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05 May 2008


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Electing either Hillary Clinton or John McCain will not change any of this one whit. Electing Obama might. Might. Might not also.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habbakkuk,

Anent Neocons, for those of us who are not familiar with the Brit scene, could you give some more examples? Any particular publications like the Weekly Standard and Commentary they are known to edit? Any foundations or institutes like AEI they lurk around in?

Is there a relationship between Neocon-ism and some sections of Fabian Socialism? It seems both share some utopian notions about a "New World Order" and how to get there.

One of the best studies over here on Fabian Socialism and how it penetrated the US a century or so ago is:
Rose Martin, Fabian Freeway. It was published back in the 1960s by several small houses. I wonder if George Orwell simply added 100 years to the founding date, 1884, of the Fabian Society to get his title.

It seems there are circles of French Neocons lurking around Le Figaro and elsewhere. Also, one might have to place the Spaniard Aznar somewhere in their orbit I would guess given his role with Blair as Euro cheerleader for the Iraq War.


Side note to Kiracofe's comment: Orwell got the title of the book 1984 by reversing the last two digits of the year he wrote it in: 1948. See the counterpart novel 1985, by Anthony Burgess with explanatory foreword.

Cold War Zoomie

Mullen is talking again:

"I actually am very hopeful that we don't get into a position where we have to get into a conflict," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Israel's Channel Ten television when asked if he might recommend that U.S. forces strike Iranian nuclear facilities preemptively.

Top U.S. officer says would prefer no war on Iran


props on the original dust jacket!


David Habakkuk wrote:

"But the evidence produced by the Hutton Inquiry made clear that Scarlett is a 'bureaucratic whore' -- although perhaps 'corrupt courtier' would be a more appropriate term."

Aw David, don't you think you're being a bit hard on Mr. Scarlett? Aside from being wrong on Saddam and WMD's is there any other evidence that he wasn't just wrong and isn't otherwise just a patriotic guy who's devoted his life to his country's work and has in the main worked diligently and as well as anyone else at it? (And, like most government people, is doing so for a helluva lot less than what the rest of us are making?)

After all didn't damn near all intell. agencies in the world think similarly about Saddam and WMD? And didn't Saddam even say in interrogation that he *purposefully* led everyone to think that?

For all we know Scarlett's gonna laugh at whatever the Israelis say they've now got and then suddenly he'll be our hero. (If we can ever even find out.) Plus I think it's too easy to expect everyone in positions of responsibility to always and on everything to be 100% pure. Look at history; is there one even great figure who hasn't compromised or "given in" on this or that aspect of this or that issue? It's easy to be on the outside and play holier and smarter than thou (and I'll plead guilty to having been so provoked at times too). But there's plenty of great and good men and women throughout history—indeed, maybe the great majority of them, and maybe all of them in government today even—who've felt that the choice in life is to either stand on the sidelines and be spotless, or to get involved and sometimes have to compromise on this or that but in the main to contribute positively.

Of course this isn't to say that such people shouldn't be criticized when they have compromised. But isn't there a danger of seeming to be overly full of ourselves in issuing blanket-like ethical condemnations of them as "corrupt" and "whores" and ignoring the fullness of their lives and careers?

(And isn't this somewhat exactly the tool if not stigmata of so many of the neo-cons too? I.e., the constant, sneering denomination of others as being appeasers or "anti-semites" or other moral blackguards?)

Beyond that it's always so seductively easy for those who don't have to put their judgments out on the line to criticize others who do. I know that before the war I would have bet that Saddam had at least some WMD's (although I still thought war was crazy); are you on record as unambiguously saying he had no such weapons at the time? If so I am humbled by your prescience. But if not, then what's the difference between you and I and Mr. Scarlett?

And what about now? Aren't we all conveniently dodging the risk that the Scarlett's of the world have to take? So what's your up or down non-hedged opinion: By the end of the Bush presidency is the U.S. and/or Israel going to attack Iranian nuclear installations, or not? I say no.


Tom Griffin

Clifford Kiracofe,

The neocons have a long history of involvement with the European left.

Back in the Fifties, Irving Kristol co-edited Encounter Magazine, which was owned by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a CIA front used to keep tabs on European socialists.

I have written about some of this background here:

The obvious neocon manifestations in Britain today include the Henry Jackson Society, the Euston Manifesto Group, and two think tanks; the Centre of Social Cohesion, and Policy Exchange.

A key figure is Policy Exchange's Dean Godson, who has called for a strategy towards Islamists modelled on the CCF's approach to fighting communism.

