Several years back–in the pre-Trump era–a friend attended a forum at the Brookings Institution on
the subject of US-Russian relations.  During the question and answer portion of the event, she asked a question about American and European meddling in Ukraine, leading to the ouster of the Yanukovych government and the subsequent Russian re-annexation of the Crimea.  She cited the open admission by then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, about the US having spent $5 billion to build the democracy movement in Ukraine, suggesting that the Russians may have had cause to view the Ukraine regime change events of 2013-2014 as a Western effort to drive a wedge between Moscow and Kiev, and possibly deprive Russia of its only Black Sea naval facility..

One of the speakers responded to the question by declaring that the questioner was clearly presenting a narrative that had been "written in Russia."  The panelist went on to elaborate that the real issue is "which side controls the narrative."  At no point did any of the panelists challenge any of the facts presented in the question.  Those facts, or any other facts challenging the conclusion that the entire Ukraine crisis was strictly the work of imperial adventurers in Moscow, were simply to be dismissed as "their narrative." 


Control over the narrative has more and more replaced truth seeking.  It is the old Goebbels dictum:  If you repeat the same lie over and over enough, it becomes the truth.

Recent examples abound, but the golden egg prize goes to the claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential elections to secure a victory for Donald Trump.  This narrative was presented in January 2017, after the Trump victory but before his inauguration, in an intelligence community assessment.  Go back and re-read that 25-page "narrative" today and you will be shocked.  It contains no evidence, but relies on a pseudo-psychological profile of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was presumed to have been angry at Hillary Clinton since 2011 when she made some nasty personal comments about him.  "Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him."

The assessment accused Putin of–heaven forbid–seeking a partnership with the United States to defeat the Islamic State:  "Moscow also saw the election of President-elect Trump as a way to achieve an international counter-terrorism coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)."


Originally, the document was presented as an all-intelligence community consensus document, prepared by representatives of the 17 organizations that comprise the US Intelligence Community.  Later it was acknowledged that the report was prepared by two analysts.

They cited the CIA and the FBI, headed at the time by John Brennan and James Comey, as having "high confidence" in the judgment that the Russians attempted to interfere in the 2016 election.  The NSA, the agency with the greatest technical capacity to "read Moscow's mail," gave only "moderate confidence" to the judgment of Russian interference.

In a methodological annex to the report, the authors acknowledged that they had no facts to back up their conclusions:

"Estimative language consists of two elements: judgments about the likelihood of developments or events occurring and levels of confidence in the sources and analytic reasoning supporting the judgments.  Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.  Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents…"

The authors of the assessment claimed that there was much more evidence in the classified version of the report, but that intelligence had to be withheld from the public. 

Last month, at the behest of President Trump, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with a former NSA official, William Binney, who had conducted his own investigation of the allegations that Russian hackers had obtained Democratic National Committee emails, showing a systematic campaign by the DNC to secure Hillary Clinton the nomination over Senator Bernie Sanders.  Binney concluded that the emails had been obtained by someone working at the DNC headquarters and were "leaked, not hacked."  Now, former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile has come out with a detailed, fact-filled book-length account, confirming that Hillary had, indeed, rigged the primary outcome to secure the nomination by buying off the DNC in 2015.

Binney's report got marginal coverage in some left-of-center and right-of-center publications, but no one in the Mainstream Media (MSM) touched the story–because it contradicted the narrative.

If someone in the USIC had a sense of humor, they would have probably named this "narrative control program" "Operation Gossamer Shield."  Gossamer is defined as:  "a fine, filmy substance, consisting of cobwebs spun by small spiders… Used to refer to something very light, thin, insubstantial or delicate." 

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  1. Bill Herschel says:

    To my mind, with the appearance of Brazile’s testimony, because that is what it is, what has happened is clear.
    The true narrative that Hillary Clinton lost because she, herself, was a ghastly candidate without the slightest idea how to campaign or organize a campaign (cf. Barrack Obama who should never have defeated her) and because some of her “ideas” such as “We came, we saw, he died,” were so mentally ill that many people recognized she should not be President. The reason Hillary Clinton lost was Hillary Clinton. It is worth noting in passing that it is also almost certainly true that the U.S. is not ready for a woman President (cf. John McCain’s running mate).
    But that narrative was completely unacceptable to the Democratic establishment. So the Russian interference narrative, which also served the interests of the U.S.’s allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, was promoted in truly as Harper points out Goebbelian grandeur.
    Think of the utter contempt the Democratic establishment (and the Republican establishment) has for the American people that lies are the only things they can serve up to their constituents.

  2. Richard says:

    I still wonder: Do the foreign policy Borg and the Clintonistas push “the narratives” while knowing that they are false but rationally calculating that doing so makes it most likely to achieve their goals? Or are they genuinely believing in their own narratives, no matter how many facts exist that contradict the narratives?

  3. John Merryman says:

    Narrative does go to the core of conscious thought. The fact is that time is not really the point of the present, “moving” past to future, but change turning future to past. As in tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns. as such, it is an effect, like temperature; rate of change and level of activity.
    Yet it is our ability to escape the present, through narrative, history and culture, which rises us above animals.

  4. Bandit says:

    Unfortunately, right behind the controllers of the narrative are a legion of willing and self-serving sycophants, “useful idiots”, and deliberately tone deaf citizens. With that mass infestation, how can facts and truth prevail? The nail in the coffin will be when all alternate media, i.e. “fake news” is silenced, subverted or controlled. That is the next item on the elites’ agenda and the true death of any semblance of democracy in this country or those of its western allies.

  5. Fred says:

    Missing from your analysis are the words “corruption” and “immigration”.

  6. Harper and Decameron,
    Kudos for pointing out the centrality of “controlling the narrative” in political activity. I am in full agreement. I was present at the birth of the rebranding of that concept by our DoD as information operations and am a longtime student of the Soviet/Russian implementation built around the concepts of reflexive control.
    I can’t help but think the genesis of this article was in Trump’s declaration that he believes Putin when he said Russia did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 US elections. This is the competing narrative. As I have said for months, I don’t buy that competing narrative. One of the central points of that competing narrative focuses on the idea that forensic analysis of files released by Guccifer 2.0 proves there was no hack and the files were leaked by a DNC insider. The VIPS memo mostly written by Binney relies on this forensic analysis. Even less publicized than this VIPS memo were the counter responses by Scott Ritter and later by Ritter and other VIPS members including Thomas Drake disputing the evidence and conclusions in that first VIPS memo. A good discussion of this internal VIPs dispute is in a 1 Sep 2017 article in “The Nation.” The bottom line of that article is that the Forensicator/VIPS theory that the DNC hack was a local leak is exceedingly flimsy.

  7. jjc says:

    They know they are false but rationally calculate doing so makes it most likely to achieve their goals.

  8. Bill Herschel,
    The idea that Hillary Clinton was a seriously flawed candidate who ran a horrendously inept campaign is something that is pretty clear to me. I’m surprised she managed to win the popular vote by several million. Another factor which is becoming clearer is the fact that the Trump/RNC campaign machine was vastly superior to the outdated effort put forth by the DNC. It was comparative to the superiority of the Obama/DNC machine against the outdated RNC efforts in 2008 and 2012. I think this was a far more important factor that any Russian influence operation.

  9. DavidKNZ says:

    The interview with William Binney is worth watching…
    He seems , at 74, still on top of his game technically, and concerned with evidence and truth, wherever it leads. Its good to see an honest face 🙂
    The “science” of the alternative – narrative control, AKA “Framing”- has been spelled out by George Lakoff – intro at
    If you look up his Wikipedia entry, it is littered with snide innuendo, somewhat disparaging inferences, and substantively neglects his stellar cryptographic / mathematical contribution to his nations security. To me a sure sign that he upset those in power, those who are uncomfortable with sunshine 🙂

  10. blue peacock says:

    I’m not a political analyst, however, my observation is that the Russia handed Trump the election victory meme is believed by those whose bias is towards that. Primarily Democrat partisans and many in the GOP establishment as well as those that just can’t abide Trump as President. OTOH, it seems those that did not buy into that narrative are folks on the other side of the political spectrum, in particular the core of Trump voters because they know why they voted for him.
    In my opinion, which should be taken with a grain of salt on these political matters, Trump was just a symbol, a vessel, for the discontentment felt by many voters for the establishment of both parties and their collusion with the MSM and the political punditry who pitched a specific narrative during the election campaign. When Republican leaning newspaper editors who have not endorsed a Democrat for POTUS in a century, endorsed Hillary, it should be obvious that the narrative against Trump both as a person and as a POTUS candidate was pitched very hard. What was shocking to these people is that the voters in many states didn’t buy that pitch, despite their confidence that their onslaught was working, which was further reinforced by the polls.
    They had to come up with a narrative to explain their loss. They could not be candid that ordinary Americans in many states are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo establishment, which would then require reflection and change. It was a lot easier for them to blame an externality and Putin was a convenient scapegoat. It had the added benefit that they could continue their Cold War rhetoric and policy framework.
    The comments of the SST correspondents during and after the election mirrors this. Some did not buy the Russia dunnit, while others are convinced that Trump could not have won the election without Putin’s alleged manipulation.

  11. Prem says:

    An ex-NYT reporter wrote an interesting article last year:
    “By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line”.
    Amd they wonder why people have stopped believing them.

  12. jpb says:

    How will we know what happened, without knowing what happened if the script writers, news editors, and historians don’t tell us? http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/11/opinion/the-public-knowledge-of-911.html
    Phillip D. Zelikow is the expert on the Creation and Maintence of Public Myth.
    Christopher Bollyn’s War on Terror Among Truth Seekers explores the evidence ignored by the narrative carefully created for us, American citizens and soldiers. We are carefully primed and entrained by controlled official history to not rise above animals, but to be domesticated animals. The 9/11 official narrative is brought to you by many of the same actors and interests who create and maintain the Russian’s did it myth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=141&v=PuOsiMVlMBw

  13. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Bill Herschel 11 November 2017 at 07:37 PM
    “some of her “ideas” such as “We came, we saw, he died,” were so mentally ill that many people recognized she should not be President.””
    Fixed it for you:
    some of her “ideas” such as “We came, we saw, he died,” were so downright evil that many people recognized she should not be President.
    There’s a very common idea – a cop-out frankly – that when people consistently say or do bad things that they’re mentally ill. I suppose people derive comfort from it “oh they’re sick”. Far less comforting but far more likely to be true is that they’re either bad or in extreme cases downright evil. I’d put Clinton on the “evil” end of that scale.

  14. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    John Merryman,
    re: :“Yet it is our ability to escape the present, through narrative, history and culture, which rises us above animals.”
    How do you reconcile your statement w/ Santayana’s point: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”?
    Here are some other quotes, not in any particular order:
    1-“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick
    2-“And those who have not swords can still die upon them.” J. R. R. Tolkien
    3-“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” Buddha
    4-“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
    Perhaps transmitted memory (of true experiences) is also a key differentiator in the context you discuss.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  15. J says:

    Me thinks some ‘know’ that what they’re saying is Fairy Dust, and the others are drunk on the kool-aide. Both flat don’t care about truth, all they care about is their own skins and pocketbooks. Goebbels would have luved to have had some on his propaganda team (today’s politically term is Public Relations).
    Lenin and his bunch had an offiskal (official) branch for their propaganda known as Главное управление по охране государственных тайн в печати при СМ СССР, or Главлит for short.
    I view the toadys we have in our today’s U.S. Government which includes the what I see as a U.S. version of the NKVD the Department of Homeland Security, and the stellar members of the Congress (Republican and Democrat) who crafted the now official U.S. Ministry of Propaganda which was written into the last enacted Defense Bill. Truth now has an uphill battle in our U.S., just like it was in Nazi Germany, and the former CCCP. Prior to 911, it was illegal to propagandize (lie) to the American people, after 911 the U.S. Government ignored and have looked the other way since regarding it.
    Damn it, the Constitution and truth DO MATTER no matter what our U.S. versions of Goebbels and Lenin may think!!!
    Now I’ll get off my little soapbox and go grab a cup of Joe.

  16. J says:

    Oh, one other thing I forgot to mention, that needs to be included the former Soviet Union’s Государственный комитет по делам издательств, полиграфии и книжной торговли СССР, aka Госкомиздат which was in charge of censorship and ideology in literature.
    Today’s U.S. Ministry of Propaganda (written by a Republican and Democrat and slipped into the now enacted Defense Bill) will no doubt one day build heaps of books to be burned just like was done in front of the Reichstag in Nazi Germany, and in the movie Fahrenheit 911.
    Truth DOES MATTER DAMN IT! Now I’m off my soapbox again back to my cup-o-Joe.

  17. turcopolier says:

    Her popular vote majority is effectively all in California. Who knows what happened there. pl

  18. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    The process of which you write, Harper, can be seen in the Establishment’s response to Donna Brazile’s revelations themselves. In the Youtube video linked below the snarky news commentator Jimmy Dore cites example after example of well-known, and not so well-known media and internet personalities spread the meme that the agreement between the HRC campaign and the DNC applied to only the general election, not the pre-nomination primaries and other activities. Yet that meme has been thoroughly debunked by referring to the text of the agreement itself by, among others, Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, also linked below.

  19. J says:

    What POTUS Trump has to help him differentiate what are the fact versus what is propaganda, was DIRNSA Adm. Rogers with his reams and reams of real information rushing to the side and aide of the POTUS, has helped Trump and the battle for truth immensely.
    Also if you watch Putin’s body language, the truth matters to him as well.

  20. John Merryman says:

    Quite often those who do remember the past are condemned to watch it be repeated. It isn’t the details which matter so much, as the processes generating them.
    A basic model of reality is that it is a dichotomy of energy and information. Energy manifests information and information defines energy. Evidence of this is that after a few billion years of evolution, we have evolved a central nervous system to process information and the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems to process energy.
    Energy is conserved, which basically means it is always and only present. Being energy it is constantly changing form, which means the information is constantly changing. This creates the effect of time. So if you want to understand the past, study the information, but if you want to understand the future, study the energy.
    Given our nervous system is designed to process information, we naturally study the past, but usually for the purpose of controlling the energy. The problem is that we haven’t learned to do this in moderation. Obviously too little energy and we starve and freeze, but too much energy and we get burnt.
    So what we really need to understand isn’t so much time, as thermodynamics. We evolved in a thermodynamic environment and it permeates every aspect of our being, including this shallow conceptual linearity of narrative. Narrative is an extension of navigation. For instance, plants don’t move, so they don’t have to navigate and consequently didn’t evolve a rationalizing mind. The purpose of which is to focus in order to move in a single direction.
    This gets extended to groups of people. In order to work together, they need a common goal. The simpler the goal, the more people.
    Government is effectively the central nervous system of society and there was a time when government was private and hereditary, but that proved to have limits. Our current situation is that we are going through a similar evolutionary process with finance, which is effectively the circulation system of society.
    When society was small, economic circulation was reciprocal, but as it grew, methods of accounting became necessary and that is the function of money. Which makes money the social contract commodified, rather than just another form of commodity. As such, its value depends on its quality, as much or more than its quantity. This is trust. Undermine the trust in the community and it collapses.
    Much as the nervous system and the circulatory system are separate and serve separate functions, so to are government and finance necessarily separate. Since we experience money as hope(energy) and governments thrive on how much hope they provide, there is an inherent tendency for government controlled money to be inflated. The problem with private sector monetary systems is they will be used to siphon value out of the larger society and kill it that way. What we have today is like the head and heart telling the hands and feet they don’t need quite so much blood and should work harder for what they do get.
    The problem with this model is this wealth still has to be stored and so the government borrows it back out, in what amounts to a ponzi scheme, as it is spent in ways that don’t generate more wealth and compete with the private sector, but support private sector growth, thus needing ever more to be borrowed up, for which the public is responsible, creating ever more of a feedback to pull value out of the larger society.
    The effect being that enormous hurricane we sense on the horizon…..

  21. J says:

    Here is something for your listening pleasure. She has a beautiful voice.
    Аж мурашки по телу! Очень сильно!!! Судьи не поверили, что она поет не под фонограмму!!! 1

  22. Bobo says:

    Belief in the Russia Narrative, that Russia had a part in electing Trump, is like a warm fuzzy blanket that one can roll themselves into to ward off the fact that an upstart, loud-mouthed Buffon held off a slate of professional political candidates on the Republican side and defeated Mothers Milk on the Democratic side. What it really asks is what was going on with our Military and Intelligence organizations in defending our country from this purported onslaught. Here you have trio of political hacks ( Brennan, Comey and Clapper) with High Confidence and the NSA with Moderate Confidence in a report as described in the summary above. Our country is politically split and not coming together as we have done in the past to work together for a better outcome because of this narrative as many hang on it as the reason not to accept reality so we all can better ourselves. Thus I hold the trio of Political Hacks responsible as their Narrative falls apart as time goes on. At least Rogers at NSA admitted that Russia interference in elections has been going on for a long time it’s just that this time it was a lot more than usual. If Russia escalated was it to defeat Clinton or was it a retort to our actions in Ukraine.
    Somehow the American people have now entered that Wilderness of Mirrors.

  23. Bill H says:

    You do know that #4 is the motto of the Central Intelligence Agency, right?

  24. Joe100 says:

    TTG –
    Given the sloppy/poor security of SOS Clinton’s email system, how likely is it that the Russian security services (and probably those of several other countries) would have accessed all of HRC’s emaiIs? And if so, I would guess that the emails not released by HRC’s lawyer would likely have revealed seriously damaging information that could have had a much more substantial impact on the election outcome than the DNC emails..

  25. rjj says:

    …”We are carefully primed and entrained …..”
    No, we are agents and choose denial/credulity. Perfidy is too unsettling.

  26. Annem says:

    They are https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/terror-cranks-sold-america-Russia-panic and https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/terror-cranks-sold-america-Russia-panic
    In short, these are no amateurs, but people who have made their careers providing this sort of disinformation.

  27. Norbert M Salamon says:

    your point is correct, Colonel, for discounting California vote, in the other 49 states Mr. Trump was victorious by over 1.5 million votes

  28. confusedponderer says:

    re: “Given the sloppy/poor security of SOS Clinton’s email system, how likely is it that the Russian security services (and probably those of several other countries) would have accessed all of HRC’s emaiIs?
    Even if the stuff was leaked or dropped by strange events or peculiar people to Wikileaks the Russians would be silly if they didn’t went after it, and likely they’d be rather delighted that they didn’t have to hack or steal anything or bribe someone.
    It should be for grownups not come as a surprise that Russia is interested in details of US politics and US policy before a federal election.
    Anyone who is surprised about that will likely fall out of the sweet heaven of his happy dreams when hearing that the US is doing that sort of listening to ‘friends’ and ‘allies’, not to mention rivals and/or enemies, generously and all the time.
    Listening, hacking and stealing are things that nations do when they have serious interest, and so Russia and the US do it.
    If the DNC and stupidity helps the Russians by being sloppy and poor on security, then there is no point at all in blaming Russia and it’s Über-Arch-Devil Putin.
    One who is sloppy and poor on security invites ‘visits’. It’s his own damn fault. Weaknesses and sloppery are liklely to be exploited. That written, it is generally uncommon that people who get gifts pay for them. Gifts are being taken for free.
    Likely, if the Russians were as poor and sloppy as the DNC the CIA and NSA wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go after the stuff they are interrested in. Likely they’d be rather delighted that they didn’t have to hack or steal anything or bribe someone.
    I guess you’ll get my point.

  29. Joe100,
    That all of HRC’s emails could have been stolen from her accounts is quite possible. And who knows what’s in those emails. It’s also a near certainty almost all emails passing through or stored on the State Department unclassified system have been accessed by Russia and quite possibly China and others. The last attack on the State Department systems by Russians was in 2015 for almost a full year. They fought back hard to stay in those systems before being finally eradicated. Another incident we never heard about was the exposure of the RNC voter database. This was 1.1 terabytes of personal information on close to 200 million voters stored on totally unsecured cloud servers. We don’t know if this exposure was due to some stupendous error or a deliberate plan. We don’t know who accessed that wide open data.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that in a representative system of the government, in particular those that have endured long, it is impossible politically to level with the electorate. They have a very thin ear for unpleasant or unpalatable assertions by their representatives. Churchill’s “blood, sweat, and tears” speech was an exception that proved this point.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Hope is not energy. The Energy/Information that you posit is a new name for the ancient metaphysical distinction between Extension and Thought.
    Time, however, cannot be reduced to either one.

  32. Christian Chuba says:

    Since I would put this topic under ‘Information War’ the following is actually related …

    “DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite rebels toward the Saudi capital and remnants of it bore “Iranian markings,” the top U.S. Air Force official in the Mideast said Friday, backing the kingdom’s earlier allegations… [ Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian] “To me, that connects the dots to Iran.””

    This is one of those times where I’d give a press attendee $100, had they asked asked Lt Gen. Harrigan if U.S. investigators saw the ‘Iranian markings’ or if he was just repeating what the Saudis told him and he was being used to give them more credibility. Oh well, that was the press corps of 40yrs ago that would have done that.

  33. TTG,
    A problem with the concept of ‘reflexive control’ is that, historically, Russian claims have been accepted which turned out to be disinformation – but also, claims which were discounted as disinformation have turned out to be largely, or on occasion wholly, true.
    The phrase ‘reflexive control’ was not used in the ‘Thirties, but this was very much what the supporters of ‘appeasement’ believed the Soviets were exercising over those who thought that the most serious threat came from Nazi Germany, and the notion that one could have an effective strategy of ‘containment’ without including the Soviet Union was naive.
    One of the leading ‘useful idiots’ who put forward the view the ‘appeasers’ regarded with contempt was the ‘Chicago Daily News’ Berlin Correspondent, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, whose polemic ‘Germany Puts the Clock Back’ had immense influence in Britain. Another significant ‘useful idiot’ was the economic historian Michael Postan, an anti-communist Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union, who was an important mentor to my father when he was a young research fellow at Cambridge. Both Mowrer and Postan were strongly anti-communist, as was my father.
    Let me explain how the ‘reflexive control’ was supposed to to work. The strategy imputed to Stalin was to use empty promises of Soviet assistance to inveigle ‘useful idiots’ like Mowrer, Postan, and my father into putting irresistible pressure on prudent statesmen like Chamberlain into confronting German ‘revisionist’ claims over Czechoslovakia.
    The actual Soviet purpose, according to a widespread view – endorsed in particular by MI6, who claimed to have ‘covert intelligence’ to support it (shades of Christopher Steele) – was not to cope with a common threat (shades of Putin’s claims about jihadism being a threat alike to Russia and the West.)
    Rather, it was to conjure patently bogus claims that Germany wanted to do more than bring ethnic Germans into the ‘Reich’ to inveigle the Western powers into a war with Germany, in which the Soviets could exploit their lack of a direct land border with Czechoslovakia to play ‘tertius gaudens’, and be left with easy opportunities to spread communism and Russian power.
    It often amazes me that people do not see how like Hillary Clinton is to Neville Chamberlain.
    Just as the predictable result of the policies of the Clintons has been to push Russia into the arms of China, so the predictable result of Chamberlain’s was to push her into the arms of Germany. At this point Postan, who was running Russian affairs in the Ministry of Economic Warfare, attempted to explain to people that Stalin’s policy was dominated by fear of Germany, that although this meant that he was ‘appeasing’ Hitler for the present, future cooperation might be possible and one should do nothing to prejudice the possibility.
    And he was one of the very few people, before the ‘Ultra’ intelligence made this plain, very late in the day, accurately assessed that the plans for ‘Operation Barbarossa’ were not simply an exercise in ‘coercive diplomacy’, but the prelude to an attack. (Yes, the likes of Christopher Steele really were clueless then, and our clueless now.)
    As it happened, his warnings had little impact. With regard to what almost happened because this ‘useful idiot’ was not heeded, I would recommend a report from November 2015 in the ‘National Interest’ by Michael Peck, entitled ‘Operation Pike: How a Crazy Plan to Bomb Russia Almost Lost World War II.’
    (See http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/operation-pike-how-crazy-plan-bomb-russia-almost-lost-world-14402?page=show .)
    As to my own career as a ‘useful idiot’ – ironically, I found some crucial background appeared not long ago on the net.
    At the time when the first indications of what became the ‘new thinking’ appeared in the Soviet Union, I took no notice. As is now clear, its origins lay in a nexus in which the research institutes associated with the Academy of Sciences were crucial, but also included elements of the security services, some journalists, and people in the General Staff. Some key figures had been part of the circle around Andropov, when he headed the KGB.
    These ideas first appeared in British arguments when a young academic called Stephen Shenfield was detailed to act as guide, interpreter and assistant to the journalist Fyodor Burlatsky, who had been close to Andropov, when he visited Birmingham University in 1982 or 1983. A result of this was that, from early 1984, Shenfield and associates began publishing materials from Colonel Viktor Girshfield, then working at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, which were expressing interest in Western-style concepts of ‘sufficient defence.’
    Of course, it was widely assumed in the West that this was an exercise in ‘reflexive control.’
    (For the Girshfeld articles, see http://stephenshenfield.net/archives/research-jrl/92-special-issue-no-26-november-2004-the-girshfeld-file .)
    At that time, I was a very conventional kind of British ‘Cold War liberal.’ I simply ignored Shenfield’s work, largely because he was involved with CND, and I distrusted them for all kinds of reasons, including the fact that they were, in general, socialists – if not indeed, Marxists.
    At that time, a fourth television channel, which did not produce its own programmes but commissioned them from outside, had just been set up. Quite a few of us left the securities of established companies, and set up as independents. In 1986, a colleague and I got a commission to make a 90-minute special on security. Accepting the conventional wisdom that generational change in the Soviet Union was unlikely to produce any kind of radical change in security posture, we focused on the transatlantic relationship.
    Among our studio participants was Richard Perle, on a satellite link from Washington, and among those presenting filmed items for discussion was Lawrence Freedman. Later, the former would be a leading architect of the Iraq invasion, and the latter play a non-trivial role in facilitating it.
    The reputation of Freedman had been made with a study of ‘The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy’, first published in 1981. In the course of researching our programme, however, I came across an article published in 1985 entitled ‘Deterrence: The Problem – Not the Solution.’ I doubt I would have bothered to read it, had I not seen that its author, Michael MccGwire, was a former head of the Soviet naval section of our Defence Intelligence Staff.
    When I mentioned his name to Freedman, the response was dismissive: something along the lines of ‘retired spooks go the other way.’ As this happened, this turned out to be nonsense.
    The conviction shared by MccGwire and his then Brookings Institution colleague Ambassador Raymond Garthoff that a great deal of what the Soviets about their military strategy was not ‘reflexive control’ went back to the work both men had done in the ‘Fifties. This had, among other things, led to the realisation that early Cold War estimates of Soviet capabilities were grossly inflated, and Soviet intentions misconstrued.
    It was thirty years ago this month that, having been totally tied up with other matters through the tumultuous events following the Reykjavik summit in October 1986, I looked at what MccGwire and Garthoff were writing about recent developments. On the basis of their earlier analyses, both men were explaining that the conventional wisdom according to which the ‘new thinking’ was an exercise in ‘reflexive control’ was likely to be completely wrong.
    At that point, I started looking again at the very detailed accounts Shenfield and his colleagues were providing of what those most involved in the ‘new thinking’ – prominent among them General-Mayor Valentin Larionov and Andrei Kokoshin – were writing, and putting in proposals saying that perhaps we should be going to interview these people.
    By that time, however, we were already moving towards a world where even when MI6 and the Foreign Office were patently even more delusional than they had been in the ‘Thirties, the MSM were simply unprepared to take the risks involved in suggesting that the ‘new thinking’ might ber more than an exercise in ‘reflexive control.’ It was only after months of hard – and unpaid – work that I was able to find some interest in a programme called ‘Analysis’ on BBC Radio, and we went on two make two documentaries in February 1989.
    I was vividly reminded of those days when, in January last year, the ‘National Security Archive’ published a series of documents entitled ‘The Last Superpower Summits.’ As was vividly apparent at the time, the foreign affairs and intelligence bureaucracies in the United States and Britain were completely clueless about the changes going on in the Soviet Union.
    (https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB578-The-Last-Superpower-Summits/ .)
    The sadder part of the story is to see an argument that I later realised was going on beneath the surface resolved. At the time I was too ignorant to grasp what was at issue when Larionov talked about a Soviet strategist of the ‘Twenties, Aleksandr Svechin, who he said had been ‘repressed’ under Stalin.
    I had a slightly better grasp of what was at issue when he talked about Brzezinski’s 1986 study ‘Game Plan’, and remarked ‘Brzezinski – “nash drug” (our friend) – a Pole.’ What I however did not know was that Larionov was in a rather good position to to know that Brzezinski was talking nonsense, as he had compiled and co-authored the book around which the whole argument about Soviet nuclear strategy revolved – the original 1962 edition of the study ‘Military Strategy’ published under the name of Marshal Sokolovskiy.
    But that what I was seeing, I now think, were traces on the surface of an argument going on in the background. On the one hand, there was a ‘narrative’ in which a fundamentally friendly West had been gratuitously alienated, by the Russian embrace of Marxism-Leninism, Stalin’s determination to impose Soviet control over Eastern Europe, the offensive thrust of Soviet contingency planning for war, etc etc.
    But then, there was the other view. In this, the sources of Western hostility go far deeper. The kind of fundamental Russophobia which had made Britain almost commit suicide with ‘Operation Pike’ had started a long time before Russia went communist, and would not end if it ceased to be communist. Meanwhile, American policy was also decisively influenced from erstwhile victims of Russian oppression, who would be looking for the opportunity to get their revenge.
    Accumulating evidence has made the optimistic ‘narrative’ untenable.

