Venona: 2%

The Soviets send coded traffic to their embassy in Washington in WWII. Those messages were encrypted using a one-time pad system – in principle unbreakable, as long as you follow the rules. But the Soviet company making the pads, under from invasion, had cut corners, had produced a significant number of duplicate key numbers. Other methods may also have played a part in recovering keys, such as black-bag jobs and a partially burned codebook recovered from a battlefield in Finland.

Out of some hundreds of thousands of intercepted encrypted texts, maybe a couple of percent were ever decrypted – quite a few of the GRU messages in 1943, almost half of the NKVD messages in 1944, but generally far fewer than that.

Venona exposed Soviet Espionage in the Manhattan project, the OSS, the White House. It played a role in exposing the Cambridge Five.

But we never decrypted most of the messages. We have learned quite a bit about Soviet espionage from other approaches and individuals, but much is still unknown.

It strikes me that the Russians could do the US and themselves a big favor by releasing all the messages and one-time pads used in that era. Let it all hang out. No actual former spies would be endangered: all of them must be dead by now. The US would have a better understanding of its own history, a better understanding what kind of people can be trusted. Worth knowing.The Russians would be hated by leftist types, but then they are anyhow, apparently for dropping the Commie torch. The underlying reason is that the true strategic threat to both Russia and the United States is China (not the casbah, for God’s sake): the cowboys and the Cossacks should be friends.

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209 Responses to Venona: 2%

  1. What kind of people would be trustworthy? People who have families to give as hostages?

  2. DH says:

    Neoconservatives and zionists (and their evangelical useful idiots) don’t want that to happen.

  3. Rich Rostrom says:

    “It strikes me that the Russians could do the US and themselves a big favor by releasing all the messages and one-time pads used in that era. Let it all hang out. No actual former spies would be endangered: all of them must be dead by now. The US would have a better understanding of its own history, a better understanding what kind of people can be trusted.”

    It’s pretty obvious that the current Russian regime regards the US as an adversary or a useful dupe. Therefore, they don’t want the US to understand its own history or who can be trusted, and especially not to understand the dangers of subversion by foreign regimes.

    • tim hadselon says:

      The Russians don’t want to be in an adversarial relationship with us. That much is obvious. It is our own Fake Elites who are furious that Russia rejects multiculturalism and wants to put Russia in a box. It is our Fake Elites who are driving this pointless crusade which could turn very dangerous, given how stupid they are.

      • Thiago Ribeiro says:

        So America needs regime change, like Crimea.

      • spottedtoad says:

        Eh, I’m not sure about that. I think a lot of the last few years makes more sense if you consider that the ruling coterie of both Russia and the US would benefit domestically if tensions with the other were kept high. The tail wagging the dog, and khvost vertit sobaka simultaneously.

      • Russian Fear says:

        I don’t think Russians fear being forced into multiculturalism with migrants moving to Russia. I mean, migrants don’t even go to Poland, and it’s actually quite, nice to very, very nice compared to Russia.

        I’m not sure what exactly it is that is driving the Russian government to do what it does, but their fairly ruthless aspirations to being a Great Power on rather diminished status and with a lack of competence at any form of modern capitalist production (against Germany, against China, against the Eastern EU, against Korea, against China, against the United States) must play some role here.

        • tim hadselon says:

          Russia rejects most of the tenets of multiculturalism. Putin has repeatedly talked about how the West is being swamped with mass 3rd world immigration (and not as a good thing).

          Of course, Russia rejects the whole gay agenda. They refuse to let their children be adopted by America for that very reason. All of this is infuriating to our Fake Elites, who oddly enough, don’t really like the West!

          • Thiago Ribeiro says:

            “Of course, Russia rejects the whole gay agenda. They refuse to let their children be adopted by America for that very reason.”

            Oh, yeah. That’s the reason.

          • Talking about immigrants in the West is contrary to everything that Putin does; it’s just happened when the West put sanctions on Russia. The difference between West and Russia is that Russia doesn’t have money to put immigrants on welfare, not that Russian elites are conscious about quality of population.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Agree completely. Others commenting are wildly optimistic.

    • gcochran9 says:

      An adversary, but out of sheer perversity, not fundamental conflicts of interest. Could be fixed fairly easily.

    • AppSocRes says:

      Obvious to whom? The entire sequence of events since the dismantling of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact has been a series of serious provocations by the USA and its NATO lackeys, followed by Russian reactions that are usually extremely restrained and never exceed a proportionate response. Immediately after the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact, the USA expanded NATO to Russia’s borders, a provocation that George Kennan characterized as one of the greatest diplomatic blunders of the Twentieth Century.

      Then the USA and NATO intervened in the Balkans, a traditional part of Russia’s sphere of influence at the first opportunity, dismembering Serbia, creating a mini-genocide in Kosovo, and converting that rump state into a permanent narco-terrorist haven on the borders of Europe. Soon after, the USA encouraged Georgian aggression, forcing a moderate Russian military response.

      Latterly, Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland created a coup against the legitimate government of the Ukraine – certified as such just a few years earlier by both the USA and EU – and replaced it with a dysfunctional neo-fascist cabal. The obvious rationale was to prevent Russia from brokering mutually beneficial energy trades with Europe that would have threatened US plans for hegemony. In every case Russia reacted to these provocations after the fact and in a disproportionately mild manner.

      The US strategy seems to be to pile on provocations until Russia is forced into a major escalation of hostilities. The transparent nonsense about Russian interference in US elections, the insanely stupid alliance of the USA with ISIS and al Q’aida backed forces against Russia’s alliance with Bashar Assad’s UN-recognized, i.e., legitimate, government in Syria, and and now the most recent brouhaha about Russia’s purported but utterly un-evidenced use of Novochok as a tool of assassination in the UK are the most recent examples.

  4. pyrrhus says:

    Most definitely. Russia and America are natural allies, and were during the Civil War…No real conflicting interests.

  5. MawBTS says:

    I don’t think the Russians have many OTPs. Wasn’t it standard policy to destroy them after encrypting/decrypting the message?

    If we have the encrypted messages, someday quantum computers might brute-force solutions. OTPs are supposed to be fully random and secure…but were they really? How did the Russians generate their OTPs? Maybe it was in a nonrandom fashion.

    • Frau Katze says:

      I have no particular evidence but the Soviets did hang on to a lot of stuff. I’ve read quite a bit on the era, including books by defectors. These defectors plus other evidence showed a system that valued keeping things.

      As Kenan Mikaya said of Saddam vs. Stalin, Stalin put a big effort into fake trials and fake evidence that he seemed to think outside observers would believe were fair. Lots of Commie sympathizers did. (Some gradually did see the light.)

      Saddam just killed people. He couldn’t be bothered to do what Stalin did.

      • Smithie says:

        I believe a lot of the Soviet show trials were for domestic consumption. Eventually they had to stop because the logistical problems of transporting the army to the more rural areas to keep order at the trials became too great, and they couldn’t do it by sending the judge around by himself.

        • Frau Katze says:

          There were many, many more cases than the handful of show trials. And a huge number of people were sent to Gulags. They managed to do that somehow.

          They always had some kind of accusation, no matter how ridiculous. That’s what struck Iraqi Makiya about Saddam. (But he’s the more common type of despot.)

          It may have been a vestige of the earliest plans about a Utopia. Maybe they couldn’t believe themselves with saying the victims deserved it.

          It would help gather people who would assist with Stalin. They’d trot out the accusations.

