On Herman, there is a useful interview he gave to the intelligence historian Michael Phythian in 2016. It can be read in a few minutes, and should I think give food for thought not simply to Brits but to Americans.
(See https://lra.le.ac.uk/bitstr... .)
Having found the ‘Intelligence Power in Peace and War’ book very instructive, but rather too ‘academic’ for my taste, I was reassured to see that part of the reason for this was that Herman had to be concerned to get it ‘cleared.’
Also of great interest is Herman’s contribution to the collective biography of Michael MccGwire in the 1998 symposium ‘Statecraft and Security’, edited by Ken Booth, which condenses a discussion of some crucial history and issues into a very lucid five pages. (The book can currently be bought online by Americans for less than $5, and the discussion is on pps. 93-8.)
Part of the reason his book was written is that, as the description of MccGwire’s contribution to British naval intelligence and the subsequent marginalisation of his ideas makes very clear, Herman thought that British intelligence as a whole had not been very successful in making sense of crucial areas where technical military analysis and political analysis are inextricably intertwined.
The continued relevance of these arguments has been made dispiritingly apparent over the past few years by claims by one Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, and the way that the British MSM has been prepared to accept him, and what he writes, at face value.
Formerly commanding officer of Britain’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regiment and Nato’s Rapid Reaction CBRN Battalion, and assistant director of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Land Forces, HdBG, as some of us who have been taking an interest in his activities have got used to calling him, retired from the Army in 2011.
Since then, he has emerged as a key figure in British ‘information operations’ in relation to CW, in Syria and elsewhere.
In a piece posted on SST in April last year on how the attempt to use the Ghouta ‘false flag’ sarin attack in August 2013 to inveigle the United States and Britain into destroying the ‘Assad régime’ was conducted, and how it was frustrated, I had a good deal to say about his activities.
Failure, however, seems not to have discouraged him. The continuing role of HdsBG in ‘false flags’ thereafter is discussed in section 7.1 of a post by the ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’ on the 7 April ‘false flag’ in Douma.
(See https://syriapropagandamedia... .)
Moreover, following the Salisbury incident, the supposed chemical weapons expertise of HdBG played a crucial role in the attempt to sustain the ‘narrative’ to which the British government has committed itself, whose preposterous nature is the subject of Craig Murray’s discussion.
In a piece in April entitled ‘Chemical Weapons: A Threat in the New Cold War?’, the disinformation he himself had disseminated about Syria is put together with the disinformation he himself had disseminated about the Salisbury incident, to generate a nightmare vision.
The article concludes ‘NATO, including the UK needs to re-invest in its chemical defence capabilities and be prepared to fight in this ‘dirty’ environment or we could be quickly rolled over by a concerted attack from the East.’
(See https://www.thewhatandthewhy... .)
My own suspicion, ironically perhaps, is that the perpetrator of this preposterous nonsense did not start off as a bad man. What the article also strongly suggests is that he swallowed claims by Mirzayanov whole.
But then, so too did very many people who were supposed to be intellectually critical intelligence analysts and academics. See, for example, a 1995 report entitled ‘Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects’ published by the Henry L. Stimson Center’, at
This is precisely what one would expect from people – be they military or civilian – who have a mentality which Herman describes: that is, who have a view of the world they find comfortable, not simply in terms of their material interests but of their loyalties and values, and are instinctively resistant to evidence which calls it into question.
In Britain in particular, there were very many people who, for a range of different reasons, had got very comfortable with the Cold War, and the complex networks it generated: among them, crucially, our relations with the Saudis and other ‘Gulfies.’
Also involved here are very complex histories, involved with the collaboration of Western intelligence services with forces inside the former Soviet empire – self-destructively over-extended by Stalin – who were anti-Russian as well as anti-Soviet: and also, ‘conservative’ elements in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
This is not an history I want to turn on its head, replacing one simplistic narrative of ‘good guys’ versus ‘bad guys’ with another.
However, the fact that people like HdBG, and many others, avoided psychological discomfort, precisely because people like Mirzayanov were telling them that they had been right all along, has now blown up in all our faces.
Among other things, it has meant that, having started off telling what they thought were either not lies at all, or ‘white lies’, people like de HdBG have gone down a route which has meant they have to tell some very ‘dirty’ lies.
It has turned out that the world of the Cold War was actually somewhat more complex and ambiguous than many believed at the time. Amid the complexities of the post-Cold War world, moreover, the kind of simplicity described by Herman has commonly meant that those who believe what they find it comfortable to believe get ‘played for suckers.’
People who start with delusions can end up going down roads which leave them with little alternative but to deceive others, and themselves.
In my view, a central element in ‘Russiagate’ may well have been the fear of such people, on both sides of the Atlantic, of having their lies exposed.