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The Plot to Scapegoat Russia

Book Review by Rick Sterling | The Duran | June 22, 2017

Attorney Dan Kovalik has written an extremely important book that challenges the current media/political focus on “Russia-gate” and warns that dark forces of war are taking us in an ever more dangerous direction. The book, released just a few weeks ago, has received high praise from numerous writers.

In his foreword to the book, best selling author David Talbot says:

“The US war machine has revived the tried and true Red Scare…. This massive anti-Russian propaganda campaign is one of the biggest fake news operations in U.S. history…. Unlike our war-obsessed media, human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik does understand that peace and diplomacy are in the best interests of the American and Russian peoples. His book is an urgently needed counterassault against the propaganda forces that are trying to push us over a precipice that it too terrifying to even contemplate. It’s time for all of us to speak truth to power before it’s too late.”

Talbot’s warning is not hyperbole. As I write this review, the US military is pushing ever closer to direct military confrontation with Syria, Iran and Russia in Syria.

The book is entertaining reading because Kovalik combines his personal evolution with facts and history. He grew up as a conservative Roman Catholic fearful and wary of communism and the Soviet Union. He describes how his beliefs and assumptions were challenged when he traveled in Latin America. The first hand experience led to more reading and research which resulted in the shocking realization that the U.S. government has been behind coups and military dictatorships from Indonesia to Iran, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and more.

The author discusses US foreign policy since World War 2, before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He puts the current “new” Cold War in historical context and reviews the facts behind the current media / political focus on “Russia-gate”. He concludes that we are being blinded with baseless Russo-phobia while forces pushing for more American war and aggression are going unchallenged and recklessly threatening a war which could engulf us all. 

Kovalik describes his own youthful belief in “American Exceptionalism” whereby our policies and actions are believed to be uniquely good and well meaning. For the author, that belief was confronted by a very different reality when he traveled to Central America in the 1980’s. There he saw the reality of US funded “Contras” terrorizing Nicaraguan villagers. There he learned of the four Catholic nuns murdered by the Salvadoran military which our government was supporting.

Relevant but not widely known historical facts are reviewed:

* the role of American advisers in the collapse of the Russian economy during the 1990’s

* the broken promises to Gorbachev

* the expansion of NATO right up to the Russian border

* the NATO wars on Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya

* the increasing discrepancy between rich and poor both within the US and internationally

The author presents the case that the real threat to democracy is not coming from Russia, it is coming from our own political system and the forces which benefit from and which promote war and aggression. Former President Jimmy Carter has said the US is an “oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”.

Kovalik reviews the history of CIA and other intelligence agency whistle-blowers. He concludes that “The CIA is not a reliable source and poses a much greater threat to US democracy than Russia ever could.” The CIA wants Trump to stay on the path of confrontation with Russia.  There is a long history to conflict between the CIA and presidents seeking to promote peace. President John Kennedy had such fierce conflict with the CIA that he said he wanted to “break it into a thousand pieces and scatter to the wind”.

Kovalik presents a persuasive case that the demonization of Russia and Putin is being used to justify war and more conflict with ever increasing military budget. Instead of a “peace dividend”, the old Cold War led to ever greater US intervention abroad. The new Cold War is raising the risk of a direct confrontation and possible nuclear war. Most Americans do not want another war. Why are we headed down that slippery slope? This book goes a long way to explaining why.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Thomas Surez’s “State of Terror”

Book Review by Eve Mykytyn – June 16, 2017

Thomas Surez’s “State of Terror” is a meticulously documented history of Zionism from its early stages in Israel until 1956. It is the story ofhow a number of secular Jews successfully installed a religious state located on the land of another nation.

The established myth is that after centuries of antisemitism culminating in the Holocaust, the Jews ‘deserved’ Israel, the ‘land without a people for people without a land.’ Historical accounts often deepen and are refined with time and study. Suarez’s book (along with a few others such as Alison Weir’s “Against Our Better Judgement”) convincingly refutes the generally accepted history entirely.

Suarez points out that in 1897 an early Zionist cabled the news to his coconspirators that Palestine was already densely populated. What followed was a terrorist conspiracy to take that land that is shocking in its scope and violence.

Starting around 1918, in what is now Israel, the Irgun, the Lehi (Stern Gang) the Hagana and the Jewish Agency operated at various times as competing and cooperating gangs of thugs. They raised money by robbery and extortion, extracting ‘tributes’ from local businesses, bombing those who failed to pay. The Zionist gangs assassinated Palestinians, police, the British, and Jews whose opinions diverged from theirs.

The war did not temper their violence. When the British consolidated three boats of refugees onto the ship Patria in Haifa with the intention of taking them to a displaced persons camp in Mauritus, the Hagana bombed the ship of refugees. Over 267 people died, among them 200 Jews. Zionists spun the story as a reenactment of the biblical story of Masada, claiming that the passengers of the Patria heroically committed mass suicide by bombing their own ship when they failed to reach Israel.

During and after World War II, the Zionists demanded with remarkable if not complete success that Jews be segregated from other soldiers and then segregated within displaced persons camps. Suarez cites pro-Zionist Churchill’s discomfort with such segregation, Churchill wrote that nearly every race in Europe had been shipped to concentration camps and “there appears to be very little difference in the amount of torture they endured.” (page 120). Jews who wanted to stay in their home lands or who successfully negotiated the resettlement of European Jews anywhere but Israel were denounced and thwarted.

How did the Zionists succeed in insisting that they spoke for all Jews when it is clear that they did not? What gave them the right, as murderers of Jewish refugees, to speak for displaced Jews after the war?

Zionists consistently claimed to speak for all Jews. No wonder the Zionists insisted on the use of Hebrew (a number of early German and Yiddish language newspapers were bombed). Suarez points out that the settlers spoke the language of the biblical era because they claimed to be its people (page 25). Ben Gurianclaimed that the “Bible is our mandate.”

Israel’s official birth in 1948 purged a million Palestinians and destroyed 400 of their villages. The UN had established Israel’s borders, but Israel already stretched beyond the borders and claimed sovereignty over all the land it held. Both England and the United States knew that Israel would not give back any land. Reuven Shiloah, the first director of the Mossad, not only told them so but declared Israel’s right to take more land as necessary (page 277).

Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and assets was not simply a result of claiming land Israel was granted by the UN. Suarez makes the point that: “economic analysis… illustrates that the Israeli state owes its very existence to its wholesale theft of Palestinians’ worldly possessions… Despite the massive infusion of foreign capital into Israel and its claims of modern efficiency, it was the end of the Palestinians [assets] that saved the Israeli state from stillbirth” (page 288).

Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian benefactors after 1948 was atrocious. It is painful to read through Suarez’s partial listing of atrocities: rape, torture, murder and robbery. Arab villages, Christian and Muslim, friendly and not, were destroyed. In one instance, Arab villagers were murdered by being forced to stay in their homes as they were bombed. (page 309).

At the time, Israel itself was the site of “alarming proportions” of murder, rape and robbery within its own citizenship. One Israeli speculated that this arose from a “general and contemptuous disregard for law” (page 298). A British report stated: “intolerance explodes into violence with appalling ease in Israel.”

Israel reached into Iraq (with false flag operations against Iraqi Jews to prompt immigration) and into North Africa to obtain citizens for its new settler state. The Iraqi and North African Jews were kept in miserable conditions until they were deployed as place holders to live on newly acquired land.

In 1954 Israelis planted bombs in Egypt in a false flag operation intended to convey that Egypt was unstable. When the plan was exposed in 1955, the United States and the United Kingdom considered military action against Israel to stop its murderous seizure of land. In a cold war series of events detailed by Suarez, France and England ended up siding with Israel againstEgypt in the Suez Crisis, ending any chance that England and the United States would conduct any action against Israel.

So far in his book Suarez has delivered a careful, albeit painful, history.

And then Suarez delivers his indictment, “with the conclusion of Suez,… Israel had fully established its techniques of expansion and racial cleansing that continue to serve it today: its maintenance of an existential threat, both as a natural consequence of its aggression and of provocation for the purpose; its expropriation and squandering of the moral weight of historic anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; its dehumanization of the Palestinians; its presence as the prophet-state of the Jews; and its seduction of its Jewish population with the perks of blood privilege.”

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 2 Comments

Why Does the United States Beat Up On Capitalist Russia?

By W. T. Whitney | CounterPunch | May 30, 2017

The Cold War we are familiar with ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. In his new book “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” lawyer and human rights activist Dan Kovalik writes about a new Cold War against Russia – and about the peace that never came. He discusses the role of the Democratic Party and the CIA, but his book centers on explaining why hostilities resumed.

The real motivations of a revived confrontation are hardly the stuff of day-to-day news, and so the author relies upon the historical record for discovering the origins of a new Cold War. And he tells why the old Cold War was waged.

The common explanation was a pretext, he thinks. In Kovalik’s words: “the Cold War, at least from the vantage point of the US, had little to do with fighting ‘Communism,’ and more to do with making the world safe for corporate plunder.” This proposition, implied more than dwelled upon, enables the author to account for other U. S. wars and interventions.

CIA involvement is mentioned but not detailed. For Kovalik, “the CIA is a nefarious, criminal organization which often misleads the Ameri­can public and government into wars and misadventures.” These two themes – the real reason for why the United States fights wars and the CIA’s role in such wars – are unobtrusively present throughout the history recounted in the book.

Readers hungry to know about the “plot” advertised in the book’s title will need patience. The author conducts a tour over time and across the world that takes in examples of U. S. military interventions and foreign meddling. At the point Kovalik is discussing the current U. S. – Russia confrontation, he has already described patterns of U. S. aggression and thereby has already traced out a scenario where motivations for harassing Russia are clear.

This highly – recommended book offers material so encompassing as to belie its small size. Kovalik’s writing is clear, evocative, and readable. Along the way, he recalls those causes and the outrage that fired up activists who were his contemporaries. That’s a side benefit.

In college Kovalik learned about CIA machinations in Central America. Revelations from former agents Philip Agee, Ray McGovern, and John Stockman astonished him. His first trip to Nicaragua exposed him to a harvest of killings and terror. He learned first-hand about the role of Contra paramilitaries, recruited and paid for by the CIA. At one point he was comforting a father burying his son, killed by the Contras, along with 50,000 other Nicaraguans.

The author recalls the four churchwomen and six Jesuit priests murdered by U. S. – trained soldiers in El Salvador, U. S. support for soldiers and paramilitaries who killed and displaced populations in Colombia, and the CIA’s Operation Condor by which South American client states murdered political enemies. He recounts U. S – instigated coups in Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; and Chile, 1973. Along the way he mentions U.S. war in Vietnam, occupation and war in Korea, nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, nuclear testing and dying in the Marshall Islands, and the CIA’s recruitment of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen in Afghan­istan.

This was the justification: keeping “the world safe from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism.” Then the Soviet Union was no more and the search was on for a new pretext. Having turned to “humanitarian intervention,” the Clinton administration soon was assisting the Paul Kagame regime in Ruanda and other African nations as they assaulted the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “US mining interests” were satisfied, Kovalik says, but “nearly six million people” people died.

Clinton’s government intervened in Haiti and participated in the destruction of Yugoslavia, Europe’s last socialist state. Supposed humanitarian motivations were behind the United States role in delivering Libya into chaos. For the author, U. S. pretensions and brutality stand in contrast to the relatively benign nature of Russian misdeeds.

More recently, in Kovalik’s telling, the U. S. government settled upon the rationalization of “American exceptionalism.” This is “the belief that the US is a uniquely benign actor in the world, spreading peace and democracy.” Thus terror was exported to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia acted as a U. S. proxy. The list includes the 2009 military coup in Honduras facilitated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For the author, “The US’s outsized military exists not only to ensure the US’s quite unjust share of the world’s riches, but also to ensure that those riches are not shared with the poor huddled masses in this country.” Good relations with Russia would be “simply bad for business, in particular the business of war which so profoundly undergirds the US economy … As of 2015, the US had at least 800 military bases in over 70 nations, while Britain, France and Russia had only 30 military bases combined.” And, “under Obama alone, the US had Special Forces deployed in about 138 countries.”

Having surveyed decades worth of U.S. interventions abroad, military and otherwise, Kovalik turns to Russia. In the early 1990s that fledgling capitalist state was in crisis, he reports. Life expectancy had plummeted, the poverty rate was 75 percent, and investments in the economy were down 80 percent. National pride was in the cellar, the more so after the United States backed away from Secretary of State Baker’s 1991 promise that NATO would never move east, after the United States attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and after the United States attacked Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 without consulting Russia.

He regards Russia’s approach to Ukraine as defensible while reminding readers that Russia offered to cooperate with the United States in ending war in Syria. And U. S. claims about lack of democracy in Russia seem strained, especially when, as Kovalik insists, the United States abuses peoples the world over and itself suffers from a “severe democracy deficit.”

He argues that the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was obsessed with Russia and that Democrats currently are fueling hostilities, backed by a compliant media. He discusses WikiLeaks revelations about the Democratic Party and hacking attributed to the Russians. He also suggests, without offering specifics, that the CIA is involved. Kovalik doesn’t comment on possible interaction between Trump campaign personnel and Russian officials.

But prior to his discussion of confrontation with Russia, Kovalik had devoted considerable attention to why and how the United States harasses other countries. The reader, therefore, already knows never to expect U.S. imperialism to give Russia a break and knows why that is so.

Kovalik’s treatment of the Soviet Union is an essential part of his narrative. For one thing, many of the U. S. military interventions he reports on wouldn’t have occurred if the Soviet Union still existed. But basically, “the Soviet Union, did wield sizable polit­ical and ideological influence in the world for some time, due to the appeal of its socialist message as well as its critical role in winning [World War] II.”

Kovalik acknowledges “periods of great repression.” He adds, however, that “the Russian Revolution and the USSR … delivered on many of their promises, and against great odds. …. In any case, the goals of the Russian Revolution—equality, worker control of the economy, universal health care and social security— were laudable ones.” And, “One of the reasons that the West continues to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union, and to emphasize the worst parts of that society and downplay its achievements, is to make sure that, as the world-wide economy worsens, and as the suffering of work­ing people around the world deepens, they don’t get any notions in their head to organize some new socialist revolution with such ideals.”

Ultimately, Kovalik sides with Martin Luther King, who remarked that, ‘The US is on the wrong side of the world-wide revolution’ – and with Daniel Ellsberg’s clarification: ‘The US is not on the wrong side; it is the wrong side.’”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Not Remembering the USS Liberty

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | May 21, 2017

It is safe to assume that when President Donald Trump lands in Israel Monday, he will not have been briefed on the irrefutable evidence that, nearly 50 years ago – on June 8, 1967 – Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and wounding more than 170 other crew. All of Trump’s predecessors – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – have refused to address the ugly reality and/or covered up the attack on the Liberty.

It is not too late for someone to fill Trump in on this shameful episode, on the chance he may wish to show more courage than former presidents and warn the Israelis that this kind of thing will not be tolerated while he is president.

A new book by Philip Nelson titled: Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand what actually happened to the Liberty and to contemplate the implications.