    • L says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-time_pad#Exploits

      One-time pads were employed by Soviet espionage agencies for covert communications with agents and agent controllers. Analysis has shown that these pads were generated by typists using actual typewriters. This method is of course not truly random, as it makes certain convenient key sequences more likely than others, yet it proved to be generally effective because while a person will not produce truly random sequences they equally do not follow the same kind of structured mathematical rules that a machine would either, and each person generates ciphers in a different way making attacking any message challenging. Without copies of the key material used, only some defect in the generation method or reuse of keys offered much hope of cryptanalysis. Beginning in the late 1940s, US and UK intelligence agencies were able to break some of the Soviet one-time pad traffic to Moscow during WWII as a result of errors made in generating and distributing the key material. One suggestion is that Moscow Centre personnel were somewhat rushed by the presence of German troops just outside Moscow in late 1941 and early 1942, and they produced more than one copy of the same key material during that period.

    • albatross says:

      If the one-time pad was generated randomly, then quantum computers wouldn’t help a bit. Nothing can help, because there’s no mutual information between the plaintext and ciphertext. Another way of saying this: If the key is truly random, then showing you the ciphertext tells you nothing about the plaintext that you didn’t already know.

  6. benespen says:

    The cowboys and the Cossacks, the CoDominium rides again?

  7. Pincher Martin says:

    The underlying reason is that the true strategic threat to both Russia and the United States is China (not the casbah, for God’s sake): the cowboys and the Cossacks should be friends.

    Just can’t be said enough. The Chinese economy is almost ten times larger than the Russian economy. Growth rates are higher in China than in Russia – they’ve been so for the last four decades and probably will remain so for the foreseeable future, even if Chinese growth rates continue to decline as they are expected to do.

    There are also ten times as many people in China as in Russia. And the smartest Chinese are just as smart, if not smarter, than the smartest Russians. The Chinese military, which once lagged far behind the Russian military, has made significant upgrades. The level of science and technology in China has also improved greatly since the Cold War, and China no longer needs to borrow Russian military technology to the same degree it once did, even if it stills buys a lot of Russian military hardware.

    The immediate areas China will contend for against the United States (and Russia) are in the Far East and Southeast Asia, regions which are more valuable and prosperous than the parts of Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic region) that the U.S. foreign establishment stupidly seems to believe are in the American strategic interest to stoke a new Cold War with Russia.

    Putin’s Russia has been called an aggressive and expansive power, and Putin compared to Hitler. But Putin makes for a poor Hitler. In over seventeen years as Russia’s de facto leader, he’s added about one percent to Russian territory (about the size of San Bernardino county) in what have been mostly reactive moves to Western meddling in the countries along the Russian frontier. Those defensive moves have been understandable. Certainly, Russia has a much more compelling strategic interest in what’s going on in Ukraine and Georgia than does the U.S. And I can’t take seriously anyone who believes Russia is ready to roll into Poland. Putin’s army would have a difficult enough time rolling into western Ukraine.

    China has not been an aggressive military power since Mao. From 1949 to 1976, China attacked or sent its military into several neighboring countries – India, the USSR, Korea, Vietnam, ROC islands in the Taiwan Strait, and Burma. Since that time Beijing has been much more willing to defer creating military conflicts rather than use the PLA to try and settle them, but I’m not aware of it giving up any of its territorial claims.

    And of course the major reason Beijing no longer uses the PLA as it once did is because it realizes it doesn’t have to. With each passing year, China grows stronger, both economically and militarily, and the United States grows (relatively) weaker. Beijing realizes that time is on its side. As long as the status quo is maintained, the Chinese leadership knows that it can wait. But China is waiting, not liberalizing.

    It’s clear to me that China will be a much more formidable strategic foe than Russia in the near future. Why isn’t it clear to members of the U.S. establishment? Perhaps the largesse they see floating out of the PRC to the American friends of China clouds their strategic vision.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “Putin’s army would have a difficult enough time rolling into western Ukraine.” I think they could, but the Ukraine would need massive reform before it’d be worth having. Poorer than Byelorussia.

      • Putin appears to have no understanding of economics.

        • Pincher Martin says:

          Putin appears to have no understanding of economics.

          Well, he’s so far not gone into western Ukraine, and he first invaded the country more than four years ago. What’s he waiting for?

          Putin’s expansionism and troop movements in Ukraine have been limited to the most Pro-Russian and Russified areas of the country. If his intent was to take over Ukraine, he’s sure botching the job. It’s the slowest blitzkrieg in history.

          Putin has even redeployed troops from what was formerly Ukraine to the Middle East. That’s not the move of someone who plans to roll into, and keep, western Ukraine.

      • Smithie says:

        That was probably the most important reason for the dissolution of the USSR: it cost Russia a lot to subsidize all these other places.

        • Ivan says:

          Economy played very little if any role in the USSR collapse. If Brezhnev could be cloned, the USSR would have existed today.

          In fact, after the collapse, gdp per capita in Russia fell sharply and recovered only in about 2006-2007 to the 1988 level. So much for subsidies.

        • Zenit says:

          This was the line during perestroika and dissolution of USSR. Russians were told that Russia is feeding the national republics, and without them everyone would be rich. The republics were told they are feeding Russia, and without Russia everyone would live like in Hollywood movie.

    • gcochran9 says:

      By the way, I’ve come up with a scheme that would push American tech drastically ahead of China. Should work.

    • Smithie says:

      In the past, China actually did give up at least one claim: a chunk of the area North of Korea, which belongs to Russia now. But, of course, Russia was more formidable than China in the past. I don’t anticipate them being generous to smaller powers.

      Based on greatest historical extent or individual bulges added together, China would be larger than it is now. I’ve often wondered, what Chinese nationalists may think of this.

      In the old view of some historians, the reason Germany caused problems in Europe was that there were more Germans than French or Poles or British. That is definitely true of the Chinese, but fertility rates may be a mitigating factor.

      It is curious to me that China now has a two-child policy which does not seem to be working. You would think they would drop the limit entirely, but maybe they view it as eugenic? It’s a mystery to me.

      • Erik Sieven says:

        I guess they have this policy because it would be to embarassing to cancel it entirely which would show the policy had been wrong all the time.

      • IIRC Qing dynasty forbade Han to settle in Manchuria whereas drawing Manchus for all kinds of wars they waged, leaving Manchuria sparsely populated. Otherwise Russia would face much difficulties in taking it. Ban was lifted only it was too late.

    • Russian Fear says:

      It’d probably help if Russia ever acted like China was a bigger threat to them than the US. It’d help if Russia went around making overtures for a pan-European, pan-American, pan-Russian alliance. They don’t. Rather than committing dodgy and ludicrously provocative assassinations and boasting about psyops and covert cyber warfare that immediately reduces any ability for any country to treat them as a halfway honest and trustworthy ally.

      At least as filtered through the Western media – perhaps Putin’s on record that he wants an alliance with the greater West to oppose Chinese ambition, and this is what all the hardware’s for, and it’s secretly filtered out.

      If it’s clear to you that China’s a greater threat to Russia than the US, and that they should treat it as such, then great. But the Russians themselves don’t seem to be too keen on behaving as if that’s true. How can the US ally itself with a state that is deliberately positioning itself and styling itself as a hostile resurgent “Great Power” (rather than a subordinate in a US led alliance)?

      • Pincher Martin says:

        It’d probably help if Russia ever acted like China was a bigger threat to them than the US.

        As long as the U.S. keeps interfering in matters along Russia’s border, why wouldn’t Moscow act like the U.S. was a bigger threat than China?

        That’s the point of this discussion: Trying to figure out why the U.S. establishment stupidly believes that Georgia and Ukraine are worth getting Moscow all riled up.

        And it’s not just Georgia and Ukraine. Albania is also a NATO member state. So are the Baltic nations. As is Montenegro. Why? Are any of them necessary for U.S. and Western European security? Do they add military firepower to the alliance? Economic security? Strategic geographical positions for defense? No, no, no, and no.

        Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic? I can understand those 1999 additions to NATO. They make sense. They were large states with a capacity to Westernize (i.e., get rich as democracies), and they were important strategically, as all three of them border either Germany or Austria. They fit into NATO, and they expanded the frontier of the Good Guys without being unduly provocative to the Russians by mucking around right on their borders (I don’t count Kaliningrad).

        But at this point NATO has become too diffuse of an organization to fulfill its obligations. I mean, have you ever thought how we would defend the Baltic States from a Russian attack? Good luck with that.

        At least as filtered through the Western media – perhaps Putin’s on record that he wants an alliance with the greater West to oppose Chinese ambition, and this is what all the hardware’s for, and it’s secretly filtered out.

        Russians are certainly nervous about China’s rise, and they have been for many years. If we weren’t giving them so many excuses to run to Beijing (for what are largely propaganda exercises) to counter our own provocative moves, we might get somewhere with Putin.

        But it’s just been one series of provocations by us after another. I don’t mind provoking someone if there’s a reward in it for us, some compelling reason for us to get nasty. But future NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine is not such a goodie.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        I disagree with Cochran that we can enter into a working alliance with the government Russia. They are always out for themselves. They will bully and take what they can when they can. At the same time I completely agree with Cochran and the above comment by Pincher Martin that China is the real threat in our future, it is all about their size, and their future growth potential. We can’t trust Russia whatsoever but nor should we buy into the bullshit that they are a threat to us. Now China will be a threat. Not now, not even ten years from now, but it is coming. They aren’t any different than Russia, China will take what they can when they can. China can simply wait and grow until the right opportunity presents itself.

        • Pincher Martin says:

          I disagree with Cochran that we can enter into a working alliance with the government Russia. They are always out for themselves.

          That’s precisely why it should be so easy to work with Moscow.

          Hell, if we could ally ourselves with Stalin for some common goal, we could ally ourselves with anyone.

          • Frau Katze says:

            But Stalin was in an extremely position when he agreed to ally himself with the Allies. Namely, Germans were overrunning his country.

            • Pincher Martin says:

              True. The situations aren’t the same. But if China threatens Russian interests in the Far East and Central Asia more than the West threatens Russian interests in Europe, why wouldn’t Putin ally himself with the West?

              • Frau Katze says:

                I think the Chinese are smart enough to know what they can get away with. Hitler was a lunatic, especially from a military point of view.

                I don’t think China currently threatens Russia at all. I’m not keeping up with the news in as much detail as a couple of years ago, true, but I would have noticed anything significant.

                China’s threat to us isn’t an invasion, it’s more about piracy and stealing technology. Does Russia have anything worth stealing?

              • Pincher Martin says:

                Frau Katze,

                I think the Chinese are smart enough to know what they can get away with. Hitler was a lunatic, especially from a military point of view.

                A strategic alliance between Russia and the United States in opposition to China would likely not go hot. But a strategic alliance doesn’t have to be about war.

                I’m sorry I brought up WW2. It was a mistake. I assumed most readers here would understand that a reference to the politics surrounding that global conflagration did not mean I thought we were going to replay the entire war again, but this time with China in the role of Hitler’s Germany. I certainly don’t believe that. My point in bringing it up was simply to show that common strategic interests often make for strange bedfellows among nations.

                China is a more serious long-term geopolitical competitor and strategic opponent than Putin’s Russia and recognizing that fact requires the U.S. to play a much different game than it is playing now.

                I don’t think China currently threatens Russia at all.

                Their interests are not aligned except to the degree the United States continues to encourage their alignment.

                China wants more influence and perhaps territory in Central Asia and the Russian Far East. One is the former Soviet Union, and the other is still Russian Federation territory. The Russian Far East is empty; the northern Chinese provinces are heavily populated. It’s a long border between two paranoid nations with a history of skirmishes and disputes.

                Keep in mind that China does not currently threaten the United States, either. The rise of China has had a few hiccups in the U.S. – Tiananmen, arms sales to Taiwan, the Hainan Island incident, etc. But it’s really surprising how smooth the relationship has been when you consider what’s taking place.

                A major reason for that is because China’s rapid economic development has encouraged it to be patient. It’s too busy building the sinews of the state to flex its muscles. But China’s rapid growth will not continue for long. Already the pace of growth is slowing down and soon China will be a mature second-tier economy, subject to all the potential ills that mature economies are subject to. What then? When China’s energies can’t all be focused entirely on breakneck growth is when we will begin to see the Chinese leadership play its nationalist card on the global stage.

              • Hitler wanted to do major ethnic cleansing, in long term killing over half of USSR population. Chinese, at worst, would simply assimilate Russians. Nothing to compare here.

              • 2 Frau Katze:
                If USA drops 2nd amendment like the Dems want, maybe China reconsiders invasion…. (that’s more a joke but it has grain of salt in it).

              • Ursiform says:

                If you think stockpiling AR-15s is the way to win a war with China I think you are deluded.

  8. Henry Scrope says:

    Yep, Euros unite, we are only 9% of the world by population. No more brother’s wars.

  9. inertial says:

    Any such exchange should involve reciprocity. The Russians release Venona messages and the Americans reveal some other aspect of the mutual history. For example, exactly what role American intelligence played in fomenting ethnic separatism in the USSR?

    Or how about deliberately provoking Stalin’s purges? We know Americans did exactly that in post-WWII Eastern Europe (operation Splinter Factor.) What about Russia? During the 1937-38 purges, a lot of Soviet officials were accused of being foreign agents. Obviously, great majority the charges were nonsense. But could it be true for a few? They say that some of the cases do look pretty damn credible.

    • gcochran9 says:

      If we gave them the real secret story of the CIA’s actions against the USSR in the good old days, they’d likely laugh themselves sick.

      • Thiago Ribeiro says:

        Are you sure? CIA’s failures are public matter (like trying to kill Castro one bazillion times – they probably made him last longer than he would have otherwise), CIA’s successes pdobably are not.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Sure, no. Maybe they’ve managed to stave off alien invasion. But there’s an awful lot of known idiocy.

          • Toddy Cat says:

            “They say that some of the cases do look pretty damn credible”

            I must have missed those. But, it’s obvious to anyone who looks at the whole thing dispassionately that Field was working for the Soviets, not Dulles. What the CIA mostly did was stand around looking mysterious, hand out checks to the wrong people, and take credit for things that would have almost certainly happened anyway (Mossadegh, Guatemala, Pinochet). Possibly they have lots of successes that I’m not familiar with. As for the Stalin purges, the United States didn’t even really have a foreign intelligence agency back then, and the New Dealers who might have run it probably saw the Soviets more as a potential “Popular Front” ally against Hitler in 1936-37 than as a target for any sort of destabilization. The Abwehr, maybe, or British Intelligence, but I doubt it.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Right. As far as Humint goes, looks to me as if the CIA had a net negative score. On the other hand, technical intelligence, spy satellites and such, has been useful for the US.

              What about analysis of data? Judgment? Not good.

              • LabRat says:

                Given how many public screw ups the CIA has had, I have to think that for the CIA’s record to be anywhere near break-even, they must have had some pretty spectacular successes as well. And if they weren’t anywhere near break even, I would have expected many more calls from people above the agency to simply shut down the entire operations side. Seeing as I haven’t read of too many people suggesting ths, I’m assuming that the CIA has at least one or two things good enough that whenever somebody suggested pulling the plug they could point back and say “But remember when…”.

