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17 December 2014


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William R. Cumming

This is a brilliant and useful and timely post! My Russian-American friends and Ukrainian-American friends, both citizens and resident aliens, tell me that buried deep in some atavistic way, in both Russians and Ukrainians, is an occasional shudder and thought of the Steppe Hordes on their march west in times past!

I believe that Russia and the Ukraine are [west of the Urals] part of Western Civilization. And I also believe the next few centuries east of the Urals the Han Chinese will dominate history and events. Could be wrong as always.

ex-PFC Chuck

I'm about two thirds through reading Dr. Polk's piece and am finding it very informative. I do have one quibble, however. He describes a letter written by George Kennan to Secretary of State Lansing in May of 1918, assuming it is the Goerge Kennan who authored The Long Telegram from his post in Moscow shortly after the end of World War II. Since this George Kennan was only 14 years old at the time the letter in question was almost certainly from his distant cousin of the same name who had traveled extensively in Russia in the late 19th century as an employee of the Russian American Telegraph Company, and who later became a foreign reporter with some fame of in his own right. At the time he was regarded as an authority on the area.


Thank you very much Mr. Polk for this excellent history lesson.

A few quibbles (as a German)

"The Nazis never seriously considered collaboration with the Ukrainians."

They considered and did collaborate extensively with people in today's western Ukraine: Antisemitic, catholic and earlier under Austrian rule Ukrainians fought on the German side.


These collaborators, including one Stepan Bandera, were later also used for sabotage against the Soviets. The U.S. secret services took over the contacts from the Wehrmacht's Fremde Heere Ost under Reinhard Gehlen who the U.S. also made chief of the West-German secret service BND.

The U.S. used these Nazi collaborators extensively during the Cold War. The U.S. National Archive issued a book about this history: "Hitler's Shadows - Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence and the Cold War " - http://www.archives.gov/iwg/reports/hitlers-shadow.pdf which has a chapter on "Collaborators: Allied Intelligence and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists"

That collaboration never stopped. Some of the expat Ukrainians even became U.S. political actors. Neocon Paula Dobrinski is related to them. The U.S. has used these contacts and the Neonazi movement in Ukraine, which sees Stepan Bandera as its hero, to overthrow the Ukrainian government


While the above is little known in the "west" the Russians see this continuity in the history from the Nazi war against Russia up the Merkel's and Nuland's meddling in Kiev.


you are correct. I wouldn't have known either of the two.

I find it hard to wrap my head around: cousins twice removed. Looked at visually it's much more easy:


I wondered about that. Wiki helps to understand Kennan, the younger's sympathies. Thanks, good point.


I find it very strange that many Americans don't know the fact they have already invaded Russia (with the intention of a regime change). On the other-hand keeping track of US foreign interventions may also be bit difficult.

The Twisted Genius

This is excellent, Mr. Polk. In your short essay you covered the sweep of centuries of history. Few people have a clue about the rich and exotic history of this region. I have always thought the early history of this area is as close to Tolkien's Middle Earth as one could find outside of his novels. Who could envision an army of still pagan Lithuanians fighting alongside Islamic Tartars, Eastern Orthodox Rus regiments from Smolensk and the Roman Catholic Polish knights to defeat the Teutonic Knights and their West European allies. That was the battle of Grunwald in 1410.

I would add that b makes a good point about Bandera and the Nazi connection. Bandera's spirit is enjoying quite a renaissance under the current regime in Kiev.

David Habakkuk

Ex-PFC Chuck, LeaNder,

My view of Kennan was partly shaped by following up a casual remark in the first volume of his memoirs, in which he describes the German Moscow Embassy of the Thirties as ‘at all times excellent.’

The only Western historians who notice this are determined to tell the obvious story: gullible Americans being led astray by heel-clicking Nazi diplomats. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

While Kennan was an out and out ‘appeaser’, his German Moscow Embassy colleague Hans von Herwarth was a particularly courageous member of that group in the German Foreign Office and military intelligence he fought a desperate struggle to persuade the British to confront Hitler. So much was this so, in fact, that Herwarth ended up leaking details of the negotiations leading to the Nazi-Soviet Pact to Western colleagues in Moscow, including Kennan’s friend Charles Bohlen, in a desperate attempt to make it clear that the democracies needed to make terms with Stalin before Hitler did.

