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05 May 2008


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Patrick Lang


Are you a Brit?

The intel agencies will accept what their political masters imply that they should accept. The only exceptions to this will occur in the event of a "revolt" as in last year's NIE. pl


TomB, with respect if you knew what the people in intelligence and elsewhere had done in your name, you would agree that Scarlett and many others are indeed whores and traitors.

...However none of us are going to receive the full picture at all if the Neocons get their way, and if we do prevail and drive these loathsome creatures out of office and into jail, it will still take about 25 years of scholarly research to uncover the full depths of their iniquity.

Don't let the scholarly tome of the postings here fool you. The people who facilitated the invasion of Iraq are plain evil and responsible for the death of at least 100,000 innocent Iraqis, let alone our own troops.

I hope we will have revenge one day.


Health Warning

I am not a professional historian. Everything I write should be checked.

Cowling was from a poor lower middle class background (as were many at Peterhouse). I suspect that much of his future animus towards liberals was that they tended to be upper middle class grandees. Cowling, while a Tory who loved to hate, was also a natural anarchist - behaviour-wise and in his sexually predatory nature. He was also a brilliant historian:


In the 50's and 60's his ideas were extremely unfashionable. Interestingly, he became a great drinking companion of Kingsley Amis - Martin Amis's father - and journalists like George Gale. Colin Welch and Peregrine Worsthorne. (Michael Howard, future Tory leader, was at Peterhouse, but I don't know if Cowling taught him).

But it was from 65-76 that a first group of right wing historians formed round him at Peterhouse - Vincent, Cooke, Jones - who in some ways laid some of the intellectual foundations for Thatcherism. Then in the 70's came Edward Norman, Watkin, Letwin and Scruton.

In 1978 he was one of the founders of the Salisbury Group (Lord Salisbury was a British Tory Prime Minister in the 1890's at the height of British Imperialism).

(The idea that we shouldn't have fought the 2nd World War - it was an idea that was around in the Cowling group, but I don't think any of them ever formally wrote a piece on it - was essentially a defence of British Imperialism. Chamberlain was an imperialist - from a very imperialist family - who saw European entanglements as disastrous to Britain, wished to do a deal with Hitler to iron out the inequities of the Treaty of Versailles so that he wouldn't cause Britain any more problems, so that Britain could return to its natural position of dominating the world through its empire and thus restoring the emaciated British economy).

Others taught by him or influenced by his personality were Michael Portillo, Oliver Letwin, Charles Moore, Norman Stone, Niall Ferguson, Frank Johnson and Andrew Roberts:


An interesting re-alignment of class lines was taking place here (Apologies to American readers for this British obsession). While Cowling and his contemporaries had been largely grammar school and lower middle class, by now, with conservatism fashionable and "moral" once more, his adherents were mainly upper middle class and public school. I always treasure tv pictures of Andrew Roberts and his Salisbury Group chums meeting on gilded Lord North Street drawing room sofas and recreating an 1890's atmosphere.

Then came the most recent Peterhouse creation - but I don't know how much Cowling, now old, had to do with it. The Henry Jackson Society. Two shadow front benchers who are extremely close to Cameron - Vaizey and Gove - are members. Oliver Letwin, ex Petrean, might be. Other members include David Trimble, Colonel Tim Collins, Irwin Stelzer (another Cameron fan) and the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Their Lord High Patrons include Perle, Kristol. Woolsey, and other American neo-cons:



On Fabian imperialism, it might be worth investigating someone like Robert Cooper, British dilpomat and author of "The Post Modern State" which advocates the "new liberal imperialism" and had a large influence on Blair and other members of Nu Labor in the lead up to Iraq. He is now ominously Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. He is responsible to Javier Solana, High Representative of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, and has assisted with the implementation of European strategic, security and defence policy. (Wikipedia) Oh dear.

Other Fabians within the Labour government include Ed Balls, and I suspect our present seventeen year old Foreign Minister, Ed Miliband, leans that way more than a little.


Pat Lang wrote:

"The intel agencies will accept what their political masters imply that they should accept. The only exceptions to this will occur in the event of a "revolt" as in last year's NIE"

Ah but I wasn't asking what they'd be bullied into "accepting," I was asking if there's a generalized standard way this figures into their methodologies/how they consider such things themselves, amongst themselves. Secret from their masters even, under their covers, at night.


David Habakkuk


I have no desire to lynch anyone -- nor have I written anything that could be interpreted as indicating any such desire.