                And while it’s not a human intelligence success exactly, I’ve always found Project Jennifer really awesome. And their buying of the titanium for the SR-71 from the soviets. Finally, given that the Soviets managed so many public successes with their spying, for the CIA not to have had any would be a really, really, big effectiveness difference. Possible? Sure. But it seems unlikely.

              • albatross says:

                It would be really amazing if taking a large government bureaucracy and letting them do everything in secret with no accountability and little effective oversight made them more effective.

                How do you suppose that would work with the DMV or the local public school system? Give them black budgets, let them classify all their internal operations, and threaten any employees who wanted to talk about their failures in public with jail time, and the waiting time at the drivers’ license office would get shorter, right?

              • gcochran9 says:

                I know of cases where doing that exact thing worked well.

            • And Iran. The CIA claimed “we totally did that, installing the Shah,” and his opponents nursed their resentments by agreeing. But we mostly just paid for some political cartoons and a rent-a-mob, with the stern look that said we’d do it again, by cracky.

      • Frau Katze says:

        It’s a known fact the Roosevelt saw the Russians and Stalin in a positive light. When Whittaker Chambers told the FBI in the late 1930s that he had been a spy and helped transmit information to the USSR, Roosevelt did nothing at all: he wasn’t interested.

        The FBI became more interested in the early 1950s.

        • Ivan says:

          “Roosevelt saw the Russians and Stalin in a positive light…”

          Churchill too:
          “It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power, and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. ”

          That’s about the monster who far exceeded Hitler in mass murdering innocent people, who did not believe to the last moment that his pal would attack him in June 1945. “Great war chief” indeed.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Churchill was far more skeptical than Roosevelt but by then, his country needed all the help it could get.

            Where did you get the quote? It is the sort of thing one might say in public to create a diplomatic opening to cooperate in WW II. But according to what I’ve read, he was skeptical but desperate.

            Some say that Roosevelt was seriously ill by then and not at the top of his game. That’s quite possible.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Venona started earlier – but they apparently never told Truman. Deep State Forever ! – when they’re right.

  10. Frau Katze says:

    I see lots of problems with attempting to be allies with Putin. For example, the UK was rather annoyed about the poisoning of Litvinenko. And now a new poison case. Reuters says Trump is unhappy,

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-trump/trump-considers-expelling-some-russian-diplomats-over-poison-attack-source-idUSKBN1H10ZD

    In principle we could be allies, but the Russians don’t trust anyone. It was better before WW I. Under the tsars.

    No way at all could I see the modern leadership with Putin even considering it. He trusts no one.

    • reinertor says:

      But how much evidence there is out there that it was the Russians?

      The behavior of the UK government certainly raised my suspicions enough that I now give serious chances to it not having been the Russians. It certainly looks incompetent from the Russians to do that at this time in such a manner, but incompetence goes a long way, so maybe they really did it. Who knows?

      • Frau Katze says:

        I didn’t realize that there were people who don’t believe the Russians poisoned Litvinenko. Who else had a motive?

        • engleberg says:

          When the IRA shot Brits with Armalites from America, that wasn’t US policy, that was one gunsmith who was loyal to the IRA and maybe knew people who knew people in Ted Kennedy’s office or maybe didn’t. What if Litvinenko was poisoned by one rogue with sort of chekist connections, but mostly mafiya connections, who Putin would kill if he knew?

          • dearieme says:

            “When the IRA shot Brits with Armalites from America, that wasn’t US policy …”: what makes you think so?

            • engleberg says:

              @that wasn’t US policy’- what makes you think so?

              Hope, optimism, all that weak but necessary stuff. Well, it wasn’t overt US policy, and if it was a covert policy I want the villainous policymakers prosecuted. American condoms were smuggled to Ireland in the Jon Sable Freelance comic books. Private enterprise? Probably, though you never knew about Bush the Elder. Really, lots of rednecks have Armalites. It’s been the US service rifle for more than half a century. Some rednecks are Irish, some Irish support the IRA, one dingbat gunsmith is, if not proven, not unbelievable.

        • reinertor says:

          Actually I questioned the Skripals, but the Litvinenko case was also only “probably” one of the Russian intelligence agencies. And even then, those agencies are vast bureaucratic organizations, it’s unlikely Putin personally ordered the murder itself or especially the use of polonium.

          Polonium is definitely not only produced in Russia, and does not cost millions of dollars (as was asserted):

          https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/12/03/world/europe/03iht-web.1203spyWIR2.3754686.html

          So especially in a corrupt country like Russia, probably lots of people with money could have had access to it.

          Litvinenko had for example conflicts with Berezovsky (they made amends shortly before his death, but wouldn’t you try to make amends with someone before having him whacked so as not to look suspicious..?), and the people usually thought to be the murderers (Lugovoy and Kovtun) had both been Berezovsky’s men until… well, until Litvinenko’s death. They were on good terms with both Litvinenko and Berezovsky up until the poisoning.

          Lugovoy also became a tabloid celebrity and then a quasi opposition MP in Russia (I say quasi, because he joined a nationalist party which supports Putin at least in terms of foreign policy). which is unusual for intelligence operatives. Most intelligence services don’t allow their members of former members to go on live TV and talk about their recent murder operation. Even if they deny it, Lugovoy famously often contradicted his previous statements, which is not unusual, regardless of whether he did commit it (likely) or not (possible). He was a former bodyguard and then bodyguard commander in the KGB/FSB, not the brainiest job ever.

          The Russians said they received no evidence against him from the British (they cannot try a citizen for a murder abroad based on hearsay, like tabloid articles about radioactivity found on airplanes etc.), and obviously it became an issue of national pride in Russia after the UK demanded a Russian citizen to be handed over despite the Russian constitution.

          I’m not saying these arguments are very strong (I’d still put my money on the Russian services being somehow involved in the murder), but at least there is sufficient doubt that even the British government inquiry found it only to be “highly probable,” but not certain.

          Regarding the Skripals, the British government doesn’t yet know how the poison was administered, but they already claim to know the poison could only be made in Russia, and that likely Putin personally ordered it (I guess while stroking a white cat and chuckling evilly).

          Here’s a number of questions (not exhaustive, a couple more questions could be asked):

          https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-25/30-questions-journalists-should-be-asking-about-skripal-case

          Again. I’m not saying it’s impossible that it was the Russians (they are among the obvious suspects), but it’s far from proven, and NATO governments seemed to be all too eager to jump to conclusions without much evidence.

          • Hugh Mann says:

            Killing with various radioisotopes (including Po-210) seems to be a Russian gangster thing.

            http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/radevents/radevents2.html

            But my impression was that Litvinenko’s lunch with the two Russians and the trail of radiation reportedly coinciding with their movements made it a pretty obvious Russian state attack, unless there’s a huge conspiracy on the UK side.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko#Polonium_trails

            • reinertor says:

              The two Russians had been Berezovsky’s associates in the 1990s, and were on good terms with him (and with Litvinenko himself) until Litvinenko’s death. One of the Russians, Kovtun, in the 1980s deserted from the Soviet Army and claimed asylum in West Germany, and after that obviously didn’t serve the Russian state in any capacity. I guess the FSB has more reliable operatives for sensitive murder operations than that. Lugovoy had been a KGB and then FSB bodyguard of important politicians until 1996, and then went on to work in the security business, working for Berezovsky. He spent some time in jail for helping one of Berezovsky’s associates, though I think the accusation is he was “turned” that time. Which might make sense, but would a professional intelligence service task such a person with a sensitive murder operation? Moreover, after the murder, he spent considerable time on Russian TV and in the tabloid press, obviously enjoying the publicity, leveraging it to get into the Russian parliament. Would an intelligence service let its operatives do numerous unscripted live interviews about a murder operation? What makes you think that these men were agents of the Russian state, and not of Berezovsky or some other rogue oligarch?