Interestingly, the Pentagon neocons were looking to fund this kind of activity back in 2002:

David Habakkuk


At the time, I also thought they probably would find some WMD programmes in Iraq, but much less than was being claimed, and certainly not enough to justify an invasion.

But there is a difference between us and Scarlett. As chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, he had access to the full range of information -- including secret information -- available to his government. I did not, and I imagine you did not.

His job, as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was to bring the lot together and apply critical reason to it. This he patently did not do. And, if you ask, I have to say I think I would at least have made a better fist of it than he did.

It took analysts at the International Atomic Energy Authority a matter of hours to identify the documents purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger as forgeries, apparently using little more than a check with Google. I think I would have ensured that claims made by MI6 had been tested against easily publicly available evidence.

On the 45-minute claim, fascinating information was provided by the evidence presented to Lord Hutton's enquiry and by discoveries following the invasion of Iraq, which illuminate very clearly both the unscrupulousness with which British intelligence practice disinformation against their own people, and their own mishandling of evidence.

Particularly fascinating is the exchange of emails between Dr David Kelly and the veteran BBC reporter Tom Mangold, relating to an article drafted by the latter on the basis of information from intelligence sources.

(See http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/evidence-lists/evidence-tmg.htm.)

Denying the claim by the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been 'sexed up', Mangold conceded that the information that Saddam could authorise the launch of WMD within 45 minutes had come from a single source, but suggested that 'he happened to be an Iraqi Army officer of Brigadier rank -- an MI6 agent in place, a hen's tooth in the body of coalition human intelligence gathering from Iraq.'

In fact it turned out to be an interpretation provided by a Lieutenant Colonel of some crates he saw, forwarded to his father in law, a retired Brigadier General, and thence to the Iraqi National Accord, who passed it on to MI6. On this misrepresentation of the facts Kelly's comment was: 'Looks good to me.'

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

Unfortunately I am not as familiar as I might be with the British scene. As the fact that we have a Henry Jackson Society illustrates, in recent years British arguments have often followed American -- so I have often found myself paying more attention to debates on your side of the Atlantic than to debates on mine. If there is a forum in the UK anything like as interesting as this blog, I have not found it!

I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in links between American and British neocons a sequence of articles by Tom Griffin, whom I see has just posted a comment in response to your query. I came across his work not long ago as a result of a comment of his on a piece of mine which Colonel Lang posted, and have found it very helpful.

His investigations alerted me to the fact that National Strategy Information Center, under whose auspices my old friends Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt developed their polemic against the analytic tradition in the CIA, has significant links to this side of the Atlantic. The president of the NSIC is Roy Godson, his brother Dean was special assistant to Lord Black and chief leader at the Telegraph. Following Black's departure Dean Godson was got rid of, but the paper's politics seem not to have changed much. Con Coughlin, Britain's answer to Judy Miller, is still safely ensconced.

The father of Roy and Dean, Joseph Godson, was Labour attaché here in the Fifties, and was involved in Hugh Gaitskell's campaigns against the Labour left. He was an associate of Jay Lovestone, the former head of the American Communist Party and associate of Bukharin. Some other Americans involved in campaigning against left-wing influence in the European labour movement did not take to Lovestone. As the historian Hugh Wilford put it in an article not long ago, it was charged that, despite his repudiation of communism, 'he and his agents were continuing to use communist methods -- "deceit, intrigue, bribery and strong-arm tactics".'

I have mixed feelings about some of the matters that Griffin discusses, like the relationship between the CIA and Encounter, as my own political starting point was on the Gaitskellite right of the Labour Party. But one can begin fighting very genuine evils and end up coming to resemble the enemy -- as indeed Kennan warned at the end of his Long Telegram. The making of intelligence subservient to the 'global democratic revolution', which appears to be a feature of the NSIC approach is one manifestation of this, I think.

I had some fun a little while back trying to get hold of the 1996 Schmitt/Schulsky Future of Intelligence Report from the NSIC and its authors, who patently do not want to let me get my hands on a copy. I don't think they like open argument. But having been busy with other things, I've not so far been able to pursue this line of inquiry further.

On Fabianism. I think this is a complicated phenomenon. There clearly was a kind of 'totalitarian' element in the Fabian tradition, as manifested in Sidney and Beatrice Webb's Soviet Communism: A new civilization'. And Élie Halévy, the great French liberal historian who I think knew the Webbs well, pointed in his 1935 presentation on the 'era of tyrannies' to the links between Fabian socialism and imperialism, setting them in context with the more general growth of 'imperialist', 'national socialist', and 'Caesarist' conceptions in Europe.