All I want is a repeat of what happened in 1956, when Eden finally got fed up with the incompetence and shenanigans of MI6. He forced Sir John Sinclair to resign, and brought in an outside candidate -- Dick White of MI5 -- to clean the place up.

Clifford Kiracofe,

Re your question to Johnf about the revisionism of Cowling and his associates.

I have only read the discussions of others, and not the original works, and have no claim to be an expert on this material. But Cowling and those who think like him -- such as John Charmley and the late Alan Clark -- are I think skeptical about the wisdom of going to war in 1939. And they emphatically do argue that Britain should have made peace with Hitler following the fall of France.

Ironically, this puts them fundamentally at odds with the veneration for Churchill which is common among the neocons.

There is a fascinating account of Churchill's dogged and ultimately successful fight against Halifax's attempt to open up avenues for negotiations with Germany after the French collapse by John Lukacs, in his study Five Days in London, May 1940. Discussing the 'revisionists', Lukacs argues that Churchill:

'Understood something that not many people understand even now. The greatest threat to Western civilization was not Communism. It was National Socialism. The greatest and most dynamic power in the world was not Soviet Russia. It was the Third Reich of Germany. The greatest revolutionary of the twentieth century was not Lenin or Stalin. It was Hitler.'

This is what I think; although communism was a grave threat, we were certainly much better off entering the nuclear age with the Soviet Union as the adversary than with the Third Reich in control of Europe.

It was always a moot point whether anything could 'deter' Hitler. But as the great American foreign correspondent and anti-appeasement polemicist Edgar Ansel Mowrer argued, if there was any hope of successful 'deterrence', it depended upon an alliance between the democracies and the Soviet Union.

Confronting German claims on Czechovakia in 1938 without a real threat of two-front war would have been a gamble on the success of a coup attempt against an overwhelming popular 'Caesarist' leader by a group of military men and diplomats without any broad base of popular support.

The kind of unilateral guarantee that Chamberlain gave to Poland the following year, without attempting to involve the Soviets, only gave Beck rope to hang himself with -- as Montag noted incisively on an earlier thread.

It is however important to be aware of the counter-arguments of the supporters of appeasement. Central to Chamberlain's diplomacy was actually an interpretation of Soviet foreign policy with important resemblances to that of the neoconservatives.

Like the neocons, Chamberlain and those who thought like him believed that the Soviets were masters of deception -- and adept at exploiting the gullibility of naïve people in the democracies who took what they said at face value.

In concrete terms, this meant that many of the 'appeasers' -- and their American fellow-travellers, including the former ambassador to the Soviet Union William C. Bullitt and many in the U.S. Foreign Service -- thought that Soviet offers to collaborate in the defence of Czechoslovakia were a baited hook. Their actual purpose, according to this interpretation, was not to avoid war, but to encourage the democracies to a confrontation with Hitler, which they hoped would precipitate war.

As they had no land border with Czechoslovakia, and the intervening states, Poland and Czechoslovakia, were deeply reluctant to let Soviet troops pass through their territory, the Soviets could easily stand aside from the conflict, watching the European powers destroy each other and enabling the Soviets to acquire a dominant position in Europe at neglible risk.

In this view, opponents of appeasement, like Churchill, Mowrer, or indeed my own late father, were little more than 'useful idiots', invaluable tools of a cunning Soviet deception strategy.

The argument as to whether the appeasers' view of Stalin's foreign policy was right is still going on. Among recent restatements is the 1990 'Icebreaker' study by the GRU defector -- and likely British intelligence asset -- Vladimir Rezun, who writes under the name of 'Suvorov', which was highly influential in the former Soviet Union in the Nineties. A far more scholarly presentation of the same view is the 1992 study Stalin in Power by the Princeton historian and former U.S. Foreign Service officer Robert C. Tucker.

The restatement by 'Suvorov' of an old German claim that Hitler simply preempted a Soviet attack on Germany was effectively demolished by the leading U.S. authority on the war in the East, Colonel David Glantz, in his 1998 study Stumbling Colossus. The argument that Stalin had pursued a consistent strategy to precipitate a war in Europe has been attacked by among others the Israeli military historian Gabriel Gorodetsky in his 1999 study Grand Delusion.

If Tucker's view is right, then one can argue that the possibility of a common front of the Soviets and the democracies against Hitler never existed -- and that 'deterrence' was ultimately impossible. If Gorodetsky is right, then there is obvious enormous force in the suggestion -- made on another thread by Babak Makkinejad -- that the British failure to respond to Litvinov's 'collective security' overtures made avoidable catastrophes inevitable.

