(Formerly "The Gadfly's Blog")
I offer below,
random musings, reflections, correspondence, scraps of
work-in-progress, and other such miscellany, perchance worth sharing
but not ready for the prime time of formal publication.
Much of this
material has been adapted from personal e-mail
correspondence. While I am perfectly free to use, revise and expand
on my side of these exchanges, use of the "incoming" correspondence
is problematic. I have neither the right nor the inclination to
include the words of my correspondents if they can be identified
either by name or description.
If I am confident that the correspondents can not be identified and
if their part of the exchange is essential to the exchange, then I
might quote them directly. Otherwise, their ideas will be briefly
paraphrased, only to supply context to my part of these
conversations. In no case will I identify the correspondents by
On the other hand, signed letters to The Crisis Papers and The
Online Gadfly are fair game as are other comments published in the
internet. They were submitted with the clear understanding that
they, and their signatories, might be made public.
Incoming correspondence will be identified by italics. My
contributions will be in plain text.
"How to Talk to a Climate Change
You should read this short Kindle book:
How to Cure a Climate Change Denier.
It explains the Climate Change Deniers point
of view and what information they are asking for to 'cure' them.
This is a bit of the 'blerb'
[sic] from the book advertisement:
The author once lived
in an off-grid eco-community, grew much of his own food and
was an active member of Greenpeace. Over the past few years
he has lost his faith in anthropogenic global warming and
become a Climate Change Denier!
This factual book
explores what it took to turn an eco-warrior into a ‘denier’
and, crucially, what evidence he needs climate scientists to
publish to help him believe in anthropogenic global warming
Ernest Partridge replies:
I might read the book, and I might
not. But I confess that I have little patience
remaining for climate change deniers.
I am not a climate scientist, so I
rely on the opinions of those who are. And as I noted
in my essay, of the thousands of active climate
scientists around the world, 97% to 98.5% affirm
anthropogenic climate change. Presumably, most of the
remaining two to three percent are skeptics, not
deniers. These remarkably consistent figures are from
three independent surveys. The conclusion of these
scientists follows from millions of hours of research
reported in peer reviewed scientific publications. This research is not repetitive:
like evolution and relativity theory, the conclusion of AGW converges from a variety of independent research
strategies, including ice core and sediment core
analysis, tree rings (dendrochronology), computer
modeling, laboratory simulations, historical records
(temperature, rainfall, etc.), and much more.
On the other hand, all the climate
change denial articles that I have encountered are
unscientific, utilizing a myriad of common fallacies and
outright falsehoods. And if you look to the funding
source of these articles or their publications, you will
likely find the Koch Brothers or the oil and coal
Perhaps the author of this book, Paul
Caruso, is different. But judging from my past
experience, I cannot be hopeful, and I am reluctant to
take on the claims of yet another AGW denier. I have
done my homework and published my responses. Perhaps the time has come to move
The challenge of my essay remains:
Provide me with solid, scientifically verifiable
information that AGW is false. And provide me with a
reasonable explanation as to how an entire global
community of scientists have unanimously come to this
allegedly false conclusion. And spare me the ad hominem
attacks, the fanciful and baseless hunches, the
conspiracy theories, the out-of-context citations, and
the phony "surveys."
After looking at numerous denier
arguments, I am close to equating AGW denial with claims
that the Bible is “inerrant," that the earth was
created 6000 years ago, that all the terrestrial species
were once crammed into an ark, or that the earth is
flat. Curious, but not worth the attention of serious
scholars and scientists.
The Crisis Papers
Still More from Aaron Press:
Apologies for the delay in replying – I have been working away
for a few days with little spare time.
I just wanted to pass on a couple of excerpts from the book.
“In 2009 a survey by Peter Doran and
Maggie Kendall Zimmerman of the University of Illinois,
reported the results of an opinion poll that 97% of
scientists thought that mankind was having a significant
impact on the climate. They polled 10,257 earth scientists
and 3,146 responded. Out of those 3,146 they selected a
group of just 79 individuals, 97% of who had, presumably,
given the correct answer. The results were very widely
reported and are often used as supporting ‘evidence’ that
CO2 can warm the climate. So the widely reported claim that
97% of scientists agree about global warming was obtained by
carefully selecting just 79 individuals.”
And, the consensus amongst scientists may not
be as unanimous as you have been led to believe by the media.
This website http://petitionproject.org/ lists over 31,000
American scientists including over 9,000 PhDs who have signed a
petition saying that…
“There is no convincing scientific
evidence that release of carbon dioxide, methane or other
greenhouse gases can or will, in the foreseeable future,
cause catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere or
disruption of the earth’s climate. Moreover, there is
substantial scientific evidence that increases in
atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects
upon the natural plant and animal environments of the
So that is 31,000 scientists who think that
CO2 is beneficial compared to 97% of a group of 79 individuals
that don’t. Those are facts using actual empirical data – not
projections made by computer models.
Another fact is that if you download the temperature data for
the last few hundred thousand years (freely available on the
internet and not questioned by anyone) you discover that we are
currently experiencing the coldest ‘warm period’ for at least
the last 420,000 years. But with the highest levels of CO2.
If you look at the latest IPCC report they have reduced the
sensitivity of the climate to CO2 dramatically.
If you don’t know what a ‘null hypothesis’ is, why all science
uses it, and why it casts doubt on the global warming theory,
you need to read that book.
Ernest Partridge Responds:
I am familiar with these rebuttals, and unimpressed.
Somewhere among my papers is a response to this rebuttal of
Doran and Zimmerman. However, I am disinclined to go scrounging
for it right now. So let’s put that one aside. It is redundant
in any case, for there are several additional surveys with the
For example, from the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change.”
From the abstract:
we use an extensive dataset of 1,372
climate researchers and their publication and citation data
to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most
actively publishing in the ﬁeld support the tenets of ACC
outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientiﬁc
prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are
substantially below that of the convinced researchers. (
In Environmental Research letters (May, 2013),
“Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in
the scientific literature,” John Cook and associates report
(in the abstract):
We analyze the evolution of the
scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW)
in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944
climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global
climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of
abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW,
0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of
global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW,
97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are
causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we
invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to
abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers
expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated
papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the
consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors'
self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers
expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time.
Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting
the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of
the published research.
As for the infamous Oregon Institute of Science
and Medicine “petition of 30,000,” it has been widely denounced
as shameless concoction. Among the signatories are Mickey Mouse
and Elvis Pressley, and numerous individuals who were not asked
to sign, a few of whom requested in vain that their names be
Media Matters observes:
Several environmental groups
questioned dozens of the names: "Perry S. Mason" (the
fictitious lawyer?), "Michael J. Fox" (the actor?), "Robert
C. Byrd" (the senator?), "John C. Grisham" (the
lawyer-author?). And then there's the Spice Girl, a.k.a.
Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed "Dr. Geri Halliwell"
and "Dr. Halliwell." Asked about the pop singer, Robinson
said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands
of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree
in microbiology and living in Boston. "It's fake," he said.
"When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way
of filtering out a fake," Robinson, 56, said in a telephone
interview from Oregon. A May 1, 1998, AP article reported
that the petition also bore the signatures of "Drs. '[Maj.]
Frank Burns' '[Capt. B.J.] Honeycutt*' and '[Capt. Benjamin
Franklin "Hawkeye"] Pierce'" -- three characters from the hit
only .1% of the individuals on the
list of 30,000 signatures have a scientific background in
Climatology. To be fair, we can add in those who claim to
have a background in Atmospheric Science, which brings the
total percentage of signatories with a background in climate
change science to a whopping .5%. The page does not break
out the names of those who do claim to be experts in
Climatology and Atmospheric Science, which makes even that
.5% questionable... This makes an already questionable list
seem completely insignificant given the nature of scientific
About this petition, The National Academy of Sciences
wrote: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead
scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support
for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review
of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers
experts in the field of climate science.” OISM did not disclose
how many petitions were sent out, and thus what percentage
For much more (with numerous links) see: Greenfyre’s
“The Oregon Petition.” Also:
"scrutinising the 31,000 scientists in the OISM Petition
Project," Skeptical Science.
If this is the quality of Caruso’s argument, then I need read no
Pardon my bluntness, but quite frankly I don’t have time for
this. Or young earth creationism. Or Biblical inerrancy. Or
I’ve shot a full morning on this reply. No Mas!
Thank you for your reply and I’m sorry that it took you so
I would like to remind you that you asked me to ‘spare me the ad
hominem attacks’ and point out that I am an atheist who doesn’t
believe anything without supporting empirical evidence.
I won’t get bogged down in how many scientists support which
argument because ultimately it is a red herring as the consensus
of scientific opinion has often been wrong before. I personally
know a number of skeptical scientists (including two
climatologists) and who turned me into a skeptic.
The argument that many of those scientists are not
climatologists is also a red herring as climatology is applied
physics, combined with stats and computing. I have read many an
article by professors of physics who complain that the climate
models have got some of the basic physics wrong, and by
statisticians who are derisory of the statistical methods that
some climate scientists use.
Computer experts (my area) point out that climatologists have a
fundamental misunderstand of what computer model are capable of.
They don’t tell you anything about the future – they only tell
you about the consequences of your assumptions. You have to
compare the results to empirical evidence and adjust you
assumptions repeatedly before they have any worth.
If you look at the scenarios that the IPCC produced in AR4, CO2
has increased by much more than expected but temperatures over
the last 17 years have not. That means that the models were
inaccurate and the IPCC have revised the sensitivity of the
climate to CO2 downwards as a result.
The position of the ‘sceptical’ community is:
1). Climate change is real and happening. It has been happening
for 4.5 billion years now and if you download the data and graph
it you can see that it is changing more slowly now than many
times in the past.
2). Anthropogenic CO2 contributes to global warming but the
sensitivity of the climate to CO2 is lower than ‘alarmists’
claim. The IPCC has taken a major step towards that point of
3). The currently proposed solutions to ‘global warming’ are
more damaging to the environment than the warming itself. (E.g.
forests are being cut down in Indonesia to grow palm oil for bio
Regarding the alleged funding of skeptics by big oil. Take a
look at the stats for global energy production for 1990 and
today. The global warming theory means a shift away from coal
towards oil and gas (renewables are still irrelevant on a global
scale). The oil and gas industry (globally) are probably the
single biggest beneficiary of this theory. But if you know where
this alleged funding is available I will start a skeptical
website and give you half the funding that they provide.
Science could reasonably be described as the ‘art of
skepticism’. All progress in science has been the result of
someone taking a skeptical look at an established fact.
Anthropologists, archaeologist, geologists, biologists etc can
prove that the climate was warmer during the mediaeval warm
period. I know that there are lots of websites that will cast
doubt on this but go and look at the source data for yourself.
We don’t know what caused previous warmer periods except that it
was natural variation so we don’t know what effect that
variation is having today.
Finally, I will just give you one link
to a comment by an infra-red astronomer who has been unable
to detect the back welling infrared radiation that CO2 should be
causing and now feels able to speak out because he has just
It’s people like you with your McCarthyist anger that are
scaring these people into silence.
There is no need to reply – you are a believer and I am an
empiricist. Without supporting empirical evidence which
disproves the null hypothesis of natural variation and am
unlikely to become a believer.
And Ernest Partridge responds -- Again:
I'll say it again: I am not a climate scientist. So
I rely on the conclusions of those who are. I know my
limits. But I am also an empiricist, and those thousands of
scientists base their conclusions on empirical evidence. If
they did not, their papers would not be published in
legitimate scientific journals.
If 98% of climate scientists affirm AGW, it follows that 2%
do not. You managed to find a few of the two-percenters. So?
As I said in my essay, I am unimpressed by the "scientists
have been known to be wrong" argument. True, science is
imperfect. But scientific error, when corrected, has always
been corrected by better science. Show me the "better
science" that overwhelms the conclusions of the
authors of the 9,137
peer-reviewed scientific papers (vs. exactly one
dissenter) published in 2013. I submit that you have not.
Otherwise, you seem to be hinting at Explanation-1 of my
essay: "a world-wide conspiracy of thousands of scientists"
(including, apparently, the editors and referees of numerous
scientific journals). If so, show me the evidence of this
"conspiracy." If there is no conspiracy, pray tell how those
scientists can all be wrong -- among them, scientists who
are fully aware of the limitations of computer modeling,
statistical analysis, and the other objections that you have
And yes, I am familiar with the Null Hypothesis. I own a
Ph.D in Philosophy. I fail to see the relevance of the Null
Hypothesis to this issue.
With that, I will quit. As I said, I don't have time for
this -- particularly for a point-by-point rebuttal of your
Besides, the tone of our exchange ("McCarthyist anger") is
beginning to get ugly, and I have no taste for that.
Permaculture Research Institute -- Australia)
This article is also a part of the problem. This ‘me, and ‘them’
delusion. Both sides caught in a ‘I am right, you are wrong,’ situation.
By this kind of attitude, all that happens is that both side become more
set in their stance. Trying to fight your oppose into the ground be it
with logic, fists or condemnation creates more anger, more polarisation.
Only by seeing all beings as the same as us, with the same problems,
worries and desires to be happy, can we let go of our desire to prove
something. You may see this as a naïve view, but, there we have if.
Fighting our corner merely causes yet more conflict
Ernest Partridge Replies:
had insisted, “maybe Hitler has a point, lets hear
his side” today we’d all be speaking German and saluting the
While I am sympathetic to the aversion to a “I’m right, you’re
wrong” attitude, can’t we agree that some facts are settled? Among
them: evolution, the shape of the earth, the existence and abject
evil of the holocaust, etc.
And with 98% of climate scientists agreeing that climate is
changing and human activity is primarily responsible, can’t we
include anthropogenic climate change among these settled issues?
There comes a time when further discussion is moot and action is
urgently required. E.g., England in 1940. If the Brits at the time
The “two-sides-to-every-argument” attitude has crippled US
journalism, which now refuses to stand for anything at all.
Of course, if the issue is a live one, by all means let’s hear
both sides. But on some issues, once the evidence is assessed there
remains no grounds for reasonable doubt.
In the face of a growing global emergency, the post-modern
slogan “there are no facts, only opinions” is a recipe for disaster.
Which means higher taxes to
pay for cleaner air or maybe voluntarily cutting our usage of the
combustion engine. Not easy when we humans have been conditioned to
equate making money with making a living. We here in Brasil are taxed
out the ass. Most our tribute goes to line the pockets of politicians,
multinationals. and other shadowy figures .Saw 40 % of American who can
work can´t find work. How will they pay for emissions reduction?
Emissions reduction will be sold to us as a new tax. Btw what about
Fukushima? It is a time bomb that is continuously going off. Fukushima,
Climate Change, DU(Depleted Uranium), Fracking, GMO´s, Vaccines, Wars,
tyranny and a host of other sinister things to control and or kill us
(all Species)…Pick your poison. My feeling is a paradigm
shift is occuring at this moment. Not sure we two leggedS
will see the other side.
If you win the day Ernest, than what? A huge push to press governments
and multinationals to cut emissions of all sorts. How and with what
means. Many of us know the climate is changing. We see it everyday in
front of us. Are we going to create more laws to stop the increase in
Anarchy? Police departments don’t prevent all crime and fire
departments don’t prevent all fires. The solution? Abolish all law
enforcement and fire prevention? Of course not. The rational
response is reform, not abolition. The remedy for bad
government is good government.
Shawn, I share your suspicion and distaste for corrupt
governments. But what is the alternative
As for taxation, in a just political economy, the poor and
middle classes would pay less taxes, and the corporations and the
wealthy would pay their fair share — i.e., much more. In the US, tax
rates on the wealthy and corporations have been slashed as the top
one percent have grabbed more than half of the national wealth.
Restore the tax rates of the Eisenhower era, cut the military budget
in half (leaving the US military still far and away the most
powerful on Earth), and recover for public investment the cash
looted by the plutocrats, and there will be plenty of resources for
reform, repair, research and development.
How likely is that? Not very so long as the corporate
oligarchs remain in power. Sad to say, Shawn, I share your
As Lomba rightly points out this type of ‘I’m right because these people
say so’ serves no purpose other than attempt to polarise people on one
side or the other.
I have no doubt climates change. If they didn’t the world would be
I have no doubt that the sun has the biggest the fastest the most
effective impact on climates around the world. Without it there would be
no climate to change as the planet would be dead.
As for the CO2 is a pollutant argument being pushed on a permaculture
site which would beggars belief. CO2 is required for plant growth that
is not in doubt.
As for the CO2 produced by man how on earth is this measured?
How on earth can it be separated from natures CO2?
What happens when nature ‘burps out’ a larger amount of CO2 than
‘normal’ or locks more CO2 away than ‘normal’?
Why is the head of the IPCC a railway engineer and not a climate
But beyond all this what I cannot understand is why those who believe
that man made carbon dioxide production is changing the climates of the
earth do they not seem to be able to see that the obsession with carbon
dioxide has quite literally knocked the man made pollution problems off
the ‘front page’.
Ernest Partridge Replies:
This “CO2 is necessary for life, therefore there is no climate
crisis” argument is getting tiresome. I’ve heard it time and again,
and it remains as fallacious as ever.
The problem is that it is a half truth. The first part, “CO2
is necessary for life” is the truthful half. And no sane person
disputes it. What follows the “therefore” is patently false.
Of course, CO2 is a good thing. But it is possible to have too
much of a good thing. Water is necessary for human (and all) life,
but you can drown in it. There are numerous chemical elements and
compounds which are necessary for life which, in excess, are
poisonous. E.g., iodine.
Phytoplankton, the foundation of all aquatic life and the
source of half of the atmospheric oxygen, requires CO2. But an
excess of atmospheric CO2 is increasing the acidity of ocean
(carbonic acid) which in turn is killing the phytoplankton. “Too
much of a good thing.”
With no CO2 in the atmosphere, the Earth would be much colder
and there would be no life. With an excess of CO2, primarily the
result of fossil fuel consumption and deforestation, the atmosphere
is heating along with the ocean.
These are scientific facts. Deal with them!
As for the question, “how is atmospheric CO2 measured”? Google
“Keeling Curve” to find your answer.
I’ve read all the comments on this site to date. But with
these three replies, I’ve about shot my bolt.
Many of these comments can be answered by reading my essay and
considering the central question: “How can 98% of active climate
scientists and their mountain of confirming research and data all be
wrong?” Provide me with a plausible and scientifically sound reply,
and I will take notice.
MARCH 18, 2014
-- An Appreciation
Very good, Sir
As a Russian immigrant and an honest America, I salute you.
Thank you. Russia is a great country who has suffered
much over the years from without and from within. My mother is an
escapee from the Bolsheviks.
Russia is a great country that is unfortunate enough to have dictators
with imperial ambitions for most of its history.
Sergey Yesenin: Selected poems
"My heart will rise as throbbing sun,
Then I will say, in whispered shout:
"I'm just like you, O fallen one
I also have now no way out."
On crooked streets in Moscow bright,
My loving dog has fled the rod;
My measly house has stooped in fright:
I am to die, thus deemed my God"
Translation Hadi Deeb"
Well Said, and Valuable. By valuable,
I meant "highly educational." Having lived through the "cold war" and
read books designed to scare the hell out of me when I was a kid, in re
"Communism," this article ties many dots together for me, and gives me a
remarkable glimpse into my own brainwashing. Thanks for posting!
If we could get most people to ignore the power mongering politicians
and their media echo chamber and just communicate with each other across
international boundaries, we could create the kind of world we want.
This essay is but one example of how this can be done.
Bravo. That needed to be said.
McCain's gas station remark is self
Today's evil empire isn't out to get
the communists, it's out to get the Russians themselves. In fact,
historian A Sutton wrote that Wall Street put the bolshies in power
there in order to destabilize Russia.
It's always been about Russia the
Rival power or people. Like Churchill said, WW2 wasn't against Nazism,
it was against the German people per se.
Ditto the bankster's war on Russia and
John Paul Leonard
Very interesting. but I suspect that there are several different kinds
of RUSSIAN life, some less cultured than this. still in all, this is a
And he covered pretty much everything, except that they alone in the
world were willing to give SNOWDEN refuge.
The Smirking Chimp
I don't remember what year it was when some Soviet pilot stole one of
their brand-new, top-of-the-line fighter planes and flew it to Japan,
where he then sought sanctuary.
As I recall, all the top military brass couldn't wait to dissect the
plane and learn something about the then-current state of Soviet arms
technology. I also heard that after examining it, they were stunned by
how well the Soviets had managed to match the performance of our
fighters, but using what we considered outdated, antique technologies.
They specifically mentioned the plane's much greater weight than the US
counterpart, but noted that the extra horsepower it's' engine provided
more than made up for the weight difference. There was a bunch of other
stuff, about the Soviets using cast iron for all sorts of things that
would be titanium or aluminum in our version. The bottom line being that
although it was obvious several of their technologies were years behind
ours, they had compensated for them quite amply, and the plane was
considered by them to be a damn fine piece of engineering, given what
the designers had had to work with, and very much a match for any plane
we were fielding at the time.
I guess they were stunned because it had always been assumed that if the
Soviets fielded a plane that performed as well as one of ours, they were
convinced it could only have been because they stole the technology from
us and reverse-engineered it. What they found apparently told them
otherwise, that they just had really good, competent designers and
engineers who found solutions to some problems that we just hadn't
thought of, because we didn't have to deal with the lack of some items
and materials we just took for granted. Strength through adversity,
Anybody who attempts to label Russia as backward doesn't know much about
Russia, or Russians. They also usually don't take kindly to being
labeled backward, but then again, who would?
Their list of eminent scientists alone is pretty imposing. The fact that
most of them were able to match scientific achievements of the West,
using at the time what was considered here as substandard equipment,
computers, and facilities, might make them BETTER than their western
counterparts, all things considered. Certainly it shows their
determination and ability to focus, if nothing else. I have nothing but
respect for the state of Russian science and technology. They also make
extremely good weapons. But since most of those were ostensibly designed
to be used for the destruction of our military, it becomes hard for the
average American to think of the tech involved in creating them as
innovative or clever, due to an inherent bias people seem to have
against things designed to kill them.
Who'd have thought
Perhaps it was this guy, very interesting
Belenko was born in Nalchik, Russian SFSR in a Ukrainian family.
Lieutenant Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air
Army, Soviet Air Defence Forces based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai. His
name became known worldwide on September 6, 1976, when he successfully
defected to the West, flying his MiG-25 "Foxbat" jet fighter to
Hakodate, Japan. This was the first time that Western experts were able
to get a close look at the aircraft, and it revealed many secrets and
The Smirking Chimp
Putin's tactical genius has allowed Obama to stiff-arm the NeoCons and
Russo-phobes twice already, once on Syria and again on Iran. (Too bad
the Norwegians on the Nobel Committee hate Russians.) I wish the
inveterate Putin-bashing could stop for at least five friggin' minutes.
The USSR fought and largely defeated Hitler along a 2,000-mile front
while the US and Brits were gallivanting around in North Africa. Can we
at least credit the Soviets with the friggin' win in World War II? If
not for that victory, Churchill and his later compatriots might well be
Coalition of the Unwilling
The Smirking Chimp
Yeah! But what do they know about the
Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo, March Madness and the Super Bowl?
Stalin and waiting in line for bread helped sully the Russian mystique
you and I are fascinated by, Ernest, and, I have never read a better
writer than Fyodor Dostoevsky. See: It was we Russians who invented the
world's biggest microchip! This is sour grapes, acknowledging that a
country exists whom we could never best in a war.
The T-34 tank together with Adolph's underestimation of it did as much
to defeat Germany as Eisenhower or Patton, together with their armies.
Its sloping frontal armor was the prototype for all the tanks around the
world that followed it, including the incomparably inferior, ramshackle
Sherman, our mainstay during the war, the one the German 88mm cannon
could shoot right through at point blank range. The T-34 was more
dependable than the panzers and its parts were mass produced and easily
to replace, it started reliably in sub-zero weather.
It was so successful and such a factor in the Big War that the Russians,
dependent on tank warfare, once owned a million of them, to defend the
motherland in the Cold War. The Pentagon has been fixated on fighting
Russian successors to the T-34 in the Fulda Gap, invading the rest of
Europe, discounting the counterinsurgencies we have been fighting and
losing since 1945.
The Smirking Chimp
JULY 25, 2014
Bungling Toward Oblivion: A Letter to my Friends in Russia.
I apologize to our readers for the delay in
posting these replies – three weeks after the appearance of “Bungling
Toward Oblivion: A Letter to My Friends in Russia.” The delay was due to
the abundance of responses and the difficulty in translating many of
them from the original Russian.
These responses below are a selection. Many
replies from Russia have been excluded, in some cases at the urgent
request of the writers. In other instances the Russian writers have
asked that their names be withheld. A couple have expressed no
reluctance in having their names posted. So I have decided to exclude
all names of Russian responders along with identifying personal
Some replies from Russian strangers were no doubt
prompted by a translation of my essay into Russian, posted on the
Russian website “Inosmi.ru.” .
That translation generated numerous replies at the website, not included
here. Readers of Russian may find them interesting. All the responses
below, Russian and American, were received before the Malaysian Airline
disaster of July 17.
The Russian responses to this essay have been
extraordinary. Many of these responses have not only informed me, they
have in some cases changed my mind about Russia today and the Putin
regime. I have much to say about this, and expect to do so shortly in a
Because these are direct and personal accounts by
individual Russians, some of whom are friends of long-standing, I take
them very seriously. The same cannot be said for the American corporate
news media. After all the official lies -- aluminum tubes, uranium ore
from Africa, Saddam's WMDs, Al Gore's "inventing the internet," etc.,
etc. -- I have come to treat the US media with as much skepticism as the
astute Russian treated Pravda and Izvestia during
the Soviet era. And so, I have been inclined to shrug off the new
demonization of Vladimir Putin by the corporate "Ministry of Truth."
But when I read severe criticisms of Putin from my
friends in Russia, and still other Russians with whom I am not
personally acquainted, I take notice. Especially so when may of them
offer their personal opinions at some personal peril.
Sadly, this is not the Russia that I experienced
during my last visit in 1999. It seems that Vladimir Putin has not
totally renounced the attitudes that he acquired during his years with
the KGB. (КГБ: Комитет Государстиенной Безопасности. Translation:
"Department of Homeland Security." Really! Check
I am thus reminded of Bertrand Russell's remark
during his Nobel Prize speech in 1952. "We hate them [the Communists]
because they do not allow liberty. This we believe so strongly that we
have decided to imitate them."
Yet Russia today is not the Soviet Union of
Stalin, and there remains in Russia numerous intelligent and influential
individuals who have briefly tasted personal and political liberty. They
will not once again "go gentle into that night."
So here are a few of those responses, beginning
with the Russians.
RESPONSES IN ENGLISH FROM RUSSIA:
Just received, August 10, 2014. EP.
I am writing to you from the city of Nizhny
Novgorod, Volga Federal District, Russia.
I've read your letter, entitled "Bungling
towards Oblivion". It left me speechless and flabbergasted.
I work in mass-media and frequently listen
to foreign radio stations, skim through what's written in "The
Washington Post", "Time', "The Wall Street Journal" and so on.
And never, never do I [run] into solid arguments in favor of
expelling my country from the international arena. They say,
Putin's Russia has annexed Crimea. They say Putin's Russia are
to blame for the horrendous Malaysian aircraft disaster in
Ukraine. It appears that nobody attempts to put oneself in
another one's shoes, to adopt the "mirror image perspective" you
wrote about. Firstly, there was a referendum in Crimea.
Secondly, NATO's expanding eastward, coming closer to the
Russian borders created causes for concern. It would be strange
to assume that this area of friction would be left unaddressed
by the Russian leader. They themselves provoked Russia and what
followed? Did NATO really think Russia won't respond to its
And then the flight. Are there proofs to
Russia's participation in this? No, there are none. Then what
for are they - politicians, experts, mass-media - scapegoating
my country? Is it propaganda machine or deliberate action of
Western militarists or both? Could it be so that people in our
modern world are too lazy to get behind the curtain of countless
lies? I don't know the answer. Neither I know who is to blame
for the flight and I sincerely hope that it wasn't Russian
military forces. My heart goes out to the families of those who
perished or suffered through this.
Of course, I'm not the likeliest person to
ponder over geopolitical issues, I'm too young and naive...
Anyway. There's one thing that troubles me
more than anything else, the question the answer to which I
failed to find. Why should these torrents of abuse, skepticism,
aggression and hatred be transferred over to the citizens from
both sides? Why should we, Russians and Americans, be mislead
into thinking that we are enemies? It pains me to watch the same
hostility brew in the mind's of some of my acquaintances here in
Nizhny Novgorod. I want to stop this, I don't want war or any
other political and economical confrontation.
I don't want the relations of Russian and
American citizens fall hostage to deadlock political disputes, I
don't want them to be martyred on the altar of the prosperity
for the few.
You were the only person " from out there",
whose thoughts corresponded with my own feelings on the subject.
Indeed, it was like a revelation for me to discover, that there
are people who think differently in the United States of
America. And I thank you for this. Reading your open letter gave
me a hope, that together, applying joint efforts we could
challenge the ongoing catastrophe.
Thank you so very much.
Ernest Partridge Replies:
Thank your for your excellent letter.
Your command of English is awesome. How I envy you as I
struggle each day to learn Russian. So no apologies on your
part are at all necessary.
To begin, I have some encouraging news for you: I am not the
only American with the attitude toward Russia that I
expressed in my "letter to my friends." There are many more,
as noted at the close of this message: Stephen Cohen, Ray
McGovern, Lawrence Wilkerson, Walter Uhler, Robert Parry,
Noam Chomsky, etc. But their words and opinions are excluded
from the corporate mass media here in the US. So it is
understandable that one might conclude that such contrarian
ideas as mine are virtually absent in the US. But look
further and search the independent and progressive media,
and you will find much agreement with the sentiments that
you and I share.
Unfortunately, in that corporate media you will find a
full-scale assault on Vladimir Putin and his government,
reminiscent of the previous attack on Saddam Hussein in
Iraq, preceding the breakout of the war. Now most Americans
will acknowledge that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld justification
for that war was a pack of lies. That fact should seriously
damage the credibility of the media as it now turns its
attention to the next "villain," Russia. But somehow it
On the positive side, the American public for the most part
has no taste for another war, as indicated by the abandoned
attack on Syria.
Turning next to the points in your letter:
Crimea remains a puzzle to me. Annexing territory of another
sovereign country is a very serious matter, even if a large
majority of the territory in question approves. Perhaps
Crimea should be a part of Russia. But if so, the annexation
could have been accomplished more "diplomatically" -- with
treaty negotiations, time for resettlement, reparations,
etc. The worst part of the annexation, was the excuse it
gave to US and western propagandists to demonize Putin and
Russia, leading, of course, to sanctions and, God forbid,
still worse to come.
There is an interesting parallel in US history. Texas was
once a part of Mexico. But then the Texans, largely settlers
from the US, declared independence and subsequently joined
the US. Then a war ensued and the US grabbed half the
territory of Mexico, including the land (California) on
which I reside.
Official US and NATO sources scoff at Russian claims that
they are trying to protect the lives and property of
Russians in Eastern Ukraine. Yet Reagan ordered the invasion
of Granada, and Bush (the elder) ordered the invasion of
Panama, allegedly to "protect American lives." And yet Putin
has not ordered the invasion of Ukraine by organized Russian
troops, which shows wise restraint on his part. One rule for
the US, another for Russia.
About the Malaysian airliner, I am also bewildered. Given
the condition of our media, what am I to believe? My best
guess is that the plane went down due to a tragic error,
just like the Korean airliner in 1983 (Soviet attack) and
the Iranian Airbus in 1986 (US Navy). The contrasting US
press reactions were telling. KAL 1983? "Proves how evil the
Soviets are." Iran 1988? "Tragic error. Those things happen
in war. Get over it." The hypocrisy is stunning.
Of this I am certain: Putin did not order the destruction of
a civilian aircraft. Why would he? What possible advantage?
And consider the enormous prestige cost to Russia and the
propaganda advantage in the west. Say what you will about
Putin, he is not stupid.
About your President, I am once again utterly confused. The
many emails that I have received from Russia -- from close
friends and total strangers -- depict Putin as everything
from a villain ("gangster") on the one hand, to a hero on
the other. What am I to believe? Not our mass media, to be
sure. But who and what? Perhaps you can lead me to some
sources that might enlighten me.
