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July 23, 2013

Comments

Phil

An impressive feat of cake-eating-and-keeping here:

“Ruff” [Neumann] shared secret OSS reports about a May 1944 meeting in Switzerland between an OSS official, Allen Dulles (who would later head the CIA), and a retired German general who told Dulles that the German military might overthrow Hitler and clear occupied western Europe of German troops as part of a deal with the Allies in which Germany would be permitted to continue waging war against the Soviet Union. Ironically, Soviet intelligence mistakenly classified the report from “Ruff” as disinformation. The meeting did in fact take place, but despite Neumann’s apparent efforts to warn the Soviets, they ignored him.
...
it appears that Neumann engaged in espionage not as a result of naiveté or illusions about Soviet communism but because he believed that only Allied unity and Soviet participation in bringing the war to a successful close could save democracy in Germany while leaving open some chance of radical social reform. Of course, given what soon happened wherever Stalin’s armies arrived, this view now inevitably seems misguided.

We know that the US and the USSR did in fact defeat the Wehrmacht together, and that the US introduced democracy in the areas they liberated and the USSR didn't. It was therefore 'misguided' for Neumann to worry that the future defeat of the Nazis and reintroduction of democracy was jeopardised by the possibility of the US allying with the Wehrmacht against the USSR - even though the US was in fact investigating the possibility of allying with the Wehrmacht against the USSR.

I guess he was just a post-mature anti-fascist.

Chris Brooke

My favourite detail concerning this kind of thing is that Herbert Marcuse wrote the draft of the order to ban the Nazi Party, which was issued almost as soon as the occupation of Germany began in 1945.

Dan Hardie

No, Phil, Neumann's acts were misguided (no scare quotes needed, thanks) and also ridiculously irresponsible, and legally treasonous, because if he had misgivings about the contacts between Dulles and the German Generals, then could have made those misgivings known to his colleagues and superiors in the (democratic, non-genocidal, actually rather liberal) Roosevelt administration.

Instead, he chose to share the information with the (murderous, institutionally paranoid) intelligence service of a (genocidal, individually paranoid) dictator. That dictator might actually have responded to Neumann's information in all sorts of crazy ways, given that he had previously made some utterly nuts decisions in response to other pieces of information. Like- oh, I guess this is trivial, but I'll mention it anyway- ignoring all warnings that Hitler was going to attack in 1941, up to the point of ordering Soviet units not to hide their planes from aerial attack while the Luftwaffe was actually bombing them. Fortunately he didn't go crazy, in this particular instance, but that was no thanks to Neumann.

By the way, anyone who has read Gerhard Weinberg's 'A World at Arms' will be aware that throughout the Second World War, Stalin made a number of attempts to provide Hitler that they should reach a ceasefire in the East, so that Hitler could continue to occupy Western Europe and fight the British and Americans. But Hitler turned Stalin down.

We know that Hitler would have been happy to reach such a deal with the British and Americans, but they consistently turned him down. The reason it did this was because of the choices that FDR and Churchill and their governments made.

So amazingly, two non-totalitarian, non-genocidal statesmen, trying to keep liberal democracy alive in a world full of nutty genocidal states, actually made better decisions than the mass murderer in the Kremlin. Supporting FDR and Churchill was a better idea than leaking secret intelligence to one of the biggest murderers in history. Funny how that worked out: the irony of history, one might say.

Dan Hardie

'Persuade Hitler', rather than 'provide', of course. Long flight home, and I'm tired.

ajay

anyone who has read Gerhard Weinberg's 'A World at Arms' will be aware that throughout the Second World War, Stalin made a number of attempts to provide Hitler that they should reach a ceasefire in the East, so that Hitler could continue to occupy Western Europe and fight the British and Americans. But Hitler turned Stalin down.

Huh. I didn't know that. The only one I was aware of was mentioned in, I think, Beevor (Stalingrad) - in late 1941 Stalin, terrified, was considering offering truce terms based on pretty much the state of play, i.e. Germany gets Ukraine and bits of western Russia. But the Bulgarian ambassador (!) told Stalin not to be silly, because the USSR was bound to win in the end. I didn't know there were other attempts as well. Interesting. (Though letting Hitler and the Allies tear each other to bits, with added undermining from western Communist parties, was of course what the idiot Stalin thought would happen in 1939-41).

We know that Hitler would have been happy to reach such a deal with the British and Americans, but they consistently turned him down.

Not just Hitler - this was kind of the big dream for most of the senior Nazis. Rudolf Hess, for example. As late as 1945 they were pulling senior POWs out of camps and sending them back to Britain as emissaries with that suggestion.

And Stalin could see the logic - he was convinced that this was what the Allies were planning, despite the complete absence of evidence.


Dan Hardie

Ajay: 'Not just Hitler - this was kind of the big dream for most of the senior Nazis. Rudolf Hess, for example (...)

And Stalin could see the logic - he was convinced that this was what the Allies were planning, despite the complete absence of evidence.'

Exactly: it's why Neumann giving this information to the NKVD was madly irresponsible. Stalin could quite easily have decided that Neumann's report was evidence that the Germans and the Allies were planning to unite against him, and the consequences of that could have been appalling.

dsquared

Long flight home

Oh I am glad to hear that.

on topic, I think the word "ironically" in

a retired German general who told Dulles that the German military might overthrow Hitler and clear occupied western Europe of German troops as part of a deal with the Allies in which Germany would be permitted to continue waging war against the Soviet Union. Ironically, Soviet intelligence mistakenly classified the report from "Ruff" as disinformation.

would better be replaced with "understandably". If I had a mole inside the CIA and he provided me with gems like "General Von BuftonTufton (Retd.) reckons that him and his mates are going to overthrow Hitler but then keep fighting on the Eastern Front until they take Moscow!", I would definitely be considering the possibility that I was being made the victim of a practical joke, and marking down "Ruff" as an early candidate to be exchanged for somebody useful.

ajay

Stalin could quite easily have decided that Neumann's report was evidence that the Germans and the Allies were planning to unite against him, and the consequences of that could have been appalling.

In fact, IIRC, this is exactly what he did conclude in early 1945 from the (erroneous) news that the German commanders on the Italian front had approached Alexander with a local surrender offer. Beevor again I think.

Asteele

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't call the British Empire a democracy, or an entity interested in the cause of liberal democracy.

dsquared

well that leaves genocidal mania as the only point of difference then! When you put it that way ...

ajay

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't call the British Empire a democracy, or an entity interested in the cause of liberal democracy.

That would explain why the British Empire never permitted the establishment of democratic systems in any of the areas under its control. Even now the serfs of Canada groan under the lash.

Phil

if he had misgivings about the contacts between Dulles and the German Generals, then could have made those misgivings known to his colleagues and superiors in the (democratic, non-genocidal, actually rather liberal) Roosevelt administration.

Let's just assume that this isn't an option. Let's just assume that, as far as Neumann can see, the Roosevelt administration speaks with one voice on the whole "do we trust the Nazis?" thing - and certainly on the question of "is the OSS working for us?". So any demarche by Dulles is likely to have prior official approval - and even if it's much more likely to get official approval than an objection by some German Commie will carry much weight.

Then what? Then, according to Dan, Neumann looked in the Yellow Pages under "Leaks, Recipient Of" and - out of sheer malice and folly -

chose to share the information with the (murderous, institutionally paranoid) intelligence service of a (genocidal, individually paranoid) dictator.

Or, in the real world, the only other government that was on the right side & where he had a hope in hell of getting a hearing.

I think it's ridiculous to give the US unqualified credit for the Triumph of Democracy over Fascism while in the same breath acknowledging that its key intelligence agency had had back-channel chats with the Wehrmacht - and it's beyond ridiculous to criticise somebody for wanting to leak that information on the grounds that the people he leaked it to didn't contribute to the T. of D. over F.

And (while I'm helping Dan with his low blood-pressure issues) I don't think it's correct to describe Stalin as a 'genocidal dictator', let alone to talk about 'genocidal mania'. I know why you'd want to - I'm married to a Ukrainian FFS - but I think there's a significant difference between "cut off the food, that'll sort them out, there's too many of them anyway" and "please arrange transport and processing facilities to ensure that all of these people die". If Hitler had dropped dead in 1941 he would have been a "genocidal dictator" in that sense. We need to use a different word for one or the other.

Phil

and even if it's much more likely

and even if it doesn't, it's much more likely

Also delete "will carry much weight".

Also (final paragraph)

If Hitler had dropped dead in 1941 he would have been a "genocidal dictator" in the first sense.

As you were.

Phil

Stalin could quite easily have decided that Neumann's report was evidence that the Germans and the Allies were planning to unite against him, and the consequences of that could have been appalling.

Isn't it also possible that Russian awareness - or American suspicion of the possibility of Russian awareness - of the existence of actual back-channel talks with actual German generals was a contributory factor to the US deciding not to go for Plan Back-Stab? In which case the consequences of all such talks being kept quiet could have been even worse.

Unless you take the view that these talks could never have come to anything, and that there was never any possibility of the Western Allies demanding anything other than unconditional surrender. My point is that, while both those points look pretty persuasive in hindsight, it would take a very well-informed contemporary observer to be certain of them in 1944, and I don't at all blame Neumann for thinking otherwise.

ajay

There is a difference between "back-channel chats with sources inside your enemy's military" and "actually agreeing with your enemies to stab your allies in the back". Any intelligence service worth its salt should have jumped at the chance of the first. The second _didn't actually happen_. The back-channel chats went along the lines of:

GENERAL VON BUFTONTUFTON: So, we were thinking of killing Hitler...
DULLES: Awesome. Go for it.
GENERAL VON B.: ...and then surrendering in the west, on the assumption that you would then support us in our continued war against the Soviets. Can we count on your support?
DULLES: No.

The Americans (and the British, whose existence in all this you seem determined to ignore) were resolutely opposed to any such deal. Every time it was suggested, they did the honourable thing and refused.

By passing the news of the German proposal on to Stalin, without the important information that the US had refused to go along with it, Neumann was indeed being grotesquely irresponsible (and treasonous with it).

ajay

Unless you take the view that these talks could never have come to anything, and that there was never any possibility of the Western Allies demanding anything other than unconditional surrender. My point is that, while both those points look pretty persuasive in hindsight, it would take a very well-informed contemporary observer to be certain of them in 1944

Yeah, it's not as though Roosevelt had made a public announcement of the Allies' commitment to unconditional surrender at the Casablanca Conference the previous year or anything.

And there's also a massive difference between "not demanding unconditional surrender" and "stabbing your allies in the back".

What's rather more likely is that Neumann was biased by his political background into assuming that the Allies would, being rightists, be automatically untrustworthy and duplicitous, and that Stalin, despite his minor foibles, was a potential agent of desirable social change. He heard about the meeting, jumped to the conclusion that the Allies were about to be duplicitous, and passed the news on to Stalin. We all of us tend to overvalue evidence that backs up our existing biases - Neumann was no different.

Asteele

Canada worked out great for the British who moved there. The indiginous population of Canada might feel differently about how lightly the lash lay upon them, you know with their land and resources stolen and their culture being destroyed at he time with the residential education system. Which probably, wait for it, violated the convention against genocide.

dsquared

Mate, we're all aware of the history of the British Empire, but trying to make the case that there was literally nothing to choose between us, Hitler and Stalin is just the definition of arguing for the sake of it. Even I can't be bothered with that one and I was the guy who did the "Budweiser is a great beer" post.

Dan Hardie

A genuinely classic piece of the higher stupidity:

'Let's just assume that this' (an intelligence official with a reasonably high rank within the FDR administration raising misgivings over possible policy directions) 'isn't an option....'

Well, sorry: I studied the history of the period in question, so I'm not going to assume it, because it isn't true.

Facts are stupid things, as Ronald Reagan once said and as Phil now appears to concur, but here are some facts anyway.

The Roosevelt administration did listen to dissents over policy raised by people within its various agencies, wasn't presided over by a lunatic, wasn't genocidal, wasn't interested in selling out Soviet Russia so it could make a deal with the German Right and was the best hope of those Europeans who wanted to see at least some part of their continent preserved from the competing totalitarianisms of Hitler and Stalin. Stalin had collaborated with Hitler until a certain event in June 1941, was a mass murderer, did act with quite extraordinary irrationality at times, and did employ a group of paranoid killers in his secret police. Further, all these facts were known to politically conscious Europeans - like, I don't know, Neumann- at the time.

Now, one could assume lots of things, if one wanted to. One could assume that George C. Marshall and Averell Harriman and Harry Hopkins and all the other major figures in FDR's strategic team were in fact rightwing nutjobs who wanted nothing more than to sell Uncle Joe out to Adolf. Of course, nothing in the career of Harriman or Marshall, still less in that of Hopkins, suggests that they were rightwing in the slightest, but just assume that actually they were.

Once you've made all those assumptions, guess what? Phil is right. But strangely, I don't see too many other people making the same assumptions.

So do I have, to quote the shopworn tropes of Phil's permanently adolescent sarcasm, 'blood pressure issues'? My blood pressure is fine. But thanks for asking.

Also fine: my knowledge of the history of the twentieth century. I can, at any rate, spot that there might be problems in betraying the democratic country that gave you asylum in order to feed secret intelligence to a paranoid mass-murderer known for unpredictable reactions, who had a very recent history of alliances with Adolf Hitler. I also know who was keen on an armistice with Hitler that would permit him to use the Wehrmacht elsewhere, and it wasn't FDR or Churchill. There's a clue about who it was in that phrase 'alliances with Adolf Hitler'.

And this from Phil is just absurd:
' I don't think it's correct to describe Stalin as a 'genocidal dictator''.

Right. Phil, how many more tens of millions would he have had to have killed before you would dare to consent to call him a 'genocidal dictator'?

Finally, I upset Phil by suggesting that Stalin suffered from 'mania', apparently. Okay. Sorry about my rudeness, Phil. Would you like to tell me what your definition of 'sane' is, and how, and when, Stalin conformed to that definition?

Asteele

In 1942 there would be all sorts of reasons to think that the Soviet Union might be a better choice than the British empire. The British empire had been around for hundreds of years and was terrible. It currently ruled a fourth of the planet mostly countries it had ruled for a long time where the natives remained in abject poverty. It had a more or less an official ideology of white supremacy. It's most famous spin-off the United States was based on an official ideology of white supremacy and had genocided an entire contenient. For all the faults of the Soviet Union it had only been around for 20 years and its ideology was anti-colonial.

Dan Hardie

'Asteele' is clearly from the category 'nutters who aren't worth anyone's time or effort'. The one thing I would like to know is whether he (or she, though somehow I suspect it's 'he') is really Mr and Mrs Steele's little boy (or girl), or whether he's adopted the pseudonym of 'Steele' in honour of the great man we're all discussing.

Dan Hardie

And before Phil starts wailing 'Oh Dan is just being horrible to Asteele without addressing any of his points, oh the outrage to my delicate sensibilities':

I'm really not going to take someone seriously if they say that the Soviet Union of *1942* was 'anti-colonial'. The massacres and forced starvation in Ukraine? The annexation of the Baltic Republics? The partition of Poland, in collaboration with, erm, Hitler? (This is nowhere near a complete list.)

The USSR in `1941 was about as anti-colonial as Cecil Rhodes.

Asteele

You got the telescope by the wrong end Dan. It's not that I like the Soviet Union, it's that I don't like the British Empire.

dsquared

For all the faults of the Soviet Union

that really is one hell of a yaddayadda.

Dan Hardie

Still a nutter, still worth no one's time or effort.

Dsquared- I'm only on a few days' R&R and am just about to go for my first pint in four months. Oh, you have no idea how good it feels to type that... Would be nice to have a drink in October or November, after the tour's over- let's give Alex and Richard a shout.

Asteele

I'm really not defending the soviets. It's why I said it was its ideology that was anti-colonial. In practice it was an empire, it was terrible, most resources went to ethnic Russians, millions died in awful attempts to do, we'll...often who knows. I'd say it was a different project than the European empires, France never intended to integrate the Ivory Coast into the French polity.

In 1940 I don't think it was crazy to come down on one side or the other, at least this side is claiming to be anti-colonial.

Dsquarded: true, but true for lots of places.

Phil

Dan, you're ranting at the wrong person. I'm not sure who the right person is. I didn't say (or accuse you of saying) most of what you take issue with.

The question of whether someone in Neumann's position could reasonably expect his concerns about the actions of another part of OSS to be listened to by their superiors is, as you say, a factual one. If you're in possession of those facts, I defer to you, although not without asking why on earth you didn't just say so and spare me the insults. Unless you think the insults are the fun bit, in which case by all means, knock yourself out.

paranoid mass-murderer known for unpredictable reactions

I really am not here to defend Stalin. (Wife Ukrainian, as I mentioned.) My point is and always was that, if you were an anti-Fascist in the US or British government who had doubts about the Western Allies' commitment to the overthrow of Fascism, Stalin's government was the one you'd end up leaking to. As, of course, several people did. Assuming that anyone who leaked information to Stalin was thereby and ipso facto a contemptible worm operating from the basest possible motives doesn't seem to me to add anything useful to the discussion.

"Blood pressure issues" - if you scroll up you'll see the phrase was "helping Dan with his low blood pressure issues", emph. added, i.e. saying things which I knew would annoy Dan. I'm not saying it's Wilde.

how many more tens of millions would he have had to have killed before you would dare to consent to call him a 'genocidal dictator'?

For heaven's sake, Dan, I explained what I meant in the original comment. Actually he could be a 'genocidal dictator' on a par with Hitler on a much lower death count, if those deaths were planned & intended to eliminate a population group. I don't class the Ukrainian famine or the resettlement of the Crimean Tatars as "genocidal". I suppose the distinguishing factor is at what point the problem's solved - if the problem is the existence of group X and the killings are supposed to continue until every one of them is dead, then you're dealing with genocide.

And no, you didn't "upset Phil by suggesting that Stalin suffered from 'mania'"; you didn't even use the term (that was the other Dan).

Martin Wisse

Mate, we're all aware of the history of the British Empire, but trying to make the case that there was literally nothing to choose between us, Hitler and Stalin is just the definition of arguing for the sake of it.

I don't know. Some historians after all argue that Hitler's greatest offence was employing colonial methods on Europeans and if you're a native of India, or Kenya you may be justified to think that the British were not a whole lot better than the Germans or Russians. To counter the deliberate starvation of the Ukraine we can offer the deliberate starvations in the Bengals, frex.

Igor Belanov

We all know Stalin wasn't a very nice person, but that doesn't mean that you automatically jump into Andrew Roberts territory, as certain people have.

ajay

Deliberate starvation in Bengal? Jesus, Martin. You're saying that you really think it was actually British and Indian government policy to kill a million and a half Indians by starving them to death? What on earth is wrong with you?

ajay

I'd say it was a different project than the European empires, France never intended to integrate the Ivory Coast into the French polity.

Yes they did! That was the idea behind the French Union project! Sufficiently Frenchified colonial subjects were granted French citizenship. Felix Houphouet-Boigny was actually a minister in the French government. (Algeria, for that matter, was actually part of France - "soixante millions de francais, de Dunkerque a Tamanrasset!")
In 1958, the French government gave Ivory Coast the chance to choose, in a referendum, to become part of France (alternatives: continue as an overseas territory or become independent). They picked independence within the French Community (roughly equivalent to the Commonwealth).

dsquared

To counter the deliberate starvation of the Ukraine we can offer the deliberate starvations in the Bengals, frex.

The prospect of a debate between "a historian who thinks that the starvation of the Ukraine was a deliberate and intentional act of genocide, similar to the Holocaust" vs. "a historian who thinks that the Bengal famine was a deliberate and intentional act of genocide, similar to the Holocaust" makes me think that there are worse things the History Channel could do than bang on about Hitler all the time.

Dan Hardie

Igor: Andrew Roberts's views on the foreign policiy of FDR are simple and indeed familiar: FDR was a soft-on-communism pinko weakling who betrayed our Western birthright to Stalin. By a massive coincidence, Mr Roberts's views have been popular for decades on the American Right, the providers of so much of Mr Roberts's income.

By contrast, I happen to think that FDR did no such thing and was in fact the main reason that liberal democracy survived in Western Europe. I also suspect that dsquared and Ajay have views rather close to mine, and certainly a long way from Roberts's.

So I'm not seeing anyone in this thread 'automatically jump into Andrew Roberts territory'. But you can. Perhaps you are some kind of Holy Fool, who sees those things denied to the wise.

Dan Hardie

Phil, three people here, including me, disagreed with the argument you made in your first comment, that you sought to defend in subsequent comments. I can't speak for Ajay and Dsquared, but their views seem fairly similar to mine. Personally, I objected to your argument because you had clearly erected a structure of rather wild theories on a foundation of factual error and outright ignorance.

Ajay, Dsquared and I sought to correct some of your errors. You haven't bothered to address those points, and so I conclude that you're not actually interested in discussing the history of the 1940s. Fine. But don't expect me to treat your fact-free treatments of a historical argument with the slightest respect.

You write that I, or possibly some other unspecified person who disagrees with you on this thread, believe that the second world war was 'the Triumph of Democracy over Fascism'. And also that I, or the un-named other person, give the US 'unqualified credit' for the said triumph. Having erected this strawman, you gravely and brilliantly demolish it.

First point: Using Capitals to Show How Ridiculous Someone Else's Views Are is the kind of rhetoric that even most sixth formers would be embarrassed by. (And it gets more embarrassing when you raise your wit to a brilliant level by abbreviating 'the Triumph of Democracy over Fascism' to 'the T of D over F'.)

Second: I don't believe any of that about the war, and I've never said anything that might suggest I do. The second world war was massively more complex than a triumph of democracy over fascism. There were eventual triumphs, over German Nazism and Japanese militarism, but the totalitarian USSR was indispensable to those triumphs, and several European fascist governments survived the war. No combatant state deserved unqualified credit for the war's outcome.

I've never said otherwise, and nor has anyone else here, but you thought you'd build a strawman. Like the 'warbloggers' liked to do in 2003. They were pathetic, weren't they?

On genocide: read the Genocide Convention, which contains the legally accepted definition of genocide. Having done that, don't rush back to post another comment here trying to justify yourself- have a serious think about whether Stalin's crimes meet that standard of genocide.

And attain some slightly more elevated standard of discussion than 'My wife's Ukrainian'. My family's Irish Catholic, but that doesn't confer automatic validity on any statements I might make about Irish history.

Don't bother getting in a comment thread discussion with me again - this thread, or any others- unless you can drop strawmen, and all the other debating society tactics. I don't know why so many middle class, middle-aged Englishmen behave as if they never left school, but it bores me. If you must be one of them, don't waste any more of my time.

Dick Gregory

Martin - your blog seems to have been suspended. I know someone who was trying to get in touch with you recently, but you also seemed to be unavailable via email and Facebook.

Phil

You write that I, or possibly some other unspecified person who disagrees with you on this thread, believe that the second world war was 'the Triumph of Democracy over Fascism'. And also that I, or the un-named other person, give the US 'unqualified credit' for the said triumph.

No, I didn't. My comment was on the passage I originally quoted, in the book review that started all this off. It's not all about you.

As for 'factual errors', I concede that Neumann had enough seniority within OSS to get a hearing for his concerns, making it a bad idea to take them to the Soviets instead. The argument in the original piece was that raising the alarm about apparent US temporising with Fascism was misguided because of what the Soviets were going to do to Eastern Europe, which seems to me to be reading far too much of what we now know back into Neumann's situation in 1944.

have a serious think about whether Stalin's crimes meet that standard of genocide.

My point - which you've conspicuously ignored - was that there's a difference between deliberately causing large numbers of deaths in population group X and setting out to eliminate population group X. I think it's a significant difference, and defining genocide to include the first of these loses something.

And attain some slightly more elevated standard of discussion than 'My wife's Ukrainian'.

I just dropped that in as a reality-check, Dan - as in, "how likely is it that this person actually is the Stalin apologist I'm yelling at?" Not very, actually, but why let that get in the way of a good rant. (And you accuse me of using straw men!)

Dan Hardie

One doesn't rant at bores, Phil. One yawns at them.

And if they are ignorant bores, one hopes that one's display of tedium may drive them to acquire some knowledge of the subject being discusssed, though I now concede that in your case, the hope is very slim indeed.

To recap your last post (and do forgive me if my ennui is apparent):

You're not going to read the Genocide Convention's definition of genocide and consider whether Stalin's crimes fall inside it. Reading something would take away from your writing-comments-about-things-you-don't-know-about time. And why should you do any reading before saying something about Stalin? After all, as you've told us twice, your wife is Ukrainian, and so you can't be a 'Stalin apologist'.

(I don't think you're a Stalin apologist. I think you're someone who made a stupid set of arguments about Neumann's actions in giving highly classified information to Stalin's spies. But why understand an easy distinction when you can erect a straw man instead?)

You're attributing to the FP reviewer the belief that there was a 'Triumph of Democracy over Fascism' for which the US deserved 'unqualified credit'. Although I suspect that I would disagree with a lot of the reviewer's opinions were I to meet him, I can't see much sign that this is an accurate description of his views. And, strangely, reading the comment where you talk about the ''Triumph of Democracy over Fascism', one finds no mention of the FP reviewer, and two mentions of someone called 'Dan'.

('Dan', apparently, is simple-minded enough to believe that Neumann looked in the Yellow Pages for recipients of leaks- no, I'm sorry, that was your satirical genius in full flow again. I would probably have spotted the subtle wit earlier if you had used capital letters. And this 'Dan' character needs to be advised, by you, of what 'the real world' was like in the 1940s- an impressive feat for you to accomplish given that you demonstrably know nothing of the history of the period.)

But of course, the whole 'Triumph of Democracy' stuff was addressed to the FP reviewer, not to 'Dan'. You were merely attributing to the reviewer a completely false and deliberately simplistic set of views (Capitalised For Satirical Effect), just like all the most sophisticated fourth-form debaters do.

You think someone's 'yelling' at you. No one's yelling at you. Three different people have been rolling their eyes and saying 'this guy's making silly arguments, mainly because he's ignorant about the subject being discussed'.

You're a bore, Phil, but it can sometimes be worth talking to bores. You do know something about postwar Italy, so in the past I've asked you questions about that subject. Had I ever lost my mind so far as to want to know about folk music or Guy Debord, I should probably have asked you about those subjects as well.

But there's no point in talking to a bore who is a) ignorant of the subject under discussion and b) adamant that his ignorance doesn't disqualify him from commenting endlessly on that subject. If I were you, I'd stop boring on about something I knew nothing about, and use the time to either do some reading on the subject- or go and have a drink in the sun. But I wouldn't bet on your doing either, alas.

Phil

I find this comment extremely offensive and, frankly, hurtful. I don't need this.

In fact nobody nees this - if somebody says something ignorant or incorrect it's quite possible to put them right without sarcasm, without demeaning them, without calling them names. Preferable, even. All the more so if what they've said isn't so much a factual error as a difference of opinion - even if it's a difference so gross that you believe it can only arise from ignorance.

For myself, I've made one argument unsupported by the facts on this thread, & retracted it when it was pointed out. The rest is all open to discussion among people of good will, I would have thought.

But good will clearly isn't going to be extended to anything I say around here. In the old phrase, I don't come here to be insulted - I certainly don't come here to be bullied. So, I guess I don't come here.

Igor Belanov

I'm with Phil. If you employed that line of argument with somebody in public you'd probably end up with a broken nose. I also think that it's difficult to win a debate by calling someone boring and ignorant at great length, especially when the issues are largely ones of opinion rather than fact.

alle

Yes, me too. I've got nothing to contribute on the subject itself, but sneering isn't an argument. At least not a winning one.

belle le triste

I'll be sad and quite cross if this extremely silly thread has driven Phil away from B&T.

a3t

Seconding Belle: Phil is someone this parasitical mostly lurker always enjoys reading.

Dick Gregory

Another vote for Phil.

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