Thursday, December 01, 2005

Saddam, Hitler, and Brezhnev: "Everyone Said I Was Mad"

In November 2005, Joseph Chrysdale of the Washington Times reported that newly declassified British documents show France made attempts to blame British intelligence for sinking the Greenpeace agency's ship in New Zealand 20 years ago.
Soon after the bombing in July 1985, French media reported the theory that Britain's foreign intelligence MI6 agency had sunk the Rainbow Warrior as the environmental group was protesting France's nuclear testing in the South Pacific …

Malcolm Rifkind, then a Foreign Office minister, instructed British diplomats in Paris to urgently tell the French government to put a stop to this "campaign of misinformation." The scandal rocked then French President Francois Mitterand's government, which for more than two months denied responsibility for the act of state terrorism.

A few days earlier, The Independent's Stephen Castle revealed the Soviet plan to annihilate Europe, while Graham Bowley reported in the International Herald Tribune that Poland's government opened up previously sealed Warsaw Pact military archives, including a 1979 map showing Soviet plans to sacrifice Poland in the event of nuclear war with the West.
The map showed the widespread destruction of Western Europe, including mushroom clouds over key areas of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Cities such as Brussels would have been destroyed as Soviet troops advanced to the Western shores of the Continent
Back in September, John Hooper wrote in the Guardian that
A book published in Italy … is set to reignite a smouldering controversy over how close the Nazis came to manufacturing a nuclear device in the closing stages of the second world war.

The 88 year-old author, Luigi Romersa, is the last known witness to what he and some historians believe was the experimental detonation of a rudimentary weapon on an island in the Baltic in 1944.

Hitler's nuclear programme has become a subject of intense dispute in recent months, particularly in Germany. An independent historian, Rainer Karlsch, met with a barrage of hostility when he published a study containing evidence that the Nazis had got much further than previously believed.

Mr Romersa, a supporter of Mr Karlsch's thesis, … told the Guardian how, in September 1944, Italy's wartime dictator, Benito Mussolini, had summoned him to the town of Salo to entrust him with a special mission. Mussolini was then leader of the Nazi-installed government of northern Italy and Mr Romersa was a 27 year-old war correspondent for Corriere della Sera.

Mr Romersa said that when Mussolini had met Hitler earlier in the conflict, the Nazi dictator had alluded to Germany's development of weapons capable of reversing the course of the war. "Mussolini said to me: 'I want to know more about these weapons. I asked Hitler but he was unforthcoming'."

Mussolini provided him with letters of introduction to both Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, and Hitler himself. After meeting both men in Germany, he was shown around the Nazis' top-secret weapons plant at Peenemünde and then, on the morning of October 12 1944, taken to what is now the holiday island of Rügen, just off the German coast, where he watched the detonation of what his hosts called a "disintegration bomb".

"They took me to a concrete bunker with an aperture of exceptionally thick glass. At a certain moment, the news came through that detonation was imminent," he said. "There was a slight tremor in the bunker; a sudden, blinding flash, and then a thick cloud of smoke. It took the shape of a column and then that of a big flower.

… "The effects were tragic. The trees around had been turned to carbon. No leaves. Nothing alive. There were some animals — sheep — in the area and they too had been burnt to cinders."

On his return to Italy, Mr Romersa briefed Mussolini on his visit. In the 1950s, he published a fuller account of his experiences in the magazine Oggi. But, he said, "everyone said I was mad".

By then, it was universally accepted that Hitler's scientists had been years away from testing a nuclear device. … But documents published recently by Mr Karlsch and an American scholar, Mark Walker of Union College, Schenectady, have punctured this consensus.

Nobody believed him.

Now, I am about to breach one of the least surprising secrets of the world we live in.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

Here it is: Regularly, the world is informed of secrets which it hadn't known about before; or, at least, if it had reason for suspecting the truth, secrets that it wasn't sure about before.

Thus, 30 years after Watergate. we find out that Deep Throat was a head of the FBI by the name of W Mark Felt.

Thus, decades after World War II, we discover that Britain had broken Germany's enigma code and America had broken the wartime code of Japan's imperial army.

Thus, 50 years after world War II, we discover that the real culprit behind the massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest were not the Nazi army but the Soviet KGB.

Thus, after the end of the Cold War, we discover Warsaw Pact plans for atomic attacks on Western European cities, along with maps of West German cities renamed with communist hagiography.

Thus, we discover that a certain policy of a given government (in the case mentioned above, of the French governement) was based perhaps not on objectivity, but on partisanship, and that it may even have lied, or been willing to lie (or at least mislead), in order to cover up small dirty secrets of its own.

So far, so good. I am not revealing any deep secrets.

But here is where the paths start to merge.

Let's take the Cold War.

While Warsaw Pact generals were detailing intensive attacks to "annihilate Europe", the "voices of wisdom" were telling us that "mad" NATO generals were warmongers incapable of tolerance. (At best, the Western NATO allies and the Soviets were "equally bad".)

If you believed in Soviet aggression, you were "met with a barrage of hostility", you were told you were a reactionary, blinded, "mad" (see title of post).

This is what brings us to both Saddam Hussein and the war on terror.

We are "met with a barrage of hostility". We are told that Saddam's attitude, Iraq's aggressiveness has nothing to do with the war; we are told that there is "naturally" no link between Saddam and al-Qaeda; we are told that we are chumps to think that WMDs ever existed in Iraq, that with 100% certainty there were were none, and we are told that to accept with no scepticism whatsoever the (Saddamite Information Ministry's) death figure of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and with no scepticism whatsoever that the West bears full responsibilty for the dead; we are told the American army's presence in Iraq is what is stoking the terrorists' plans and what is making their numbers grow; we are told the United Nations could have, would have brought about a solution satisafactory to all; we are told that the UN and members of the "peace camp" had nothing but honorable intentions; we are told to think that the stand of the "peace camp" was based on the better angels of our nature.

And if you don't believe that, you must be a reactionary, blinded, "mad" (see title of post).

Insomuch as it appears that we have been informed of past secrets in the 1990s, in the 1980s, in the 1970s, in the 1960s, and so on back throughout history, it stands to reason that we will be informed of similar secrets in the 2000s, in the 2010s, in the 2020s, and so on forever into history.

Who, then, are the descendants of, say, the 1980s pacifists to say that there is no connection whatsoever between Saddam and Al Qaeda; that there can be no question that Saddam had no WMD; that it's all America's fault; that European "allies" have nothing but honest, reasonable, and down-to-earth opinions that should be listened to; that America is doing nothing but stoke the embers of what would otherwise be a pretty benign status quo; and that Bush lied?

As Winston Churchill said:

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

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