No Gratitude Warranted- by D Jason Fleming


No Gratitude Warranted- by D Jason Fleming

The Daily Beast has published a thumbsucker called:

9 Reasons to Thank the USSR: How We Got the Cold War Wrong

Read The Gulag Archipelago and tell me how thankful Solzhenitsyn was. Go ahead, read it. Unabridged. I’ll wait.

That said, what’s funny here is how few of his “reasons to thank the USSR” he actually gives in his list of reasons.

Much of what many of us learned in school about the struggle between the U.S. and USSR was very, very wrong.

Taken out of context, this subhead is actually correct. However, as will become clear, Mr. Brown believes that US public schools are anti-soviet propaganda farms, which is hysterically funny or sad, take your pick.

Brian T. Brown

I already prefer the Australian actor.

Thirty years ago, one of the most historic DIY projects of all time took place. Berliners took apart the wall that had cut their city in half. Thus began the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Isn’t it interesting that Mr. Brown doesn’t see fit to explain that this “DIY project” was undertaken only after it became clear that the DIYers would no longer, as they would have the previous fifty years, be shot for undertaking it? And not by the West Germans, mein Freund. It was the commies who built the wall to keep people in, and shot anyone trying to escape the great and glorious socialism they had.

This glib tone is fatuous. It dishonors those who were murdered by the socialist state for the crime of wanting to be free. But hey, Brown is hip, cool, with it, on fleek, and all that stuff, ain’t he?

Further, to say that dismantling the Berlin Wall is what began the end of the Cold War is… let us say “arguable”. The fall of the Wall would not have happened, or at least not at that moment, if not for the protests for Democracy in Beijing and Tiananmen Square earlier in 1989. And also the brutal suppression of those protests by the communist government of China. You could even argue that would not have happened if not for Ronald Reagan’s continuous rhetoric of freedom, which inspired dissidents in the communist world for a decade.

It was a conflict suffused with fear, paranoia, and a whole lot of lies. This means much of what many of us learned in school about the struggle between the U.S. and USSR was very, very wrong.

The Rosenbergs dindunuffin. Alger Hiss was a good boy. Dalton Trumbo was oppressed, oppressed I tells ya, and never mind that he was proud and preening when he got non-communist writers blacklisted. And all those lessons about how eeeeeeevil capitalism and America are were wrong and bad and…

Wait. He thinks schools teach the USSR was evil and America good?

ten minutes of continuous laughter

Here’s the first buried truth. We fired the first shot. Harry Truman rushed to drop the atom bomb to end the war in Japan to prevent the Soviets from joining the battle in the Pacific. Joseph Stalin got the message. The nuclear arms race was underway.

Brown claims to be a historian, so I do not believe that he is this ignorant. He is banking on his readers not knowing more, which is mendacious.

When did the Soviets infiltrate our government? It wasn’t post-1945.

When did CPUSA, on direct orders from Moscow, try to leverage control of Hollywood through the unions? It wasn’t post-1945.

Hell, when did Soviet spies begin sending back valuable information to Moscow regarding the Manhattan Project? As Brown makes clear in this very same column, it was before the bomb actually dropped.

But nah, they were the good guys, and we were meanies for forcing them to spy on us.

But our enemy, the so-called evil empire, was really a figment of our fevered imaginations.

Um, no. It wasn’t “so-called”, it was evil, and an empire. Any argument that it wasn’t is sophistry.

In fact, the people running the Kremlin were frightened frauds running a fundamentally dysfunctional state forever on the verge of collapse.

None of which makes them good. In fact, it rather supports the idea that they were evil, since desperate men, historically, are far more willing to jettison their principles in the short term.

Yes, they were frightened; yes, I suppose they were frauds; yes, the state was definitely dysfunctional, even though our own intelligence services did not believe that until after the collapse.

So what? None of this contradicts the existence of the gulags, the persecution of the innocent, the exitence of the Eastern Bloc, the show trials, the secret police, or any other facet of the Evil Empire.

Given this asymmetry, the Cold War rivalry was actually a mind-boggling waste of money and lives to wage an inherently lopsided contest with a preordained outcome.

This is amazingly dishonest. Brown is again preying on the assumed ignorance of his readers, inviting them to assume that, since these things are known now, they were always obvious.

For most of the Cold War, kiddies, the overculture in the United States “knew” that the USSR would win and we would lose. The elites and the intellectuals were enamored of the Soviet system, disgusted with ours, and presumed — in spite of all the evidence of history — that when things changed, they would end up in control of everything. (Trotsky might beg to differ, if he didn’t have an icepick in his brain.)

Even in the 1980s, which I remember clearly, Reagan was mocked and derided in the media, endlessly, for calling the USSR the “Evil Empire”, for “provoking” Gorbachev by demanding that he “tear down this wall” (a speech given in June of 1987, two years and several months before it actually fell, and yet what Brown now calls “preordained” was considered stupid, foolish, impossible, and naive), and for foolishly pursuing “idiotic” polices like the Strategic Defense Initiative, derided in the media as “Star Wars”. (SDI has been well-documented to have been one of the factors that caused Moscow to conclude they could never win. They do not teach this in the schools, of course.)

When Yuri Maltsev defected in 1989, the very same year as the “preordained” fall of the Wall, he was debriefed by Dick Cheney regarding the economic condition of the USSR. Maltsev, having been an economic advisor to Gorbachev, had a good idea of what he was talking about. He said that the USSR’s economy was between three and four percent the size of the US economy. Cheney noted that the CIA numbers were closer to forty percent, and suggested that the real number was somewhere in between. (Maltsev smiled and said it was — between three and four percent, just like he had said.)

Our own intelligence community misjudged the health of the Soviet economy by an order of magnitude the very same year the Iron Curtain fell.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the USSR, Robert Conquest’s book The Great Terror — one of the few books to accurately describe what the USSR was during the Cold War — was being prepared for reissue, and his publisher asked for a new subtitle, in light of the now-available Soviet archives vindicating the book completely. Conquest’s friend Kingsley Amis suggested “I told you so, you fucking fools.” This would not be a funny suggestion if “everybody knew” what a paper tiger the USSR actually was, would it?

Brown is correct that there were a lot of lies. What he fails to mention is that a lot of the lies were coming from the USSR itself, and that those lies were very effective in skewing perceptions of just how bad things were inside the Iron Curtain.

American schoolchildren were fed a one-sided view of World War II, capped by the conclusion that our superlative industry and unsurpassed genius were the deciding factors in defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. What would the Cold War have been like if, during history class, American kids learned that the world forever owed a debt of gratitude to Soviet forces and Soviet citizens? Their remarkable resilience saved democracy as much as did George Patton and Iwo Jima.

Does Mr. Brown think that Soviet schoolchildren got a balanced view of anything?

Actually, given the utterly delusional view he seems to have of what is taught in American schools, along with his nearly flat-earther-level bias for collectivism, he almost certainly does believe it.

Here are nine reasons why we should’ve thanked the Russians after World War II instead of engaging them in a decades-long Cold War:

And let the running of the bullshit begin!

#1: STUNNING SACRIFICE: On the Eastern front, the Red Army suffered more combat deaths at Stalingrad alone than the U.S. armed forces accumulated during the entirety of World War II.

There is so much he is leaving out here. Like the fact that a lot of those deaths were because Stalin refused to evacuate the cities. And the fact that Soviet soldiers were gunned down by their own officers if they did not charge suicidally into German machine gun fire.

But no, Brown is just impressed by the sheer numbers “sacrificed”. The more bodies you throw onto the pyre, the more just the cause, right? It does not matter if they died stupidly, or uselessly, or because they were executed by their own government for refusing to obey pointless orders. Nope. BIG NUMBER, therefore shut up.

For this we should thank them?

#2: WHAT BOMB: The fight against Japan didn’t conclude only because of America’s atomic attacks. In deciding how soon to surrender, Hirohito and his war cabinet appear to have been more frightened of Stalin’s 11th-hour invasion than of Curtis LeMay’s attempt to bomb the country back to the Stone Age.

This is an interesting bit of rhetorical legerdemain. By using “bomb”, singular, in the boldface header, he gets the reader thinking of the atomic bomb. But what he’s dismissing is the massive bombing campaign prior to that, which leveled Tokyo and most of Japan’s industrial plant at the end of the war.

The Japanese were certainly afraid of the Russians getting involved in the war against them, for excellent historical reasons that are too complicated to go into here. But what was happening in the Japanese government at the end of the war is extremely complicated and not generally known. There were different factions in contention. One faction wanted to fight to the death. A related, but different, faction wanted to enact “The Honorable Death of the Hundred Million”, sending out an order in Hirohito’s name ordering all Japanese to commit suicide in order to shame America before the world. Yet another faction, not in control until Hirohito himself stepped in after the bombing of Nagasaki, had been suing for peace since at least January 1945 through diplomatic channels.

While that power struggle probably included a fear of the Russians getting involved as part of the calculus of the whole thing, the determining factor was, in fact, the two atomic bombings.

We did a pretty good job of bombing Japan back to the stone age, by the by. Know what else we did, without Soviet help? We rebuilt Japan back into an industrial power in the matter of a couple of years.

For this we should thank them?

#3: UPPER VOLTA WITH ROCKETS: Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union struggled to meet the basic requirements of food and shelter. For example, the USSR’s desperate housing shortage could have been ameliorated with taller structures, but the country didn’t possess sufficient raw materials to supply elevators for apartments above five stories.

This has got to be the stupidest point Brown makes. For one thing, even assuming this is true, in what way is this something you and I should thank the USSR for? “Hey, guys, thanks for… not having enough housing… because you can’t build elevators!”

But it is worse than that. When it existed, the USSR had the most land under its control of any polity on the entire planet. Given that fact, why would it matter if they had tall buildings or not? Not being able to build up, they could have built out. Instead of taller buildings, just build more shorter ones. Plenty of room.

But no, they didn’t have the “raw materials” for elevators, therefore they couldn’t build tall buildings, therefore there was a housing shortage.

For this we should thank them?

#4: CHARMING BETRAYAL: The most effective spy cell the Soviets ever had was made up of aristocratic Englishmen schooled at Cambridge. Additionally, multiple physicists working for Britain on the Manhattan Project were Soviet moles and they provided Stalin’s scientists with the blueprints of the atomic bomb even before it was used on Japan. In short, the greatest threat to U.S. national security during the early part of the Cold War may have been our closest ally.

Here Brown admits that the Soviets were working against us before Hiroshima, contradicting what he said above.

Why is it that we should blame Britain for the fact that the Soviets turned a number of Brits into spies? Does Brown think that the Soviets are somehow blameless in recruiting spies to betray their own countries? He does, at least, admit the spying.

For this we should thank them?

#5: THE REAL MENACE: Joseph McCarthy barely believed a word he said and found zero communists in government roles.

Brown can read Joseph McCarthy’s mind, despite McCarthy’s death in the ’50s. (Well, how else are we supposed to know what McCarthy “really” believed? Brown asserts it, so he must be psychic!)

The fact that McCarthy found zero communists in government roles does not mean there were zero communists in government roles.

Because if you read The Black Book of Communism or know about the Venona Project, you know that there damned well were Soviet agents all over the State Department and elsewhere.

The problem wasn’t that McCarthy was wrong. The problem was that McCarthy was correct and completely failed to fix or even improve the situation.

For this we should thank them?

#6: FLAWED GAMESMANSHIP: The domino theory was used first by Dwight Eisenhower to argue that if communist forces in Vietnam succeeded, the contagion of Kremlin-supported regimes could spread to Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. This was a fallacy. Virtually all revolutions during the Cold War were homegrown and, in general, waged to overthrow colonial masters—of all ideologies.

And again, what about this means we should thank the USSR?

The Domino Theory, whatever its faults, is rather an easy thing to understand people accepting at the time. Consider that the USSR turned the entirety of Eastern Europe into a group of puppet states in one year, 1945. Then, just a few years later in 1949, China fell to Mao’s communists. Then there was the Korean War, when North Korea tried to take over the entire peninsula at the urging of Moscow (though Kim Il Sung likely didn’t need all that much urging). Then Cuba went communist in 1959. It kept happening, and for a while there, it seemed to be happening everywhere all at once. (And, indeed, it happened in Cambodia in the mid-70s, too, even as Vietnam fell to communism.)

While it was basically useless as a predictive tool, and was severely flawed if not useless as an analytical tool, it surely did describe, in oversimplified terms, what had actually happened that people already knew.

As for “all revolutions during the Cold War” being “homegrown”, yes, the Communist Party International always managed to find homegrown dupes to act in the way that they wanted. But to pretend that those revolutions did not have Soviet backing is ignorant and ahistorical.

For this we should thank them?

#7: FAKE NEWS: Overall, the U.S. never fell behind the Soviet Union in the development of nuclear weaponry—there was never a bomber gap or a missile gap. The United States developed the first intercontinental nuclear bomber, tested the first hydrogen bomb, launched the first nuclear submarine, introduced the first tactical nuclear weapons, and created the first solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.

While these things are true, what Brown leaves out is what the perception was at the time. The perception which the USSR very carefully and deliberately cultivated in the international media.

This is why Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin were such propaganda coups — they enhanced and furthered a perception that already existed.

For this we should thank them?

#8: PROLONGED BLOWBACK: In 1977, the Carter administration began a covert CIA program to destabilize the Soviet Union by encouraging ethnic violence and radical Islam in Afghanistan, Soviet Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Chechnya. When the Soviets sent 100,000 troops into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979, the U.S. commitment to the anti-Soviet mujahideen surged. This massive, multi-billion-dollar covert operation ended up hatching global jihad.

Wait, so you want me to believe that the Iranian Revolution in 1979 (which really began in early 1978) was caused by Jimmy Carter’s instigating a CIA program in 1977?

twenty minutes of continuous laughter

Yes, I know, he conveniently left out Iran, because it doesn’t fit his narrative. Too fucking bad, because you can’t ignore the main source of Islamic extremism if you’re going to talk about the rise of Islamic extremism.

Yes, we supported the mujahadeen. Yes, that had unforeseen consequences. Yes, we should not have done that, and should be extremely circumspect about such operations in the future.

But do you notice what he’s ignoring, here? The USSR invaded Afghanistan, but somehow we’re the bad guys, because we supported the resistance to the invasion. The invaders, well, they were fine. Us? We’re baaaaaad.

For this we should thank them?

#9: CAUTIONARY TALE: Finally, turning the Soviets into enemies after World War II—instead of thanking them—almost killed us all. Multiple national security experts have asserted that sheer luck is the best explanation for why the Cold War did not conclude with a charred and lifeless planet.

You see, it’s all our fault that the Soviets infiltrated our government and the Manhattan project, stole our nuclear secrets, used them to build a bomb, and then threatened us with nuclear Armageddon. It’s our fault that we didn’t surrender to them instantly. Why did we make them keep hitting us? We were so terrible, we should be ashamed.

They did not nuke us. For this we should thank them?

You know, Brown, maybe they should fucking thank us that we didn’t nuke them? You spent the whole column basically admitting that the USSR was belligerent but too economically weak to really back up that belligerence, and yet we never wiped them off the face of the Earth for doing so, even though, as you imply, it would have been much easier to do than even we thought at the time.

Ever think of that, nitwit?

Brian T. Brown is the author of Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness, published November 5 by Twelve.

Who is more idiotic, the Useful Idiot, or the Useful Idiot still idioting decades after his cause was tossed on the trash heap?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.

This fisking by D. Jason Fleming is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License, some rights reserved.

341 thoughts on “No Gratitude Warranted- by D Jason Fleming

  1. This sort of revisionism-centric mindset was not uncommon; I remember seeing it first hand when we were in East Berlin.

    There was a point where they tried to erase World War 2, because the Germans lost. There was also a mindset where they ‘didn’t really lose, because they were all Socialists, and brotherhooooood!!1 with Communists and the USSR’, where the rationale was actually somewhat easier to follow than the average twisting of brain that we witness with the usual NeoCommie Socjus Zealot today. And then there was the train of thought that Hitler was a conspiracy theory made up by America, because there was no way any German could be that evil.

    (This is why Holocaust Denial is not unimaginable to me. I kinda get why the Germans don’t want to acknowledge it being something their grandparents were okay with for the most part.)

    Easier to follow, but not really very different. It wasn’t hard to boil it down to ‘we’re the REAL victims, and the people responsible were the CAPITALIIIIISTS’

    Sounds familiar, no?

    1. Reason why I had the suspicion that the guy who got banned at Armed and Dangerous, who was bitching about the bombing campaign against Germany, was of East German heritage. Definitely some kind of German, or identifying as German and grew up around the oral history. (Comments are gone now, otherwise I would link.)

        1. The banning was with three other handles, who I gather were sock puppets of a known person, who may be experiencing a decline in mental health.

          I think this handle was a separate person, and wasn’t paying attention to the other handles. ESR has said he will unban if the separate person hypothesis is true, and that person messages him.

      1. Granted the following is without seeing posts, but compared to today I can see whining about the German bombing. was much more intense than anything recent.

        1. Summarizing, Hitler was a good guy unjustly overthrown by the evil Americans, the evilest of the evil powers in history, and seemed fixed on the bombing campaign against Germany. Complained about Capitalism and about how bad it is to be ruled by Slavs.

          Seemed like it would require a special type of ignorant to be so aware of what the Germans suffered being bombed, without the understanding of why the Americans and British might have been influenced in their targeting decisions.

          Maybe he was from Peru, Ethiopia, NYC, or Sri Lanka.

    2. Any time I say something like “how can someone deny the Holocaust?” it’s not because I don’t believe it happened, it’s because it’s a head shake at how stupid humans can be if they don’t want to understand something. It happens a lot with science, too.

      1. *dry* Yeah, I get that a lot, especially with the concept of climate on the planet being affected more by the Sun, and less to do with EVIL HUMANITY.

        (am so grateful for our lovely scientists who give us the info here, and confirming that stuff I remember reading when I was much younger. I really am glad to know I’m not misremembering or hallucinating the influence of the sun on our weather…)

        1. My mom studied paleontology. When people talk about the climate getting hotter, I keep wanting to say “and how many millennia are part of your baseline to what level of accuracy?”

          Seriously, we can barely get a century of data with results within the margin of error, and you’re expecting me to freak out because “this is the hottest ever”? Yeah, tell that to the vineyards in England.

          1. If you want to get really angry, watch this insanity. They’ve been wailing about ‘climate catastrophe- caused drought’ but it turns out enough water has been wasted to keep Aussie farmers feeding their livestock, because they don’t pay as much as multinational farms (the example given was almond tree farms) but their money is taken anyway but they’re not given water because the richer buyers are prioritized, but the water is unable to get past a natural river chokepoint and floods and is poisoning a national gumtree rainforest. The farmers have had to sell their livestock to China, and many have been forced to sell their properties.

              1. It’s really bad; and given the sudden surge of anti-farmer communist-vegan activism here, especially against beef farmers, who are part of the Australian economy’s lifeblood, coupled with several Chinese-related financial scandals related to politics and land ownership, there were a lot of red flags that frankly, had that crazy conspiracy theory guy from R.E.D. (Retired, Extremely Dangerous) pop into my head.

    3. The purpose of denying the Holocaust, is rehabilitating those who would do it again.

      The purpose of rehabilitating the Evil-Empire USSR, is so the advocates of that idiot Marx and his insane acolytes can try one more time to get it right.


      1. Actually, there’s another point. If the Progressives who played cheerleader for the likes of Stalin and Mao don’t deny the clear history of Communist states, then they have to own some responsibility for barbarism that, let’s face it, dwarfs what the Despicable Austrian did. And you and I both know they aren’t strong enough for that.

        Very few people are. David Horowitz is an honorable exception.

        Now, I’m not saying we should let them get away with their denial. Just that it’s understandable, and not necessarily rooted in power hunger. Probably is for a lot of ‘em, though.

        1. David Horowitz is an honorable exception.

          Leave us also recognize his partner, the recently passed Peter Collier.

          And I will give a nod to Joan Baez for her post-war protests of the (victorious) Vietnamese government’s oppression of political prisoners.

        1. That 1 min 12 second scene is the ultimate distillation of why we still have socialism….period.

          1. This side-barred item is a reminder of why, whatever my political disagreements with Neil Gaiman (and despite his wife being a twit) I am happy he’s successful:

            “You don’t know me son, so let me explain this to you once. If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.”

            1. I love that line!

              … of course, the cynic in me both agrees with the doctor, and would realize that any bad guy would say the same thing.

  2. Brown is Russian propagandist, and a fool!
    In the mid-70 s when I was in college, the history and sociology professors were already sympathetic to Communism, and the English grad students were out right communist or extreme socialist.

    1. Hell, academics were often in sympathy with Communism all the way back to the late a Victorian era. It’s the kind of intellectual drivel that appeals to the academic mind. Not the SCHOLARLY mind, but the mind of somebody who wants to be considered a thinker without actually doing much intellectual heavy lifting.

        1. Exactly. The real thinkers are too busy thinking and then recording what they though. They are willing to WORK at it. The Academics are people who want to be respected – recently, to be revered – for being thinkers, but don’t want to do anything HARD…like examine actual history or run the math on something like Solar power. They want to day-dream and then tell us lesser mortals to implement their fantasies. And if their fantasies don’t work, then that’s the fault of some shadowy ‘wreckers’, not the fault of the ‘plan’.

          College faculties are full of them; work-shy bums who signed up for ‘easy’ careers, and who publish as little actual scholarship and teach as few classes as they can get away with.

          They were scared to death of my (scholar) Father, because he did the heavy lifting that they wouldn’t. He published articles and books, taught survey classes, mentored graduate students. He did the work, and while he was active the colleges had not yet devolved into places where somebody who didn’t do the work could undermine somebody who obviously did.

          Now, they have wrecked the place, and are scared that society will notice.

    2. The first is a subset of the second.

      Although one should never dismiss corrupt intent out of hand, it still requires one be a fool to ignore the history of Russian treatment of useful idiots.

  3. The Soviets started the Cold War when they not only left the Polish Home Army in Warsaw to die, but also refused to let British and American planes trying to drop supplies to the Poles land at their airfields in order to refuel.
    Which, considering that American food, fuel, and trucks and keeps were what kept the Red Army going, was kind of ungrateful.

    1. Gratitude is for Christians. The religious beliefs of the Soviet leadership firmly excluded any concept that might give rise to gratitude. Hence why they have the advantage of being to irritated to ever rest, or the disadvantage of never knowing peace.

      1. As someone not fond of that animal, if Christ is calling on men to be dogs, “woof, woof”.

    2. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if US supplies to the Soviets had been cut off at just the right time. Late enough to ensure victory over the Nazis, but early enough to cripple the Red Army and have it be utterly savaged, perhaps enough to leave it unable to control what would become the Soviet satellite states.

      1. You would have had to cut off those supplies very early. And we would have lost a lot more American lives.

        Lend-lease might (note that word, as I’m not completely sure) have saved Moscow, which was the logistical hub for the Soviets (as in, all of their supplies passed through the city before heading to the various fronts). Losing that might have hurt the Soviets enough to allow the Nazis to win. But if that wouldn’t have done the trick, then nothing would have. And that means the Germans were destined to lose even without Lend-Lease.

        However, the spectacular victory during the Summer of 1944 that resulted in the complete destruction of Army Group Center was only accomplished due to the large numbers of US-built trucks that allowed the infantry to keep up with the Soviet tanks, and keep pressure on the shattered German army as it retreated from the Soviet breakthrough. Without Lend-Lease, the Germans would have been able to rebuild their front line before reaching the Vistula. And they also might have been able to take some of the units that they had to use to stabilize the front lines on the Eastern Front (such as the 3rd and 5th SS Panzer Divisions) and throw them up against the post-Cobra breakout on the Western Front that was happening at the same time.

        1. “You would have had to cut off those supplies very early.”
          USSR was utterly dependent on US food shipments in 1944-45 — without it they would have had killing famine.
          However, I don’t think anyone in US ruling circles at the time — not just among Democrats but also GOP, led by Dewey — would have been willing to do so.

      2. I think overall it was a matter of russian bravery/fatalism and American industry that won. One of the two would have been hard pressed but both managed it

    3. Let’s consider the events in Katyn Forest, eh?

      I am sure it was necessary to prevent American paranoia from undermining Soviet authority.

  4. Sadly and entirely predictable. No, not because poorly- I mean maleducated, rather. Or commie. Not entirely. The narrative is just another variation on a theme. They’ve always got to paint themselves as the underdog. The oppressed.

    The story in their heads is, “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!” Wait. No. Not that one. The story in their heads is “Bad things happened to me. It must be someone else’s fault!” Someone is doing the oppressing, thus according to the narrative they will fight back and win because story.

    It means anyone in a position of power is suspect, corrupt, and bad. And they are never in a position of power, because they are the underdogs. They’re the new greatest generation- I don’t mean the fellows that fought and died by the shipload in the second World War. Oppressors. No, I mean they think *they* are, the aging hippies and boomers of the free love and socialism generation.

    Even terrorists like American movies, because they see themselves as… the underdogs. The oppressed. The little guy. It’s a powerful narrative. Been around since, oh, probably before we developed *writing.*

    The soviets weren’t underdogs. Stalin was, povably, an insane, evil, sadistic bastard. Paranoid? Well, undoubtedly people *were* thinking of killing him, but he was paraoid about other things, too. Poor little USSR managed to murder many thousands of its own citizens as well as those under its thumb in the Eastern Bloc countries. And closer to home, does no one remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? Whose missiles were we worried about being pointed at us from so close a range, eh? If you think the Cubans under Castro alone in the late fifties, early sixties were what we were worried about, you might be a lefty (and/or un-or maleducated, possibly).

    Take away the underdog narrative and all they have is a litany of complaints. An extended whine. I would say it is childish, but children have the advantage of ignorance. They can learn. How mush is stupidity and how much is direct malice I leave for the reader to determine themselves.

    1. The ‘underdog’ narrative is beloved of most work-shy bums. Welfare drones. Unscholarly academics. That sort. The kind who expend vast amounts of time and energy avoiding hard work.

      I should know; I have the tendency myself.

    2. Yeah, the Ukraine famines of the Twenties and Thirties were the result of farmers, excessively fearful of Communism, resisting the enlightened policies of farm collectivization attempting to redress centuries of exploitation by Capitalist landlords.

      And in the Seventies, Soviet wheat production was undermined by American below cost dumping of wheat on the Soviet market.

      1. Hey, you forgot to use the Extreme Sarcasm font… 😛

        Normal people might think you’re serious. Leftists will just nod and go ‘Yup, yup, so true.’

      2. and resisting those policies with such evil that they were willing to die with all their families while looking saintly and innocent — can you just IMAGINE the evil embodied in Ukrainians, to do THAT?

  5. ok, in a sideways way, I might agree with #7… a teeny tiny bit.

    During the Cold War, the Soviets did give us something that I would consider awesome. It gave us something to strive against. America and Americans tend to be very competitive people. Be it a pool table or dart board in a bar, or a conference table / corporate board, we want to WIN! Build the biggest this, make the fastest that. Make more profit than the competition. Sputnik was a kick in the pants, and a lot of the technology the whole world now takes for granted was invented or improved because American scientists were motivated to be better, to win the space race, to beat the Ruskies to the moon!

    Don’t get me wrong. Thank them? Naa… there’s no point.

    Just one small point on #8. Frankly, I’m confused by it. What exactly was his point there. We’re supposed to thank the USSR for Carter screwing shit up? Why? Carter was good enough at screwing shit up all by himself.

    1. Sputnik did lead to a major emphasis on improving science education in America, with a lot of additional federal money for schools. This probably did some real good…for a time…but it seems that now, the ‘science’ education has largely turned into one more variant of Social Studies (along with all other fields) while the federal money has remained and increased.

      1. Once the Department of Education was created the administrators took control of the money and created a compliance system that forced all the schools to hire more administrators to comply with.
        Most Federal departments appear to be, at their core, administrators being fruitful & multiplying while the original purpose of the department is important mostly for press releases and budget requests…

        1. All government bureaucracies tend to become hot houses of both the Peter Principal and Parkinson’s Law. Private enterprise that gets too infected by those viruses dies, but government bureaucracy keeps getting funded long after the point of total uselessness.

          1. Because private enterprise can’t hold a gun to your head and make you buy their products. Don’t pay your taxes and the government will come down on you with the full force of the law — which immunizes them from market forces that take down a business that gets full of itself.

        2. Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy:
          in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

        3. I’ll quote from wikipedia:

          “Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy”: In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

          I’ve seen too many examples to discount Jerry.

        1. Give ‘ol Jimmy some credit. He’s far more credible and serious minded than the current Democrats. The current candidate wanna-be types make him look like a towering specimen in comparison, broken hip and all.

