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14 August 2017


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A very professional video showing the people in the crowd being plowed through, a young black woman describing how oppressive it feels to have Monticello looming over Charlottesville, and at 19:00 a not very bright man.


I wonder what the estimated numbers on each side is.


On Monday afternoon, the Cville police chief, who appeared exhausted, said that the street Fields drove down was supposed to have been closed; that is what the plan was. "I don't know if it was closed."

Since Fields ran into the rear of two stopped cars (stopped by jubilant counter demonstrators), it seems unlikely that the street was open when he turned into it.

I have been unable to find any description of the "plan", referred to a few times by the chief, nor any mention of what was the counter-demonstrators legal status. Has anyone found this information?

It appeared that organization and discipline was much tighter on the part of the Right. But in my dawning awareness of antifa, it may be that they actually repudiate any but the loosest organization and coordination for themselves. They were not the only counter demonstrators, but witness consensus seems to place them at the scene of many of the more troubled incidents, often as provocateurs, sometimes as initiators of violence.

It takes two to rumble. Hard to gather the overall picture, between absurd press reporting and the fact that incidents seem to have been scattered in time and place. On Monday, the police were still trying to sort it out, the chief encouraging any one who had information about any incident to contact the police and make a report.


Did you here of anyone being shot?

Accounts I found reported that the armed guys in combat gear were from a nearby militia group (Loudon, maybe). They said many were veterans. The group were asked to serve as private security because 1) antifa has established a pattern across the country of showing up and causing trouble and sometimes violence at Right gatherings and 2) because often,in these situations, police have failed to protect demonstrators.

These men stood at the edge of Emancipation park to separate demonstrators from counter-demonstrators, something the police seemed unprepared to do.

Of course, if a reporter did not go into the park itself, this would have been what he saw, the defensive line mounted around the park by the demonstrators. There are long, live videos from inside the park - a completely different scene.


When I was a child in Virginia, most people just called it "the War", but the full name was "the War Between the States". My mother would correct me, if I said "Civil War."


Lyttenburgh The Soviet Union helped Weimar Germany rearm in the 20s and carved up Eastern Europe with Nazi Germany.

David Habakkuk


Actually, on the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the evidence is now I think reasonably clear that we pushed Stalin into it. Whether a different approach could have produced an effective strategy of ‘containment’ must remain an unanswerable question, but it is reasonably clear that the policy adopted by the Chamberlain government made the pact his least worst option.

A central reason is that, as so often, political leaders were trying to avoid repeating past mistakes, and so ended up making new ones. Back in 1939 the British historian Donald Cameron Watt published an article ‘1939 revisited: on theories of the causes of wars’, based in part on ‘How War Came’, the monumental study of the diplomacy leading to the outbreak of war he published in the same year.

As he brought out, British decision-making was shaped by a fear of re-run of what was believed to have happened in 1914 – that is, the view of the First World War as being due to ‘a series of miscalculations, misunderstandings and fears, in which no government could face the loss of credibility involved in withdrawal.’

Moreover, it was believed that the Soviet government was deliberately trying to encourage such an outcome, by encouraging the Western democracies to confront German ‘revisionist’ demands, in particular over the Sudetenland, with promises of assistance. The plan attributed to Stalin was to exploit the lack of a direct Soviet land border with Czechoslovakia to stand aside from the war he had supposedly encouraged, and watch Germany and the Western powers destroy each in a new fratricidal war, creating favourable conditions both of direct Russian control and communism.

As Cameron Watt writes, ‘covert intelligence suggested that bringing about of an Anglo-German war was a major aim of Soviet policy.’

On 15 March 1939, the assumption that Hitler’s objectives – or at least, those for which he would risk a military confrontation with Britain – were restricted to bringing ethnic Germans into a Greater German ‘Reich’ collapsed, with the occupation of the rump of Czechoslovakia. The response to this by Chamberlain was the unilateral guarantee to Poland, whose effect was to precipitate Hitler’s overtures to Stalin, which led eventually to the two dictators coming to terms.

Explaining his thinking in a letter written between these two events, Chamberlain made clear that he believed the ‘covert intelligence’:

‘I must confess to the most profound distrust of Russia. I have no belief whatever in her ability to maintain an effective offensive, even if she wanted to. And I distrust her motives, which seem to me to have little connection with our ideas of liberty, and to be concerned only with getting everyone else by the ears.’

Unfortunately, while there were all kinds of problems involved in securing an alliance with the Soviet Union, the ‘covert intelligence’ has turned out to be simply wrong, as was conclusively demonstrated by the 1999 study ‘Grand Delusion; Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia’ by the Israeli historian Gabriel Gorodetsky. In addition to knowing the British archives well, he was given unprecedented access to the Soviet.

From a review by the American historian Kenneth Slepyan:

‘Gorodetsky argues that Stalin consistently followed a “balance of power” policy even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. To Stalin, the Pact was purely defensive. Rather than viewing the coming war as an opportunity to spread world revolution, he hoped to keep the militarily unprepared Soviet Union out of the conflict. To that end, he followed a policy of strict neutrality, and feared that both Germany and Britain might attempt to draw the Soviet Union into the war. If Stalin saw the war as a chance for the Allies and Germany to bleed themselves white and let the Soviets move in and pick up the pieces, as others have argued, then it is not evident in the documents. In this light, the Soviet territorial acquisitions of 1939-40 were not part of any pre-conceived plans for expansion but instead were made in response to German gains, necessary to help the Soviets secure their position in Europe (i.e. the annexation of Eastern Poland came following the German conquest of Western Poland, the annexations of the Baltic States and the seizure of Romanian lands occurred in the context of the fall of France and the Low Countries). While Gorodetsky may be right about the timing of these actions, many historians might still question his portrayal of Stalin’s motives in these cases as being primarily defensive.’

(See https://networks.h-net.org/node/10000/reviews/10279/slepyan-gorodetsky-grand-delusion-stalin-and-german-invasion-russia .)

Whether Stalin might have expanded further in any case, in different circumstances, is an unanswerable question. What is reasonably clear, however, is that extra strategic depth caused by the annexation of the Baltics made the difference between success and failure in the siege of Leningrad.

The ‘covert intelligence’ appears to have come from MI6 – which brings me to a coda to the story.

One relevant point is that the fact that Stalin’s policy was largely driven by fear was amply apparent to competent analysts at the time. Perhaps ironically, Gorodetsky’s study is in large measure a restatement of the view of Stalin’s foreign policy held by the diplomats of the German Moscow Embassy. These people were not thugs, or fanatics, but were trying to make the best of an extraordinarily difficult situation.

And indeed, one of the threads in Gorodetsky’s book is the long campaign waged by Werner von der Schulenberg, the German Ambassador at the time, to dissuade Hitler from what he and his colleagues saw as a war which was both totally unnecessary and likely to end in Germany’s destruction.

In 1953, the former commercial attaché at the Embassy, Gustav Hilger would publish a memoir of those years – as collaborator he had selected Alfred Gustav Meyer, a young German Jewish refugee whose parents had been murdered in the Holocaust. Reiterating what had been the diplomats’ ‘house view’, at the time, Hilger wrote that there could be

‘not the slightest doubt 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.’

The view that there could be ‘no conceivable doubt’ about this was, however, clearly not shared by MI6. Moreover, their view was restated in the study entitled 1992 ‘Icebreaker’ by the GRU defector and British intelligence asset Viktor Suvorov (actual name Vladimir Rezun). As an account of conversations in Moscow in the mid-1990s in Slepyan’s review makes clear, this vesion gained quite a following in Russia at the time.

The Gorodetsky study developed out his original demolition of Suvorov/Rezun in his study ‘The Icebreaker Myth’, published in Russian in 1995.

Given that the Suvorov/Rezun study was essentially attempting to defend the arguments made by MI6 back in the ‘Thirties, and that it was published when John Scarlett was that organisation’s bureau chief in that country, and Christopher Steele was cutting his teeth as an operative there, interesting questions are raised as to whether it represented the organisation’s ‘house view.’

The point here is not to suggest that, as it were, Stalin was soft and cuddly – far from it. It is rather that in trying to navigate one’s way through the treacherous seas of international relations, the relevant question is not whether one should ‘trust’ or ‘distrust’ anyone – it is trying to get the best possible estimate of their capabilities and intentions, so one can anticipate how they may act, and in particular, react to one’s own actions.

As we have seen time and again in recent years, with leaders one dislikes – sometimes with very good reason – it is the easiest thing in the world simply to make worst case assumptions, and also to assume that everything their opponents in or from the countries they rule say should be taken at face value. But this is not a prudent way to make policy.

Today – as became very evident in the discussions at the Aspen Security Forum – many of the leaders of the Western intelligence agencies actively preen themselves on taking precisely the approach to Russia MI6 and Chamberlain took in the ‘Thirties. Now as then, there is no attempt to engage with the possibility that Russian agendas might be in large measure defensive – and the picture is painted of that country’s leaders as Machiavellian manipulators cunningly attempting to exploit ‘useful idiots’ to destroy the West.

Moreover, while – to put it mildly – Putin is hardly Stalin, supposedly rational people in the West are now writing in a manner which makes Chamberlain look moderate. So, for example, in a recent piece in the ‘National Interest’ by the former director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, Graham T. Allison, we read:

‘Technology, in effect, made Russia America’s insufferable but inescapable Siamese twin. The strategic reality is even more horrific. However demonic, however destructive, however devious, however deserving of being strangled Russia is, the brute fact is that we cannot kill this bastard without committing suicide.’

(See http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-russia-back-basics-21901 .)

This infantile drivel, however, brings one back to the need to try to get the history of the ‘Thirties right. For its counterpart, quite clearly, is an increasing reversion in Russia to accounts of that time which also oversimplify the past. Among them the view that rather than simply misreading both German and Russian policy, Chamberlain was doing what he suspected Stalin of doing: trying to get Hitler to destroy his enemies for him.


"Lyttenburgh The Soviet Union helped Weimar Germany rearm in the 20s"

Germany - not the 3rd Reich. But if we are to remember all abetters who helped void the Veraille treaty - why not remember British and American efforts why we are at it?

"and carved up Eastern Europe with Nazi Germany."

I object to the use of the word "with".

The question, if you already forgot it, was: what is your evidence, that the "the fascist powers were allied with the communists" till the summer 1941? Do you know the definiation of the word "aliied"?


"As Cameron Watt writes, ‘covert intelligence suggested that bringing about of an Anglo-German war was a major aim of Soviet policy.’"

How this remind me of the modern "intelligence" in the US, claiming that Russia hacked their elections! :)

"...and Christopher Steele was cutting his teeth as an operative there"


Also - thanks to the NI link.

My objection here is in the use of the term "ally" to describe Soviet-German relations in 1939-40. I ask for hard evidence, for international treaties which would pronounce both of them Allies. There was a Tripartite Pact and the creation of the Axis. Where was anything similar, that would leave no doubt as to the international status of the USSR and Germany? "Russia was allies with Hitler" is an old trope, most popular in those countries, who failed in 1938 and now wants to forget about it and find to convenient scapegoat while they are at it.


smoke @77

2nd paragraph should read:

Since Fields ran into the rear of two stopped cars (stopped by jubilant counter demonstrators), it seems unlikely that the street was closed, when he turned into it.


David Habakkuk @81

Fascinating example of the perilous process of forming conclusions from history and the critical importance of sound intelligence and analysis in decisions of state.

I have little success persuading spouse or friends that perhaps contemporary Russian actions could be evaluated from the perspective of Russian defense. A hypothetical, counter example is my only gambit that elicits a bit of interest; namely, how would the US react if Russian missiles were set up a couple hundred miles from the Mexican border, and Russian troops were conducting exercises with Mexico? Or Cuba? But one is too far past and the other too unlikely. It is impressive how effective the unrelenting pounding on a theme by public media can be.

But press reports cannot be the basis for the conclusions of Aspen Security types. They have security clearances and access to far more information than the public. And they have experience and expertise in the area. So what explains it?

It is possible these experts are correct. Many seem persuaded. The public arguments, as you note, sound weak, both grandiose and simplistically self-serving.

Until I am persuaded, perhaps your historical example will bolster my effort to encourage broader consideration among a few.

Babak Makkinejad

Collectivization was forced on Stalin, a very prescient man, by the course of events in Germany.


Isn't the left lucky that Americans, on the right, are consitutional incapable of Salt March tactics.



The response of the left after being called out by the President for their own violence has been an explosion of vitriol with a cover barrage of soft peddling excuses like yours. Feel free to ask your friends to denounce BLM and the alt-left and let us all know how that is received.

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