But the mentality of the right-wing Labour intelligentsia of the Fifties and Sixties was much more chastened. Crucial philosophical influences were Isaiah Berlin and Sir Karl Popper -- refugees from the disasters of continental Europe who cautioned against utopian schemes.

One might see Popper's polemic against 'utopian social engineering' as being Edmund Burke for social democrats. From a Popperian perspective, both 'shock therapy' in the former Soviet Union and the 'global democratic revolution' are Jacobin projects. And indeed, 'shock therapy' was denounced as such by figures in this tradition, both British and American -- in particular the economists Peter Murrell and Joseph Stiglitz, both of whom see themselves as being in a tradition going back to Burke, and the political scientist Peter Reddaway.

Their polemics, incidentally, mesh very well with the reflections of the former Chief Political Analyst at the U.S. Moscow Embassy, E. Wayne Merry -- who tried unavailingly in the early Nineties to restraint the millenarian enthusiasms of the Treasury Department and Harvard Institute for International Development.

Clifford Kiracofe

Tom Griffin,

Thanks for the data on Neocon orgs in Britain and the cite to your article. This is not so well known over here. I take it the anti-Bevan machinations related to his stance on the Middle East and the Zionist state.

There is a certain historical nexus: Anglo-American-Zionist. Presumably, this nexus situated itself in the post-WWII intelligence communities in the UK and in the US, etc.. Although one might examine Sir William Wiseman's relationship with Kuhn Loeb after World War I, for example.

There may be some interesting trans-Atlantic connections to be turned up as one looks back into the American Jewish Committee, established a century ago, and publisher of the Neocon organ Commentary. It is said the AJC was a project of Kuhn, Loeb.


David, is this what you're looking for? Our library appears to hold it.

Gary Schmitt and Abe Shulsky

The future of U.S. intelligence : report prepared for the Working Group on Intelligence Reform.

Washington, D.C. : Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, c1996.

xv, 83 p. ; 28 cm.

If you would find it useful I can scan it for you.

Tom Griffin

Clifford Kiracofe,

The immediate issues were more related to Bevan's stance on nuclear weapons and the Cold War. (This was a time when Britain was much more vulnerable to annhiliation than the United States.)

If anything, Bevan had been a relatively pro-Zionist figure in the Labour cabinet that was in power when Israel became independent in 1948.

The Lovestoneites were only one constituency within western intelligence networks.

Others like James Burnham, who might otherwise be regarded as a precursors of neoconservatism, were quite critical of Israel:

Hugh Wilford describes the CIA as having had a management/labour style relationship with its agents on the non-communist left. Perhaps that that helps to explain the neocons' later relationship with the agency.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Thank you for your comments. I especially focused on Halevy and "the 'era of tyrannies' to the links between Fabian socialism and imperialism, setting them in context with the more general growth of 'imperialist', 'national socialist', and 'Caesarist' conceptions in Europe."

This is precisely the area in which I am interested: the Fabian sub-factions or circles with this totalitarian-imperial view. I will look for Halevy's works now that the school year is winding down.

Vansittart says, "That Big Business has favoured a Great Germany and German heavy industry -- that is, war potential -- is notorious; and we shall have to thwart any Englishman who may wish to do the like again. What is less known, because it sounds more fantastic, is that some Left ideologists are carried even further by their ideologies. Here is a sample of them -- the Fabian International Bureau's Conference of 15 March 1941. The chief speaker, after asserting that "there is not much difference between the basic economic techniques of Socialism and Nazism" --sane Socialists will surely repudiate this assertion .... Here is Mr. Crossman closing the discussion: 'The economic unity achieved by the Nazis is good and must be preserved. To hold the opposite view is reactionary.'" [Lessons of My Life, pp. xviii-xix].

Do we find some roots of Neocon-ism in such circles? Ledeen is entranced by Fascist Italy.
Irving Kristol spent considerable time in England as I recall. In which circles did he circulate? We could raise the same question about Leo Strauss and his London years in the 1930s.

To what extent does the "New World Order" (including the Greater Middle East and North Africa thing, etc.) the Neocons pursue parallel the ideologies Halevy critiques? That is, to what extent is the Bush43 foreign policy along this line?

A useful book about Neocon guru Leo Cherne is: Andrew F. Smith, Rescuing the World. The Life and Times of Leo Cherne, forward by Henry Kissinger (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2002).


In response to a post of mine David Habakkuk wrote:

"And, if you ask, I have to say I think I would at least have made a better fist of it [sic] than he did."