            1. Bob “I learned about Dada reading Pinkwater when I was a kid” the Fool 2020 is in policy a more serious and credible enterprise than the current crop of Democrats, even if I were to pick a platform that is purely the most obnoxious possible trolling.

              Which is to say that I’m under stress, have missed too much sleep, and at one point I decided that I might as well throw my hat into the ring. It’s not clear what exactly I was thinking, and at the moment I’m wondering if I was asleep or something.

              Yeah, it would purely be an exercise in trolling, but right now I think even a speech and a comment or two would be too expensive to be worth it.

  6. “Because if you read The Black Book of Communism or know about the Venona Project, you know that there damned well were Soviet agents all over the State Department and elsewhere.”

    Some things haven’t changed, which is why I worry about the deep state.

    1. Honestly, I’m half-convinced that either McCarthy or someone on this staff was a Communist agent. His antics, and those of J. Edgar Hoover, set back efforts to deal with actual Communist agents in the United States for decades.

      1. Wondered that myself, often. My parents were college-aged at that time, and recalled that the conventional wisdom was that McCarthy was a blowhard and a fool. While still being essentially correct that there were Commies everywhere.

        1. I’ve said it here often. Joe’s biggest crime was being an asshole and right.
          An unforgivable combination, and those opposed will use the first to obscure the second.

          1. You are so right! He wasn’t even the biggest asshole around, but he was right! The worst crime imaginable!
            Besides, even the Republicans didn’t want to admit, even to themselves, that the government was so compromised.

          2. And major figures in the media of the time, like Edward R. Murrow, were opposed to rooting out domestic Communists. They thought it was fine to confront Communism abroad, but to oppose Communism domestically would be stepping on rights.

            To a very small extent, I agree with that stance, but only to the extent that I wouldn’t go tossing them in jail or forcing their expulsion from private employment. I darn well don’t want members of the American government to be in ideological alignment with America’s enemies, though. It was also the height of hypocrisy for the media of the 50’s to take that stance, given as they’d spent the FDR years demonizing many who opposed US entry into WW2 (e.g. Rickenbacker, Lindbergh, the America First crowd, various industrialists, etc.).

            1. I wouldn’t go tossing them in jail or forcing their expulsion from private employment.

              And yet that is precisely how Progressives treat their opponents today. Arguments in defense of liberty are denounced as tainted for being funded by corporate interests, challenges to their fantasies are denounced as denialist lies propagated by shills of the fossil fuel industry (even though many of the biggest profiteers of Climate Change Theory are energy providers) and any whistleblowers (e.g., abortion mills as parts suppliers) are tried for violating privacy laws.

            2. as Socialism and Communism remove rights, it is not benign, but then a whole ‘nother can-o-worms gets dumped. But slavery is illegal, and I have know folks who would be fine with it coming back (and as it is, all were fecking dems whos’ only republican votes were for David Duke)

          3. The same criticism can accurately be applied to Trump most days; a “blowhard and fool,” but essentially right. Fortunately for us, Trump is far more effective in his actions than McCarthy ever was.

            1. I never thought Trump was the worlds smartest businessman (if he was, he’d not have so many failures) but I never thought him all that big a fool. Even at his left-most, (like gun control_ he’s prone to saying something that seems foolish and ending it by finishing with some form of “But that probably isn’t ever going to work in the real world”

              1. “if he was, he’d not have so many failures”

                If you always play it safe, you’ll have fewer failures…. and also no successes. Trump’s approach to business is try something big, and if it fails try something else.

                1. true, but he has a long line of collateral destruction left behind by some of those
                  That said, his smartest business move was saying about Louisiana and New Orleans : “I wouldn’t build and outhouse in this place”

            1. Worse, he is turning out right about things I wish he wasn’t doing (tariff wars make my teeth itch, but he seems to work them better than I expect them to work)

              1. Trump has publicly offered to have ZERO tariffs…. if other countries don’t either. No one will take him up on it…. so he uses tariffs as a lever.

                1. Which is what a lot of us have been screaming about for ages, now.

                  I hate the trope of “well, we have an agreement, they’re breaking it but we won’t.”

                  Gosh, maaaaaaaybe there’s a reason to have agreements, and it’s not “promise to do a thing with no strings”?


                  1. In trade as in marriage, if only one side is keeping the agreement, the other side has no room to complain when the keeping stops.

                    There’s a reason Christ said the only grounds for divorce is adultery.

                    1. That specific example is rather hotly contested, but it’s a basic thing that you can’t sacrifice a greater loyalty to a lesser one.

                      Keeping faith would be a greater loyalty; protecting your people’s interests a lesser one; looking good a still lesser one.
                      So long as you are following the greater good of your yes meaning yes, short-term sacrifice of your people’s interests is alright.
                      Once the agreement has been violated, keeping it is a matter of appearance– and so if it harms your people’s interest, it’s a violating of one’s duty.

                2. Equitable agreements are when both (all) sides get something out of it and are mostly satisfied with it. Our entire legal economic environment in America is based on that concept. America used tariffs to protect our fledgling industries where foreign competition had the financial mass to drop prices low enough and long enough to crush those industries before jacking prices back up in a monopolistic market to recoup those loses. Mr. Trump recognized those same forces at work with China (and other countries) with America drawing the short straw. While these tariffs do cause pain to some sectors in this country (farmers, etc.) they really are the only peaceful tool available that actually works in the long run.

                  Agreements imposed by force of arms don’t last, and often don’t solve the problem in the first place.

                3. one of the reasons non-American car makers had/have so many small displacement low power cars started because many countries decided to add taxes and tariffs to cars with engines of and over a certain size . . . essentially the size was determined by the Model T so they could block it being affordable in their countries

              2. Tariff wars are basic Game Theory, applied.

                MASH: “Their ringer spotted our ringer.”

                Or, as we say in America: Don’t Start Nuthin’ Won’t Be Nuthin’

          4. Sort of. McCarthy was A. a jerk and B. right without having any evidence for why, which meant that he went after the wrong people.

            HUAC was much more effective in actually ferreting out spies.

        2. Or guys, maybe he was LATE. Maybe the mass media could project whatever they wanted by then?
          I mean, common wisdom is that I and a few of my friends are racist, sexist, homophobic white males. A conceit that doesn’t survive meeting even one of us, or reaidng ONE of our works. ANd yet, everyone knows it.
          And the media has a lot less power now.

        3. McCarthy was a bandwagon jumper. If he had thought he could get more political power by advocating cannibalism, he would have been reading from ‘A Modest Proposal’ the next day. The Progressive Left really ought to be erecting statues of the sonofabitch.

      2. Don’t give the… gentlemen… on the HUAC any breaks here – they were spectacularly bad, and arguably were more responsible than McCarthy for clumsy, stupid, and other choice adjectives one could use to describe as ultimately aiding communists ensconced in government, at the very least.

        1. Research (by Ron Radosh, IIRC) has shown that such as the Hollywood 10 were ordered by their Soviet masters to reveal themselves and suffer the pangs of blacklisting. Their covers having been effectively blown they were more useful to their overseers as victims than as agents.

        2. Interesting side light (at least to me) is the claim (apparently well founded) that most of the Hollywood types who committed the grave sin of ‘naming names’ were people the Hollywood Communists had bullied, getting their own back. Most of the Hollywood ‘victims’ of the HUAC hearings were pretty nasty Stalinist jerks, according to this narrative.

          Sounds about right.

          The same source (a book I can’t find, since we pack up everything to redo the floors) said that, from the record, anything those idiot did that advanced the Cause of International Communism was probably accidental.

          1. The lionizing of Dalton Trumbo, in particular, has always galled me. The man bragged about getting anti-communist writers blacklisted from Hollywood (he ensured that Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon was never filmed, for one example), then turned around and made himself a martyr because he was blacklisted.

      3. I suppose I ought to have included something about McCarthy invalidating his own cause in the overculture, because he certainly did.

        That said, neither he nor Hoover were agents. Just self-aggrandizing blowhard tyrants (one a wannabe, the other an actual), a type that can be found near every source of power, governmental and otherwise, in human history.

        1. Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it is bound to be bad for the pitcher.

  7. First clue was published in the Daily Beast, that loathsome hive of scum and villainy. All that follows is 100% predictable. Liars.

    About the only thing Canadians can thank the Soviets for is sucking at hockey. The Canada vs. USSR series in the 1970s was epic.

  8. It’s always fun to watch how foreigners who never set foot in a Soviet or Warsaw Pact country (or took a guided tour at most) are regarded as totally credible, and much better sources than, I dunno, the people actually born and raised there.

    Let’s see if I can add some info from the other side of the Wall, so to speak. The following comments are directed to the original article, not the rebuttal above.

    1,2 – Not much more to say than the above. The USSR did have more casualties and was a credible threat to Japan, but that’s neither here nor there in terms of how anyone should be grateful.

    3 – Are you kidding me!? For one, socialist architecture is infamous for its tall-dark-and-ugly-as-sin housing blocks. There would actually be plenty of room to spare, if not for the other socialist hallmark – extremely heavy and oversized furniture. As for food, shortages were all but invariably due to poor political management, which is to be expected, what with the rampant nepotism in the party. Never mind the active suppression of competition and hence potential for improvement.

    4, 5 – Not much to say here. Little of the overseas operations ever became common knowledge, let alone the American reactions thereof. That said…

    6 – This here is stupid beyond belief. The USSR provided both armament and, unofficially, troops to Vietnam, and likely other proxy war hotbeds. The perennial joke about the Vietnam war was that Soviet MiGs were designed to be flown only with your feet, because the (Russian) pilots were busy pulling their eyelids in order to look Asian.

    7 – From what I’ve heard, the USSR was in the habit of creating various imitations and diversions in order to appear much stronger that it was. From inflatable tanks and fake missile silos, to recorded army parades with airplane formations looping off-screen… here, even I have to chuckle that anyone ever bought it.

    8, 9 – Again, the rebuttal is comprehensive already. I almost feel insulted by how liberals can’t seem to grasp how influential the Union really was. Though I wouldn’t call them useful idiots – amusing, perhaps, but I’m just not sure they were ever all that useful.

    In general, I find the American left to exhibit a form of extreme self-centered chauvinism, in that they can never acknowledge the idea of the US actually having competitors on the global power market. Instead, every defensive measure taken by American forces is regarded as if existing in a vacuum; like they’re violent maniacs while all other nations in the world are just peaceful peasants singing kumbaya. And then they call conservatives jingoistic…

    1. Yeah. The reason I’m anti-communist is that I’ve had lots of conversations with folk born and raised within it. (That and the “mountains of corpses”, but we’re talking personal narratives there.)

      When I was in high school, in the 90s, a group of my classmates did a trip to Russia. (And hosted a return trip from some Russians.) One thing that caught my attention was a comment reported by one of them from a Russian: “You can tell who are Americans, because they’re always smiling. [beat] They have lots to smile about.”

      1. I heard about a Russian delegation being shown around the U.S. back in the 1950’s. They were convinced that the American supermarket they visited had to be part of an elaborate Potemkin Village scam — because a food store actually had FOOD on the shelves! Even with the great advantages of Socialist Central Planning, they couldn’t keep food on the shelves. When food did reach a store, it triggered a desperate stampede as people tried to buy some before it was all gone.

        Don’t even think about what happened when a Russian store had two refrigerators for sale.

        1. Sounds about accurate. The main defence against mass starvation was really the babushka network – truly industrial amounts of grains, pastries and pickled fruit and vegetables, constantly shuttled from relatives in rural areas, even today. (Your average Slavic grandma has the production capacity of half a factory, and three times the effective lifespan.) And moonshine is practically a currency, exchanged for all sorts of services and favors.

          Really, even those few (and going fewer) among us with rosy impressions of the red days, tend to yearn more for the various ways in which they overcame or subverted the inane rules and practices of the old regime. And the rest is just the overall romantic view of the Cold War, where at least things were a bit more orderly and clearly defined, as opposed to the chaos of modern terrorism and assorted internal subversion campaigns. Everybody wants the world to be simple… as if it ever was…

        2. That doesn’t surprise me. As late as the late 1980’s visitors from East Germany were amazed by the supermarket. The shelves were mostly kept stocked, there were all sorts of fresh produce, there were multiple options and brands of many common products. And the toilet paper was cheap and wasn’t rough!

          In the early 70’s Soviet physicists visiting the US were amazed that a young man like my father, working a summer job at the research facility’s motor pool, was able to afford, and was able to just go out and buy, a car of his own (even if it was used).

          1. I read a book by a Romanian woman whose parents were pretty high ranking (father was a diplomat). When she finally got to visit the US, she was enraged at the food in the stores, because she assumed that the US did so well because we’d diverted all the food from the Warsaw Pact.

            Her father also almost lost his Party membership when he got married because her mother was “too attractive and looked like a member of the bourgeoisie.” *amazed head shake* That sounds like the Communist Party.

            1. When she finally got to visit the US, she was enraged at the food in the stores, because she assumed that the US did so well because we’d diverted all the food from the Warsaw Pact.

              ….Well, if that ain’t a microcosm of the entire current Left, with different specifics.

              1. Kids who go to Africa on various social missions routinely come back convinced that they’re poor because we’re rich. I think Obama believes the same.
                This is bullshit on stilts, of course.

                    1. Thinks fondly of the Monty Python sketch for the Upper Class Twit of the Year, complete with a fatal conclusion. If only…

          2. Demonstrated:

            Note the question asked is “Where is the line for coffee?”

            One of my favorite anecdotes is the tale of a Soviet general being driven through an American city, expressing amazement as they went around a corner: “You people are impressively thorough! You do the sides and backs of your buildings, too!”

            1. Victor Belenko defected from the USSR in the 1970s, bringing one of their latest fighters with him. In his autobiography he talked about being driven about the DC area by his CIA handlers, and his reaction when they went through Georgetown.

              It was so pathetically obvious that it was a Potemkin village, and incompetent too. There weren’t even any outhouses! They couldn’t fool him!

              Belenko was one of the *many* defectors who left, not because of politics – he was a true believer in Communism when he left – but because he got so thoroughly sick of the corruption and feral management that he finally bailed.

              He actually believed what he’d been told about how horrible things were in America. But it finally got to the point where even that looked better than the day-to-day grind of just trying to do his job without the Party working against him.