If that is so, one might say that Britain's refusal to 'appease' Stalin in 1938-9 is quite as responsible for the Second World War, and indeed the Holocaust, as our attempts to 'appease' Hitler over the same period.

I tend, following the Cambridge (U.K.) historian Jonathan Haslam, to think that while Gorodetsky overstates his case, the 'appeasement' view of Stalin's foreign policy is simply wrong. But then, I am not a specialist in this material, and my readings of the evidence may be distorted by filial piety!

Coming back to the claim that Britain should have made peace after the fall of France, this can be framed in two ways. It can be justified on the basis that the British Empire could have coexisted with a Europe dominated by the Third Reich. It can also be justified on the basis of a mirror image of the strategy that Chamberlain attributed to Stalin -- that the likely outcome of Britain standing aside was that Hitler and Stalin would have fought each other to exhaustion.

In neither case, however, would one have been likely to see the kind of on the whole very beneficent Pax Americana which resulted from the deployment of American power from its bridgehead in Britain: and one might well have seen the New Dark Age that Churchill feared. Like Lukacs, I continue to think that Churchill was right.

Patrick Lang


The answer is as you would expect. The worker bees buzz together constantly. the grandees (mixed metaphor alert)are wholly political creatures who would be afraid to discuss the fallacies of the elected. Fear of betrayal would be too great. In the middle somewhere you have the working leader level. They are torn between these worlds. pl

Cold War Zoomie

Sure wish Cold Zoomie would man-up here.

My "Put Up or Shut Up" comment on 5 May:

Remember our "Train Travel" discussion months and months ago? My guess was that Republican congress-critters wouldn't support any action against Iran due to the coming elections, and may actually exert enough pressure to stop it. As long as the Dems don't completely implode, I think this is even more of a possibility now than then. Bush and Cheney are one big albatross for the GOP. My only concern is that the GOP congress-critters' lizard brains no longer consider self preservation to be more important than authoritarian party cohesion.

My ever prescient gut tells me that this is the neocon's Battle of the Bulge - the one last push for victory before all is lost?

To clarify my position, the neocons are fighting hard and will make gains only to lose in the long run.

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it...until I change my mind later today...or maybe some other time...or maybe never...sorta...kinda.

Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

Anent the Imperial Cult, I note a new book out in the US: Gene Healy, The Cult of the Presidency. America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power.

"Throughout American history, virtually every major advance in executive power has come during a war or a warlike crisis. Convince the public that we are at war, and constitutional barriers to action fall, as power flows to the commander in chief...."

Glenn Greenwald at Salon notes the book per McCain.

So after Pharsalia, Caesar goes to Egypt and, having read up on Alexander the Great, follows in his footsteps to be divinized as the "Son of God" (on Brumalia-winter solstice) at the Temple of Jupiter Ammon. He returns to Rome via Syria and stops at Pesinus, the seat of the Goddess Rhea-Cybele, in Galatia.

Here are some photos and description of the Temple of Jupiter Ammon at Siwa, Egypt:

"Divus Julius habuit pulvinar, simulacrum, fastigium, flaminem..." (Cic., II Phillipic)

Following the demise of Divus Julius, Augustus assumed the mantle of divinity as the Son of the Father (Julius). This cult was attended to by priests recruited from the Luperci, the most ancient order. This priesthood, the "Juliani", was abolished in the sixth century around the time of Anastasius Silentiarius. The first chief priest (bishop) of this priesthood was Marc Antony.

The Dispensationalist Cult (Christian Zionists) leader John Hagee penned a campaign book endorsing Bush 43....there are about 50 million Americans participating in the Dispensationalist Cult which has a priesthood in the thousands across America. Dispensationalism, one could argue, is the official state cult for the Imperial American Republic at least during Bush43. Dispensationalism is, of course, a heresy from a traditional Christian point of view. I take it as more a pagan thing...Jesus as Wotan etc.

Chris Hedges makes some interesting points along this line in his book, American Fascists. The Christian Right and the War on America New York: (Free Press, 2006).

Compare with novelist Sinclair Lewis' classic, It Can't Happen Here. (Lewis in his research for the novel made a detailed study of Italian Fascism).

Tom Griffin

Clifford Kiracofe,

I think that's a fair characterisation as regards Labour and Tory cleavages over Israel.

More biographic and institutional data please!