One has only to reflect on the leakiness of diplomatic networks in those times to grasp that to do this required serious guts.

Meanwhile, as his memoirs make clear, Kennan was not prepared to accept either the objective validity or the subjective sincerity of Soviet claims to be afraid of Nazi Germany. One can contrast his interpretations with the ‘house view’ of the German Moscow Embassy, as set out by Herwarth’s colleague Gustav Hilger in the study whose English version was published in 1953 under the title ‘Incompatible Allies’. There could be, he argued,

‘not the slightest doubt [my emphasis] that a deep fear of Hitler's Germany was the essential guide to all Soviet foreign policy in the mid-1930's. It led Moscow to enter the League of Nations and conduct a painfully futile struggle for active collective security against the Axis. At the same time it made the Kremlin bend every effort and strain every muscle to render the country strong politically, economically, ideologically, and militarily. A desperate race against time ensued which was carried on in a spirit of hysterical urgency.’

One cannot have it both ways. If Kennan was right, Hilger and his colleagues were Stalin’s ‘useful idiots’. If however the German Moscow Embassy were right, then Kennan was way out of his depth in dealing with the complexities of interwar European politics.


Thanks for the history lesson Mr. Polk! It's always a pleasure to read your posts.

I just read this article by Dennis Kucinich discussing how the latest round of sanctions against Russia were approved... with no debate and only 3 members of congress present. The article explains how this happened and summarizes the newest round of sanctions, demands, and monies allocated for militarization and propaganda. What happened to the 10 members who voted against Resolution 758? Clearly congress has abdicated responsibility for oversight in this matter. There now appears to be a strong anti-Russia consensus at every level of government, and virtually no dissent.

This is a "cold" war? Looks pretty warm to me.

Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking http://russia-insider.com/en/2014/12/18/1963

David Habakkuk


I very much agree that William Polk’s attempt to reconstruct ‘deep memory’ is precisely what needs to be done.

However, while much of the history he recounts deals with periods with which I am unfamiliar, his judgements on others with which I am more familiar sometimes seem to me questionable.

Your emphasis on the apparently improbable alliances which are characteristic of history in that part of the world actually points to an interesting example.

In Polk’s retelling, Napoleon’s ‘Russian counterpart’ was Mikhail Kutuzov. In fact, the figure who created the military intelligence service which enabled Alexander I to assess the kind of war that Napoleon wanted to fight was another another Mikhail – whose surname was Barclay de Tolly.

Without doubt, it was only Kutuzov – from an old Russian noble family – who could have led the Russian resistance. But the strategy he implemented was largely the work of Barclay.

And Barclay, far from being a Russian noble, was a Baltic bourgeois – Scottish by ethnic origin, Lutheran by religion, and German by culture.

I was immensely pleased to see that, among the celebrations of the defeat of Napoleon in 2012, the – clearly state sponsored – ‘Russky Mir’ site made an encomium to Barclay. The article opened:

‘Field Marshal Barclay de Tolly, whose merits before Russia are great indeed, is not deprived of his share of regard on the part of his descendants. It is no surprise that his monument was set up in front of Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg adjacent the Kutuzov monument. But among all of his merits there is one that is seldom discussed: just before the War of 1812, he established Russia’s military intelligence.’

(See http://russkiymir.ru/en/publications/139713/ )


Thank you for this post. Much appreciated.


Four questions:

1) Do you consider Germany itself to have been sufficiently deNazified?

2)At what point does an elected corrupt puppet lose the legitimacy that flows from an election?

3)How persuasive do you find sham elections?

4)When the local bad actors get to pose as the saviors of the nation against a foreign invader what is the impact on the perceived reputation of said bad actors?


" Bandera's spirit is enjoying quite a renaissance under the current regime in Kiev. "

And beyond.

That's usually what happens when the local bad actors get to pose as the saviors against a foreign invader. People who had been viewed as prattling about 'the Russian threat' are now accorded a hearing. And some are getting elected where they shouldn't be. Compare with ISIS.... people who ordinarily would not touch something like ISIS with a ten foot pole are joining up to save fellow Sunnis from annihilation as they see it.


David, an English friend once told me the curious story, no idea were he had it from, that an English agent in Berlin offered to shoot Hitler. My memory is vague concerning specifics.


I wondered quite a bit about German generalizations or maybe too fast assumptions too in my fields of study too.

One Example: a rather prominent Prof in film in the preface to the text transcription of a Nazi Movie about a historical German court Jew, that the Nazis "obviously" didn't use the book by Lion Feuchtwanger when the made the rather prominent progranda film. But of course they did. It can be proved really simple by a character introduced only in Feuchtwanger's novel. Other historical texts are really rare. Thus it is really easy to check.

The judgment of the Prof felt very, very strange to me. I guess you understand why.

On the other hand: I made a mistake above. I meant I can understand the earlier of the two. In other words I can understand his support of Russian emigrant liberalizing forces a lot better then the support for the later White emigrant networks that spread the Protocols.

But yes, in this context one could term him an earlier "regime changer" or supporter of regime change at that point. Made me think about Pat's comments about the Egypt revolution: "Won't work".



b, that was bernhard, wasn't it?

Without looking into your link collection, I stumbled across a Nazi network via Hungary straight into the Ukraine too occasionally. Even before Barbarossa. ... But all in all there is much more support for Prof. Polk's assessment. There are a lot of Hitler quotes in support.

If I am not completely misguided the above mentioned right-wing-network arguments occasionally went as far as assuming Hitler somehow wanted to help his Ukrainian comrades first, if he hadn't directed his troops South into the Ukraine, and immediately moved on to Moscow, he would have won? Hitler worried about right wing Slavs: Really? I somewhat doubt. There is much more support for the idea that he really thought he could cover it all on the way to Moscow.



OK, b, I guess you are younger then me. But yes, there is a more subtle layer of that. Let's see what Prof Polks article about the Cold War will look like?

Maybe we got the Marshall Plan since "Adolf" was an ardent anti-communist too--the "Weltanschauungskrieg" against the Jewish-Bolshevic-threat--the rest of the polite world may have underestimated him much too long. One part needed to be preserved into the cold war era and the other de-Nazified. ;)


bizarre: Ukraine Freedom Support Act



European echoes. Random news pick.

William R. Cumming

YUP! Two George Kennans!

William R. Cumming

These are very interesting questions IMO!



What invasion was that?


That's obscene.

typing the word remembered the etymology: Events unfit for public witness took place literally ob-scenus, “offstage.”

Do the three members of Congress who engineered this have names?


Robert Parry gives a really good dressing down to Friedman and Krugman:

"Not only are the likes of Paul Krugman, Thomas L. Friedman and E.J. Dionne Jr. spreading dangerous propaganda, they are setting the stage for a new Cold War and possibly even a nuclear confrontation."


Here is a truly astonishing information on MH 17 tragedy:

And this is beyond the pale: "The Russians disclosed that at the precise time of the shoot down an American spy satellite was directly overhead the scene and would have recorded the sequence of events. The Russians invited the Americans to share these data with the official investigation that had been launched, but to date the Americans have failed to do so. ... the western media are singularly incurious as to the reason for this lack of cooperation."


Sponsor: Rep. Gerlach, Jim [R-PA-6] (Introduced 12/11/2014)
Cosponsor: Rep. Kaptur, Marcy [D-OH-9]*

I have troubles to find the third.

There is a video on the bottom of Kucinich's initial Truth Dig article. It does not work for me,
but maybe you recognize the third involved.


Ukraine Freedom Support Act:

Pretty Machiavellian law-making-rule.



not necessarily. It would depend on what kind of sensors were on board. pl




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