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Stalin – Steven Kotkin’s biography

Mass Murderer Stalin Goes to His Grave - On This Day

 

I cannot recommend enough Steve Kotkin’s massive and fascinating biography of Stalin. I have just finished volume 2 minutes ago.

For me the book was like the  piece of the jigsaw puzzle that links large sections of the whole in a way you had not seen before.

In this case, the pieces linked were the histories of Japan, China, Poland, Germany, France, the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s. Stalin and the Soviet Union stand at the centre of the 20th century. What to do about communism was the central issue for both Hitler and then the USA, after the downfall of Nazism. Their approaches were hugely different, of course.

Among the many benefits of Kotkin’s book is the reshaping of one’s ideas about the history of the twentieth century, by relocating it away from the Atlantic powers towards Asia.

He conclusively dispels several false ideas about WW2 and collectivization that have been propagated over time.

Above all, Kotkin’s massive research elucidates the key points of the regime of the world’s most terrible dictator, Hitler not excepted, in my opinion. Read the book and see for yourself whether you agree. The style is easy and straightforward. The scholarship is profound.

His main points are that

  1. Stalin was a believing Marxist Leninist, always;
  2. He was a very bad man, though hugely capable.

Kotkin is the complete master of the details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good news: The Cold War may be over

As the media go hysterical over Trump and Putin meeting, it is important to ask yourself this question: who gains by making Russia the bogeyman? Instead of, say, Islamic terrorism, Islamic invasion of Europe, mass emigration from Africa or Mexico, or the advent of thinking machines, autonomous cars, and microbiological weapons? Eh?

As Spengler observes, Russia has always been governed by thugs, and on the scale of Stalin or Lenin, Putin’s long list of assassinations is less than the first 3 days following the  Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

 

President Trump offended the entire political spectrum with a tweet this morning blaming the U.S. for poor relations with Russia. “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity,” the president said, and he is entirely correct. By this I do not mean to say that Russia is a beneficent actor in world affairs or that President Putin is an admirable world leader. Nonetheless, the president displayed both perspicacity and political courage when he pointed the finger at the United States for mismanaging the relationship with Russia.

The hysterical shouts of “treason! Munich! disgrace!” are a sure sign that the Party of Davos  is offended, and they are getting really scared that the changes they deplore keep on happening despite their shrill control of the mainstream media.

Something new is aborning, and like all births, it is messy, bloody, shitty and horrible to look at. But wipe off the baby and cut the umbilical cord, tie it up and tuck it in and you have a new baby. The birth of the new will look ghastly for a while but the process of replacing the Post World War 2 American Imperium with something else is underway. As Steve Bannon says, “we don’t want a European protectorate, we want a European alliance.”

Mostly we want to go on living as nations, and not as helots in service of the Davos crowd.

John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, has not exactly adapted to the news.

John Brennan, who led U.S. intelligence under Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: ‘Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors’. It was nothing short of treasonous.’

You may expect more of the same. Unless you realize that the world is changing before your eyes, and that the US Deep State in particular does not want to change its anti-Russian focus, nothing will make sense. As Orwell once noticed, it is hard enough to see what is in front of our eyes. It is not treason, it is the downgrading of the threat from a declining Russia to its actual proportions. In the meantime, beware of Russians bearing soccer balls, but not more than one should be wary of open borders, Davos thinking,  intersectionality and the decline of educational standards.

The last time I can remember an event so large was the fall of the Soviet Union, but the important fact is that this time the change is happening here.

Vladimir Putin gives Donald Trump a football from the 2018 World Cup in Russia during their press conference in Helsinki 

 

5 for 5

 

My subject is the astonishing level of incomprehension of and contempt for Trump by the American elites.

A perfect illustration is available from Real Clear Politics’ Monday edition of the state of incomprehension of Trump by the American elite. It is called “the End of Intelligence”, and appeared first in the Sunday New York Times. It is written by Michael Hayden, who was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009 and the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005.

His concern is with ‘post truth’ America, and what follows is Hayden’s line of argument.

He illustrates his case with some whoppers (outright lies), exaggerations and nonsense that Trump told during the election. [No discussion is made of anything from Hillary].

Hayden writes:

We in the intelligence world have dealt with obstinate and argumentative presidents through the years. But we have never served a president for whom ground truth really doesn’t matter.

The case in point is the ill-conceived Presidential directive that has come to be called ‘the Muslim-ban’. Hayden detects a pattern: something starts with a Presidential tweet, then the legions of  experts are called in to dampen, palliate, or moderate the instincts of the President.

“Sometimes, almost magically, he gets it right”, as when Trump agreed with the establishment to keep troops in Afghanistan.

But most of the time, Trump does not agree with the establishment, as on sanctions against Russia. In fact Trump disagrees with large sections of official opinion.

In this post-truth world, intelligence agencies are in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science — all of which, like intelligence gathering, are evidence-based. Intelligence shares a broader duty with these other truth-tellers to preserve the commitment and ability of our society to base important decisions on our best judgment of what constitutes objective reality.

On how many issues is the American establishment wrong? They consist of journalists, academia, the courts, law enforcement and science.  And on how many issues are the the general consensus of the establishments in North America and Europe absolutely, completely wrong?

  1. Global warming/climate change: a concatenation of errors in false analysis, false conclusions, and wrong-headed solutions that will impoverish us, all driven by an anti-development ideology masquerading as “science”
  2. Iran deceiving us about their nuclear plans, and we being willing to be deceived
  3. Russia, seen as if it were still the Soviet Union, a confusing the thuggish Putin with the mass-muderer Stalin
  4. Islamic terrorism – you cannot be allowed to see or speak to the link between Islam the religion and Islam the political idea
  5. Korea – seen as insoluble

I would say it is five for five, on the most important issues confronting the West today. And I am not talking about the ideological mess of our universities.

Of course Hayden and his ilk believe that Trump is irrational in opposing Establishment views, because it is impossible that they could be wrong. We have all read their 60-page memoranda; we have all taken our lessons from the professors; we have all bowed our heads to the liberals in robes on the courts; and the police are busy policing thoughts and attitudes, as they ought. How can we all be wrong?

How can the establishments in law, policing, science, foreign intelligence and academia be wrong? The answer is quite simple, really. They have been animated by wrong ideas for fifty or a hundred years, and the results are now being seen.

I was once subjected to spiteful derision from a man who thought my views on global warming were utterly wrong. Without his ever having researched the subject, he found most offensive the fact that I dared to have an opinion that was not the consensus of scientists, as he saw it. How could I be so bold? [As a Protestant I am culturally accustomed to taking on Establishments and declaring them without authority, is the answer.]

The heresy or sin is in having a view that is not an establishment view. And Trump is five for five. And that, my friends, is why the Establishment thinks that Trump is irrational. Because they cannot be wrong.

Desinformatsiya and the Russian interference issue

The Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has brought indictments against a number of Russians who, through aliases, interfered in the US election.

 

The Russians, assuming the identity of Americans, operated social media pages designed to attract the attention of Americans and foment social and political divisions.

I assume the truth of this. Moreover, I assume the truth of all such accusations about Russian state activity in the service of Russians state interests from the time of the Tsars.

If you need evidence for this tendency, I invite you to read the Marquis of Custine’s description of Tsarist Russia, written in 1839. I quote from his book:

In Russia, whatever be the appearance of things, violence and arbitrary rule is at the bottom of them all. Tyranny rendered calm by the influence of terror is the only kind of happiness which this government is able to afford its people.

This, to be sure, was long before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Another snippet from the Marquis, who visited Russia for some months and returned to France with baleful conclusions about the regime of the Tsars:

In Frace, revolutionary tyranny is an evil belonging to a state of transition; in Russia, despotic tyranny is permanent.

Not enough? Well try the book, Red Horizons, written by Lt. Gen.Ion Pacepa (pronounced Pachepa) former head of Rumania’s foreign intelligence service and a defector to the United States in 1978.

Pacepa’s view is that by far the largest activity of the security services of the Communist regime, from Stalin on down, was not intelligence gathering so much as framing the innocent, and generating “disinformation”. For example, disinformation is the process whereby you have come to believe, in all probability, that the firmly anti-Nazi Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope” and that he did not do enough to help the Jews in World War II. Besmirching the reputation of those who oppose the interests of the rulers of Russia, whether Tsarist, Communist, or the current ex-KGB leader, is what their secret services do.

If the Russian regime can throw doubt on the outcome of the entire US election by the trivial expenditure of some Facebook pages, and the time of some 13, or even 13,000, agents of the FSB, do you think they would not do it? The gains they make by throwing the US system of government into disrepute are enormous; they undercut the legitimacy of the US system for chicken feed.

Is it any wonder then, that Trump tweeted yesterday:

President Donald Trump says Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for the way Washington has handled the Russia investigations, following the Department of Justice’s charges against Russian nationals last week for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election.

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

As usual, the US mainstream media will be swallowing the tale of Russian interference without blinking an eye, but highlighting the extent to which Trump has downplayed Russian interference in the past. It will avoid considering the degree to which Democrats and the left in general are serving Putin’s ends. It will avoid any look in the mirror. It will avoid considering the nature of the Russian state for the smallest of partisan advantages.

Yet the Mueller indictments may have succeeded, despite the left’s best efforts, in drawing attention to the man who is poisoning the water, Vladimir Putin. Can you blame him for trying to wreck the legitimacy of the US political system? Only in the same way as you can blame a cat for hunting mice.

But for the political opposition to Trump, they can be blamed for the most relentless and obstinate short-sightedness.  And as for Trump, if he has just woken up to the extent to which he has been played by Putin, that will be salutory.