A good start for the Israeli end of the neoconservative movement might be the Jonathan Institute:

On recent neocon machinations in Europe (funded by the Department of Defense), check out Jim Lobe:

Johnf's Peterhouse link is very interesting. According to his Times obituary, Cowling taught Charles Moore, Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts.

According to Stephen Dorril's book MI6, Roberts was approached to join MI6 at Cambridge. He went to Caius and Gonville College rather than Peterhouse, as did Dean Godson and the former MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson. The latter provoked this comment from Gideon Rachman:
"MI6 must be rueing the day that they ever tapped Richard on the shoulder. But it surprises me that they still recruit at Cambridge. After all, they had pretty mixed results with Philby, Burgess and McClean."



It's actually quite silly to take Israeli pronouncements of imminent Iranian weaponisation as if they're discrete events - you need to look at the whole series, going back to the early 1990's, and according to which Iran has become a nuclear power just about every year since the late 1990's.

IIRC, back in 1991 Mossad was actually trying to convince the US that Iran had ALREADY acquired nuclear weapons from the FSU, and that a Desert Storm style operation was necessary.

Back in 2005, Israeli intelligence was confidently asserting that Iran would have a nuclear weapon by this year at the latest; in 2004 it was asserting the 2006 time-frame. These statements are not "intelligence" estimates as such - they are part of a political influence/propaganda operation that is designed to advance a policy objective, of long-standing, which is for the US to "do" something militarily to Iran, and, if they fail to "excite" the military option at least backstop the default position of "freezing" any possibility of normalising US-Iran relations, which is the worst-case scenario for Israel given current political realities in Teheran.

You can also go back and look at the series of US NIE's on this matter that have consistently stated, since the early 1980's, that Iran was 5-10 years away from becoming a nuclear weapons power. The 2005 NIE estimate repeated almost exactly the same formula as a 20+ year old predecessor.

If we're going to play the odds game - the chance of any kind of US attack on Iran remains at less than 5% under current circumstances. Anyone who thinks that it's an even money bet is just doubling down - again - from prior failed predictions.


David Habakkuk wrote:

"I have no desire to lynch anyone -- nor have I written anything that could be interpreted as indicating any such desire."

Naw, didn't mean it literally David, sorry. And as you obviously keep a close eye on this stuff I'll admit that based on same alone and what the Col. has said I'd at least be willing to bet that if these particular guys like Scarlett aren't all whores then at least they've been too easy.

And thank you Col. Lang too. Kinda sad all this of course, almost like there's two entirely distinct reasons evolved for all our huge Intell establishment: Maybe used as it should be on little things ("aha! Paraguay is going to join the WTO!"), while on the big things just a cover for politicians to manipulate and then say they're following same.

Must be hard to attract (and even harder to keep) good people. Still, like I say, you gotta honor what most are probably trying to do. Paid a pittance, work twisted by the "grandees" ... gotta feel thankless. We oughta remember them.

Wonder if there isn't some merit in making heads of Intell like, say, the Fed chairmen. Terms not running consecutively with Presidents and all. I.e., divorce 'em from their pimps a bit.


Sidney O. Smith III


Just out of curiosity, have you checked out Col. Lang’s essay, “Bureaucrats versus Artists”? Here’s a link:

It’s a good read and presents, at least in my view, a paradigm that has universal application, from the academic world to the blue stocking law firms to advertising agencies and far, far beyond. In fact, after I read it, one of my first reactions was “Holy Christ…if I read this correctly the Pentagon culture is no different than LA” You have Paddy Chayevsky as artist and then Michael Ovitz as bureaucrat but they all wear a uniform. Maybe I am right, maybe I am wrong. I dunno’.

Peter Hounam produced a documentary about the infiltration of the Pentagon into Hollywood. If I may, I find the reverse a far more interesting story. The transformation of the Pentagon into Hollywood. If this is true, then at least a few bureaucrats at the Pentagon represent a very low grade genre -- action adventure. Not good. Not good at all. ‘Tis a pity because a comic book psychology portends pre-emptive strikes for no reason at all, except perhaps marketing.

I respect you for refraining from telling us your origin. Gratuitous exposition is the fastest way to undermine dramatic structure. I say let it serve as an act break.


While reading your comment, the Julius Epstein screenplay, “Cross of Iron” percolated up out of nowhere. One could certainly argue that the role of Stransky reflects neoconservative traits as no character in all of fiction. But it was really the ending that came to mind after trying to gauge the sentiment underlying your words. I could not help but see the following words of Bertolt Brecht that rolled across the screen, creating an ending to a film that, lo and behold, now serves the function of foreshadowing:

“Don't rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world stood up and stopped the Bastard, the Bitch that bore him is in heat again.”

