Grand Strategy in the Age of Mass Destruction


The Psychopath [Out From] Under the Bed, Part 3

Commentary for 24 November 2014


 “Our major secret weapon is to deprive you of an enemy.”
                                                - Georgi Arbatov, at UC Irvine, 1988

“Western acceptance of the new ‘liberalization’ as genuine would create favorable conditions for the fulfillment of communist strategy…. The ‘Prague spring’ was accepted by the West, and not only by the left, as the spontaneous and genuine evolution of a communist regime into a form of democratic, humanistic socialism despite the fact that basically the regime, the structure of the party, and its objectives remained the same …. A broader-scale ‘liberalization’ in the Soviet Union and elsewhere would have an even more profound effect.”
                                                - Anatoliy Golitsyn, New Lies for Old [1984]

“…Russia overcame the inertia of collapse and started reviving its power, while the West, being lulled by sweet day-dreams of the liberal ‘end of history,’ castrated its armed forces to the point, when they could be good [only] for leading colonial wars with weak and technically backward enemies. The balance of forces in Europe has thus changed in Russia’s favor.”
Pravda.ru, Nov 2014


After the fall of the Soviet Union Moscow’s spokesmen convinced the world that Russia was weak and no longer a threat to anyone. With a disintegrated army, and a post-communist policy, Russia appeared in the guise of the West’s “partner.” When a Soviet expert on America, Georgi Arbatov, said in 1988 that the Soviet’s “major secret weapon” was to deprive America of its enemy he was perfectly serious. Openness and friendship were, quite literally, weapons in a new kind of war. Here secrecy was not guaranteed by silence or discretion, but by the West’s willingness to be deceived. Arbatov could boast quite openly without fearing that his country’s “major secret weapon” would be compromised; for as it happened, the weapon was irresistible. Elite opinion, even if warned that they were under a new kind of assault, would never believe that they were being attacked by smiles and friendly handshakes.

The elite of the KGB were recruited to assist in the new offensive. As the anonymous KGB agent “Nikolay” was told in Karen Dawisha’s account: “[You will be part of a] clandestine structure where you will work with the best of the best. Your personnel files will be removed from the archives. No one will ever know your past. You will become a clandestine agent; you will begin to work for the fatherland.” As Nikolay further stated, “We, the patriots of the KGB, were removing millions and millions of dollars into bank vaults. And along those same channels also moved money from organized crime, to the point that I would not be able to tell which monies belonged to the KGB and which [to] the mafia. In response to my timid questions, they responded: just move the damn money. And I did.”

One of the telling little discrepancies which Karen Dawisha inserted into her book, Putin’s Kleptocracy, was when KGB body guard Viktor Zolotov was hovering near Boris Yeltsin (as he stood on a tank) during the KGB-supported August 1991 coup. Dawisha describes Zolotov as a supporter of the August coup and not a supporter of Yeltsin. There may be a more nuanced explanation of the Zolotov paradox, of course, but can such an explanation account for the sudden re-emergence of Russia as a hostile power? Oh, you say, that KGB crowd was merely a gang of thieves! That a gang of thieves took control of Russia does not explain how Russia has emerged with new military advantages. “When Putin went to Moscow in 1996,” Dawisha wrote, “one of the first positions he took was in the Main Control Directorate….” And what was the real mission of this directorate?

According to Dawisha, an August 1990 memo from Vladimir Ivashko, Deputy Gen. Secretary of the Communist Party Soviet Union (CPSU) asked for an “autonomous channel into the Party’s cash box in preparation for a time when the CPSU would not be the only party in the USSR. According to Dawisha, “The memo called for specific measures to protect the Party’s ‘economic interests’; form new economic structures abroad to provide the basis for ‘invisible’ party economics’; establish a foreign bank for the Central Committee that would ‘conduct currency operations’; and consult with the relevant state institutions to use ‘national property’ ….”

Was the flight of capital from Russia, and the parceling out of state property, always part of the plan? The evidence shows that these actions were not any more spontaneous than the liberalization process itself. This was not the accomplishment of mere opportunists, but was carefully organized by Communist Party strategists.  The memo from Deputy General Secretary Ivashko further stated: “…there must be a strict observance of discreet confidentiality and the use of anonymous facades to disguise the direct use of the money to the CPSU. The final objective is to build a structure of ‘invisible’ party economics…..”

There was no intention to switch to democracy, Dawisha tells us, or to develop a genuine free market economy. It was never sincere. It was a deception. The vast sums moved by Putin’s gang never belonged to the gang itself. Rather, the foreign accounts and corporate shares yet belonged to a party that wished to remain “invisible” in its dealings.  We see this pattern of invisibility, in fact, throughout the world. More than ever before, communism began to operate through false fronts in Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa and Europe. Under these fronts, the communists kept their victories hidden.

Paul Klebnikov uncovered a CPSU memo from a (KGB) First Chief Directorate colonel who had been transferred to the Communist Party Central Committee Administrative Department. It reads as follows: “The earnings which are accumulated in the Party treasury and are not reflected in the financial reports can be used to purchase the shares of various companies, enterprises, and banks. On the one hand, this will create a stable source of revenue, irrespective of what may happen to the Party.”

After the strategy of false liberalization backfired in East Germany, and the USSR was supposedly becoming less stable in 1991, KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov authorized “provisional regulations of a secret operating structure within the organs of the KGB.” This secret structure had to possess a source of revenue, and consisted not merely of the most loyal KGB officers, but of the most dedicated party cadre.

The CIA’s Moscow station chief, Richard Palmer, would later testify: “In the summer of 1991, a giant, finely tuned ‘invisible’ Party economy, corruptly involved to the necessary degree with the current government, went underground…. How much did they manage to hide?”

In Russia’s Secret Rulers, Lev Timofeev wrote: “The danger isn’t that yesterday’s district Party committee secretary will become a factory owner or a bank manager. Let him. The trouble is, rather, that this person is yesterday’s man, an unfree person linked to the conspiracy, bound hand and foot to his social class – that very apparat, military-industrial complex, and KGB. He is dependent on that trinity in everything he does, because he obtains his property rights from them for a price: a silent oath of loyalty. If he breaks that oath he will not remain a property owner for long.” (p. 143)

Dawisha has described Putin’s Russia as “a complex informal system in which subgroups were constantly balanced against each other, with Putin alone as the ultimate arbiter.” In the Nazi system, this perfectly describes Hitler’s role. But does it really describe Putin’s role, or is it meant to mislead us further? If we look at the pattern of murders, and the sheer size of the hidden Soviet structures, there can be only one explanation for their organizational cohesion; and that explanation is found in the theory that the Communist Party Soviet Union continues to mediate between the various bodies from behind the scenes (just as KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn predicted when he said, in 1984, that a fake liberalization was coming to the USSR and the Communists would remain in control). There is, indeed, unity and discipline on the strategic level in Russia. Dawisha would have us believe that we are looking at a private consortium of KGB renegades, and while that is an explanation which fits many of the facts it does not fit all the facts.  For if the hidden party structures were no longer there, and if the Communist Party Soviet Union no longer mattered, why preserve the symbols of the Party? Why celebrate the birthday of the Cheka (which was the sword and shield of the Party)?

Recently Sergei Grigoryants, one of Russia’s best-known human rights activists, wrote a piece titled “The End of Perestroika and the Russian KGB’s Revival of the War Against European Civilization.” According to Grigoryants, the revival of the war was always part of Moscow’s plan. Therefore, when former Secretary of State Madeline Albright recently admitted she was stunned by the Russian lies, Grigoryants thought it was a sad admission of ignorance. After all, it was during the 1990s that the most outrageous Russian lies were told; namely, that Russia was becoming a democracy and the Cold War was over. Albright should have known better.  “It is time to realize what kind of world we are approaching,” Grigoryants wrote, “and what are the balance of forces, and what we are facing in the future, and what needs to be done.”

