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20 December 2015


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Thanks rw for the info on the INR and Thomas Fingar! The talk on how NIE's are put together looks very interesting and fortunately I have some time today to watch it.

While I know that there are 17 intelligence agencies I'm only a little familiar with a few of them, but always looking to learn more.

For anyone who doesn't already know which 17 agencies comprise the Intelligence Community (IC) here are a couple of links


The Uses of Historiography.

Did you happen to read the earlier version of Tuchman's Stilwell in China? Was it as beautifully polished [editorially] as the one for which she won the Pulitzer. The timing of its publication to complement Nixon-Kissinger negotiations and the Pultizer award with Nixon's trip to China was ... fortuitous. Takes quite a while to put together a work of that size so it was in the works for a couple of years. Of course ideas do occur in clusters.

Recently there have been writerly rumblings about rehabilitating Chiang et al. - hinting that earlier publications had been perhaps inaccurate. Someone is beta testing a Reality® upgrade.


Best way to find them is to search CSPAN video library (search bar at top of cspan.org) for Hagel Dempsey Kerry. You'll find several hearings from early September.

David Habakkuk


This is a large can of worms. However, cultural 'globalisation' is very significant, as well as the 'market' version, and the relationship between the two is complicated.

As to the Marxist element, one can make too much of it, but one can also make too little. Actually, following up a few leads on Google has made me think that Tyler is closer to the truth than I had thought.

About the situation in the United States and Germany, I lack detailed knowledge. But to get a sense of how these things work out in Britain, have a look at two articles.

A piece published in the 'Guardian' by John Harris in September, deals with the historical role of a magazine entitled 'Marxism Today', and is entitled 'Marxism Today: the forgotten visionaries whose ideas could save Labour.'

(See http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/29/marxism-today-forgotten-visionaries-whose-ideas-could-save-labour .)

Among the figures who came out of 'Marxism Today' was Geoff Mulgan. Subsequently, he was co-founder of a 'think tank' called 'Demos', and served as Director of Policy at 10 Downing Street under Tony Blair. His Wikipedia entry is worth a look.

Among the publications of 'Demos' was an essay by the British diplomat Robert Cooper, entitled 'The postmodern state and the world order.' I do not normally link to discussions on the 'World Socialist Web Web Site', but I think their account of Cooper's call for a 'new imperialism' and relationship to Blair's foreign policy, although in error on many points, is well worth reading.

(See https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2002/04/coop-a27.html .)

Among the different strands which made me the 'ideological mongrel' I am, some come from a late-imperialist British culture – which had at its centre an awareness both of the crucial importance of power and of the limitations of what one could do with it.

In particular, this related to the realisation of the impossibility of abolishing the 'alienness' of other cultures by force, and of the diminishing extent to which one could use force to control them.

(But then, old-fashioned British 'imperialists' often had deeply ambivalent attitudes both towards other cultures and their own: read Kipling.)

What however needs to be reckoned with is the extraordinary way in which, while the ideology of the contemporary Tory Party has at its centre the supposed decisive victory of Reagan and Thatcher against Soviet communism, its leaders have enthusiastically embraced the views of the 'designer Marxists'. (I can explain the origins of the phrase, if you are interested.)

On this, an article published in the 'Express' in June 2012, entitled 'Why Tony Cameron is master of all that David Cameron surveys', is of interest.'

(See http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/324116/Why-Tony-Blair-is-master-of-all-that-David-Cameron-surveys .)

The description of a visit by Cameron to the East End may be in part tendentious. However, I find the suggestion that 'after chatting to the baffled teenagers for 10 minutes or so to a private room for what was clearly the most important business of the day' entirely believable. The report continues:

'For about 20 minutes Mr Cameron, who was then developing the new Tory thinking, held talks with a certain Geoff Mulgan and both returned from their backroom chat shaking hands warmly and smiling broadly. It was a significant moment. For a start Mr Mulgan was the director of the Young Foundation, very much a left-leaning social policy think-tank whose offices are in the heart of the East End.

'More important, though, he was also a former chief adviser to Gordon Brown and the former head of the No10 policy unit during Tony Blair's tenure.'

And the article goes on to explain that:

'Senior Whitehall sources say that the PM and Chancellor George Osborne call Blair ''The Master'' and that when in a pickle they frequently ask aloud: ''what would The Master have done?''

I must declare an interest in this. The earlier article also refers to Charlie Leadbetter, described as 'a one-time researcher on the ITV current affairs programme Weekend World – where he had worked alongside Peter Mandelson – who had then moved to the Financial Times and begun enthusiastically writing for Marxism Today, as well as joining the CP '.