Well David, for what it's worth I'll not only accept your assessment but second your nomination. But, again, alls I was saying was that I think it just oddly tarnished your argument by damning people who've merely made mistakes by calling 'em "whore[s]" or etc. And indeed in your title post you not only so crowned Scarlett but also said that every other person on the JIC to a man would have lied to their Prime Minister too, and then said that Sir Richard Dearlove was even worse. Didn't see the need.

(Or indeed the basis really. For instance, as regards that "45-minute" issue that's so central to your point, MI6 noted that by saying same in its dossier to the PM, Scarlett and the JIC obviously and reasonably meant such things as Saddam having chem weapons in artillery shells ready in such time. So in line with that one reporter's humiliating retractions seems to me it clearly was the media and not Scarlett or the JIC that took this ((leaked)) line and presented it to the public as meaning nukes over London or etc. And as regards your citation to some of the "fascinating" evidence presented to Lord Hutton's inquiry to support your point, nevertheless don't you think you should have noted that Hutton's conclusion was to the exact opposite and found that Scarlett and the JIC had *not* intentionally "sexed up" their dossier? ((Even if you do think Hutton was just yet another guy in the tank and did a white-wash job?))

No big deal of course, you're entitled to all your assessments; just sayin.... And otherwise would just note that I'm enjoying your posts greatly.

You seemed to miss my question to you though: What's your best judgment as to whether the Americans or the Israelis will strike Iranian nuke sites before George Bush leaves office? I'd be interested in your take.


And P.S., as the code name of the new Israeli source how does "Chutzpahball" sound? Seems to have a certain ring....

Cheers again,

Clifford Kiracofe

Tom Griffin,

Thanks for your comments and clarifications on Bevan and the issues of the day and the reference to the interesting Canadian site per Burnham. Within Labour, however, were there not cleavages relating to the Zionist issue in the 1940s? Bevin, for example, was not particularly pro-Zionist. I would think the same type of cleavages could be found in the Conservative Party also with Churchill as a pro-Zionist, for example.

Over here, as I recall, the conservative National Review in 1956 castigated Eisenhower's Suez policy and supported the British-French-Israeli operation. It has seemed to me the Buckley circle out of New York-Wall Street took a pro-Israel line which was different from the Old Right's (and some traditionalist Republican Party factions) anti-Zionist position.

One might argue, the New York Buckleyite penetration of the Republican Party combined with later Neocon penetration of the party and thus impacted on foreign policy positions within the party. A fusion of these two political streams somewhat alien to the Republican Party set the stage for Bush43 foreign policy one could argue. The National Review crowd was quite happy with Bush43 policy --crusades in the Middle East and the like -- and still seems to be.

A useful reference per "conservatism" in the US is: George Nash, The Conservative Movement in America Since 1945 (New York: Basic Books,1976.) The author is sympathetic. The "Conservative Movement" is not the same thing as the Republican Party, although it penetrated the party and has by and large taken it over ideologically. Buckley and Kristol as brothers in arms in this Great Work.

David Habakkuk


On the risk of war with Iran, what worries me is less a deliberate initiation of war, than a chain of events getting out of control in a situation of high tension in which there are parties on both sides who may be quite happy to see conflict break out.

There is a fascinating discussion by William Polk, drawing on his experience during the Cuba missile crisis.

(See http://www.juancole.com/2008/03/iran-danger-and-opportunity-polk-guest.html.)

Of its nature, the risk of such a thing happening is imponderable. Obviously there are people who have to make estimates of statistical probability for one purpose or another -- military planners and economic forecasters among others. I suppose if I had to, I would guess something like a 20% risk of some kind of conflict by the end of the year.

In any case however what is involved are a range of issues on which I lack expertise -- including both Iranian and American politics, and technical military issues. So frankly I would not regard my guesstimate as worth very much.

About the Hutton Inquiry however I do know something. The best verdict on the whole episode known to me came in an article in the Guardian by the former Cabinet Office Assessments Staff analyst Lieutenant Colonel Crispin Black. It brings out not simply the what was wrong with Scarlett and MI6, but also the scale of the disintegration of standards of public administration in Britain under Tony Blair, which has caused a very distinguished public servant, Sir Christopher Foster, to describe him as the worst Prime Minister since Lord North.

It is entitled 'Blair's claim is simply incredible', and runs as follows:

'Imagine you are a retired and very proud guards officer watching trooping the colour. How embarrassed and puzzled you would feel if things started to go wrong. Small things, initially, that others not brought up in the system might not notice. The columns of scarlet-clad troops slightly out of sync with the marching music. Some of the orders being given by men in suits rather than by the sergeant majors on parade. I used to work for the defence intelligence staff (DIS) and the Cabinet Office assessments staff - who draft the papers for the joint intelligence committee (JIC) and intelligence reports for No 10 - and that's how I felt during the Hutton inquiry, and how I feel now.

'I left the assessments staff just six months before the dreaded dossier was published. From what came out at the Hutton inquiry I could hardly recognise the organisation I had so recently worked for. Meetings with no minutes, an intelligence analytical group on a highly specialised subject which included unqualified officials in Downing Street but excluded the DIS's lifetime experts (like Dr Brian Jones), vague and unexplained bits of intelligence appearing in the dossier as gospel (notably the 45-minute claim), sloppy use of language, that weird "last call" for intelligence like Henry II raving about Thomas a' Becket - with "who will furnish me with the intelligence I need" substituted for "who will rid me of that turbulent priest".

'I looked forward to Lord Hutton making some serious suggestions about how to keep the intelligence process free of political manipulation and analysts free from the preparation of propaganda dossiers. I thought he might help explain, too, why the intelligence community had been taken by surprise by the aftermath of victory in Iraq.

'When the report came I was puzzled at first - serious people seemed to be taking it so seriously. And then everyone started to laugh. Some of the passages - particularly "the possibility cannot be completely ruled out that the desire of the prime minister ... may have subconsciously influenced ... members of the JIC ... consistent with the intelligence available to the JIC" are masterpieces of comic writing.

'In two years as an intelligence officer, and four-and-a-half years as an analyst at the highest level, I never once heard the phrase "consistent with intelligence". It means nothing. I have often been asked whether I was sure that I had reviewed all the available intelligence or whether I was sure I was on the right track. But no one has ever asked me whether something was consistent with the intelligence. Intelligence is by its nature inconsistent. Very often the right answer, the answer closest to the truth, draws on just a small part of the material available to you because you have discounted the rest. It was consistent with the intelligence for the German high command to expect that the D-day landings were going to take place near Calais. Consistent - except that the intelligence was part of a deception operation.

'But it has recently got even more embarrassing. The prime minister told the House of Commons that he was unaware at the time of the war debate that the 45-minute piece of intelligence referred only to battlefield rather than strategic weapons. Let me list just some of the procedures which must have been executed incorrectly to allow him to be kept in such a state of ignorance at such a crucial time on such a crucial matter when other members of his cabinet (Cook and Hoon) appear to have been in the know.

'One: neither Cook nor Hoon saw fit to tell the prime minister, for whatever reason.

'Two: the intelligence was not considered important or accurate enough to explain to him in detail - even though it appears in the September 24 dossier at least three times and in the prime minister's own foreword.

'Three: Blair had to rely on verbal briefings from the JIC chairman and others, who told him about the 45 minutes bit of the intelligence but omitted to mention that it referred only to battlefield weapons, and neither the prime minister nor any of the brilliant young staff asked the obvious question.

'Four: the original SIS report mentioned the 45-minute time, but made no attempt to distinguish between strategic and battlefield weapons - even though the service was aware that the report was about battlefield munitions.

'Five: the prime minister's daily written intelligence brief from the Cabinet Office included the 45 minutes point but not the crucial distinction between battlefield and strategic weapons. And not a single member of the Cabinet Office assessments staff (the most brilliant intelligence analysts in the UK) spotted this or thought it important.

'This is not the case of a few guardsmen out of step or a few trumpeters out of tune. This is like holding trooping the colour but forgetting to tell the Queen the correct date.'

David Habakkuk


This is precisely what I am looking for. And if you could scan it and sent it me, I would be most grateful. Email address is david.habakkuk@virgin.net.

I had an interesting exchange of emails with Gary Schmitt, when I was looking around for a copy. He told me he no longer had one. When I asked whether Shulsky did, Schmitt said that he would contact him but he was overseas and not expected back for several weeks.

According to Schmitt, moreover, 'ultimately our thesis has nothing really to do with Strauss at all but we were asked to write an essay with that tie in and so we did.'

I can't see Sherman Kent explaining that one should not take an argument he had clearly stated seriously, because it had been cooked up in response to a request to write an essay with a certain 'tie in'.