As I wrote in the book’s Foreword: Even today, scandalously few Americans have heard of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, because the cowardly U.S. political, military, and media establishments have managed to hide what happened.  No one “important” wanted to challenge Israel’s lame “oops-mistake” excuse.  Intercepted Israeli communications show beyond doubt it was no “mistake.”

Chief Petty Officer J.Q. “Tony” Hart, who monitored conversations between then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Sixth Fleet Carrier Division Commander Rear Admiral Lawrence Geis, reported McNamara’s instructive reply to Geis, who had protested the order to recall the U.S. warplanes on their way to engage those attacking the Liberty. McNamara: “President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally (sic) over a few sailors.”

The late Adm. Thomas Moorer after interviewing the commanders of the U.S. aircraft carriers America and Saratoga confirmed that McNamara ordered the aircraft back to their carriers. Moorer called it “the most disgraceful act I witnessed in my entire military career.”

Thanks to this book, those who care about such things can learn what actually happened 50 years ago:

(1) On June 8, 1967, Israel attempted to sink the US Navy intelligence collection ship USS Liberty and leave no survivors. The attack came by aircraft and torpedo boat, in full daylight in international waters during the Six-Day Israeli-Arab War;

(2) The U.S. cover-up taught the Israelis that they could literally get away with murder; they killed 34 U.S. sailors (and wounded more than 170 others); and

(3) As part of an unconscionable government cover-up, the Navy threatened to court martial and imprison any survivor who so much as told his wife what had actually happened. (This, incidentally, put steroids to the PTSD suffered by many of the survivors.)

One Stab at Truth

The only investigation worth the name was led by Adm. Moorer, who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led a blue-ribbon, independent commission to examine what happened to the Liberty. Among the findings announced by the commission on October 2003:

Israeli PM Menachem Begin

“…Unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on the USS Liberty bridge, and fired 30mm cannon and rockets into the ship; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes. …

“…The torpedo boat attack involved not only the firing of torpedoes, but machine-gunning of Liberty’s firefighters and stretcher-bearers. … The Israeli torpedo boats later returned to machine-gun at close range three of the Liberty’s life rafts that had been lowered into the water by survivors to rescue the most seriously wounded.”

Shortly before he died in February 2004, Adm. Moorer strongly appealed for the truth to be brought out and pointed directly at what he saw as the main obstacle: “I’ve never seen a President … stand up to Israel. … If the American people understood what a grip these people have on our government, they would rise up in arms.” [As quoted by Richard Curtiss in A Changing Image: American Perception of the Arab-Israeli Dispute.]

Echoing Moorer, former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, who served many years in the Middle East, condemned Washington’s attitude toward Israel as “obsequious, unctuous subservience … at the cost of the lives and morale of our own service members and their families.”

And the Six-Day War? Most Americans believe the Israelis were forced to defend against a military threat from Egypt. Not so, admitted former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin 35 years ago: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” [The New York Times quoting an August 1982 Begin speech.]

Adm. Moorer kept asking why our government continues to subordinate American interests to those of Israel. It is THE question.

The War in Syria

Fast forward to the catastrophe that is now Syria. U.S. policy support for illusory “moderate rebels” there – including false-flag chemical attacks blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – can only be fully understood against the mirror of U.S. acquiescence to Israeli objectives.

New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief in 2013, Jodi Rudoren, received an unusually candid response when she asked senior Israeli officials about Israel’s preferred outcome in Syria. In a New York Times article on September 6, 2013, titled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” Rudoren reported the Israeli view that the best outcome for Syria’s civil war was no outcome:

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”

Obama may have read or been briefed on Rudoren’s article. In any event, last year he told journalist Jeffrey Goldberg how proud he is at having resisted strong pressure from virtually all his advisors to fire cruise missiles on Syria in September 2013. Instead, Obama chose to take advantage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to get the Syrians to surrender their chemical weapons for destruction, verified by the U.N., aboard a U.S. ship configured for such destruction. President Trump, in contrast, chose to go with his “mad-dog” advisors. It is not yet clear whether he was successfully mousetrapped, or whether he saw the April 4 chemical incident in Syria as an opportunity to “retaliate,” and get a bump in popularity.

There are wider ramifications of rank dishonesty and cover-up, at which Establishment Washington excels. Have we not seen this movie before?  Think Iraq. Once again, the “intelligence” is being “fixed.”

Back to the Liberty, Adm. Moorer is right in saying that, if Americans were told the truth about what happened on June 8, 1967, they might be more discriminating in seeing through Israel’s rhetoric and objectives. Moorer insisted that we owe no less to brave men of the USS Liberty, but also to every man and woman who is asked to wear the uniform of the United States. And he is right about that too.

This book makes a huge contribution toward those worthy ends.

[For more on this topic, see “Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack”; “Still Waiting for USS Liberty’s Truth”; A USS Liberty’s Hero’s Passing”]

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, and was “on duty” when the USS Liberty was attacked.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | 5 Comments

The Existential Risk of Trusting ‘Intel’

By John V. Walsh | Consortium News | May 17, 2017

In Tom Lehrer’s ballad satirizing former Nazi rocket scientist Werhner von Braun’s cavalier attitude toward the deadly consequences of his work, there’s the line, “‘Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,’ says Wernher von Braun.”

From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning is the enlightening memoir by Paul Johnstone, a man who worked in the “department” that decided where “they” would come down. Johnstone labored there during WWII and then from 1949 to 1969, the initial period of the Cold War and the period covered by this book. On Aug. 29, 1949, the Soviet Union caught the world flat-footed when it set off its first nuclear bomb (just over four years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Thus began the years when frightened children scrambled under their desks by day and were tormented with mushroom cloud nightmares by night. The U.S. and the USSR stood on The Brink over the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Crisis when The Wall went up. Those years were the initial period of nuclear standoff called MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).

What Johnstone saw as he went about his duties horrified him – and it should also horrify us. For it is the thesis of the Afterword, by the author’s daughter, the prominent political commentator Diana Johnstone, that after the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. moved quickly from “MAD to Madness.”

Madness refers to plans for a knockout nuclear first strike on Russia, aided and abetted by the latest missile defense boondoggle. That was a favorite fantasy of the generals in the post-WWII era. Whether we now live in another era of Madness, when a disabling first strike again dances in the heads of the Elite, or once again in an era of MAD is an open question in my mind. But Paul Johnstone’s memoir is a work of great importance in either case.

Paul Johnstone started out in Henry Wallace’s Department of Agriculture during the New Deal, but was moved to the Department of War after Pearl Harbor. His job was to pick targets for conventional bombs in Japan, although not the targets for the first atom bombs.

When the Cold War commenced, he studied how targets for nuclear weapons should be selected and how much damage The Bomb would do when dropped on various corners of the USSR. He also assessed the damage of Russian nukes landing in various corners of the U.S. He worked at the most august levels of U.S. intelligence: Air Force Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of Secretary of Defense.

Some of Johnstone’s studies became part of the Pentagon Papers, leaked by former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg. Johnstone gave the manuscript for this memoir to his daughter, Diana Johnstone, when he was on his deathbed in 1981.

Faulty Intelligence

A central message of the book is the inevitable failure of intelligence. This aspect of the memoir is hard to apprehend in all its facets without actually reading it. Why can “intelligence” not be trusted?

Secretary of State Colin Powell on Feb. 5, 2003

First the intelligence agencies lie – and do so quite consciously when it suits those who command them or the desires of those who command their commanders. Anyone who does not recognize this by now has not been paying attention. Intel did this most notoriously in recent years in the case of the non-existent WMD that led the U.S. to a multitrillion dollar war on the innocent people of Iraq – which we fight to this day even though Barack Obama declared the war “officially” over.

But even when the Intel agencies are trying to make honest estimates, they face other obstacles. This is the major lesson that Paul Johnstone delivers. Let us take a few examples. On the topic of trying to assess the damage done by nuclear weapons either on the USSR or on the U.S., he writes:

–“They (the effects of nuking a target) would be researched, and in time – much time – a lot would be learned about them, although not enough ever to provide the basis for predictive measurements. So men do what men always do. They calculated what was calculable as best they could, and generally ignored, or dismissed with mere mention by name, the factors that, however relevant and crucial, were incalculable. Or they would just make a wild guess. One problem was that whatever the uncertainties, those utilizing the information were rarely in a position to understand its degree of reliability.” (p. 39 of From Mad to Madness, hereafter FMTM)

So the “decision makers” for nuclear war could well be acting on intel that is “a wild guess,” and they would not know it! And here is Johnstone writing on the way that the “wild guesses” and other intelligence estimates come to be made, most notably about enemy capabilities – an essential if one plans to start a nuclear war:

–“I believe that, to anyone who has been deeply immersed in it and then has had the privilege of viewing it with some measure of detachment, military intelligence must seem a world of flickering light, dark shadows, mood music and whispered rumors, half heard against trumpeted accompaniment proclaiming dire threats that imperil us from outer darkness. Shapes are partly perceived at best, most commonly merely implied, often not seen at all, and often what you think you see is really not there at all. There are always some things you know you know, but you never know how many things there are that you have no evidence even to suspect. You do not know how much of what you see is deliberately staged to mislead you.

“What is seldom realized is that there is always a dominant mood that determines, more than the sharpest senses or the most acute reasoning, what you decide is out there and what is going on. Like all the world and all experience, it is kaleidoscopic; and the bits and pieces that flit before your eyes are what you thought you’d see before you looked.

“Always of course there are the true believers. The images immediately before their eyes are God’s own truth. It’s a matter of right or wrong, bright sunlight or utter darkness. Then there are those not fully convinced nor deeply caring, who find it least troublesome to see what others say they see. Like herded sheep they may once in a while say ‘baa,’ but though they may distrust the direction they are driven in, they feel reassured following the path forced on them by the pressure of the bodies next to them.” (FMTM, p. 63)

In other words, in the end, the data and analysis do little more than to confirm pre-existing sentiments and prejudices.

Agenda-Driven Intel

Then there were the “experts” who had their own agenda. A striking example is the “Special Studies Group” set up in the early 1950s in the Air Force Directorate of Intelligence.

Johnstone writes: “It was headed by Steve Possony, a Hungarian émigré who professed to be an expert on Communism in general and the Soviet Union in particular. Steve was the first of several Central European émigrés I met in the next few years who passed as experts on Communist Europe. … Others were Stausz-Hupé, Kissinger, Brzezinski and many lesser lights such as Leon Gouré and Helmut Sonnenfeldt. In every case I felt that they were thinking, consciously or otherwise, as representatives of a lost cause in their native land, and I always believed that they were used by the military because their ‘obsessions’ were so useful.” (FTFM, p.80)

Of course it is not clear who was using whom here. But we can think of a latter day equivalent in Bush 2 time when neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz dominated the Pentagon. As they ginned up the War on Iraq, it was all too clear that their loyalty to Israel came into play. For while the wars in the Middle East and North Africa did little to advance the interests of the U.S., costing it blood, treasure and new enemies like ISIS, those wars left in ruins potential adversaries of Israel in its neighborhood. There can be little doubt that the interests of Israel were served by these American “strategic thinkers.”

Johnstone goes on: “The one product of Possony’s group that I most distinctly remember was an annual appraisal of the strategic situation. And the reason I remember it, perhaps, is that every year that appraisal forecast a massive Russian land attack on Western Europe the following year. Several of us began to laugh about it after a while, but the forecast was always intoned awesomely and with superficial plausibility. I do not know whether many people who heard the briefings really believed the forecasts. I suspect many doubted it would really be next year, and thought it more likely the year after or even later. But even doubters approved the forecast because, they reasoned, it was better to err in this direction than to minimize the danger. Above all, it was good to say things that emphasized the need for strong defenses.” (FTFM, p. 80)

Alarmist warnings about impending Soviet invasions of Europe also were helpful in expanding U.S. military budgets.

The issues that Johnstone raises are relevant not only for scholars, but for each and every one of us since our very existence hangs by a thread increasingly frayed by the incessant anti-Russia drumbeat in our media. That drumbeat has reached a neo-McCarthyite crescendo in these days of Russia-gate where politicians crazed by hatred of Vladimir Putin like John McCain or hatred of Donald Trump like nearly every last Democrat hold sway.

A New Era of MAD

The relevance of the memoir is inescapable, and this is laid out with considerable insight in a preface and a postscript by Johnstone’s daughter, Diana, a journalist residing in Paris and a frequent commenter on French and U.S. politics. She is also the author of The Politics of Euromissiles (1984), Greens in the European Parliament – A New Sense of Purpose for Europe (1994), Fool’s Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (2003), and Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton (2015).

She is careful of the conclusions she draws. In addition, Paul Craig Roberts’s Foreword adds a further dimension to the book since he worked with some of Paul Johnstone’s colleagues and also inside the Reagan cabinet when the first Cold War finally came to an end. (Regrettably here we are again – in Cold War 2.0.)

I remain unconvinced only by one conclusion of the book and that lies in Diana Johnstone’s Afterword. One thesis of the Afterword is that we went from the era of MAD back to the era of Madness, that is an attempt at a nuclear first strike, after the demise of the USSR. That may well have been true in the first decade of the Century when Russia was still on its back and China was relatively weak. (Diana Johnstone cites literature from this period to make her case. See also “The End of Mad”.)

George W. Bush was in power then, and the neocons were in the driver’s seat. Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty in June 2002, which opened the door to developing the ever elusive anti-missile system that would make possible a first-strike on Russia and/or China. (At times first strike capability is called “nuclear primacy”.) Those ABM plans persisted and have been implemented right up to the present with their deployment in Eastern Europe nominally against Iran and in South Korea nominally against the DPRK. They are in fact aimed at Russia and China, and no one is fooled by other claims, least of all Russia and China.

But we are now 15 years out from 2002 and Russia’s economy and military are much stronger under Putin. Moreover, China’s GDP was only about 18 percent of the U.S. GDP in Purchasing Power Parity terms in 2002; it is now in 2017 about 120 percent that of the U.S., and the gap grows daily. And of course military power grows out of economic power.

Things have changed. Certainly, the U.S. maintains a vast edge in its military capability, but is it enough for the neocons and neoliberalcons to realistically dream any longer of a nuclear first strike? I doubt it, but the grave danger is that they are living in the past and that their “intel” is telling them that nuclear primacy is still theirs. Why? Because the intel agencies might feel that is what their bosses want to hear.

After all, who wants to abandon past glory. Empires do not have a great track record when it comes to accepting decline. Living in the past is one of the things that might concern us after reading Paul Johnstone’s work. So it is a book of considerable importance for the moment. It warns us of the perilous age in which we live, and it tells us that the need to create a structure of peace in a multipolar world is urgent.

John V. Walsh is a founding member of “Come Home America” and formerly a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com .

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”

— Seneca

“When the CIA goes to church, it doesn’t go to pray.”

— South American aphorism

Let’s be clear. Syria is invading nobody. North Korea is attacking damn all. And Russia is threatening zilch. But on the eve of the apocalypse these nations are the ones being stoned. The sanctimonious are having a field day crucifying the leaders of these countries and stomping all over the humanity of their peoples.

In a godless universe the tormentors of Syria, Russia and North Korea are behaving as if god is on their side. If god is another word for barbaric stupidity: they’re right. In that case, though – the universe ain’t empty – it’s full of fucking god.

