesser belief in the ability to tell the future from the past. (Because I didn’t eat broccoli yesterday don’t mean I ain’t gonna eat it today.) But yeah, there’s been lots of predictions about us striking Iran in the past that haven’t materialized, and yes even the “objective conditions enabling us to do so” have deteriorated.
Like Churchill used to say though, while true, I wonder if this isn’t also a bit non-comprehensive. That is, not only that other objective grounds make such a strike more likely, but also that such decisions are not determined by objective grounds anyway but by what’s subjectively in the heads of the decision-makers.
As to the former, objectively, as time has gone by the Iranians are coming closer and closer to enrichment ability, and both George Bush’s time to forestall that has gotten objectively shorter and shorter, and so has the Israelis’, including their doing so with Mr. Bush’s approval, backing, help, defense, and etc., etc.
And as to the latter, those objective changes may have changed the subjective views of the Israelis and/or Mr. Bush. After all, the objective circumstances required to enable us to enter the war and fight the Japanese (or the Germans) starting in 1941 or even 1942 were abysmal. But we went ahead and announced an embargo on oil to Japan anyway which they had repeatedly said meant war. And, with the perfect retrospective verdict of history, the objective circumstances required to enable us to go into Iraq and achieve what was wanted have turned out to be non-existent too.
So of course it’s the subjective question of what’s in the minds of Mr. Bush and the Israeli’s here that’s the bottom line, and thus to a fair extent it’s what’s come out of their mouths at least that have me thinking in higher terms than you. But I don’t for a moment gainsay the validity of you discounting same to a greater extent than me. (And of course have to admit that in fact you’re being more objective than me by so doing.)
Tom Griffin, johnf
What makes building a map of relevant interconnections both more important and more difficult is the phenomenon johnf described as operating in relation to Clinton and Lewinsky — the feeding of information back into one country through the use of the media in another.
Compounding the problem is the fact that networks cross countries, but our understanding often does not. For example: there are clearly networks which involve people in the U.S., the U.K., and Italy — but people who know about the U.K. end are liable to find Italian politics baffling, and vice versa.
I absolutely agree that an online wiki is a good way of building up a cumulative fund of knowledge — although one can see all kinds of problems. Sourcewatch is certainly invaluable.
In the U.K. it would I think be a help of SpinProfiles could be made publicly available — at the moment it has a rather baffling page which invites one to create an account, and then seems to make it impossible to do so. (Unless my technical inadequacies are making me misunderstand!)
I was heartened to see that Colonel Sam Gardiner is blogging at Spinwatch, as his Truth from These Podia is an invaluable contribution. And of course, like Colonel Lang, he understands the military technicalities — which are fundamental to making sense of a good deal of the most important disinformation.
thank you for expanding the conversation and expose regarding ‘those’ (neocons) on both sides of the atlantic who have such a disrespect for life and seek to ‘enslave’ those who are not part-n-parcel of their neocon apparatus. to the neocons on your side of the pond, they look upon us (spelled u.s.) as their colony to do with at their whim. the neocons in israel look upon us (spelled u.s.) as their ‘second state’ to do with at their whim. both sets of neocons (yours and israels) along with the neocons in our u.s. seem almost gleeful at the thought of the spilling of more american military personnel blood as well as iraqi and iranian.
neocons = death masters.
I would suggest that the Iranians have fairly conclusively demonstrated the necessary competence to enrich uranium to reactor grade and are showing – relatively openly – an increasing ability to both scale up and operate more efficiently. More pertinently, there is increasing evidence that they have now developed the technical competence to indigenously manufacture critical centrifuge components. Essentially, the cat is well out of the bag on this one. This needs to be balanced against the 2007 NIE – that had already been delayed for quite some time – that has thoroughly undermined the use of covert Iranian weaponisation as a route to military conflict.
I suspect that a large part of the neocon/veep/Israeli displeasure at this is that it spikes this issue as a tool of coercive diplomacy.
It’s worth tracking the Bush administration’s rhetorical shift away from the nuclear issue as a potential military trigger towards Iran is killing US troops in Iraq as the trigger issue. Then again, when you look at the small print in the pronouncements they tend to be sufficiently hedged to apply only to an alternate reality where fantasy Iranians of neocon desire who suddenly appear in armoured columns in Iraq supplant the actual ones they have to deal with.
The Bush administration is indeed running out of time – which begs the question as to why they haven’t acted sooner if military action was a priority; the clock running out is indicative of the Bush administration inability to actualise a military option – and contrary to those who advocate that this is a motivating factor, I’d assert that they’re more or less timed out on this already.
