Various crap

The world is infested by various nutty ideas, and mostly you just have to ignore them, at least until you become King and release the hounds. But someone needs to oppose them, else the young and naive may fall victim. Now and then I get the urge, fortunately not too often.

One busy area is WWII revisionism.

1. The Roosevelt administration supposedly had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor and deliberately refrained from telling Admiral Kimmel and General Short. Not true: basically pretty silly. Suppose you were a Machiavellian willing to take a hit in order to stir up the public: you might be willing to lose a ship, but not most of the Pacific fleet! Most expected an attack, but not at Pearl. I could go on with the details of the JN series codes, the extent to which they were broken: what we could read, when we could read it, when the Japanese switched codes, etc. In December ’41 we couldn’t read a thing. The Kidō Butai avoided the shipping lanes, was radio silent. Radar on Hawaii was a week old: stealth was easy in those days.

Roosevelt expected that there would probably be a war if we continued to oppose Japanese expansion in China but he didn’t expect the war that we got, with a wildly successful first campaign for Japan.

2. Icebreaker. Victor Suvorov (alias) wrote a book saying that the Soviets were poised to invade the Nazi-controlled lands in the summer of 41. Silly: the Soviets were desperately afraid of a war with Germany, because they feared that they’d lose. So afraid they ignored credible reports of the coming attack from their own intelligence guys, Western powers, even from the German ambassador! it was too horrible to be true.

The German Army looked damned good in defeating France, while the Soviets had had a lot of trouble with Finland, caused in part by having just shot most of the higher officer corps. That and Simo Häyhä.

If the Sovs were within a couple of weeks of launching invasion, you’d think that they would have called up the deep reserves, bothered to get all of their tanks working, stockpiled fuel, run recon overflights, snuck sappers into German-occupied territory (to sabotage bridges and cut communications lines), finish reorganization of their tank corps, etc. etc.. – most of which the Germans did do, of course. None of which the Soviets did. The Soviet high command expressed great concern about their frontier about not giving Hitler an ‘excuse” for starting a war – like he needed one! Hitler may be the only person that Stalin really, truly trusted in his adult life: which must prove something.

3. Other Losses. No, Eisenhower did not scrag hundreds of thousands of German POWs. We let a large number of them go as soon as we caught them : usually with the boys and old men of the Volkssturm, sometimes with regular army, not with SS. I was just reading some comments from an uncle who was a company commander: they had zillions of Germans trying to surrender to his division, rather than the Russians. His division had 65,000 German prisoners: they let most of them walk home, other than the SS, largely because they couldn’t figure out what else to do with them.

4. The Werwolf resistance in Germany – how our occupation was (not) plagued by guerrilla warfare. This one is funnier: theory #1 appealed to people who were emotionally traumatized by Pearl Harbor (many people) and/or hated Roosevelt (many people). #2 appeals to Germans, and to people who hated the Soviets (not without reason) – and, of course, to people who are just generally goofy. # 3 basically appeals to Nazi sympathizers, not necessarily German. But this last one started out as a fairly stupid but innocent satirical article on the Internet, a pretend Reuters article from 1945 talking about how people in the US were getting sick of occupying Germany in the face of all that guerrilla resistance. The satiric article plainly stated that it was not a real Reuters article – it was satire, in support of the US continuing to occupy Iraq. People copied the article and left off the bit about it being satire. Some speechwriter for Rumsfeld used it, presumably without A. knowing it was not a real Reuters article and B. naturally knowing nothing about US history (or anything else). Once Rumsfeld had publicly argued that we had the same problems in Germany (except that it was deadly blonde Frauleins, rather than IEDs) it became a thing. Nobody in high office ever admits that they’re wrong: presumably it would leave little time for anything else. Good Busheviks knew that they should believe in it – I’m sure that some still do.

Rumsfeld even improved on it, later -talked about all the chaos and bloodshed after the American revolution (undoubtedly moderated by American near-gunlessness). Condi used it, I would guess because she was behind on her idiocy quota.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

139 Responses to Various crap

  1. Hipster says:

    I’ve just watched this debate between Scott Atran and Sam Harris on whether or not Islam leads to violence, or if the violence from Muslim people is not really related to Iother cultural factors, Arab culture or current geopolitical realities.

    Harris thinks Islam is a violent religion, more so than Buddhism. Atran thinks the reasons for Islamic terrorism are related to Arab culture, political resistance, and male-bonding and sacrifice for fictive kin.

    Neither brings up that there is a genetic component to violent behavior. I do wonder to what extent the violence we see from the islamic world is genetic predispositions towards violence, and what amount may actually be ideologically motivated by Islam.


    • gcochran9 says:

      Read some history. The main difference between the Arabs and Europeans, regarding violence, is that the Europeans are ever so much better at it.

      • Kam says:

        What about the Turks? Not just the Ottomans and the republic of Turkey, but the various historical steppe confederations. A lot of them were muslim. A lot of them were talented at extremely brutal organized violence.

        • gcochran9 says:

          And so were Mongols, Tengrists: and Romans, and Alexander. When people talk about how naturally, specially violent people in the Middle East and North Africa are, I think over the last 80 years or so (people that old are alive today) and think of interesting examples like WWII – violent enough for you?

          The Moslem world fell behind the West hundreds of years ago and can’t get up: they aren’t competitive. Terrorism is what the weak do: it’s not some new superweapon.

          • Hipster says:

            I think also, WWII is a great example of the difference between European and Mid Eastern violence.

            WWII was awful no doubt, Holocaust included, but there is something different about state-guided violence, which stops with the defeat of a state, as in Nazi Germany, and the types of terrorist attacks we see in 9/11, the Spain and London bombings, Charlie Hebdo, etc.

            Coupled with Islamic immigration to Europe and higher birth rates, higher rates of criminality, lower rates of education, and all that, it does not seem unusual to worry about them.

            In the U.S. people worry about Hispanic immigration bringing down average intelligence, changing the culture, increasing criminality, etc. But Mexicans are not blowing up the Alamo or trying to retake California Alta. In Sweden you have Muslim “no go” zones where police wont enter. It seems like because they are so much more willing to use personal violence in ways not approved by the state that they can muscle their way in amongst a more genteel host. Britains military may be bombing the shit out of Muslim country X but in Britain itself Rotherham goes on unreported for years out of fear if offending, etc.

          • Yudi says:

            Incidentally, Greg, do you know of a good book describing the decline of the Muslim world that isn’t full of ideological claptrap? I’ve been trying to find one for a long time.

        • Toad says:

          “What about the Turks?”


      • Hipster says:

        I am a young man yet, reading history as I go. Looking at the numbers, there are more Christians in the world than Muslims, but currently it seems that many Christian nations in the first world are losing their faith and Islam seems to be still going strong. Certainly Christiand and Muslims have both done their fair share of conquering various peoples.

        Do you not take seriously claims that Islam is a force that threatens Western Civilization? It is a question I have gone back and forth on.

        • melendwyr says:

          A lot of invasive organisms only become a problem when the native ecology has been disrupted. Then they move in and take over, and the original system can’t re-establish itself.
          Applying this model to cultural and ethnic competition is revealing.

          If Western Civilization were healthy – and I don’t necessarily mean ‘strong’ – I don’t think there would be a threat. The barbarians aren’t responsible for the collapse, they’re just taking advantage of it – and making it impossible to rebuild.

      • Patrick Boyle says:

        I take it this is the Victor Davis Hanson thesis – no peoples have ever been able to confront a European army except another European army. The really scary people on the battlefield he says have always been the Europeans.

        • Kam says:

          Europeans don’t have some magic power that makes them invincible.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Untrue, of course. Mongols could defeat anyone. But for the last several centuries, Europeans have had a big technical and organizational advantage.

          • Kam says:

            Yeah, technical and organizational advantage is something real that a lot can be written about. Unfortunately that’s not what Victor David Hansen’s book was about.

            His basic thesis in everything basically boils down to this: Freedom + democracy = power.

            He has tenure and is considered by academia to be somebody who has deep insight…

            • gcochran9 says:

              I doubt if academia thinks much of him: but that could actually be a mark of quality, since the typical academic historian is fairly crazy. However, I don’t think much of him either.