The silver lining to this toxic theism is the fact that god has a habit of bringing down empires. That’s the point of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s also the point of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals. God tends to turn mighty empires and mighty individuals into junk.

In other words, piety and the hypocrisy that accompanies it – overtime undermines physical and political power. Let’s hope so. But do we have enough time? Because it’s beginning to feel like the end-time. The ‘mother of all bombs’ is preparing the way for the ‘mother of all suicides’.

The Bible Belt in America and the Koran Knot in Asia are being pulled so tight that the only ones who can breathe today are the Jewish and Islamic states. In the 21st century this doesn’t make sense. After a few hundred years of humanism and rationalism you’d think the world would know better.

In fact the world does know better. God is no longer an unknown entity. The Enlightenment and it’s revolutionaries revealed a long time ago that god is a human creation. “His” only purpose in the past was to create a distraction. And “His” only purpose now is to create chaos – cue the CIA.

Today’s world was created in the 1980s. After Vietnam, the gods living in and around Washington D.C. had a plan: zero taxes and zero standards for the rich. And god for everyone else. It was crude. But crude capitalism likes a crusade.

This proposal, however, wasn’t just for America but for the world. It reflected a mindset that was not only totalitarian but was also simplistic and vindictive. It sought to control life on earth at both the macro-level and the micro-level. And god help anyone who got in the way.

To cover up it’s profound imperialism, Washington D.C. around 1980 covered itself in religion: President Reagan mobilised the Protestants; his director of the CIA, William Casey, mobilised the Catholics; and Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, mobilised the Moslems. The Jews were already mobilised so they just followed (or led) the pack. And the Hindus weren’t far behind.

As a result of all this Machiavellian metaphysics an almighty tsunami of religion washed over the earth during the 1980s (we’re still drowning in it). God became a weapon of mass destruction. And “He” was aimed at all those who criticised the rich and celebrated the victory of Vietnam. The popes, preachers and prophets were unleashed.

It was the imams however which became the heroes of Washington D.C. Because it was they who fatally wounded the USSR and Yugoslavia. In books like Devils Game by Robert Dreyfuss and The Lost Hegemon by F. William Engdahl, the Holy Alliance between Islamic fundamentalism and the CIA is laid out for all to see.

While Opus Dei (the Roman rapists) and the evangelicals (the gospel gangbangers) did god’s dirty work in the Americas, Africa and Europe – the jihadis did god’s filthiest work in the Orient. The horrendous Afghan jihad (Operation Cyclone) which Brzezinski started in 1979 became the template for US policy throughout the Orient (Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Syria). Indeed jihad emerged as Washington’s only answer to the rise of China. On the grand chessboard the White House was a thousand years behind it’s opponents. It had voluntarily abandoned reason in favour of religious terror.

Listen to the CIA deep thinker and RAND Corporation philosopher, Graham E. Fuller, speaking in the late 1990s:

“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”

This is the guts of recent and current US strategy – straight from the horse’s mouth (or asshole). It’s not complicated – it’s completely nuts. Rather than being based on trade – it’s based on traditional ignorance. Instead of fanning the warm glow of international cooperation. It wilfully fans a conflagration of medieval mendacity. It’s not a pivot towards Asia but a pivot towards hell.

And the reason for this obscurantism? It’s to be found in the physical part of metaphysics. It’s to be found in the bowels of the earth. It’s the oil and gas and whatever else the US must steal and spoil to “keep America great forever”. As chief US strategist George F. Kennan wrote in 1948:

“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period [the coming century] is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality…. We should cease to talk about vague…. unreal objectives such as human rights [humanism, rationalism, secularism, modernism], the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

The straightest “power concept” of them all is: god. And the oldest “pattern of relationships” is also summed up in the word: god. “He” is up there and we are down here. And our job is to worship “Him”. Washington D.C. liked this model because after Vietnam it was the last model they had left in their reactionary political / philosophical arsenal. And around 1980 they used it with a vengeance. After 1980 Washington D.C. was Mecca, Jerusalem and the Vatican rolled into one. God’s word was and still is “the Washington Consensus” plus the Pentagon. And god help anyone who got in the way.

So who is in the way of the “Washington Caliphate”? Where is the current “axis of evil”? You guessed it: Syria, Russia and North Korea. The Arab Republic, the communist state and the ex-communist empire refuse to genuflect to the White House. And for committing this secular sin the mindless gods are mercilessly kneecapping them.

These three rebel states however continue to resist. In the face of almighty pressure each refuses to surrender their pride and sovereignty.

We’re witnessing a battle of wills like never before. This arc of resistance which stretches across the Eurasian landmass – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Japan – is Brzezinski’s worst nightmare come true. Indeed viewed as one instead of three it is a formidable barrier to the totalitarian ambition of the CIA. Viewed as one instead of three it can prevail.

Why can they prevail? Because they possess the fire of the gods. They possess that which made the gods in Washington D.C. great in the first place: independence and reason. Syria, Russia and North Korea harken back to a time when modernism meant something – a time when western imperialism was the problem rather than the solution. And for this reason alone their perspective is a thousand times more real than the perspective of the god-lovers who terrorise them.

And the fire? The ultimate fire which they possess and will protect them is the nuclear bomb. Good old fashioned science (Prometheus) has given Russia and North Korea – and indirectly Syria too – the key to freedom. Say what you like about the nuclear bomb but in the hands of the weak – the Empire must back down. And in the space created we can breathe. And recall the fact that god is dead. And the emperor in Washington is wearing no clothes.

Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.

April 23, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Hillary Clinton Really Lost

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 19, 2017

An early insider account of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, entitled Shattered, reveals a paranoid presidential candidate who couldn’t articulate why she wanted to be President and who oversaw an overconfident and dysfunctional operation that failed to project a positive message or appeal to key voting groups.

Okay, I realize that people who have been watching Rachel Maddow and other MSNBC programs – as well as reading The New York Times and The Washington Post for the past four months – “know” that Clinton ran a brilliant campaign that was only derailed because of “Russian meddling.” But this insider account from reporters Jonathan Allen and Annie Parnes describes something else.

As The Wall Street Journal review notes, the book “narrates the petty bickering, foolish reasoning and sheer arrogance of a campaign that was never the sure thing that its leader and top staffers assumed. … Mr. Allen and Ms. Parnes stress two essential failures of the campaign, the first structural, the second political. The campaign’s structure, the authors write, was an ‘unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, and no sense of greater purpose.’”

The book portrays Hillary Clinton as distant from her campaign staff, accessible primarily through her close aide, Huma Abedin, and thus creating warring factions within her bloated operation.

According to the Journal’s review by Barton Swaim, the book’s authors suggest that this chaos resulted from “the fact that Mrs. Clinton didn’t know why she wanted to be president. At one point no fewer than 10 senior aides were working on her campaign announcement speech, not one had a clear understanding of why Americans should cast their vote for Mrs. Clinton and not someone else. The speech, when she finally delivered it, was a flop – aimless, boring, devoid of much beyond bromides.”

The book cites a second reason for Clinton’s dismal performance – her team’s reliance on analytics rather than on reaching out to real voters and their concerns.

There is also an interesting tidbit regarding Clinton’s attitude toward the privacy of her staff’s emails. “After losing to Mr. Obama in the protracted 2008 primary,” the Journal’s review says, Clinton “was convinced that she had lost because some staffers – she wasn’t sure who – had been disloyal. So she ‘instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the [email] messages sent and received by top staffers.’”

Nixonian Paranoia

In other words, Clinton – in some Nixonian fit of paranoia – violated the privacy of her senior advisers in her own mole hunt, a revelation that reflects on her own self-described “mistake” to funnel her emails as Secretary of State through a private server rather than a government one. As the Journal’s review puts it: “she didn’t want anyone reading her emails the way she was reading those of her 2008 staffers.”

But there is even a greater irony in this revelation because of the current complaint from Clinton and her die-hard supporters that Russia sabotaged her campaign by releasing emails via WikiLeaks from the DNC, which described how party leaders had torpedoed the campaign of Clinton’s rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and other emails from her campaign chairman John Podesta, revealing the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street banks and some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

WikiLeaks has denied that it received the emails from Russia – and President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs presented no real evidence to support the allegations – but the conspiracy theory of the Trump campaign somehow colluding with the Russians to sink Clinton has become a groupthink among many Democrats as well as the mainstream U.S. media.

So, rather than conducting a serious autopsy on how Clinton and the national Democratic Party kicked away a winnable election against the buffoonish Donald Trump, national Democrats have created a Zombie explanation for their failures, blaming their stunning defeat on the Russians.

This hysteria over Russia-gate has consumed the first several months of the Trump presidency – badgering the Trump administration into a more belligerent posture toward nuclear-armed Russia – but leaving little incentive for the Democrats to assess what they need to do to appeal to working-class voters who chose Trump’s empty-headed populism over Clinton’s cold-hearted calculations.

The current conventional wisdom among the mainstream media, many Democrats and even some progressives is that the only way to explain the victory by pussy-grabbing Trump is to complain about an intervention by the evil Russians. Maybe Maddow and the other Russia-did-it conspiracy theorists will now denounce Shattered as just one more example of “Russian disinformation.”

The Times’ View

The New York Times’ review by Michiko Kakutani also notes how Shattered details Clinton’s dysfunction, but the newspaper inserted a phrase about “Russian meddling,” presumably to avoid a head-exploding cognitive dissonance among its readers who have been inundated over the past four months by the Times’ obsession on Russia! Russia! Russia!

However, the Times’ review still focuses on the book’s larger message: “In fact, the portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned ‘a winnable race’ into ‘another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.’

“It’s the story of a wildly dysfunctional and ‘spirit-crushing’ campaign that embraced a flawed strategy (based on flawed data) and that failed, repeatedly, to correct course. A passive-aggressive campaign that neglected to act on warning flares sent up by Democratic operatives on the ground in crucial swing states, and that ignored the advice of the candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, and other Democratic Party elders, who argued that the campaign needed to work harder to persuade undecided and ambivalent voters (like working-class whites and millennials), instead of focusing so insistently on turning out core supporters.”

So, perhaps this new book about how Hillary Clinton really lost Campaign 2016 will enable national Democrats to finally start charting a course correction before the party slams another Titanic-style campaign into another iceberg.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Book Review | , | 1 Comment

Jeff Bezos, Amazon endorse holocaust denial!

By Kevin Barrett | Veterans Today | March 8, 2107 (UPDATED)

In what amounts to a ringing endorsement of the claims of Holocaust revisionists, Amazon.com has apparently concluded that their books cannot be effectively refuted – and therefore must be banned.

M.S. King, author of The Bad War, has been notified that his book has been banned  from Amazon. The explanation:

We’re contacting you regarding the following book: The Bad War: The Truth NEVER Taught About World War II. During our review process, we found that this content is in violation of our content guidelines. As a result, we cannot offer this book for sale.

Amazon did not explain precisely which guidelines had been violated, nor did it cite specific passages. Therefore the “violations” claim is an obvious lie. The real reason King’s book and others were banned is that Jewish-Zionist pressure groups have mounted a campaign (timed to accompany the “cemetery desecration” PR stunt?) aimed at making Holocaust revisionism books unavailable. Obviously they believe the revisionists’ claims are irrefutable — and have convinced Amazon that such is the case.

Are the same people who are knocking over headstones in cemeteries also pressuring Amazon to remove holocaust revisionism books? That would certainly fit their standard “problem-reaction-solution” methodology.

After MS King emailed me about the suppression of his book, I searched Amazon to see if the handful of holocaust revisionism titles I’m familiar with were still there. (Disclaimer: I have only read a few books on this subject and am not a revisionist, just an open-minded truth-seeker and defender of freedom of inquiry.)

So which books have been taken down?

Thomas Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides is by far the best book I have read on the Holocaust controversy. It is thorough, precise, well-documented, and lays out a convincing prima facia case that holocaust revisionism needs to be taken seriously. Scholarly, dispassionate, and utterly lacking in anything that could remotely be called “hate” or bigotry, Debating the Holocaust is no longer available on Amazon. And that is an outrage.

Nick Kollerstrom’s Breaking the Spell is also missing in action from Amazon.com. A History of Science Ph.D. with a specialty in chemistry, Dr. Kollerstrom was summarily fired, with no reason given, from University College of London after he published a scholarly article critiquing the evidence for mass execution cyanide gas chambers in the Nazi camps. His book Breaking the Spell lays out his conclusions — including his explanation of how the rumor of mass gassings was initiated by British war propagandists in 1942, then snowballed as the Nazis applied copious amounts of Zyklon-B in minature “gas chambers” to the clothing and bedding of inmates to kill lice and stem that summer’s typhus outbreak.

So now Kollerstrom has not only been fired for voicing heretical views, but he can’t even offer them in book form to the mass reading public.

Another revisionist I’ve read, though not extensively, is Dr. Robert Faurisson. A convert to Islam, Faurisson is wildly popular in Morocco, where his books were recommended to me by academic colleagues there during my year of Fulbright-sponsored Ph.D. research in 1999-2000.

Has Faurisson’s Amazon catalogue been tampered with? I can’t tell; but there certainly is a shocking paucity of affordable Faurisson offerings there. The only volume  of his available for less than $40 is the 1981 Journal of Historical Review v.2 n.4 he co-edited with Phillip Beck. The bulk of his work is “currently unavailable.”

How about Germar Rudolf, who (like Faurisson) has actually been imprisoned for his scholarly efforts on this controversial subject? I’m not really familiar with his work, but I understand that he is considered one of the most serious scholars in the revisionism field. Are his books still on Amazon? Apparently they are. But for how long?

Update: Rudolf’s books are in fact being removed – see below

Another very strong pro-holocaust-revisionism voice still up on Amazon is Gerard Menuhin, whose Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil is now selling for $90. It’s a passionate, eye-opening book, capable of upsetting mainstream readers’ preconceptions about a whole range of issues.

Listen to my radio interview with Gerard Menuhin.

And how about David Irving, who is considered a revisionist by Hollywood but not by most actual revisionists? Irving’s supposed masterpiece, Hitler’s War, is still available — for $80. (Apparently there is a market for these disreputable and dangerous books.)

The above list covers the “revisionists” I know anything about.

How about those who argue against them?

Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman’s Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? is available for less than five dollars. Unfortunately for anyone who cares about rational arguments and empirical evidence, Denying History is clearly inferior to Thomas Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust, which is no longer available on Amazon at any price.

Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, possibly the best-known anti-revisionism book, is also the most shockingly vapid. Lipstadt makes little effort to argue her case on its merits, but instead spends virtually the entire 304 pages lobbing hysterical ad-hominem arguments. The only sane reaction to Lipstadt’s unbelievably lame volume is: “If this is the best the anti-revisionists can do, no wonder they have to try to get revisionists’ books banned!” You can get a used copy for less than two dollars and fifty cents.

So here is the takeaway:

Attention, Amazon shoppers! You can still buy bad and mediocre books arguing that holocaust revisionists are wrong — but you are not permitted to buy better books (including at least one very good book, Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust) that might lead you to the opposite conclusion.