As it happens, I made the reverse move, from the FT to 'Weekend World' – and then got myself shifted off it, onto a marvellous programme which used to do in-depth investigations into London, by threatening to resign.

The 'Guardian' piece is interesting on the tensions which opened up between the 'New Labour' project as actually implemented, of which Mandelson was a key architect, and the dreams of figures like Leadbetter.

Personally, as it happens, I quite liked both of them. And I interviewed Mulgan once, and quite liked him – I thought he was almost completely detached from reality, but very pleasant. But then, probably had I met Trotsky, when he was an impecunious émigré, I might well have liked him too.

What has actually happened in Britain has been a bizarre kind of 'bolshevisation of liberalism' – and this has been a complete and utter disaster.

The fundamental continuity with the Bolsheviks lies in the 'totalitarian' element, which is still there, although it has – at least apparently – been much softenened.

In both cases, one is dealing with a 'clerisy' which, without admitting it even to itself, believes in its natural right and destiny to remodel the rest of the world on the basis of its own values. This is one strand underpinning the 'invade the world, invite the world' approach.

Its practitioners are also incapable of grasping the underlying contempt and arrogance of their own attitudes – and the resentment this causes.

The – hardly entirely predictable – result has been a rather widespread collapse of confidence in political élites.

David Habakkuk


Ah yes, the 'Euston Manifesto'. Another product of Brits retaining the nostalgia for empire, without any of the wisdoms that old imperialists sometimes learnt.

Following on from my earlier response to you, another of its signatories was another ex-'Weekend World' 'commie rat' – John Lloyd. Another leading champion of the invasion of Iraq here, David Aaronovitch, had a similar intellectual pedigree.

The manifesto starts off: 'We are democrats and progressives.' As it happens, I am not a 'progressive', and only a 'democrat' up to a rather limited point.

The relationship of the 'imperialist' project set out in the 'Euston Manifesto' and Zionism is a very interesting question, on which there is much to be said.

But, as ever, different Jews have very different views.

On this, as on many other matters, the Jazz saxophonist and anti-Zionist polemicist Gilad Atzmon is well worth reading. Unlike Aaronovitch or Nick Cohen, neither of whom are very bright, Atzmon is a very intelligent man – although what he writes needs to be read sceptically.

(See http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/connecting-the-zionist-dots-by-gilad-atzmon.html .)


From what little I've seen, it has less to do with Chang as an individual than the relative role of the Nationalists and the Communists in fighting the Japanese. The PRC narrative, which many have assimilated, is that the Communists were more effective, that they mobilized the rural populace in the areas under their control using Chinese nationalist slogans, and thereby fused the deep nationalist feelings evoked by Japan's occupation with their Maoist version of Marxism/Leninism. The critique of that story stresses that the Communists did relatively little fighting despite their ballyhooed guerilla resistance while the Nationalists weakened themselves in sustained combat. I have no personal knowledge of this.


But [from memory] in Tuchmann's version the Nationalists avoided combat as well, upping the customary pilferage [there is a term for this - something like "get"???] rates and warehousing the booty in anticipation of the struggle against Mao. Mao was off in the hinterlands well out of the way of the action, with little combat to avoid.

I suppose I should get off the thumbs and go check the text.



Joe Stillwell's favorite Chinese division was the 38th, raised, trained and commanded by Sun Li-Jen, a VMI grad in the Class of 1927. in the field in Burma Stillwell was always with them. As a full general Sun Li-Jen tried to lead a revolt against "the peanut" in 1949 on Taiwan and spent the rest of his life in house arrest. He is a VMI man of whom we are most proud. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Li-jen this brings to mind our friend and colleague, Brigadier Furrukh Ali who tried to do the same for Zia al-Haq. pl


postscript: not important, but Tuchmann's Stillwell had the pong of PR: a puff piece on Stilwell and a hit piece on Chiang et al. .... which is why I looked up the dates.


one more for the reserved honorific, "esteemed."

good to know. thank you.


No biographies apparently.



will go back to the Tuchmann.



I imagined him, but, like Claude Devereux he night make you warm. pl


thanks, David. concerning cultural Maxism, or "CultMarx" (without globalism)--I shortly wondered if I should out myself as vaguely a "cultural Marxist". ;)

I had a deep dislike for Tony Blair long before he turned into Bush Junior's poodle. From this biased perspective I enjoyed the mischievous* passage below a lot:

"late 1989, it then carried an article by the Labour party’s shadow employment spokesman, one Tony Blair. “He rang me one day,” Jacques told me. “He said, ‘I’d like to write for Marxism Today – would that be possible?’ I worked on what he wrote with him; it went through several drafts. What’s the lightest boxing division? Featherweight. It was lighter than that.”