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

On Halévy. His communication on the 'era of tyrannies' was a three-page submission for discussion at the Société Française de Philosophie in November 1936, which I think is an extraordinary tour-de-force. There were comments from a range of French intellectuals to which Halévy responded -- including an interesting short note from Marcel Mauss, a seminal figure in modern anthropology. The discussion was originally published in a posthumous collection of Halévy's writings which appeared in 1938, and was translated into English in the mid-Sixties.

Both Halévy and Mauss looked back to classical times and thinkers, and in particular drew on Aristotle's ideas on -- as Mauss put it -- 'the way in which tyranny is normally linked to war and to democracy itself.' And Halévy was very pessimistic -- he feared that in combating the tyrannical regimes the democracies would be forced either to go under or to become like them.

In the event, we were saved from this grim fate, by the extraordinary sequence of events which by 1945 brought American armies into the heart of Europe. I used to think that this had invalidated Halévy's fears, but a lot of what he and Mauss said looks uncomfortably prescient again today.

His lectures on 'The World Crisis of 1914-18', also included in the volume, are a marvelous antidote to all kinds of delusions -- including not only Leninist delusions that one can explain imperialism and war purely in terms of economics, but also the fantasies of those who think that democratisation naturally leads to peace.

And above all, Halévy is a wonderful antidote to those imbeciles who at the end of the twentieth century could still persuade themselves that one can adequately explain human action in terms of 'rational choice' theories.

The way people's ideas changed or did not change from the late Thirties onwards on the British left is incredibly complex. It was all after Crossman who edited the 1949 volume 'The God that Failed'.

One issue which Halévy took up in the discussion, whose importance in the intellectual history of that time should not be underestimated, is the religious one -- that of the relationship of secular power and religious authority. Having argued that imperial Rome had 'two heirs, the Church and the Empire, both totalitarian in their ambitions', Halévy drew parallels between the 'anthropolatry' -- worship of the human -- in imperial Rome and the modern 'Caesarist' regimes.

Interestingly, to illustrate this, Halévy quoted not a Russian, German, or Italian, but a young Englishman, wondering just before the onset of a war in which he would be killed 'why the devil the world didn't found a religion on Caesar instead of on Christ.' Again I think he was stressing that 'Caesarist' ideas were part of a common European heritage, including Britain as well as continental Europe.

But of course to Christian socialists secular surrogates for the divine were anathema -- and while it may be dead as a dodo today, Christian socialism was once a very important force in Britain, as on the continent of Europe and in Russia.


Thoroughly concur with Habakkuk on his description of Scarlett as a "whore." I'd add the word "traitorous."

One side of English neo-connery which hasn 't been touched is the Peterhouse connection, specifically Maurice Cowling, aka The Godfather of Thatcherism.

A revisionist historian who argued the case for Chamberlain and suggested that the war destroyed Britain's empire and put the world under American/Soviet domination, he was at the head of an extremely influential clique of rightwing historians, politicians and journalists based in Peterhouse (Cambridge), who went on to have large influence, especially on successive Conservative front benches (including the present one).

The Scoop Jackson Society is based at Peterhouse.

I remember hearing in the past rumours of some connection between William Buckley and Cowling, but have not been able recently to track it down.

Sidney O. Smith III

Tom B
As of right now, I place odds at 40 per cent and rising that the USG and/or the GOI will attack Iran, either Iranian nuclear sites or more likely the Quds force or any other Iranian militia allegedly supplying Iraqi Shiites. So right now, I agree with you, as odds are less than 50 per cent.

However, I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that people within the USG and GOI want to execute the Wurmser option or a variation thereof. David Wurmser, with the imprimatur of the VP’s office, articulated the original version last autumn: an Israeli low yield strike against Iran. This, in turn, would trigger Iranian attacks in Iraq, thus endangering USG personnel and threatening the Baghdad-Basra supply line. The end result: a massive US retaliation against Iran.

The 07 NIE blocked an early execution of this plan. As a result, those who support the Wurmser option or a variation thereof have adopted two different tactics to date to circumvent the 07 NIE. One is a direct attempt to undermine the findings of the 07 NIE, primarily by working through the intel community (e.g. the Scarlett connection) as well as the msm. The second, I believe, is to emphasize the threat of the Quds force to US troops in Iraq, thus opening the door to military operations inside Iran.

The two different tactics only confirm the assumption that people within the USG and GOI want to execute the Wurmser option. So -- and this is the crux of my comment -- I believe all analysis about ME policy should factor in the desire for the implementation of the Wurmser option. It is an assumption, or if you prefer, a rebuttable presumption, upon which all analysis should proceed.

One other aspect. The Wurmser option is entirely consistent with an Israeli doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes. No evidence exists, as far as I am aware, that the GOI has abandoned such a strategy. Without casting a judgment (at least in this comment) it is the Israeli way and reflects the ethos of Jabotinsky’s form of Zionism. The 56 Suez Canal Crisis and certainly the 67 Six Day War are but two examples.

And the US invasion of Iraq strongly suggests that the USG has now adopted the Jabotinsky approach and abandoned the tradition derived from past experiences of the USM, particularly those gained from different historical circumstances. The campaign of “We are all Israelis now” succeeded, at least so far.

I also want to cite a meaningful passage from Dr. Helms who authored in 1990 the McNair Paper No. 10:

“This is the same period in which Israel--a non-Arab, non-Arab, non- Muslim state which, like Islam, is based upon the notion of a sacred community bound by a sacred language was inserted into the Middle East equation. It is of inestimable importance that this event could only have been accomplished with the active support and guarantees provided by foreign mandate powers as stipulated in the Balfour Declaration. During the 1950s, that is within a decade of the publication of Hourani's book, Israel's leader, David Ben-Gurion, elucidated the strategy that Israel's natural allies in the Arab world were none other than minority groups. If turned against each other, these groups could stimulate instability within the Arab world, effectively dividing Israel's enemies.”

I see no evidence that this national strategic goal has changed, although certainly how to implement this objective has adopted to changing historical circumstances. But I believe Dr. Helms’ observation leads to another presumption: a strategic aim to incite chaos instead of promoting a regional plan of peace. Chaos and pre-emptive military strikes. They appear to go hand in hand.

Finally, the possibility certainly exists for “false flag” operations as well as a unhappy chain of events, triggered by a misunderstanding and leading to a de-facto exercise of the Wurmser option. These are unknown variables, although the motivation for a false flag operation would appear to increase as the odds for direct implementation of the Wurmser option decreases.

If I believe odds rise above 50 per cent, I’ll let you know.


A visit to the Henry Jackson Society indicates that it's primarily a front for the Israelis, and unfortunately an old school frined is one of its patrons.....I thought better of him.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Thank you again for your valuable insights. I am going to read the Halevy piece in the original French and in translation as I find them. I will also look into Mauss as suggested.

As it happens, I started a project about 15 years ago looking into the topic of the "divine election" of the Roman emperor with particular reference to Julius Caesar and then Augustus. The British "Journal of Roman Studies" is most interesting I found. The divinity of the emperor was an oriental/eastern cult which came westward to the Roman world.

The best single study on this point I found is J. Rufus Fears, "Princeps a Diis Electus: The Divine Election of the Emperor as a Political Concept at Rome (Rome: The American Academy at Rome, 1977), 351 pp. I can make a copy for you if you are interested.

We are witnessing Caesarism and Theocracy today, one might suggest, in the Bush43 Administration and the evolution of the Republican Party via the merging of the "New Right" and the "Christian Right" both of which have penetrated the party over the past 3 decades along with the Neocons. So there are THREE penetrations which must be considered as an ensemble: New Right, Christian Right, Neocon. I suggest this in my forthcoming book.

It seems to me that the classical understanding of Halevy and Mauss on war, democracy, imperialism and so forth parallels that of the Founding Fathers of the United States who all were quite well versed in classical studies: Aristotle and Cicero among the favorites of that day.

On the issue of tyranny in the ancient world, I very much like Professor P. N. Ure's (University of Reading} study entitled "The Origins of Tyranny" first published in 1922 and the republished in New York by Russell and Russell, 1962. It gets into financial and monetary/currency issues.


Thank you for that extremely valuable comment pointing to Cowling etal. For those of us without any detailed knowledge of British politics this is quite helpful. I am sorry to hear of the degradation of Peterhouse, an ancient and honorable institution. Could you name some of the historians and politicians associated with Cowling? Also, who finances all this?

Also, are you indicating that Cowling and his circle in their revisionism argued against the need to defeat Naziism, Fascism, and Japanese militarism?

It is with some amazement that one notes British circles taking an interest in Scoop Jackson. But there is undoubtedly more to it than meets the eye which leads one to Mr. Dearlove's (of MI6) relationship to the group.

While Scoop Jackson over here is a Neocon icon, "Republican" McCain has said of himself that he is a "Scoop Jackson Republican" whatever that may mean...a Republican brainwashed by flatheads I should think. Hence, McCain's Neocon advisors.


IMO, this thread is very valuable in helping sort out the political landscape involving the nexus certain Neocon-ish US, British, and Israeli circles. More biographic and institutional data please!