 

Update: This just in from Germar Rudolph (who also published his own blog post “Amazon Mass-Bans Dissident Materials:   Hundreds of Titles Erased within a Day”)

Dear Dr. Barrett:

In your latest article, which I read with interest and gratitude, you write about a handful of revisionist books. Well, what an understatement. While Castle Hill Publishers might be the biggest fish in the revisionist teapot, we’re by far not the only ones publishing books in that field. But from our program alone, the following 68 titles were banned on March 6. Use the links provided to see for yourself.

Books by Castle Hill Publishers, Online Availability as of March 8, 2017
Title ISBN Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Hoax of the Twentieth… 1591480795 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz 1591480744 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Der Holocaust: Die Argumente 1591480310 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Dissolution of Eastern… 1591480833 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Holocaust High Priest 159148085X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auswanderung der Juden… 1591480841 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The “Extermination Camps”… 1591480876 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The “Extermination Camps”… 1591480884 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Real Case for Auschwitz 1591480892 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Schiffbruch 1591480272 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Vorlesungen über den Holocaust 1591480906 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Die Bunker von Auschwitz 1591480531 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Der Holocaust vor Gericht 0955716209 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Die Leuchter-Gutachten 1591480655 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Air Photo Evidence 1591480760 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Giant with Feet of Clay 1591480787 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Der Jahrhundertbetrug 159148068X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Die Zentralbauleitung… 1591480507 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Chelmno 159148040X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Sobibor 0955716284 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Der Auschwitz-Mythos 1591480817 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Kardinalfragen an Deutschlands… 1591480337 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Cremation Furnaces… 1591480914 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Cremation Furnaces… 1591480922 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Cremation Furnaces… 1591480930 Amazon USA Amazon UK
“Die Vernichtung der… 1591480949 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Breaking the Spell 1591480973 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Debating the Holocaust 1591480868 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Central Construction Office… 1591481120 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Dissecting the Holocaust 0967985625 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The First Holocaust 1591481163 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Leuchter Reports 159148118X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Exactitude 159148121X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Holocaust-Revisionismus 1591481244 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Jewish Emigration from the Third… 1591481252 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Debunking the Bunkers… 1591481260 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Plain Facts 1591481325 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten 1591481317 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Die erste Vergasung 1591481341 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Feuerzeichen: Die… 1591481309 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: The First Gassing 1591481333 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Das Konzentrationslager Stutthof 159148135X Amazon USA Amazon UK
Curated Lies 1591481279 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Concentration Camp Stutthof 1591481368 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Fail: “Debunking Holocaust… 1591481449 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Special Treatment in Auschwitz 1591481422 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz Lies 1591481392 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Sonderbehandlung in Auschwitz 1591481228 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Tell the Truth and Shame… 1591481414 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Gesundheitsfürsorge… 591481503 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Holocaust: An Introduction 1591481465 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Fail: “Denying the Holocaust” 1591481538 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Crematorium I 1591481562 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Krematorium I 1591481554 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz: Open-Air… 1591481589 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Freiluftverbrennungen… 1591481570 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Belzec 1591481627 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Treblinka 1591481597 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Sobibor 1591481430 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Concentration Camp Majdanek 1591481600 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Inside the Gas Chambers 1591481619 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auschwitz-Lügen 1591481406 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Till Bastian, Auschwitz und… 1591481457 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Fail: “Denying History” 1591481481 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Healthcare in Auschwitz 1591481236 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Gas Vans 1591481643 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Der Holocaust: Die Argumente 1591481678 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Chelmno 1591481716 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Interestingly, if you look at the list of banned books, you might be astonished to find among them books which aren’t even dealing with “the Holocaust” as such:
Non-Denial Books by Castle Hill Publishers, also banned
Title ISBN Amazon USA Amazon UK
Auswanderung der Juden… 1591480841 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Jewish Emigration from the Third… 1591481252 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The First Holocaust 1591481163 Amazon USA Amazon UK
The Central Construction Office… 1591481120 Amazon USA Amazon UK
Die Zentralbauleitung… 1591480507 Amazon USA Amazon UK

The first two deal with Jewish emigration from the Third Reich prior to the war. It is based on mainstream sources and does not touch upon the extermination issue. The third deals with Jewish fundraising campaigns during and after the FIRST World War, and does therefore already for chronological reason not deal with the Jewish Holocaust of the SECOND World War. The last two books are highly esoteric studies of the organization, responsibilities and activities of the Central Construction Office at Auschwitz, which was in charge of building and maintaining the camp’s infrastructure. It is based on original wartime archival material and is not dealing with extermination claims of Auschwitz at all. The book has even been cited as a source by mainstream historians.

The sweeping mass ban enforced within hours, and the senseless aimlessness and random nature with which it was implemented, clearly show that these books were not pulled because their content was checked and found impermissible, but because someone (probably Yad Vashem) had sent them a list of items to ban, and Amazon simply complied by checking off all the items on that list.

Best regards

Germar Rudolf
Production Manager
=========
Castle Hill Publishers & CODOH
Book Shop, Customer Service
PO Box 243
Uckfield, TN22 9AW, UK

April 16, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

An Avoidable Disaster

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Amazon.com

On a day which had earlier been foggy but was now clear and calm, some passengers aboard the Lusitania stood on deck and watched the ‘dead wake’ of a German U-boat torpedo heading towards the bow of the ship. It was 7th May 1915; Europe was engulfed in war while the USA was desperately maintaining its position of neutrality. Larson tells the story of the last voyage of the Lusitania, its passengers and crew, and the wider political situation that gave rise to the circumstances in which the ship was left unprotected in waters in which it was known U-boats were operating.

Larson starts with a prologue about the evening before the attack. Before she sailed from New York, the Germans had threatened they would attack the Lusitania, but the passengers weren’t particularly anxious. The Lusitania had been built for speed, the fastest ship of its time. Captain William Turner was confident she could outrun any U-boat. Anyway, given the threat and the knowledge that U-boats were operating around the coasts of Britain and Ireland, there was a general confidence that the Royal Navy would be on hand to escort them for the last dangerous stage of the journey.

Larson uses four main strands to tell the full story of what happened. We learn about the codebreakers of the British Admiralty who had obtained the German codes and were, therefore, able to track U-boat movements with a fair degree of accuracy. Eerily reminiscent of the Bletchley codebreakers of WW2, there was the same dilemma as to how often to act on information obtained – too often and the Germans would work out that their codes had been cracked, and change them. So some ships were left unprotected, sacrifices, almost, to the greater war effort. Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time and was desperate to draw the US into the war on the British side. There appears to be little doubt that he felt that if German U-boats sank ships with American citizens aboard, this might be a decisive factor.

Secondly, Larson takes us aboard U-20, the U-boat that would fire the fatal torpedo, and introduces us to its Captain, Walther Schwieger. By using Schwieger’s logs amongst other sources, Larson creates an absorbing and authentic-feeling depiction of life aboard the ship, including a lot of fascinating detail about how U-boats actually worked – the logistical difficulties of diving, with the weight constantly changing as the amount of fuel aboard decreased; and how the crew would have to run from place to place to keep the boat level when manoeuvring. Larson widens this out to tell of some of the dangers for these early submarines, and some of the horrific accidents that had happened to them. And he takes us further, into the ever-changing policy of the German government with regards to the sinking of passenger and merchant ships.

The third aspect revolves around President Wilson and America’s lengthy vacillations before finally committing to war. Politically hoping to sit it out while Britain bore the brunt, Wilson was also suffering personally from the loss of his much-loved wife, closely followed by what sounds like a rather adolescent rush of passion for another woman. It appears that he spent as much time a-wooing as a-Presidenting, and his desire to spend his life taking his new love out for romantic drives meant that he seemed almost infinitely capable of overlooking Germany’s constant breaches of the rules regarding neutral nations. (I should say the harshness of this interpretation is mine – Larson gives the facts but doesn’t draw the conclusions quite as brutally as I have done. Perhaps because he’s American and I’m British. But he leaves plenty of space for the reader to draw her own conclusions.)

The fourth section, and the one that humanizes the story is the voyage of the Lusitania itself. Larson introduces us to many of the passengers, telling us a little of their lives before the voyage so that we come to care about them. There were many children aboard, including young infants. Some people were bringing irreplaceable art and literary objects across in the way of business. There were pregnant women, and nannies and servants, and of course the crew. Larson explains that the crew was relatively inexperienced as so many sailors had been absorbed into the war effort. While they carried out regular drills, logistics meant they couldn’t actually lower all the lifeboats during them, so that when the disaster actually happened this lack of experience fed into the resulting loss of life. But he also shows the heroism of many of the crew and some of the passengers, turning their backs on their own safety to assist others. Even so, the loss of life was massive, and by telling the personal stories of some who died and others who survived but lost children or parents or lovers, Larson brings home the intimate tragedies that sometimes get lost in the bigger picture.

And finally, Larson tells of the aftermath, both personal for some of the survivors or grieving relatives of the dead; and political, in terms of the subsequent investigations in Britain into what went wrong, and Wilson’s attempts to ensure that even a direct attack on US citizens wouldn’t drag his country into war.

Larson balances the political and personal just about perfectly in the book, I feel. His excellent writing style creates the kind of tension normally associated with a novel rather than a factual book, and his careful characterisation of many of the people involved gives a human dimension that is often missing from straight histories. He doesn’t shy away from the politics, though, and each of the governments, British, German and American, come in for their fair share of harsh criticism, including some of the individuals within them. An excellent book, thoroughly researched and well told – highly recommended.

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

New Book Offers Timely Rejoinder to Hugo Chavez Bashing in Media

By Joe Emersberger – teleSUR – April 6, 2017

Right from the opening pages of Eirik Vold’s “Hugo Chavez: The Bolivarian Revolution from Up Close” there was no doubt that the book was going to be very lively and readable, but I had a concern. Would the author make himself the hero of his own book? Was this going to be really heavy on what it felt like (to him) to be in Venezuela while Chavez was in office, but very light on analysis? Fortunately not. He provides a fair and very insightful assessment of the Chavez years.

Vold is from Norway. His book was translated from Norwegian by Paul Russell Garrett. Vold lived mainly in Venezuela during Chavez’s time in office which was from 1999 until his death in 2013. Vold arrived in Venezuela for the first time fours months after Chavez had been briefly overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup in 2002. Out of journalistic curiosity, and practical necessity, Vold established enduring friendships with people who loathed Chavez and others who adored him.

Vold’s friend Omaira, a middle-aged working mom from the Caracas slum known as the 23 de Enero, illustrates better than graphs of economic data ever could the immense gamble the poor took on Chavez. The early years of the Chavez presidency made life harder, not easier for Omaira. Vold’s book allows readers to appreciate how excruciatingly long those years must have felt, but Omaira blamed the opposition and trusted Chavez to eventually deliver. She was right on both counts. The combination of the 2002 coup and management-led sabotage did immense damage to the economy. But after those efforts to force him from office were defeated, Chavez rewarded millions of people like Omaira who had stuck by him through those battles. By 2004, Omaira and her daughter were able to continue their long interrupted education thanks to government support (through a program named Mission Ribas).“Omaira was almost offended,” Vold writes “when I admitted that I had not heard of all the social reforms and all the things that had happened in her barrio over the past few months. ‘Maybe you are watching too much opposition TV’ she commented.”

Wildly dishonest Venezuelan (and international) media, NGOs and pollsters are prominent in Vold’s book. Constantly lying in front of millions of Venezuelans like Omaira – whom the elite had long grown accustomed to ignoring – was not a wise opposition strategy considering the poverty rate was 50 percent when Chavez first took office and rose to 60 percent by the end of the infamous “oil strike” in 2003. One reason Chavez expanded state media was to inform the poor of what was now available to them: “How do poor, pregnant women make use of the new birth centers if they do not know where they are or that their services are free? And what if they believed in the media’s claims that the Cuban doctors were killers?” asked Vold.

He describes various changes in Omaira’s barrio that had taken place by 2006 that a journalist from a rich country, if willing to venture out of wealthy neighborhoods, would miss even if political bias were not a problem. Vold did the work and built the long-term relationships that enabled him to grasp why Chavez was beloved by millions who were effectively marginalized before he transformed Venezuelan politics.

Vold’s friend Antonio, a businessman from East Caracas, had a completely different perspective. Much of Antonio’s hatred was fueled by consuming opposition media and talking to friends and neighbors who did the same. Vold’s first friendships and experiences in Venezuela were in East Caracas. His opinion, in the midst of the chaos and violence during the “oil strike” taking place when he had very recently arrived, was that Chavez should resign to prevent some kind of civil war from breaking out.

Vold quickly broke out of the East Caracas bubble. However, Vold believes that one of Antonio’s accounts of corruption within Chavista ranks rang true, about being offered overpriced contracts in exchange for money under the table. Vold argues that Chavista opponents, particularly the private media, were caught lying and exaggerating so often that it actually helped corrupt officials evade accountability.

Vold is blunt in addressing what he sees as the failures of the Chavez years: violent crime increased mainly because the judiciary was never effectively reformed and poor planning and execution of infrastructure projects was a factor, but he ridicules the western establishment’s assessment of the Chavez years: “Presumably Venezuela is the only country in the world where turning a falling GDP into growth, and reducing inflation and unemployment by half, is considered an economic catastrophe by media and experts.”

He discussed an incident that shows how much more broad the Western imperial establishment is than is often understood. WikiLeaks exposed the activity of Statoil, “a legitimate child of Norway’s own oil nationalization,” in Venezuela where it conspired with U.S. diplomats and others to try to organize an illegal secret boycott of Venezuelan oil. Vold remarked that “many millions spent on marketing the ‘kinder’ Statoil brand went up in smoke on the day the WikiLeaks documents were released.”

In discussing U.S. support for efforts to topple Chavez by any means, it is much to Vold’s credit that he explains the numerous similarities with U.S. attacks against Aristide’s government in Haiti during the early 2000s. Aristide was eventually kidnapped by U.S. troops in February 2004, but the groundwork was laid through economic sanctions and through the funding of the opposition through USAID and NED (the National Endowment for Democracy).

Of course, the economic depression Venezuela is going through today is eagerly blamed on Chavez by the same outfits that lied about and distorted his years in office relentlessly. Vold’s book would have been even better with a chapter devoted to assessing that claim: that the Chavez years made the present crisis inevitable and that the only answer is to discard Chavismo. The root causes of the present crisis, as most effectively explained by UNASUR’s special economic team, are technical though there is certainly a political component – including a component of domestic and international sabotage. Would Chavez have had the political capital to make the required adjustments? I wish Vold had addressed that question.

I can only hope that Vold is correct in concluding that as long as “the echo of ‘Hurricane Hugo’ continues to resound through the hillsides of Caracas and the villages and the barrios in the rest of Venezuela, never again will the majority quietly accept being forced into degradation.”

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

This Madness Deserves a Protest: an Inside Account at US Nuclear Weapons Strategy

By Joan Roelofs | CounterPunch | April 5, 2017

“In contrast to the Soviet Union, the United States has always maintained its ‘right’ to carry out a nuclear first strike. This has never changed and was reaffirmed by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter . . . on September 27, 2016.”

— Diana Johnstone, From MAD to Madness.

There is not much hope for the retraction of this threat. On March 21, Reuters reported “Trump has said that while he would like to see nuclear weapons abolished, he wants the United States to have an unrivaled arsenal. He also said that the United States has ‘fallen behind’ in its nuclear capabilities, even though it is in the midst of a 30-year, $1.3 trillion drive to modernize what most experts agree is the world’s most powerful nuclear force.”

An insider’s memoir, From MAD to Madness, by Paul H. Johnstone, describing the persistence of the US nuclear threat has recently been published by Clarity Press. Johnstone was a senior analyst in the Strategic Weapons Evaluation Group in the Department of Defense, directing studies on the probable consequences of nuclear war, to us and to them, and also an author of The Pentagon Papers. He died in 1981, leaving his memoir to his daughter, author (and CounterPunch contributor) Diana Johnstone. He had previously served in World War II as an evaluator of Japanese enemy targets, but as Diana says here: “Hiroshima changed the nature of targeting dramatically, and that is the story my father tells in his memoir.”

In this book Diana has finally published his “Memoir of a Humanist in the Pentagon,” along with her added commentary and a foreword by Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts expresses in a nutshell the contemporary horrific relevance of the book: “The neoconservatives in pursuit of their goal of US world hegemony have resurrected the possibility of nuclear war. The neocons have taken us from MAD to madness.”

The neocons are not some far-right fringe group; they represent the mainstream of US foreign policy in recent Democratic and Republican administrations. The political use of the nuclear threat has a long history. It was inaugurated by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a political decision opposed by the military. Admiral Leahy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote: “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. . .” The Truman Doctrine (1947) indicated that there were no regrets. It stated in effect that any country that appeared to be adopting a communist form of government, whether through outside intervention, civil war, or ordinary elections, would be subject to whatever punishment the United States chose to inflict, not excluding nuclear attack.

Johnstone traces the “breather” in our policy characterized by MAD—the idea that Mutually Assured Destruction: a path to mutual suicide—was a deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons. This realization by our government occurred once Soviet nuclear capability became obvious. However, as Roberts notes, after the Soviet collapse in the 1990s the US “resurrected nuclear weapons as usable weapons of war. The Obama regime . . . authorized a trillion dollar expenditure for nuclear weapons, and US war doctrine elevated nukes from a retaliatory role to pre-emptive first strike.” Roberts, who was United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Reagan in 1981, maintains that Reagan and Gorbachev “eliminated the risk of Armageddon by negotiating the end of the Cold War.”

Johnstone’s exposition of US nuclear policy is sobering, and his special vantage point as an insider is a revelation about how foreign policy is concocted. The conclusions and the process are both astonishing.

Although the Cold War, often hot, was fought in many parts of the world, Johnstone’s main task was to assess the consequences of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Its probability was not a major concern for the analysts; plenty of those on our side were raring to use this super weapon.

Johnstone worked with the assistance of many teams, task forces, and committees. He noted that among those charged with divining Soviet intentions, few had any expertise on the subject: “Kennan was shunted aside. . . as insufficiently anti-Soviet.” State Department analysis or research was rarely seen or considered significant by the military or White House representatives on the committees. “Kennedy. . . seems to have depended far more on his longstanding, seat-of-the-pants notions of how to interpret Soviet intentions.”

“Almost never was there any suggestion that Soviet arms were in any way defensive, or that the Soviets feared us.” A related insider study of the decision-making process in the Kennedy White House is James C. Thomson, Jr.’s “How Could Vietnam Happen? An Autopsy.”

At the time (and now, in spades) intelligence sources were multiplex. Each of the military branches had its own intelligence division, in addition to outside contractors. There were also the agencies of the State Department, the CIA and the NSA; spies working for the Commerce and Agriculture Departments; overseas (especially Latin American) operations of the FBI; and “debriefings” of anyone who had traveled to any sensitive area, including exchange students and professors, journalists, the burgeoning INGO (International Non-Governmental Organizations) crowd, and real or fake businesspeople. In the confusion, the information that reached the senior operational people was determined by biases all along the way, including assumptions about what the President wanted to hear. An eloquent recounting of how fantasies were substituted for accurate information about Southeast Asia can be found in Ralph McGeHee’s Deadly Deceits.

Interservice rivalries influenced the strategy envisioned for a future war. At first the Air Force had a near monopoly on weapons, so the Army advocated for conventional warfare.

Later, all branches had nuclear delivery systems, and competing for budget allocations, advocated their use.  An addition to the Navy’s arsenal was very recently announced: “The US preemptive nuclear strike capability has significantly grown. The strategic nuclear forces modernization program has implemented new revolutionary technologies to vastly increase the targeting capability of the US submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) arsenal.”

In the post-WWII period, despite all the analysts recruited for this task, there was great uncertainty in all the calculations of damage to the economic base, civilians, and the very structure of a society targeted with nuclear weapons. Assumptions were often made on the basis of earlier wars, where destruction of factories and resources was intended to disable armament production. Before nuclear weapons, the theory was that wars could be fought and won by this type of strategic bombing. However, after a nuclear attack, the military, political, and environmental consequences of initial radiation and continuing fallout, with or without shelters, could never be determined; only imagined.

Nevertheless, the military advisors on the committees had a hunch that a pre-emptive strike to destroy the USSR would be the least destructive option, so their hearts were in it. They assumed that a nuclear exchange would create millions of casualties in the US, but that “the US would continue to exist as an organized and viable nation, and ultimately would prevail, whereas the USSR would not.”

Much more attention was paid to the prospect of nuclear annihilation of the Soviet Union than the consequences of an initial or retaliatory attack on the United States. Johnstone’s sober view was that any issue that precipitated a war would be dissolved by the ensuing devastation; there could be no victor in a nuclear war.

Johnstone includes two case studies in which his Weapons Systems Evaluation Group participated: the Laos Crisis of 1960-1961 and the Berlin Crisis of 1961. In the case of Berlin, plans were prepared for stages of retaliation all the way to nuclear war in anticipation of the USSR interfering with traffic from the West into Berlin on the Autobahn. The Soviets had been requesting identification or delaying document checking in ways that the US considered unwarranted. These “microaggressions” were interpreted as merely a prelude to a showdown. As an additional indication of our resolve to protect our access to Berlin, the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that we should go to war in Southeast Asia.

At no time during these crises, or in the planning for nuclear war, did Johnstone note any concern by committee members for international law, not only its prohibitions, but also its many mechanisms for resolving disputes. War had been outlawed by the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928. The Charter of the United Nations, a ratified treaty commitment of the US, prohibits war as an instrument of foreign policy; even the threat of war is an international crime.

Article 2, Section 4: All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Customary international law prohibits any weapon that does not discriminate between civilians and combatants. This was used by the International Court of Justice in its 1996 advisory opinion on the use of nuclear weapons:

It follows from the above-mentioned requirements that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.

However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 1970, requires nuclear-weapon countries to undertake progressive nuclear disarmament toward the goal of complete elimination of nuclear weapons. This is not the direction being followed by the US, among other signatories.

Johnstone began his federal service in 1937 as a historian in the Department of Agriculture, and Diana notes that his career mirrored the changes in the US economy: “America turned from farming to bombing as the basis of its industrial economy. . .” Yet the Cold War itself, although tragically affirmed by the nuclear bombing of Japan, has a much longer history (some say it started in 1848), and includes US and allied participation in the “hot” invasion of the USSR after the 1917 Revolution and the US corporate assistance during the 1930s in creating Hitler’s war machine. This buildup proceeded apace, with the participation of the great US corporations. During the same period, the President exercised a Congressional mandate to prohibit arms trades that supported war. It was imposed on a US corporation, Curtiss-Wright, selling arms to Bolivia for its border war against Paraguay: the Chaco War. As it turned out, that was not the greatest threat to world peace.

Johnstone believed that our Cold War policies were irrational, and that we could have made friends with the anti-colonial, nationalistic revolutionary movements that our “anti-Communist obsession . . . led us to oppose.” Maybe it is a question of who is “us”?

The vast population of the US, rich in resources, inventiveness, and skilled labor could easily have co-existed with socialist societies, intent on self-development and willingly engaging in fair trade. Multinational corporations, however, were challenged by nations that wanted to expel their oil rigs, gold miners, sweatshops, cigarettes, pesticides, telephone services, chemical factories, waste dumps, and even innocent Coca-Cola.

The military and the increasingly gigantic industries equipping it wanted bases everywhere, and somewhat plausible threats that would justify annual upgrading of the lethal arsenal. Wars now and then that would enable testing and destruction of weapons were also useful for the advancement of warriors and profits of contractors. Furthermore, revolutions that were allowed to succeed and improve the lives of people might create imitators in our land of vast wealth accompanied by astounding poverty and misery.

Yet neither Roberts nor Johnstone discusses the role of multinational corporations and the military-industrial complex in motivating and perpetuating the post-WWII Cold War. They attributed major influence on US policy to anti-Soviet émigrés (Kissinger, Brzezinski and others) from Eastern Europe. A high-level Air Force intelligence “Special Studies Group,” headed by a Hungarian émigré “expert” predicted in every annual appraisal that there would be “a massive Russian land attack on Western Europe the following year.”

The worldwide cold war between capitalism and socialism continues—in Cuba, among other places—and there is now also the megalomaniac goal of world hegemony. The projected attack by the now-capitalist Russia is still awaited, despite indications that the Russians want to eliminate the specter of civilization’s total nuclear destruction. Johnstone’s sober prediction in From MAD to Madness: “there can be no victor in a nuclear war” must be given priority by the newly-awakened activists. The abolition of nuclear weapons would be a step towards sanity.

madtomadnessJoan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996) and translator, with Shawn P. Wilbur, of Charles Fourier’s anti-war fantasy, World War of Small Pastries, Autonomedia, 2015. Web site: www.joanroelofs.wordpress.com  Contact: joan.roelofs@myfairpoint.net

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Reflections on Mark Steyn’s ‘A Disgrace to the Profession’ about Dr. Michael Mann

a-disgrace-to-the-profession

By Rick Wallace | Watts Up With That ? | March 29, 2017

Mark Steyn’s A Disgrace to the Profession is a compilation of scientific commentary on Michael Mann and his work and is a valuable antidote to the idea that questioning or criticizing this particular researcher is an overt admission of ignorance, let alone an “attack on science”. What I will argue in this essay is that Steyn has done serious students of the AGW hysteria an even greater service. In fact, this work reveals some features of the hysteria that are, I think, critical for understanding it in depth. The present essay, which will elaborate on this point, is intended as a contribution to the study of what one of those quoted in Steyn’s book called “pathological science”.

For those who aren’t familiar with the work, Steyn’s book is a collection of highly critical comments by scientists of varying degrees of eminence concerning Michael Mann and his (in)famous “hockey stick” temperature graph. The book emanated from a still-ongoing lawsuit that Mann filed against Steyn for writing in a National Review Online article that the hockey stick was fraudulent. Steyn was struck by the fact that, when it came time to file third-party amicus briefs, no one filed a brief in Mann’s defense. So he began combing the Web and other resources, and found a plethora of critical comments that he collected into one volume.2,3 In fact, by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, has backed away from this very flawed piece of evidence.

Together, the comments in Steyn’s book suggest that even in the midst of a great social hysteria like AGW much of the field of climatology is functioning more or less normally. Also, one finds the usual range of opinion that one finds in any science, although in this case it is somewhat muted, in part because of the possibility of intimidation from the more enthusiastic warmists and their followers. (Examples of this are mentioned below.)

The same conclusion can be drawn from the compendia of research results that Kenneth Richard has contributed to the NoTricksZone website. In a series of posts, Richard has reviewed a wealth of data drawn from the contemporary technical literature that in various ways runs counter to and therefore undermines the standard AGW narrative.4

In some respects, then, the field of climatology still has a pluralistic cast. On the other hand, the treatment of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson after it was announced that he was joining the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the recent comments by Judith Curry on her (I take it) premature retirement show quite clearly that even apart from certain individuals, the situation in this field is not particularly healthy. What I think the latter incident shows is that someone like Dr. Curry simply has a lower tolerance of double standards than do many other more or less serious practitioners – moreover, she has been unwilling to remain silent.

When they are read together, the quotations and commentary in Steyn’s book also shed more light on the Michael Mann phenomenon. For one thing, they show that his behavior over time has been quite consistent. There is, for example, the tendency to play fast and loose with methodology. This is shown most clearly in the methods that gave rise to the original hockey stick. Over time and thanks to the perseverance of a few, the puzzle of how it was derived is now pretty well understood. Steyn touches on all of the major points, each one a little story in itself.

In the first place, in collecting data for the hockey stick graph, Mann and his co-workers chose a very problematical proxy. Tree ring dimensions are subject to a number of factors that affect tree growth: “soil nutrients and structure; light variations; carbon dioxide; competition from other trees; disease; predators; age; rainfall” (Steyn, 28, quoting from testimony of A. Trewavas). Moreover, the bristlecone pine, which was a major proxy source in the original study is a particularly unreliable basis for temperature estimates since it is very responsive to factors such as carbon dioxide regardless of temperature.

Having chosen a problematic proxy, Mann et al. then went on to make a series of other dubious decisions. For example, in the original work the tree ring data were correlated with average temperatures for the Northern hemisphere rather than for North America, although the trees in question all came from North America. This was because the latter didn’t match the results obtained with their proxy data. This leads to a rather peculiar state of affairs. As one scientist put it:

“The logical conclusion [from their study] is that Northamerican trees respond better to global average temperatures than to local temperatures.” (Steyn, xiii)

In addition, their methods served to impose a peculiar form of proxy weighting, which was in fact crucial for obtaining their results (in addition to sometimes double counting the only tree/trees used from a location outside the bristlecone sites). According to Steve McIntyre,

“The effect is that tree ring series with a hockey stick shape no longer have a mean of zero and end up dominating the first principal component (PC1) [the main factor obtained from the analysis]; in effect, Mann’s program mines for series with a hockey stick shape. In the crucial period of 1400-1450, in the critical PC1 of the North American network, the top-weighted Sheep Mountain series, with a hockey stick shape gets over 390 times the weight of the least weighted series, which does not have a hockey stick shape.” (Steyn, 69-70)

Steyn sums it up:

“So his [Mann’s] hypothesis that it [the temperature record] looks like a hockey stick is confirmed only because a tree ring that produces a hockey-stick shape is given 390 times the weight of a tree ring that does not.” (Steyn, 5)

In all of this it is also telling that people with statistical expertise were never consulted about any of the sampling and weighting procedures.

And then we arrive the pièce de résistance of the 1999 effort. Because despite all this finagling, Mann et al. were still stuck with a basic problem. This was that the proxy data showed a decline after 1980 – at the same time that the global average temperature showed a marked rise. Their solution was bold and straightforward: truncate the proxy record at the year 1980 and for the remaining years in the 20th century use the record derived from thermometers. Clearly, this gives us the best of both worlds. So what’s not to like?

However, there were some doubting Thomases who took issue with this procedure, especially after it was properly understood (cf. below). The simplest argument is the most telling: if the proxy records don’t match the temperature record during the last decades of the 20th century, where both kinds of record are available, why should one assume that the former accurately reflects actual temperatures during the past millennium?