  34. turcopolier says:

    David Habbakuk
    Do I understand correctly that you are saying that both the level of malevolent cleverness and the capabilities of the USSR/Russia have been exaggerated all through the Cold War and into the present and have been twisted into the image we have of these through the influence of exiles from Eastern Europe and that Soviet/Russian initiatives have often been what they seemed to be rather than part of the complex world of Karla the superbolshevik? In my own numerous contacts with USSR diplomats and intelligence people in the ME they often seemed to be either patriotic Russians doing their best or faux Marxist-Leninist poseurs hoping for advancement by sucking up to the Party. pl

  35. Gen Dau says:

    Yes indeed. The same problem arose with the Democratic primary in California.

  36. rjj says:

    Russia has been Moriarty-ed??? We need our Moriartys.
    WTF is reflexive control??? [peeve. peeve. peeve.] Can’t make semantic sense of it. Who coined it? Feels like one of those sparkly, baubly, meretricious bits of jargon that people like throw around. Sounds [seems] a lot like the [subjunctive?] principle underlying such human activities as herding/droving, hunting/trapping/fishing, husband snaring in free marriage-market cultures, computer coding, etc.

  37. kao_hsien_chih says:

    It is an interesting and insightful analogue lost on those seeking moral declarations that Hillary Clinton was/is strategically analogous to Neville Chamberlain. Thank you for bringing it up. It also illustrates how narrow-minded and bankrupt imagination among the Western elites are that they are blind to such insights.

  38. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    John Merryman,
    I am not a big fan of using STEM concepts such as thermodynamics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, etc. for explaining “social science” constructs, economics issues or “information science”. As nicely illustrated by the Sokal affair, most in “social sciences” who bandy such terms around do not know whereof they speak. Further, not everyone, especially physicists, accept the equivalence of thermodynamic entropy with information entropy. Links and discussions can be found w any rudimentary search.
    You might also note that “time” is not a true variable in thermodynamic formulations. The origins of the “time-asymmetry” in the 2nd law are still subject to debate.
    IMO Kipling’s “God of Copybook Headings” (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm ) is of far more value in shining light on this issue than thermodynamics writ small or large.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  39. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Bill H,
    Thanks for bringing this up. Yes, I did know that. Always wondered what the top brass thought to themselves when they saw this motto day in, day out. In 2012 there was a contest (unofficial) to replace it (http://theweek.com/articles/470328/weekcontest–cia-mottos ). Perhaps the Pilgrims of SST can also come up w/ more current suggestions.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  40. Croesus says:

    Relentless reference to Goebbels, as if he invented propaganda, and perpetuation of disinformation about Nazi Germany, suggests that not even this informed audience has fully incorporated the belief the “Truth DOES MATTER DAMN IT!”
    Nazis were relatively poor propagandists — the German penchant for rigid rationality and Goebbel’s compulsion for aesthetic perfection constrained their capacity to handle the truth recklessly.
    The British, on the other hand, were masters of the art — Thomas Mahl explored the ways that British used propaganda, character assassination, subversion, lies — which were placed in the hands and mouth of FDR — and downright criminality to demonize Germans in order to “educate” Americans to the need to wage war in Europe. Thomas Mahl researched this phenomenon in “Desperate Deception”
    According to Benjamin Ginsberg in “How the Jews Defeated Hitler,” Jews in USA and abroad were a very close second — if not superior to British propagandists — in demonizing Germany and hyperbolizing a “threat” to USA from Germany, thru control of newspapers — i.e. New York Times was under Jewish sway, and when a Chicago newspaper was harshly critical of FDR war aims, his administration caused a countervailing newspaper to be created in Chicago; radio — Edward R Morrow & his sidekick, William Shirer, were in the Jewish zionist camp, according to Ginsberg; same goes for Hollywood movie studios, which were headed exclusively by Jews. Moreover, writes Ginsberg, Jews occupied key positions in FDR’s administration — Henry Morgenthau, Jr was Sec’ty of Treasury but did not limit himself to that role: the State Department was insufficiently sympathetic to the pro-Communist, pro-war agenda of Brandeis, Frankfurter & Morgenthau , so FDR worked around State and delegated Morgenthau to negotiate with Moscow/Litvinov. etc. etc.
    As for “book burning” — if that’s understood as a form of censorship, of constraining what the populace may read, learn, think, then consider how fiercely censored are US universities, on down to US public schools when the topic is WWII/Holocaust: When a school district in San Rialto, CA instructed middle school students to critically analyze the Holocaust narrative, a firestorm engulfed the district and it was forced to rescind the assignment, apologize, and conduct countervailing educational exercises. US public school students are forced to read/study one and only one narrative of Holocaust and are not permitted to challenge it or assess it critically.
    Prof. Stanley Fish, ret. dean of Liberal Arts at a university in Illinois, was on a panel on Free Speech hosted by the US National Constitution Center (Jeffrey Rosen, Director & panel moderator). Fish stated that Free Speech does not extend to the academy; the Academy is run on different rules, where the power of tenured professors and deans are determinative. Fish said that any professor who advocated a narrative of Holocaust that was contrary to the ordained position would NOT have his research funded or published, would NOT keep his job, would NOT gain tenure. https://www.c-span.org/video/?318476-1/free-speech-us
    In a later appearance at the National Constitution Center, Rosen declared his profound admiration for Louis Brandeis, “who did more than anyone else to bring about a homeland for Jews in Palestine.”
    Rosen might have added that on about Feb. 14, 1933, Brandeis effectively declared war on Germany; according to Rabbi Stephen Wise’s autobiography, The Challenging Years, at that time, Brandeis instructed him that “All Jews must leave Germany; no Jew should remain in Germany . . . let them be like Spain . . .” This is noteworthy because, whatever one may believe about a holocaust of Jews, such was NOT occurring in Germany in February, 1933, but in that time period, Jews in Poland and Rumania were under severe threat, and Bolshevik Communists had killed and were still killing Russians by the hundreds of thousands. Why didn’t Brandeis act to save Polish and Rumanian Jews, but instead poisoned the atmosphere between a new Roosevelt administration and the new German government?
    Lindbergh, Herbert Hoover, and many others made a similar argument: Germany did not pose a threat to USA; Bolshevik Communism did — Woodrow Wilson had deployed US forces to Siberia in an attempt to wipe out Bolshevism. As we are aware, Lindbergh’s efficacy was eroded by character assassination — see above. Several senators and congressmen also opposed FDR’s war aims, including James McReynolds, Supreme Court colleague of Louis Brandeis who was crudely outspoken in his opposition to Brandeis’s political and judicial positions: McReynolds produced soundly-argued opinions critical of what McR thought were erosions to Constitutional guarantees (see Executive Disorder: The Subversion of the Supreme Court, 1914 – 1940 https://www.amazon.com/Executive-Disorder-Subversion-Supreme-1914-1940/dp/1453652647/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1510520758&sr=8-2&keywords=ann+mcreynolds+bush )
    Today, C-Span will air an interview of Rabbi David Dalin and his book about the Jewish judges on the Supreme Court. C-Span has played a PSA of the interview at every interval in its radio broadcast of the Sunday talk shows. The clip focuses on the “anti-Semitism of James McReynolds.” The program will not air until later this evening, but it’s a safe bet that no mention will be made of Brandeis’s major role in generating anti-German propaganda and thereby enflaming a war that, as Buchanan has argued, was not necessary, with the goal of provoking migration of wealthy Jews to a “homeland in Palestine.”
    That’s effective book burning.
    If “Truth DOES MATTER, DAMN IT,” then it’s got to be the WHOLE truth, and we are going to have to summon the courage to critically analyze the mother of all narratives.

  41. turcopolier says:

    Why do I have two Artemesias on SST. Are you both? pl

  42. John Merryman says:

    It was a very broad analogy. Consider though, an opposite comparison, to give it some context. If we had no emotional, physical and economic energy(money), would we be depressed? Or some close effect?
    There are lots of binaries/polarities/dichotomies, etc. Complexity Theory built a field of study out of the relationship between Order and Chaos, with Complexity as the intermediate state. This is somewhat similar to the point I made about time, with the past as order and the future as probability. In fact, the Christian Trinity arose from the ancient Greek year gods and was essentially an analogy for rejuvenation(father-son-?) obviously the Catholic Church, as the eternal church, did its best to obscure this, but that ultimately led to Protestantism.
    The problem with monotheism, in the first place, is that a spiritual absolute would necessarily be the essence of sentience, from which consciousness rises, not an ideal of wisdom from which it fell. More the new born baby, than the wise old man, but since religion is social order, you can’t exactly build a religion around the feelings of the child.

  43. turcopolier says:

    L’etat, c’est nous. pl

  44. John Merryman says:

    Just putting some thoughts up for consideration. Obviously it doesn’t go over well with physicists to say time has more in common with temperature, than space.
    We could correlate temperature and volume, using ideal gas laws, like Relativity uses the speed of light to correlate distance and duration, but we are more objective about temperature, than time, since it isn’t foundational to the thought process.
    If we consider time as a measure of action, then logically the action is fundamental, not the measure. So each action is its own clock. Then clocks can run at different rates and remain in the same present because they are separate actions. Infact, a faster rate will use energy quicker, i.e. burn faster. Much as an animal with a higher metabolic rate will age quicker.
    As a measure of action, time is asymmetric because action is inertial. The earth turns one direction, not the other. It is only when the measure is assumed to be fundamental that it is assumed to be symmetric. Duration, like distance, would be the same, measured either way.
    Consider the 1st law of thermodynamics; How can energy be conserved if all events exist along this fourth dimension? Isn’t it the fact of the energy being transferred from prior to succeeding events what makes the whole process work?
    The simultaneity of the present is dismissed by arguing that since different events can be viewed in different order from different positions. Yet this is no more remarkable than seeing the moon as it was a moment ago, simultaneous with seeing stars as they were years ago. It is the energy that is conserved, not the information it is carrying. Only the light entering your eye is simultaneous.
    Now that would get me knocked off quite a few physics forums, but then they can’t get past string theory.

  45. turcopolier says:

    Who are the puppet masters and what is the mechanism? pl

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Last week a professor was fired from his university position in Iran since he publicly had questioned the efficacy of Hejab in preventing socio-secual ills and crimes in his classroom; construed as an assaulton Islam by thin-skinned Iranians. Shoah is thr same thing, part of the Western Religion and thus cannot be questioned…exactly the same way

  47. VietnamVet says:

    Yes. Donald Trump was elected because the establishment’s narrative is no longer working. Enough Barrack Obama voters voted for Donald Trump to win the Rust Belt. If you see this then the Clapper, Brenner, DNC narrative that “Russia did it” falls apart. Alternative news or social media ads work if they tell the truth.
    There are so many black swans flapping around in the economy and around the world that at some point the truth has to be told or things will fall apart. The cracks in the West due to incompetence and corruption are visible and spreading.

  48. Croesus says:

    Artemesia is a fairly common garden perennial, but —
    do both have the same numerals appended? different domains (gmail vs yahoo)?
    If so, apologies; no intention to double-dip.

  49. VietnamVet says:

    I know you hate economic determinism. But, the establishment is the top 10%; the credentialed. The West is run by oligarchs. The sovereign state has been bought out. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos have more wealth than half of America. The Meritocracy “gets along” to progress up through the revolving doors. I have no idea if John Brennan or James Clapper believe Russia did it. You may know. But, life is easier, at the moment, if you internalize your superior’s beliefs and take the money. No matter how divorced they are from reality and even if everything possibly could blow up around you.

  50. Barbara Ann says:

    The Colonel’s suggestion is hard to beat, but in the context of this post I’d suggest:
    Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past

  51. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Good call. They do behave like that. Perhaps one could substitute “the World” in place of the “State”.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There are dynamical effects in Special Relativity.

  53. The problem with the VIPS analysis is that they forget that neither Adam Carter nor The Forensicator ever said that the emails analyzed were from the original leak that provided Wikileaks with their documents.
    Both Carter and Forensicator have said that the analysis applies ONLY to the emails released by Guccifer 2.0 – NOT to the documents released by Wikileaks. The point of that analysis was to demonstrate good circumstantial evidence that Guccifer 2.0 had nothing to do with the actual leak. Further, Carter provides evidence that Guccifer 2.0 was merely introduced into the situation to try to establish that Russians were involved in the leak.
    The point of the analysis is to prove that the official narrative of the government – that Guccifer 2.0 was part of a team of Russians who hacked into the DNC over the Internet from someplace in Europe or Russian is entirely false.
    Unfortunately VIPS doesn’t make that distinction. Binney is focused on the fact that the NSA has no data to back up the official narrative whereas the NSA should be able to prove definitely whether a hack occurred and by whom.
    As I’ve said before, anyone – Russians or not – could have hacked the DNC without being detected by the NSA if they used one of three methods:
    1) Physical penetration;
    2) Wireless penetration;
    3) Standard tradecraft: bribery or blackmail.
    Binney ignores these options. However, to the degree that he is focused on refuting the official story, he is correct to do so.
    Guccifer 2.0 is a false flag entity introduced by someone – either the DNC, the Clinton campaign, CrowdStrike or some Ukrainians or all of the above – most likely the latter – to strengthen the pathetically poor attribution done by CrowdStrike.
    Further investigation would make that apparent and lead to the demise of the entire “hack” story.

