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23 March 2016


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"it would be natural enough for Goebbels to read him with interest and appreciation – but the notion that his influence on Nazism was particularly significant would appear implausible."

David, from my limited perspective it feels pretty safe to assume that he and others did 'of course' read Jewish authors, in spite of the fact they were Jewish. Not least to study their otherness. In Bernay's case would they have realized at all? ... Propaganda just like Hasbara no doubt works both ways to a certain extend.

I stumbled across the myth they couldn't possibly have--never, ever would they touch the book of a Jewish author--in academia on a topic I studied in the fictive field of Nazi propaganda. Apparently the high profile prof took it for granted, as others too in my fields: the Nazis possibly couldn't have done this. ... In this special case it was an odd assumption.

Concerning Bernay's specific influence on Goebbels or his overall influence, it may no doubt deserve closer attention.

On the other hand, what do we have on our hands to not face disappointment in such an endeavor? That's always the grand question. What do matters look like if put in historical context? To what extend can other sources be definitively ruled out? Will there be a solid proof waiting for us at the end, that every other source or influence could be ruled out? How many sources that may help us have gone? Did Goebbels libraries both in his office and at his private locations survive?

From the top of my head.

David Habakkuk


It is worth looking at the video of the State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner responding to questions about the prospect of the Syrian Army taking Palmyra two days ago.

He was asked: 'Do you want to see the regime retake Palmyra or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh hands?'

After Toner had initially equivocated, Further prodding finally elicited this response:

'No, I mean, look, I mean, broadly speaking, it’s not a great choice, an either/or, but – which is worse, Daesh or the regime – but we think Daesh is probably the greater evil in this case'.

(See https://www.rt.com/usa/337119-us-fails-palmyra-isis/ .)

One needs to watch the clip to get the full effect.

And this came in the immediate aftermath of Brussels.


Here is an old 2003 map of grain silos in Iraq.
I think there may be around 9 in Nineveh and a notable one that was recently fought over in Makhmur. Timarat, Hawija and Manbij also came up in prior years discussion of IS control of the silos.
I simply put it out there for discussion. If you are going to control populations and revenues, then control of the grain silos is important and there are fixed number and known locations.


Would anyone know who controls the grain silos at Timarat between Tal Afar and Mosul?


@Alba etie

I can only give my opinion, which, in the end, could be wrong. But my sense of the situation is that Obama can not fail to understand what legacy he leaves behind--it is an unmitigated disaster in foreign policy--and he must be in search of some kind of saving grace and the major one could be some kind of credit for dismantling (or at least checking) IS. At this stage this can only be done in cooperation with Russia and, what is most important and bothersome for Obama, Assad. My thoughts on Kerry's visit, which was limited to two days instead of four asked by the American side, is that indeed, some kind of grand bargain is in the making, this bargain by definition requires course correction. The fact that US Air Force conducts operations in and around Palmyra, while having in the theater a significant operational Russian Air-Space component, especially helicopters, tells me only one thing--some NEW channels of communications have been opened between US and Russian military and that, in itself, speaks volumes. It means that decision was made on the political level. This also allows US to grab some factually deserved credit for liberation of Palmyra and strategic benefits such an event will provide for further liberation of Syria. So, in my very humble and not necessarily well-informed opinion, some (not all) key points which are in the works right now between US and Russia, especially against the background of noticeably reduced hostile rhetoric (which is also an indicator) on US part, are:

1. Issue of partition of Syria. Russia is against partition and is not very happy with Kurds jumping the gun on this issue;
2. Assad and his fate--while Russia does not necessarily supports all what Assad did or does, she is absolutely against him leaving the post in the foreseeable future. We all know "Assad must go" meme on the American side. Well, here US will have to find a way to accommodate. This point was on discussion table for sure. What kind of arrangements will be made to allow US to save the face--I don't know but there are many ways to do it.
3. Ukraine. This issue was in the works even before Kerry's latest visit.

As per Putin or Russia in general--it is not in their natures to seek US "humiliation". Russia approach to relations with the US is very pragmatic and could be expressed in a single phrase "leave us alone". What this means is another matter altogether but Russia (and Putin) also know really well some general rules which apply to relations between superpowers and one of the key rules in that--do not openly and blatantly humiliate even not-friendly superpower. This rule, sadly, was forgotten in the US.

So, this is my very short, bare bones, summary which I hope answers some of your questions.

Chris Chuba

Serge, it's an interesting thought that a fight for a very large city might go down very differently, especially if ISIS determines to make a last stand. Does Palmyra fit the pattern that you described? In Ramadi we had something like 2,000 Iraqi security forces calling in air strikes and yeah, it went down exactly the way you described. However, in Palmyra, the fighting has been much more intense and we know that the Syrians and Hezbollah actually fight and don't hide behind air strikes. I would think that this implies that there is a more serious force located in Palmyra but what do I know?

On a separate point related to what TTG and someone else said, I find the notion of a main drive to Deir Ezzor and then driving to Raqqa interesting for a couple of reasons. 1. It is the exact opposite of what I expected. I expected them to link with the Kurds in the north/west to cut their supplies and then drive to Raqqa from that direction. 2. Driving ISIS from Deir Ezzor to Raqqa into the North/west corridor would be real interesting. It would push the liver eaters into Turkey/Al Nusra/FSA territory and I suppose keep them too busy to think about re-starting battles with the SAA again. I'm just glad professionals are in charge of this operation.


There is this interesting article about Iranian land purchases and development in Syria. This seems like a sound strategy especially if it is allowing Iran to migrate Afghan refugees from Iran to Syria in the construction trade. http://www.voanews.com/content/iranians-fuel-property-frenzy-syria/3250125.html

Babak Makkinejad

I do not credit this at all. The only place that Iranians - of all stripes - had bought property in recent years has been Kuala Lumpur.

Why would any sane Iranian go live in Damascus among the "despised & stupid" Arabs? Not even the very religious would do that.

This reminds me of the story about the fellow who bought the Roman Empire; I suppose the Iranians are buying Syria and are going to own it.

Babak Makkinejad

There was a bombing in Iraq during a football match yesterday - 35 Shia Muslims killed by ISIS or its fellow-travelers.

It does not matter - "Shia are Unredeemably Evil" but "ISIS just plain old vanilla Bad".

I wonder, it is because the Shia oppose the Cult of Shoah?

alba etie

Thank you - I come here at SST for opinions that are based in experience and facts, I greatly appreciate your assessments here . I would agree that President Obama is looking at his Foreign Policy legacy and trying to have some wins in the last year of his second term . And would that President Clinton not have bombed Belgrade and left Russia alone we would all be better off . IMO that started this modern day neocon American slide into the chaos we find now .. Meanwhile it is heartening to see the Russian and USA military back channel each other in the effective effort to exterminate the Liver Eaters ..


You are wrong about this. I'll follow up in another post but there is good indication of Iranian land appropriations using surrogates roughly from Damascus and Homs to the coastal corridor. Particular attention to land corridors into Hezbollah controlled areas of Lebanon. I believe we will find a strong overlap between Iranian and Hezbollah troop positions and real estate acquisitions. More to follow.


"Russian and USA military back channel each other in the effective effort to exterminate the Liver Eaters"

It is my long-standing position that professionals who actually have real concrete common work to do, especially combat one, will have little trouble communicating with each-other. There are surely many true professionals on both Russian and US sides. Sadly, US power "elite" packed with triumphalist BSers, neocons and political generals seems to be unable to recognize who their real enemy is. The rise of American triumphalism started way before aggression against Yugoslavia but it was bombing of Serbia and Russia's pathetic cowardly behavior, which resulted in selling Serbia out that finalized the myth of US being a military hyper power. The consequences of that are truly massive and tragic. But if not for Yugoslavia, coming of Putin and his team after abdication of buffoon and alcoholic Yeltsin could have been a very long process. For Russians 1999 war against Serbs clearly exposed all those "cooperation" talks as utter BS.

FB Ali

Pretty pathetic!

David Habakkuk


These are matters to which we can perhaps revert at a more opportune time.

But they are of some interest to me – among other things, because a colleague and I interviewed Elisabeth Noelle-Neuman back in 1988, when I was working for the BBC.

There are however also other issues involved here. Although the phenomena overlap, one has to distinguish between situations where people keep silent because they are conscious of being in a minority, and situations where they do so because they are participants in some kind of 'collective fiction'.

And here, I go back to Georges Sorel. Incidentally, he also features in the discussion introduced by Élie Halévy on the 'era of tyrannies' at the Société Française de Philosophie in November 1936. The anthology of his writing published under this title, which also contains his lectures on 'The World Crisis of 1914-18', can be picked up for next to nothing on the web. One can read both pieces in an hour or so.

There is a great deal of overlap between Mann's interpretation of modern tyranny and that of Halévy and the anthropologist/ sociologist Marcel Mauss; both moreover have a lot of common ground with the ideas of the British philosopher/historian R.G. Collingwood.

Before harking back to the views of Aristotle on the way 'in which tyranny is normally linked to war and to democracy itself', Mauss referred to Sorel's doctrine of 'active minorities'.

In his discussion of Sorel, Mann referred to 'community-forming' beliefs.

In these terms, we can say that much of inter-war politics was characterised by a polarisation between 'active minorities' propagating a set of 'community-forming' beliefs linked to the notion of class, and competing beliefs linked to the notion of nation.

Central to Mann's account of discussions among Munich intellectuals in the 'Twenties was quite precisely the claim that these quite consciously argued that sustaining such 'community-forming' beliefs required the sacrifice of concern for objective truth. It was his counter-argument that doing so would necessarily end up destroying any basis for genuine community.

It is a long time since I looked seriously at this history. But what I think is the case is that in relation to the 'active minority' which propelled Hitler to power – and particularly the SS – the vision of a Jewish 'world conspiracy', and in particular a struggle to the death against the 'Jewish Bolshevik sub-humans', was a critical 'community-forming' belief.

And this does seem to be a bizarre – not least because anti-Christian – transformation of certain Christian millenarian currents – as is evident in the notion of the 'Thousand Year Reich'.

That millenarian anticipations can veil an underlying nihilism has frequently been argued, in different contexts. It is the basis of a long tradition of interpretation of National Socialism – a notable statement is Hermann Rauschning's 1938 study 'The Revolution of Nihilism'. And here, indeed, one might see an analogy with ISIS.

Against this background, it would not be in the least surprising that Goebbels should study closely a Jewish author like Bernays. This is not simply because it is natural to study an enemy – but also it is implicit in the theory of a Jewish 'world conspiracy' that the demonic Jews could be expected to be experts in propaganda.

However, in relation to the German 'Volksgemeinschaft' as a whole, the 'community-forming' belief was not faith in the Nazi Party, or indeed anti-Semitism. It was quite precisely what Halévy, again drawing an analogy with classical history, called 'anthropolatry' – the worship of the human as divine. Certainly, many recent historians have argued that the 'Hitler cult' was the central integrative force in National Socialist Germany.

Some particularly interesting evidence on this comes from the transcripts of the bugging of German POWs in the operations conducted by British intelligence and American intelligence, which form the basis of the 2011 study 'Soldaten' by Söhnke Neitzel and Harald Welzer.

One of the points that Halévy made at the time was that there was an ideological convergence between class- and nation-based politics. And Hitler's 'national socialism' did succeed in integrating very large elements of the working class – and indeed in opening up social mobility.

But what the POWs' conversations show is how, ironically, when the objective evidence that Hitler was leading to Germany to disaster mounted, there were also 'objective' reasons why the cult of Hitler became even harder to question. The section on 'Faith in Victory' in the study by Neitzel and Welzer ends:

'And since faith in the Führer was simultaneously a faith of Germans in themselves, every threat to positive images of Hitler was also a threat to the project in which people had invested so much energy and emotion. The fear was that this project would turn out to be utterly worthless.'

Implicit in this is the notion that silence is not produced simply by fear of what others may think – but also by what I am calling a 'collective fiction'. By this, I mean a belief which most people involved are coming to recognise is in conflict with the facts which are becoming evident – but in a situation where recognition of those facts involves dangers which are actually very real.

Perhaps ironically, I think that the discussion by Neitzel and Welzer, although in some ways very acute, also disregards what should be a glaringly obvious fact. What they suggest was that questioning the cult of the Führer would have involved facing to an essentially nihilistic vision.

Ironically, however, by involving Germany first in a quite unnecessary wars, first against the Western powers, and then the Soviet Union, Hitler had created a situation in which to question his cult involved a risk of social collapse, at precisely the point where such collapse would be likely to lead to catastrophic defeat.

This comment is already quite long enough. However, it may make plain why, in relation to what we here call 'the Borg', although I think the notion of the 'spiral of silence' has its uses, it needs to be supplemented by a conception of 'collective fiction'.

The situation of 'the Borg' now is quite precisely that of people whose beliefs are coming into conflict with facts which are glaringly obvious, but cannot afford to surrender those beliefs, for reasons which are not simply to do with power and money.


As it turned out, my speculations have some basis in reality. CIA Director Brennan visited (secretly) Moscow early March and communicated with his counterparts in FSB. Kremlin says Brennan didn't contact them. I guess discussion was mostly about technical issues.

http://ria.ru/world/20160328/1398831541.html (In Russian)


alba etie

Thank you again for your views they have given me more to mull over.
Would that the professional NCO 's of the world make the final decisions on War & Peace.

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