              I’m pretty sure that Athens lost the Peloponnesian war. Most people at the time thought that democracy led to stupid decisions, like the Syracuse expedition.

              But those European organizational and technical advantages arose in countries that were kindof-sortof free (although not much like the United States today): England, Holland, France, Germany, Scandinavia. And other places less free: Russia, the Iberian peninsula.

          • IC says:

            Professor Cochran, please do not destroy someone’s sense of superiority. That is not nice. 🙂
            Joke aside, I gonna add more depression to someone mental status.

            During early Qing dynasty, Qing army defeated Czar Russian army in Siberia and secure the Siberia. Russian certainly won several hundred years later taking advantage of British opium war victory.

            Even in Opium war, British did not win all battles but they did win the war. In some battles, British army were wiped out by Chinese force. You wonder why British opium war victory only get a tiny island Hong Kong instead of whole China. Spanish was far lucky when they defeat native Americans like Mexico.

            Hmm, who defeated Dutch in Taiwan? Oh Han Chinese won by superior numbers. How about battle of Pescadores Islands? A few Han Soldiers defeated large number of invading Dutch force without castle protection? They even fought without firearms. They fought like ancient Roman soldiers with only cold sharp hand holding weapons. Hmm, the truth is hard to handle. BTW, the source is from Dutch documents.

            Later, French invading force was also defeated in Taiwan by Qing army. Another French force was defeated in Vietnam by Chinese rebel army like the one defeating Dutch. Losers from China could defeat European forces.

            Oh, what about Japanese defeating Russian Czar army in far east including naval battles?

            If I have Greek style of imagination, Han Army defeated Roman force and made surrenders settles in west China. Like I said, this is greek style of mental masturbation. Hope you do not take this seriously like your own.

            How about Japanese in WW2?. Sure they were defeated by Americans. But they hardly lost any battles or war to Brits or French. Let alone 70% military death of Japaneses army was done actually by Chinese Army during ww2.

            If you do not want to suffer from depression, stop visiting this blog. Truth hurts.

            Dunning-Krugger effect is good for you.

            • gcochran9 says:

              “In some battles, British army were wiped out by Chinese force” If you’re talking the Opium Wars, that never happened. The British weren’t trying to conquer China.

              The Chinese Army did terribly against the Japanese army in WWII: the Japanese advanced at will, limited only by logistics and the vast frontage they had to cover.

          • IC says:

            Oh, another interesting point about sino-dutch war in Taiwan.

            Chinese defectors to Dutch were never trusted and later were killed due tomentality that you do not trust any one who is not your race. The killing was totally based on paranoid without any evidence.

            However, German and swiss defectors from Dutch force were trusted and given important position in Chinese force. These defectors, especially one German guy, provided critical information and tactics in defeating Dutch. This German guy figured out who would be winner at early stage of war and Joined Chinese force. Later he even devised plan to conquer entire Dutch colonies in other part of world. His ambition was cut short due to his Chinese mater died soon after Taiwan conquest. If his Han master lived long, we really do not know what world will become later.

            Conclusion? Racism is for retarded people (or people with low g).

          • IC says:

            “Japanese advanced at will”

            Japanese planed to finished the war in three months. Their will did not work.

          • IC says:

            “If you’re talking the Opium Wars, that never happened.”

            According to Kissinger, it did happen.

            • gcochran9 says:

              It never happened. What do I care what Kissinger said?

              In the first Opium War, mostly naval, the British won easily and picked up most of Hong Kong.

              In the 2nd Opium War, a Joint British and French force of about 18,000 men moved to the outskirts of Beijing and annihilated the Qing forces at the Eight Mile Bridge The emperor fled. The Anglo-French forces looted, then burned the Summer Palaces (partly in retaliation for the torture-murder (“slow slicing”) of Parkes, a British diplomatic envoy).

              The Brits and Frogs got trade concessions and an indemnity. Russia got the Maritime provinces (Vladivostok, etc).

              The Qing army outnumbered the allied force at least 10 to 1. Didn’t help.

          • IC says:

            “What do I care what Kissinger said?”

            My apology. In fact, I do not take anyone’s words as fact, especially reqarding history. I noticed great discrepancy between Chinese source and Western source. Every body has their version of histories. When I comment on Western blog like this I tried to use Western sources.

            Most recent example about version of history like this one:


            I always treat either sides with grain of salt. Cerain culture certainly is more credible than others. But at end, judgment is from our own. This is definitely a field for verbal guys.

            Mongol certainly got worst count than anyone else since they did not control who was writing history.

          • IC says:

            Since I will not have internet access for awhile. I gonna add more.

            Regarding Mongol history, Chinese version is far more favorable comparing to Western version, especially friendlier to Genghis Khan. There is obvious reason for the bias. Mongol was ally with southern Song during Genghis Khan time. They both harbor the same hostility toward Jin and Xia kingdoms (non-Han kingdoms in northern china) which were in chronic warfare with Southern Song (A Han kingdom).

            Conquest of Jin kingdom in Northern China was joined effort between Han force and Mongol force, very similar to conquest of Poland by joined effort between Nazi and Soviet. They divided up northern China Jin territory. So mongol was an ally. The similarity is amazing to Poland. Chinese force occupied Jin capital. Later also Chinese violated treaty further advanced into Mongol control territory. Certainly later southern Song was destroyed by Mongol just like Soviet did to Nazi. But conquest of Southern Song took much longer time than Soviet did to Germany. Only grandson of Genghis Khan finished the job.

            When Southern Song formed alliance with Mongol, Jin king did have talk with Southern Song. Jin (a non-Han kingdom in northern China) told Song that alliance with mongol was bad idea. Jin said at least Jin kingdom serve as front guard against mongol in north, buffering mongol from Southern Song. But hatred toward Jin running too deep in southern Song prevent Song abandoning alliance with Mongol. In hindsight, Jin advice might be correct since Jin alone had mongol under control for very long time.

            This is version history from original Chinese source. I am lucky enough to be able read ancient Chinese text.

          • IC says:

            One of high officials in Yuan dynasty (Mongol) were correct in saying:`We would be verbally abused in history”

          • syon says:

            IC:”One of high officials in Yuan dynasty (Mongol) were correct in saying:`We would be verbally abused in history””

            Sometimes people deserve the abuse that they receive:

            Chinggis Khan (ruled 1206-27) 40,000,000 [make link]
            Total Dead (in roughly descending order)
            Alan McFarlane, The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap (2003, p.50): Chinese population reduced to half in 50 years — over 60 million people dying or failing to be replaced.
            John Man, Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection
            The Jin (North China) recorded 7.6 million households in the early 13th Century. The first Mongol census in 1234 recorded 1.7 million housholds. Man interprets this as a population decline from 60 million to 10 million. (p.262)
            Man make a rough guess that 1.25M people were killed in Khwarezm in two years– that’s 25% of 5M original inhabitants.
            Komarova and Korotayev, “A Model of Pre-Industrial Demographic Cycle”: Oddly, they skip right over the Mongol invasion (“The Sung cycle was interupted quite artificially by exogenous forces”), but Fig. 13 ends with the population of China at about 102M in 1125, while Fig. 14 begins with 55M in 1250, a decline of over 45M.
            Matthew White, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities (W. W. Norton, 2012)
            The death toll of 40 million is “Loosely based on McEvedy, Atlas of World Population History. McEvedy states that the population of China declined by 35 million during the thirteenth century. Also, the population decline in the western regions of Mongol conquests adds up to 2.75 million. All in all, it seems that Eurasia had 37,750,000 fewer people in the wake of the Mongols. I’ve rounded that off to avoid faking too much precision.” (White, Great Big Book, p.578)
            “For now let’s forget the incredible body counts reported for individual atrocities and focus instead on overall estimates from modern demographers. By all accounts, the population of Asia crashed during Chinggis Khan’s wars of conquest. China had the most to lose, so China lost the most—anywhere from 30 to 60 million. The Jin dynasty ruling northern China recorded 7.6 million households in the early thirteenth century. In 1234 the first census under the Mongols recorded 1.7 million households in the same area. In his biography of Chinggis Khan, John Man interprets these two data points as a population decline from 60 million to 10 million. In The Atlas of World Population History, Colin McEvedy estimates that the population of China declined by 35 million as the Mongols subjugated the country during the thirteenth century. In The Mongols, historian David Morgan estimates the Chinese population (in both the north and the south) as 100 million before the conquest and 70 million after.” (White, Great Big Book, p.123)
            Colin McEvedy, Atlas of World Population History (1978):
            China Proper: In the text, he states that the population declined by 35 million as the Mongols reduced the country to subjugation during the 13th Century. In the Chart, the population drops from 115M to 85M between 1200 and 1300 CE. (p.172)
            Iran: Charted population declined from 5.0M to 3.5M
            Afghanistan: from 2.50M to 1.75M
            Russia-in-Europe: 7.5M to 7M
            This indicates a total population decline of some 37.75 million.
            David Morgan, The Mongols, p. 83
            He estimates the Chinese population (in both the north and the south) as 100 million before the conquest and 70 million after (citing Langlois, China under Mongol Rule)

        • Sam says:

          Even with my limited knowledge of history, I could think of a couple of counter examples: Japanese, Mongols, Ottomans, Arabs, etc.