Look at it this way – we’re well into the 100 day countdown to the Olympics, so there’s absolutely no chance of the US breaching etiquette and, potentially, starting a war with one of Beijing’s key crude oil suppliers. By the end of August we’re well into hurricane season, and with crude prices at anything close to current levels there’s no chance of any military action in the 60 day run-up to an election ( there would be serious legal and career peril if the Bush administration started a war with Iran and Obama then won ).
The only glimmer of hope for the advocates of military action is Gates resigning, a McCain victory, who then tips Cheney the wink that he’ll immunise everyone involved and take the flak if it all goes Pete Tong – even if it means that he’s already a lame duck president by the time of his inauguration. Personally, I don’t think McCain is that stupid.
That said, McCain is still going to be in exactly the same position, should he win, that Bush/Cheney are in no with respect to Iran now.
I can only conclude that the reality in Washington is that Iran policy, such as it is, is still stuck in a vacuum, regime change is still the policy objective, no one has a clue as to how to achieve it, there’s no military route to it, and the default position has remained stuck at we ain’t gonna talk to Iran – except for Ryan Crocker – unless they surrender first.
To be honest, the situation seems to be that there’s a widespread understanding that the only thing worse than not bombing Iran, is, er, bombing Iran.
…if it all goes Pete Tong…
Chuckle. That’s a new one on me. My Brit girlfriend loved this guy’s show in the mid-1990s. It made me want to drive needles through my eyes.
Speaking of music and London – my most frequented clubs:
Ain’t Nothin’ But…
Oh, and by the way, I haven’t changed my mind (yet): we’re not attacking Iran.
Makes sense to me. My only qualm/quibble/whatever is whether that “widespread” understanding you note at the end extends as fully to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Seems to me *the* big question that is going to exist in the wake of all this baloney is going to be exactly what was going on in Bush’s brain. I just have a tough time understanding that man’s drivers.
You said “a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on.” Absolutely, and your posts and others in this thread are most helpful in this regard. Given the betrayal of the United States (and the UK) into the Iraq morass to the tune of a projected $5 trillion and countless thousands (tens of thousands) of dead and wounded, those reponsible (and their families) require cold and detailed scrutiny. Hopefully, we can intensify this scrutiny appropriately in this and threads to come at SST.
Johnf, thanks for the reference to Drudge and context. It does appear from your comment that someone/thing is running him. Of course, he is laughing all the way to the bank and luxuriating in his Miami, Florida palaces. I located some useful biographic data at Wiki:
One feature of the Bush43 propaganda/dezinformatsia campaign in 2002 was the suppression in the US press of information about the intense debates in the British Parliament. Particularly, Labor Party opposition to Blair’s pro-war policy.
At the time, I monitored major US press and London press daily per Iraq during the run up to the October 2002 war resolution vote and still have several boxes of clips/downloads which I hope to sort through some day. It was logical to me to get a sense of what our closest ally was up to. The Washington Post, NYT, and others really suppressed information about the sharpness and content of the debate in the UK and the profound opposition to Blair’s war line.
This was of course to dutifully limit information in the daily press not conducive to the White House war policy. It was obvious to me that this suppression of news on British opposition to the war was designed to make it easier to pass the pro-war resolution in Congress and befuddle the American people generally. The impression was given that our British ally was unified and fully behind us in all of this etc.
There was also a fellow who played a key cutout role between Israeli “think tanks”, US Neocons, and London. He was a conduit for Israeli dezinformatsia and played a role in the dodgy dossier Blair put forth. I think his name is Barry Rubin.
He is involved in a network pivoting around Herzliya.
IASPS is a core neocon Israeli think tank with US presence. Many leading US Neocon “defense policy” types like Perle, Wurmser, etal are in this mix. http://www.iasps.org/index.php
Perle, etals “Clean Break” paper is conveniently at: http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm
On this side of the pond, aside from AIPAC, noteworthy influential Neocon think tanks include:
Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy is here:
Frank is extremely influential on Capitol Hill and with the Christian Zionist movement leaders. He is very industrious and very able.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs is here (Cheney was on the Board and this org has strategically penetrated US military circles):
One of the directors of JINSA is Shoshona Bryen, wife of Stephen Bryen. For the latter, a piece by Stephen Green gives some context:
WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a think tank offshoot of AIPAC. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateI01.php