Blair’s piece appeared in October 1991, titled Forging a New Agenda. It suggested he had done a speed-reading of the Marxism Today canon, and then regurgitated it in the form of political nothings: “The notion of a modern view of society as the driving force behind the freedom of the individual is in truth the implicit governing philosophy of today’s Labour party.” In retrospect, it also suggested the magazine was running out of momentum."

And now I'll read the rest of your comment very, very carefully. ;)

Babak Makkinejad

I think the fundamental continuity is not with Bolsheviks but rather the common element to both; namely Newtonian Physics with its 3 postulates (the first of which actually harken back to Aristotle).

In an analogous manner to mechanical dynamical systems of Newton, human society is conceived as a mechanism - much like a clock - that could be tinkered with and altered at will. This has been the paradigm, in my view, that informs the thinking of so many in Western Diocletian states to this day; this belief that Human Society (and Man) can be engineered in the same sense the billiard balls and masses moving down the inclined plane can.

The other paradigm, human societies resembling biological organism that could not be readily altered by applying external (or internal) forces has not been the dominant one for centuries; perhaps because of the absence of seductive mathematical formalism in biological systems.

I would like to point out that the biological paradigm has much to recommend itself; one does not expect to make amphibians out of mammals by applying forces, one would not make for social equilibrium if there is no conceivable way to measure such equilibrium - even in the absence of a dynamics. The paradigm also explains that the Roman Empire, for example, did not just crash and burn, rather it aged and atrophied and died of natural causes - just like higher animals.


He's a ringer for one of my oldest dearest friends.


PS. after 1. memoir, 2. Russian Civil War craze pile, will risk a new one [obsession] with your people. Last New Year was running all over Monticello drunk on the air of the place - had never been there. Loved it.


That is so perverse - comity building, I mean. I like it. Should really set him off. I too will be aggressively agreeable to T just to see how far he will go.

Margaret Steinfels

Douglas Waller, Disciples: The World War II Missions of the CIA Directors Who Fought for Wild Bill Donovan, Simon & Schuster, 2015

The Kulak

'The Borg' strikes back here, in a rather lame Vox piece:


Max Fisher the author, wrote an article back in May or June suggesting that the Russians place a lot of emphasis on tactical nukes because they're worried if they were to get into a war with NATO the U.S. and maybe the German panzers would roll all the way from the Baltics to Moscow. Clearly a real Napeolonic military genius:


Somebody never read Montgomery's first rule of warfare or studied Barbarossa and how that march cost Hitler's Wehrmacht 600,000 men before Christmas of 1941 (a number of KIA that would exceed the number of men under arms in most if not all non-US NATO member countries, Turkey included), apparently. Such is the depth of military expertise by those Borg hacks who purport to write about the subject.

In other news, the Guardian says the TOW wunderwaffen (which surely can't be answered by more Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians with cheaper and better Russian Kornets) have made all Syrian Arab Army gains that are cutting off supply routes from Idlib to Aleppo insignificant. Over at Pajamas Media, Michael '[invade some countries/bomb Iran] faster please' Ledeen is finally poo pooing the Borg/Israeli disinfo that the IRGC are pulling out of Syria due to casualties.

Meanwhile not a peep about all the Saudis and private military contractors the Houthis keep dropping Tochka missiles on or the southwestern Saudi Arabia border towns and forts they've overrun. Soleimani is dead or seriously wounded for the umpteenth time, and the Borg is hardly retreating just regrouping, all is well in Borgistan...

Mark Logan


Zumwalt's "On Watch" recounts a few interesting "Washington" shenanigans during his stint as JCS. He isolates most of them within certain chapters so it's not necessary to read the whole thing. Was damn near free on Amazon last time I looked.


This is fascinating stuff. Here are my quick observations on it.

Class, as always, is fundamental to British politics. I have always been of the Left but never a marxist.

I was a state-educated undergraduate at Cambridge in the 60's. My observations of the "Student revolt" of 68 was that it overwelmingly attracted students from an upper middle class, private school background.

In 1940 - due to their backing of Appeasement, the British upper middle classes lost their divine right to govern Britain. Alien classes, trade unions, state educated people, became part of the governing process. I always felt that the "Student Revolution" of 68 was essentially an instinctive rather than a concious attempt by the upper middle classes to reassert their right to rule. Their ideological "engine" for re-gaining power, their secret language was not masonry or Anglicanism or whatever it had been in the past but marxism. They could speak an esoteric, cabalistic language to each other which no one else could understand. They could be unique and pure in their ideology with theories which had no purchase on reality or the working classes but which acted as signifiers and conforters to each other.