        • dearieme says:

          The “always” there is lunatic.

        • David Epstein says:

          I was just reading about Dien Bien Phu.


          • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

            Why choose that example?

            How were the French to know that the Vietnamese had those damn American 105mm howitzers the Chinese captured in Korea?

            Of course, if they had a bit less contempt for the VietCong they might have expected something like that, but then the British had their Islandlwana as well.

          • Cracker1 says:

            They don’t have those big guns.
            Even if they had those big guns they could not bring them to the battle.
            Even if they brought them to the battle we could knock them out.

            Mistakes were made.

    • JayMan says:


      See also:

      Guns & Violence, Again… | JayMan’s Blog

      A lot depends on your metric. Homicide rates in respective native countries? Present, but not that great. Homicide/other violent crime in the same country? The difference is considerable, Muslim groups being higher. Organized violence? Well, Europeans can take the lead there, but then you generally don’t have ongoing sectarian warfare in most of (Western) Europe.

    • melendwyr says:

      Whether it’s cultural or genetic, the issue isn’t the capacity for violence but how low the threshold for violence is. ‘Violent’ peoples are those that are quick to resort to it, not necessarily those that are efficient or effective at applying it. Good gunmen don’t have itchy trigger fingers. When you’re standing near the target, a poor shot is more frightening than a good one.

    • Cpluskx says: + iq decline during the Islamic Golden Age = Current MENA

    • ursiform says:

      Buddhists can be quite violent when power or territory is as stake.

    • MawBTS says:

      I think that to do truly do a lot of damage, you need to be peaceful. Or have a substantial peaceful trait.

      A hypothetical 100% violent race would never organise into states, never have a stable civilisation, would probably never invent a weapon more complicated than a bow and arrow, etc.

    • Aaron says:

      This debate about Muslim violence – and black violence or any violence by any group – proceeds according to some very simplistic assumptions.

      Violence is situational and opportunistic – at some times in some places it represents a viable strategy for coping with specific challenges – while at other times it does not.

      Supposedly genetic violent groups settle down to peaceful life quite often, probably always, the moment the situation permits. But I thought they were “genetically” violent!

      Are the Japanese a “genetically” violent people like the blacks and Arabs? Some of the most horrific violence the world has ever known, easily equaling and probably exceeding anything Muslims have done, certainly recently, has been committed by the Japanese. Look at them now. What changed? The situation – incentives, both psychological and material. Psychological incentives – self-respect – should not be underestimated as a factor motivating violence.

      If the Muslim world was the dominant civilization they would not be politically violent (social violence is absent in the Muslim world – tellingly, for such a “genetically” violent people) – there would be no point as there would be no wounds in self-esteem that needed healing. Muslim political violence is motivated by a lack of self-respect vis a vis a west dominant in everything.

      If the black thug had social prestige and money – and, crucially, didn’t live in a society where that was predicated on violence – he would settle down to a peaceful bourgeous life as soon as he could.

      Today’s docile and pacifistic westerners could become a Viking horde if the situation changes, as it has in the past.

      Too often people talk as of genes as utterly independent of situation or context – as if there is a “violence” gene that simply makes people violent regardless of situation or context.

      I’m dismayed at the unintelligent way genes are discussed – without attention to easily obtainable historical facts and a simple examination of the incentive structure – to provide a picture of gene-motivated behavior that doesn’t take into account the situation the person bearing that gene finds himself in.

      This kind of genetic fundamentalism is gaining ground, I fear. I see it everywhere.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “If the Muslim world was the dominant civilization they would not be politically violent”


        • Aaron says:

          Perhaps ‘dominant’ was going too far.

          I understand Muslim violence as a reaction to the tension created by their self-perception as the worlds best civilization and the reality of their inferiority to the west in every metric.

          Muslims were quite quiescent for many centuries when not exposed to the aggravating existence of an absurdly superior west, which is simply intolerable to their self-image.

          Obviously Islam contains within itself the impulse towards violent expansion, but all civilizations do in one way or another, even one as pacifistic as the christian one.

          An Islamic world not glaringly inferior to the west, and unimpaired in its self-perception, would find it much, much easier to manage its impulse towards violent expansion, although it would still have it.

          Nations interpret their cultural imperatives in an expedient manner according to their political and psychological realities – just as an aggressive Europe turned a turn-the-other-cheek Christianity into merely another expedient for violence, a non-humiliated Muslim world would find similar expedients in the other direction, or is much more likely to.

          A little sophisticated please. The “Islam says to conquer infidels so Muslims will always practice political violence” school, without paying any attention to psychological or political factors, and without paying any attention to the historically attested human capacity to re-interpret cultural imperatives in line with present day exigencies both psychological and physical, is far too simplistic.

          But then, history, psychology, don’t matter when its all about genes.

      • Ursiform says:

        “If the Muslim world was the dominant civilization they would not be politically violent”

        The Sunni Muslim world? The Shia Muslim world? The tow continuing to fight each other?

      • Jay1 says:

        social violence is absent in the Muslim world
        What do you mean by this?

        If the black thug had social prestige and money – and, crucially, didn’t live in a society where that was predicated on violence – he would settle down to a peaceful bourgeous life as soon as he could.

        Where have blacks ever settled down?

        • Aaron says:

          There is a large black middle class in America and many other countries.

          The real question is where have black thugs ever settled down. The experiment cannot be done since prestige and success in the modern world depend on IQ and the black thug’s only arrow in his quiver is his capacity for violence. People use their assets to acquire prestige and wealth – if you’re dumb then it makes a great deal of sense to be violent. I would do it too. Its no coincidence that in every race the lower IQ turn to violence – its extremely rational for them to employ whatever assets they have.

          In earlier times many Europeans became highwaymen and bandits for opportunistic reasons but settled down when chance offered. Australia is populated by the sons of supposedly genetically violent men.

          Anecdotal and historical evidence abounds of violent men, often fiercely violent men, settling down when chance offers.

  2. Tokarev says:

    Noted blogger “Mencius Moldbug” was a big believer in Suvorov’s “Icebreaker” theory, but then he also thought Saddam Hussein was on the verge of getting nukes in 2003.

  3. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    That revisionism seems relatively harmless compared to this:

  4. j says:

    Being an ignorant myself, consulted my friend Misha. He writes: “West Hunter is absolutely wrong. He/she clearly hadn’t read neither Suvorov’s books, nor the works by prof. Richard Raack, prof. Albert Week (in English), Mark Solonin (Russian – printed, English – in the Web), Mikhail Meltiukhov (Russian) and others.”

  5. Cracker1 says:

    Rumsfeld should have had his tongue cut out for what he said about the draftees in the Viet Nam War.

    Since you are in the area, how about the idea that the criminals running the US knowingly left behind POWS in Viet Nam?