I get the feeling that this thread is shining light into some very dark places.

BTW I note that one of the patrons of the Jackson Society is a director of Control Risk - a rather large British "Security" firm.


johnf wrote:

"Thoroughly concur with Habakkuk on his description of Scarlett as a 'whore.' I'd add the word 'traitorous.'"

Geez guys, with all due respect I think this is just approaching nuts. I know everyone's pissed off about what happened with Iraq. But as someone once said "an intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself" and I think this is just getting carried away: Scarlett's a whore and a traitor. All the members of the JIC are too. So's Dearlove. And then ... so's Lord Hutton and his inquiry commission for saying that they aren't.... (And then presumably so is everyone who doesn't go out and try, convict and lynch all the aforesaid people too, and then ... who's next?)

Yeesh. C'mon. Of course everyone's got the right to be ticked off/outraged by what *some* in our gov'ts have done. But we all know those who lose their marbles at exactly the time when they need them most and it ain't impressive. Brings to mind a shrink friend who keeps saying that indeed the first sign of insanity *is* an inability to recognize one's friends.

Of course it makes us feel superior to see the high and mighty as oh-so-inferior to us. But someone who sees virtually *everyone* as inferior just suggests more about what legend exists in their own mind rather than what failures exist in the minds of all their alleged inferiors.



Sidney O. Smith III wrote:

"As of right now, I place odds at 40 per cent and rising that the USG and/or the GOI will attack Iran, either Iranian nuclear sites or more likely the Quds force or any other Iranian militia allegedly supplying Iraqi Shiites. So right now, I agree with you, as odds are less than 50 per cent."

Interesting. My running tally puts the number at 6 now (?) who seem to have stepped up to the plate and made yes or no, unhedged predictions:

Feeney/Fromthebleacher, Andy, Kim (kind of), Curious, you and I.

And of this band of very possibly foolish but brave brothers, only Fromthebleacher is saying that there will be a strike.

Like I say, interesting. Kinda like a little future's market in predictions.

Remember though, originally at least it was only about a strike on Iranian *nuke* targets since I figured that was the big kahuna. Much more unpredictable it seems to me about maybe a "little" U.S. strike here or there on this or that al Quds camp or camel. Easier for Bush to miscalculate Iranian reaction, and maybe their reaction to same would even be muted. So let's just keep it as re U.S./Israeli strikes on nuke targets before Bush goes back to clearing bush in Crawford.

Also remember, anyone is free to change their opinion at any time (as reasonable people should given new evidence or even just after careful reconsideration), but depending on when/why they can lose relative shock and awe points by doing so of course. (Changing "no" to "yes" after it's clear it's gonna happen for instance.)

If the five of us and anyone who joins soon enough turns out right, I vote we form an Intell consulting company and clean up in Washington. If we're wrong, I vote Fromthebleacher does so and we get him to hire us anyway.

Gotta say your 40% and rising estimate seems about right. Just read a Jerusalem Post article about how the Israelis are just now saying that Iran could have a nuke not by 2010 but by next year, and with Olmert saying some pretty squinty-eyed things about not letting it happen.

Too soon to change my prediction without excessive humiliation though. Sure wish Cold Zoomie would man-up here. If he, you, Andy or etc. suddenly started yelling "duck" I'd very probably be putting on my anti-radiation underwear and my aluminum foil cap.

Do have a question for the Colonel, who I guess reads lots of these things and who I hope sees this:

First, assuming the most reasonably likely scenario about this new intelligence the Israelis are touting which is that same is going to be at least reasonably ambiguous/questionable, right? (Because that's the case with most of same I suspect, true?) Okay then, if so can you tell us (roughly) how much will it be discounted by our people or the Brits (if you know the latter at all) given the fact it *is* coming from the obviously self-interested Israelis?

That is, I don't suspect there's any hard and fast methadological law the analysts follow about such things (because that would seem kinda dumb and they ain't). But obviously it's a factor they consider, true? So can you give us some insight into how much of one you think it will be? Again, assuming typical, usual ambiguity in the intell itself.

Seems to me on such a huge thing as whether the Iranians are about to get a bomb (or at least such a huge thing in the minds of so many American and Brit policy-makers apparently), "considering the self-interested source" would damn near rule out "officially" accepting anything less than extraordinarily *unambiguous* evidence, no? ("Officially" as in ... changing the recent NIE.)

So, can you enlighten us here maybe a bit? I know it's probably only possible to a degree, but still would be interesting. How is such a "self-interested/other Intell agency source" factor looked at?


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