It is also telling that, according to Steyn (p. 53), it was not until 2014, sixteen years after the publication of the original hockey stick paper, that all these methodological details were adequately understood. This is because the issues involved could only be resolved by a detailed perusal of the original materials and methods. And Mann’s response to requests for the necessary information served to deter inquiries of this sort. For a long while he and his co-workers refused to share their data or allow anyone to examine the program that performed the analysis.

“Mann declined – for years – to release the elements needed to reproduce his stick. In evidence before the House of Commons in London, Professor Darrel Ince noted Mann’s refusal to cough up his computer code, and said that he would “regard any papers based on the software as null and void”. His stick could be neither proved nor disproved – and, as Professor Vincent Courtillot reminded European climatologists, if “it’s not falsifiable, it’s not science”.” (Steyn, 6)

Along with the discrepancies uncovered in connection with the early hockey stick papers, Mann’s later work is littered with a succession of questionable actions, or “mistakes” (once again showing how consistent people really are across time). These include reassigning “an instrumental precipitation record from Paris to New England”, and later “a Spanish data set to Tanzania” (Steyn, 198). In another instance it was found that a “South Carolina gridcell [had been transferred] to Toulouse” and another shifted from Philadelphia to Mumbai (ibid.). Then there was the case of the upside-down graph: a curve of temperatures based on sediment proxies was effectively turned upside down, thus inverting the data for the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. This was used to press the point that “the average temperatures in the Arctic are much higher now than at any time in the past two thousand years” (Steyn, 208). In another instance of dyscopia, Mann et al. rotated a climate data set 180 degrees “when interpolating … [it] onto a different grid”, “so that model data that should be located on the Greenwich Meridian were erroneously placed at 180 degrees longitude”. And so forth …

And throughout all this, there has been a perpetual refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing of any sort – or even any errors at all. So, when the flipped sediment curve was brought to his attention in a letter to Science, Mann “dismissed “the claim that ‘upside-down’ data were used as “bizarre”” (Steyn, 208; Notice the wording, which is strictly speaking correct; evidently it was the program that did the inversion). And even after corrigenda were published in Nature and Geophysical Research Letters in 2004, the authors maintained their original stance. The climatologist M. Leroux had this to say:

“After describing their errors, they still considered (2004) that “none of these errors affect our previously published results”! The corrigenda issued by Mann et al are “a clear admission that the disclosure of data and methods… was materially innaccurate.” (Steyn, 249, quoting from Leroux’s book, Global Warming: Myth or Reality?)

And as another scientist put it,

“… the original hockey stick still used the wrong methods and these methods were defended over and over despite being wrong … He [Mann] fought like a dog to discredit and argue with those on the other side that his method was not flawed. And in the end he never admitted that the entire method was a mistake.” (Steyn, 72)

This vehement defensiveness has been accompanied by continual attacks on opponents and even colleagues who question any of his methods; such people, including prominent people who are actually warmists of a sort such as Judith Curry and Craig Loehle, have earned epithets like “#AntiScience” and of course the dread word “denier”. There have also been concerted attempts (along with members of the UK Climate Research Unit) to discredit the editors of journals who published skeptical articles or who publically questioned the hockey stick. In one case this actually led to the resignation of the editor of the journal Climate Research.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mann has made extensive use of the new social media in the service of “the cause”. (In fact, one could almost say that Michael Mann and Twitter were made for each other.) This has led to a cascade of spiteful johnny-one-note tweets such as these:

“Crypto-denier #BjornLomberg… #climatechange denier #JudithCurry… #MattRidley in the London Times, ‘My Life as a Compensated Climate Change Denier’ (I tweaked the title…) #ClimateChnage denier #Roy Spencer… #AnthonyWatts climate change denier extremist…” (from Steyn, 232)

This style of aggressive counterattack has continued even to the point of publishing a book that defends his work and belittles his critics. And as we all know, it has also spilled over into actual lawsuits on at least two occasions. And in each of these, once legal proceedings are under way, the case seems to sputter and stall – because of failure to produce the data relevant to the case and for other reasons. This certainly suggests that the original suits were a form of bullying, i.e. attempts at intimidation rather than actions made in good faith.5

Along with this is the constant self-aggrandizement. This was on display in the Steyn case, where the original complaint said that Mann was suing Steyn and others for ”defamation of a Nobel Prize recipient” (Steyn, p. iii, quoting from the legal statement). Later this claim had to be withdrawn. And of course there is his self-assumed role of “defender of science”.

I will note parenthetically that there is an interesting similarity to the case of Sigmund Freud. Like Mann, Freud had an almost incredible capacity to convince himself of cherished fantasies that fit into his overall conceptions. (If you doubt this, read the “Wolfman” case.) And like Mann, he showed considerable antagonism toward anyone who questioned any aspect of his doctrines (although SF may have been more indulgent regarding questions regarding specifics). And, of course, for a long time Freud’s tactics were wildly successful, so much so that he still has his adherents and his champions.

One problem in getting a proper perspective on this case is that Mann seems to fit the role of the villain all too well. Because in all of this it is essential to remember that people do not have to have malevolent intentions to wreak tremendous havoc on the world. This is even true for the case at hand. I, for one, do not think that Mann’s intentions are malevolent, however bizarre and extreme his behavior; in fact, by his own lights he is probably well-intentioned, whatever that may mean in this case.6 By the same token I do not think that Al Gore is malevolent, and based on the account given by Anthony Watts of a meeting with him, neither is Bill McKibben. And this is certainly not true of our beloved Prince of Wales. But does anyone doubt the capacity of these people for wreaking havoc?

All this goes to show that OTT people like these are often the cause of real excesses and disasters. But I would go so far as to suggest that, as such, they are symptomatic of deeper problems that otherwise might not have been revealed – or that might have only become evident when the degree of damage had become much greater. So now let’s turn now to a consideration of the latter.

Given all these problems as well as the extreme behavior of the protagonist, it is astonishing how rarely questions have been raised about the hockey stick, especially in the public arena. In fact, many people seem to have blinded themselves to the facts on display – and this is part of the larger phenomenon that we are dealing with. Such behavior is particularly striking (and out of place in a field of science), given that the hockey stick represented a radical make-over of the standard view of the temperature changes over the previous millennium:

“The Medieval Warm Period – when Greenland got its name and was extensively farmed, and vineyards flourished in much of England – was a matter of uncontroversial historical record. But once you’ve decided to “repeal“ it, it’s amazing how easy it is.” (Steyn, 33)

“[The earlier account of past temperatures] was simply expunged from the 2001 IPCC report, much as Trotsky and Yezhov were removed from Stalin’s photographs by dark-room specialists in the later years of the dictator’s reign. There was no explanation of why both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, very clearly shown in the 1990 report, had simply disappeared eleven years later.” (Steyn, 10)7

These failures went hand in hand with a questionable level of peer reviewing:

“”The hockey stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence,” wrote Oxford physicist Jonathan Jones. Nature never asked for any and, when it fell to others to demonstrate the flaws of the stick, the journal declined to share their findings with its readers. Mann and a few close allies controlled the fora that mattered, and banished any dissidents. “It’s a completely rigged peer-review system,” concluded Cal Tech’s Dr David Rutledge.” (Steyn, 6)

Another significant fact is that, despite the partial eclipse of the hockey stick in recent years, the AGW bandwagon has continued on its merry way without a hitch or backward glance, as far as I can tell. And at the same time the general field of climatology continues its business, some of it in concert with the AGW doctrine, but much of it more or less independent of this idea, as shown by Richard’s postings that were referred to above.

I think that the lesson to be taken away from all this is that there is a backdrop in addition to the central characters. Given this, it is impossible to ascribe the entire AGW affair to a few main actors alone. Put more strongly, there is not a single overarching ‘design’ or intention in the AGW hysteria that is simply carried through, in the sense of all the myriad facets being the result of a single guiding hand. On the other hand, there is a coherence to the movement that does require explanation.

I would argue that the processes that gave rise to the AGW movement were to a large degree – perhaps even essentially – bottom-up in character (despite there being major players behind the scenes). This resulted in a collective ‘machine’ whose function is to produce a particular output: namely, evidence and argumentation in support of CAGW. In other words, the overarching intentionality that in some sense is present has the character of a “group mind”.

Thus, conspiracies – while they do exist – are only part of the picture. In fact I strongly suspect that full-fledged conspiracies are often (perhaps always) emergent phenomena that issue from more fundamental processes.

Again, the point is that one person could not do this alone (not even Maurice Strong).

The point I am trying to make is reflected in a statement by the physicist Jonathan Jones that is included in Steyn’s book:

“My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science.”

“Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. I was looking up some minor detail about the Medieval Warm Period and discovered this weird parallel universe of people who apparently didn’t believe it had happened, and even more bizarrely appeared to believe that essentially nothing had happened in the world before the 20th century.” (Steyn, 31)

Now, what this book shows – by means of collective quotations – is that this “parallel universe” exists within a larger world of more-or-less sane science (and sane scientists). And as those of us who have been following the AGW saga are aware, there are cases in which people with less knowledge of the subject (and probably less wisdom) than Prof. Jones have been swept up into this parallel universe, but were later able to break free of it once they had delved into the subject and realized what a house-of-cards the AGW thesis really is.

In this connection, one of the most striking features of the Climategate emails is the comparative insularity of the Team.8 In fact, their entire correspondence has a certain claustrophobic character. There is no discussion of large-scale coordination with other parties (despite some interaction with people like Andy Revkin). And they were certainly not getting instructions from any UN bureaucrat. While here and there one finds a fleeting reference to “the cause” (by guess-who?), the overwhelming impression is that of a small coterie defending its scientific positions. And yet, as we know, this coterie was at the same time central to a much larger social movement.

These reflections are also pertinent to another significant question: whose voice carries – and why? For example, Tim Ball, Fred Singer and others have been countering the AGW meme for a few decades, but to little avail. But why is this? Why haven’t their voices carried? And, conversely, why was The Team so successful in getting their message out? Was it because, possibly for quite other reasons, there was already a receptive audience at hand? That there was an existing matrix of attitudes and beliefs to which the AGW belief system could adhere? And this matrix served to amplify some messages while it filtered out other, conflicting messages.

It should be emphasized that the perspective I am describing in no way rules out or even diminishes the importance of institutionalization of doctrines. Clearly, this is a powerful mechanism for promulgating doctrine as well as suppressing antagonistic ideas. And here we must acknowledge the brilliance of Mr. Strong in recognizing the possibility of an institution whose main purpose would be to promote the AGW doctrine and in realizing the goal of creating such an institution. Without this achievement, I doubt that global warming would have become the world-wide force that it has been for the last twenty or thirty years.

This account also suggests the manner in which AGW will fail. One fine day we will wake up and find that the discrepancies and contradictions and dubious claims have accumulated to the point where the basic thesis cannot be sustained by anyone outside the inevitable fringe who will keep banging away before an ever-diminishing audience of true believers. At that point, because much of the field is more-or-less normal science, most researchers will simply put the excesses of the few behind them. In doing this, they will already have grounds for plausibly denying that they were involved in the hysteria in any serious fashion. And at that point the atmosphere of hysteria that now casts a pall over the entire industrialized world will vanish like the morning haze.

But there will be one hitch. The institutions that Mr. Strong and others have created together with all those over-busy government agencies will still be with us. And how all that will turn out is something I really can’t foretell. What does result when mastodons like these have been let loose to roam the countryside?

*******

The present perspective naturally brings to mind the meme idea. However, I don’t think the selfish gene/replicator form of this hypothesis (à la Dawkins) is adequate, and it may not even be relevant. Instead, a kind of structure of activities has been built up that is grounded in an existing set of attitudes and beliefs.

A meme account of the usual sort also omits a particularly important factor (And so do all the other explanations that I’ve seen proffered.) This is a factor that, nonetheless, can be described in ‘Darwinian’ terms. This is that the whole business requires certain personalities who are willing to engage in questionable or even fraudulent activity. Where do they come from? How do they fit into the picture? (Specifically, how do they find their roles in the comedy as it is played out?)

In this connection, let me consider a case that is also discussed by Steyn (pp. 179-182), but has since undergone further developments. This is the saga of a ‘second hockey stick’, derived by Joëlle Gergis and coworkers for the Southern hemisphere. As many readers will recall, this work was also eviscerated by Steve McIntyre and others, to the extent that the original submission was retracted. A few years later it was resubmitted. At this time Gergis made a point of describing the problem(s) with the original paper as “a typo”.9 Now, in addition to this being wildly disingenuous, there is a certain shallowness and even a vulgarity of mind in evidence that I find difficult to associate with someone speaking as a scientist. (How can a problem that led to retraction have been a typo? It’s as if a casual, out-of-thin-air characterization was made rather unadroitly with the expectation that no one should question it, and more generally, as if it was an unnecessary bother to have to deal with criticism at all.) So I have to ask, what is such a person doing in a field of science in the first place? And isn’t this kind of personality the perfect material for embracing dubious doctrines and spreading them further?

Perhaps what is happening is that a type of social niche has been constructed where such personalities can thrive. In other words, the entire phenomenon involves a kind of niche construction in the sense of Odling-Smee et al.10 But this is happening at the social rather than the biological level.

Now, let me return to the hockey stick and in particular to the blindness to its obvious faults on the part of a large segment of the scientific community. This seems to me to be in large part a matter of ego-defense, as such evasion often is. But this also suggests that without this kind of pervasive ego-defense, Mann & Co. wouldn’t have gotten to first base. One could even think of Mann as a kind of surfboarder who had the ‘right stuff’ to ride the reality warp that had come into being. But the key question is this: is this a case of a personality type that is somehow pre-adapted for such situations? Is there a real sense in which this personality type found an appropriate niche?

The apparent consequence of all this is that when there are enough people like these who have worked their way into a particular field of science, then you have a quorum that can effectively further “the cause”. But this, in turn, requires an appropriate environment. In any case, we seem to have travelled light years from a time when someone like William James could say quite unselfconsciously:

“I have to forge every sentence in the teeth of irreducible and stubborn facts.”

But how could all this have come about? (And this is a question I will leave for another day.)

To return to a point made earlier, note that most of this is quite independent of Maurice Strong. Strong didn’t subvert the CRU directly, and he didn’t ensure that people like Ben Santer and Michael Mann got Ph.D.’s in climatology (although once they were on the scene someone clearly had the wit to take advantage of this in order to fill some key slots in IPCC committees). And he certainly didn’t bring into being groups like 350.org. (In fact, he had left the stage long before they made their entrance.) Instead, to me it seems very much as if the daemon acclaimed by Adam Smith has an evil twin.

*******

To recapitulate, there are a few basic ideas that I think are implicit in the work under discussion and that I think merit a great deal of further study:

  • The emergence and evolution of social organizations, partly top-down but also partly bottom-up, a process that I suspect can be formulated in computational terms, although in this essay I have done nothing more than throw out a few suggestions.
  • The ‘selection’ (which in this case is a social rather than a natural selection in its usual sense) of certain personalities who perform requisite roles, which themselves are emergent in character. Usually these people take positions in existing institutions, whose direction they then influence.
  • The resultant intermingling of real science and faux science, the former even serving as a kind of cover for the latter – for outsiders and even for participants. A major factor here is ego-defense, which allows the faux elements to work within a community populated by more balanced and better-intentioned scientists. (Another theme worth exploring in this context is that of parasitic strategies.)