  6. Instead of stopping ridiculous lies that befuddle the gullible, join the party. Nothing more satisfying than concocting a really idiotic idea and than watching it take hold and take off. Back in the 1970’s I was in a group of friends that did an absolutely bang up job of spreading the rumor that McDonald’s was putting ground earth worms in their hamburgers. One friend in this evil cabal was a journalism major and he created a very realistic newspaper story reporting on the tasty McDonald’s hamburgers that were favor enhanced with 10% earth worms. Why the customers just loved them and sales were booming. We mailed that fake news paper to shitty newspapers hither and yon and damned if some of the papers actually reported it as real. We wrote a letter to the FDA bragging about our tasty hamburgers and they wrote back a long threatening letter ordering us to cease and desist. This retarded rumor was so successful at one point that it put a dent in McDonald’s sales in the south. But all good things come to an end, McDonald’s tracked the rumor back to my friends and threatened them with financial ruin unless they immediately STFU. When a high powered lawyer takes an hour to explain the particulars of how he can ruin your life, it sticks with you. No more worm burger stories came from us after that but damned if that story isn’t still out there like a case of measles.

  7. Patrick Boyle says:

    #1. The idea that Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor is a story I’ve heard all my life. Like the Kennedy assassination – its an irresistible fantasy. All anyone has to do of course is read Gordon Prange. He was unique in that he was only famous after he died. He researched the Pacific War endlessly but never thought he knew quite enough. Only after he died, others published his work.

    #2. I currently am reading a revisionist ( or alternate history) of the Nazi invasion of Russia called ‘Hitler’s Panzers East’ by R.H.S.Stolfi. This book claims that except for Hitler’s bungling and his overriding the views of his general staff the Nazis would have taken Moscow in 1941, and then have won the war. Hitler, Stofli claims lost focus and missed his opportunity. I don’t know enough to contest his thesis but it sounds plausible. In any case it’s disturbing. That’s one reason when you see how the Stuffenberg plot failed you wonder if we weren’t lucky. Late in the war Hitler and the Fuhrer Principal was not an asset for the German war effort.

    #3. Your account of number three sounds like American behavior. We know that given the choice former Nazis always fled West. In victory Americans were the nice ones.

    We had a big Hollywood movie about Vassili Zaitsev a decade or so ago and now we have had a huge unexpected hit about Chris Kyle . Maybe a film about Simo Häyhä will soon be in the works.

    • john.massey47@gmail says:

      In the words of that great analyst Rafael Nadal, in response to a vacuous question about what would have happened to the outcome of a match if he had managed to win a third set tie-break: “If. If. If. There is no if in sport. You do what you do.” Sport, war, and a whole lot of other human endeavour.

    • David Epstein says:

      Another factor is Mussolini’s bungled invasion of Greece. Germany had to send troops to rescue him, and lost time for the Russian invasion as a result.

    • j mct says:

      How did taking Moscow work out for Bonaparte?

  8. SharpsKC says:

    #1 one of the shortest pieces of military history “smart decisions by the united states ,first weeks of december 1941” Of course by bombing the ships at Pearl instead of the open sea thousands were inadvertently saved .
    #2 I first saw this reading Siegfried Knapps Soldat. I am sure he wanted to believe it and he was a professional observer on the ground as it were at the time. My personal theory is a combination of an overtrusting Stalin and the inability of the Soviet Union to adapt defense plans both to the new post 1939 borders and new german tactics. Of course pre 1943 the only effective defense to German tactics was a moat. Like the Atlantic ocean 🙂

  9. Robert says:

    There’s an idea floating around about the success of the Nazi blitz campaign in the early days of the war being at least partly due to their high use of methamphetamines. What do think? Certainly couldn’t hurt … in the short term at least.

    Seems the Germans soon learned though that having their soldiers high on speed was probably not in their best interest, seeing the side effects, and quickly stopped the flow of the drugs. But American soldiers used them continuously throughout the war, being used heavily during the battle of Iwo Jima.

  10. Greg, I don’t see why you make such a big deal out of how much information Roosevelt had or didn’t have about Pearl Harbor. We’ve all read how Johnathan Daniels admitted afterwards that “The blow was heavier than he had hoped it would necessarily be. …But the risks paid off; even the loss was worth the price.” Roosevelt clearly was a Machiavellian willing to take a hit in order to stir up the public, and I doubt he much regretted the losses at Pearl Harbor.

  11. Sandgroper says:

    As a very young engineering student, I was sent to spend one long summer vacation working with a road construction gang in one of the outback parts of Australia (which a lot of people by now will realise means most of it). Most of the labourers of various skill levels in the gang were predictably variously sub-normal IQ, hopeless alcoholics, and ex-cons, mostly some combination of all three, but there were a couple of guys who were real gems. One was the road grader driver, a very quiet man who kept to himself. He was so damned good at his job while being a model of sobriety and conscientiousness, that I decided to ask him to teach me how to drive the grader, a notoriously difficult skill. He turned out to be a highly educated, almost genteel and very nice man, a European migrant – not the sort I expected to see spending his life among a bunch of sub-normal alcoholic drunks – so in my naïvety I probed deeper.

    He was hiding, of course – not from any official action against him, he was guilty of nothing, but hiding from society in general. He was a German who was drafted into the parachute corps as little more than a schoolboy during the dying days of WWII. He recounted that on his first jump, he was captured by British soldiers as soon as he hit the ground without ever firing a shot in anger, and spent what was left of the war in a British POW camp. He said: “It was the best possible thing that could have happened to me – the British treated me extremely well, and at the first chance I got, I migrated to Australia. Now I spend my life either hiding as a mild-mannered grader driver of indeterminate European origin, or trying futilely to persuade everyone that I was not an evil Nazi, just a kid caught up in a war he didn’t want to fight.”

    He did not choose to be a loner in the gang, but no one else would have anything to do with him. I would have preferred to spend the rest of the vacation sitting up in his grader cab with him. For one thing, the grader had the only air-conditioned cab out of any of the earth-moving machines aside from the big trucks, and he was a very pleasant and highly educated companion.

    You could be forgiven for not guessing who the other intelligent, skilled, abstemious and conscientious guy in the gang was – he was the young Aboriginal fella who drove the bitumen tanker. He was also a loner. Given the company he found himself in, I couldn’t blame him. But that’s getting O/T.

    Disappearing German POWs? No, they disappeared themselves, first chance they got.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      I worked with a few German POWs when I was in Germany in the 60’s. One was captured by the Americans and spent the war in Alabama or Arkansas (can’t remember which). Just a drafted infantry guy who lucked out
      Another was 14 in 1945 and was drafted by the Germans to be SS because even at 14 he was 6’4″. With two weeks left in the war he was drafted and sent to the Russian front where he was captured by the Russians. It was so confusing that he was able to escape within a few hours before they discovered he was SS and hid in a barn. He traveled at night heading East until he could reach the American lines where he surrendured which of course saved his life
      Another was my college physics professor who shortly after getting his Doctorate in 1938 was assigned by the high command as a civilian sicience advisor to Rommel. He was in the invasion of Poland and France and at some point, in Africa I think, captured by the Americans and sent to the U.S. not as a POW but under a kind of house arrest because he was a civilian.

    • John Hostetler says:

      The other high IQ fella, is it? I smell Jared Diamond stink.

    • That’s story is a little dubious, there was no reason for him to hide. .

  12. Werwolf is more interesting as alternative history than actual history, since a whole lot of nothing happened.

  13. ursiform says:

    I seem to recall that Stalin trusted his long-term valet. But point taken.

  14. David Epstein says:

    Don’t know enough to say FDR knew about Pearl Harbor. Seems implausible he would sacrifice the entire fleet.

    However, my limited readings suggests that they did rebuff overtures from the Japanese government, which fell to the war party. They did screw on the sanctions so tight that the Japanese felt cornered. Then Hitler did them the enormous favor of declaring war on the US.

    • Right, which is the real point of confusion for most people are confused; it’s not often that you’ll run into people who think Roosevelt deliberately sacrificed Pearl Harbor, but people who think Roosevelt should be added to the Litany of the Saints are depressingly common.

    • reiner Tor says:

      The US was already de facto at war with Germany: the US Navy escorted British commercial vessels, they were shooting at German vessels without warning in the Western Atlantic, they were supplying weapons for free (with payment only after the war) to the UK and the USSR (neither of which was in a position to pay for them while hostilities lasted), occupied Iceland to relieve British troops, and were in the process of building a huge army whose only possible purpose could have been to crush Germany (fighting Japan alone wouldn’t have required it).

      The German admirals kept demanding Hitler to allow them to shoot back at the Americans. Hitler’s declaration of war meant the greatest success for the German submarine fleet, because the American commercial fleet (and Navy) weren’t really prepared to protect their vessels against U-Boats. (E.g. there was no blackout in US cities and the ships in harbor were silhouetted against city lights, making them easy targets.) After a few months the surprise was over and the German submarine fleet could never hope to repeat the good old days of early 1942.

    • gcochran9 says:

      There was no non-war party in Japan in 1941. Assassinating the prime minister (twice), attempted military coups where the plotters were all forgiven – nobody really ran Japan. Fanatical secret societies of mid-level Army officers had a veto power (by assassination), but no one was really running things. For example, the Kwantung Army decided to attack the Russians (Khalkhyn Gol) by itself, without authorization from the Japanese government or even the Army high command. How weird is that? They lost, too.

      In 1941, the question was who to attack, not whether.

  15. cassander says:

    On point one, people tend conflate that FDR goading japan into a war with people knowing about the pearl harbor attack. The first, I think, is almost certain. The latter is absurd. Everyone, including the Japanese before Yamamoto forced the pearl operation, expected that any Japanese attack would be on the Philippines, for obvious reasons. But even if that were not the case, FDR was nothing if not self indulgent and he’d never have agreed to a plan that involved sinking a big chunk of his beloved navy.

    On point 3, several hundred thousand POWs were unquestionably used for labor by France, the UK, and the German occupation government. the Soviets kept at least another million more. You are right that as the war drew to a close a lot of people were let go, but they were also much less well trained and much less dangerous (lots of old men and young boys) than the people captured earlier. I can’t imagine that keeping the cream of the surviving German army locked up for a couple years didn’t make the occupation at least a little easier, at the very least it deprived point 4 of a lot of potential recruits.

    • syon says:

      “On point 3, several hundred thousand POWs were unquestionably used for labor by France, the UK, and the German occupation government. the Soviets kept at least another million more. You are right that as the war drew to a close a lot of people were let go, but they were also much less well trained and much less dangerous (lots of old men and young boys) than the people captured earlier. ”

      But that has nothing to do with point 3.Cochran is referring to James Bacque’s ludicrous book “Other Losses.” In it, Bacque claims that Eisenhower starved to death roughly one million German prisoners.As Cochran notes, Bacque simply ignores the fact that large numbers of surrendering German troops were simply let go:

      “Mr. Bacque is wrong on every major charge and nearly all his minor ones. Eisenhower was not a Hitler, he did not run death camps, German prisoners did not die by the hundreds of thousands, there was a severe food shortage in 1945, there was nothing sinister or secret about the “disarmed enemy forces” designation or about the column “other losses.” Mr. Bacque’s “missing million” were old men and young boys in the Volkssturm (People’s Militia) released without formal discharge and transfers of POWs to other allies control areas. Maj. Ruediger Overmans of the German Office of Military History in Freiburg who wrote the final volume of the official German history of the war estimated that the total death by all causes of German prisoners in American hands could not have been greater than 56,000 approximately 1% of the over 5,000,000 German POWs in Allied hands exclusive of the Soviets. Eisenhower’s calculations as to how many people he would be required to feed in occupied Germany in 1945-46 were too low and he had been asking for more food shipments since February 1945. He had badly underestimated the number of German soldiers surrendering to the Western Allies; more than five million, instead of the anticipated three million as German soldiers crossed the Elbe River to escape the Russians. So too with German civilians—about 13 million altogether crossing the Elbe to escape the Russians, and the number of slave laborers and displaced persons liberated was almost 8 million instead of the 5 million expected. In short, Eisenhower faced shortages even before he learned that there were at least 17 million more people to feed in Germany than he had expected not to mention all of the other countries in war ravaged Europe, the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan. All Europe went on rations for the next three years, including Britain, until the food crisis was over.”

  16. rjjcda says:

    Conveniently, the carriers, the true capital ships at the time, were “out on maneuvers” and not at Pearl. The relic battleships were and their loss was not a strategic one.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I approved this comment largely because it illustrates a particular kind of foolishness. And I bet you thought you were totally useless! Not so!

      Lexington was ferrying planes to Midway, Enterprise was ferrying planes to Wake. Enterprise was due to arrive back in Hawaii on December 6th, just in time to get plastered, but was delayed by a storm and arrived on 7th, after the attack.

      WWII showed that the carrier was the dominant ship type, but people didn’t really understand that at the beginning of war. Even Yamamoto doesn’t seem to have clearly understood the new rules: why did he send all those heavy ships to Midway (Main Body), that did nothing other than use up huge amounts of fuel? It’s a truth that emerged over time.

      The Japanese could have hit Pearl harder, sent in a third wave aimed at destroying the fuel storage, submarine facilities and repair shops. That would have slowed down our Pacific war effort substantially: but I guess the Machiavellians sacrificing the fleet also knew that Nagumo was a chickenshit: all part of their plans, like that storm Halsey ran into.

      Your model of the universe assumes that people already totally understood strategic realities that were just emerging, and were perfectly comfortable with sacrificing a big chunk of the Navy, thousands of lives – something that would have led to impeachment and execution if ever revealed. Not just one man, but lots of high-up guys, many deep-dyed Navy types, who never ever revealed the secret. And how the hell did we know about this coming attack anyhow? Spy satellites? The Japanese made great efforts to keep the thing secret. Odd as it may seem, I blame them for Pearl Harbor.

      • ursiform says:

        You blame the Japanese for attacking Pearl Harbor. The Chinese blame them for invading Manchuria. The Koreans blame them for conquering Korea (and raping their women). The Taiwanese blame them for conquering Taiwan. It seems pretty racist to blame the Japanese for every little bad thing that happens when their army or navy is around …

      • Sean II says:

        This is clearly one of those cases where a banal fact (Roosevelt wanted into the war, was willing to provoke Japan, etc.) gets converted into a thrilling but false detail (Roosevelt knew the specific time, place, manner of attack, etc.), so it can more easily be spread to a general audience.

        Most people can’t understand history as such, but can understand it, sort of, as gossip unfolding between a clique of famous persons. The idea that Roosevelt wanted and expected war, without knowing exactly how A might lead to C, isn’t terribly subtle, but it’s too subtle for them. They need him to want and expect war in the manner of a Michael Bay movie villain, or else the concept just won’t hold in their heads.

        You see this all the time in political scandals. It’s obvious enough that most of the Bush administration wanted war in Iraq for various unadvertised reasons, and used the WMD excuse to push it. That’s true but banal, so as a scandal it gets no real play. Most people would manage a reaction only if there was a tape of Rumsfeld monologuing his evil plans, with Cheney cackling in the background.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Not just one man, but lots of high-up guys, many deep-dyed Navy types, who never ever revealed the secret.

        This is one of the objections I have to the 9/11 conspiracy types. Sure, WTC 7 is hard to understand since it was not hit by a plane and it was a long way from the falling debris and it looks like a controlled demolition and there were all those building fires in the Pacific NW during the ’90s that appeared to use thermitic accelerants and there was lots of juicy stuff in WTC 7, but it does seem hard to kill all the other conspirators, especially those in MOSSAD.

      • If people want to know why we got into World War Two with Japan I wish they would first of all research the topic by reading at least a couple of history books on what was going on in Japan prior to Pearl Harbor. We are talking about a complex issue and pointing a finger and saying anything one thing is to blame is silly and pointless. The United States placed economic embargoes on Japan for very good reason. Japan was attacking it’s neighbors one after another. They were in process of building an empire via military conquest well before December 7 1941. Ignoramuses who say Roosevelt picked a fight with Japan haven’t read their history. Idiots who say were we warned of the attack on Pearl Harbor and ignored them aren’t worth talking to. There are just so many holes in their logic there isn’t any place to begin to educate them and besides that they are hopeless anyway.

      • rjjcda says:

        Ah, I blame them too (Japanese), but I also believe that they were prodded/provoked into war by either design or our incompetence. And, strategic realities “just emerging” means that SOME people understood, or they were not emerging at all but hidden to every soul on the planet. Right?

  17. east hunter says:

    Another fantastic post Would love to hear your thoughts on JFK Assassination and Watergate. Recently read the new Roger Stone book on JFK/Nixon – interesting stuff.