Of course, I reckon’ there is another response to Stransky. During the conflict, the grotesque “bastard” helps define one’s self and, further, which side one leans in the human drama. From this heightened sense of awareness, one can enter old age and even, maybe, just maybe, the death experience with gratefulness and thanks. (not sure about the last one). But such an interpretation is a mere attempt at the nonManichean approach and such an experience is unlikely to occur, I suppose, unless the bastard is defeated, if not dead and gone. Just had an image of Churchill kicking dust over Hitler’s ashes or something of that sort. Sgt. Steiner would have done the same with Stransky.



The policy-intelligence relationship has long been a contentious one and much has been written on the topic. There is no perfect solution IMO. Policymakers and politicians, by nature, believe intelligence should serve their preferred policy choices, so it's no surprise they are not happy when it doesn't, nor when they appoint people in high positions who share the same biases and policy preferences. The US and UK are actually better than most - for example, Castro pretty much ignored his own intelligence apparatus during the Cuban missile crisis, preferring instead Soviet estimates. In many countries there is no separation between intelligence and policy.

There is little the intelligence community can do about this beyond very carefully vetting and wording its analytical products and, on occasion, leaking to the press.

Speaking of which, the press doesn't help much and are even more apt to cherry-pick conclusions (often the most sensational) and either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent them. Five years after Iraq, most in the press still show a shocking ignorance of military matters in general and intelligence in particular. For example, it seems most reporters still believe the CIA is the head of the intelligence community.

All these factors together make it virtually impossible for the average Joe or Jane to separate the BS from reality. It's very difficult even for someone like me who has experience in the intelligence community and who has been trained in analysis and evaluation. It's one reason I'm inherently skeptical of what most purport to be "facts" and anything that's reported in the press. Today's hyper-politicized environment only makes things worse and allows those with agendas to operate with greater freedom.

Clifford Kiracofe

Johnf, Tom Griffin, David Habakkuk,

Many thanks for the real help on British politics and foreign policy. I will try to work through this data to get a sense of the networks and dynamics and policy. One key area to flesh out is how the British networks interface and overlap with the American (and Israeli) networks.

1. Dean Godson's name came up as the brother of Roy. I am not clear on this Dean Godson's citizenship...is he a British subject? US citizen? both? Israeli also?


I can say that it is my understanding that some of Roy's work on Soviet disinformation appears to have been lifted from a retired veteran US government Soviet specialist without attribution. Before she died, at 101, she gave me that story on one of my visits to her home in northern Virginia.

2. Per WWII, from President Roosevelt's perspective and his military and diplomatic advisors, I think it is fair to say that the Pacific as a Japanese Imperial lake and the Atlantic as a Nazi lake combined with a cluster of Latin American dictatorships under Nazi sway was not a good prospect for our long term national interest. With a European balance of power in German hands and a Pacific balance of power in Japanese hands and subversion south of the border we would in effect have been encircled and constrained.

From our perspective, it can be argued, the road to WWII started in earnest with the Japanese aggression against Manchuria in 1931. The official US State Dept. publication "Peace and War. United States Foreign Policy 1931-1941" (Washington, DC: 1943)begins the sequence of events with Chapter II "Japanese Conquest of Manchuria, 1931-1932"

William Langer's two volumes -- The Challenge to Isolation (1952), and The Undeclared War (1953) -- present I think a realistic appraisal of the situation written close to the time by a participant with wide access to US intelligence and high policy circles. Another of his books, Our Vichy Gamble is also important.

American historians generally consider the Fall of France in June 1940 as the wake up call over here for the public. It was a shock to Americans and brought the ominous geopolitical situation into sharp and dramatic focus.

I must say to hear that some British historians, politicians and others TODAY argue that the UK should have just cut a deal with Hitler after the Fall of France gives pause. But it is an indication of a certain mindset current today not just in Neocon-ish circles.

3. IMO, Vansittart on the British side saw things correctly in the mist procession...as did Walsingham in times past.



There is evidence that at least one of the players in the drama may have thought as Cowling did. According to Simon Sebag Montefiore in "Stalin, Court of the Red Tsar" p308, Europe in 1939 was in Stalin's words a "Poker Game" in which each of the three players hoped to persuade the other two to destroy each other, leaving the spoils to the Third. The players being Stalin, Hitler and Chamberlain/Daladier.