              His autobiography is called “MIG Pilot.” It’s an interesting view of how the USSR outside of Russia and Ukraine worked, and how America of the 1970s looked to a complete outsider. He wasn’t as ignorant as Valentine Michael Smith, but he’d grown up isolated from any information about the West; as close to a New Soviet Man as you could get.

          3. A friend spent a few years as a nuclear weapons inspector, one of those treaty deals. He spent several months a year in Kazakstan, supposedly helping oversee their nuclear arsenal.

            Kazakhstan is a nuclear power. And they’re still the only place that can launch the rockets to supply the space station.
            But Kazakhstan is *poor*. And insular. And mostly Muslim. And as a legacy of Russian rule and Kazakh propaganda, even military officers are not particularly well informed on the world outside their borders.

            Some of his opposite numbers came to the US on official business. Mostly majors and colonels. The culture shock was profound.

            A lieutenant picked them up at the flight line. Said lieutenant was blonde, six feet tall, and female. That was not a thing back home. Still, they managed to quit gawping; they’d seen tall and blonde Americans before, and they’d been told that there were women in the US military. They could deal with that.

            The part they had trouble with was that she’d shown up driving a black Lincoln Navigator. The Kazakhs were impressed; they hadn’t expected such a fine welcome. Rich apologized for not having an official vehicle; the lieutenant had picked them up in her personal vehicle.

            Stop. TILT. Does not compute. Return to Start.

            Rich couldn’t resist pwning them a bit by telling them there was nothing unusual about that; the Army issued black Lincoln Navigators to all lieutenants.

            The Kazakhs took it pretty hard; he’d meant it as a joke, but they didn’t take it that way, and his apology was complicated by the fact that *was* her personal vehicle, and all of the Kazakhs together couldn’t have afforded the vehicle they were riding in.

            And watching them stare about, he didn’t have the heart to tell them they were on a not-particularly-grand Army base in rural Alabama…

            1. No, we’ve been launching supply rockets to the space station back in the states for several years now.

        3. A man walks into a Soviet store: “You don’t have any bread, do you?”
          “No, this is the butcher shop. We don’t have any meat. The store next door is the one that doesn’t have any bread.”

          1. P. J. O’Rourke put a longer version of this joke in one of his books:

            An old Russian man is waiting in a line for some food, when the store closes because they are out. He loses his temper and rants about how the system stinks. A man in a trench coat says, “Comrade, you really shouldn’t carry on so. You know what would have happened in the old days!”

            The old man totters home empty handed. His wife asks him, “Were they out of food?”

            “Worse!”, he replies, “They’re out of bullets!”

            1. I’m sure most of us here know this story of a similar event at the end of WW3, but it is well told again here:

                1. Yep. Figures I just looked at, there is one MRI unit for every 25K people in the US*. One per 100K people in Canada. Heck, we have MRIs running around in trucks.

                  * Not evenly distributed – almost all of the small towns, far fewer than 25K people, up in our Arizona White Mountain region, have at least one MRI unit. When it’s at least a two hour drive to any kind of metropolitan area, the need is there – and is met.

                  1. My cousin’s daughter runs an MRI in Rhinelander, WI. Pop. 7800 or so.
                    I recall a story of a lady in Calgary (pop. 1.23 million), who had iirc sextuplets and she was transferred to Billings, MT (pop. 110,000) as the nearest place with the capacity for the natal care for the babies able to take her, and once she gave birth, them in.
                    The parking lot at the hospital in Sault St. Marie, MI has an abundance of Canadian plates.

                  2. If I bought/leased one of those MRI trucks and parked it in Toronto, it would run full time 24/7. I could have a fleet of the things and become richer than King Midas just driving around to all the hospitals in Southern Ontario to take their overflow. Never mind the under-served or non-served towns up north.

                    You know why no one is doing that? Because it is ILLEGAL. You want to know -why- it is illegal? Because more MRIs means more diagnosed illnesses and more scheduled surgeries and radiation treatments. More hip replacements, more brain surgeries, more recovering patients, more physical therapy. They don’t want that. They can’t pay for it. But most of all, they can’t allow the private sector to set up shop and make them look bad.

                    Otherwise known as -rationing-. They aren’t brave enough to set a number that will be served, so they ration by scarcity of diagnostic resources and operating room services. “So sorry we can’t see your mum today, we will put her on the waiting list for the next available MRI, which is 6 months from now. Broken hip? Well, we need an MRI to be sure.”

                    I know there’s a bunch of people out there who think I’m either kidding or lying, but no I’m not. There’s a new case every week in the local papers where somebody died on the waiting list that shouldn’t have. There are people who die in the fucking waiting room at emergency and sit there dead for hours. Happens all the time. Rationing. Because socialism.

                    So if any of y’all Americans wants tour a totalitarian state where the People serve the government instead of the other way around, just visit Canada. Real nice polite people, beautiful scenery, just don’t get sick while you’re here.

                    1. Sounds like we need a project Veritas style undercover camera series for the upcoming election here in the US.

                    2. Judging from the socialist Brits and Australians I keep running into, they’d contend that the problem is there are still selfish people preventing the government from taking all their money, leaving the government medical programs underfunded.

                    3. Sure. But it’s an oath voluntarily taken and worse, the only way I know of to get in is working for the GOP. Guess who’ll use it?
                      Also, I’ll be honest: I don’t know HOW to do it. You’d need a relay team that films everything.
                      And I’m not 100% sure it will do much. Look at the Operation Veritas. They’ve made a splash…. on our side, unfortunately.
                      So I don’t know. But I hope someone who knows how to do it and make it go viral is on it.

                    4. “visit Canada. Real nice polite people, beautiful scenery, just don’t get sick while you’re here.”

                      Or injured …

                    5. The great thing about this type of rationing is the Secret Sauce which prevents any audit of fairness yet ensures that “the Right People” get timely treatment.

                      “We had somebody cancel this morning and wondered if you would like their appointment?”

                      As if anybody on a ten-month waiting list is likely to cancel at the last instant (well, their heirs might cancel …)

    2. I’ve seen many people like that argue with people like Oleg or Niki about thing that happened to each of them.
      Got the same from folks taking John EFFING Kerry’s word over those Vietnamese people who suffered after the fall. Or poo-poo the works of Khmer Rouge, because what do those who had to flee for their lives know, anyhow?

      1. They could ask my wife about the Khmer Rouge, but I wouldn’t want to subject her to their infuriating indifference.

        1. The average pinko likely doesn’t know about the Khmer Rouge. The average pinko can’t spell “Khmer Rouge”. They think Pol Pot is a type of cookware. And in general, there’s a rather exclusive list of atrocities the left recognizes, mostly pertaining to grossly inaccurate accounts of European colonialism or North American slavery. Anything else is all but irrelevant – the Armenian genocide, the Ottoman subjugation of the Balkans, the Great Leap Forward – mention any of that, and you’ll get accused of playing “oppression olympics” or “whataboutism”. Perish the thought you point out anything outside the party-approved List of Things to Care About (revised gender-fluid edition).

          1. The average pinko thinks Khmer Rouge is a brand of lipstick, one that says to the guys: “c’mere!”.

          2. Some of them might have heard of the Killing Fields. But as always, they blame the US. In this instance, it’s for supposedly setting up the conditions that allowed the Khmer Rouge to come to power.

        2. A former co-worker is Cambodian.
          A super nice guy and never a bad word . . . until 0bama came along . . . “What the hell is wrong with people?”
          His dad had been a very successful fruit farmer, who was given a warning just in time and the family escaped in the dark of night. The stupidity coming out in full at that tim e was scaring the hell out of him.

      2. My stepfather was Ukrainian, captured by the Zazis and used as slave labor in Czechoslovakia. (The farmer disobeyed the orders and fed the workers, so SF survived.) At the end of the war, it became clear to the Ukrainians there that if they returned, they would be shot as traitors by the commies, since the only patriotic thing for them to do would be to get killed.


        1. and your story reminds me of those in the Baltics who are slimed for collaborating with the Nazis in ww2, but their feeling was “We can’t beat the Soviets alone, but we damned sure can drive the Nazis out after the war”
          It worked somewhat for the Finns, not so much for Estonia and Latvia, and they paid dearly afterwards. The lucky ones managed to get to American and British lines and surrender.

    3. Indiana404,

      I am gratified that you find so little to correct or expand upon, given your direct experience, and my relative lack of expertise on the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. (I know more about China, but won’t claim expertise, per se, there either.)

      Thank you.

      1. Thank you in turn for the feedback. Though even I mostly caught the tail-end of the regime and the resulting fallout, and the direct accounts I’ve received from relatives vary wildly, depending on their culture and social status back then.

        I think the greatest irony is that socialist management was chock-full of policies that the modern left would absolutely hate, perhaps even moreso than the right. Sure, education and employment were guaranteed… but the numbers for university majors were limited, and graduates were assigned to whatever Nowheregrad the local functionary deemed suitable… while he kept the top spots for his nephews. Sure, healthcare was effectively free… so long as you lived long enough for your number in the waiting list to come up. And don’t get anyone started on cars, household appliances and electronics, or other creature comforts – all things that Soviet culture was habitually indifferent about, but the average social justice windbag frequently obsesses over.

        All in all, a lot of the reasons why the Union endured for so long have more to do with the culture of its people, than the prudence of its policies. That’s what I find can be truly praise-worthy… if I do say so myself.

    4. Oh, that last paragraph. You nailed it with iron. Seriously. They are fracking insane megalomaniacs. including believing anything that goes wrong with anything on Earth (Climate anyone? Watch us being blamed for the impending deep cool) is human. Did I ever tell you that the Cheyenne Mountain zoo has grave markings for extinct species, and then a mirror, that tells the kid “you’re looking at the only species that can cause extinctions.”
      This is a) full of shit. Species outcompete each other ALL THE TIME. b) One of the grave markers is for the t-rex. So… we have time travel and no one told me?

      1. You’ve brought to mind this item, addressing a point we’ve frequently discussed in this blog (so it is nice to see it in print):

        The Patriotism of the Poor Isn’t So Mysterious
        By Jim Geraghty
        Francesco Duina is professor of sociology at Bates College and author of Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country. Over in the Guardian, he grapples with what strikes him as a surprising and troubling phenomenon:

        The World Values Survey indicate that 100% of Americans who belong to the lowest income group are either “very” or “quite” proud of their country. This isn’t the case for any other major advanced country in the world. These positive feelings are also resilient: they intensified, in fact, during the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

        As long as they remain deeply patriotic, America’s poor won’t rise up. Indeed, they’ll continue to fill the ranks of the military, strive and sacrifice to help America assert itself in the world, and even feed into and support the slogans and successes of the country’s political leaders.


        Being poor in America is terrible in a lot of ways. But even the poorest American is ensured a vote upon turning 18, their day in court if charged with a crime with a jury of their peers, a right to a public defender, their right to speak their mind and criticize anyone in government without the state prosecuting him, their right to assemble and protest, the right to own a firearm if they have no mental impairment or criminal record, no search or seizure of their property without a warrant, rights against self-incrimination, the right to believe whatever religion they want or none at all, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. There are wealthy moguls in China who don’t have half those rights.

        I’d argue the more interesting question is not why do the poor assess living the United States so positively, but why the wealthy assess living the United States so negatively? … Perhaps the remarkable opportunities of the wealthy give them a skewed view of life at home and abroad.

        Yes, a wealthy person is more likely to have traveled to more foreign countries, and have more firsthand experience with life in other countries. But what do they see in their encounters with other countries? The life of a wealthy person in New York is not all that different from the life of a wealthy person in London or Paris or Dubai or Tokyo or Shanghai. It’s not surprising that almost everyone at the Davos conference gets along well. They’ve all been to the best schools, they all enjoyed enormous opportunities in their careers, they all dress in similar tailored suits, live well, eat well, enjoy the finer things in life . . . It is unsurprising that a CEO from Silicon Valley meets a CEO from Switzerland and, after chatting over a tray of canapes, concludes they’re not so different after all.

        If you have been lucky enough to stay or even just step inside more than one luxury hotel in more than one world capital, you’ll realize they all look more or less the same. The lobby of the Four Seasons doesn’t look all that different from one in the Mandarin Oriental, which doesn’t look all that different from the one in Ritz-Carlton, and most of us would be stumped if we had to pick out which one was which, and in which city. There’s a worldwide homogeny to the signifiers of the luxury lifestyle.


        If you step into lower-class or middle-class person’s house in “flyover country” in the United States, or Morocco, or Israel, or France, or Brazil, you will much more likely to immediately spot distinctions and differences. Even something as simple as tea with grandma is going to be immediately distinctive from country to country — the Japanese tea set is going to look different from the English tea set, and different from the Turkish tea set, and if you see a samovar, there’s a good chance you’re in Russia. If there is Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera art on the walls, there’s a really good chance the inhabitants are Mexican or have Mexican heritage. You’re more likely to spot symbols of religious faith, flags, sports team paraphernalia — all kinds of displays that declare, ‘this is where we come from, this is who we are, this is why we’re proud to be who we are.’ It is not surprising that poor and middle-class citizens would find “globalism” as an odd and not-that-appealing prospect, and express patriotism (and perhaps nationalism) in ways that wealthier, more cosmopolitan citizens find naive and parochial.

        1. I hate using TV/Movies as comparisons as they are notoriously unreliable. But looking at the kitchen appliances and size of the living quarters in US/Canada vs foreign shows indicates some startling differences.

          1. The Soviets permitted airings of Dallas and Dynasty with the express purpose of making the citizens disgusted with the decadent capitalist lifestyle.

            Instead, Soviet citizens were amazed that even the “oppressed servants” had better lifestyles than themselves.

            Truth is dangerous to fantasies like socialism.

            1. I’ve heard that they also showed the movie version of The Grapes of Wrath to show how awful things were for workers in the US — and the viewers were astonished that the Joads and other Okies had cars and pickups of their very own. (For all his flaws, Henry Ford did a great thing in making vehicles affordable to ordinary people, and paying his workers enough that they could become his customers as well).

              1. That is true, and frankly holds for virtually every western movie or show I’ve heard about being permitted.

                A related example: one of the media’s scare-stories in the Reagan era was how heartless Republicans were so mean they made old people so poor that some were reduced to living off cat food, because it was a cheap way to get meat.

                The USSR propaganda outlets trumpeted this, expecting it to be a wonderful example of the evils of capitalism.

                The actual reaction was “They’re so rich, they can afford to make food only for their pets???”

                1. There’s never any telling what message an audience will take from a movie. There’s an excellent Chinese film, The Story of Qui Ju about a pregnant peasant woman who seeks redress from the Chinese bureaucracy after the village chief kicks her husband in the groin in this comedy of justice.

                  Americans take the movie as a story about standing up to authority; I’m told the Chinese understand the message as “Don’t make waves.”

                  Funny how little the trailer tells us about the actual effing film, eh?

                  1. Actually, the story is (and was intended as) a damning indictment of communist bureaucracy. The “don’t make waves” things was how it got past the censors (ish).

                    But given the ending, I wonder about Americans who take it as being about “standing up to authority” and nothing more.

                    How. Ever. Talking about it will lead me into my long rant about how director Zhang Yimou sold his soul to the communist party just a few years after making this, and I’m already quite pissy enough.

                    I will say that this, Raise the Red Lantern and To Live make about as thorough a case against totalitarianism as you could ask for. Lantern is the least obvious, but was (correctly) seen by censors of the time as an indictment of the aftermath of Tiananmen. That the same man who made those three films went on to make Hero, as pure a piece of Beijing propaganda as can be imagined, is utterly disgusting.

      2. Over 99% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. Of those, over 99% went extinct long before Homo Sapiens evolved. We ’caused’ less than 1% of the extinctions that took place over the last 3 billion years. But ALL of them are our fault!

    5. For one, socialist architecture is infamous for its tall-dark-and-ugly-as-sin housing blocks.

      No one in the US, especially in architecture or academia, is going to criticize those – for their looks at least – because we had a whole bunch of the same things going up.

      It was the latest thing in urban planning, and the only concession that is made to their awfulness is “Well, it turns out that the ‘tower in a field’ model doesn’t really work with the way people live and create community.”

      Which doesn’t keep architecture students from trying it in their design classes.

      You can still find people encouraging Soviet design. They don’t call it that, of course, it’s “Brutalist” and just another one of those design choices that one can make that is equally valid (*spit*) to any other design choice.

      1. The joke is that one version of Soviet-style architecture is “Stalin Baroque” and the other is “Khrushchev Eclectic.”

      2. The most efficient shape for a building is a big square box with small windows. Greatest volume for least surface area makes it efficient to heat and cool. Shortest average distance from one room to another means least time and energy spent on moving around.

        It’s hard to make a big square box not ugly, and the communists didn’t even try.

          1. Or the Cabrini-Green high rises in Chicago. They looked like giant warehouses for surplussed humanware.

            There was a lot of other dysfunction going on there (alcohol and drug abuse, a welfare system that effectively rewarded unwed motherhood, etc.) but the hideous ugliness and impersonality of those buildings did not help, and probably exacerbated them. Those things were well torn down.

            1. When Cabrini Green opened there weren’t enough “disadvantaged” in the local area to fill them, so Chicago advertised out-of-state for people who met their requirements.

              “There’s a lot of money to be made in poverty…”

            2. The fundamental failure such Grand Planners tend to suffer is nobody ever asking, “What could go wrong?”

              Planning for failures — and working around them — is critical to the success of any but the simplest enterprises.

              “What if muggers start plying the elevators?”

              “What if people block the garbage chutes?”

              What if somebody on a floor doesn’t maintain cleanliness standards and develop roach and mice and rat infestations?”

              “What if teenage boys get rowdy in the halls?” (Trick question: teenage boys do not get rowdy, teenage boys are rowdy.)

              1. The fundamental failure such Grand Planners tend to suffer is nobody ever asking, “What could go wrong?”

                ANY plan.

                The super carriers they were talking about in the ’00s, everybody on my ship (what the rest of the world would call a “helo-carrier”) instantly went “They have EXACTLY the number of people they need, with each person covering multiple jobs? They are MORONS, humans get sick, and are incompetent, etc.”

              2. > teenage boys do not get rowdy, teenage boys are rowdy

                I never bothered any-damned-body. I pounded my typewriter, built model cars, or read books in my room.

                If you have teenage boys being “rowdy”, you have a parenting problem, not a teenage boy problem.

    6. In all charity to the left, to the extent that I have any relationship with defensive measures, I might be an example of a ‘violent maniac’.

      Being less charitable, the positions which put me so far out of the mainstream of American military thinking are reactions to the attempts by the left to neuter the defense establishment. I have decided that from my end, the thing to do is push for and work towards ‘Caedete Eos’, in full awareness that the American people don’t have the time or energy to waste on wanting to commit mass murder. My effort is doomed to failure barring some absurd impossibility; My fanaticism and the general American indifference may cancel out in a way negating the information warfare, and permitting an actual sane policy. That’s wildly optimistic, I haven’t made the life choices to make any sort of difference at all.

  9. You’ve already pointed out how (4) rather undermines the idiot’s point. I think (2) does also: even if we take his interpretation as gospel, he’s basically saying that the Japanese would rather have suffered just about anything from us rather than ended up under Soviet rule. And while there are historical reasons for the Russo-Japanese hostility that pre-date the USSR, I’ve got to think that Stalin’s reputation had something to do with that too. So basically we should have said is, “Hey, Soviets, thanks for being such evil SOBs that the Japanese practically threw themselves at us rather than end up in your ‘worker’s paradise.'”

    1. That’s a good point, but I don’t know how much was known in Japan about how bad things were in the USSR. The hostility was, as you say, older than the Soviets, and to such a degree that it never occurred to me that Stalin could have made it worse.

      I would be interested in any documentation of what the Japanese knew about what things were really like in the USSR at that time, though. Because “what things were really like inside WWII Japan” is something most Americans get wildly wrong, and is in fact quite a big blank in terms of scholarship as well.

      For instance, the “Honorable Death of the Hundred Million” is something I have only seen in any detail in Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like An Autobiography. I have seen passing mention of it elsewhere, but usually dismissive. When you read Kurosawa’s mentions of it, it is impossible to dismiss that he, and those he knew in 1945, absolutely expected the order to come down, and that literally everybody would comply.

      1. I have a book (not available tonight) that covers the end of the war in detail (roughly from Hiroshima to surrender), and I do not recall anything about the Hundred Million. Can’t bring up the title of the book, alas.

        Dad was a corporal in the 8th Air Force on Okinawa in ’45. He was rather happy when the war ended, since his backup specialty was Chemical Warfare Tech. (Primary was draftsman, considerably longer life expectancy…)

        1. I think the Hundred Million get hidden in the “Those who want to fight on” grouping like in the History Channel’s show about the factions in the run-up to the Emperor’s radio broadcast ordering surrender.

  10. Our industrial capacity DID win World War 2. Britain was too small, and the other Allies were under Nazi occupation.

    Japan spent twenty years building up their navy to a dozen aircraft carriers and about two hundred combat ships. We built ours up to almost a hundred carriers and a thousand ships in three and a half years. We built more than 300,000 fighters, bombers and transports, almost 90,000 tanks, and more than 5 million M-1 Garands. We shipped weapons and tanks TO the Russians for two years. We destroyed the biggest Nazi armies, in western Europe. We and the British bombed their industry. Stalin invaded a much weakened Germany in 1945.

    Don’t neglect the Berlin Airlift, either. For almost a year those Benevolent Socialists tried to starve and freeze a major city into submission, while we Eeeeevil Capitalists flew in more than two million tons of food and fuel at our own expense. The Russians didn’t quite dare to shoot down our planes, probably because they didn’t have The Bomb yet.

    Dan Lane:
    Poor little USSR managed to murder many thousands of its own citizens as well as those under its thumb in the Eastern Bloc countries.

    Thousands? Make that millions, Dan, millions and millions. Stalin’s purges and famines are estimated to have killed between 25 and 30 million people inside the Soviet empire.

    Still, he was an amateur compared to Mao.

    1. Once you get into more than two figures, mass murderers are just one big lump of Evil. You can’t really compare them aside from levels of efficiency. Stalin was Evil. Mao was Evil. Pol Pot was Evil. Were any of them more Evil than the others? Nah, at that point, they’re just Evil.

      1. No, I think Mao stood out, even in that company. Getting a whole generation to kill off their parents and grandparents takes a really special kind of Evil. The North Korean Kims might be as bad, but limited by being confined to such a small country.

        1. While I bow to nobody in condemning Mao’s evil, there is a bit more nuance there than simply listing the numbers who died under his rule. For instance, the famines under the Great Leap Forward (which led to more deaths than most people understand, as documented by the great historian Frank Dikotter) were definitely a consequence of Mao’s policy, but everybody around him was working, hard, to keep him from knowing the true extent of the devastation. And he knew that something was going on, because he tried to circumvent their circumventions to learn something real about how things were.

          Which is not to excuse him, but it does shade things a little.

          As to the Cultural Revolution… yeah, special kind of evil. The kind that’s terrified of everything and anything.

          1. “For instance, the famines under the Great Leap Forward (which led to more deaths than most people understand, as documented by the great historian Frank Dikotter) were definitely a consequence of Mao’s policy, but everybody around him was working, hard, to keep him from knowing the true extent of the devastation.” But it was, specifically, his policy of fear-based top-down rule which led to a climate in which people were afraid to let him know what was really going on. So, any lack of knowledge he had gives him no excuse whatsoever for the results.

              1. I understand that his wife had much to do with that, painting her as a sister of WInnie Mandela.

                A New Study Reveals Queens Were MUCH More Warlike Than Kings
                14 NOVEMBER, 2019
                Scientists have proven historical queens were “38.8%” more likely to declare war than kings.

                When Canadian cognitive psychologist and author Steven Pinker claimed men instigated “almost all the world’s wars and genocides” US researchers formally tested whether there was indeed more peace under female rulers , but their results showed the very opposite: that female rulers “caused wars” much more often.

                In myths, legends, folklore, and fairy tales strong male kings are portrayed as declaring and fighting in great wars and it has long been projected that women were less conflictive and more likely to maintain peace than go to war. But a new study reveals that queens waged war over the centuries a shocking 39% more than kings.

                A working paper by political scientists Oeindrila Dube, of the University of Chicago, and S. P. Harish, of McGill University, analyzed a selection of mostly European kings and queens who reigned between 1480 AD and 1913 which covered 193 rulers in 18 countries. A Daily Mail article says the 400 years of European history included female rulers such as Catherine the Great , who made Russia a waring nation in the 18th century, Britain’s Elizabeth I , who defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, and Isabella I of Castile , who led Spain to dominate the world in the 15th and 16th centuries.

                Over 193 reigns the researchers found that states ruled by queens were 39% more likely to wage war than those ruled by kings. Not only did the team of researchers find that states ruled by queens were more likely to fall into conflict and war than those led by kings, but females were also more likely to gain territory and were attacked more often. Co-author Oeindrila Dube told The Times that there’s this general stereotype that men are greatly responsible for wars and genocides and that women are natural peace-makers, but “our research turns this stereotype on its head”. …

                1. I seriously wonder about these folks’ brains sometimes.

                  What next, they’ll discover that female cops are more likely to be in a physical altercation?

                  News flash, people like picking weak targets.
                  If you get to queen, you’re probably not weak– but there’s a good chance your country is weakened by whatever was going on, and there’s also a decent chance that at least some of your neighbors will THINK you are weak.

                  And then there’s the, ahem, female response to what is believed to be a genuine threat– nuke it from orbit.

                  That’s before more in depth personality things, like oh my gosh Catherine of Russia.

                  That said, good of them to pick a selection where we at least have some data.

      2. Castro was evil. Chavez was evil. Maduro is evil. Winnie the Pooh’s dark twin is evil Stop me when the collectivist totalitarianism hits you as a common factor.
        SERIOUSLY. Anyone who subscribes to socialism, either national or international AND SEEKS TO IMPOSE IT ON OTHERS should be treated as a violent criminal. They’re just waiting for the opportunity.

        1. We did a segment on Dante’s Inferno in college Literature, as one does, and the teacher made a point of the theology of putting thieves in a lower circle of Hell than most crimes people think of as more serious, including murder.

          It works like this: Theft is the act of taking something that does not belong to you, and murder is a subset of theft (taking life). If you do not respect possession of things, you don’t respect possession of anything else, whether points of view, emotions, or life.

          There’s a reason life & liberty are the two principal things that we are “endowed with by our Creator.” And taking those away is theft…

          1. Stealing your money is equivalent to stealing however much of your life you spent earning that money. It’s an incomplete murder.

            Bernie Madoff stole more money than 6,000 average people earn in a lifetime. I think that should be considered equivalent to mass murder. He’s definitely guilty for the ones who committed suicide, or died because they couldn’t afford medical care.

    2. Also on the gratitude front, the Soviets actually resold some of the lend lease materials to the Japaneses while we were fighting them.

    3. It’s been pointed out here before, by those far more knowledgeable than ox, that every country that actively participated in WWII ramped up industrial production to 100%: “That’s all there is, there ain’t no more!”… except the USA which didn’t even get up 50%. That gunpowder (for naval guns) production was halted in 1943 (or was it 44?). That the Navy, in the biggest (naval) war in history said, “Stop sending us destroyers.[I could be mis-remembering type] We’ve plenty already.”

      Britain was a launching area. The USSR did buy time and did erode Nazi power at great cost of land and people. But ponder a country that says “We’ve enough powder” and “we’ve enough of those ships” AND spent 1/7 of its entire electrical generating capacity on a huge gamble (isotope separation was power-hungry!) AND built a new Liberty every two weeks AND rolled a new B-24 off the line every 55 minutes.

      If that wasn’t enough, even Gracie Allen managed to tell how fuel rationing was NOT about the fuel, but about saving rubber.

      I know there is at least one alternate history book where Britain made a separate peace (it did have a slight chance of happening) and the result was B-36 atomic raid on Nazi Germany… in this timeline, well, miserably rotten as it is and was… might still be best-case.

      1. I mean, look how long Britain was on rationing AFTER the end of the war (which always boggles me, until I remember the available landmass in the UK, ie, not very much). I gather there WAS rationing in the U.S….but you sure barely hear/read about it, which rather suggests it was almost not worth mentioning. My grandmother–who was a child during WW2, and whose two older half-brothers served in the Pacific Theater–has never, to my recollection, mentioned anything. Nor did my grandfather, who was likewise a child and who was quite poor to boot.

        1. The college museum in El Paso had a big thing on WWII, and had the ration books– and basically laughed about how everyone who was anyone just went over into Mexico to buy whatever they wanted.

        2. The UK was on rationing for so long for many reasons. Part of it was the Labour Party, but a lot of it was a bullheaded determination to pay off US Lend-Lease as soon as possible.

          I don’t think the US was particularly worried about being paid back, but apparently loan forgiveness was not a UK thing. Also, they had weird ideas about not letting people buy stuff in France, even though it was right next door. And that is why rationing lasted into the Sixties, and James Bond was so excited to just have a nice steak in the book Casino Royale.

          1. Oh, and if you grew stuff in your garden or had a few chickens, that was not yours, either. How dare you keep it. And they confiscated most of it, without much compensation, and how dare you complain.

            I don’t know if that kept going the whole time, but it was a dumb war policy.

          2. They rationed fabric until the mid 1950s, and banned fashion magazines lest women want the full-skirted “New Look” style from France and the US.

            1. If you’ve ever read the book “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff, it describes this in some detail.

          3. > loan forgiveness was not a UK thing.

            They probably figured we’d send the Army over to repo London and maybe Edinburgh.

            British ideas on debt are much different than the US. There’s a reality TV show called “Take it Away!” about court-appointed repo men that’s in its fifth season now.

            1. If not too inconvenient, would you consider elaborating? On the differences, not the show. Or maybe the show, I don’t know. 😀

              1. With the Fed and all of the states I’m familiar with, some properties and investments are protected under most circumstances as well as various “personal items.”

                In England they can take it all, right down to the clothes you’re not wearing when the bailiffs show up. Theoretically, you can wind up living in a homeless shelter.

                Putting people in shelters and on the dole costs the Crown money, so it’s not something the courts are real fond of, but it’s the big stick they can use if they want to. But they’ll gladly take all your stuff and auction it off.

                England has always taken a hard line on debt; they used to have special prisons for debtors. The laws were a bit different in Scotland and Wales, but still harsh by American standards, where people can rack up half a million dollars in student loans, and candidates for President promise to wipe out their debts and stick it to the rest of the taxpayers…

                1. Yeah, while I think the US could stand to be a little *less* forgiving on certain areas of debt, at least it’s not that bad.

                  Of course, I also wonder if that’s not another illustration of the difference between ‘citizen’ and ‘subject’ (also relating to the ‘the Crown came and took your veggies/chickens during rationing as well’ whereas in the US people were encouraged to grow victory gardens for their OWN use.)

        3. In all honesty, the US experienced rationing after the war and even to this day. But we tend to call the sort of rationing we practice, “High prices.”

          Contemporary politicians want to eliminate this type of rationing in favour of the version premised on political pull.

        1. Yep. I read parts 1 and 2 of his work involving dealing with Hell and Heaven… before some jerk screwed it up and he bailed on it. I’ve not (yet?) read The Big One.. but I won’t discount it.

      2. Arthur Herman’s Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II” goes into this in great detail, including the ways in which American industry managed to keep FDR’s bureaucrats from taking over management of war production (you want a dystopian novel, there’s a good starting point: Office of War Production takes over materiel planning in WWII.)

        The book’s a good read, either in print or audio. The presentation above is a well-spent hour.

        On oft over-looked component of the war effort is the degree of critical transfer of knowledge from Britain to the US. They gave us the plans for manufacture of Rolls-Royce engines, for example … and we industrialized the hell out of those suckers, producing quantities at which the Brits could only gape in wonder. We improved the designs, too. Because we’re Americans and that’s what we do.

            1. Wilson was also horrible. I am unaware of Wilson trying to take such direct control of the economy, but it could be there. He did do a bunch of reconfiguring of the federal government to oversee it. I need to look more into Wilson’s policies to make any sort of informed opinion though.

              1. As much as any single person – and I count Adolf Hitler – Woodrow Wilson was responsible for WWII.

                For that matter, at least some of the Cold War can be credited to him. Most Americans don’t know that Wilson sent US troops to Russia supporting the royalists against the Communists. The way the Soviets viewed it, we’d already invaded and attacked them once…

              2. Wilson, as I recall, was outright throwing people IN JAIL for speaking out against the government, war, etc–in flagrant and open violation of the First Amendment. I learned this bit while reading up on the early 20th century suffragettes in the US–many of them ended up in jail on the excuse that they were violating whatever act it was he shoved through that allowed people protesting his government’s behavior to be imprisoned.

                He certainly set the stage for many of our later problems.

                As to his and FDR’s deaths…there’s a small part of me that wonders if there wasn’t a touch of divine intervention going on there. Or at least cosmic karma on the rebound, perhaps.

      3. Feynman (in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman) mentioned multiple flats due to verrrrry thin tires when he was at Los Alamos and had to go to Santa Fe.

      4. > That gunpowder (for naval guns) production was halted in 1943 (or was it 44?).

        ’43. It was nearly a “Sorceror’s Apprentice” thing; by the time the factories got the order to stop, we’d stockpiled enough to last for the rest of WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. I think they finally used the last of it not long ago.

        1. There is still a large supply of leftover WW2 16-inch battleship shells and powder stored in an Army supply base in Indiana.

  11. The only near-term threat Russia post to Japan was the loss of its holdings on the continent and, while bad, that wouldn’t have been enough on its own to cause them to surrender.

    There was no reasonable prospect of the Russians invading the Japanese home islands in strength. Even assuming they waited until they kicked the Japanese out of all of Korea and could make the shorter jump from Pusan (*only* the same distance the Normandy invasion forces had to cross, though over rougher water), and taking into account the lead time necessary to build up the infrastructure there to support and sustain the invasion forces across the Tsushima Strait, they still had neither the amphibious shipping nor the experience in large scale amphibious warfare to pull it off. Alternately they could have jumped off from Vladivostok, which saves some time on the infrastructure buildup at the cost of having to cross 5 times as much water (remembering that the difficulty of this endeavor grows geometrically, not linearly, with the distance).

    The Allied invasion of Normandy took more than a year of planning and preparation before it could be carried out, and took full advantage of the bloody lessons taught by many preceding amphibious operations in the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters.

    The difference between conduction an amphibious invasion across a hundred miles of ocean and conducting an offensive by the same force across a hundred miles of land, even including some river crossings, is a bit like the difference between launching a manned moonshot and having 250,000 miles on your frequent flyer card. There’s a reason Jerry Pournelle used to call the Normandy invasion “the most complicated endeavor ever accomplished by Man” or words to that effect.

    It just wasn’t going to happen.

      1. I never allow a computer to tell me what I really meant to write. Flag suspect words, fine. Change ’em, no way.

    1. I agree! The Soviet armies were exhausted and near collapse when they occupied Berlin.
      Trying to raise and train a new army and send them with food fuel weapons across Siberia would have been a logistical nightmare.
      Given enough time, they might have been capable, but not for the near future!
      I was taught that the Soviets declared war on Japan merely to have a stake in post war Asia!
      They certainly refused to fight Japan or help us do so when they could have helped us!

      1. The Soviets smashed their way through the Japanese forces in China. They also did not stop in early August 1945. It took as a bit longer to get them to knock it off.

        The Soviets invaded and annexed the Kuril islands, formerly the northern end of Japan. They had sufficient capacity to continue on to northern Hokkaido as long as we had the Japanese busy in the south.

        1. From what I’ve heard, the Soviet amphibious invasion of the lightly guarded Kuriles was a fiasco, and came very close to failing. We made that sort of thing look easy. But it’s a very difficult thing to pull off.

        2. Yes, given their performance the Soviet forces in the East were anything but weak and exhausted.

          Even assuming we invaded the south, though, the Russian foothold in the Kurils was logistically inadequate to support more than the preliminary phases of a campaign to conquer Hokkaido, perhaps the siezure of one or a few of the northern ports. Advancing beyond that stage would require an enormous preparatory troop and materiel buildup somewhere better connected (i.e. Pusan or Vladivostok). That would take time to prepare, and protecting the shipping would be an extremely difficult problem. The Japanese would likely still have seen the US invasion as the primary threat, but it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have devoted substantial resources to our hypothetical second front. The question of deconflicting Russian and US naval operations in the theater is interesting, too.

          That said, the Russians were still in the planning stages for the move on Hokkaido when the war ended. As soon as atomic bombs started dropping, things just were never going to go on long enough for them to get the shot to carry out those plans, or even get them far enough along to decide if they were really feasible.

        3. Yep. The Soviets really set Mao’s “win hearts and minds” back in the areas they occupied. And stripped. Manchuria lost, I think it was over sixty percent of its industrial capacity to the Soviet looting machine. Chung and Halliday’s book on Mao is really good for info on that. _Debunking Howard Zinn_ also has some stuff, but not China specific.

    2. All of that may be true, but I sort of doubt that, in 1945, the Japanese had any kind of accurate intelligence on Russian capabilities. Their supply lines and communication lines were in tatters.

      1. 1. Japan did similar things in Russian Manchuria to what they did in Chinese Manchuria and to.Korea. So there were more recent grudges than the Russo-Japanese War.

        2. Despite their small numbers, Japanese Communist groups were murdering and disappearing business executives, blowing up stuff, etc. without having gotten into power. Nobody wanted them in power.

    3. It seems reasonable to assume that what this “Historian” knows about Military History could be written in large print (with illustrations) on the back of a Bazooka Joe wrapper.

  12. Let us not forget that Communism has NEVER been about peace. At least ever since Lenin, it had been all about the violent, bloody overthrow of so-called capitalists.
    Let us not forget the third Internationale (Comintern) which had been actively preaching and promoting violent revolution under Soviet direction and control around the world from 1919 to 1943. (Even Stalin had to forego preaching violent overthrow of the governments he was begging for help from).
    Let us not forget that Stalin promised to permit free and fair elections in Eastern Europe following the defeat of Germany, and promptly ignored his promise or that the program of promoting violent revolution continued, only covertly, as Communist affilated movements with the blessing and backing of the USSR and China practiced peace by shooting people all through Asia, Africa and Latin America.
    Let us also not forget the belligerent and bellicose rhetoric of Nikita Khruschev, who (for instance) told Western Ambassadors in 1956 “History is on our side. We will bury you” which was entirely orthodox Marxist-Leninist doctrine.
    No gratitude here.

    1. The funny thing about “a [organization/group/country/whatever] that desires peace” is how “peace” is defined.

      To Islam, when they say “religion of peace”, they mean that everyone will be a peace as soon as the world converts to their faith, and those that oppose that conversion are really opposing peace.

      Likewise, as I understand it, with the USSR’s rhetoric about being peace-loving in spite of actively supporting violent revolution around the world. Everyone will be at peace once they’re all part of World Communism.

      And then there’s Hillary, back in 2018, talking about how there can be no civility unless Democrats are returned to power. History certainly is rhyming with a depressing regularity…

      (Which worked so well when the Dems won the House back, of course. Her original statement was about controlling the Senate and/or the House. Dems got control of the House back, and of course things became more civil… /sarc)

    2. Stalin promised to permit free and fair elections in Eastern Europe

      Stalin did permit free and fair elections; he elected representatives of the people of those countries. How much freer and fairer can you get?

  13. “Multiple national security experts have asserted that sheer luck is the best explanation for why the Cold War did not conclude with a charred and lifeless planet.”

    “Sheer luck” is an odd misspelling of “Ronald Reagan.”

    1. There were a couple of incidents that could have ended *very* poorly had not the right man been in place at the right time.

      But that still doesn’t mean this guy is anything other than a Useful Idiot at best, and most likely a fellow-traveler.

      1. This timeline had a few strokes of great luck. Often that was one person at the critical moment, asking a brutally simple question… or even just going by a hunch. Maybe humans do get by on “luck and guts”… but it seems to work them, overall.

        There was the Soviet missile-man who decided it just wasn’t quite right and didn’t launch.

        I’ve read of a new radar installation picking up a HUGE echo, but someone pointed out Kruschev(?) was in DC or NYC. (Echo was the moon…)

        I recall in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s that a “35 cent chip” (I can’t say for sure it was 74XX series, but it would fail to surprise) had failed and the result was an apparent Soviet launch, but someone caught it.

        That’s the stuff *I* know about or have heard of. I presume I know, at BEST, 1/10 of the close-calls.

        1. All those “little people” who had the intestinal fortitude to say, “Woah, something doesn’t add up here,” and paused things just long enough that the glitch could be sorted out. Sadly, some of them paid some pretty high prices (the Soviet missile-man who refused to launch because something didn’t look right was punished fairly harshly and it wasn’t rectified until Gorbachev’s glasnost was well in progress, IIRC).

        2. Hmm. IIRC, TTL was pretty reliable (particularly MIL-STD) in that time frame. MOS, though (whether “N”, “P”, or “C” flavored), would flake out for no discernible reason.

            1. I believe it was Orvan who casually noted a truly horrific timeline, which involved declaration of a Second Armistice during WWII…

              It would have been a *lot* more likely than our timeline, where practically all of WWII falls into “oh, come on now, that’s ridiculous.”

    2. The Ronald Reagan Presidency was “merely” the culmination of the Cold War. Sure, luck was part of it; the kind of luck that two or three generations of men and women working their butts off to defeat an enemy we couldn’t quite afford to go into open warfare with gave us. The real tragedy is the Progressive Left has opposed us throughout all those years, and now wants to piss it all away.

    3. If “national security experts” have the benefit of hindsight and yet still do not understand how history happened, then they are not “experts.”

      1. Keep in mind that the way one becomes confirmed as “expert” in the knowledge industries* is by affirmation of those already recognized as experts — i.e., by acceding to conventional wisdom. Thus once a field has succumbed to intellectual dry rot all added material will be similarly corrupted.

        *As opposed to active industries, in which objective achievement — putting bullet in targets consistently at set distances or building bridges that remain up under load — is the standard.

    4. I’m not sure we ever had enough nukes to wipe out all life in Russia. Human lives are much easier to clear from an area than bacteria.

  14. I agree! The Soviet armies were exhausted and near collapse when they occupied Berlin.
    Trying to raise and train a new army and send them with food fuel weapons across Siberia would have been a logistical nightmare.
    Given enough time, they might have been capable, but not for the near future!
    I was taught that the Soviets declared war on Japan merely to have a stake in post war Asia!
    They certainly refused to fight Japan or help us do so when they could have helped us!

  15. I’ve been trying to figure out how to frame a point with a picture of a bread line or empty grocery market shelves… that this is a picture of what communism looks like when it’s trying to feed people.

    When they’re trying not to feed people it’s much much worse.

    1. I’ve seen two (sets of) images.

      One shows Venezuelans trying to gather water from ditches, etc. vs. shelves and shelves of bottled water.

      Another shows people waiting in (presumably) bread lines… vs… lines of bread being produced at industrial scale.

      Or, as one wag put it, “Many of the world would love to eat as well as the typical American garbage disposal.”

      And, as has been pointed out here, it’s NOT a production problem. The production issues have been SOLVED. Distribution, in non-evil world, is likewise all but a non-problem. (We got food to orbit, to the moon, to Antarctic stations… getting sandwiches in Somalia etc. ought to be TRIVIAL.) It’s the EVIL that plays with supply as weapon.

      1. Stop using supply as a weapon
        Stop using supply as a weapon
        You know food’s already my obsession
        Stop, (stop), using supply as a weapon
        Eating is more than a one way consumption
        Stop, (stop), using supply as a weapon

        Gotta love Pat Benetar. Puts on a good show, even today.

      2. I suppose with the exception that communism is an evil system…

        But those images you mention are images between the free market where an individual decides to produce a product because they think there is a demand… they may be right or wrong and their bread may or may not sell, but more often than not they’ll be right or be able to “correct” in a matter of hours and a communist system where someone who is very smart is TRYING to feed everyone and determines how much bread will be baked and where it will be distributed fairly and equitably.

        Someone recently (don’t recall who) told about a school trip to the Soviet Union where their guide was *showing off* the bread lines as if they were a success. (A bit like the Obama admin bragging about the record number of people being served by welfare.)

        People get this idea that it will all be different when “good people” are in charge because they believe that those bad situations were caused by BAD people. But probably most of those people weren’t any worse than anyone else and no worse than who will be in control “this time.” No angels, of course, because men aren’t angels. Wanting to feed everyone and wanting to be fair and equitable is utterly irrelevant.

        What I’d like to figure out how to illustrate is that the bread line is the result of communism trying to feed people as best they can. And yes, when there’s not enough it will matter that you’re not at the bottom of the pecking order, but the starvation isn’t deliberate.

        Because sometimes it IS deliberate… and that’s what I want to contrast.

        1. Bread is even more complicated– because they deliberately over-produce.

          A lot.

          I get most of our bread from an overstock store that gets all the stuff that’s left over when they finish deliveries. Everybody has a standing order, but sometimes stuff gets damaged, or they go “oh, heck, got an extra flat (or three) of X, Y and Z we can get?”

          I went by a few days ago and the lady mentioned there hadn’t been any remainders for a while, and I went in today– they were fully stocked! Between Thanksgiving, and realizing that they weren’t making enough to overstock which meant that people might try something else, they’d upped production again.

          Just tickles my fancy that they can ‘waste’ food like this.
          (I suspect that this is recorded as wasted food, too– stuff sold at just enough to cover the costs would be accounted different than fully paid deliveries.)

          1. when we could eat bread, that’s how we got our bread. (If I didn’t have time to make it.) We often took advantage of overstock the guys particularly liked: whole grain of a peculiar Italian recipe that Robert loved, or something with raisins and nuts Dan loved.
            Very often our upright freezer was half bread.
            But honestly, we live from the “discount” meat bin and outrageous sales in cheese and such. We could never afford full price. Thank heavens the market gives us a surplus of cheap stuff.
            The same for clothing. I buy from thrift stores. $10 for a skirt suit is “expensive.” and this stuff is often either new with tags, or worn a couple of times OBVIOUSLY.
            I don’t think at the moment we have a “bought new” piece of furniture in the house, and — weirdly — these days mostly we get it for free, like the massive chair we just got for the family room. It’s almost new, well built, etc. Someone was changing decor and didn’t want to bother.
            It’s possible to live very well, very cheaply on surplus and discards.
            The weird thing? Unless we win the lottery and it becomes “too much money to bother shopping around for bargains” I don’t see this changing.
            If I start making 1 million a year next year (unlikely. Possible, but on the order of winning the lottery) I’ll still dress from thrift and buy discount meat. The only thing I’d almost for sure change is getting someone to come clean the house.

            1. The same for clothing. I buy from thrift stores. $10 for a skirt suit is “expensive.” and this stuff is often either new with tags, or worn a couple of times OBVIOUSLY.

              Let us pause to grant recognition to Jane Fonda’s great act of sacrifice in protest of Climate Change: she’s not buying new clothes. Reports are that she’s even been seen wearing an outfit twice, although documentation is not available.

              All the people out of work due to the eighty-year-old activist’s restraint appreciate her effort to save them … although there are reports of certain clothing store clerks heaving sighs of gratitude over not having to wait upon her.

              It ought be noted that the “last piece of clothing she’ll ever buy” was a red coat.

            2. Through most of my childhood, trips to the Sunbeam store for day-old bread were a regular part of my life. We’d buy a dozen loaves, stuff them in our huge chest freezer, and have them over the course of a month. It allowed my folks to raise four kids on the very uncertain income of farming in the 1970’s and early 80’s.

              Just today, we had some spare time in our schedule and were close to a Goodwill store. I went in thinking I’d take a look, and came out with four collared shirts and a Japanese soup spoon, all for less than ten bucks (all but one item were the color of the week, so half price). I’ll wear the shirts, and I know I can get a good price for the Japanese soup spoon at an anime convention.

              I probably could’ve found even more stuff if I’d had more time, but we needed to go to our next activity at a certain time.

            3. Honestly – I’d never ever go back to full-price retail for certain things, even if my books make me a comfortable millionaire. Clothes; thrift store, or from gleanings from Amazon Vine. Used books and DVDs. The Daughter Unit heads like a guided missile for the ‘severely-marked-down’ shelves at most of the retail outlets which we frequent… A good habit, on the whole.

            4. About the only things we buy new are major appliances – mostly because I get the extended repair plan with them. It’s worth it, with the outrageous prices for parts, and the hassle time to fix them myself.

              We’ve still gotten everything when it was on sale, though. Why I call our kitchen “eclectic” – we now have a range/oven in stainless steel, the refrigerator is white (the “cobbly” kind of finish), and the microwave is classic black.

        2. People get this idea that it will all be different when “good people” are in charge

          As Milton Friedman reminds us, the goal is to have a system which ensures that the people running it will be good, rather than rely on having good people run things.

          “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

        3. I am reminded of the photo of the Venezulean shop keeper, spaced a couple of years apart. Little to nothing on the shelves and he’d lost a lot of weight.

          As for your illustration? Perhaps a mound of corpses, “this is Communism not feeding people.” And to contrast a counter with a couple of loaves of bread, empty shelves behind, and a long line of people, “this is Communism attempting to feed people.”

          1. There’s also “we’re demonstrating our power by controlling your food supply.”

            You keep the serfs hungry and you make it clear that any deviation from compliance will result in further cuts.

            Now there’s *just enough* to keep people going, and no stockpiles, no granaries, and any time there’s a harvest shortage, it has to be made up by foreign purchases.

            Sure, “the masses” could rise up… but what does a shopkeeper know about farming? And what is his family supposed to eat while they’re waiting for the next harvest, assuming they could even get one in at the correct time? Depend on imaginary foreigners to feed them during the interregnum? Right, pull the other one.

      3. Or, as one wag put it, “Many of the world would love to eat as well as the typical American garbage disposal.”

        The United States, in which even the poor can afford to waste food. A vivid example I’ve actually seen: the parking lot of a church food pantry, and fresh peaches lie scattered across the pavement, some of them still intact, others squashed flat by cars going by to park. Likely someone’s bag of peaches tore, and rather than bend over and pick them up to take home and wash the dirt off before eating, the person just shrugged, tossed the empty bag, and drove away.

  16. I find that the “Cold War” is now a footnote that no one is reading anymore. I was told that nothing of note happened then. Seriously– what are they teaching in modern history? For a cold war– it had a lot hot moments– in strategic maneuvering and spy craft. Sometimes I wonder if the CIA looks at those years fondly.

    So if no one is reading about it or asking those involved in it, then they can revise it.

    1. From the sounds of things, at this point the CIA is so full of Lefties they probably regret the outcome of the Cold War. Heck, a recent former CIA Director, John Brennan, was a Commie!

    2. Cold War spinoff has been decent.

      The basic technology that underpins all modern electronics? That’s the integrated circuit, sponsored by the US Air Force, to help solve reliability problems in missile guidance systems.

      GPS? Also US Air Force guidance systems.

      The Internet? Designed at the behest of the US Army, to connect its supply depots to civilian contractors, when “node going offline” probably meant “radioactive hole in the ground.”

      Weather satellites? US Army again, along with the US Navy. Weather is critical military information.

      1. GPS is not just air force in any way shape or form. It was designed for the Navy and Army as well. GPS-guided bombs and cruise missiles weren’t even a glimmer in their eye at the time.

        1. GPS was originally a USAF project. While a captain in the USAF, my brother-in-law hand-wired the first prototype boards and flew along with them tracking satellite signals.

  17. I guess it is a good thing the Cold War is sufficiently in the rear view mirror of History that they feel free to whitewash it … but I cannot help but remember they were whitewashing the USSR during the War.

    It seems the last remnant of the losing side a war is the Fifth Column.

    1. Alas, the Leftist Fifth Column and the CoC/Globalist types are making common cause to thwart President Donald J. Trump.

  18. This kind of crap makes me doubt any history as anything but the sketchiest outline more than three generations back. Anything past living people you can question can be pure distilled bullshit and you have no way of knowing.

    1. And here I am suspecting anything published about late 20th century history (since the end of World War II) of being so tainted with political bias that it can’t be trusted without extensive correlation and cross-checking.

    2. One can disagree with everything else said by Henry Ford and decry his political positions and still agree with his assertion that “History is bunk!”

  19. RE: Japanese attempts to sue for peace

    One thing that the “Truman ignored Japanese peace overtures” crowd don’t ever bring up is that the Japanese were attempting to reach out to the Western Allies via the Soviet Union (who they weren’t yet at war with). But the Soviets didn’t want to risk Japan surrendering before the Soviets could get themselves a spot at the [s]Spoils[/s] Peace Table. So those messages never reached the Western Allies.

    1. I don’t know about that side of things, but messages were definitely getting through to Washington requesting negotiations for peace, at least back to January 1945.

      However, the faction that was doing that was not the faction in power, so it really doesn’t matter that they got through.

      1. A Japanese faction tried again around May or June, iirc. But as I mentioned, they attempted to use the Soviets as intermediaries. And the Soviets never passed the messages along.

        Of course, as you note, “a faction” doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot, given how thoroughly the Army and Navy dominated the government.

  20. Oh of *course* much of what we were taught about the Soviet Union was a lie! Just of the sign opposite to what Brown assumes. Samuelson wrote my economics text, talking about whether we should maximize bread or better ‘distribute’ it, as if that were a choice one could just “make”, when any honest assessment would have pointed out “of course, before distributing bread, someone must pay to bake it, and if you don’t pay them, there’s no bread”.

    I was taught that McCarthy was a ridiculous scare, an example of how misplaced fear of Soviet espionage had needlessly curtailed American liberty. Only after the Cold War ended and the Venona intelligence intercepts were declassified did I learn the truth — Hiss was guilty, the Rosenbergs were guilty, the State Department really was chock-a-block with known, active Soviet intelligence assets, and McCarthy may have been a grandstanding fool (or not), but he was *right*

    I was *not* taught about the Holodomor. I had to find out for myself after reading a reference in Heinlein.

    I was taught about “nuclear winter” and how that made unilateral disarmament the only rational choice. I was taught the risks of radiation with “Irrevy”, by John Goffman — the same John Goffman who nearly single-handedly had gotten U.S. radiation regulations tightened by two orders of magnitude without a shred of supporting evidence (which I didn’t learn about until the mid 2010’s!). I was *not* taught that the radiation releases from coal were higher than those from nuclear power — most certainly I was not taught that!

    Solzenytzen and the Gulag Archipelago? The Black Book of Communism? Who dat? Not a mention in our curriculum. But the pacifist “All Quiet on the Western Front” was read, the film shown in class, essays about it required to pass.

    If not for Heinlein and a certain in-build “wait, who says so, and how does he know” attitude that made me a good engineer/scientist in later life, I’d have bought this stuff. The amazing thing is that there was *anyone* who graduated from that indoctrination camp thinking Communism wasn’t peachy-keen.

    1. I grew up watching the Looking Glass and Flying Command Posts lumbering in and out of SAC headquarters. In a part of town with lots of people who had relatives in (or recently fled from) Poland and eastern Europe. I never bought much of the “The Russians just want peace!” stuff.

      And then in college, what I was told soooo didn’t match what I’d lived. . .

    2. If not for Heinlein and a certain in-build “wait, who says so, and how does he know” attitude

      I will assert that it is nearly impossible to read Heinlein and not acquire that attitude … which is undoubtedly one reason they are trying to suppress reading of Heinlein.

  21. Brown claims to be a historian

    The job title “Historian,” like “Journalist” does not mean what you think it means. It owes much to Bradbury’s “Firemen” in Fahrenheit 451.

    Howard Zinn was a “Historian,” Amity The Forgotten Man Schlaes is not.

  22. the people running the Kremlin were frightened frauds running a fundamentally dysfunctional state forever on the verge of collapse.

    One could make the same claim of Germany’s Nazis.

    This is not an excuse sufficient to justify the gulags and reign(s) of terror they imposed.

    1. To be absolutely fair, the Soviets inherited the Gulags and the Cheka from the Tsar. And Lenin was on record stating that disassembling the gulag system and repatriating its prisoners was one of his top priorities.

      But Lenin died, and Stalin had much different views.

      No, this doesn’t make Lenin a good guy. He likely had no idea how much the Russian economy depended on gulag labor, and he was trying to buy popular support to maintain his power base. Stalin didn’t give a damn about support, he just sent anyone who opposed him to the gulags…

      1. Lenin was on record stating …

        What political leaders are on record stating and what political leaders are on record doing often leaves a bit of a gap between the realms.

        I am not doubting Lenin’s desires, but as the saying goes: Until the check clears you ain’t got a thing.

      2. Ah, minor correction. Lenin himself sent more people to the Gulag in a year than the imperial regime had in ten years. And the Czar didn’t condemn entire families to death or exile just because one person acted up. Yes, the Gulags were bad under the czars. They weren’t enormous prison camps (and sometimes worse.)

  23. an inherently lopsided contest with a preordained outcome.

    Funny, I vas dere, Chollie, and that is the argument the Soviet Union and its supporters were making throughout the Cold War: “Our victory is assured.” “We will bury you.”

    The challenge for the West was managing our decline.

    You could look it up.

  24. :… the world forever owed a debt of gratitude to Soviet forces and Soviet citizens?

    The fortitude and endurance in the face of Nazi forces is commendable, and American schoolkids, if they studied the history of that war, knew of the ferocious and vital defense of Stalingrad.

    They would also know that without American materiel support those brave Soviet defenders would have been unarmed (well, more unarmed) in that defense, except for the political officers standing to their rear intent on shooting any citizen who retreated.

    They might even have learned of the instructions issued that, should a comrade in the lead fall the next in line should pick up his rifle and press onward. Because they only had rifles enough for one in ten.

    Of course, they’d also have learned of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which triggered the war by allowing the Commies and their kin, the Nazis, to terminate Poland’s democratically elected government. So they would know the Russians had a history of making and breaking alliances.

    1. The first and last of your points (Stalingrad and Molotov-Ribbentrop) are dead on, but the middle ones aren’t quite right.

      Lend-Lease to Russia didn’t become a significant factor until after the crises of 1942 were past. It definitely shortened the war on the Eastern Front and saved lots of Soviet lives, but probably wasn’t a decisive factor in the sense that the Soviets would have lost without it. Weapons were not the most important supplies we sent, rather trucks, extremely high octane avgas (that could be down-blended with the low octane output of Soviet refineries to make very large quantities of high-enough-for-Soviet-aircraft-engines octane fuel), and certain high-value industrial resources were much more vital.

      Incidentally, the huge quantities we were funneling to them by the end of the war probably didn’t do much to shorten the war, but certainly eased the post-war reconstruction of the USSR’s industry. Bit of an own-goal there on our part, but hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.

      The one-rifle-for every-other-man (or one in ten, in this case) is definitely an exaggeration. By the time of Stalingrad, shortages of basic combat equipment like small arms were well past and indeed it’s unlikely that they were ever that bad even in the dark days immediately after Barbarossa. Even tanks, aircraft, radios, and other more advanced gear were reaching the front lines in adequate quantities by mid 1942.

      1. The Soviets were *angry* when the supply of free goodies stopped at the end of the war, and they sent numerous envoys to DC to demand its reinstatement. Not ask, mind you; that wasn’t the Soviet way.

        They had enough influence that they could likely have gotten the tap turned back on, except by the time they made their demands re-conversion had already begun, and re-re-conversion after V-E Day simply wasn’t a viable political action.

  25. *gets to point #1*

    Oh holy crud, even my incredibly biased history books in high school mentioned how the Soviets followed the “throw more bodies at them” theory of fighting.

    I didn’t think much of it when Santa Anna was using it at the Alamo, I sure as heck wont’ praise the cannon fodder theory of battle in the modern age!

    1. While Soviet leadership was certainly spendthrift with human life, it’s a mistake to think that they won through sheer numbers. The latter idea came out of the Cold-War US military placing far too much trust in the accounts of Wehrmacht generals we interviewed (other entries in this genre are, “all our defeats were there fault of Hitler not listening to us!” and, “the Wehrmacht certainly never committed any atrocities! That was all the SS’ fault!”).

      Early on, the post-purge political generals were of course almost complete bunglers, but by the midpoint those had mostly been, uh… “dealt with,” and the men that followed ended up combining the experience of the war as it was being fought with the brilliant ideas of some of the Red Army’s pre-war theorists (many of whom died in the purges, ironically) to develop a very sophisticated set of doctrines and techniques to which the Germans has great difficulty adapting.

      1. I get the feeling you’re responding to an entirely different comment, neither point #1 nor my own comment had to do with treating humans as disposable widgets to be freely spent on stupid stuff was anything close to “they won by sheer numbers.”

        They had to HAVE sheer numbers to continue functioning, even slightly, but that’s a third thing.

        1. Yup, sorry, that was meant as an addendum to my comment above. Clicked the wrong reply.

        2. Er, no, double sorry; I mistook which comment you were referring to. I meant the post you’re referring to as a response to

          “the Soviets followed the “throw more bodies at them” theory of fighting.

          I didn’t think much of it when Santa Anna was using it at the Alamo, I sure as heck wont’ praise the cannon fodder theory of battle in the modern age!”

          I did take that as an implication that they won by sheer numbers. Sorry if I misunderstood your meaning, it’s a common enough misconception and usually espoused in roughly those terms.

          1. Nah, I know enough of tactics to know that zerging won’t always win, even if there aren’t design choices to prevent it.
            (in video games: you keep running in, fighting until you die, then respawning and coming back, based on an insect race where “overwhelm with numbers” was a major aspect of their fighting; popular there because of the relatively low ‘cost’ of dying)

            1. Oh, I know all about the filthy Zerg, they were my sister’s favorite race back when we would stay up too late playing StarCraft.

              I know equally well that they’re doomed to die under the fire of my siege tanks *evil grin*

  26. The Domino Theory was invalid? Pity the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia didn’t know that.

    Also a pity Castro, Chavez, Morales and their friends didn’t know it.

      1. Doubleplus ungood badthink!

        I’m still surprised the NEA hasn’t sent an assassination team to your house.

    1. Eh, I didn’t say “invalid”, but I remain unconvinced of its use as anything other than a description of what happened. The revolutions were orchestrated by Moscow, for the most part. Without such manipulation, which the theory (as I understand it, but keep in mind, I went to public schools) didn’t say anything about that, only about the tendency of more countries to follow suit once one went, I don’t know that it would hold.

      1. Chung and Halliday.

        Even if Moscow was only spending the same resources against fewer targets, letting them take places out of the action lets them concentrate on the remaining targets.

        China is the obvious example of returns on the investment of taking over being applied to other countries, but they got non-zero resources from their other gains. Look at Cuba.

        1. China might not be the best example, since they broke with the USSR somewhere around 1960, and were thereafter hostile to Soviet interference of any kind. Part of the reason Nixon could go to China, let alone successfully re-open relations with them (and thereby put more egg on Moscow’s face). So it sort of blew up in their face, there.

            1. Some of those are as much what one would do with a Chinese culture and a Communist religion.

              The interesting question is whether the Soviets felt the need to work as hard undermining the regime of the PRC, or if there was something like a peace agreement between them.

              On the one hand, Communism limits the capacity for peace, even or especially between rival political factions.

              On the other, China’s new regime had the internal security to prevent the Soviets from just setting off another revolution. It wouldn’t have been a good investment. Furthermore, communists kind of have to claim that their revolutions are irreversible. It would have been very bad internal propaganda for the Soviets and PRC to be doing a lot of public whining about how the other one had wandered off the reservation into Secret Capitalism.

              1. China’s new regime had the internal security to prevent the Soviets from just setting off another revolution

                It helps when any infiltrating agents provocateur tend to stand out like snowflakes on a coal pile.

                Very possibly the experience that lead to Moscow establishing Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in 1960.

  27. there was never a bomber gap or a missile gap

    One reason our history books tend to glide over that is that the “missile gap” was primarily a charge used by JFK in his criticisms of the Eisenhower/Nixon Administration, knowingly falsely accusing them of failing America’s defenses. Nixon, who knew better, was constrained in rebutting such charges by the bans on revealing classified information — a constraint noticeably ignored in media coverage of the campaign.

    N.B for Brown, who is assuredly not reading this: being first and being most are two different things. The first girl in a neighborhood to give up her virginity is different from the girl who sleeps with everything in pants.

  28. I spent 25 years of my life watching Communist nations try to impose their will on others. This person knows nothing. The fisking by D Jason Fleming was not severe enough.

        1. You did a pretty good job; had it been me I’d still be pounding his metaphorical pumpkin-head on the rhetorical pavement.

          The ability of Progressives to pack stupidity so densely that ten words of theirs can require one hundred-fifty words of sanity to neutralise the gravitational pull of their wrong-headedness.

          I mean, just try to explain the idiocy of Elizabeth Warren’s “free-loading billionaires” rhetoric in fewer than five hundred words … it is ever so much more difficult to cast light than to generate heat.

  29. I like the part about the elevators: “For example, the USSR’s desperate housing shortage could have been ameliorated with taller structures, but the country didn’t possess sufficient raw materials to supply elevators for apartments above five stories.:

    Actually, the raw materials difference between a 5-story elevator and a 20-story elevator…metals to make longer cables, a more powerful motor, a few more relays in the controller…is pretty trivial in comparison with the total raw materials required to build the building in the first place.

    Plus, the Soviet Union had a *lot* of raw materials, as does Russia today.

    1. It was a stupid point on every possible level. I rather thought the idiocy of the “raw materials for elevators” was self-evident, and to address every iota of idiocy in that one point would take a book or three.

  30. In other news today, Hillary Clinton has written (or at least signed her name to) an article explaining why Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky ought be grateful to Bill Clinton for the fame and opportunities he provided them.

    1. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh!!
      A HIT! A palpable hit!

  31. One overlooked item for which we ought be thanking the Soviets: their object lesson on the dangers of nuclear power plants. Why, without Chernobyl the USA might have proceeded unhesitatingly to produce multiple nuclear power-generating facilities, providing cheap renewable CO2-free energy across the world.

    1. Nah, Hollywierd gets some credit for that. Granted, it was just lousy cosmic timing that _The China Syndrome_ came out around the time of Three Mile Island, but the anti-nuke crowd jumped (farther) in bed with the save-the-planet mob and used the movie to beat everyone else over the head with.

      1. That movie was chock-full of what I call Hollywood Stupid. It proved that Jane Fonda knew as much about nuclear power as she did about conditions in North Vietnamese prison camps.

        In 1979, the U.S. had already stopped building nuclear power plants, mostly because of legal costs and over-regulation. Much, MUCH cheaper to just build a couple more coal-fired plants than deal with the protests, the endless lawsuits and injunctions, and the NRC bureaucracy. There were hundreds of lawyers that specialized in stopping nuclear power plant construction.

        And, in 1977, Jimmy Carter issued an Executive Order that halted all reprocessing of nuclear waste. That is the reason we have a ‘nuclear waste crisis’ today. He was afraid Bad Guys would get hold of the material on its way to or from the reprocessing facilities. Instead, it’s SO much more secure in over 100 mostly-unsecured facilities scattered all around the country.

        1. In 1979, the U.S. had already stopped building civilian nuclear power plants

          Fixed that for you.

          1. Yeah, you’re right, the Navy is still building them. Good for the Navy!

            And, ALL of our nuclear reactors are modified versions of submarine reactors. We designed a flooded-core nuclear reactor for the USS Nautilus. It worked. We never really changed the design, just made bigger copies. Most of our dry-land commercial power reactor operators are retired US Navy submarine reactor operators.

            1. Ever wonder what happened to the companies that made steam engines?

              What’s left of them build nuclear power plants, which are steam engines that use fission as their heat source instead of fossil fuels. Outside the reactor dome, there’s the same steam technology the Victorians used a century and a half ago, coupled to electrical generators basically the same as the ones invented by Nikola Tesla.

  32. That is some RIGHTEOUS fisking! HUZZAH. HUZZAH.
    I spent most of my time in the ’70s (9 years) learning how to baby-sit (and launch) nuke missiles, and was very happy to have never had to launch them.

    1. No, actually, he’s right. We did get the Cold War all wrong. We never could believe the communists were as evil as they actually were. And, still are.

  33. What a load of crap. HIs (Brown’s) first point, about sacrifice, reminds me of General Patton’s speech to the Third Army: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

    As a low level cold warrior myself (I was a communications operator in a NORAD bunker, as well as being involved with Pournelle’s space policy group), who visited the Soviet Union on the eve of its collapse, let my just say to Brian Brown, go fuck yourself.

  34. “Inevitable”.

    It took SEVEN DECADES!

    Seventy years of murder, privation, forced labor and social, religious and ethnic persecution in the high eight figures.

    SDI, good idea or bad, was a final economic and international straw.

    Twenty years earlier, Kubrick had a truly prescient line in Dr. Strangelove. When asked why his government had built a doomsday weapon, the Russian ambassador replied “We could no longer afford the space race, the arms race AND the peace race.”

    1. eventy years of murder, privation, forced labor and social, religious and ethnic persecution in the high eight figures.

      Geddy Lee: “Who will pay?”

      (Rush, ‘Heresy’ from their 1991 album ‘Roll The Bones’)

    2. Seventy years of murder, privation, forced labor and social, religious and ethnic persecution in the high eight figures.

      If you mean Soviet Union, it’s not 70 years. Simply because it was 3 different states. The first was wild socialism with rampant cancer of bureaucracy inherent in it, which quickly decayed into anarcho-tyranny in a bit over a decade. Stalin took it over, purged cancer and replaced with his weird industrial feudalism system. Which worked properly only with him on top. So from 1953 and on, gradual decay of this into socialism with its inevitable (because there’s no one above it) bureaucratic cancer again.
      But then, none of these problems have truly started (it couldn’t happen in a healthy country) or ended (some remnants are still rotting away, and then there was “refreshing” infusion from Soros and American Progressives) with Soviet Union.

  35. I looked at this article, and note that I grew up on the tail end of the Cold War (my first few years on Earth were during the Carter Administration).

    I know that if he was more full of bulls(YAY!)t, we could squeeze lightly and fertilize an acre or three.

    If this the history that kids learn these days, damn…

  36. For the most part, this is recycled propaganda from the early Cold War. It was lies then and it is lies now.

  37. Maltsev, having been an economic advisor to Gorbachev, had a good idea of what he was talking about. He said that the USSR’s economy was between three and four percent the size of the US economy. Cheney noted that the CIA numbers were closer to forty percent, and suggested that the real number was somewhere in between.

    1. The late Soviet system is known as “top-down bullshit”. The reports anyone on top have seen were mostly worthless, and any idea of the real situation would be mostly guesswork. In which context, this “had a good idea of what he was talking about” is far from self-evident.
    2. Both are wrong. Cheney is more wrong, since he explicitly assumed that they are talking about the same value. They weren’t, since “the size of the economy” is fairly nebulous, and any relevant measurements were different (specifically for GDP it’s widely known) — even if and when they were meaningful and not fake (fudged statistics etc). In USSR they mostly were fake, between (1) and secrecy (I would be shocked to discover there was no reverse Pentagon pricing to understate military spending). In USA… who knows, but between good old Pentagon pricing, all the tax exempts and write-offs, laundering and recent mysteries of Disney finances, it was probably a lot less opaque, but not a lot more honest.
    Thus any comparison of the two would be on he level of comparing apples to fish and resolving type mismatch via wishful thinking.

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