It will be appreciated that if the basic processes described here (group mind effects, social selection, etc.) do take place, they must do so in both normal and pathological cases. The differences lie in the basis for organization, the basis for selection, and so forth. (But, again, I have to defer the task of filling in the necessary details to the future.)

*******

At first blush, the AGW phenomenon for all its Sturm und Drang seems a far cry from the crude, widespread destruction of an entire field of science that occurred during the Lysenko episode in the USSR.11 In that earlier affair, whole research institutes were shut down, legitimate geneticists were ousted from their positions, and some even died in prison or the Gulag. Also, Lysenkoism arose in a milieu in which scientists were under the thumb of political types who were often deeply antagonistic to what they viewed as “bourgeois science”. To keep genuine scientists in line, Bolshevik officials were ‘elected’ to Academies of Science where they had a controlling influence, and scientific institutes were under constant surveillance by secret police, to the extent that the NKVD had an office in nearly every institute.12

At the same time, there are important parallels. People have been vilified (as noted above), and some like, William Gray, lost their funding, which severely hampered their research efforts. And we know (from a former member of NOAA) that there has been pressure from above (i.e. from politicians) to produce evidence in keeping with the desired narrative. Also, Lysenko was a bullying character, much like the chief subject of this essay.

Moreover, in spite of sometimes repeated setbacks, some scientists in the USSR still kept going, so that work of scientific value continued to be produced. But at the same time, most went along with Party dictates, at least on the surface, while a proportion even leapt on board the bandwagon. In the words of one author:

“People like Dmitri Pryanishnikov, Pyotr Kapitsa and Andrei Sakharov, who publicly raised their voices in defense of their arrested colleagues, were rare among the majority of compliant scientists who followed Party orders in exchange for their elite positions in Soviet society.” (Birstein, p. 45)

Another common feature is the failure among otherwise estimable people to face up to what was really going on. In part this is the result of minds of greater refinement being unwilling to descend to the level of their accusers. But, again, it seems to me that there is also a large aspect of denial, which goes hand in hand with the typical scholar’s reliance on conventions of ‘good-will’ to see one through, and which is in fact a form of evasion. In the Soviet situation this was often used by the higher powers to their own advantage.

Another interesting aspect of the affair that has some parallels with the present case is the way that Lysenko made repeated, heartfelt claims of calumny against the doctrines he was espousing and the people who espoused them. Here is one example out of many (which, incidentally, was directed against the author of the volume in which it is cited):

“Lately a voluminous memorandum compiled by Zh. Medvedev, full of dirty inventions about our biology, has been circulated about. … Substituting marketplace gossip for facts, Medvedev, with one stroke of the pen, crosses out the achievements of Soviet breeding in the creation of new varieties of plants and breeds of animals. … Along the way, in a haughty, mocking manner he “overthrows” the theoretical tenants of Michurinist biology. All these fabrications and fairy tales would appear as an empty farce if the author, in his lampoon of Michurinist science, had not resorted to political slander which can only provoke anger and disgust. …13

“The slanderous attacks against Michurinist biologists, the attempts of individuals to defame the attainments of Michurinist biology are not only insulting to Soviet scientists but also damage the development of biology. They are the grist for the mill of those interested in weakening the materialistic positions of Soviet science. … (Medvedev, p. 219-20)

In addition to the well-modulated display of moral indignation (which I think T. D. manages more adroitly than contemporary warriors for “science” and social justice), the reader should take note of the way in which Lysenko claims to be defending the ‘corporatist’ entity known as “Michurinist science” (named after an early agronomist), so that he can appear to be “defending Soviet science” and not just himself and his followers. (Does this ring any bells?)

Now, let me return to the ideas discussed above concerning the way in which certain personalities seem to mesh with certain social situations, which they go on to exacerbate. Here, too, there are some very curious and instructive parallels. Lysenko was an ill-educated agronomist who clearly harbored resentment against professional (and genuinely talented) scientists. Thus, he meshed perfectly with the anti-“bourgeois” attitudes that were prevalent among the Bolshevik elite. In a similar way, Mann seems to have been well-suited by nature to mesh with the growing AGW hysteria. In both cases, these aggressive characters took advantage of another aspect of scientific practice. A field of science is typically guided and managed through a set of gentlemanly conventions. But under special conditions, it may be possible for someone in a position of prominence to flaunt these conventions (at least for a while), which since they are conventions of restraint, put their sincere adherents at a disadvantage.14

A major difference that I see is that there appears to be much more internal support among scientists and other academics in the present situation. And if one follows the history of members of The Team and their activities back into the early 1980s (and this holds for other groups as well), one encounters a great deal of autonomous action in favor of the fashionable doctrines. This seems in marked contrast to the situation vis a vis Lysenko. In fact, the present situation clearly is in part a “revolt of the elites” rather than a revolt against them.

Another interesting difference, that curiously enough favors the Soviet government, is that after it had first emerged it took almost 20 years for Lysenkoism to become official doctrine (in 1948). It seems clear that there was a long period during which the government, not being entirely certain about the status of Lysenko’s claims, was hedging its bets. In striking contrast, nearly all politicians in the West (and some in other places) leaped on board the global warming bandwagon almost as soon as it left the gate.

In large part, this difference must be due to the magnificent orchestration of the IPCC, especially the succession of reports that eventually ran on for 2,000 pages at a pop.15 That certainly gave political types, especially those on one side of the aisle, more than enough cover to make their move – which was the wholesale embrace of a Green (carbon-free) Economy. In contrast, Lysenko was a rather primitive charlatan, who in addition made wilder and wilder claims about a field whose principles were already grounded in fairly refined studies and whose central idea (that of the gene) was (by the 1940s) being elucidated at the molecular level. It’s hard for sophistry even aided by intimidation to keep making headway against that.

*******

At the beginning of this essay I said that “by now almost everyone, skeptic or warmist, has backed away from this very flawed piece of evidence.” Interestingly, this does not apply to certain ‘defenders of the creed’, who, as soon as Steyn’s work was made available, leapt into the arena to begin a full-throated assault on it and to defend the hockey stick. In doing so, they showed a remarkable indifference to the reservations expressed by their betters.

First off the blocks was a blogger named Greg Laden, whose post appeared in June of 2015.16 The tone is set in the opening sentence:

“There is a new attack by an anti-science and anti-environment talking head on a well respected climate scientist and his work. Mark Steyn is self publishing a book of quotes by scientists that allegedly disparage Dr. Michael Mann and the “Hockey Stick.” If the three examples Steyn provides to advertise his book are representative, Steyn’s book is unlikely to impress.”

Then it gets really interesting (these sentences follow immediately in the same paragraph):

“Like previous attempts to separate a key individual from the herd,17 Steyn’s latest money making scheme could make him a few bucks (his fans seem gullible) but in the end will destroy anything that happens to be left of his credibility and, possibly, his legal argument that he is not actively and maliciously attempting to defame an individual.”18

Mind you, this is being written in 2015, a decade after the critical articles by McIntyre and McKitrick, and five years after Montford’s book reviewed all the desperate twists and turns that had been taken to defend the Stick. Here, the stage is set as if none of this had ever happened.

Note also that Laden hadn’t actually read the book, but is relying on the three quotes which apparently were part of the original publicity campaign for the new volume.

We then get a rundown of the original result, and subsequent work that has purported to verify it, presented in an authoritative tone which one comes to recognize as typical of the genre. And on the face of it, it is impressive – provided one is unaware of all the vagaries involved, many of which are recounted in the (actual) book, as I have indicated.

This is brought out if we follow a link that Laden provides – to an article that summarizes “a landmark study known as the PAGES 2K project”. The link is to a 2013 article by Rahmsdorf, which in turn refers to a then-recently published paper by a group called the “PAGES 2K Consortium”. This appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience as a “progress article”, a category I had never heard of before. Later I found that, once again, the ever-vigilant Steve McIntyre had played cat to their mouse and ferreted out the fact that progress articles were meant to review material in fields that were not yet mature enough for a full peer-reviewed article on the topic. In other words, the paper was another ‘trick’ to get something in the literature in support of now-controversial claims without being subjected to a thorough review. (It’s also interesting that the consortium included the aforementioned Jöelle Gergis and thus incorporated material that had led to problems elsewhere.)

In referring to MBH98 itself, Laden writes, “there was some controversy but the work was good and over subsequent years it was verified by other research”. Apparently he is comfortable with:19

  • “unjustified truncation” of three of the original data series
  • copying values from one series into others
  • displacement of series
  • use of seasonal temperatures for annual temperatures
  • “listing of unused proxies”
  • idiosyncratic transformations of the original data prior to performing the principal components analysis, which results in the PC algorithm “mining the data for hockey stick patterns”.

as well as other vagaries. One wonders what it would take for something to qualify as bad research in Laden’s eyes.

After making the case for the stick, Laden proceeds to try to discredit the three quotations he has seen – and here, again, to my mind he makes a reasonably convincing job of it – if one hasn’t delved into the details. (And this (i) is a significant fact, (ii) that skeptics generally do not face up to, (iii) which is also a significant fact.) To properly assess his arguments, one needs to have the book at hand so one can look up the quotes and see how they’re actually presented. The first quote taken up is:

“Did Mann et al get it wrong? Yes, Mann et al got it wrong.”

–Simon Tett, Professor of Climate Science, University of Edinburgh

First, it should be noted that in the book itself we do get the context of the quotation; in addition, there is an additional piece that follows right after: “How wrong is still under debate …”. We also find out that this is part of a response to a query from someone in the UK Department of Environment in October, 2004 concerning the M&M critique. And it’s clear from this and other quotes that Tett is somewhat diffident about Mann’s work, so he clearly isn’t on board to the extent that Laden makes him out to be. Laden ends his arguments with a flourish (that one somehow feels was preordained):

“So. That’s settled. Steyn got it wrong.”

The second quote considered is one that on the face of it looks even more damning:

“Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf should be barred … because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible any more.”

–-Eduardo Zorita, Senior Scientist at Germany’s Institute for Coastal Research

In this case, Laden assembles a genuinely impressive counterargument. He first admits that Zorita has in the past expressed “concerns about the way some of the research is conducted”, and he lauds this kind of cautious assessment. Then he asks rhetorically, “But is Zorita a Hockey Stick denier like Mark Steyn implies he is?” In reply, he first notes that Zorita was one of the authors of the above-mentioned PAGES consortium paper. And he describes Zorita’s present position, based on a conversation he had with him. Zortia had told him that the quote was accurate and reflected his concern that Climategate might affect the perception of the IPCC, that he thought that “the Hockey Stick was something of a public relations mistake”, and that the case for AGW does not depend on it.

The only issue here is that in the (actual) book, Zorita’s position is made clear – with a longer quote from the same Web post. So despite Laden’s claim that there couldn’t be “a worse choice to list as a person criticizing the hockey stick”, in the (actual) book, the quote does fit into the texture of the overall argument.

The third quote, by J. Jones (who was quoted earlier) is one that the author stood behind when queried, so Laden has to concede this one. So he concludes that Steyn got one out of three correct.

The final sentence of the piece is also worth quoting:

“I’m thinking that this is not going to be a very big book. Certainly not a very good one. Maybe Steyn is counting on a lot of pre-orders.”

Hard on the heels of this article, a short piece was posted at the Daily Kos under the byline “ClimateDenierRoundup”. Here are some excerpts:20

“He’s now self-published a book that is supposedly a collection of criticisms of Dr. Mann by other scientists.” (italics added; I suspect that the “self-published” bit was borrowed from Laden, since it’s such a nice extra jab.)

“For all his quote mining, it seems like the best Steyn could do when it came to finding criticisms from Mann’s peers is write up two quotes from scientists who agree with Mann’s findings and one from someone who’s not a climate scientist at all.” (italics added; notice how Laden’s more carefully qualified suppositions in this author’s hands almost become matters of fact)

This writer in fact cites Laden’s article (which probably prompted the Daily Kos posting) as his main reference. That’s perfectly reasonable, of course, but it’s still interesting to observe how the daisy chain develops (cf. below).

Another post appeared around this time on a blog called Hot Whopper :21 This is a brief cut-and-past account of the scientific evidence followed by a lengthier polemic against “deniers”. Strangely enough, the author later added an “addendum about the contents of the book” in which several links are given (including a link to Laden’s post) followed by what is essentially an admission that the author still hadn’t read it: “I can’t imagine there is anything in it that would damage Michael Mann, but I do expect it will have a lot of material that will damage Mark Steyn.”

I think it is fascinating, and extraordinarily revealing that in each case the writer seized upon a few quotes extracted from a 300-page text, as if undermining these was sufficient to refute the entire work. Why did they assume they could write an adequate commentary on the basis of promo quotations (which are likely to be abbreviated, and are necessarily taken out of context)? And why couldn’t they wait to make their critical (and in some cases derisive) comments? Why did they come off the blocks almost as soon as the title was announced? What does this imply about these people?

It is also telling that none of these articles mentions the situation that inspired the book. Instead, it is treated as another malevolent “denier” attack, which must be discredited at once. (Laden uses his Serengeti hypothesis as part of the explanation, but this still assumes some form of mindless malevolence (after all, it’s just about strategy), and it’s telling that he doesn’t even attempt to support his idea with particulars from the present case.)

At this point let us recall some context surrounding the lawsuit and the book. If the hockey stick were valid and Mann had been vindicated, then there should have been dozens of amicus briefs filed in his defense at the trial (including, one would have thought, briefs from Messrs. Tet and Zorita). Moreover, as some of the quotes in Steyn’s book make clear, the hockey stick flies in the face of a body of evidence supporting the occurrence and world-wide scope of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, both of which were more or less obliterated by the flat handle of the hockey stick. In addition, despite some of Mann’s (amazing) protestations, the stick itself is an enjambment of proxy-based temperature derivations (the handle) and direct surface temperature records (the stick). One reason that this was done was that proxy data for the 20th century did not match the actual temperature record.

The important point is that none of this is reflected in any of this commentary. It is as if all these problematic facts, all these warning signals, have simply glanced off the minds of these people, as the saying goes, like water running off a duck’s back.

Not once do these writers speak to the actual arguments of McIntyre and others. Not once. Instead, they put together parallel arguments, much like someone plastering up a new billboard sign to cover the one underneath. In short, they never connect. Instead, what is achieved is a kind of cognitive closure (using the latter term in the sense given to it by Gestalt psychologists). One could also call it dissonance reduction. Or more simply, evasion.22

Along the way, some clever ideas are proffered, like Laden’s Serengeti Strategy, which is, again, a made-up explanation that doesn’t have any relevance to the actual situation or to the actual controversy. Instead, it seems to have the status of a fond belief that serves to embellish the argument. And, of course, it goes hand in hand with the above-mentioned cognitive closure.

I wonder why none of these people filed an amicus brief. Where were they when the Mann needed them most? In fact, there is also a disconnect between what these people wrote at the time (and I gather are still saying) and subsequent legal developments. One has the impression that they are living in a walled-off world, that they have fashioned their own reality.

One other thing strikes me very strongly in these articles: it doesn’t seem possible for these people to write about a subject like this without descending into scurrilous innuendos. Together with the disconnect from the actual contents of the book, this makes it obvious that these are not genuine reviews and therefore deserve to be called hit pieces.