However, I would have thought that the signing of Russian/German non aggression treaty would have removed the appeasement option from the table in the minds of many people at the time. I'll have to find my copy of Lukac's excellent book and see what role it might have played in Halifax and Churchill's thinking.

What concerns me is that there are uncomfortable parallels between Stalin's worldview (and domestic activities)in 1939 and the Neocons today.

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

WWII was the continuation of WWI. It did not have any other independent and suffcient cause.

Tom Griffin

Clifford Kiracofe,

On Dean Godson, two facts which may be relevant:

He served as special assistant to US Naval Secretary John Lehman:

His mother, Ruth Perlman, was in the Haganah:


Britain has been at the Great Game for well-over 200 years. While the sun now sets on the British empire, it would be folly to presume that the practitioners of the Great Game have thrown in the towel. It was the British White Paper that provided the "16 words" in Bush's State of the Union message, and John Scarlett, along with Tony Blair's inner circle of neocons (Alastair Campbell, Phil Bassett, etal.) were fully integrated into the agitprop apparatus, called the Coalition Information Centre. Was there a larger element of the British tail wagging the American neocon dog than has been generally presumed? I keep thinking about the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney hardly made a move vis. the Middle East, without first dining with that old Arab Bureau fox, Bernard Lewis, at the Naval Observatory mansion.

Just some further thoughts, provoked by the recent postings on the Scarlett efforts, and the pending tryst with Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

Clifford Kiracofe


Yes, that is often said and of course our military was prudently preparing for the next war the day after Versailles one might argue.

Why? 1) The "incomplete victory" General Pershing spoke of owing to the premature Armistice. We certainly should have taken Metz, don't you think? 2) The political-military time bombs in the Versailles Treaty thanks to the grossly incompetent Woodrow Wilson among others.

How do you see it? Would you say that the fall of Bismarck was an indicator of things to come? What of the UK-France-Russia alignment of the 1890s against Germany? How does the rapprochement between the UK and the US in the 1890s fit in? Any comments on the Hamburg-Berlin-Baghdad project? And what about Haushofer's idea to replace the exiled Kaiser with the "Fuehrer konzept." And then what about Stinnes and German heavy industry. And then the linkages of this complex with certain British and French (and American) circles who were all too pleased with that odd little pervert from Austria. And how about the Cecil Bloc? The Milner Circle? And come to think about it, just how did Lenin manage his coup d'etat...little help from the German General Staff? Little help from London? Elsewhere? And what about French politics? The sleezy Laval and so on? And what about international banking circles such as Lazards (London-Paris-New York) who favored fascism? And the Harriman interests?

Tom Griffin,
thanks for the data anent the Haganah membership of Godson's mother. John Lehman, as I recall, was close to the Strausz-Hupe circle at the University of Pennsylvania (FPRI - Foreign Policy Reserach Institute) and the "protracted conflict folks." Strausz-Hupe, an Austrian emigre to the US curiously was an investment banker who then became transformed into an "authority" on geopolitics. Like Paul Nitze. Lehman is linked to Frank Gaffney's Neocon paper mill called the Center for Security Policy. It is VERY influential on Capitol Hill. Lehman is an advisor to Senator McCain. See Wiki entry



While you're at it, don't forget the journalism of Con Coughlin for the Daily Telegraph, a British Judith Miller. He specializes in re-cycling forged intelligence material. He especially shone during the attempt to smear George Galloway with receiving money from Saddam. Galloway got substantial libel damages from the Telegraph.

The system as it now operates started in the days of Clinton. A lot of the most damaging accusations against Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal were originally made in Murdoch's London tabloid The Sun. These were then headlined by the ex-Murdoch journalist Matt Drudge on his website, from where they passed out into the American mainstream.

The Telegraph operated this system under the neo-con Conrad Black, and it is still operated by today's partly neo-con Telegraph through Coughlin's journalism. The last time I saw it in operation was, I think, during the Syrian "nuclear" ho-ha, when I'm pretty certain one of Coughlin's "stories" - presumably from the Israelis - was high-lighted on Drudge. A lot of Murdoch's London "Times's" "stories" on this subject have also been similarly bled into the American media this way.



Feeling I'd said all I could I furled my flag defending Scarlett, et. al., and then read your post to me reminding of the misery that this war has inflicted and etc. I guess my only defense is that when it comes to issues of even the most felonious or profound the only logic we seem to have is the same that exists for judging the misdemeanors and the mundane. But of course however true it's still a tragedy and so I did take your larger point, and thank you.