57 different varieties of trotskyism flourished, as did identity politics etc.

Under Benn, they leapt into the Labour Party and made its old structure unelectable. Having smashed the old leadership they took over control of it and immediately moved far to the right of anything their Tory parents - who they had so vociferously denounced in 68 - would have dreamt of or tolerated. Again, I emphasize, I think this was instinctive on their part, not concious. They see themselves as natural rulers. They have a prism through which they view the world which started off as theoretical marxism and was transmuted into God knows what - fascism.

The upper middle classes are not fit to rule Britain by themselves. In 1940 they tolerated mass unemployment, unreformed capitalism and Appeasement. Today they tolerate mass underemployment, an unreformed capitalism, and warmongering.

You've discussed the jewish part in all this, but that's their own fascinating story.


I read an account of the Battle for Shanghai 1937, China's Stalingrad, where the national Chinese certainly did do a lot of heavy fighting. Chang had 8 divisions trained to German standards, and they put up quite a fight against the Japanese at Shanghai while suffering heavy losses.

Afaik the Chinese communists never put up a fight like that against the Japanese.

Images from that fight has national chinese soldiers wearing Wehrmacht style uniforms, helmets and weapons. Strange.



Chang's adopted son was sent as an officer to the German Wehrmacht Gebirgsjäger and would have likely served in the invsion of Poland had he not beeen recalled to China.



Tuchman's writing should be seen through the prism of the Cold War. She was putting the case for those Americans in China in the 30's and 40's who had "progressive" views (shared by many in America), who were personified by Stilwell, and who were later accused by McCarthy et al of "losing China."

The Nationalist Chinese armies did fight well especially early in the war - despite the disasters of 37-8. Indeed, under the Muslim General Bai Chongxi (he ate pork, drank wine, and declared jihad against the Japs) they fought what could be considered the most decisive and influential battle of WWII, Taierzhuang in 1938. But as soon as Chiang had retreated to Chongqing in 1939 he did little serious fighting (he didn't trust any of his generals with power) and that is when Stilwell had experience of him.

Chiang's great handicap was that he was tied to the feudal system. He had to support the hated landlords against the peasants. The communists were adept at harnessing the hatred of the peasantry for the landlords in a country starving to death and reeling under the barbarism of the Japanese.

Because of their own weakness, the communists frequently had to hand control of the organizing of resistance over to the peasants themselves - who proved extremely successful at guerrilla warfare. Chiang was broken by 1945 as a credible leader of China. The communists filled the vacuum.

(As discussion of various "gungho" USMC officers seems to be one of the themes of this thread, its worth noting that Evans Carlson, the originator of the term, picked it up while he was a military attache in China, while he was observing the Chinese communists - who he greatly admired - fighting in the field. He later, I believe, adapted their tactics for fighting in the Pacific War).


Colonel Lang,
Curious as to your assessment. I have read elsewhere - I think reports based on Wikileaks - that US policy in Syria is best described as a cunning – if misguided and reprehensible - policy of ensuring that neither side (Assad or the Jihadis) win outright, with continuing stalemate the preferred outcome. Similarly, Obama's attempts to engage Assad were undermined by parallel efforts at regime change that were visible to the Syrian government, but with no real concern about the mixed messages that this sent and which doomed the effort. I wonder how much this is not a case of being too clever by half (or arrogance that ignores the other side's reactions), but instead simply reflects a real schizophrenia with different elements of the US govt pursuing opposite agendas, as suggested by Hersh?.

Chris Chuba

I found the following excerpt from the Hersh link especially interesting ...
"But there is also a parallel history of shadowy co-operation between Syria and the US during the same period. The two countries collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to America’s intelligence community said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers. Assad also secretly turned over to the US relatives of Saddam Hussein who had sought refuge in Syria, and – like America’s allies in Jordan, Egypt, Thailand and elsewhere – tortured suspected terrorists for the CIA in a Damascus prison."

The reason that this caught my eye is because there is a narrative going around that the Assad govt assisted Al Qaeda in Iraq and is therefore culpable in the formation of ISIS. The claim often mentioned is that his govt kept the border with Iraq intentionally porous to allow Al Qaeda in Iraq easy access to and fro and that Assad would later selectively release Sunni militants to discredit opposition forces. I am not making this claim, I just come across it regularly as I read the MSM. Hersh's reference would strongly suggest otherwise as Assad consistently treated Al Qaeda as an enemy not to be toyed with. The earlier reference in the source to George W. Bush working to destabilize his Assad's govt shows yet another act of unnecessary bad faith.

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