In their efforts to defend the Hockey Stick, Laden, the Hot Whopper writer, et al. also demonstrate that not only do they not know much about climatology, they know little or nothing about how science is actually carried out – and why. Theirs is essentially a paint-by-numbers view of science. Under this view, one simply gathers and arranges ‘facts’, and this is sufficient to make one’s case.

If only it were so simple. One of the most insightful statements I have ever read about empirical science (unfortunately I have not been able to locate the reference, which was a magazine article probably written by a physical scientist about some dubious activity being billed as “science”) is this:

“Science is not like going to the supermarket.”

But isn’t a presupposition like this precisely what informs these people’s actions? Aren’t they in effect collecting facts as if they were supermarket goods and then arranging them into superficially impressive displays?

Also, around this time a book review appeared on Amazon, authored by a Russell S(eitz).23 It includes the following:

“Cabaret artiste Mark Steyn and the unfunniest cartoonist in England’s grim north have combined forces to show how little they have learned as PR-flacks in the Climate Wars.

“It is a sign of their side’s decay that it looks to ninety year olds and non-entities with few real connections to climate science as scientific authorities, while ignoring the sensible works of climatologists less ideologically entangled than themselves …

“Steyn’s highly elliptical (and often self-contradictory) quote mining is so absurdly polemic that this collection may well backfire in favor of the very UN climate bureaucrats at which it aims.”

“Russell” also tendered some comments under a posting at the Bishop Hill website.24 In one comment he cites four papers that he says support the idea that “the weight of the scientific evidence [for MBH98 and the hockey stick] is enormous and ever growing”. Looking these up, I found that the first, by Baille and McAneney (2015), has to do with the evaluation of tree ring evidence for volcanic eruptions by comparing it with ice cores, and doesn’t seem to bear on the matter at hand (other than indicating that tree rings including Bristlecone pines can be useful for some purposes in paleoclimatology, which is a non sequitur). The second paper, by Vinther et al. (2006) is about comparing ice core records from different locations; its main finding is the specification of the end-date of the Younger Dryas. A paper by Sigl et al. (2013) is mostly about dating volcanic events (with an eye toward assessing their effects on climate); it contains some long-term temperature records, but these do not have a hockey stick blade (!). The last paper, by Sigl et al. ad infinitum (Nature, 2015), is also about volcanoes and ice core indicators; it includes a hockey stick graph, but this is taken from the PAGES 2K project discussed above. So this sounds like another exercise in paint-by-numbers science.

A few days after this, a “warrenlb” posted a comment on a thread at the present site under a short review of Steyn’s book.25 His opening barrage went like this:

“Steyn chose three quotes as promo material to represent the book’s contents. One of the scientists has recently co-authored a paper confirming Mann’s hockey stick graph, and notes that his quote only appears damning because it lacks all context. A second has worked on a major paper that also confirmed Mann’s hockey stick graph, and has stated that the attacks on Mann “have no justification.” The third quote is from a physicist who doesn’t work on climate change, so he can’t accurately be described as one of Mann’s scientific peers.

“For all his quote mining, it seems like the best Steyn could do when it came to finding criticisms from Mann’s peers is write up two quotes from scientists who agree with Mann’s findings and one from someone who’s not a climate scientist at all. Looks like Steyn’s efforts here fell as flat as the handle on Mann’s hockey stick.”

From the quotations included above, it can be seen that this writer is cribbing from the attacks on Steyn’s book that were posted previously. The first paragraph paraphrases Laden’s discussion, while the second is taken directly from the Daily Kos posting. So we have here a nice example of the way that earlier comments tend to be recycled without attribution. (I wonder if in coming years it will be possible to carry out a two-degrees-from-Greg-Laden exercise in the manner of Russell Cook.)

Perhaps the most important lesson to take home from all of this is that there seems to be a large number of such people on the fringes of the AGW controversy, an army of water carriers ready and willing to aid “the cause”. If one regards the AGW phenomenon from a social-computational perspective, then these people are a significant part of the movement – even if they cannot be considered ‘major players’. So they are worth studying closely.

First, let me note that these people are reasonably proficient writers, and they know how to craft an argument. In fact, as is usually the case at this level of discourse, the problem is what is left out of their arguments, not the quality of argumentation per se. (To put the matter crudely in order to make this point clear, if their arguments were translated into predicate calculus form, a logical proof checker would probably pronounce them just as valid with respect to the logical inferences made as the arguments in, say, Steyn’s book.)

Without delving into this matter further in an already lengthy essay, the flaws in these arguments involve issues like vagueness of reference or failure to include material that is relevant. And these are pretty deep issues in the study of discourse and argumentation. In fact, this gets us into yet another layer of analysis and explanation if we wish to really understand the AGW phenomenon. (Add another bullet point to the list above.) But now I want to turn to another consideration.

Looking up Laden’s biographical details, I find that his background is in anthropology, and he has taught this subject at several universities. He has also been or is currently a free-lance science writer, with several articles in the Smithsonian magazine. All this I find estimable and, indeed, rather impressive. Similarly, I assume that Russell Seitz has had a worthy career as professor in a university physics department. And I suspect these cases are representative. So many people with better-than-average talents leading reasonably productive lives, performing useful tasks in society …

And then the gods set them a test – in the form of a new scientific doctrine. And perhaps because there was some flaw, some critical deficiency hidden within their outwardly impressive personalities, they have failed that test. Not only that; they have done so in a quite spectacular fashion – in part, I suspect, because they couldn’t imagine such a thing ever coming to pass. In fact, they have failed to such an extent that in some respects they have been turned into a force for evil.

And as part of the test, the gods sent them Michael Mann. And in a move that is reminiscent of the way that 19th century Frenchmen made Esterhazy a Hero of France, they have transmogrified him into St. Michael, a martyr for science.

There is a sense in which these people were betrayed by their own personas. Or one could say that in finding their own zone of comfort, they did not recognize all the implications of this mode of existence.

In light of these reflections, another question obtrudes. To what degree is AGW being championed by a certain kind of elitist ne’er-do-well, scientific or otherwise? Is there a status enhancing function involved in all of this? And is this one of the receptive surfaces that the AGW doctrine fits into (like a key fitting into a lock), making them part of a great social-computational machine?26

The Hockey Stick may eventually be seen as an extraordinary natural experiment that served to expose paint-by-numbers thinkers, causing them to be hoist by their own bien-pensance, as it were. (And of course, this is true of the entire AGW doctrine as well.)27

*******

Returning to the major players, I think that what a social-computational perspective suggests is that not only are specific individuals like Michael Mann (and Maurice Strong) not sufficient to explain the AGW phenomenon, there is a sense in which they are not even necessary. That is to say, if these particular people had not come on stage and taken the roles they did, then others would have emerged and taken on essentially similar roles. The details of the story would be different, of course, but in its broad contours the course of events would have been much the same.

Let me put this a different way. We all know the old adage, if so-and-so did not exist, then it would have been necessary to invent him. According to the conception that I am adumbrating in this essay, if Michael Mann did not exist then he very likely would have been ‘invented’.

One final comment. While preparing this essay, I was rereading Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Sometime after reading the chapter where Solzhenitsyn gives an account of those whom he calls Communist “loyalists”,28 it occurred to me that the mentality of people like Greg Laden and Russell Seitz bears some resemblance to the people described in that chapter. At the same time, I had the odd thought that in the AGW drama we skeptics are in some ways like the Soviet Gulag’s zeks. Of course, we aren’t really entitled to call ourselves by that name just yet. But are many of us perhaps cut from the same cloth? In any case, I don’t think that these analogies are entirely fanciful – and if they aren’t, then a strange sort of pattern may be manifesting itself once again.


References:

1 M. Steyn, “A Disgrace to the Profession”, Stockade, 2015. (When specific passages in this work are quoted or cited, they are flagged by the author’s name and a page number.)

2 In fact this is intended to be the first volume in a series, since only a portion of the quotations that Steyn collected are included.

3 For a more detailed account of the book itself, see A. May, “A detailed review of the book: ‘A disgrace to the Profession’, by Mark Steyn”, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/28/a-detailed-review-of-the-book-a-disgrace-to-the-profession-by-mark-steyn/. And see footnote #23 below.

4 See, for example, “35 scientific papers: Global sea levels were 1-2 meters higher than now for most of the last 7,000 years” (6 February, 2017); “17 new (2017) scientific papers affirm today’s warming was not global, unprecedented, or remarkable” (26 January, 2017); “The hockey stick collapse: 60 new (2016) scientific papers affirm today’s warming isn’t global, unprecedented, or remarkable” (22 December, 2016).

5 A curious feature of these lawsuits is that it almost seems as if Mann stumbles into them, since he seems completely unprepared to handle the ensuing court cases. Instead, he acts as if he expected that the larger world would simply acquiesce to his claims. And when it doesn’t, he is left high and dry. There is an insularity in all of this that is quite wonderful. (And although it may be an extreme case, I do not think for a moment that this case is not part of a larger population; nor do I think it’s even an outlier.)

6 My take on Mann (although this is only an armchair assessment) is that he is an extremely bright guy who comes up with some clever ideas, such as new ways to handle proxies, but does not have the deep concern for getting things right that would keep him out of trouble. And of course he tends to get carried away with his brilliant ideas. Ironically enough, he would have benefited from an association with someone like Steve McIntyre; perhaps then he would have produced something of lasting value. However, it’s not possible to put such a charitable interpretation on a failure to share the code behind the proxy analysis or the hide-the-decline maneuver. Nor to avoid noticing that such failings are all too common in this community. Although I haven’t yet read C. Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, I can’t help thinking that it may apply here (in this connection, see also G. W. S. Trow’s My Pilgrim’s Progress).

6 Here, Steyn may have been a little too casual. At least according to some accounts, the curve in the 1990 IPCC report was based on a sketch drawn by H. Lamb, so it was not unreasonable to question it and to try to come up with something more substantial. So this may be to some extent a case of “dueling graphs”. It needs to be borne in mind that this is a game that both sides can play.

8 S. Mosher and T. W. Fuller, Climategate. The CRUtape Letters, Quire/St. Matthew, 2010.

9 J. Nova, “Gergis Australian hockeystick is back: how one typo took four years to fix”, http://joannenova.com.au/2016/07/gergis-australian-hockeystick-is-back-how-one-typo-took-four-years-to-fix/

10 F. J. Odling-Smee, K. N. Laland, & M. W. Feldman, Niche Construction, Princeton, 2003.

11 To appreciate the force of this comparison, one must really read something about the Lysenko affair. The classic reference for the Lysenko affair is Z. A. Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko, Columbia, 1969 (orig. 1962, 1967). More recently, the entire episode was reviewed and discussed by David Joravsky in The Lysenko Affair, University of Chicago, 1970. For the record, while Medvedev was a good Soviet citizen and seems to have been a devout Marxist-Leninist, his simple honesty shines though on nearly every page. In contrast Joravsky is a NYRB-type of modern intellectual who, although he states the main facts of the case clearly enough, seems at times to be trying to partially exonerate Lysenko. Although in some quarters this might be interpreted as providing a more measured, broad-minded treatment, I find it deeply meretricious – especially when placed beside Medvedev’s account (which I read afterwards). Further useful references are V. J. Birstein, The Perversion of Knowledge, Westview, 2001; E. Pollack, Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars, Princeton, 2006.

12 Birstein, pp. 70-78. Here, I will remark that anyone trying to understand this or other aspects of intellectual life the Soviet Union must read works by dissident Soviet scientists. As Birstein himself says, the typical Western scholar tends to downplay the suffocating political/ideological atmosphere that pervaded every aspect of this world, as well as failing to give a proper account of the apparatus of repression that supported it.

13 In the next few sentences Lysenko dissociates himself from the harsh punishments that had been meted out to a number of geneticists and plant scientists.

14 Moreover, in our time the conventions themselves have come under fire, as (generally scurrilous) people claim they are “sexist”, “racist”, “patriarchal” and so forth. Needless to say, when such mechanisms of restraint are weakened in this way, as they have been, then all manner of dubious characters can take advantage. (Incidentally, it also says something about the quality of Mann’s judgment that he went outside this community when he chose to attack a figure like Mark Steyn, who isn’t going to be as inclined to follow the community’s rules of decorum in resisting such attacks.)

15 It would not be inaccurate to regard the IPCC reports as a kind of collective “Bellesiles strategy”, the latter referring to the work Arming America whose outlandish thesis, that frontier America did not have a gun culture or even many firearms, was buttressed by 150 pages of references, all or most of which turned out to be bogus. This in a way is the thesis of Donna Laframboise’s Delinquent Teenager book.

16 http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/06/22/mark-steyns-newest-attack-on-michael-mann-and-the-hockey-stick/

17 Here, Laden is referring to a pet idea of his that he calls the Serengeti Strategy (see http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/ 01/21/the-serengeti-strategy/) wherein he likens the attacks on Mann to a hyena pack’s strategy of going after the leader of a herd in order to demoralize and disrupt the organization of the herd as a whole.

18 I will not delve into this further in this essay, but it is worth noting how readily the author brings in the idea that ultimately It’s All About Money. In doing this, he becomes the warmist twin (or doppelganger) of those skeptics who demonstrate their sagacity by repeating the formulaic phrase, “Follow the money”. By now, such maneuvers on both sides are almost as predictable as the actions in a Kabuki play.

19 Items listed and quotations are from S. McIntyre & R. McKitrick, “Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) proxy data base and northern hemispheric average temperature series”, Energy & Environment, 2003, 14: 751-771, except for the last entry, which is from S. McIntyre & R. McKitrick, “Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance”, Geophysical Research Letters, 2005, 32: L03710.

20 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/6/23/1395870/-Steyn-s-Peer-Review-of-Mann-Backfires

21 “Vicious attack on Michael Mann: More smears from Mark Steyn and Anthony Watts’ lynch mob” http://blog.hotwhopper.com/ 2015/08/vicious-attacks-on-michael-mann-more.html

22 In fact, if you want to experience reality-distortion to the point of vertigo, I recommend reading Steyn’s book and immediately afterwards reading Greg Laden’s piece attacking it.

23 The byline used is “Russell” or “Russell S., but from his website and from various other commenters at the URL cited next, it seems clear that Seitz is the author. Some commenters indicated that he was also the warrenlb referred to in citation #23, but of that I can’t be sure.

24 http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/8/11/a-disgrace-to-the-profession-by-mark-steyn-now-available.html

25 A. Watts, “A review of Steyn’s scathing new book about Michael Mann: “A Disgrace to the Profession” WUWT, August 15, 2015. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/11/a-review-of-steyns-scathing-new-book-about-michael-mann-a-disgrace-to-the-profession/

26 These remarks may also apply to the authors of Web blogs such as “And then there’s physics” and “Deep Climate”, although their commentary is generally more sophisticated than the examples given. They were not discussed in the main text because I didn’t see anything that dealt directly with Steyn’s book.

27 Of course, this does not exhaust the catalogue of believers, but since this essay is concerned with aspects of the movement that relate to Steyn’s book, this subject will not be dealt with further.

28 A. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago. Volume II, Collins and Harvill, 1975.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments