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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Gunnar Sivertsen

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Gunnar Sivertsen last won the day on December 4

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  1. Otto Skorzeny

    Thank you Joris, for the film clip. I used to be near-fluent in German but that's over 50 years ago, and in this film I only catch certain phrases. But looking at our 'friend' Otto, and reading Wikipedia's account, which barely skims the surface of his psyche, he is a chameleon - he has no country, no cause, no inner centre; he is not attached by allegiance to anyone - as you and others have said here, he was 'con'. And yet, he was good at being a conman; he knew how to dissemble, and he was prepared to act the dissembler for the highest bidder. Lord Mountbatten was a narcissist, too; did you watch his television series - on himself, of course? - although unlike Skorzeny (as far as we know) he didn't play double-games; Mountbatten's game was raw, unadulterated, but transparent, naïve, and essentially harmless narcissism. Trump's narcissism is somewhat different, because whereas Skorzeny and Mountbatten would have been aware of their high self-regard, and played on it, and probably hammed it up, Trump's narcissism lacks their self-reflective element and is therefore more open to manipulation by others - by flattery, for example. The good thing about Trump is that he is not open to blackmail, the reason being that he has no sense of shame; one cannot blackmail a person who is not sufficiently socially connect or narcissistically threatened to feel any need at all to defend himself from public shaming. In fact, one could speculate that Trump seeks public shaming without actually feeling shame; it may be that it excites him.
  2. Otto Skorzeny

    Reading Wikipedia's entry (and that is the limits of my knowledge about him) on Skorzeny suggests that the Germans knew how to make use of him and his 'talent' as a pretender. It made for a colourful life, but as you both point out, he didn't actually achieve much. Malcolm Muggeridge is said to have remarked that double-agents eventually tend to become confused about who they actually are. I appreciate that Skorzeny wasn't a double-agent - although he seems to have worked for Egypt and later for Mossad in the 1950s - but dissembling was his game and it wouldn't be surprising if he used this skill to further his reputation. I wonder how much is actually true in the Wikipedia entry?
  3. Sorry, I will try - really, really try - not to draw any comparisons with the mind-set inherent in Stalinism and the mind-set inherent in neoliberalism. Because - we must not even try to learn from History. Sticking with the past is safe - well, safer.
  4. We can with justification recite Stalin's sins. We can also with justification recite LBJ's and Ronald Reagan's sins: the Vietnam War is said to have cost 2-1/2 million lives (military and civilian); Reagan entered into a pack - Operation Condor - with 6-7 Central and South American dictatorship, and used his 'special forces' to train death squads who'd go from door to door and shoot anyone vaguely Left-wing and active. El Salvador was Reagan's killing ground, in particular. Interestingly there is no reference to Operation Condor in his autobiography. These two examples are the tip of the iceberg. None of this excuses Stalin; I'm just saying that we - the West; the good guys - indulge in similar genocidal-like adventures when we feel in the political mood. Extra-judicial killings on a large scale are not the exclusive field of dictatorships. It could be argued - as I often do - that the 'benign neglect' of our homeless is a form of killing field - it is claimed that, since 2010, 120,000 people have died on our British streets from exposure, depression, self-neglect, illness, and suicide - after having been told they are 'fit for work' when they were anything but. I know from my clinical experience that people on the Autism spectrum are subject to financial punishment ('sanctioning') if they don't turn up on time to see their DWP/employment centre functionary. I know that DWP staff hound people with a proven history of chronic psychotic disorders for 2 years+ and threaten them with severe financial consequences unless they find themselves employment. All this smacks of Stalinism and its gulags, except that the suffering and dying takes place in our own streets, within our own communities. And our mainstream media, though they do occasionally write about it, don't turn it into a campaign issue. Again, I'm no apologist for Stalin. None at all. But his foreign policies are comprehensible. Three times in the 20th century it was a western power that invaded Russia/Soviet Union. It is no wonder that Stalin ensured that there must be a 'trip wire' (our expression in contexts that suit us) and a 'red line in the sand' (our expression in contexts that suit us), and the trip wire and red line was going to be Eastern Europe, many of the nations of which fought with Hitler. Charles Houston is of course right about Port Arthur. He then asks, "Would Hirohito turn to Stalin for help [to convey a proposal for peace negotiations to the Americans]?" Well, apparently Hirohito did, and James Byrnes, Truman's secretary of state says so - as recorded by American journalist at an off-the-record part of a press conference on 26 August 1945. It may be said to be a little out of character of Hirohito to (1) draft a peace negotiations proposal; and (2) entrust the proposal to Stalin; but - maybe Hirohito knew, indeed tacitly acknowledged, that Stalin could be trusted in some fields, such as this one. It's not all that incredible. Anyway, the documentation is there - it's just one of those inconvenient facts, based on supportive documentation.
  5. Who was worse Hitler or Stalin?

    In a way, Adam, you are asking at least two different questions - both good ones! (1) Who caused the greatest number of deaths; and (2) who would have caused the greatest number of deaths if he had won? So, who WAS the greatest criminal, and who was POTENTIALLY the greatest criminal? In both cases we are up against rather creative, politically motivated statisticians. For example, one professor in the U.S. 'calculated' that Stalin's gulags killed over 80 million people. Let's pause and digest this figure. It sounds impressive; we would like to believe it because it seems to confirm our opinion of Stalin, anyway. BUT: back in the 1920s-1930s, 80 million was about a third of USSR's total population. This cannot be right. So then you begin to worry about statisticians and their craft. And you start wondering where the figure of 30 million died of starvation under Stalin. (You read similar figures for the Chinese famines under Mao). Is this figure 'reasonable'? Do these figures suggest a political bias? When I was a school boy, the alleged losses (military and civilian combined) on the Eastern Front was about 15-18 million; now it somehow risen to 20-28 million. In terms of future brutality, I believe that Hitler would have been the one with the highest real figure of population losses. There were no breaks on Hitler's brutality; I believe there was with Stalin - his brutality was more targeted, and famine is not something one can control in time to save lives; some of its losses must be left to 'accident' or 'chance' or 'carelessness'. But Hitler killed and killed deliberately. Had he won the war, there probably wouldn't be a 'Slav' left in Europe or a 'Turk' left in Central Asia. During the war, Churchill refused to try to alleviate the famine in India by using the navy to ship grain to the stricken areas. He has been criticised for this. It is said he had an unswerving hatred for Indians. Furthermore, it has been said that Indian grain merchants were hoarding huge amounts of grain, waiting for higher prices. If true, all one can say that the profit motive can sometimes be inhuman. Not making a political point here; just saying... Good question, though. It makes one think.
  6. Why Nazis Lost the War

    By this time - early 1943 - Hitler's strategic position was turning against him. Being an hysteric by personality (the very opposite of a cool head), the failure to beat the RAF in 1940 and the realisation of the growing defeat at Stalingrad would have 'in-balanced' Hitler, had a catastrophic effect on him. His cognitive self-assurance was being challenged and lead to affective over-reaction, panic and anger in order to cover up his panic. A severe blow to his grandiose view of himself - and of the Wehrmacht and its ability to invariable win. His belief in his fate as a the ultimate victor-hero of History must have started to show cracks. Stalingrad was not meant to happen, and his armies were not support to be forced to stop at the outer edges of Moscow. - Of course he clung to the 'belief' of a military miracle to the very end, but his morale was shattered by early 1942. My parents, stuck in Norway during the German occupation, must at the time have had thoughts like these - and rejoiced. I remember my father having a big map of European Russia and eastern Europe pinned to the wall in our living. It was a detailed map, and he had placed pins in to it, following every significant battle during the progress and retreat of the German army. My involvement is his.
  7. Hitler's Strategic Mistakes

    I have another hypothetical: What would Hitler say if he could be revived - via modern technology - and he could read about the Israeli lobby in Washington. What, then, would HE decide that he should have done differently - not what WE think he could have done differently - during the war in order to make it a German success? This is a task that call on OUR ability to place ourselves in HIS shoes, given that he somehow knew that the real outcome hadn't worked.
  8. Hitler's Strategic Mistakes

    I've just thought of an additional possible scenario: what if the first wave of German invaders capture an English airfield and succeed in making good use of it - by which I mean that Junkers can land there and off-load light artillery and soldiers in considerable volume? Did the war games scenarios take such a possibility into consideration? They would still have to cope with concentrated attacks from the RAF, I'm sure. So the question then would be: would the Luftwaffe be strong enough to defend their airfield and prevent it being successfully bombed and strafed by the RAF? - I'm just being 'creative' in my thinking; I'm not saying any of this was feasible. But Churchill said/wrote somewhere that one had to reckon with the unexpected in war - he MAY have uttered this as a curse when 'Repulse' and 'Prince of Wales' went down. - 'Black Swans', as Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say, anachronistically.
  9. Would Operation Sealion have succeeded?

    I don't know about Arnhem, but Stalingrad is not really comparable with Sea Lion-day. At Stalingrad, the Germans were eventually surrounded by well-equipped Russian troops. May I play the devil's advocate? The war games mentioned does not seem to take into account possible German use of paratroopers and use of an 'air bridge'-type supply-line. This strategy might have forced the Germans to return to a focus on destroying RAF airfields rather than London? The German use of paratroopers was successful in Crete, but of course that was somewhat later in the war, and Crete wasn't Britain; Britain was in 'readiness' - but short of heavy weapons.
  10. What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    Hitler did very well - surprisingly well - during 1941-42. Hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers surrendered. No-one at the time dared to believe, even hope, that something like Stalingrad would take place. Till then, Blitzkrieg paid off. It probably had even greater potential if Hitler had either (1) concentrated his army and taken Moscow more or less intact; or (2) concentrated his army and gone south, securing the oil fields there. It was his grandiose Will that told him to fight on a hopelessly broad and deep front that led to his armies' defeat. - At least, this is the impression I have - a non-expert on military matters! - I think Hitler was fooled by his early successes into thinking that Blitzkrieg would succeed forever. In Moscow, many German soldiers could have sheltered from the Russian winter.
  11. Was Adolf Hitler an atheist?

    True, but it was a Nazified form of Christianity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer brings this out - and opposed it. Apparently, one feature of Nazified Christianity was their emphasis on Paul's epistle to the Romans, chapter 13: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur punishment. It remained for Hitler to replace the sceptical and resistant clergy with people who well understood Paul's words, agreed with them, and would act on them as expected by the new authorities. It wasn't difficult; few members of the clergy, and few congregations, refused to obey Hitler's interpretation of Paul.
  12. Why Nazis Lost the War

    By the way - I forgot to address the question of what it really was that attracted people to Nazism. Having eradicated its origins as a social-democratic German workers' party on that fateful night in 1934, what was left of Nazi ideology? Having disabused - by liquidation - the SA of its idea of depriving the Junkers of their land and of replacing the regular Army with the SA, was there any clear ideology remaining? All this was partly replaced with Hitler's pragmatism: keep in with the landowning classes and benefit from their money and support. He made up for his relative lack of ideology by exuding energy and determination. It worked for him - for a while! Thank you for the Pope extract - well said! As for a combined Politics-Psychology degree - it's a good and useful combination. I did first year Political Science in 1966, but didn't pursue it; couldn't see myself as a politician or diplomat, a departmental head or functionary. So I did Psychology and Philosophy as my majors at Melbourne University. Indian Studies (for one year) covered modern India and Gandhi, which meant politics and the ideology (or value system) of non-violence and Satyagraha.
  13. Why Nazis Lost the War

    Thank you for your interesting comment, Ron. I have not heard your account of the 1755 earthquake's effect - the paradigm shift - on the 'hearts and minds' of ordinary people and on the Church. I think Voltaire used the earthquake to ridicule Leibniz's notion that 'this is the best of all possible worlds - Voltaire's book was called ' Candide', if my memory serves me right, and Pangloss (?) was its main character. As for paradigm shifts - I studied history and philosophy of science in 1966, and one of our text books was by Thomas Kuhn. Surprisingly, the book was not about his idea of 'paradigm shifts', but I've have read about them since. I'm fascinated by the notion and am looking forward to the next paradigm shift in the field of cosmogony - the origin of the Universe. My 'own' thesis is that there was no beginning and there will be no end point either. I got this idea from a little book by George Gamow called, "One, Two, Three ... Infinity" which was first published in the 1950s. In it there was a diagram - actually 3-4 diagrams on the same page - that depicted the shape of the Universe, if it were possible to observe it from outside itself. Gamow's idea was that, by analogy, 'like' the surface of the Earth, where there is no beginning or end, so is the universe: it 'curls in on itself', its 'tail' being 'consumed' by its 'head', as it were. I don't recall whether Gamow elaborated on this idea, but I'd say that if Time is intricately tied in with Space; if Space is curved; and if the Universe has the shape of one of Gamow's diagrams, then it is meaningless to think of Time as having a starting- and an end point. I find this difficult to visualise from the standpoint of being inside the Universe - where we are destined to be - but Gamow's diagrams acted as a 'paradigm shift' for me: I read the book when I was 15. I think about this every time I read (apparently) cosmogenic accounts based on the 'Big Bang' model. Most writers seem to assume, if not actually spell this out, that the Universe's actual, literal beginning was the Big Bang, and that our aim now is to simply discover 'what happened' at its 'birth'. Maybe they should read Gamow? Anyway, we have moved deviated from World War II. Thank you again about the All Saints account and its ramifications. Interesting!
  14. Why Nazis Lost the War

    There is also something else about both Hitler and Trump (which Obama and Stalin lacked), and that was a sense of energy: that if you voted for them or supported them, 'things' would happen - and fast. I think Churchill radiated this kind of energy, too, in May 1940 - although he wasn't elected, of course - and such energy is contagious, or seen to be. I'm sorry about all the hesitations and conditionals. Sometimes one gets the impression that History is the study of smoke and mirrors. The psychological and sociological aspects of History are 'sensed' but not properly grasped. Like air, you know its 'there'; you can feel it when you move your hand quickly; and yet it's elusive. So, too, with historical truth. I think it was Chou En-lai who was once asked, "What effect do you think the French Revolution had?" He replied, "It's too early to say".
  15. Why Nazis Lost the War

    I give up. I'm rubbish at Internet searching. Harold Wilson and Ian Smith met on HMS Tiger in 1966. The Royal nave was engaged in minor operation - one of which was the attack on a tanker which apparently was trying to supply oil to Rhodesia. But nothing about any RN refusal to act against Smith's UDI.
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