Thursday, April 16, 2015

The week (so far) in links

The New York Review of Books has a . . . review . . . of a book . . . about the 1939-1941 alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Fun quote:
“I know how much the German nation loves its Führer, I should therefore like to drink to his health." -- Josef Stalin, who in a wink-and-a-nod toward Hitler's anti-Semitism sacked his Jewish foreign minister ahead of the negotiations to divvy up Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile, in the former Soviet Union:
Sergei Baryshnikov, one of the leading local ideologists of Novorossiya and the rector of Donetsk University, told me that we were now “at the first stage” of the recreation of a Russian state that would eventually take in everything that had once belonged to pre-revolutionary, imperial Russia. That would mean most of modern Ukraine and the three Baltic states. The exception would be Lviv and the far west of Ukraine, which before 1941 had belonged to Poland, and to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918. They might be left out of the new expanded Russia. But he sees the restoration of the imperial Russian borders as “our historical mission.” The very idea of a Ukrainian nation was like a cancer and needed to be extirpated, he said.
Whether or not everyone in the local leadership agrees with Baryshnikov and his call for a struggle that he believes could last years or decades is not so important. What is important is that his are ideas that feed into the creation of a general worldview, not just of the rebels but in policymaking circles close to Putin, whom Baryshnikov described as “our president” and “de facto, our leader.”
The National Security Archive at George Washington University has released U.S. government documents concerning the Eisenhower administration's discovery that Israel had developed nuclear weapons:
In the last months of 1960 as the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower was coming to a close, the U.S. government discovered that Israel had been building, with French assistance, a secret nuclear reactor near Dimona in the Negev Desert that could give Israel a nuclear weapons potential. The discovery caused apprehension within the Eisenhower administration by invoking concerns about regional stability and nuclear proliferation, but it also produced annoyance because Israeli officials at all levels provided less than credible answers to U.S. questions about Dimona.
One episode that helped create a sense of deception was that, in response to initial U.S. official questions about the construction site, the Israelis said it would be a textile factory. Over the years the "textile factory" story has acquired legendary status, but exactly when the story came about has been a mystery. But recently unearthed U.S. government documents — an embassy telegram and a memorandum by the Deputy Chief of Mission — help solve this historical puzzle. They show that during a helicopter flight in September 1960, with American Ambassador Ogden Reid and others of his staff on board, not far from the reactor site, Ambassador Reid (or one of the travelers) asked what the big construction site was. Their host, Addy Cohen, a senior Treasury Ministry official, replied, "Why, that's a textile plant." In December 1960, when the Dimona issue was publicly exposed, Cohen was asked why he had said "textile factory." He responded: "that was our story at the time." Cohen acknowledged that "we have been misbehaving" by keeping Dimona secret, but justified the project as a "deterrent" against Arab neighbors.'
Every denial of Mass Murder by State sounds exactly the same, Armenian genocide edition. From The New York Times:
The Turkish government acknowledges that atrocities were committed, but says they happened in wartime, when plenty of other people were dying. Officials stoutly deny there was ever any plan to systematically wipe out the Armenian population — the commonly accepted definition of genocide.

“The Armenian diaspora is trying to instill hatred against Turkey through a worldwide campaign on genocide claims ahead of the centennial anniversary of 1915,” Mr. Erdogan said recently. “If we examine what our nation had to go through over the past 100 to 150 years, we would find far more suffering than what the Armenians went through.”
Speaking of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Here's a woman who once claimed she had evidence that Turkish intelligence was blackmailing a US congresswoman with a secretly recorded tape of her engaged in lesbian sex -- evidence she gathered from her couple months spent as an FBI translator -- promoting another sounds-legit theory while appearing on a right-wing crank's conspiracy show:


Huge, as they say, if true. Whatever one thinks of Edmonds, though: Donate! Buy her book! This DVD too! And #StayWoke!

Moving on: Russia's state media reports that Libya's internationally recognized government, which controls the Eastern half of the country, plans to revive some Gaddafi-era contracts with the Russian Federation. It's unclear which contracts are being referred to there, but back in February Al-Monitor reported that Russia was using Egypt as a middleman to sell arms:
During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cairo Feb. 9, the Libyan army’s chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Abdulrazek Al Nadoori, also arrived in the Egyptian capital in an unannounced visit, in which he met with Russian officials to sign agreements for the supply of Russian weapons to the Libyan army.
Col. Ahmed al-Mismari, the spokesman for the Libyan chief of staff, told Al-Monitor, “Arming the Libyan army was a point of discussion between the Egyptian and Russian presidents in Cairo.”
Libya, however, technically remains under a United Nations-imposed arms embargo, which the U.K. and U.S. have thus far been unwilling to remove. The Libyan government (or, again, one of its governments) is asking for Russia's help in lifting it. My humble, personal opinion: The last thing Libya probably needs right now is more guns.

Finally, ON TWITTER (collective "ugh"), imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning -- loved by those who love to see war crimes exposed; loathed by liberals for exposing the wrong party's criminals and Undermining Faith in Government -- has sent a handwritten note verifying that her social media account is not in fact a deep-state PsyOp meant to make us all love Spotify and Hillary Clinton or whatever online's #justaskingstupidquestions crew thought her use of emoticons was supposed to achieve.

Still, though: Why hasn't questioned the official narrative on 9/11 or, more importantly, linked to my blog? I, for one, will continue to keep one eyebrow raised.

LATE ADDITION: Corporate media coverage of the conflict in Syria continues to be abysmal, bad reporting aided by the fact there are precious few reporters on the ground. Case in point: While it may make for a good, sensationalist headline, not all rebels who are Muslim are "Islamists," not all Islamists are Al Qaeda and, as during the US occupation of Iraq, not all members of Al Qaeda's declared affiliate are actually true believers in its hermit leadership's ideology.