    • The JFK assassination helped launch an entire industry based on lies and hustling suckers. Of course there have always been hustlers and suckers but the mass media really lowered itself into the muck to make an easy buck after Kennedy got shot. After the assassination any news magazine could guarantee the best selling issue of the year IF they put some spin on the JFK assassination cover up conspiracy on their front cover. They all did it, over and over again, they all held their noses and lied. No where in any of theses articles would you ever find this.
      1)Oswald had the job at the book depository months before there was any plan of a Kennedy trip to Dallas, much less a parade route planned. IT WASN’T PLANNED.
      2)Oswald was a low IQ delusional idiot. A worthless human being with no plan of what to do after he shot Kennedy. He was caught wandering the streets of Dallas after he shot him, he didn’t even try to get away, even though as an employee of the book depository he would be a prime suspect.

      These two points and many others were ignored by all the conspiracy theories. Why? Because the mass media is a profit making business, the truth doesn’t pay their bills.

      • dearieme says:

        The clincher for conspiracy enthusiasts was not the assassination of Kennedy, but the assassination of Oswald.

        • syon says:

          dearieme:”The clincher for conspiracy enthusiasts was not the assassination of Kennedy, but the assassination of Oswald.”

          Which presents its own problems:

          Location: A secret Bunker somewhere in Nevada

          LBJ: OK, we’ll frame this Oswald patsy for the assassination.One problem, though.What’s going to keep him from talking?

          Richard Helms: We’ve got that one covered.A Dallas nightclub owner named Jack Ruby will take him out as he’s being led through the Dallas police headquarters.The whole thing has been choreographed down to the last step.Oswald will never stand trial.

          LBJ: What about Ruby?

          Helms: What about him?

          LBJ: Ruby kills Oswald to keep him from talking, but who’s going to kill Ruby to keep him from talking?

          Helms: D’oh!

          • dearieme says:

            “Which presents its own problems” Not really. Even a slavering conspiracy theorist would be acute enough to understand that what Ruby would know would be different from what Oswald would know. Anyway, the People Behind It All probably had Ruby’s kittens held hostage to ensure his silence.

          • syon says:

            dearieme:”Not really. Even a slavering conspiracy theorist would be acute enough to understand that what Ruby would know would be different from what Oswald would know.”

            Ruby would know that he was ordered to take out Oswald.That would be enough to bring the whole thing down.

            “Anyway, the People Behind It All probably had Ruby’s kittens held hostage to ensure his silence.”

            Dogs.Ruby was a dog guy.Indeed, Ruby’s friends have argued that Ruby’s failure to provide shelter for his mutts is proof that his shooting of Oswald was more or less spontaneous in nature.Had he planned it out beforehand, he would have had someone taking care of them.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        2)Oswald was a low IQ delusional idiot. A worthless human being with no plan of what to do after he shot Kennedy. He was caught wandering the streets of Dallas after he shot him, he didn’t even try to get away, even though as an employee of the book depository he would be a prime suspect.

        I have seen somewhere that Oswald was in the top 25% of the radar operators class he took in the Marines. Now, granted, that does not make him a genius, but it also seems to rule out low-IQ idiot.

        (I discount the claims that he learned to speak Russian reasonably well since I think language skills are strongly genetic and orthogonal to IQ.)

        • point well taken. Oswald also could chatter on at length on communist theory, which might have made him nuts but probably of at least average intelligence. He has an absolute idiot in planning an escape route after he shot the president but this may reflect a mental imbalance rather than stupidity.

          • Bruce says:

            Alexander Cockburn praised Oswald’s ‘propaganda of the deed’; as a fellow communist with the same views on the anti-communist JFK. Liberals flinched from admitting JFK was shot by ‘some little communist’, Jackie’s phrase, so they made up a bunch of conspiracy theories to blow smoke. I’d count the smoke-blowing as the point where US media got seriously addicted to pious fraud.
            Credit where due, if the US media had broadcast ‘Our President was killed by Communists’, this would imply we should Do Something, and heating up the Cold War wasn’t a cost-free option.

          • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

            Alexander Cockburn praised Oswald’s ‘propaganda of the deed’; as a fellow communist with the same views on the anti-communist JFK. Liberals flinched from admitting JFK was shot by ‘some little communist’, Jackie’s phrase, so they made up a bunch of conspiracy theories to blow smoke. I’d count the smoke-blowing as the point where US media got seriously addicted to pious fraud.

            Tell me that you have tried to hit a moving target at 80-100yards that is below you and moving away and across your field of view with a rifle with an incorrectly fitted scope (it was missing some shims.).

            Full disclosure. I have only ever tried stationary targets at 100 yards that were at the same level as me with a correctly fitted scope that was zero’d in by me at 100 yards. I might be wrong but I think that Oswald’s marksmanship test was on stationary targets over iron sights on the M1, not on a Mannlicher-Carcano with scope. Of course, the Russians might have trained him. However, I think hitting a moving target would be somewhat more difficult than he was capable of.

            • gcochran9 says:

              You’re being silly: it’s not that difficult a shot. More than that: suppose the guy got a little lucky, made a shot that would have been in his top 10% . What the hell would that prove? At the second battle of Adobe Walls, Billy Dixon dropped a warrior from his horse nine-tenths of a mile away with “Big Fifty” Sharps – which discouraged the hell out of the Indians. I’d love to see people arguing their lives away about how that couldn’t have happened.

              Anyhow, we’re going to talk about the particular nonsense I want to crush, not some random nonsense. Unless it’s really fresh and interesting nonsense, which this is not. For example, if you want to say that the real question was why the secret government took so damn long to assassinate Kennedy, why they should have capped him much earlier, I’d listen to that.

              Let me tell you my favorite Kennedy assassination theory, which I developed up myself using my patented automatic conspiracy generator. Im my scenario,. there’s a tough old West Texas rancher – ex-marine, WWII vet, very old school. Married to a very pretty, extremely wild, much younger wife. He finds out that JFK has been screwing that young wife of his, protests to no avail, and while doing business in Dallas takes the opportunity to pot the POTUS as a purely personal question of honor. His wife is impressed, and calms down for a year or two.

              But she falls off the wagon. Looking for adventure , or whatever comes her way, a few years later she’s fooling around with Martin Luther King, with predictable consequences.

              All this is slowly discovered, over a long search, by a true-blue New Frontiersman who has dedicated his life to finding the real killer. At the end of the story, at the end of his interview with the old rancher and his still-handsome middle-aged wife, he’s utterly gobsmacked. Both of his heroes dead by one hand: not because of race, or politics, or international intrigue -just because they couldn’t keep their pants on. So after hearing about MLK’s death, he asks ” What then?”. The Rancher says nothing involving more trouble: they made a living, raised a family. She’d calmed down alot and was a good mother and a fine helper on the ranch. She said “You see, after he shot Martin, I knew he really loved me”.

            • gcochran9 says:

              It’s not as if the limo was frantically jinking around. Regular straight-line motion, 11 miles an hour. 80 meters, two shots out of three hit. Nothing special about it.

              Lots of people seem to think that there’s some magical principle that prevents an ordinary loser from killing someone really famous, but it is not so.

              Oswald’s Marine rifle rating (the last, lower one) meant that he could hit a 10-inch stationary target 80% of the time from 200 yards away.

              Are we going to have a long argument full of silliness about the JFK assassination? We are not.

          • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

            That’s one of the funniest I have heard. The other one was that Jackie did it.

            I suspect that the US Gov’t is not a monolithic entity and that even a president should not piss off a powerful sub part.

            It’s fun to speculate about these things, though.

          • Oswald had an easy shot killing Kennedy. The conspiracy theorists are full of shit on this as well as many other points. Just look out any 6th floor window of any office building at the street or sidewalk right in front of the building. Piece of cake shot for anyone versed with the use of a rifle. There is a museum at the Dallas Book Depository and visitors are able to look out the window at the street down below where Kennedy was shot and the conclusion is always the same, easy shot.

        • syon says:

          “(I discount the claims that he learned to speak Russian reasonably well since I think language skills are strongly genetic and orthogonal to IQ.)”

