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American Pravda: How Hitler Saved the Allies

By Ron Unz • Unz Review • May 13, 2019

A couple of years ago I happened to be reading the World War II memoirs of Sisley Huddleston, an American journalist living in France. Although long since forgotten, Huddleston had spent decades as one of our most prominent foreign correspondents, and dozens of his major articles had appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, and Harpers, while he had authored some nineteen books. Given such eminence, his personal relationships reached far into elite circles, with one of his oldest and closest friends being William Bullitt, the American ambassador to France, who had previously opened our first Soviet embassy under FDR.

Huddleston’s credibility seemed impeccable, which is why I was so shocked at his firsthand account of wartime Vichy, totally contrary to what I had absorbed from my introductory history textbooks. While I had always had the impression that Petain’s collaborationist regime possessed little legitimacy, this was not at all the case. Near unanimous majorities of both houses of the duly-elected French parliament had voted the elderly field marshal into office despite his own deep personal misgivings, regarding him as France’s only hope of a unifying national savior following the country’s crushing 1940 defeat at Hitler’s hands.

Although Huddleston’s sympathies were hardly with the Germans, he noted the scrupulous correctness they exhibited following their overwhelming victory, policies that continued throughout the early years of the Occupation. And although he had on a couple of occasions performed minor services for the nascent Resistance movement, when the 1944 Normandy landings and the subsequent German withdrawal suddenly opened the doors of power to the anti-Petain forces, they engaged in an orgy of ideological bloodletting probably without precedent in French history, far surpassing the infamous Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, with perhaps 100,000 or more civilians being summarily butchered on the basis of little or no evidence, often just to settle personal scores. Some of the worst of the bloodshed came at the hands of the Communist exiles of the Spanish Civil War, who had found shelter in France after their defeat and now eagerly took an opportunity to turn the tables and massacre the same sort of “bourgeois” class-enemies who had defeated them in that previous conflict just a few years earlier.

As I sought to weigh Huddleston’s testimony against the traditional narrative of wartime France I had always fully accepted, most of the factors seemed to point in his favor. After all, his journalistic credentials were impeccable and as a very well-connected direct observer of the events he reported, his statements surely counted for a great deal. Meanwhile, it appeared that most of the standard narrative dominating our history books had been constructed a generation or so later by writers living on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, whose conclusions may have been substantially influenced by the black-and-white ideological framework that had become rigidly enshrined at elite American universities.

However, I couldn’t help noticing one huge, gaping flaw in Huddleston’s account, an error so serious that it cast grave doubts upon his entire credibility as a journalist. Towards the beginning of his book, he devotes a page or so to casually mentioning that in the early months of 1940, the French and British were preparing to launch an attack against the neutral Soviet Union, using their bases in Syria and Iraq for a strategic bombing offensive meant to destroy Stalin’s Baku oil fields of the Caucasus, one of the world’s leading sources of that vital commodity.

Obviously, all military organizations produce a wealth of hypothetical contingency plans covering all possible situations and opponents, but Huddleston had somehow misunderstood such possibilities or rumors as outright fact. According to him, the Allied bombing of the Soviet Union had been scheduled to begin March 15th, but was initially delayed and rescheduled for various political reasons. Then a few weeks later, the German panzer divisions swept through the Ardennes forest, surrounded the French armies, and captured Paris, aborting the planned Allied bombardment of Russia.

Given that the USSR played the leading role in Germany’s eventual defeat, an early Allied attack upon the Soviet homeland would surely have changed the outcome of the war. Although Huddleston’s bizarre fantasies had somehow gotten the best of him, he was hardly incorrect in exclaiming “What a narrow escape!”

The notion that the Allies were preparing to launch a major bombing offensive against the Soviet Union just a few months after the outbreak of World War II was obviously absurd, so ridiculous a notion that not a hint of that long-debunked rumor had ever gotten into the standard history texts I had read on the European conflict. But for Huddleston to have still clung to such nonsensical beliefs even several years after the end of the war raised large questions about his gullibility or even his sanity. I wondered whether I could trust even a single word he said about anything else.

However, not long afterward I encountered quite a surprise in a 2017 article published in The National Interest, an eminently respectable periodical. The short piece carried the descriptive headline “In the Early Days of World War II, Britain and France Planned to Bomb Russia.” The contents absolutely flabbergasted me, and with Huddleston’s credibility now fully established—and the credibility of my standard history textbooks equally demolished—I went ahead and substantially drew upon his account for my long article “American Pravda: Post-War France and Post-War Germany.”

American Pravda: Post-War France and Post-War Germany
• July 9, 2018 • 6,600 Words

I hardly regard myself as a specialist on the history of World War II, but I initially felt deeply embarrassed to have spent my entire life completely ignorant of that crucial early turning-point in the huge conflict. However, once I had carefully read that National Interest article, my shame quickly dissipated, for it was obvious that the author, Michael Peck, along with his editors and readers had been equally unaware of those long-buried facts. Indeed, the article had originally run in 2015, but was republished a couple of years later due to enormous reader demand. As near as I can tell, that single 1100 word essay constituted the first and only time the momentous events described had received significant public attention in the seventy years since the end of the war.

Peck’s discussion greatly fleshed out Huddleston’s brief, offhand remarks. The French and British high commands had prepared their enormous bomber offensive, Operation Pike, in hopes of destroying Russia’s oil resources, and their unmarked reconnaissance flights had already overflown Baku, photographing the locations of the intended targets. The Allies were convinced that the best strategy for defeating Germany was to eliminate its sources of oil and other vital raw materials, and with Russia being Hitler’s leading supplier, they decided that destroying the Soviet oil fields seemed a logical strategy.

However, Peck emphasized the severe errors in this reasoning. In actual fact, only a small fraction of Hitler’s oil came from Russia, so the true impact of even an entirely successful campaign would have been low. And although the Allied commanders were convinced that weeks of continuous bombardment—apparently representing the world’s largest strategic-bombing campaign to that date—would quickly eliminate all Soviet oil production, later events in the war suggested that those projections were wildly optimistic, with vastly larger and more powerful aerial attacks generally inflicting far less permanent destruction than expected. So the damage to the Soviets would probably not have been great, and the resulting full military alliance between Hitler and Stalin would surely have reversed the outcome of the war. This was reflected in the original 2015 title of the same article “Operation Pike: How a Crazy Plan to Bomb Russia Almost Lost World War II.”

But although hindsight allows us to recognize the disastrous consequences of that ill-fated bombing plan, we should not be overly harsh upon the political leaders and strategists of the time. Military technology was in tremendous flux, and facts that seemed obvious by 1943 or 1944 were far less clear at the beginning of the conflict. Based upon their World War I experience, most analysts believed that neither the Germans nor the Allies had any hope of achieving an early breakthrough on the Western front, while the Soviets were suspected of being a feeble military power, perhaps constituting the “soft underbelly” of the German war machine.

Also, some of the most far-reaching political consequences of an Allied attack upon the Soviet Union would have been totally unknown to the French and British leaders then considering it. Although they were certainly aware of the powerful Communist movements in their own countries, all closely aligned with the USSR, only many years later did it become clear that the top leadership of the Roosevelt Administration was honeycombed by numerous agents fully loyal to Stalin, with the final proof awaiting the release of the Venona Decrypts in the 1990s. So if the Allied forces had suddenly gone to war against the Soviets, the total hostility of those influential individuals would have greatly reduced any future prospects of substantial American military assistance, let alone eventual intervention in the European conflict.

Thus, if the Germans had for any reason delayed their 1940 assault on France for a few weeks, the pending Allied attack would have brought the Soviets into the war on the other side, ensuring their defeat. It seems undeniable that Hitler’s fortuitous action inadvertently saved the Allies from the disastrous consequences of their foolish plans.


Although exploring the dramatic implications of the 1940 outbreak of an Allied-Soviet war may be an intriguing instance of alternative history, as an intellectual exercise it has little relevance to our present-day world. Far more important is what the account reveals about the reliability of the standard historical narrative that most of us have always accepted as real.

The first matter to explore was whether the evidence for the planned Allied attack on the Soviets was actually as strong as was suggested by the National Interest article. The underlying information came from Operation Pike, published in 2000 by Patrick R. Osborn in an academic series entitled Contributions in Military Studies, so I recently ordered the book and read it to evaluate the remarkable claims being made.

Although rather dry, the 300 page monograph meticulously documents its case, with the overwhelming bulk of the material being drawn from official archives and other government records. There seems not the slightest doubt about the reality of the events being described, and the Allied leaders even made extensive diplomatic efforts to enlist Turkey and Iran in their planned attack against the Soviet Union.

While the primary Allied motive was to eliminate the flow of necessary raw materials to Germany, there were broader goals as well. Forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture during the 1930s had led to the widespread slaughter of farm animals, which were then replaced by tractors requiring gasoline. The Allied leadership believed that if they succeeded in eliminating the Soviet oil supply, the resulting fuel shortage would lead to a collapse in agricultural production, probably producing a famine that might sweep the Communist regime from power. The Allies had always been intensely hostile to the Soviets, and the planned operation was actually named for a certain Col. Pike, a British officer who had died at Bolshevik hands in the Caucuses during a previous military intervention twenty years earlier.

This anti-Soviet planning rapidly accelerated after Stalin’s brutal attack upon tiny Finland in late 1939. The unexpectedly fierce Finnish resistance led the Western powers to expel the USSR from the League of Nations as a blatant aggressor, and inspired widespread demands for military intervention among both the political elites and the general public, with serious proposals being considered to send several Allied divisions to Scandinavia to fight the Russians on behalf of the Finns. Indeed, during much of this period Allied hostility seems to have been far greater towards the Soviets than towards Germany, despite the nominal state of war against the latter, with French sentiments being particularly strong. As one British elected official remarked, “One has the impression that France is at war with Russia and merely on very unfriendly terms with Germany.”

The Allies intended to use Polish exile forces in their ground combat against the Soviets, perhaps even sparking a Polish uprising against the hated Communist occupiers of their homeland. Osborn notes that if word of this plan had leaked to Stalin, that might explain why it was at this time that he signed the official orders directing the NKVD to immediately execute the 15,000 Polish officers and police whom he already held as POWs, an incident eventually known as the Katyn Forest Massacre, which ranks as one of the world’s worst wartime atrocities.

All of these military plans and internal discussions by the British and French were kept entirely secret at the time, and their archives remained sealed to historians for many decades. But in the opening of his fascinating account, Osborn explains that after the victorious German armies moved towards Paris in 1940, the French government attempted to destroy or evacuate all its secret diplomatic files, and a trainload of this very sensitive material was captured by German forces 100 miles from Paris, including the complete record of the plans to attack the USSR. In hopes of scoring an international propaganda coup, Germany soon published these crucial documents, providing both English translations and facsimile copies of the originals. Although it is unclear whether these disclosures received any significant Western media coverage at the time, Stalin surely became aware of this detailed confirmation of the information he had already gotten in bits and pieces from his network of well-placed Communist spies, and it must have deepened his distrust of the West. The story would also have quickly become known to all well-informed observers, explaining why Huddleston was so confident in casually mentioning the planned Allied attack in his 1952 memoirs.

After Hitler’s Barbarossa invasion of the USSR in June 1941 suddenly brought the Soviets into the war on the Allied side, these highly-embarrassing facts would have naturally dropped into obscurity. But it seems quite astonishing that such “politically correct” amnesia became so deeply entrenched within the academic research community that virtually all traces of the remarkable story disappeared for the six decades that preceded the publication of Osborn’s book. More English-language books may have been published on World War II during those years than on any other subject, yet it seems possible that those many tens of millions of pages contained not a single paragraph describing the momentous Allied plans to attack Russia in the early days of the war, perhaps even leaving Huddleston’s brief, offhand remarks in 1952 as the most comprehensive account. Osborn himself notes the “precious little attention” given this matter by scholars of the Second World War, citing a 1973 academic journal article as one of the very few notable exceptions. We should be seriously concerned that events of such monumental importance spent more than two generations almost totally excluded from our historical records.

Moreover, even the release of Osborn’s massively-documented academic study in 2000 seems to have been almost completely ignored by World War II historians. Consider, for example, Absolute War published in 2007 by acclaimed military historian Chris Bellamy, an 800 page work whose glowing cover-blurbs characterize it as the “authoritative” account of the role of Soviet Russia in the Second World War. The detailed 25 page index contains no listing for “Baku” and the only glancing reference to the indisputable Allied preparations to attack the USSR in early 1940 is a single obscure sentence appearing 15 months and 150 pages later in the aftermath of Barbarossa: “But on 23 June the NKGB reported that the Chief of the British Air Staff, Sir Charles Portal, had suggested cabling the commands in India and the Middle East ordering them to stop planning to bomb the Baku oilfields, which, it had been feared, might be used to supply the Germans.” Osborn’s revelations seem to have vanished without a trace until they were finally noticed and publicized 15 years later in The National Interest.

While it is quite easy to understand why historians avoided the subject for the first couple of decades following the end of the Second World War, once a generation or two had passed, one might reasonably expect to see some reassertion of scholarly objectivity. Operation Pike was of the greatest possible importance to the course of the war, so how could it have been almost totally ignored by virtually every writer on the subject? Allied preparations in early 1940 to unleash the largest strategic bombing offensive in world history against the Soviet Union hardly seems the sort of boring, obscure detail that would be quickly forgotten.

Even if the first generation of war chroniclers carefully excluded it from their narratives to avoid ideological embarrassment, they must surely have been aware of the facts given German publication of the documents. And although their younger successors had seen no mention of it in the books they studied, one would expect that their mentors had occasionally whispered to them about some of the “hidden wartime secrets” left out of the standard narrative. Moreover, Osborn notes that discussion of the facts did very occasionally appear in professional academic journals, and one might assume that a single such instance would have spread like wildfire within the entire academic community. Yet even after Osborn’s massively documented volume appeared in a respectable academic series, the silence remained absolutely deafening. The case of Operation Pike demonstrates that we must exercise extreme caution in accepting the accuracy and completeness of what we have been told.


Such conclusions have obvious consequences. My website tends to attract a large number of commenters, of widely varying quality. One of them, an immigrant from Soviet Armenia calling himself “Avery” seems quite knowledgeable and level-headed, though intensely hostile to Turks and Turkey. A couple of years ago, one of my articles on World War II provoked an intriguing comment from him:

During the Battle of Stalingrad, Turkey, which was officially neutral but was secretly cooperating with Nazi Germany, had assembled a huge invasion force at the border of USSR (Armenia SSR). If Germans had won at Stalingrad, Turks were going to invade, race to Baku and link up with the German forces there, coming down from Stalingrad to grab the oilfields.
When Paulus’s army was surrounded and annihilated, Turks quickly left the border for their barracks.

Stalin never forgot the Turk treachery and never forgave.

When Germany surrendered, Stalin assembled huge armies in Armenia SSR and Georgia SSR. The plan was to invade and throw the Turks out of East Turkey/West Armenia.

The detonation of two American atomic bombs convinced Stalin to stand down. Some believe US detonated the two bombs not to force Japan’s surrender, but as a message to Stalin.

When questioned, he admitted he was unaware of any reference in a Western source, but added:

It was common knowledge in Armenia SSR, where I am originally from.
WW2 war vets, old timers, discussed it all the time…..seeing more Red Army troops and military hardware assembling near the borders of Armenia SSR and Georgia SSR than they’d ever seen before. Then, they were all gone….

Under normal circumstances, weighing the universal silence of all Western historians against the informal claims of an anonymous commenter who was relying upon the stories he’d heard from old veterans would hardly be a difficult choice. But I wonder…

The official documents discussed by Osborn demonstrate that the British made considerable efforts to enlist Turkish forces in their planned attack upon the USSR, with the Turks going back and forth on the matter until Britain finally abandoned the project following the Fall of France. But if the Turks had strongly considered such a military adventure in 1940, it seems quite plausible that they would have been far more eager to do so 1942, given the huge losses the Soviets had already suffered at German hands, and with a very formidable German army approaching the Caucasus.

Soon after the war, Turkey became one of America’s most crucial Cold War allies against the Soviets, given a central role in the establishment of the Truman Doctrine and the creation of NATO. Any hint that the same Turkish government had come very close to joining Hitler’s Axis and attacking Russia as a Nazi ally just a few years earlier would have been extremely damaging to US interests. Such facts would have been scrupulously excluded from all our histories of the war.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I still probably would have leaned towards favoring the united front of all Western historians against the casual remarks of a single anonymous commenter on my website. But after reading Osborn’s book, I now think the anonymous commenter is more likely correct. This is a rather sad personal verdict upon the current credibility of our historical profession.


These important considerations become particularly relevant when we attempt to understand the circumstances surrounding Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s 1941 attack upon the Soviet Union, which constituted the central turning point of the war. Both at the time and during the half-century which followed, Western historians uniformly claimed that the surprise assault had caught an overly-trusting Stalin completely unaware, with Hitler’s motive being his dream of creating the huge German land-empire that he had hinted at in the pages of Mein Kampf, published sixteen years earlier.

But in 1990 a former Soviet military intelligence officer who had defected to the West and was living in Britain dropped a major bombshell. Writing under the pen-name Viktor Suvorov, he had already published a number of highly-regarded books on the armed forces of the USSR, but in Icebreaker he now claimed that his extensive past research in the Soviet archives had revealed that by 1941 Stalin had amassed enormous offensive military forces and positioned them all along the border, preparing to attack and easily overwhelm the greatly outnumbered and outgunned forces of the Wehrmacht, quickly conquering all of Europe.

As I summarized the Suvorov Hypothesis in an article last year:

And so, just as in our traditional narrative, we see that in the weeks and months leading up to Barbarossa, the most powerful offensive military force in the history of the world was quietly assembled in secret along the German-Russian border, preparing for the order that would unleash their surprise attack. The enemy’s unprepared airforce was to be destroyed on the ground in the first days of the battle, and enormous tank columns would begin deep penetration thrusts, surrounding and trapping the opposing forces, achieving a classic blitzkrieg victory, and ensuring the rapid occupation of vast territories. But the forces preparing this unprecedented war of conquest were Stalin’s, and his military juggernaut would surely have seized all of Europe, probably soon followed by the remainder of the Eurasian landmass.

Then at almost the last moment, Hitler suddenly realized the strategic trap into which he had fallen, and ordered his heavily outnumbered and outgunned troops into a desperate surprise attack of their own on the assembling Soviets, fortuitously catching them at the very point at which their own final preparations for sudden attack had left them most vulnerable, and thereby snatching a major initial victory from the jaws of certain defeat. Huge stockpiles of Soviet ammunition and weaponry had been positioned close to the border to supply the army of invasion into Germany, and these quickly fell into German hands, providing an important addition to their own woefully inadequate resources.

Although almost totally ignored in the English-language world, Suvorov’s seminal book soon became an unprecedented bestseller in Russia, Germany, and many other parts of the world, and together with several follow-up volumes, his five million copies in print established him as the most widely-read military historian in the history of the world. Meanwhile, the English-language media and academic communities scrupulously maintained their complete blackout of the ongoing worldwide debate, with no publishing house even willing to produce an English edition of Suvorov’s books until an editor at the prestigious Naval Academy Press finally broke the embargo nearly two decades later. Such near-total censorship of the massive planned Soviet attack in 1941 seems quite similar to the near-total censorship of the undeniable reality of the massive planned Allied attack on the Soviets in the preceding year.

Although the Suvorov Hypothesis has inspired decades of fierce academic debate and been the subject of international conferences, it has been scrupulously ignored by our Anglophone authors, who have made no serious attempt to defend their traditional narrative and refute the vast accumulation of persuasive evidence upon which it is based. This leads me to believe that Suvorov’s analysis is probably correct.

A decade ago, a solitary writer first drew my attention to Suvorov’s ground-breaking research, and as an emigrant Russian Slav living in the West, he was hardly favorable to the German dictator. But he closed his review with a remarkable statement:

Therefore, if any of us is free to write, publish, and read this today, it follows that in some not inconsequential part our gratitude for this must go to Hitler. And if someone wants to arrest me for saying what I have just said, I make no secret of where I live.

American Pravda: When Stalin Almost Conquered Europe
• June 4, 2018 • 4,200 Words

For almost thirty years, our English-language media has almost entirely suppressed any serious discussion of the Suvorov Hypothesis, and this is hardly the only important aspect of Soviet history that has remained hidden from public scrutiny. Indeed, on some crucial matters, the falsehoods and distortions have greatly increased rather than diminished over the decades. No example is more obvious than in the ongoing attempts to conceal the enormous role played by Jews in the Bolshevik Revolution and worldwide Communism generally. As I wrote last year:

In the early years of the Bolshevik Revolution, almost no one questioned the overwhelming role of Jews in that event, nor their similar preponderance in the ultimately unsuccessful Bolshevik takeovers in Hungary and parts of Germany. For example, former British Minister Winston Churchill in 1920 denounced the “terrorist Jews” who had seized control of Russia and other parts of Europe, noting that “the majority of the leading figures are Jews” and stating that “In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing,” while lamenting the horrors these Jews had inflicted upon the suffering Germans and Hungarians.

Similarly, journalist Robert Wilton, former Russia correspondent of the Times of London, provided a very detailed summary of the enormous Jewish role in his 1918 book Russia’s Agony and 1920 book The Last Days of the Romanovs, although one of the most explicit chapters of the latter was apparently excluded from the English language edition. Not long afterward, the facts regarding the enormous financial support provided to the Bolsheviks by international Jewish bankers such as Schiff and Aschberg were widely reported in the mainstream media.

Jews and Communism were just as strongly tied together in America, and for years the largest circulation Communist newspaper in our country was published in Yiddish. When they were finally released, the Venona Decrypts demonstrated that even as late as the 1930s and 1940s, a remarkable fraction of America’s Communist spies came from that ethnic background.

A personal anecdote tends to confirm these dry historical records. During the early 2000s I once had lunch with an elderly and very eminent computer scientist, with whom I’d become a little friendly. While talking about this and that, he happened to mention that both his parents had been zealous Communists, and given his obvious Irish name, I expressed my surprise, saying that I’d thought almost all the Communists of that era were Jewish. He said that was indeed the case, but although his mother had such an ethnic background, his father did not, which made him a very rare exception in their political circles. As a consequence, the Party had always sought to place him in as prominent a public role as possible just to prove that not all Communists were Jews, and although he obeyed Party discipline, he was always irritated at being used as such a “token.”

However, once Communism sharply fell out of favor in 1950s America, nearly all of the leading “Red Baiters” such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy went to enormous lengths to obscure the ethnic dimension of the movement they were combatting. Indeed, many years later Richard Nixon casually spoke in private of the difficulty he and other anti-Communist investigators had faced in trying to focus on Gentile targets since nearly all of the suspected Soviet spies were Jewish, and when this tape became public, his alleged anti-Semitism provoked a media firestorm even though his remarks were obviously implying the exact opposite.

This last point is an important one, since once the historical record has been sufficiently whitewashed or rewritten, any lingering strands of the original reality that survive are often perceived as bizarre delusions or denounced as “conspiracy theories.” Indeed, even today the ever-amusing pages of Wikipedia provides an entire 3,500 word article attacking the notion of “Jewish Bolshevism” as an “antisemitic canard.”

In a subsequent article, I summarized several of the numerous sources describing this obvious reality:

Meanwhile, all historians know perfectly well that the Bolshevik leaders were overwhelmingly Jewish, with three of the five revolutionaries Lenin named as his plausible successors coming from that background. Although only around 4% of Russia’s population was Jewish, a few years ago Vladimir Putin stated that Jews constituted perhaps 80-85% of the early Soviet government, an estimate fully consistent with the contemporaneous claims of Winston Churchill, Times of London correspondent Robert Wilton, and the officers of American Military Intelligence. Recent books by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Yuri Slezkine, and others have all painted a very similar picture. And prior to World War II, Jews remained enormously over-represented in the Communist leadership, especially dominating the Gulag administration and the top ranks of the dreaded NKVD.

Perhaps the most utterly explosive and totally suppressed aspect of the close relationship between Jews and Communism regards the claims that Jacob Schiff and other top international Jewish bankers were among the leading financial backers of the Bolshevik Revolution. I spent nearly all of my life regarding these vague rumors as such obvious absurdities that they merely demonstrated the lunatic anti-Semitism infesting the nether-regions of Far Right anti-Communist movements, thereby fully confirming the theme of Richard Hofstadter’s famous book The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Indeed, the Schiff accusations were so totally ridiculous that they were never even once mentioned in the hundred-odd books on the history of the Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet Communism that I read during the 1970s and 1980s.

Therefore, it came as an enormous shock when I discovered that the claims were not only probably correct, but had been almost universally accepted as true throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

For example, The “Jewish Threat” by Joseph W. Bendersky summarizes his years of archival research and he documents that Schiff’s financial support for the Bolsheviks was widely reported in the American Military Intelligence files of the period, with British Intelligence taking the same position. Kenneth D. Ackerman’s 2016 study Trotsky in New York, 1917 describes much the same material. In 1925, the British Guardian published this information and it was soon widely discussed and accepted throughout the 1920s and 1930s by numerous major international media outlets. Naomi W. Cohen’s 1991 hagiographic volume Jacob Schiff devotes several pages to summarizing the various stories of Schiff’s strong Bolshevik ties that had earlier been published in leading American periodicals.

Writing nearly a century after the events under discussion, these three Jewish authors casually dismiss all the numerous accounts they provide by highly-credible observers—American and British Intelligence officers and prominent international journalists—as merely demonstrating the delusional nature of the extreme anti-Semitism that had infected so much of the world in those bygone days. Yet most serious historians would surely place far greater weight upon contemporaneous evidence than upon the personal opinions of those writers who happen to gather together that material evidence generations afterward.

Henry Wickham Steed was one of the foremost journalists of his era, and he had served as editor of the Times of London, the world’s most authoritative newspaper. A couple of years after his retirement, he published his lengthy personal memoirs, now conveniently online, which contain the following very intriguing passages:

Potent international financial interests were at work in favour of the immediate recognition of the Bolshevists. Those influences had been largely responsible for the Anglo-American proposal in January to call Bolshevist representatives to Paris at the beginning of the Peace Conference — a proposal which had failed after having been transformed into a suggestion for a Conference with the Bolshevists at Prinkipo. The well-known American Jewish banker, Mr. Jacob Schiff, was known to be anxious to secure recognition for the Bolshevists…

… the prime movers were Jacob Schiff, Warburg, and other international financiers, who wished above all to bolster up the Jewish Bolshevists in order to secure a field for German and Jewish exploitation of Russia.

Schiff’s own family later confirmed this widely-accepted history. The February 3, 1949 Knickerbocker column of the New York Journal-American, then one of the city’s leading newspapers, reported the account: “Today it is estimated by Jacob’s grandson, John Schiff, that the old man sank about 20,000,000 dollars for the final triumph of Bolshevism in Russia.” The present-day value of the figure quoted is probably some $2 billion, a very substantial sum.

Despite this enormous volume of convincing evidence, for the next half-century or more, Schiff’s name almost entirely vanished from all mainstream texts on Soviet Communism. As I wrote last year:

In 1999, Harvard University published the English edition of The Black Book of Communism, whose six co-authors devoted 850 pages to documenting the horrors inflicted upon the world by that defunct system, which had produced a total death toll they reckoned at 100 million. I have never read that book and I have often heard that the alleged body-count has been widely disputed. But for me the most remarkable detail is that when I examine the 35 page index, I see a vast profusion of entries for totally obscure individuals whose names are surely unknown to all but the most erudite specialist. But there is no entry for Jacob Schiff, the world-famous Jewish banker who apparently financed the creation of the whole system in the first place. Nor one for Olaf Aschberg, the powerful Jewish banker in Sweden, who played such an important role in providing the Bolsheviks a financial life-line during the early years of their threatened regime, and even founded the first Soviet international bank.

American Pravda: The Bolshevik Revolution and Its Aftermath
• July 23, 2018 • 6,900 Words

Perhaps the extreme caution and timorous silence exhibited by nearly all Western historians on these sensitive elements of World War II and the Bolshevik Revolution should not entirely surprise us given the professional and personal risks they might face if they strayed from orthodoxy.

Consider the very telling example of David Irving. During the first half of his professional career, his string of widely-translated best-sellers and his millions of books in print probably established him as the most internationally successful British historian of the last one hundred years, with his remarkable archival research frequently revolutionizing our understanding of the European conflict and the political forces behind it. But as he repeatedly demonstrated his lack of regard for official orthodoxy, he attracted many powerful enemies, who eventually ruined his reputation, drove him into personal bankruptcy, and even arranged his imprisonment. Over the last quarter-century, he has increasingly become an un-person, with the few occasional mentions of his name in the media invoked in the same talismanic manner as references to Lucifer or Beelzebub.

If a historian of such towering stature and success could be brought so low, what ordinary academic scholar would dare risk a similar fate? Voltaire famously observed that shooting an admiral every now and then is an excellent way to encourage the others.

The Remarkable Historiography of David Irving
• June 4, 2018 • 1,700 Words

The destruction of Irving’s stellar career came at the hands of Jewish activists, who were outraged at his balanced treatment of Hitler and his ongoing commitment to investigating many of the widely-accepted wartime myths, which he hoped to replace with what he called “real history.” In the introduction to his new edition of Hitler’s War, he recounts how a journalist for Time magazine was having dinner with him in New York in 1988 and remarked “Before coming over I read the clippings files on you. Until Hitler’s War you couldn’t put a foot wrong, you were the darling of the media; after it, they heaped slime on you.”

As Irving was certainly aware, the unreasonably harsh vilification of enemy leaders during wartime is hardly an uncommon occurrence. Although it has largely been forgotten today, during much of the First World War and for years afterward, Germany’s reigning monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm, was widely portrayed in the Allied countries as a bloodthirsty monster, one of the most evil men who had ever lived. This vilification came despite Wilhelm having been the beloved eldest grandchild of Britain’s own Queen Victoria, who according to some accounts died in his arms.

Moreover, although Allied propaganda routinely portrayed Wilhelm as a relentless warmonger, he had actually avoided involving Germany in a single major military conflict during the first twenty-five years of his reign, while most of the other leading world powers had fought one or more wars during that same period. Indeed, I recently discovered that only a year before the Guns of August began firing, The New York Times had published a lengthy profile marking the first quarter-century of his reign and lauded him as one of the world’s foremost peacemakers:

Now … he is acclaimed everywhere as the greatest factor for peace that our time can show. It was he, we hear, who again and again threw the weight of his dominating personality, backed by the greatest military organisation in the world – an organisation built up by himself – into the balance for peace wherever war clouds gathered over Europe. ‘(‘William II, King of Prussia and German Emperor, Kaiser 25 years a ruler, hailed as chief peacemaker,’ New York Times, 8 June, 1913)

That brief excerpt from the Times encomium points to another matter than I have never seen mentioned. I devoted much of the 2000s to digitizing and making available the complete archives of hundreds of America’s leading publications of the last 150 years, and when I occasionally glanced at the contents, I gradually noticed something odd. Although the English-language world today invariably refers to Germany’s wartime ruler as “Kaiser Wilhelm,” that was only rarely the case prior to the outbreak of war, when he was generally known as “Emperor William.” The latter nomenclature is hardly surprising since we always speak of “Frederick the Great” rather than “Friedrich der Grosse.”

But it is obviously much easier to mobilize millions of citizens to die in muddy trenches to defeat a monstrously alien “Kaiser” than “Good Emperor William,” first cousin to the British and Russian monarchs. The NGram viewer in Google Books shows the timing of the change quite clearly, with the Anglophone practice shifting as Britain became increasingly hostile toward Germany, especially after the outbreak of war. But “Emperor William” was only permanently eclipsed by “Kaiser Wilhelm” after Germany once again became a likely enemy in the years immediately preceding World War II.

Actual publications of the period also reveal numerous discordant facts about the First World War, matters certainly known to academic specialists but which rarely receive much coverage in our standard textbooks, being relegated to a casual sentence or two if even that. For example, despite its considerable military successes, Germany launched a major peace effort in late 1916 to end the stalemated war by negotiations and thereby avert oceans of additional bloodshed. However, this proposal was fiercely rejected by the Allied powers and their advocates in the pages of the world’s leading periodicals since they remained firmly committed to an ultimate military victory.

War fever was certainly still very strong that same year in Britain, the leading Allied power. When prominent peace-advocates such as Bertrand Russell and Lord Loreborn urged a negotiated end to the fighting, and were strongly backed by the editor of the influential London Economist, they were harshly vilified and the latter was forced to resign his position. E.D. Morel, another committed peace advocate, was imprisoned for his activism under such harsh conditions that it permanently broke his health and led to his death at age 51 a few years after his release.

As an excellent antidote to our severely distorted understanding of both wartime sentiments and the domestic European politics that had produced the conflict, I would strongly recommend the text of Present Day Europe by Lothrop Stoddard, then one of America’s most influential public intellectuals. Written prior to America’s own entry into the conflict, the work provides the sort of remarkable scholarly detachment which would soon became almost impossible.

Present-Day Europe
Its National States of Mind
• 1917 • 74,000 Words

Although the demonic portrayal of the German Kaiser was already being replaced by a more balanced treatment within a few years of the Armistice and had disappeared after a generation, no such similar process has occurred in the case of his World War II successor. Indeed, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seem to loom far larger in our cultural and ideological landscape today than they even did in the immediate aftermath of the war, with their visibility growing even as they become more distant in time, a strange violation of the normal laws of perspective. I suspect that the casual dinner-table conversations on World War II issues that I used to enjoy with my Harvard College classmates during the early 1980s would be completely impossible today.

To some extent, the transformation of “the Good War” into a secular religion, with its designated monsters and martyrs may be analogous to what occurred during the final decay of the Soviet Union, when the obvious failure of its economic system forced the government to increasingly turn to endless celebrations of its victory in the Great Patriotic War as the primary source of its legitimacy. The real wages of ordinary American workers have been stagnant for fifty years and most adults have less than $500 in available savings, so this widespread impoverishment may be forcing our own leaders into adopting a similar strategy.

But I think that a far greater factor has been the astonishing growth of Jewish power in America, which was already quite substantial even four or five decades ago but has now become absolutely overwhelming, whether in foreign policy, finance, or the media, with our 2% minority exercising unprecedented control over most aspects of our society and political system. Only a fraction of American Jews hold traditional religious beliefs, so the twin worship of the State of Israel and the Holocaust has served to fill that void, with the individuals and events of World War II constituting many of the central elements of the mythos that serves to unify the Jewish community. And as an obvious consequence, no historical figure ranks higher in the demonology of this secular religion than the storied Fuhrer and his Nazi regime.

However, beliefs based upon religious dogma often sharply diverge from empirical reality. Pagan Druids may worship a particular sacred oak tree and claim that it contains the soul of their tutelary dryad; but if an arborist taps the tree, its sap may seem like that of any other.

Our current official doctrine portrays Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany as one of the cruelest and most relentlessly aggressive regimes in the history of the world, but at the time these salient facts apparently escaped the leaders of the nations with which it was at war. Operation Pike provides an enormous wealth of archival material regarding the secret internal discussions of the British and French governmental and military leadership, and all of it tends to suggest that they regarded their German adversary as a perfectly normal country, and perhaps occasionally regretted that they had somehow gotten themselves involved a major war over what amounted to a small Polish border dispute.

Although our standard histories would never admit this, the actual path toward war appears to have been quite different than most Americans believe. Extensive documentary evidence from knowledgeable Polish, American, and British officials demonstrates that pressure from Washington was the key factor behind the outbreak of the European conflict. Indeed, leading American journalists and public intellectuals of the day such as John T. Flynn and Harry Elmer Barnes had publicly declared that they feared Franklin Roosevelt was seeking to foment a major European war in hopes that it would rescue him from the apparent economic failure of his New Deal reforms and perhaps even provide him an excuse to run for an unprecedented third term. Since this is exactly what ultimately transpired, such accusations would hardly seem totally unreasonable.

And in an ironic contrast with FDR’s domestic failures, Hitler’s own economic successes had been enormous, a striking comparison since the two leaders had come to power within a few weeks of each other in early 1933. As iconoclastic leftist Alexander Cockburn once noted in a 2004 Counterpunch column:

When [Hitler] came to power in 1933 unemployment stood at 40 per cent. Economic recovery came without the stimulus of arms spending…There were vast public works such as the autobahns. He paid little attention to the deficit or to the protests of the bankers about his policies. Interest rates were kept low and though wages were pegged, family income increased by reason of full employment. By 1936 unemployment had sunk to one per cent. German military spending remained low until 1939.

Not just Bush but Howard Dean and the Democrats could learn a few lessons in economic policy from that early, Keynesian Hitler.

By resurrecting a prosperous Germany while nearly all other countries remained mired in the worldwide Great Depression, Hitler drew glowing accolades from individuals all across the ideological spectrum. After an extended 1936 visit, David Lloyd George, Britain’s former wartime prime minister, fulsomely praised the chancellor as “the George Washington of Germany,” a national hero of the greatest stature. Over the years, I’ve seen plausible claims here and there that during the 1930s Hitler was widely acknowledged as the world’s most popular and successful national leader, and the fact that he was selected as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1938 tends to support this belief.

Only International Jewry had remained intensely hostile to Hitler, outraged over his successful efforts to dislodge Germany’s 1% Jewish population from the stranglehold they had gained over German media and finance, and instead run the country in the best interests of the 99% German majority. A striking recent parallel has been the enormous hostility that Vladimir Putin incurred after he ousted the handful of Jewish Oligarchs who had seized control of Russian society and impoverished the bulk of the population. Putin has attempted to mitigate this difficulty by allying himself with certain Jewish elements, and Hitler seems to have done the same by endorsing the Nazi-Zionist economic partnership, which lay the basis for the creation of the State of Israel and thereby brought on board the small, but growing Jewish Zionist faction.

In the wake of the 9/11 Attacks, the Jewish Neocons stampeded America towards the disastrous Iraq War and the resulting destruction of the Middle East, with the talking heads on our television sets endlessly claiming that “Saddam Hussein is another Hitler.” Since then, we have regularly heard the same tag-line repeated in various modified versions, being told that “Muammar Gaddafi is another Hitler” or “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is another Hitler” or “Vladimir Putin is another Hitler” or even “Hugo Chavez is another Hitler.” For the last couple of years, our American media has been relentlessly filled with the claim that “Donald Trump is another Hitler.”

During the early 2000s, I obviously recognized that Iraq’s ruler was a harsh tyrant, but snickered at the absurd media propaganda, knowing perfectly well that Saddam Hussein was no Adolf Hitler. But with the steady growth of the Internet and the availability of the millions of pages of periodicals provided by my digitization project, I’ve been quite surprised to gradually also discover that Adolf Hitler was no Adolf Hitler.

It might not be entirely correct to claim that the story of World War II was that Franklin Roosevelt sought to escape his domestic difficulties by orchestrating a major European war against the prosperous, peace-loving Nazi Germany of Adolf Hitler. But I do think that picture is probably somewhat closer to the actual historical reality than the inverted image more commonly found in our textbooks.

American Pravda: Our Great Purge of the 1940s
• June 11, 2018 • 5,400 Words

Related Reading:

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

National Lawyers Guild International Statement On The Venezuelan Embassy And U.S. Sanctions

National Lawyers Guild International Committee | May 4, 2019

The National Lawyers Guild International Committee unequivocally condemns the threats posed by the government of the United States and Washington D.C. Police Department to the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We also condemn the unilateral financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. government intended to force “regime change” in Venezuela by limiting people’s access to basic goods necessary for survival.

As a legal organization committed to the promotion and defense of international law and human rights, the NLG demands that federal and local law enforcement abide by all applicable legal standards governing diplomatic protections, sovereignty and freedom of assembly. This includes the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which requires the U.S. to recognize the inviolability of embassies and to “take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion.” The Vienna Convention was ratified by the United States in 1972 and thus is a part of federal law.

The legitimacy of the Maduro presidency should be left to the Venezuelan people to decide via their own electoral processes, and it is entirely unjustified for members of the United States government to openly call for or support a military coup, including Senator Marco Rubio, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Special Ambassador Elliott Abrams. Self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó has no legitimate claim under the Bolivarian Constitution (Sections 233 and 234).

Since 2006, the NLG has sent multiple delegations to observe local and national Venezuelan elections. We have observed the process noted by the Carter Center as one of the best electoral processes in the world, with its paper receipts, open source software and the public audit to compare paper and digital votes at close of polls. Even the opposition has admitted the Venezuelan election system is “fraud-proof.”

Both the proposed takeover of the Venezuelan Embassy by the Guaidó agents and the criminal unilateral economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the U.S. to bring about regime change by crippling the Venezuelan economy and thwarting the basic needs of the Venezuelan people constitute a clear violation of international law.

The National Lawyers Guild condemns the on-going attempted coup d’etat organized by the United States and evocation of the ignominious Monroe Doctrine in clear violation of the basic sovereignty provisions of the UN and OAS Charters.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

After initial denial, UAE confirms ships ‘sabotaged’ off its coast

Press TV – May 12, 2019

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed, after initial denial, that a number of commercial ships have been targeted by “sabotage” attack near its territorial waters.

The Foreign Ministry of the United Arab Emirates issued a statement, saying that four commercial vessels have been targeted by “sabotage operations” near its territorial waters.

The statement added that there were no victims, but fell short of giving any details on possible damage to commercial vessels, their nationally and possible casualties.

The ministry statement was tweeted by the official news agency WAM.

According to the statement, the incident occurred near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs that lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz, which is a vital oil and natural gas corridor for the global energy market.

“Subjecting commercial vessels to sabotage operations and threatening the lives of their crew is considered a dangerous development,” the statement added.

The statement claimed that despite the attack, routine port operations at Fujairah port were going on without interruption.

Earlier in the day, the Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen television channel reported that as many as seven tankers had been hit by a massive fire at the al-Fujairah oil tanker terminal.

The report stated that several powerful explosions were also heard at the port.

Later, the media office of the government of Fujairah denied the report of the explosions altogether, saying that transit and other activities at the port were underway as usual. Additionally, Brigadier Ali Obaid al-Taniji, the director of the department of civil defense in Fujairah, told the Emarat al-Youm daily that there had been no fire or explosion at the port.

Despite the UAE government’s denial, witnesses have emphasized that the blasts have taken place and some media sources have even went further, identifying a number of oil tankers hit by the explosions by their hull numbers as follows:

AMJAD tanker
No.: 9779800

Al Marzouqah tanker
No.: 9165762

Miraj oil tanker
No.: 9394741

A.MICHEL oil tanker
No.: 9177674

FNSA10 oil tanker
No.: 9432074

Earlier this week, a number of powerful explosions rocked Saudi Arabia’s port city of Yanbu’, an important petroleum shipping terminal for the kingdom. Reports, however, fell short of giving any reason for the blasts or possible casualties.

No further details have been made available up to this moment and no group or individual has assumed responsibility for the blasts.

Yanbu’ is an important petroleum shipping terminal for Saudi Arabia and home to three oil refineries, a plastics facility and several other petrochemical plants.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Economics | | 1 Comment

The Russians are coming for European elections! Just don’t ask for proof

Graham Dockery | RT | May, 2019

Those dastardly Russian hackers are alive and well and meddling in the upcoming European Parliament elections, warned the New York Times. Just don’t expect to see any proof, because the paper offers none.

Fresh from interfering in seemingly everything wrong in America, unidentified Russian hackers have shifted their attention to Europe, deploying information warfare tactics to give a boost to populist and right-wing parties ahead of next month’s European Parliament elections. At least according to a New York Times article, given the front-page treatment on Sunday.

The story is heavy with accusation. The Russians, it states, are busy “spreading disinformation, encouraging discord and amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades.” Among their tools are news websites that “bear the same electronic signatures as pro-Kremlin websites,” Twitter accounts, Facebook profiles, and WhatsApp groups.

Although the Times article claimed that “intelligence officials,” and “security experts” back up its theories, it quotes only one: Former FBI analyst Daniel Jones, who now runs a nonprofit entitled Advance Democracy.

“They’re working to destroy everything that was built post-World War II,” Jones said, an explanation rivaling George W. Bush’s “they hate our freedom” for its nonsensical reductionism.

Is it possible that Jones might have an agenda? Most definitely. The former intelligence analyst runs a second nonprofit, The Democracy Integrity Project, from his home in Virginia. TDIP spent much of the last two years emailing a daily “collusion”newsletter to journalists, including those at the New York Times.

Jones’ ties to the Democratic party machine are also extensive. A former staffer for California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), Jones reportedly worked with opposition research firm Fusion GPS to continue to search for evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia even after Trump’s election. The uncorroborated claims made in the so-called ‘Steele Dossier’ often featured prominently in TDIP’s daily memos to reporters, and leaked text messages to Democrat Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner revealed Jones to be an associate of Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier.

With the Steele Dossier deemed unfit to print by every single mainstream media outlet (except, of course, Buzzfeed ), and with the “collusion” narrative completely dismantled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, who else can the New York Times bring in to back up their Russian meddling expose?

Enter Ben Nimmo, who claims at the end of the article that Europe is a “test bed” for Russian interference efforts. Again, Nimmo offers no proof, but a glimpse at his resume gives an idea of what his motivations might be. A senior fellow at NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council, Nimmo has emerged in recent years as a reliable Russia-basher, always ready to give a juicy soundbite to the media. He’s also identified thousands of ‘Russian-linked’ Twitter accounts, based on some thoroughly dodgy methodology.

With two ‘experts’ down, what has the Times got left? Not much. The article notes that “a definitive attribution would require the kind of tools that the American government used to reveal the 2016 interference.” Of course, none is provided.

Even if the Russians aren’t involved, the article claims that populist and right-wing groups in Europe are “adopting many of the Kremlin’s tactics.” In practice, this means that the nasties on the right side of the political spectrum make funny memes and videos to support their candidates of choice.

Running through the article is a palpable fear that the centrism that has dominated European politics for more than half a century is now under threat. “False and divisive stories about the European Union, NATO, immigrants and more,” amplify the threat, driving voters into the embrace of populist parties, “many of them sympathetic to Russia.”

However, never once does it occur to the authors that perhaps Europeans are simply tiring of the consensus. Perhaps they disagree with mass immigration, especially at a time of slow economic recovery from the Great Recession. Perhaps they disagree with the often unaccountable bureaucracy of Brussels, and their membership in a military alliance that they have personally never felt a connection with. After all, populism is called populism because its positions are popular ones.

But nope, it’s all a sinister Russian plot to undermine democracy. Let’s go with that one.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

US, Russia engage on Venezuela

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | May 12, 2019

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked last Thursday in Moscow that no contacts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are expected at the G20 summit in Japan on June 28-29. “An encounter is not planned so far and there is no talk about a meeting,” Peskov said.

This remark was made in the run-up to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s forthcoming visit to Russia on April 12-14. There has been much speculation in the US media that a summit meeting between Trump and Putin was likely among Pompeo’s talking points with the Russian leadership.

The ‘pull asides’ that Trump has been resorting to on the sidelines of international events to have a quick word with Putin have fallen into a pattern. Firstly, things remained strictly between the two statesmen at a personal level and secondly, Trump had to take care no feathers were ruffled back home while the Robert Mueller inquiry on ‘Russia collusion’ was going on. The arrangement left the Russian side unhappy, since the unstructured informal conversations eventually led to nothing. Russian-American relations continued to deteriorate.

Unsurprisingly, it has taken over one year for Pompeo to schedule his first visit to Moscow after he took over as state secretary in April 2018. (No US secretary of defence has yet visited Russia during the Trump presidency, either.) The proposal on Pompeo’s visit was hurriedly mooted by Washington just a few days ago, earlier this month. Therefore, if Pompeo’s visit is being treated on a low key, it could be that Moscow doesn’t expect anything much to come out of it.

The point is, although the Mueller inquiry could not prove any ‘collusion’ between Trump and the Kremlin, Russia still remains a toxic subject domestically in the US. For Trump’s detractors, he and Russia are often synonymous. The narrative that Trump and people around him were engaged in improper activities with Russia is not about to wither away and there are further moves likely in the Washington Beltway to find out about any other possible links between the Trump organisation and even his family and Russian entities or oligarchs.

Then, there is the vexed issue of the US sanctions against Russia, which inherently curb the scope for any meaningful expansion of ties. The post-2016 sanctions do not stem from executive orders but emanate out of laws passed by the US Congress, which takes away from Trump’s hands the powers to remove them — and, equally, they  are not even tied to specific Russian behaviours. The Russians understand well enough that the sanctions won’t be lifted for a long time.

Within such constraints, what is it that Pompeo’s visit hopes to achieve? At a state department briefing on May 10, an unnamed senior US official disclosed that arms control will top Pompeo’s agenda during the Russia visit. He said Trump seeks new agreements with Russia “that reflect modern reality. These agreements must include a broader range of countries and account for a broader range of weapon systems than our current bilateral treaties with Russia.” Besides, he said, “There will be a full range of global challenges to discuss, including Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.”

However, there are enough signs that the main thing to watch could be whether a US-Russia deal on Venezuela becomes possible. Three weeks back, Fiona Hill, senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council in the White House, had visited Moscow for consultations. Amongst others, she met Putin’s foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov. According to media reports, Hill prioritised Venezuela as the most important topic in the US-Russia relations at the moment.

Arguably, more than oil or the Monroe Doctrine, what motivates Trump could be the impact of a regime change in Venezuela on the Hispanic voters in the 2020 presidential race in Florida. This impression would only have been reinforced last week when Pompeo met Lavrov on the sidelines of the Arctic Council meeting in Helsinki when, again, Venezuela figured prominently in their discussion.

With the recent US-backed coup attempt in Venezuela on April 30 having failed spectacularly, the probability of an outright US intervention is low — almost non-existent.  Trump would be reaching out for Russian help for a constitutional transition in Caracas that he could project as a ‘win’. Both Washington and Moscow are highly experienced in adopting a transactional approach to their relationship.

For Russia, on the other hand, its support for the Maduro government in Caracas is driven as much by financial and energy interests as by Moscow’s vision of a multipolar world order that is based on international law. As the Moscow-based analyst Fred Weir wrote recently, “while it may look and sound like a Cold War standoff, for Russia it is really about the simpler issue of establishing rules for competing big powers in a post-Cold War world. In Venezuela, and between the US and Russia generally, there is no sharp ideological divide over world-shaping doctrines like communism versus capitalism.”

Simply put, the Russian-American discord over Venezuela boils down to this: Washington wants Russia to stop ‘meddling’ in the Western Hemisphere, while Moscow would expect that the US also should stop fomenting anti-Moscow revolutions in Russia’s backyard. Otherwise, Russian experts acknowledge, it matters little to Moscow who rules in Caracas.

The influential strategic thinker in Moscow Fyodor Lukyanov told Weir, “The relationship that emerged between Russia and Venezuela was an accident. It was mainly the initiative of Hugo Chávez, who was seeking counterbalances to his country’s dependence on the US. Of course this was enthusiastically supported in Moscow. But it should be pointed out that at that time, the early 2000s, Chávez was rich and could pay for Russian arms and advice. Since Chávez died, and his successor has not proven so adept or popular, many in Moscow have been worried about our heavy investments in a potentially unstable regime.”

It is entirely conceivable that this complicated Russian-American tango of ‘meddling’ in the other side’s region could be in the first instance what prompted Washington to schedule Pompeo’s hurried visit to Russia to meet Lavrov and Putin in Sochi on April 14. Evidently, the Trump administration’s resuscitation of the Monroe Doctrine provides a diplomatic opening to Moscow, which of course continues to cherish the territories of the former Soviet republics as its own ‘sphere of influence’, too.

To quote Lukyanov again, “This citing of the Monroe Doctrine is something quite intriguing, and it would be warmly welcomed in Moscow if we thought the Americans took it seriously.” Indeed, some reports on Fiona Hill’s talks in Moscow last month hinted that she made a proposal to what roughly involved Russia letting up on Venezuela in exchange for some US concessions on Ukraine.

Be that as it may, significantly, Russian and Venezuelan foreign ministers met in Moscow on the eve of Lavrov’s meeting with Pompeo in Helsinki last week. What needs to be factored in is that although the coup attempt of April 30 failed, the situation in Venezuela is fluid. According to the Russian media, President Maduro has expelled dozens of army officers for their involvement in the coup, including high ranking officers.

To be sure, Moscow would know that a political solution is needed. The good part is that regime change is off the table as of now, which gives the respite to negotiate. After the meeting with Pompeo in Helsinki, Lavrov told the media that he’d rule out any foreign military intervention in Venezuela.

But the problem is that trust is lacking between Washington and Moscow. Russia cannot be sure that the American side will keep its side of the bargain — that is, assuming there is a will to negotiate at all. Again, there is the issue of US sanctions, which has crippled the Venezuelan economy over recent years. This is important because Russia’s exposure to Venezuela is huge. At the very least, Russian investments (loans) to Venezuela since 2005 amount to $17 billion.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Massive demonstration in support of Palestine in London on the 71st anniversary of Nakba

Palestine Information Center – May 12, 2019

LONDON – Thousands of people gathered on Saturday for a demonstration in London, called for by the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) and allied organizations, especially Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), to mark the seventy first anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), which coincides this year with talk about a new deal that will liquidate the Palestinian issue.

The rally was attended by many important personalities, something which the president of the Manchester branch of PFB, Baha’ Bader, considered to be a reflection of the acceptance of the Palestinian narrative despite the omnipresence of Zionist narrative.

For his part the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zumullut, stressed the utter rejection of the Palestinian people and their leadership of all that has been leaked about the suspicious deal.

In the meantime, the Chairman of PFB, Hafiz Al-Karmi, renewed a call for the British Government to apologize for the historical mistake of what is known as the Balfour Declaration and work for protecting the Palestinians.

The Palestinian student, who came to Britain recently to study, Ahed Al-Tamimi, was present at the rally to stress that she is going to continue her struggle in defense of Palestinian rights.

Labor MP, Richard Burgon, saw in the masses that attended the rally a message of support for the Labor Party’s plans to recognize the State of Palestine and stressed the Palestinians’ right to live in peace.

The spokesman for the PFB, Adnan Humaidan, accused the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, of being biased in favor of the Israeli occupation and of closing her ears to the calls of the demonstrators to stop arming and supporting the occupation while turning a blind eye to its crimes such as the killing of the baby Saba Abu Arrar and thousands of Palestinian children before her.

The demonstrators carried placards against the American President, Donald Trump, and his suspicious plans against the Palestinians and called for support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The speech of the British Palestinian youth, Leanne Mohamed, was received with a lot of applause. She participates in and speaks at most demonstrations that support Palestinian rights. She was disqualified from participating in the finals of Jack Petchey Speak-out challenge because of her insistence to talk about Palestine.

While another British Palestinian youth, Haneen Khalil, gave a speech in the name of OLIVE for Palestinian Youth. She stressed her rejection to negotiations with Israel before it agrees to the right of return of all Palestinian refugees.

In a message that was read on behalf of the Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn, at the demonstration he said: “We cannot stand by or stay silent at the continuing denial of the rights and justice of the Palestinian people. The labor party is united in condemning the human rights abuses taking place in Gaza and the Israeli forces shooting unarmed Palestinian demonstrators for simply demanding their rights under international law.”

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

FBI’s Steele story falls apart: False intel and media contacts were flagged before FISA

By John Solomon – The Hill – 05/09/19

The FBI’s sworn story to a federal court about its asset, Christopher Steele, is fraying faster than a $5 souvenir T-shirt bought at a tourist trap.

Newly unearthed memos show a high-ranking government official who met with Steele in October 2016 determined some of the Donald Trump dirt that Steele was simultaneously digging up for the FBI and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media.

The concerns were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.

Her observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.

It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump.

That’s a pretty remarkable declaration in Footnote 5 on Page 15 of the FISA application, since Kavalec apparently needed just a single encounter with Steele at State to find one of his key claims about Trump-Russia collusion was blatantly false.

In her typed summary, Kavalec wrote that Steele told her the Russians had constructed a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” that recruited emigres in the United States to “do hacking and recruiting.”

She quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”

Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Government Operations, told me late Thursday he had confirmed with U.S. officials that Kavalec’s memo was forwarded to the FBI in the Oct. 13, 2016, email.

“This once again shows officials at the FBI and (Department of Justice) DOJ were well aware the dossier was a lie — from very early on in the process all the way to when they made the conscious decision to include it in a FISA application,” he said. “The fact that Christopher Steele and his partisan research document were treated in any way seriously by our Intelligence Community leaders amounts to malpractice.”

FBI and DOJ officials did not respond to a request for comment.

But it is almost certain the FBI knew of Steele’s contact with State and his partisan motive. That’s because former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says she instructed her staff to send the information they got from Steele to the bureau immediately and to cease contact with the informer because “this is about U.S. politics, and not the work of — not the business of the State Department, and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act.”

Even if the FBI didn’t get Kavalec’s memo, it is just as implausible that the bureau couldn’t figure out, during the many hours that its agents spent with Steele, what Kavalec divined in a few short minutes: He was political, inaccurate, spinning wild theories and talking to the media.

All those concerns would weigh against Steele’s credibility and should have been disclosed to the judges under the honor system that governs the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, experts say.

Kavalec’s handwritten notes clearly flagged in multiple places that Steele might be talking to the media.

“June — reporting started,” she wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” her handwritten notes show.

Those same notes suggest Steele spun some wild theories to State, including one that the Russians had a “plant in DNC” and had assembled an “HRC dossier,” apparent references to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton.

She expounded in her typed memo. “The Russians have succeeded in placing an agent inside the DNC,” she quoted Steele as saying.

Steele offered Kavalec other wild information that easily could have been debunked before the FISA application — and eventually was, in many cases, after the media reported the allegations — including that:

  • Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russians;
  • Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owed the Russians $100 million and was the “go-between” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump;
  • Trump adviser Carter Page met with a senior Russian businessman tied to Putin;
  • The Russians secretly communicated with Trump through a computer system.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, released last month, dispelled all those wild theories while hardly mentioning Steele, except for a passing reference to his dossier being “unverified.” That’s significant, because the FISA request from October 2016 that rested heavily on Steele’s information was marked “verified application” before the FBI submitted it to the court.

And, as I reported earlier this week, Kavalec’s memo clearly warned that Steele had admitted his client was “keen” to get his information out before Election Day. In other words, he had a political, rather than an intelligence, deadline.

David Bossie, head of Citizens United, called on State and the FBI to release the rest of Kavalec’s information they redacted: “Christopher Steele was a political operative. The American people have a right to know why the FBI took this garbage to the FISA court.”

Kavalec’s notes aren’t the only red flag that should have caught the FBI’s attention before the bureau vouched for Steele’s credibility.

Notes and testimony from senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr make clear Steele admitted early on that he was “desperate” to get Trump defeated in the election, was working in some capacity for the GOP candidate’s opponent, and considered his intelligence raw and untested. Ohr testified that he alerted FBI and other senior Justice officials to these concerns in August 2016.

Steele eventually was fired by the FBI for leaking to the press — in violation of his source agreement with the bureau — and lying about it. But that did not happen until Nov. 1, 2016 — after the FISA warrant was secured. And, even then, the court wasn’t notified until a few months later, well after Election Day.

Steele’s admission of media contacts on Oct. 11, 2016, and the mere existence of his meeting at the State Department likewise violated his confidentiality agreement with the bureau and clearly were discoverable well before the FISA warrant was secured Oct. 21, 2016.

If the State Department and Ohr could figure out that Steele was a partisan, paid by a political client and facing an Election Day deadline to broadcast raw intelligence that in some cases probably was false, the FBI should have done the same before it ever envisioned taking his evidence to a FISA court.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Banker Behind Biggest Malaysian Corruption Scandal Indicted For Donation To Obama Campaign

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 05/10/2019

Pras Michel, the Fugees rapper who once included a cameo appearance from a pre-Apprentice Donald Trump on his hit solo album “Ghetto Supastar”, has been indicted alongside the Malaysian banker and alleged mastermind of the $4.5 billion 1MDB fraud for funneling money stolen from the doomed sovereign wealth fund to benefit President Obama’s reelection campaign.

Yes, you read that right.

The rapper, who has largely faded into obscurity until he appeared in several stories about Malaysian financier Jho Low’s lavish Vegas parties, was identified as a close friend of Low, and allegedly helped open bank accounts in the US that were used to disguise the source of Low’s money, which was donated to PACs working to support Obama’s reelection bid.

Michel and Low were indicted Friday afternoon in the same indictment, which – for those who have been keeping track of the sprawling 1MDB probe – ties the 1MDB scandal – one of the biggest financial frauds in history – and former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to political organizations that supported Obama’s reelection campaign. And where did this money come from initially? Why, it was raised by Goldman Sachs!

So an international fugitive who is believed to be hiding somewhere in China under the official protection of the Communist Party illegally used foreign money to tamper with a US election.

Sometimes, the truth can be stranger than fiction.

Both men were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States (one of the charges that was bandied about by Russian collusion conspiracy theorists like Rachel Maddow).

Here’s more from the DoJ press release announcing the charges.

A United States entertainer and businessman and a Malaysian financier were charged  in a four-count indictment unsealed today in the District of Columbia for conspiring to make and conceal foreign and conduit campaign contributions during the United States presidential election in 2012, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, 46, and Low Taek Jho, 37, also known as “Jho Low,” were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States government and for making foreign and conduit campaign contributions.  Michel also was charged with one count of a scheme to conceal material facts and two counts of making a false entry in a record in connection with the conspiracy.  Michel appeared today for his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey in the District of Columbia.  Low remains at large.

The charges are an outgrowth of the sprawling federal probe into the collapse of 1MDB, which was purportedly looted by former Prime Minister Najib Razak, Low and members of their inner circle. While Michel is in custody, Low remains at large.

Remember this the next time Democrats denounce foreign interference in American elections.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

US sanctions could force Pakistan to ditch ‘Peace pipeline’ project with Iran

RT | May 12, 2019

Pakistan has notified Iran that mounting US economic pressure makes it “impossible” to proceed with the massive Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (IP) project, also known as the ‘Peace pipeline’.

“We cannot risk US sanctions by going ahead with the [IP] project as America has clearly said that anybody who will work with Iran will also be sanctioned,” Mobin Saulat, the managing director of Inter State Gas Systems, which works under the auspices of the Pakistani government, told Arab News.

Islamabad recently informed Tehran in writing about the hurdle to implementing the pipeline project, according to the official. He noted that if the restrictions against Iran are lifted, Pakistan will be eager to go ahead with it. The same position was earlier voiced by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The project, which has been under discussion since 1994, was initially meant to deliver natural gas from Iran’s giant South Pars field to Pakistan and India. New Delhi quit it in 2009, citing the costs and security concerns.

The US vocally opposed the $7 billion project long ago, even before the 2015 nuclear deal, from which Washington has already withdrawn. It said that the construction of the pipeline could violate sanctions imposed on Iran over alleged nuclear activities, despite Iran denying the claims and arguing that natural gas cannot be used for making atomic bombs.

Iran has already slammed Pakistan for failing to adhere to the bilateral deal and delays in laying down the pipeline. In February, the Islamic Republic threatened to take its project partner to the international court of arbitration over the lack of progress on construction. Islamabad has at least two months to respond to Iran on the matter, according to Inter State Gas Systems.

“We have time till August this year to legally respond to Iran’s legal notice and settle the issue through negotiations,” Saulat said.

The news comes just days after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions targeting anyone who fails to wind down transactions related to Iran’s metal sector. This is in addition to the tough restrictions on energy exports, which the US seeks to cut to zero.

On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for unity as the country faces “unprecedented” pressure from its “enemies.” He compared the current situation with the conditions during the 1980s war with Iraq, saying that it is not clear if they are “better or worse,” but back then Iran had no problems with its banks, oil sales, or imports and exports, except for arms purchases.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Is the Long Renewables Honeymoon Over?

Dr John Constable – GWPF – 11/05/19

The European renewables industry press, which is usually unequivocally upbeat in its assessments, is currently reporting a broad spectrum of substantial problems in the sector, ranging from bankruptcies and technical problems to tepid policy support and increasing public resistance.

In a fundamentally viable energy generation sector such stories could be regarded as minor perturbations, but in one that has been for decades all but completely insulated from risk by subsidy and other non-market support, it suggests deep-seated structuro-physical weakness.

The German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion S.A., formerly trading under the name of RePower, is currently in financial difficulties. This Hamburg-based firm, which has installed over 1,000 wind turbines in the UK alone, applied to commence self-administered insolvency proceedings in mid-April this year, and is at present sustained by a EUR 100m loan agreement with its lenders and main bond holders. Senvion has delayed both its AGM, which was due to take place on the 23 May, and also the publication of its recent financial results. At the time of writing the company had not yet announced a new timetable.

For nearly eight years, from 2007 to 2015, Senvion was owned by the Indian wind turbine manufacturer, Suzlon, and is now the property of the private equity firm, Centerbridge Partners. It is currently rumoured in the industry press that Centerbridge may now be compelled to cut its losses by making a distressed sale to Asian, probably Chinese, companies seeking a cheap way of acquiring a wind power market toehold in Europe. Western companies are thought to be unlikely to have the appetite for such a purchase, and their reluctance is entirely understandable: as Ed Hoskyns shows in a recent note for GWPF using EurObservER data, the annual installation rates for wind and solar have halved in the EU28 since 2010. Senvion may be the first major company to feel the effects of this downturn, and is certainly large enough for its difficulties to have wide ramifications, with two of its suppliers, FrancEole, which makes towers, and the US company TPI Composites, which makes blades, both being hurt by reduced revenues. Indeed, FrancEole was already in a poor way, and is now reported as being on the verge of liquidation.

Projects that were being supplied by Senvion are also affected, with the building of one, Borkum West 2.2, a 200 MW offshore wind farm, being suspended mid-construction since components due from Senvion have not been delivered on schedule. This delay, which has been front-page news in some circles, must be causing considerable headaches for Borkum West’s developer, Trianel GmbH, which is apparently now seeking to establish direct links with Senvion’s suppliers so that they can complete the project.

Elsewhere in the offshore wind universe, two large and relatively new projects are in the midst of what must be costly repairs involving significant downtime. Having received regulatory approval, the Danish mega-developer Orsted is about to start removing and renovating all 324 blades on the 108-turbine, 389 MW, Duddon Sands wind farm in the UK part of the Irish Sea, a year after problems first became apparent. The machines used, the Siemens 3.6–120, have suffered leading edge erosion, a problem that affects perhaps some 500 turbines in Europe (See “Type Failure or Wear and Tear in European Offshore Wind?”), and requiring the application of a remedial covering to each blade.

Less can be read in the public domain about the repairs about to restart at the gigantic, EU-funded Bard Offshore 1, which is owned by Ocean Breeze Energy GmbH & Co. KG. The project, which commissioned in 2013, has eighty 5 MW turbines, with a total capacity of 400 MW. Bard had already suffered a well-known series of cable failures, and it now transpires that both nacelles and rotors have been undergoing replacement for about two years, though Ocean Breeze is, according to industry press reports, apparently declining to confirm how many turbines are affected. The company’s website gives no information in either German or English that I could find.

There would, then, appear to be a great deal of work in servicing offshore wind installations, but this has not been enough to prevent Offshore Marine Management Ltd (OMM), a UK-based offshore wind contractor, entering into voluntary liquidation after several years of losses. Interestingly, OMM, a relatively small company though prominent in the UK, cited the increasingly “competitive nature” of the sector as a factor underlying its failure, and it seems likely that it was unable to survive the efforts of developers determined to reduce both capital and operational and maintenance costs to the bone (and judging from the failures reported, perhaps into the bone itself). With margins pared thin, costly local suppliers may quite simply be forced out of the market, and regardless of their other merits. Related evidence of this phenomenon, which is clearly global, can be found in the fact that the Danish mega-developer Orsted is now grumbling that the Taiwanese government’s insistence of a high level of local content for its projected 900 MW Changua 1 & 2a offshore wind farms will double the capital cost from approximately £1.6m/MW to about £3m/MW.

One wonders whether this underlying reality was discussed at the recent and apparently robust meeting between the Scottish Government and the offshore wind industry, convened because the Scottish metal manufacturing firm BiFab had not been commissioned to make equipment for the 950 MW Moray East wind farm, a wind farm that has one of the much over-hyped Contracts for Difference at £57.50/MWh. The supply deals had instead been awarded to Lamprell, which is based in the UAE. The Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, used the meeting to express “significant frustration” that local firms had been involved to such a small degree hitherto, in spite of repeated promises. Did Benji Sykes of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, present at the meeting, cite the Taiwanese case and explain to Mr Wheelhouse that something very similar would apply in Scotland, and that if local content was insisted upon, then construction costs would increase substantially and subsidies would also have to be increased to pay for it? Did he explain that there is genuine doubt whether Moray East can be viable at £57.50/MWh, even with low-cost international suppliers, and that local content would certainly not improve that situation? It would seem not. However, he did promise to “work closely” with the Scottish government to “ensure that communities up and down the country reap the economic benefits offshore wind offers”. Mr Wheelhouse has probably heard that before. How much longer will he go on believing it?

So much for the action in the foreground. The backdrop is also sombre. The Crown Estate, which in effect controls offshore wind development in UK territorial waters, has delayed pre-qualification for Round 4 projects until after the summer of 2019, and the German maritime agency, the BSH, has disappointed developers by not assigning new development zones as had been requested. In delay is danger, and the offshore wind industry in general will be deeply concerned at the loss of momentum that may result from these decisions.

Onshore wind is doing no better. The most recent auction for wind contracts in Germany took place in February and was radically undersubscribed, with only 476 MW of a possible 700 MW being awarded, the underlying causes being, it is reported, less favourable planning consent regulations and less generous price support. Senvion itself is described in some reports as being one of the supply chain casualties, alongside the German tower and foundation maker, Ambau GmbH, which has already filed for bankruptcy.

One wonders why these companies were not better prepared. Reductions in subsidy in Germany were inevitable, and the tightening of planning regulations is long overdue and unsurprising. Indeed, it is remarkable that the German public has tolerated for so long such intense development in close proximity to domestic housing. However, some German states are now considering an exclusion zone of 1 km from the nearest turbine, which is still extremely close for structures in excess of 100m, and now heading, believe it or not, to over 200m in overall height. The German people have been patient, but the mood is clearly changing; indeed, the premier manufacturer and developer Enercon has recently been compelled by court order to suspend construction of its 30 MW Wulfershausen wind farm because it had, apparently, breached the local authorities’ requirement that no dwelling should be within a distance ten times tip height.

This less favourable atmosphere is contributing to a general sense that existing onshore wind farms in Germany will not be repowered in great numbers at the end of their lives. About 15 GW of Germany’s onshore wind is now over fifteen years old and the end of the economic lifetime is in sight. But industry sources quoted in the subscription only press suggest that less than a third of this will actually be repowered, much less than had been expected only a few years back. The reasons given for this sudden change in prospects include declining public acceptance, reflected in tougher planning conditions, and falling subsidies.

Meanwhile, in Norway and in its home territory Sweden, Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, has suspended further onshore wind construction because it would be “very challenging” to develop profitable projects in these areas. They are concentrating on other less resistant markets, such as the United Kingdom, where it has acquired a 250 MW portfolio of projects from Element Power.

But as it happens, things in the UK may prove to be no more promising. It has just dawned on the wind industry that government is actually acting on Amber Rudd’s landmark energy reset speech when Secretary of State for the Department of Energy & Climate Change in November 2015. In that speech Rudd remarked that “we also want intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system”. That of course was only right, but perhaps the industry hoped the intention would never materialise. If that was their expectation they were gravely mistaken. Aurora Energy Research has now released analysis of the regulator, Ofgem’s proposal to reform network charges, the “Targeted Charging Review”, and believes that the proposed changes “could set back subsidy-free renewables by up to five years”. When “unspun” this actually means that if the regulator removes the hidden subsidy of avoided system costs, imposed by renewables but socialised over all generators, then more of the true cost of renewables will be revealed to the market, making it much less likely that even the most greenwash-thirsty corporate, NGO, or governmental body will sign an extravagant long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a wind or solar farm. In other words, far from hindering the emergence of subsidy-free renewables, Ofgem’s reforms threaten to give the lie to the subsidy-free claim and show that it was never anything more than an empty PR gambit.

In spite of all this, it is doubtless too soon to say that the game is up for renewables. The industries concerned will fight back, and beg further direct and indirect public assistance while threatening politicians and civil servants with missed climate targets if that support is not forthcoming. In all likelihood they will be to some degree successful. But this will only delay the inevitable. As the depressing news stories summarised above suggest, after decades of public support and de-risking there are still fundamental weaknesses in the renewables industry that go well beyond teething troubles and localised management failure. One explanation, the sole necessary one in my view, is that the physics is against this industry, and that the physics is beginning to tell. It remains only to say that this blog is not licensed to give investment or financial advice.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment