Tag: Cold War

How to Assassinate a CIA Operative and Get Away With It

 
The Sheraton place of the Piano Bar and former American Embassy location

It was a hot day in a dusty city, Tbilisi the Capital of Georgia, there was little power and anarchy ruled in the streets. An oasis of calm, like a castle of old, stood on a hill just inside the eastern edge of the city the Sheraton “Metechi Palace” Hotel. With generators and money to burn the Hotel always had power and the owners of the Hotel were connected. The most powerful criminal organization in the country the “Knights” or Mkhedrioni provided security to the grounds. The American Embassy rented out entire floors and had their own security, among them were Delta Force Operators, and Freddie Woodruff long-time Soviet Expert and CIA Station Chief in charge of the Delta Force mission and charged with monitoring the KGB led drug trade through Georgia.

The drug trade was the way the Soviet Intelligence services kept themselves funded after the fall of the Soviet Union and was the bedrock of their eventually take over of the Russian Federation. The KGB used their old contacts in Afghanistan to literally move tons of cocaine and opium paste through Russia and then the Georgian ports to all of Europe and beyond. It was a multi-billion dollar industry and the CIA was very interested in it.

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Is China a ‘Strategic Partner’ or a Cold War 2.0 Foe?

 

President Trump may not be interested in cold war with China, but cold war is interested in him. Well, at least if his fellow Republicans have any say in the matter.

If there’s any clear takeaway from the G20 trade ceasefire, it’s that Trump views the fate of Chinese telecom giant Huawei as something to be negotiated. Just another pressure point. This Bloomberg headline pretty much nails it: “Huawei Lifeline Shows Trump Prefers Business Deals Over Cold War.

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‘Winning Armageddon’ Offers New Insights into the Cold War

 

The United States won the Cold War, a victory so complete its main adversary, the Soviet Union, vanished, replaced by a collection of independent nations. The foundation of that American victory was the security provided by the Strategic Air Command.

“Winning Armageddon: Curtis LeMay and Strategic Air Command, 1948–1957,” by Trevor Albertson, tells how that foundation was built.

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ACF Critic Series #24: Cold War

 

Back to Pawel Pawlikowski: @FlaggTaylor and I have a companion piece to Ida Cold War, a romantic tragedy, which features a couple escaping from and then returning to the Iron Curtain. Whereas Ida is about divine love, this is merely human love. In both cases, the Polish past and totalitarianism are the most important concerns of the story. A deeply affecting movie about national memory and personal memory with special attention to what art and love can and cannot do. A remarkable performance by Joanna Kulig. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography of Lukasz Zal (which earned him an Oscar nomination), as well as heartbreaking Polish folk songs.The movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes as well as the director prize — it was nominated for three big Oscars, too.

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God’s Little Smuggler

 

“Brother Andrew” is the pseudonym of Andrew van der Bijl, a Christian missionary who smuggled Bibles into communist countries during the height of the Cold War. His story was well known in Evangelical circles; they even made a comic book about him. He told of crossing through border checkpoints, his ancient Volkswagen stuffed with Bibles. It was like a spy thriller. He was never caught. The blindness of the crossing guards seemed miraculous.

Brother Andrew was the perfect hero for a young, deeply conservative, deeply religious boy — which is to say, my 13-year-old self. I longed to be like him. To face danger, to engage in intrigue, to take the battle to an implacable, prodigious foe — that would be glory.

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A Visit to the Wende Museum of the Cold War

 

Thursday was the 80th anniversary of the Kristallnacht episode of Nazi anti-Semitic terror, their final no-going-back moment only two years after Germany showing its best face to the world during the Berlin Olympics. It was also the 29th anniversary of the breaching of the Berlin Wall. November 9 is a big deal in history.

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The Soviet Union was renowned for its ability to penetrate Western intelligence services during the Cold War. Less known are Western intelligence agencies penetrating the Soviet Union’s services. The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre, relates one penetration, perhaps the most spectacular. It tells of Oleg […]

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Former CIA Operative Unloads on Brennan and Politicized IC

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had former CIA operative and leader of CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center’s WMD unit, author of the must-read and highly relevant 2009 book Beyond Repair: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and outspoken critic of the politicized leadership in America’s intelligence and national security apparatus, Charles Sam Faddis on to discuss among other things:

  • Why Faddis supports revoking John Brennan’s security clearance — and the bureaucratization and politicization of the leadership of the intelligence community versus the rank-and-file analysts and operatives in the field
  • Whether politics dominates over merit in the ranks of intelligence and the national security apparatus more broadly
  • What members of the national security establishment really mean when they talk about “protecting the institutions
  • Why President Trump has been deemed a threat to the power of the political leaders within the national security establishment in a qualitatively different way than any of his predecessors — and that’s a positive thing
  • What Faddis would do to reform intelligence
  • The poor state of America’s counterintelligence capabilities
  • The lessons of Iraq regarding U.S. intervention and the national interest
  • Whether America has the capability to use intelligence to engage in ideological warfare and bring down Iran’s Khomeinist regime
  • How China’s liquidation of our spy network reflects the problems plaguing America’s intelligence apparatus
  • The long-term dire ramifications of China’s OPM hack
  • The implications of China’s attempt to infiltrate Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office
  • The threat to the U.S. homeland of a collapsing Venezuela and Mexico, combined with drug cartels, organized crime groups and Hezbollah in our hemisphere
  • Faddis’ optimistic assessment of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy
  • Why China poses the greatest long-term threat to America of all, and our willful blindness towards it

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, and download the episode directly here.

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Michael Ledeen on the Potential Collapse of Iran’s Khomeinist Regime

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had historian, Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, former Special Advisor to the Secretary of State and consultant to the National Security Council during the Reagan administration, author of 38 books and most pertinent to today, Iran expert, Michael Ledeen on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The impending collapse of the Khomeinist regime and what the U.S. can do to accelerate it
  • The false narrative about alternatives for Iran being either appeasement or war
  • The history of U.S. intelligence failures in Iran
  • How secular and liberal Iran’s dissidents actually are
  • Whether there is a wedge that can be exploited between Iran and Russia
  • What will become of Hezbollah if the Iranian regime collapses
  • The allegedly political witch hunt against Iran hawk and Israel supporter Larry Franklin as an illustration of historic anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the foreign policy and national security establishment
  • Ledeen’s theory that Gen. Michael Flynn — with whom Ledeen co-authored the book, The Field of Fight — falsely pled guilty, and the real reason why Gen. Flynn was targeted in the first place

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

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Dennis Prager on the Self-Righteously Suicidal West and False Morality

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had nationally syndicated radio host, columnist, author of numerous books, teacher, film producer and co-founder of PragerU, Dennis Prager, on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • How Dennis Prager ended up a conservative as an Ivy League-educated Jewish intellectual from Brooklyn, New York — contrary to so many of his peers
  • How perceptions of human nature divide Left and Right
  • Whether government has filled the void of religion for the increasingly secular and progressive American coasts
  • How the good intentions that underlie Leftist policy prescriptions lead to horrendous outcomes — and emotion versus reason on the Left and Right
  • The false morality underlying European immigration policy with respect to the Muslim world, and Prager’s criticism of Jewish support of mass immigration consisting disproportionately of Jew-haters
  • The self-righteous suicidalism of the West
  • The Leftist bias of social media platforms and PragerU’s legal battle with YouTube/Google

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

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I thought it would be fun to have a thread for The Americans, which began its final season this week. It is a great show, tightly written with compelling plot development, characterization, and performances. Certainly this will be a place for spoilers, so those who have not seen it – or kept up – but […]

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Russian fingerprints seem to be turning up everywhere in the news lately and it is more than concerning. Remember Reagan’s famous speech, “Gorbachev, tear down that wall!” The fall of the Soviet Union came with a crashing sound that echoed throughout the free world. The idea of introducing freedom into a major communist offered so […]

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Duck and Cover and Bert the Turtle

 

As Americans, we learned in the 1950’s that it might not be a good idea to take life for granted. In particular, children were deeply affected by the threat of annihilation by a nuclear bomb. The Virginia Historical Society described that period in this way:

Air raid drills. Conelrad. Bomb shelters. Duck and cover. All of these were familiar terms to Americans in the Cold War culture of the 1950s. The future looked uncertain in the new Atomic Age, and there was growing tension between America and the Soviet Union. People lived with the threat of nuclear war as part of their daily lives.

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If you are interesting in an excellent interview that answers many of the confusing questions surrounding all of the Russian investigations on both sides of the aisle, this is worth your time. It’s much deeper and disturbing than you may think. Another headline today is that Putin is dismissing hundreds of US diplomats. Things are […]

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Book Review: Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, And The Most Dangerous Place On Earth

 

The following is a repost of a piece I wrote 3 years ago here. With all of the Russian Collusion kerfuffle I thought it apropos to revist it. You see, “collusion with the Russians” is hardly a new problem, and JFK himself actively and secretly colluded with Khrushchev, using his brother Bobby as a clandestine intermediary. JFK told no one in his cabinet, or in the Secret Service, that he was doing this. Why? Well, for starters Kennedy was not particularly keen on the continuing defense of West Berlin, and had practically no concept of its extraordinary value to NATO as a bastion right in the middle of the Warsaw Pact. In his mind, when he assumed the presidency, it was as best a distraction from his desired rapprochement with Moscow. Kennedy wanted to “reset” Soviet relations after 8 years of Eisenhower refusing to “play ball”.

Secondly, Khrushchev did actually interfere with the 1960 presidential election in his own way by managing international events such that he made Nixon look paranoid against Kennedy’s openness. Khrushchev therefore often claimed that he himself got Kennedy elected (Chicago notwithstanding, of course), and he thus felt Kennedy owed him. The Berlin Crisis of 1961, the precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis, was in no small part of this mutual dalliance between Khrushchev and Kennedy. The passing of US intelligence secrets to the USSR via Bobby, the feeding of Soviet propaganda and misinformation back to Kennedy, and the dangerous near-loss of Berlin were all JFK’s doing. We should bear all this in mind today when we are so quick to decry what Trump may or may not have done, just as we should remember that JFK learned from his early mistakes. It hardly need be mentioned that many historians today, in their near-saintly portrayal of Kennedy, or in their endless vituperation against Trump, have ignored this episode when the US nearly bungled one of its most valuable protectorates in the Cold War.

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Francis Gary Powers, Jr.

 

On May 1, 1960, 1,300 miles into Soviet airspace an American U-2 spy plane was flying at 70,000 feet, supposedly out of range of Soviet missiles. But the CIA’s U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, Gary’s Father, felt the thump of an exploding Soviet missile and was shot down over Russia. After being tried for espionage he served nearly two years in a Soviet prison suddenly becoming a key figure in the Cold War’s most infamous spy case that ultimately ended up with a prisoner exchange with the KGB spy Soviet Colonel Rudolph Abel.

Fifty-seven years later books, documentaries, and movies are still being written including Steven Spielberg’s 2016’s Academy Award winning Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks where Gary was a consultant and played a CIA agent. In 1996 Gary Powers Jr. founded the Cold War Museum outside Washington DC and lectured across the globe on the U-2 Incident, the need to preserve Cold War history, and honor Cold War veterans. Gary has written for the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the National War College and appears regularly on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and A&E.

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We’ve had a lot of posts here recently regarding the outrage being expressed by the Democrats regarding the real and/or imagined attempts by Russia to interfere with our recent election. Many of those posts have noted the irony involved after the Democrats long-running tendency to downplay any threats from Russia or (way back when) the […]

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Saturday Night Science: Project Pluto

 
Project Pluto / SLAM nuclear ramjet cruise missile
Pluto/SLAM en route to target. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory/Department of Energy artist’s conception, public domain.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the development of controlled release of nuclear energy (as opposed to runaway reactions in nuclear weapons) seemed to make previously impossible things straightforward matters of engineering. On occasion, it made the unthinkable all too thinkable. Project Pluto, also known as the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM), is one of the most extreme exemplars of this epoch. Unlike Project Orion, which envisioned a four thousand ton interplanetary spaceship powered by nuclear bombs, and Project Plowshare, which proposed using nuclear explosions for large civil engineering projects such as digging a new sea-level Panama canal, Pluto/SLAM (which I’ll henceforth refer to as Pluto) was developed and tested to the point where the technology had been proved. Pluto could have been deployed in the 1960s had the project not been cancelled due to financial reasons, competition from rival technologies, and people coming to their senses.

Pluto was a nuclear powered ramjet cruise missile, as large and heavy as a steam locomotive, which could fly between three and four times the speed of sound either at high altitudes or skimming the earth, with global range and the ability to stay airborne for months, and then to rain nuclear destruction upon multiple targets with high accuracy. Let’s unpack this description to understand just was was being developed.

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Audible has just released my latest narration, “Exporting Security” by Derek S. Reveron. The book covers the changes in US military mission, culture and performance since the Cold War. This is a revised edition, just published this year, so it goes right up through the current administration. Reveron teaches at the Naval War College and has been […]

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