While admitting that the West is to be congratulated on its unity in the face of Russia’s aggressive moves, Grigoryants cannot give the leaders of the West any further credit. “Even that unity cannot dissuade Putin from his project, which is to destroy the global order that was established after the Second World War….” The Americans have always misjudged Russia, he noted. Only the KGB officer, Anatoliy Golitsyn, successfully predicted Gorbachev’s perestroika. Grigoryants praises Golitsyn’s insight, which was regrettably ignored by the American strategists. They never understood. They still do not understand. If Golitsyn’s warnings had been heeded the West’s leaders would not now be caught flatfooted; for as it happens, something more serious is coming. According to Grigoryants: “Unfortunately Mrs. Albright and the many leaders of the United States, who unconditionally regarded themselves to be winners in the Cold War, now will have to reap the reward of their total incomprehension of everything that happened in the Soviet Union and in Russia during the years of ‘perestroika.’”

What is the “more” serious problem that is coming?

Pravda.ru recently published a piece titled, “Russia prepares nuclear surprise for NATO.” The article outlines the strategic failure of the West. Pravda gloats about the success of Russia’s policy: “It just so happens that today, Russia’s strategic nuclear forces (SNF) are even more advanced in comparison with those of the US, as they ensure parity on warheads with a significantly smaller number of carriers of strategic nuclear weapons. This gap between Russia and the United States may only grow in the future, given the fact that Russian defense officials promised to rearm Russia’s SNF with new generation missiles.”

So here is the admission: namely, that Russia overtook America thanks to the START-3 negotiations. “Having written off Moscow as a serious geopolitical rival,” Pravda explained, “flying on the wings of inaccessible military and technological superiority, Washington drove itself into a trap, from which it does not see a way out even in a medium-term perspective.”

A trap, indeed! And “no way out”!

In other words, Russia has achieved nuclear superiority and the West is in trouble. Part Two of the Pravda article is titled “Russia takes complete advantage of castrated armed forces of the West.” The gloating continues, with the following sentence: “The illusion of world supremacy played a cruel joke on Washington.” Of course, illusions don’t play cruel jokes – only people play cruel jokes. It was, in fact, the secret structures of the Communist Party Soviet Union and KGB that facilitated the cruel joke. As Pravda noted, “The situation has been developing to the above-mentioned scenario for over two decades.”

I have been anticipating this moment for 27 years; that is, the moment when the Russians would pull off their democratic Halloween mask and reveal their totalitarian face. I have never had the illusion that America or the West would “wake up” before the Kremlin leaders had gained a critical advantage. At the same time I do not believe they will prevail in the end. When nearly everyone realizes what has happened the whole world will crave an accounting. What is written here is a small attempt toward that goal. It is not a matter of blaming anyone, but of pulling ideas and people together at the eleventh hour. Whatever disaster befalls us, we are better equipped to face the odds when we possess a clear picture of what went wrong. This picture must include a detailed account of that fatal and seductive optimism which even now prevents a full understanding of the problem we face. The leaders of the West could not change course because the logic of our civilization is the logic of economic optimism. Of course, economic optimism is itself necessary to economic success. Such optimism is generally good except it completely fails when confronting an enemy. The fiasco was a quarter of a century in the making, and now it is time to replace economic optimism with political realism. Do not be fooled by the apparent strength of the enemy; for just as the enemy’s weakness was a partial façade, so is the enemy’s current strength. Politically organized psychopaths, however clever or ruthless they might be, can only succeed if we surrender to them. And we must never do such a thing.

The psychopath under the bed has now come out to play; and although he has better toys, he is still an ineffectual being, a misfit and a failure. He can harm many people, but he cannot build anything of value. He dwells in a House of Lies atop a hill made of corpses. He promises only death, and not life. And this is a truth we must never forget.