  54. We keep telling you it’s the Deep State and the Military-Industrial Complex, but you don’t believe THOSE “puppet masters” exist.
    Kinda leaves the rest of us who do out in the cold for explanations.

  55. Keith Harbaugh says:

    This is the VIPS memo you are referring to, right?
    Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence
    By VIPS
    Consortium News, 2017-07-24
    And this is the The Nation article, right?
    A Leak or a Hack? A Forum on the VIPS Memo
    A letter from dissenting members of VIPS, a reply from VIPS, and the results of our independent review.
    By Various Contributors
    The Nation, 2017-09-01
    Just want to be clear on what you are talking about 🙂

  56. Bill Herschel says:

    I think Trump won this one on his own, just as he is currently driving a wooden stake through the heart of the Republican Party on his own. His “ideas” before the election were a lot different than his “ideas” today. As I think pl has pointed out, today he nothing but another Saudi Prince singing the tune he is told to sing.
    I am convinced there was absolutely no Russian influence whatsoever. But if you happen to run into a Martian in the grocery store, I assure you that he or she will tell you that Vladimir Putin is a bad man, a dictator, a corrupt murderer of journalists, etc. The propaganda campaign is of that magnitude.

  57. Bill Herschel says:

    The religious connotations of “evil” are too strong for me. On the other hand, can children be evil. I do not believe they can. And children remain children certainly through adolescence. Clinton is not an adolescent. She must be held responsible for her actions. What she is describing in the case of Gaddafi is murder. She is laughing at murder. Condoning it. Making light of it. With any luck she will leave the public stage forever.
    On the other hand, I believe she is capable of all the things she and her team accuse Vladimir Putin of. She has her own definition of evil.

  58. different clue says:

    The Twisted Genius,
    That several-million popular vote lead for Clinton was almost all from California. I suspect more fine-grained study would show it to be from Coastal California from Greater Los Angeles north to the Oregon border.
    It would be interesting to know how many of those votes for Clinton were actually FOR Clinton as against being “for” Clinton as the only way to be aGAINST Trump. ( In an upside-down version of my vote “for” Trump being the only way I could vote aGAINST Clinton.)

  59. Christian Chuba says:

    IMO inertia.
    During the Cold War we had the superior resources and were delivering a boot stomping when we won in the 90’s. The apparatus that we built just just couldn’t let it go and has been dying to unload against the Russkies. Just a variation of ‘to a hammer, all problems look like a nail’.

  60. turcopolier says:

    That is because these things do not exist but like a fool you pursue what does not exist. Why do you do that? It is because you have been programmed to believe they exist. pl

  61. LondonBob says:

    I agree with some of that but I don’t think fears regarding the Soviet Union and Communism were overstated in the interwar period. The Bolshevik revolution was almost unprecedented in European history with the wholesale liquidation of perceived enemies and the explicit ideology of spreading the revolution. Germany, Hungary, Spain etc. were all wracked by communist activity. Perhaps uniquely most countries also harboured substantial fifth columns that actively supported the revolution, bringing a new dimension to the conflict. Indeed in my opinion internal subversion was the only area where Soviet capabilities were underestimated rather than overestimated.
    From the 1930s perspective it is understandable why many hoped Hitler would limit his ambitions to Ein Reich, Ein Volk, rather than the tradition Imperial German policy of an empire in the East, or lebensraum as Hitler preferred to term it. Similarly Hitler’s genocidal proclivities could not be determined yet. Chamberlain had few choices given the international situation with the US absent from upholding the Versailles settlement, the Soviet Union had actively assisted Wiemar Germany in undermining it, France was traumatised by her losses in WWI and Mussolini ruled Italy. Who knows if an army coup would have worked in 38, they didn’t during the war, although I would have liked to have seen more done here, FDR’s policy of unconditional surrender was stupid and evil.
    I do agree though that far too many in the West were unable to see the steady transition from the revolutionary state to something resembling more traditional Russian modes, not unlike the shift from revolutionary France to Napoleonic France. Post Stalin the Soviet leadership were all people we could do business with, perhaps something that JFK, Nixon et al. sensed, even if others did not.
    Ironically I believe that the various internal subversions have had the most impact, but I think post Cold War history has shown those don’t need to have a Soviet sponsor to survive and thrive.

  62. LondonBob says:

    Bureaucratic inertia and self interest. The most powerful special interests and lobbies have a deep stake in an activist foreign policy which requires the US to go abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

  63. confusedponderer says:

    re: “Just a variation of ‘to a hammer, all problems look like a nail’.
    Well, for folks used to think that their ideas are brilliant and good for everybody else and for whom dissent on that is intolerable … well, for such folks a government that they don’t like or that doesn’t obey needs “help”, lately often called ‘regime change’ – to a new group that isn’t an obstacle to benefits and wisdom of these folks.
    As Madeline Albright once said so clearly to Colin Powell: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Apparently, that lady is a person for whom anything looks like a nail that really needs a hammer.
    And I see that sort of view as a basis at work in the script of that notable US military exercise “Millennium Challenge 2002”, playing a conflict of the US vs Iran.
    The exercise was started with an utterly benign and diplomatic US invitation directed at Iran to (a) immediately surrender and (b) show cooperation by (c) committing suicide, or (d) they’d be bombed to see wisdom.
    Well, they didn’t agree to that, and so it speaks, in its own way, for itself that the retired US marine general Van Riper playing the ‘reds’ – Iran – cleverly and thinkingly, and inflicted so severe losses on the US that the exercise was rescripted so the blue folks would win. Oopsie.
    And that sort of view is rather persistent in the US. Just lately, Trump said that Tillerson, his foreign secretary, is “wasting time” by doing diplomacy with NoKo. And I always foolishly thought that diplomacy is part of the job of a foreign secretary …
    But when your way is the only way and negotiating is a waste of time, then you get nonsense approaches like that as an embarassing exercise and as an embarassing practice.
    Just see the great successes (a lot of chaos and a lot of killing) so achieved in Libya and Syria. Or look at the unholy mess – siege and the epidemic of chloera – in Yemen, anpother country that was found to need ‘help’, err, regime change.
    All these stunts didn’t really work, but, the way it looks, the failure didn’t make the folks less regime change happy. And why call it failure anyway? You can redefine it as a … hmmm … ah yes! – a brilliant success!

  64. J says:

    Good points made. The complete narrative needs to be addressed, not just lopsidedness.
    A good case in point you may have overlooked is the regular demonstrations in NYC by anti-Zionist Jews against the State of Israel. Also if an American Jew dares to utter anything derogatory against Zionism or the State of Israel and its dehumanizing Palestinian Arabs, they’re immediately silenced or the subject is changed.

  65. jpb says:

    Life is the puppet master and evolution is the mechanism.

  66. different clue,
    California and New York voted 2 to 1 for HRC as did a few few other states. Here’s the vote totals for just those two states.
    California Trump 4,483,810 Clinton 8,753,788 Clinton +4,269,978
    New York Trump 2,790,073 Clinton 4,491,191 Clinton +1,701,118
    A number of states voted for Trump in the same ratio including the Dakotas, Wyoming, West Virginia, Alabama and Oklahoma. All that is moot since it’s the Electoral college vote that counts. I was just surprised she did as well as she did given her self-inflicted faults.

  67. David Habakkuk,
    Reflexive control as a field of study did not appear until the 60s with the theories of V. A. Lefebvre in the Soviet Union. It’s influence can be seen in the practice of human persuasion and influence operations and in the Soviet/Russian applications of radio electronic combat. Tim Thomas, a Russian Area Specialist Officer at Fort Leavenworth’s Foreign Military Studies Office, has written quite a bit about this.
    I’m nostalgic for the time when there were military contacts between Russians and Americans. In 2012 the 10th SFG(A) and the 45th Guards Spetsnaz Regiment conducted exchange training missions. In the 80s, the Austrian Army Mountain Guide School took great pains to keep our units on separate Alpine ridges during training. We only got to wave our ski poles at each other from a distance. I see no reason we can’t work together again, even militarily. Look what we do in space.

  68. Keith Harbaugh,
    Those are the articles, especially the one from “The Nation.” The other one I linked to was Scott Ritter’s article at “Truthdig.”

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    By “Deep State” I imagine you mean the Protestant Churches in US? A.K.A. the Puritans?

  70. TTG,
    I looked up ‘reflexive control.’ From a piece in the ‘Georgetown Security Studies Review’ in February entitled ‘Disinformation and Reflexive Control: The New Cold War’ by Annie Kowalewski (note name):
    ‘Reflexive control is a “uniquely Russian” concept based on maskirovka, an old Soviet notion in which one “conveys to an opponent specifically prepared information to incline him/her to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action”.’
    (See http://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2017/02/01/disinformation-and-reflexive-control-the-new-cold-war/ )
    Whether the term originated with the theories of V.A. Lefebvre in the ‘Sixties is, I submit, not really very relevant. This is what people have been doing since time immemorial.
    Actually, I happen to know a good deal about two occasions when the Soviets did ‘reflexive control’ very effectively. One was when the ‘MSM’ – in particular the ‘New York Times’ – dismissed and sneered at the reporting of the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones on what is now called the ‘Holodomor’. As the family were friends of my grandparents, my father knew who to believe.
    Another occasion was the Katyn massacre, when the only reliable reporting in Britain came from someone who was a genuine ‘Holocaust denier.’ I can vouch for this – I met him, years later.
    Unfortunately, on other occasions ‘Russophobes’ – sometimes our home-grown British variety, but often erstwhile victims of the Russian and Soviet states, or their descendants – have convinced themselves that what was at issue was ‘reflexive control’, when in fact this turned out to be simply wrong. One knows these traumas run deep, but often the policy consequences are unfortunate.
    This was precisely what happened when people like Postan and my father were trying to persuade people like Chamberlain that it might be a good idea to not take for granted that Litvinov’s overtures were a ‘baited hook.’ It was also what happened when, following guidance from people like MccGwire and Garthoff, who actually had developed methodologies to distinguish ‘reflexive control’ from accurate statements, I attempted to persuade people to take the Gorbachev-era ‘new thinking’ seriously.
    We were right, the mainstream ‘intelligence communities’ on both sides of the Atlantic utterly wrong.
    As it happens, the British used to be rather good at ‘reflexive control.’ A key basis, in the Second World War, was the cracking of the Abwehr Enigma at Bletchley Park – Dilwyn Knox’s team, in which a key player was a 19-year-old girl called Mavis Lever, made possible the ‘specially prepared information’ of ‘Operation Mincemeat’ and ‘Operation Fortitude.’
    I am now watching, with horrified incredulity, an attempt at ‘reflexive control’. This involves:
    1. the investigation of the DNC servers being entrusted by Alperovitch and ‘CrowdStrike’, who are already clearly involved in such operations, rather than either the FBI’s own experts or any contractor with any remote claim to impartiality, who point the finger at the GRU. You have attempted to justify this, but it is clearly unjustifiable;
    2. documents being immediately produced by ‘Guccifer 2.0’, in which the former GCHQ employee Matt Tait immediately identifies the name of the founder of the Cheka. The ‘patter’ is familiar from incompetent operations: ‘I did not believe “CrowdStrike”, but then I found this evidence showing they were right after all’;
    3. a view days later, Christopher Steele, who rigged the Litvinenko Inquiry – I have plenty of evidence to prove this – producing the first installment of a ‘dossier’ which claims that somehow, when nobody expected Trump would have any kind of serious role in American politics, had already decided he was the ‘coming man.’
    This is, quite patently, a very crude attempt at ‘reflexive control’ by elements of the American and British intelligence services, acting in conjunction.
    At the moment, a critical question is whether or not General Valery Gerasimov, who as you know is Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, is or is not an appropriate collaborator in combating jihadist terrorism.
    You, on what appear to me to be very flimsy grounds, are giving aid and comfort to those who are seeking to rule the possibility of collaboration out by portraying his organisation as having played a central role in attempting to subvert American institutions.
    So doing both makes effective resolution of current crises in a whole range of places more difficult – and also contributes to what has become a non-negligible risk of nuclear war.
    If you think you can ‘work together again’ effectively with the Russian military – at anything more than the most basic level – while behaving like this, or indeed calling Putin ‘mudak’ (English equivalents, I understand, including ‘ass, asshole, blockhead, motherfucker, shitass, simpleton, turd, ass hole, mother fucker, bugger, arse’), I think you are, if I may say so, something of a ‘simpleton.’

  71. different clue says:

    The Twisted Genius,
    I did not know that New York was also two-to-one Clinton. This makes me wonder if the Democratic Party structures of California and New York are most strongly controlled by the Jonestown Clintists and will be the last State Democratic Parties and Electorates to be reformed and declintaminated . . . if they even can be.

  72. John Merryman says:

    Control, like lots of things, can be a double edged sword. Too rigid and it is brittle. Too much force and it can spin out of control. Basically most people are riding a wave. Some bigger, but they have to go the direction the wave is going, or else.

  73. David Habakkuk,
    I recommend some of Tim Thomas’ works on reflexive control. I noticed Annie Kowalewski used him as a source. I disagree that this concept was based on maskirovka although I’ve heard that before. It’s more like maskirovka can be described as an implementation of reflexive control. I’ve had several conversations with Tim Thomas about reflexive control. We spoke about the juxtaposition of reflexive control and the Russian use of cybernetics. I see a strong relation between the two concepts and the Russian implementation of information-based warfare.
    I think you are far too fixated on Alperovich as a reason to discount the idea of a Russian hack of the DNC servers. The FBI was the first to notify the DNC that the Russian hackers that they were battling in several government systems for more than a year. This first notification was made in Sep 2015 and was based on NSA intercepts of the hackers activity on the DNC system. Both the FBI special agent and the DNC IT guy screwed the pooch and no action was taken against the hackers until CrowdStrike was called. Fortunately the team leader (Robert Johnston) that first examined the DNC system recently left the military after working to kick the same hackers out of the JCS systems. He recognized the hack for what it was. The important point of this story, other than Alperovitch was only tangentially involved, is that the NSA captured the hacker traffic itself, something way more valuable than after-the-fact forensics of the hacked servers. Unfortunately for us, that info has not been released publicly and probably never will.
    Concerning my use of the term mudak, which you translated quite correctly, that is a term that I and several old school Russian hackers often exchanged on FIDONet and IRC. We used it as a term of endearment and mutual respect, much like we called each other such things on my SF team and SMU team. I hope that explains things… you old bastard. 😉

  74. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I believe that has been the whole purpose of the Intelligence Arts, to cause one’s opponent to perform a certain task or take a certain course of action – by his own volition – that would advance one’s interests.
    There is nothing specifically Russian in any of this; Did not the English create “The man who never was”?

  75. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Monotheism does not require a “spiritual absolute”, only a unitary theory of substance and either a doctrine of causation or a doctrine of purpose.
    The Doctrine of the Fall is an empirical principle based on observation of present and past human societies. It is not a theory.

  76. Colonel Lang,
    That sums up what I have come to think very well, broadly speaking. Certainly, your account of your experiences with Russian diplomats and intelligence people in the Middle East matches what I found from my very much more limited and indirect knowledge. A big difference, however, was that in Soviet times, people had to talk and write, much of the time, in that awful ‘language of wood’, the Marxist-Leninist ‘Volapuk’ – which isn’t true any longer.
    Going back to the history of the ‘Thirties, a further irony is that another my father’s mentors, as a young man, was the head of his college, Montagu Butler – who was the father of one of the arch-appeasers, R.A. Butler, and himself a convinced supporter of Chamberlain’s line. None of this was surprising, because the elder Butler, and his brother were ‘old India hands’ – both had been governors of Indian provinces.
    This is not simply irrelevant, because the post-war notion that ‘appeasement’ is inherently cowardly and stupid is actually simply wrong. Quite rightly, the Butlers were were strongly committed to the ‘appeasement’ of Indian nationalism, and thought that Churchill’s approach was likely to turn a difficult but manageable situation into an utter catastrophe.
    There was nothing inherently rational in reading European realities in the same terms – indeed with any other German leader than Hitler, including other Nazis, like Goebbels and Goering, Chamberlain’s strategy would probably have worked.
    As to both Hitler and Stalin, the evidence about their actual agendas was inherently ambiguous. The central failure of the Chamberlain government was a reluctance to question their preconceptions, and think in a hard-headed manner about how one could find out ways of judging what was reality, what pretence.
    (Ironically, sometimes indirect means will do it – some of the people who had the best grasp of what was going on, not simply in Berlin but in Moscow, were in the Abwehr and Auswärtiges Amt, and information from both could be tapped, as it was by Sir Robert Vansittart and MI5. Also, one needs historical context – had more been known about the agendas of Ludendorff and the German High Command in the latter stages of World War I, they might have made better sense of ‘Mein Kampf.’)
    As to the influence of exiles from Eastern Europe. Ironically, some of the people I have found most useful over the years have had precisely this background. On both sides of the Atlantic, however, a kind of inverse correlation between general intellectual grasp and influence appears to have developed.
    Unfortunately, when I heard General-Mayor Larionov talking about Svechin, I had not come across a paper published the previous year by Dr Jacob W. Kipp, of what was then the Soviet Army Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, entitled ‘Mass, Mobility, And The Red Army’s Road To Operational Art 1918-1936.’
    (See http://fmso.leavenworth.army.mil/documents/redopart.htm .)
    This piece – which I think genuinely brilliant – provided a context which made all kinds of things make better sense. It located arguments about collectivisation which I had read about in Stephen F. Cohen’s biography of Bukharin in the framework of debates about military strategy, in which the repudiation of Svechin’s complex reading of Clausewitz in favour of Tukhachevsky’s simplistic one was central.
    This I think is of continuing relevance, because the conduct of the war in Syria seems to me very much in the spirit of Svechin’s reading of Clausewitz: a sophisticated integration of military and non-military dimensions, and a careful weighing of when it appropriate to shift from ‘attrition’ to ‘destruction.’
    As regards the analysts who had influence, however, the attempts to apply highly abstract theorising to issues of nuclear strategy, in which the Wolhstetters played a central role, were supplemented by the interpretations of Russian writings by Richard Pipes et al. So inappropriate abstraction was compounded by bad history reflecting a certain kind of traumatised Jewish Russophobia.
    What all these people failed to grasp was that an unintended consequence of ‘flexible response’ was actually to trigger a shift on the Russian side back to conventional warfighting strategies, which was reinforced when their analysts concluded definitively – and contrary to what Pipes argued – that it was impossible to ‘win’ a nuclear war, even in the most minimal sense.
    It was in large measure as a ‘consequential error’ that people like Robert Gates completely misunderstood what the kind of changes that Larionov and people like him were championing were about.
    Another example of this inverse correlation between ability and influence is provided by the Lieven brothers. With a perspective informed by their complex ancestry, as descendants of Baltic German servants of the Tsars and Catholic Irish servants of the Raj, both Anatol and Dominic are among the very best British writers on international affairs.
    In any rational world, the former would be the principal foreign affairs columnist for a leading British newspaper, the latter regularly consulted by the FCO.
    As it happens, both brothers were at this year’s Valdai Conference. The report from Anatol in the ‘National Interest’ having touched on the question of whether necessary economic reforms are either likely or indeed possible under the Putin ‘sistema’, pointed out the utter irrelevance of most Western threat scenarios.
    (See http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/here-what-i-saw-the-valdai-club-conference-22963?page=2 .)
    Reporting on his discussions there, and confirming what he has long said and I have long thought, Anatol Lieven argued that the long-term goal of the Russian élite remains good relations with Germany, and the fact that they do not believe a cooperative relationship with Merkel is possible has not changed this.
    Glossing his thoughts with mine: Precisely the fact that the Russians have been in essence forced into rebuilding their military capabilities, and reliance on nuclear weapons, makes it all the more obvious that absolutely the last thing they will want to do is anything which would make Germans feel they were a potential military threat.
    Putting military pressure on the Baltics or Poland would inevitably do this, for absolutely zero gain. In so doing, it would greatly increase the chances of all Russia’s eggs ending up, as it were, in the Chinese basket . And it might also make Germans think they needed to reconstruct their own military power.
    (Putting the point another way: The Russians need to combine as it were showing they can be tigers to the Anglo-Saxon powers, with reassuring the Germans and French that they really only want to be pussycats.)
    The younger Lieven went on to make another very interesting observation. Most of the discussion at the conference, he pointed out, was not about Russian-Western relations, but instead ‘climate change, social inequality, technological change, genetic engineering, globalization, migration and national identity.’ On migration, he suggested, the ‘existing Brussels elites’ showed ‘complete witlessness’: which is also my view.
    And he then wrote:
    ‘As a number of participants (including myself) pointed out, compared with these existential threats to existing states, the issues currently dividing Russia and the West are likely to seem to the historians of the future (if there are any) so minor as to be almost insignificant. One hundred years from now, our descendants are likely to look back on disputes over Crimea, the Donbas and Syria with the same combination of incomprehension and contempt with which we regard the European elites who went to war over geopolitical issues in 1914. They, too, failed to see that the real threats to their comfortable, civilized world came from within their own societies.’
    As it happens, a short paper by Anatol’s elder brother Dominic, summarising the conclusions of his recent book explaining precisely how this happened, was presented at the conference. It is a book into which I have only so far dipped, but it is clearly a very brilliant work, in large measure precisely because of its author’s émigré background (also, his grasp of the centrality of military history to general history.)
    (See http://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/revolution-war-and-empire/ .)
    Back in July, meanwhile, the Aspen Forum hosted a discussion entitled ‘Active Measures: The Kremlin Plan to Beat the West Without Firing a Shot’, with Evelyn Farkas, and Julia Ioffe. At the outset, Jim Sciutto asked Ned Price, who is apparently ‘Former Senior Assistant to President Obama’, ‘to play the role of Sergey Kislyak today, which he has agreed.’
    (See http://aspensecurityforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Active-Measures_The-Kremlin-Plan-to-Beat-the-West-without-Firing-a-Shot.pdf .)
    If Kislyak did not want to attend, it would have been perfectly possible to find credible people who could have put a Russian perspective. Instead, protected from any actual encounter with alternative views, we were treated to helpings of utter drivel, reflecting a culture of ‘empowered victimhood’ which is, unfortunately, not uncommon among former victims of the Russian and Soviet states and their descendants. None of this is at all surprising, but it makes it more difficult to have policy rooted in the realities of the present rather than an often dubious readings of the past.

  77. 1. Reflexive control? Is this related to what we now see called “nudge” economics or nudge politics? Or another term for manipulation of public opinion by disinformation or straight propaganda?
    2. Might I also ask whether two things are in fact being discussed here? 1, The routine cyber warfare described above & 2, specific Russian attempts to influence the US elections, either by hacking or by social media.
    The article and succeeding comments are just amazing. Put it straight into the NYT and it would be worth buying. A lot of the discussion beyond me but I’d like to get the basics straight. That’s why I’ve ventured to put those questions.
    On the “deep state” I do believe “Pacifica Advocata’s” view, given a little while ago, can be the only correct one. There is no underlying strategy amongst our elites. No NWO project. Just a more or less random series of interactions of interest groups. Some, like the foreign policy establishment, into enough group think and consensual activity to justify the Colonel’s collective description of them as the “Borg”, but most just doing their own thing because whatever their thing is it’s what they believe in, or it’s what they’re used to, or it pays. Release those interest groups from the last vestiges of democratic control, add a dose of cargo cult economics, and they fall into the “it just happened” pattern we see at the moment. That’s not a deep state. It’s a deep shambles.
    Non-linear stuff, or what used to be called chaos theory. We’ve fallen into an unhealthy stasis at present as the various sets of forces have resolved into the current pattern. As DH calls it, our Brezhnev era. In the days when computers could be programmed by the amateur I used to play around with all that sometimes. Watching the patterns stay solid while you changed the variables, sometimes for a surprisingly long time, until just one little adjustment too many and the screen would dissolve into random dots again.
    Wiki does an article on it and on the related field of catastrophe theory. Most of that’s beyond me too. But it can be misleading. All the doom merchants are waiting for the butterfly flapping its wings somewhere that’s going to lead to a re-alignment. Maybe. Looking at where we are now I suspect the butterfly is going to be redundant and it’s going to be a damned great hurricane that’ll do the job. I have a vision of grey men in suits somewhere in the depths of the Central Banks frantically running around like hamsters on a wheel to keep their bit stable. Hope they succeed there, at least. A lot of people seem to be quite attached to their pensions and savings.
    On the Russian stuff I heard the BBC reporting on the morning news (8 AM, “Today” on Radio 4, please be aware that this programme may damage your health) that Mrs May has taken another routine bash at the Russians. I found two things interesting. She’s very worried about the Russians corrupting our Democracy. Bloody silly – we’ve done that already so the Russians can take a hike if they think they can improve on our efforts – but it does show she’s out of step with Trump. Big surprise.
    Secondly, in the list of Russian crimes she forgets to mention MH17. I thought that was possibly interesting as well.

  78. turcopolier says:

    David Habakkuk
    I was speaking of Soviet days. I have had little to do with Russians since I left the government. The conclusions I reached about Soviets were the result of seeking them out in the course of my work for the US Government. As you say they spoke in a strangely constipated way as though they were always afraid of revealing too much to foreign people and to each other. But, after a while the person underneath the self protective shell could be understood. pl

  79. fanto says:

    your comments are very informative, and they are not easy to read, just like reading for example Hegel, but ultimately very gratifying to understand after careful re-reading. But , comments like yours make SST a future resource for historians. Thank you.

  80. condor says:

    Department of Homeland Security aka Ministry of Pots and Kettles

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