              I don’t say it’s impossible (stupid or improbable things can and do happen, and incompetence goes a long way in explaining things), but at least you have to admit it’s at least equally likely that Litvinenko was murdered by some other enemy of his. This actually included Berezovsky a few months earlier, though they made amends shortly before the murder.

              • reinertor says:

                it’s at least equally likely that Litvinenko was murdered by some other enemy of his

                Let me retract it. I don’t know about likelihoods.

                I’d rather say it’s also a possibility. I don’t know how likely it is.

    • Ursiform says:

      I don’t know that it was a lot different under the tsars. Russia has long been a difficult combination of expansionist and paranoid,

      • Frau Katze says:

        Perhaps I’m subconsciously comparing the tsars to Stalin. He was worse than them. But that’s not saying much, I agree.

        • Jim says:

          Stalin was far, far worst than the Tsars. The late tsars weren’t any worst than Henry VIII.

          • Ursiform says:

            Stalin wasn’t Russian. He did continue the Russian tradition of being expansionist and paranoid. Peter the Great had his son (and his son’s friends) tortured and killed.

            • Jim says:

              I know Stalin was Georgian. How many millions did Peter the Great kill? Ivan the Terrible was Mother Theresa compared to Stalin.

  11. Zenit says:

    The Cold War is over. Communism lost and capitalism won all over the world, but judging by this post the Cold War is still not dead.
    And this is the reason why Russia will not do what you propose. Not this year, not this decade, not this century.
    When will be Cold War just one more chapter of history and generate as much passions and tensions as Thirty Year’s War or War of Jenkins’ Ear, then will be time to open archives and let the historians look at the secrets.

    The underlying reason is that the true strategic threat to both Russia and the United States is China

    The Russian leaders disagree, and so do the Chinese. But President Jack Ryan knows better, and is always prepared to fight China to the last Russian and Russia to the last Chinese.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Come on, think it through. What would happen if he Russians opened up the Soviet espionage archives? Nothing that would hurt them.

      Think.

      • Zenit says:

        How would opening the archives help them? What could they gain?
        American good will?

        • Garr says:

          Americans like Russians. We think that Fyodor Dostoevsky is deep, funny, and lovable; we very much admire Fedor Emelianenko. We think that Russian Orthodoxy is strangely beautiful. Russian characters in American movies are likable tough guys with a crazy edge. So there’s already good will at a basic level.

          • Patrick L. Boyle says:

            It’s true. I like Russians. I once supervised a whole bunch of Russian programmers. They were always trying to do me in. They had managed to run off the two previous Americans who had been brought in to be their supervisor (this was in San Francisco). They were so cute with their incessant plotting.

          • Americans like Russians? LOL. In every opinion poll Americans rated Russia near the bottom and Russians are among few groups it’s OK to be openly racist to.

      • TWS says:

        I’m guessing that some trails would lead to active agents. They obviously still have guys working for us and some of them will be obvious by who recruited them. It’s not like the Russians just let the Soviet network over here die on the vine.

      • NobodyExpectsThe.... says:

        What? Are you suggesting that there were even more democrats colluding with the soviets besides Ted Kennedy? Well color me surprised!

    • Pincher Martin says:

      The Russian leaders disagree, and so do the Chinese.

      That might be the case now, but only because successive American presidents blew the opportunity on silly things like expanding NATO to areas of Eastern Europe where the U.S. has no compelling interest. Even with all that, the relationship was probably still salvageable after the 2004 NATO enlargement that took the Western military alliance to within a comfortable four-hour drive of Saint Petersburg.

      But, really, what the hell are we doing signing mutual defense treaties with the Baltic states? I guess we thought that if we could get away with that, we could also muck around on Russia’s soft underbelly, in places Moscow has long seen seen as critical to its national interest. Not smart.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        “But President Jack Ryan knows better, and is always prepared to fight China to the last Russian and Russia to the last Chinese.”

        I wish that American strategic thinking were that incisive and cold-blooded, but you give us too much credit.

  12. West Anon says:

    Anastasiya sends a secret message to Boris, encoded with a one-time pad. Mallory demands the one-time pad from Anastasiya. Anastasiya shrugs, hands over a one-time pad. Mallory applies it to the message. History! she yells. A cryptography nymph appears and hits her over the head with a one-time pad.

  13. Hoyt says:

    Cowboys and Cossacks! That’s a great line, and I wish both sides would realize they are hated by the same people, for the same reasons.

    • Smithie says:

      It used to be much commented on how the US and the USSR were polar opposites of each other. America had the Wild West. The USSR had the wild east.

  14. Thiago Ribeiro says:

    Obama tried the reset and is criticized for this. Bush said he looked into Putin’s soul (it is the only known proof Putin has a soul) and failed, too. Trump, too, is going nowhere. Dpite America’s good will, Russia keeps trying to swallow America’s allies. China at least pays America’s bills (while taking American jobs). Russia is just a threat.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “Russia keeps trying to swallow America’s allies” You mean like when Georgia invaded Russia?

      • gcochran9 says:

        Or, more exactly, an Ossetian enclave that didn’t want to be part of Georgia and had Russian troops hanging out there for a long time?

        • Jim says:

          Don’t forget the old geopolitical maxim – “He who controls North Ossetia controls North Ossetia” or is it South Ossetia? Does it make any difference?

          • Thiago Ribeiro says:

            Well, the same is true about Poland, and, between wars, the Soviet regime lived pretty well without the Baltic countries. Soviet Russia lived a few years without Georgia and other Transcaucasian countries. It is a shame that America standa by while its friends are being swalled by Russian aggressors.

        • Thiago Ribeiro says:

          South Ossetia is a legitimate part of Georgia, the same way Transnistria is part of Moldova and Crimea is part of Ukraine. It is funny how, among European countries, only Russia still devotes itself to swalling its neighbors.
          There is no moral difference between Putin in 2018 and Saddam in 1991.

          • catte says:

            Where does the Turkish occupation of North Cyprus fall in your moral calculus? What about the Chinese occupation of Tibet?

            • Thiago Ribeiro says:

              America was already supporting Taiwan, which didn’t give up claims over Tibet and, if I am not wrong, Mongolia. But, by all means, oppose China. Turkey, too, if you find the time.

          • gcochran9 says:

            In the same way that Georgia is part of Russia.

          • gcochran9 says:

            sure there is. The locals in the Crimea are mostly Russians and wanted in.

            • Thiago Ribeiro says:

              “The locals in the Crimea are mostly Russians and wanted in.”
              They are no more Russians than Japanese-Brazilians (whom we usually call “Japanese”) are Emperor Akihito’s subjects or President Temer, who is from Catholic Lebanese stock, is a Lebanese.
              Those guys were members of a ethnic minority in Ukraine. They rebelled against the legitimate government. It is like trying to make Los Angeles part of Mexico or El Salvador.

              • catte says:

                Crimea was part of Russia within living memory, transferred to Ukrainian control by Khrushchev’s diktat. It’s full of ethnic Russians. The analogy does not hold.

              • Ursiform says:

                Crimea was transferred without local consent from Russia to Ukraine. Given the choice, in an election, Crimea would likely have voted to rejoin Russia. I don’t approve of Putin’s seizure of Crimea, but Ukraine has no claim to Crimea beyond the whim of an earlier autocrat.

              • Ivan says:

                @ursiform:

                The Soviet Union republics were nominal entities without any real autonomy. Thus, whatever was decided in Moscow was implemented at a local level and there was no need to please anybody. The reason for the peninsula transfer to Ukraine was purely practical: the peninsula does not have a land border with Russia — it is attached to Ukraine. Implication for railway, road traffic, administration etc are obvious.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Nina Khruscheva seems to think that it was a personal gesture toward’s Khrushchev’s favorite republic, Sergei Khrushchev thought it had to do with administrative simplicity for the construction of a dam on the Dnieper, Others thought it a gift to commemorate ” the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav”.

                The question of legality and legitimacy that apply to the partial disintegration of a vast multiethnic empire that had for three generation been run by murderous lunatics are indeed complex. If it’s ok for Georgia to secede, why isn’t it OK for Ossetians or Abkhazians to secede from Georgia? What about all the areas that were forcibly annexed by the czars, or by the Soviets?

              • dearieme says:

                “It is like trying to make Los Angeles part of Mexico or El Salvador.” Well, that is Democrat policy, apparently.

              • Jim says:

                The present borders in Eastern Europe are mostly Stalin’s whim.

            • Ivan (anonymous above) says:

              The Crimea grab was undoubtedly an act of aggression on Russia’s part and a violation of various promises and “guarantees”.

              Probably the closest in its similarity historical event was Sudetenland annexation by Hitler. Similarly to the Sudetenland event, a substantial majority of the Crimean locals were in favor of the annexation. The main motivation I imagine was pecuniary and, in the second place, patriotic fervor. I met some ethnic Ukrainians from the Crimea who were in favor of being part of Russia. If it’s any excuse, their motivation was solely pecuniary.

              Ironically, during late soviet times the peninsula and Ukraine proper had substantially higher living standards than Russia, excepting Moscow and Leningrad. Now, the situation is quite different mainly due to corruption and incompetence in Ukraine which are worse than even in Russia. Had it been otherwise, the land grab would not have happened, nor would multiple revolts in Kiev, another or maybe the main factor pushing Putin to do what he did.

              • Pincher Martin says:

                The Crimea grab was undoubtedly an act of aggression on Russia’s part and a violation of various promises and “guarantees”.

                The move was reactive. If the pro-Western Ukrainians had not pushed the pro-Moscow and fairly-elected president out of Kiev, Putin would not have annexed Crimea. Putin had previously shown some tolerance for allowing a pro-Western president to serve in Ukraine without invading the country, but when he saw there was no quid pro quo to democratic politics with a pro-Russian president in charge, only then did he make his move into Ukraine.

                Yes, there was Russian corruption, extrajudicial killings, and assassination attempts in Ukraine before Yanukovych, but there was no Russian invasion. Putin had shown that he could tolerate within certain well-prescribed bounds a pro-Western democratic leader in Kiev. Had the pro-Western Ukrainian leadership shown any political skill in assuaging Putin, or even if they had shown any intelligent cohesiveness in opposing him, Ukraine would most likely be whole today.

    • reinertor says:

      It’s more like the US keeps making alliances with any countries which just might have a dispute with Russia, the closer to the Russian heartlands, the better. Eventually you will be surprised how many of your allies will the Russians be having disputes with.

  15. The Z Blog says:

    Perhaps a more fruitful way of examining this is to come up with the reason why the Russians seem to have no interest in making nice with the US. Similarly, why is it the US is obsessed with keeping Russia as a villain?

    Nations act in the perceived interest of their rulers. Unless there rulers are insane, highly probable in our case, there is some reason, some perceived advantage to current policy. Most people reading this will jump to several predictable reasons for explaining the behavior of the US ruling elite in this area, so it probably would be more useful to focus on Russia first.

    • Dean says:

      I don’t understand what you’re basing that theory on! We went in there and tried to annihilate them after they effectively peacefully surrendered. Then we added insult to injury by pushing for color revolutions and finally massive bombings on their cousins. Now we’re all the way up their nose in Ukraine. If we were trying to make it impossible for them to ‘join us’, what would we do different?

      • The Z Blog says:

        So what you’re saying is, humiliating and looting a country is not a good way to win them over?

      • Russian Fear says:

        What, “cousins” like Syria, Egypt and Iran? Interesting genealogy you’ve got going on there.

      • Thiago Ribeiro says:

        America keeps interfering in Russia’s internal affairs in Ukraine and Georgia, right?

        • catte says:

          Imagine if someone drove right up to the outside of your front yard and pissed all over the ground. Sure it’s not on your property, but still quite annoying and provocative, yes?

          • Thiago Ribeiro says:

            “We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.” Alexander Hamilton said, “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.” Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.” -Ronald Reagan

            Ok, it is not a billion humans anymore. Does it make it right?

            • Pincher Martin says:

              Georgians and Ukrainians are no longer slaves. Get your mind out of the eighties. That decade is long gone.

              • Thiago Ribeiro says:

                Georgia’s territory is under Russian occupation. Ukrainian territory has been swalled by the neo-communist/czarist wolf. How is it any different from, say, Canada invading Alaska? Will America sell its friends just to appease Russia?

              • Pincher Martin says:

                Thiago,

                Georgia’s territory is under Russian occupation. Ukrainian territory has been swalled by the neo-communist/czarist wolf.

                The parts of Georgia and Ukraine under Russian occupation want to be under Russian occupation. Or at least prefer it to remaining under Georgian and Ukrainian rule. As I said, they’re not slaves.

                How is it any different from, say, Canada invading Alaska?

                If Canada ever seeks to make a military treaty with some power hostile to the U.S, and if parts of Canada wish to accede to U.S. rule, then your analogy might make some sense. As it is, you’re just a dummy who thinks that every other part of the world is just like home.

              • Thiago Ribeiro says:

                So that is it: if a Mexican fifth-column welcomes Mexican Panzer Divisions into NYC or Los Angeles, OK. We are talking about conquest and territorial aggrandizement.

              • Pincher Martin says:

                Thiago, you have a talent for inapt and inept analogies.

                if a Mexican fifth-column welcomes Mexican Panzer Divisions into NYC or Los Angeles, OK. We are talking about conquest and territorial aggrandizement.

                If Russia really wanted to conquer Georgia and Ukraine, what’s stopping them?

                As it is, Abkhazia is 3,340 square miles. South Ossetia is even smaller at 1,500 square miles. That’s a total of 4,840 square miles, less than twenty percent of Georgia’s territory.

                In Ukraine, Crimea is 10,000 square miles. The Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts are each also both around 10,000 square miles in territory, but pro-Russian separatists only control about one-third of Luhansk. That’s a total of 23,000 square miles or around 10 percent of Ukraine’s territory.

                So Putin has been in charge of Russia for seventeen years and he’s conquered around 28,000 square miles. Or less than half-a-percent of Russia’s existing territory. And all of it filled with Russian sympathizers.

                What a terrifying conquerer Putin is. He’s like Genghis Khan mowing down city after city. At this rate, Putin should reach Warsaw in the year 2300. Wake me when he does.

  16. dearieme says:

    Max Hastings, a British journalist and popular historian, recently wrote exasperated words to the effect of “I’m fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five – what about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?” I can’t help but suspect that even now there might be Americans keen not to have the Five Hundred named e.g. the sons of traitors.

    • syonredux says:

      “Max Hastings, a British journalist and popular historian, recently wrote exasperated words to the effect of “I’m fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five – what about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?” I can’t help but suspect that even now there might be Americans keen not to have the Five Hundred named e.g. the sons of traitors.”

      Too many of the Yanks were Jews. It will stay in the memory hole.

  17. Space Ghost says:

    How would we know the Russkies didn’t release fake One-Time pads designed to maximally embarrass the US? Given a ciphertext, you can trivially produce a key that decrypts it to any chosen message of the same length.

  18. Smithie says:

    On a related note, I wish that China would open up their Mao-era archives to historians, it was a real godsend when the Russians did it.

    • reinertor says:

      They opened some regional archives to a few select historians. AFAIK those historians who have seen those archives usually estimate the number of victims of the Great Leap Forward to be higher than most other historians.

      I read that this was part of an internal CPC political struggle between the centrists in power and an apparently still strong ur-Maoist opposition within the top leadership.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Yeah, Frank Dikotter did some research at that level, nad came up with an estimate of at least 45 million dead. He was of course attacked by all the usual suspects, but he makes a pretty good case.

  19. Jim says:

    Now it seems with Bolton as NSA conflict with Russia is likely to intensify. Trump seems to be going full neocon.

  20. Jewish Nurturance says:

    Off topic, by the way Greg, I’d be interested in your take on a stream of tweets from Mark Koyama’s twitter feed – https://twitter.com/MarkKoyama.

    Roughly, he’s reporting on a presentation which claims extraordinary Ashkenazi Jewish population growth rates during the Middle Ages were driven by specifically Polish Ashkenazi Jewish religious “infant and child care norms” reducing mortality (https://twitter.com/BastienCF/status/976819658736226304).

    Essentially the argument that Jews did not maintain a high growth rate because they’d stumbled into an extraordinarily productive niche, provided they had the right cognitive skills to match it, but because they were simply better at caring for their kids than gentiles, because culture. Warm, fuzzy Jews who were unusually more caring for their children’s welfare than the more cold, brutal gentiles, not hard bitten, often ruthless businessmen and money lenders at high interest rates.

    Obviously I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to assume that, even if there was lower child mortality, this had anything to do with “Jewish culture” rather than simple IQ+money, but I’d love to see the Cochran take on it (whether it’s the expected excoriation or you actually think it’s halfway plausible).

    (Koyama’s generally fairly clever, but seems to be reporting this with no critical commentary….).

    • gcochran9 says:

      I know Maristella Botticini slightly, and maybe she’s made a case, But no, I don’t believe it for a minute. The Polish nobles showed plenty of population growth: were they secretly reading the Talmud?

      Moreover, I know that Jews with more money had much larger families: did they read the Talmud twice?

      Maybe there’s a paper somewhere.

    • Garr says:

      Some groups are cuddlier with their kids than other groups are. For example, Brooklyn Mexicans (or Central Americans or whatever they are — these are 5-foot-tall Ewok-like aboriginals) are cuddlier with their kids than Brooklyn Chinese are. The Mexican dads walk around carrying their toddlers or hand-in-hand with their somewhat older children and often run around playing with them on the sidewalks. You never see Chinese dads interacting with their kids in that way.

      Being a ruthless businessman is entirely compatible with being warm and fuzzy with your kids at home.

      • nurturance says:

        No incompatibility of course. But was any kind of warm and fuzzy with the kids, or more broadly and accurately to the material under discussion a different culture of nurturing, in any way the key to Ashkenazi population growth rates? I think not.

  21. magic says:

    One problem with your proposal is that you’d have to trust Russians that the keys and messages are genuine — they could manipulate the key to make the old message decrypt into whatever plain text they wish. This is precisely what makes the one time pad unbreakable — you can never know if you found the correct key, because any cryptogram can decrypt to any plain text with a well chosen key. This does not hold for modern block ciphers, as the key space is much smaller, and you have MACs as well.

    • albatross says:

      Yep, that’s the other side of no mutual information. Give me the ciphertext, and the plaintext you want to claim is authentic, and I’ll give you a key that produces that plaintext from that ciphertext. Since the key is random, there’s no way to tell whether this is the one I originally used.

  22. Hoyt says:

    Is everyone getting the point? If Verona were decrypted and exposed, it would show how deeply Western institutions had been involved in treason. The very same groups who know push for conflict with Russia. Because they loved Russia when it was under Communist control, and now they hate it for rejecting the Left.

    In other words, McCarthy was probably underestimating the levels of treason. But let’s see what was actually going on, let the facts speak for themselves.

    • Zenit says:

      Indeed. Was John Birch Society right and Eisenhower was a conscious agent of the World Communist conspiracy? Were the liberals right and the John Birch Society was Soviet front? Were both right, and absolutely everyone was Soviet spy?
      Inquiring minds want to know.

      • Hoyt says:

        No I wouldn’t endorse the Birch view. But the point isn’t that “everyone” was a Soviet spy. Or sympathetic to communism. The point is, just how widespread was illegal support of the USSR? One way to find is to release all these records.

        Since the Left is calling everyone who didn’t support Hillary a Russian spy, it seems only fair to release all the records from the past to see just how loyal the Left was.

        • Henry Scrope says:

          As in the NeoCon warmongers of today are the descendants of the Soviet spies or agents of influence pre-1950? Literally the descendants? Wow that would let it all hang out if revealed!

  23. Thiago Ribeiro says:

    “We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.” Alexander Hamilton said, “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.” Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.” – Ronald Reagan

    • catte says:

      “We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. I am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring America down, and will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs.”

      -DJT

      • Thiago Ribeiro says:

        Until now, instead of the U.N., it is the Pact of Steel with
        Russia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Steel That is all difference in America’s international dealings. A previous American president once warned his countrymen about the risks of entangling “our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice”. I can believe he was sincere because he tried to avoid supporting either England or France. What would he think seeing America supporting the heirs of czarist/Bolshevik despotism?

  24. Abies Lasiocarpa says:

    Jogged a memory of a book I read over 40 years ago: “The Cowboy and the Cossack” by Clair Huffaker. Thought it was good then, will have to track it down and read it again.

  25. thesoftpath says:

    The cowboys and the Cossacks WILL be friends, it’s just a matter of time.

  26. Pincher Martin says:

    Speaking of intelligence failures, I was surprised this news didn’t get more play when it first came out last year: New York Times: “Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations”

    The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

    Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

    But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.

    Still others were put in jail. All told, the Chinese killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 of the C.I.A.’s sources in China, according to two former senior American officials, effectively unraveling a network that had taken years to build.

    Assessing the fallout from an exposed spy operation can be difficult, but the episode was considered particularly damaging. The number of American assets lost in China, officials said, rivaled those lost in the Soviet Union and Russia during the betrayals of both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, formerly of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., who divulged intelligence operations to Moscow for years.

  27. Zenit says:

    If it’s ok for Georgia to secede, why isn’t it OK for Ossetians or Abkhazians to secede from Georgia?

    We can soon see this principle at work here on the civilized and progressive West.
    If Catalonia can secede from Spain, can Tabarnia secede from Catalonia?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabarnia

    The ultimate logical end of secessionism is every man as independent country, just like the ultimate logical end of unionism is one world government. If you do not want either, you need to stomp your feet and illogically draw the line somewhere.

    • tim hadselon says:

      How about nation-states, made up off people of common descent? Which seems to be what most people want anyway. Humans are social animals who need to be part of a larger political system. Yet, human populations vary, genetically, culturally, geographically, etc.

      So, 7 billion mini states are out. And so is one giant superstate.

      It’s not illogical to create and maintain countries on the natural bases we all see before our eyes.

      • Zenit says:

        What exactly is “natural nation”? What nations deserve their own countries?

        Do you have any logical way to decide (other than the usual method that involves lots of guns)

        • MawBTS says:

          Do you have any logical way to decide (other than the usual method that involves lots of guns)

          What other method do we need? Lots of wars over long periods of time seems like a pretty good way of working out national borders. When you throw competing interests together with limited resources, you eventually get a Nash equilibrium that kind of makes sense. Most of the world’s borders have undergone little change in half a century, barring cases of national collapse.

          It’s not perfect, but I think there’s a distinction between naturally emergent borders and unnatural borders (British colonialists drawing perfectly straight lines across the Middle East with a ruler, say).

        • georgesdelatour says:

          You can’t always draw borders with Platonic purity. But you can usually draw better or worse borders.

          Suppose you’re trying to draw the border between state A and state B. It’s usually not possible to draw it so absolutely everyone winds up inside their preferred state. But it’s usually possible to draw it so the smallest number of people wind up pissed-off unwilling citizens of their non-preferred state. And that’s worth something.

      • MawBTS says:

        Weakly agree, but some nations gain from having outsiders in their borders.

        The United States benefits from high IQ Chinese, Indian and Nigerian immigrants. And there is a whole list of countries (Saudi Arabia topping it) that probably couldn’t function at all without outside labour.

        • tim hadselon says:

          You mean the host country should think about whether a particular class of new immigrants would be good for it? Shocking.

  28. dave chamberlin says:

    Fun reading, a lot of insightful comments. While China pours it’s valuable resources into infrastructure and corporate reinvestment the United States blows it’s tax dollars on it’s completely ridiculous defense budget. Earlier Westhunter blog posts have pointedly talked about how wasteful it can be to prop up an empire of third world countries either as colonies or allies, it is completely cost ineffective to do so. The old USSR completely screwed itself two ways, communism and and insane defense budget, one would think Russia would learn from it’s past mistakes in defense spending but I doubt that they will.

    Cochran makes an interesting comment earlier in this thread that he knows how the US can shoot ahead of China in technology, and you know what, it’s possible but sadly it will never happen. The best historical analogy I can think of for the present relationship between China and the Untied States is the rivalry between England and Spain, back when Spain thought it’s long term interests was in blowing the budget on galleons while England rolled ever closer to the industrial revolution.

    There is something wrong with China and I can’t put my finger on it. I know they score highest on average IQ tests but they lack something, I think they will seriously falter in the next decade, just like Japan did. Too damn bad our idiotic public doesn’t want leadership like Cochran rather than clownish bullshitters, but it is what it is.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “sadly it will never happen.” might. On that topic, suppose someone gave you an ancient scroll from a lost civilization that happened to be a few decades ahead in certain technologies. How could we best use that advantage while preserving the secret for as long as possible ( i.e. at least a few years) ?

      • Anonymous says:

        Only show the scrolls to smart, competent, and trustworthy people who would know what to do with them (national labs, science and tech development companies with a track record of success, research institutions, etc), and be very careful about who is read in.

        Keep any innovations derived from the scrolls secret or if that’s not possible disguise their origin. Make a systematic and secret effort to find any other scrolls and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

        We’ve done big secret projects before, we can figure out what can be improved.

        On an unrelated note I’ve heard it’s a decent business to dig into the archives of former Soviet academic and research institutions looking for old and marketable Ph.D theses…

  29. Cpluskx says:

    What is the strategy to make the US and Russia friends?

  30. Marshall Lentini says:

    They are not hated for “dropping the Commie torch”. Leftists are not Communists. They hate Russia a) because of its “strong man” government and “poor record on human rights” (i.e. women, gays and minorities), and b) because it’s a convenient other for them to project onto. I don’t think you’ll find any leftist at all who says they hate Russia because they stopped being Communist; and if you do, it’ll be an overly intellectual blogger type with zero connection to the multihued mob who couldn’t care less about such things.

    • Jim says:

      I think some of those on the Jewish left are concerned about Russia being a potential threat to Israel. There has been a lot of sympathy for Communism on the left. The left favors authoritarian leadership and showed little interest in human rights during the days when the Bolsheviks and Maoists butchered millions . China is much more authoritarian than Russia with a much worst human rights record.

      • Gabriel M says:

        Of all the fantasies on the dissident right, the idea that Putin is going to ride in on his white horse and finally show the Zionists whose boss ranks …. somewhere in the middle. Israel has 100,000s of thousands of Russians, some Jewish, some Jewish and some not in the slightest bit Jewish. Based on expat voting records, they support Putin to the same degree as Russians in Russia do (perhaps slightly more so, assuming there’s a certain degree of vote rigging in Russia). Putin and Netanyahu obviously genuinely like each other and don’t have to smile awkwardly in each other’s company like they do with Trump. Russia and Israel have contradictory interest on many issues, but, interests aside, I’m pretty sure that Putin has nothing but contempt for a Shiite millenarians and dorky Alawites. And, in the real world, Israel has just told the UK to take a jump and declined to expel any Russians.

        More likely, some on the Jewish Left just have paranoid and bigoted views towards Russians for reasons that one can understand if not sympathize with.

        • Jim says:

          I agree that Jewish neocon’s concerns about Russia as a threat to Israel are highly exaggerated. Just as their concern about Saddam Hussein being a threat to Israel was highly exaggerated. But their paranoia still motivates much of their behavior.

          • Gabriel M says:

            Saddam Hussein was openly threatening towards Israel. He may not have been much of a threat, but not for want of trying. He did, of course, on one occasion fire Scuds at Israel in “retaliation” for being attacked by a coalition of Arab states and the US.

            By contrast, Russia and Israel are friendly states. It’s probably no exaggeration to say that after the latest assassination hoo haa that Israel gets on better with Russia than any other democracy.

            But their paranoia still motivates much of their behavior.

            Lot of projection there.

            • reinertor says:

              So Russia got more isolated, and so got more desperate to improve its relations with Israel. Israel had another reason to get rid of Skripal: he was working on the Steele dossier, whose target is Trump. The president who recognized Jerusalem as capital…

              OK, this is a conspiracy theory with exactly zero evidence. (Not that the supposed Russian culpability has many more pieces of evidence.)

              It’d be cool to know what happened, though probably just boring, like incompetent clerks at the FSB office making incompetent decisions, or something.

        • A resident of Israel voting in Russian elections isn’t same as average citizen of Israel with Russian background. A of of ’em hates Putin.

    • They are not? What’s the difference? For Marx the proletariat was the only oppressed class. Then they added blacks. Then gays and trannies. But the idea is the same — there’s the oppressed and the oppressors.

    • Peter Akuleyev says:

      The sort of globalist who hates Putin for his anti-human rights record is rarely “a leftist” in traditional political terms. They usually are the kind of person who is quite happy working in the marketing department of a global sneaker brand or consumer products firm making excess profits from the labor of thousands of people being paid what in the West would not even be subsistence wages. There are a lot of insults for that sort of person but “Marxist” is not one of them.

  31. Peter Akuleyev says:

    The Russians would be hated by leftist types but then they are anyhow, apparently for dropping the Commie torch.

    Not since Putin picked it back up and ran with it.

    Every Stalinist and even Trotskyist worth their salt still loves Russia – Jeremy Corbyn, Jill Stein, Stephen Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Gregor Gysi, Ken Livingstone, Max Blumenthal, and the average sort of aging 1960s activist who still reads The Nation.

    Putin gets a lot of credit from paleos in the US for being anti-homosexual, but why? The USSR was exponentially more anti-homosexual than Putin’s Russia, as was Fidel Castro and Maoist China. True Communists have no patience for homosexuality or similar frivolities.

  32. Five Daarstens says:

    The book “Venona Secrets” is a must read. All sorts of interesting stories in there.

  33. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2018/04/01) - Social Matter

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