Cold War Zoomie: Great Israel's last push/Battle of the Bulge analogy. Assuming otherwise merited, response could be shortest, coolest NIE ever, no? I.e., "Nuts."

londanium: I sensed but didn't know any of that. But as Homer Simpson might say, no fair making a guy feel shallow just because you aren't. (And am amazed you see only a 5% chance. Wow. Do you mean to encompass the chance of an Israeli attack in that too?)

Sidney: No I haven't read the Col.'s thing and I will certainly try to now. Thank you too.

Andy: And you. I think in a way you said what I was trying to, only with the benefit of your experience. (And elegance, which of course I hold against you.)

In any event, my running prediction tally as of now is as follows:

Andy, Kim (still kind of, I think), Curious, Sidney, me, and now CWZ and londanium (at least as to the U.S.) all saying no attack. Feeney/Fromthebleacher saying yes with worrisome logic.

From the newest thread I think GSB, arbogast, JohnH and abraham seem to have some strong opinions on the issue and might join Feeney/Fromthebleacher, but I don't know. I guess I'll ask and then maybe quit bugging people; enough will have seen it to know whether they want to weigh in or not and maybe some slight conclusions will be drawable.


David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

What one really needs are ways of bringing together information about these various networks, so they a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on.

One network which has not been mentioned on the British side I know something about, as it came out of the current affairs department of London Weekend Television, where I worked in the early Thatcher years.

An important part of the evolution of British neoconservatism has to with the rightward shift of many in the Labour Party whose political formation -- like that of Blair himself -- was in the student radicalism of the late 60s and early 70s. This shift was actually going on, under the surface, even at the time when the radical tide in the Labour Party appeared at its height, in the years immediately following Thatcher's election victory in 1979.

In their identification with the shop stewards' movement in the trade unions, and ideas of nationalisation and economic planning, the Labour left was actually moving in a direction diametrically opposed to that of informed opinion. Before the 1983 election I tried to find an economist who would defend the economic proposals of the Labour election manifesto in a studio discussion. It was easy to find economists who had believed in industrial interventionism -- simply impossible to find credible ones who still did.

Among the most important popularisers of Friedmanite ideas was Peter Jay at the Times -- the son of Douglas Jay, who had been a prominent figure on the Gaitskellite right of the Labour Party, and was later our ambassador in Washington. Along with Sam Brittan at the FT, he was instrumental in disseminating the monetarist ideas that Thatcher would take up. (He later told a friend of ours -- an old-style one nation Tory -- that he felt rather like a man who had shown a map of the world to Attila the Hun.)

After LWT won its franchise, the current affairs producer John -- now Lord -- Birt brought in Jay to present the new company's flagship current affairs programme, Weekend World, which started broadcasting in 1972. The programme also popularised monetarist ideas. Its economic consultants, first Terry Burns then Alan Budd, both moved on to become Chief Economic Advisers at the Treasury.

Rather pompously, Birt and Jay proclaimed that Weekend World had a 'mission to explain'. But whatever the department's failings, we did take our research seriously, and one consequence was that a lot of former Seventies left-wingers were in some measure 'mugged by reality'.

In terms of influence, the most significant person to come out LWT was undoubtedly Peter Mandelson. In fairness, although he had flirted with the Young Communist League as a student, Mandelson's mentality was always that of a Labour machine politician, in the tradition of his grandfather, Herbert Morrison. Later he put his television experience to good use, when along with Alastair Campbell he taught New Labour spin doctoring.

Two genuine former communists who passed through the department -- John Lloyd and David Aaronovitch -- went on to become leading journalistic cheerleaders for the Iraq War. Lloyd wrote a long article in the Financial Times just before the war, treating Richard Pipes as a prophet vindicated on Soviet nuclear strategy, and on this basis recommending the ideas of Daniel Pipes. Aaronovitch moved from the Independent, through the Guardian, to the Times: an interesting example of the way political alignments in Britain have changed.

Birt himself was brought in by the then BBC Chairman, Marmaduke Hussey, first to run BBC current affairs, then as Director-General. Actually I think this was largely done to appease Mrs T, and prevent her destroying the institution. Later, Hussey came to repent what he had done. Asked if he thought Birt was a 'successful arse-licker', he replied: 'Oh yes, and it's done him very well.'

(See http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/a-list/2001-October/034789.html.)

Without doubt, the BBC did need reforming. But Birt relied far too heavily on management consultants, and treated the views of his staff with contempt -- indeed almost going out of his way to antagonise them. He contributed greatly to the final marginalisation of the 'artists' and triumph of the 'bureaucrats' at the BBC, to use the Colonel's terminology. Despite the shambles he had produced, he was employed by Blair to do 'blue skies thinking'. Incidentally, Birt's close LWT aide, Barry Cox, had managed Blair's campaign for the Labour leadership.

Birt's successor as Director General, Greg Dyke, who was forced to resign in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, also came out of LWT. By background he was a popular newspaper journalist -- also a dynamo of energy, and a natural leader of men. In 1979 I had virtually to have a stand up row with him to get anything critical about shop stewards into a programme. Later he went into management, and they sent him to Harvard Business School. When I knew him he spoke and wrote a clear and blunt English. He came back from Harvard mouthing a kind of management Volapük.

Not longer ago Dyke told another ex-LWT colleague that while people like the colleague (and I) had made the programmes we wanted to make, he made the programmes people wanted to watch. Why, in terms of such a populist philosophy, there should be a BBC, is not clear.

Initially Dyke supported the Iraq war -- he was bounced into a premature defence of Andrew Gilligan's reporting by Alastair Campbell's bullying, and made a hash of things. It was reported that Mandelson, who had been Northern Ireland Secretary, was instrumental in the appointment of Hutton, who as a Northern Irish judge was instinctively sympathetic to the security forces, and hostile to journalists.

A lot of Sixties and Seventies radicals actually came from families that had generally voted conservative -- this was true of Blair, also probably I think of Dyke. A depressing thing is where people who fought Thatcher on the points where she was patently right -- trade unions and industrial intervention -- ended up with a complete intellectual capitulation to Thatcherism.

One consequence is that they really do believe that economic self-interest is the essential motivator of human action -- and that the key to creating effective institutions it to channel it. A lot of them also swallow the Thomas Friedman 'flat world' nonsense. It is very easy to shift from believing that there is some kind of natural teleology of the world towards socialism, to something like the Fukuyama 'end of history' view.

One of the worst aspects, however, is the obsession with information management. A reservation some of us had about Weekend World was that it came to be preoccupied with producing opinion polls or interviews that would make a splash in newspaper headlines. What Mandelson and Blair created was a system of government dominated by an obsession with headlines.

And this, among other things, led a very distinguished public servant, Sir Christopher Foster, to call Blair 'the worst prime minister since Lord North'.

(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1570357/Christopher-Foster-Why-Britain-is-run-badly.html.)

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

Thank you for your comments.

US was irrelevant to the process that led to WWI – in my opinion. The economic foundations over which the peace of Europe had rested had ended by 1899. It was a tribute to its profound success that the European politics continued for another 14 years before imploding.

As far as I can tell, there was an emotional desire by all sides to go into war but perhaps not by equal amounts. I recall watching grainy footage of enthusiastic crowds in UK, in France, and in Russia. And how the socialists split and supported each state. And how Jaurez was assassinated because he stuck to his pacifism.

Consider: in France, for example, you had these border regiments whose officers took themselves and their men into Alsace at nights coming back in the morning with faces drenched in tears. And did not the Kaiser say: "Germany has kept her powder dry and her sword sharp."?

There was also the expectation of a short while and quick settlement of the colonial holdings as well as the disposition of the Ottoman Empire.

The War’s duration,, it seems to me, lasted unexpectedly long to most Europeans, leaders and followers alike. They (the European leaders) had no excuse since the American Civil War had already delineated the shapes of wars to come.

Reading the novels of Martin du Garde, Mann, and Musil one is left with the impression of a dumb, fat, and bored population that sought war as a diversion. (And all sides thought that they would win!)

It reminds me of a line that I read about the Roman Civil War after the assassination of Julius Creaser; “The day the ruling class committed suicide.”

Having said all these, I cannot see WWII taking place without WWI.


Does everyone on this blog work for Hollywood?

LWT was also, I feel, responsible for the single most destructive act in British television - even worse than Birt at the Beeb. Namely, all those super well-groomed liberals and lefties on the Board like Melyvn Bragg, who, under the honeyed whispers of chairman and merchant banker Sir Christopher Bland, decided to privatise the whole operation and make themselves millionaires overnight. Sometime in the early 90's.

ITV has plummeted ever since. And, with wonderful irony, its not only the programmes which have disintegrated but also the profits. So viewers don't always want the lowest common denominator.

And while we're on the subject of old Trots mooring themselves to Attilla the Hen, lets not forget Sir Alfred Sherman.

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