          Oswald’s Russian was quite poor; it only reached a mediocre level of basic competence after he had been living in the USSR

          • Toddy Cat says:

            After the collapse of the USSR, the KGB pretty much admitted that they had been behind a lot of the “Right-Wingers killed Kennedy” stories – there were even rumors that Mark Lane had knowingly spread Soviet disinformation, which he furiously denied. Of course, this doesn’t prove that there was no dark conspiracy, but it does help to explain how the “right-wing conspiracy” story spread so fast and so far.

            So it’s kind of a meta thing; the story that JFK was killed by a conspiracy was all part of another, different, conspiracy…

            • gcochran9 says:

              Liberals were blaming “right-wing hate” back in the 60s, right after the assassination: I doubt if they needed any Soviet prodding to be idiots. They were still saying it at the 50th anniversary.

          • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

            Oswald’s Russian was quite poor; it only reached a mediocre level of basic competence after he had been living in the USSR

            And yet this page claims:

            My father asked Oswald to translate passages from a Russian book he chose at random, and he was surprised at how well the young man performed. He asked his secretary to type out a “to whom it may concern” letter stating that one Lee Harvey Oswald was qualified to work as a translator, but he also told him that he knew of no jobs in the area that required knowledge of Russian.

            However, this page says:

            Secondly, the tapes are a rare glimpse into Oswald’s reading disability. Even in the short portion on this web page, we can hear how Oswald has dyslexic obstacles in his attempt to read the word “matriculate.” And for those who wonder how is it that Oswald sometimes can write well, while at other times his spelling is completely mangled, we hear in Oswald’s own voice the obvious solution: “I’ll look that one up,” he says.

            If someone has problems pronouncing unfamiliar words in one language …

          • syon says:

            “Oswald’s Russian was quite poor; it only reached a mediocre level of basic competence after he had been living in the USSR

            And yet this page claims:

            My father asked Oswald to translate passages from a Russian book he chose at random, and he was surprised at how well the young man performed. He asked his secretary to type out a “to whom it may concern” letter stating that one Lee Harvey Oswald was qualified to work as a translator, but he also told him that he knew of no jobs in the area that required knowledge of Russian.”

            Well, one might point out that this would have been after Oswald’s sojourn in the USSR.Plus, he was married to a Russian speaker (Marina Oswald), which would have afforded him the opportunity to keep in good practice even after he returned to the USA.

            One might also note that the “evaluation” of Oswald’s skill was limited to translating passages from a book that was chosen at random.We don’t know how difficult the text was.

            Also note that the man’s father was “surprised” at well well Oswald did.Perhaps it was a case of low expectations (cf Dr Johnson’s quip about a woman preaching…).

            RE: Oswald’s dyslexia,

            Several biographers have commented on his poor writing skills in English, and the notion that Oswald was dyslexic is quite popular

        • Patrick Boyle says:

          Here’s a true story about the Kennedy assassination that you have never heard before. I was in the Army at the time of the assassination. When I got out a few months later and went back home to Washington DC I found that all my friends had been interviewed by the FBI for whatever their connection had been to Oswald.

          Apparently there had been a former friend/acquaintance with Oswald in the Marines who had written a book about him. One of those ‘The Most Remarkable Person I Ever Met’ kind of books. This guy became close to all my college friends while I was gone and the FBI checked up on everyone he had known.

          I never met him but several of my friends told this story. Apparently Oswald had made a big impression on others long before the assassination. I don’t follow the conspiracy press but I’ve been surprised that I’ve never heard any other reference to this incident.

          • Space Ghost says:

            You’re talking about “The Idle Warriors” by Kerry Wendell Thornley (who later founded Discordianism). The two served in the same radar operator unit for a short time in the late ’50s. It’s about a disillusioned Army radar operator who defects to the Soviet Union (sound familiar?). Thornley ended up writing the book after he heard about Oswald’s defection to the Soviet Union, but before the assassination. Pretty crazy stuff.

      • Oddly enough, Oswald’s tested IQ (tested at the Bronx youth detention center) was 118, effectively the same as that of JFK’s reported IQ of 119. Oswald qualified as a Russian translator in Dallas after he returned from the USSR. You can find that latter fact in the online WC transcripts.

  18. Julian says:

    Speaking of WWII controversies, didn’t Bill O’Reilly release a book recently “Killing Patton”, following on from the Killing Kennedy & Killing Lincoln series? The nature of Patton’s demise certainly is intriguing.

    • MawBTS says:

      Are Bill O’Reilly’s books any good? Or Martin Dugard’s books, I should say? Whenever you see a book written by two people, you can safely bet your life that the less famous one did 95% of the work.

      • Julian says:

        I’ve only read the Kennedy one – it’s well written and draws you in. Although, it’s been criticized because it doesn’t say much about possible Soviet or CIA involvement, something that O’Reilly has apparently previously written about.

  19. Johan says:

    Cochran what are your views on Soviet invading in 1942 or 1943, had the Germans not invaded? Of course this depends on what would happen in the west so it’s perhaps a silly what if. And what are your views on Stalin’s alleged speech of 19 August 1939? The Soviets had a massive army for some reason or another, was it to get the Baltic states, Poland, Romaina and land around the Dardanelles rather than to invade a Germany weakened from fighting in the west (which wasn’t really weakened since the Westfeldzug was so succesful)?

  20. sainchuck says:

    a friend of mine has a library full of ww2 and we frequently talked about the soviet offensive hypothesis. they were not prepared in 1941, i think mainly due to the fact, that as you mentioned, they shot most of the senior officers, but there is no doubt in my mind that they would attack eventually, maybe in 1-2 years. by 44 they had state of the art hardware, especially the diesel tanks with very long mileage, which is hard to sell as defensive. the infrastracture must have been in place by 41, so there must have been some level of material stockpiling. there is at least some truth to those mad claims by suvorov.

    • reiner Tor says:

      Yeah but we’re talking about two very different claims. The statement “the Soviets wanted to attack in 1941” is very specific and is almost certain not to be true. The other statement “the Soviets would have attacked eventually” is actually more or less mainstream. E.g. Evans made a similar claim in his series on the Third Reich, I won’t look up the actual reference now, but he wrote something along the lines that neither Hitler nor Stalin intended to keep the ten-year non-aggression pact for ten full years, and right from the beginning the only questions were which one of them was going to break the pact first, and when.

      It’s also well known that Hitler used the argument that Stalin would eventually join forces with the Brits, and that by crushing the Soviets he would also be crushing the Brits’ hopes of returning to the Continent.

      So if you only say that the Soviets would have attacked later on anyway and that that was at least part of Hitler’s motivation to attack them while he had better chances, then you are almost certainly correct, and actually mainstream. However, if you claim that was the only reason that peace-loving dude Hitler attacked Stalin, then you are wrong, because obviously Hitler had long-term goals in the USSR: if he hadn’t needed to attack the USSR to prevent them from attacking him later on, he still would have eventually attacked them (though probably not in 1941 but a few years later) to create his racial empire. Most historians emphasize the latter, but the former is just as true, it’s well-known that Hitler actually proposed crushing the USSR as a way of finally defeating Britain, with the two alternatives being Sea Lion and the Mediterranean plan. He chose the USSR not only because it coincided with his long-term racial plans but also because nobody in the German high command doubted that the USSR conquest would be a cakewalk. Coincidentally, neither did the British and American planners doubt it. (Contrary to what Hitler believed, they didn’t think that the USSR’s demise would make it impossible for them to defeat him, but that’s another story.)

  21. Sam says:

    “1. The Roosevelt administration supposedly had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor and deliberately refrained from telling Admiral Kimmel and General Short. ”

    Sounds to me like an older version of Benghazi craziness.

  22. John says:

    Speaking of nutty ideas, I had always dismissed anti-vaccination advocates as nuts. However, Greg Cochran takes a fair amount of shots at doctors and their ignorance (eg SIDS and prone/supine sleeping recommendations). Does Greg or anyone else here think that, even if the anti-vaxxers are nuts, the ignorant doctors may be (or are) overlooking harmful effects of vaccines?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Generally, when even a tiny risk shows up, a new vaccine is dropped like a hot potato. That’s what happened to the first rotavirus vaccine: there was a small intussusception risk. Partly this is because the benefits are lower with new vaccines, since they’re aimed at less serious infectious diseases. Even a not-too-big side effect might put you in the hole.

      People, rightly so, were willing to put with larger side effects from vaccines that protected against common, dangerous diseases. For example, smallpox vaccination: one or two people per million vaccinated would die from complications.

      People used to be a bit sloppy. We grew the first polio vaccines in tissue culture, kidney cells from green monkeys. Turns out this was contaminated with a monkey polyoma virus, SV40. Sv40 causes tumors in some animals: immunosuppressed monkeys, hamsters and rats. Both the Sabin oral live vaccine and tthe Salk killed-virus vaccines were affected.

      So, between 1955 and 1963, about 90% of children and 60% of adults in the US were inoculated with Sv-40 contaminated polio vaccine.

      We know that at most it does not cause many cases of cancer: last time I looked at this, less than 2,000 a year, if memory serves. Possibly zero: it’s hard to prove that. But, maybe some cases of brain cancer, kidney damage, and mesothelioma.

      On the other hand, if those tissue cultures had been contaminated with a different, more dangerous unrecognized & slow-growing virus, say HIV, we would have been in quite a pickle: probably would have killed millions, maybe tens of millions.

      • melendwyr says:

        An excellent argument against time travel – at least the kind that violates causality.

        I’m still partial to introducing several tanker trucks of heavy water immediately around the Trinity detonation, but that’s for personal reasons. Trying to figure out the best bang for the buck is rather difficult.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I am finding it hard to understand how vaccines work against viruses given:

        Most viruses seem to have only a small number of glycoproteins on their surfaces to work with, some of which have homologs with other proteins in the body (Neuraminidase seems to
        If this photo of virus particles budding from an infected cell is correct then once a small number of cells is infected (100s?) the body would not seem able to create enough antibodies etc.

        Is it that vaccines work by stimulating antibodies against proteins expressed on the surface of infected cells as this very old paper seems to suggest?

        I hope that if I keep plugging away at this stuff I will understand it eventually.

        • Andrew Ryan says:

          Vaccintion for viruses is usually administration of an attenuated “live” virus that can reproduce inside human cells but cannot cause an infection in an immuncompetent host. The immune system produces memory T-Cells in response to the virus that last for years, and if they come in contact with the viral antigens (the glycoproteins you mentioned) they trigger rapid production of high levels of antibodies that neutralize the virus–bind to those glycoproteins so they in turn cannot bind to the surface of cells and allow entry of the virus.

          Self-reactivity is prevented by clonal deletion of T-cells in the thymus during fetal development. An T-Cell that response to a self antigen–such as the human neuraminidase you mentioned–is eliminated. Of course there are certain chronic infections that can lead to production of cross-reactive antibodies that cause an auto-immune reation. Strep infections and rheumatic fever is one example.

    • ursiform says:

      It is important to keep in mind the stakes. Measles, chicken pox, and whooping cough, for example, used to kill a fair number of people. So, as was the case with smallpox and polio, a pretty safe vaccine made sense to use. As the disease risk gets smaller the safety threshold for a vaccine should get tighter.

      The problem is not that there is some danger in vaccines, it is that people reject them for the wrong reasons. Much of the problem is that people don’t think statistically. If the risk of death is one in a thousand if not vaccinated, but one in a hundred thousand if vaccinated, it seems pretty clear that it makes sense to get vaccinated. But many people, even seemingly educated people, know someone who knows someone who read about someone who’s kid was that one in a hundred thousand case. So vaccines are bad.They absorb the anecdotal case as somehow being personal experience, while viewing the statistical argument as being the authorities trying to manipulate them.

      • melendwyr says:

        I think there is also concern that simple mistakes are not being rectified because acknowledging them would make the medical establishment look bad.

        Unfortunately, there’s considerable support evidence for that concern.

    • melendwyr says:

      It’s certainly culturally possible. I know that some doctors began claiming that vaccines “couldn’t possibly” be responsible for neurological side effects long before the studies established that to be the case. There are also many, many examples of doctors refusing to consider or acknowledge obvious harms from accepted procedures, even in matters that seem common-sensical.

      I consider it rather likely that, given the immense utility of vaccines, doctors would pragmatically deny small negative effects out of concern people would blow them out of proportion. Of course, that ruins their credibility among people who figure it out. But they’re notoriously arrogant, as a group.

  23. Toddy Cat says:

    “I doubt if they needed any Soviet prodding to be idiots”

    Quite possibly not. As one KGB guy put it, the West often “Auto-Disinformed”,; all the Soviets had to do was help things along, which they did.

    Remember when American “scientists” pronounced the Anthrax outbreak at Sverdlovsk in 1979 a natural phenomenon, and samples of Soviet biotoxins from SE Asia to be bee poop? Ah, those were the days…

  24. EH says:

    Odd how few comments disagree with this post given the historical evidence which is often cited to refute its unsupported claims. I suspect a conspiracy. 😉
    (Or just heavy-handed moderation due to intolerance for dissent based on data which conflicts with the author’s beliefs. It’s a good reminder that no one is entirely rational, every author has some blind spots outside his areas of competence. )

    • gcochran9 says:

      ” the historical evidence”

      So, which of these nonsensical theories do you believe in? One of them, some of them, or all of them? Tell us.

      I’m interested in World War Two, so I bothered to learn something about it. And when I’m interested, I don’t just go whole hog – I go hog and a half, easy.

      So I know more about it than mere mortals like the typical Secdef or NSC head.

      And I know more about it, understand it better, than you do.

      Put up or shut up. This means you.

  25. Peter Akuleyev says:

    “# 3 basically appeals to Nazi sympathizers, not necessarily German. ”

    It also appeals to Communist sympathizers and pro-Russian sympathizers, given that the Russians did keep hundreds of thousands of German POWs engaged in slave labor, in some cases not releasing them until the mid 1950s, and of course many died of disease and cold. Especially now, when Russia is in a propaganda battle for German hearts and minds, it is better for Russia if there is a revisionist story out there to make the Americans look bad.

  26. Sean says:

    Ernst Topitsch was the first person to suggest Stalin was thinking of going on the offensive. It is obvious that Stalin did not expect Hitler to attack him in 1941. And Stalin as a Marxist expected the capitalist powers to tear each other to pieces. So in all likelihood Stalin was thinking in terms of a cakewalk advance into Germany after Germany had exhausted itself. It is well established that Soviet airfields were built a few miles from the NEW border with Germany, which is insane if Stalin was not thinking in terms of territorial expansion into Germany.

    Stolfi says all the Soviet army had to do was pull back while dropping of strong detachments to fight delaying actions, and make a stand deep in Soviet territory where big rivers would be bolstering their position. They did not do that because they had no plans for fighting a German army loaded for bear.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Exhausted itself fighting the French, I guess. Too bad that France had already surrendered the year before. Christ, you sound stupid.

      You know, there is a felt need for better false theories. Theories that are false (in that they tell people what they want to hear), but that are made up of fiction tightly interwoven with fact – false theories that are interesting and almost plausible.

      Show me the money!

      • Sean says:

        OK in 1941 Stalin was not planning to attack. You are 100% aright . But allow me, if I may, to go ever so slightly off topic. Prior to Germany crushing the combined forces of Britain and France, which very few observer thought possible before it happened, Stalin had the idea to let them knock seven bells out each other, then make a move against a weakened Germany, and there is some evidence of 1949 onwards Soviet preparations consistent with such a strategy that including the building of military airfields too far forward for any other purpose. The Soviet preparations were not really suggestive of a defensive posture Von Manstein said they were balanced and neutral overall. but definitely tending to offensive down opposite Romania where the oil was. Apart from Soviet’s chunk of Poland where he built airfields virtually on the border with germany) Stalin had taken a chunk of territory from Romania already, and one from Finland too.

        You want me to quote the relevant parts of Stolfi’s book? I could but it would take me hours (I’m very slow) and I have already cursed myself for spending that kind of time on risky comments here that got rejected. Anyway, I took a look at it today and he says the German panzers were kept a hundred miles back until four days before the attack because it was a dead giveaway. Stalin’s generals had to talk him out of preempting Citadel at Kursk,; he was an attack is the best form of defence man, We (well I) am not going to say it’s certain what was on his mind ..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s