Of this much I am confident: the future of our countries,
and of the world, lie in the hands of young people such as
yourself, in Russia, in the United States and elsewhere. So
I urge you to find other Russians like yourself and help
form a movement of "peace and friendship," and then reach
across the globe to like-minded young people in the United
States and Europe. Below you will find names and links that
might move you in a useful direction. More contacts will no
doubt come to my mind, and when they do I will send them to
Don't despair about the United States. You have many
potential friends and allies here. Seek them out. With your
outstanding language skill, you are well-qualified to do so.
Thank you once again, for your inspiring letter, at a time
when inspiration seems all too rare.
С уважением в мире и дружбе,
[Responding to your specific comments:]
"Blame for the current Russo-American conflict, I
believe, falls on both sides".
That’s exactly the way I think about current events and I
want to prove this statement with one simple example. I admire what Mr.
McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, had done to launch the “reboot”
conception. Moreover, I understand that he is a diplomatic genius, since he
was the author of it, before the mutual relations problems boulder fell off
a cliff. But at the same time I realize he, himself, is now completely on
the Ukrainian side of the conflict, being loyal to the position of Official
Washington and he is a spokesman of propaganda (let me call it “western”
one, but only since his views are probably more common than pro-Russian ones
in the vast majority of European countries and the U.S.). So, what do we
have here? We have smart man (and, again, diplomatic genius!) blame one side
and completely trust the other. And, despite living in Russia for a few
years, he still tells his audience about “Putin’s Dictatorship” and
I just don’t think it’s fair enough: we have a number of
problems, including ones with freedom of speech and mass-media nonsense,
but, for instance, me, myself, would only call Russia “dictatorship” if we
had no Internet, which is pretty much the most important platform for social
and political issues discussions nowadays. I don’t think the Soviet people,
something like 30-40 years ago had anything like that. And, looking at China
and PRK, I don’t think we should only praise technological progress for it.
“The Role of Foreign NGOs.”
That’s a really sad issue. Once I returned [home] I found
that the American Center was closed and I merely can’t get how the
celebration of Halloween, Thanksgiving and, even, American Independence Day
can do any harm to Russia ... For that I blame the Orthodox fundamentalists
and, so-called, “Sober Society”: ultra-patriotic groups of youngsters who
seem to want the Middle Ages to come back.
Bad thing, not a single word about politics though, is
that for the last few years American Center ... had been dying, since most
of alumni either moved to
Moscow, or just didn’t have enough time (wish?) to visit
the events. 10-20 participants for nearly one million [in the area] ... is a
“Historical Ignorance” of Americans.
In this part you write a lot about WWII. I want to tell
you, my attitude towards the Great War has changed a bit for the last seven
years and now I realize how much our Western Allies did to stop the Nazis. I
believe such battles as Invasion of Normandy, operation “Market Garden” the
Battle of Okinawa and, my favorite one, The Battle Of Leyte Gulf (since that
was the largest naval battle in history! Not a single word about it in
Russian WWII History books!) are undeservedly forgotten by Russian WWII
Another thing I should tell you, I guess WWII history is
the most important value that should become basis of new Russo-American
relations. And, from this point of view, Washington’s support of Bandera and
the Ukrainian Insurgent Army neophytes (Ukrainian protesters don’t even hide
that: the strongest groups of them support former collaborationists, you can
also google such organizations as “Right Sector” and “Spilna Sprava”) would
become impossible. As for pro-Russian insurgents, I guess they reconstruct
some “White Army” patterns; Strelkov even looks like some “white general”,
so when somebody tells me about “The Red Alert”, I can only tell him-or-her
not to call The Tzar a Bolshevik commander.
“American policy-makers need an enemy”.
That’s not a problem of the U.S. and Russia only. Such
statement seems to be the brightest implementation of Carl Schmitt’s idea of
“common foreign enemy”. To tell you the truth, despite his pretty close ties
with NSDAP, I appreciate what Carl Schmitt did for political science and
regard him among the most influential minds of the century.
Bad thing, for Europe and the U.S. [if] Russia is the
enemy. As a Russian, I guess our media impose the idea of “spoiled, but not
hostile” Europe and the
“man-we-used-to-be-strategic-partners-what’s-wrong-again” the U.S.
Opposite to it, our media tell us China is “probably the
only friend of Russia”. That’s only my point of view though, some people
might and probably will think differently, but I wouldn’t say that the U.S.
in common Russian News is Number One enemy: just a guy that can’t become a
bit friendlier towards us, as we are trying to do that. And, for sure,
Russian media show bloody and cruel Ukrainian nationalists, but I don’t
think such position is far away from the truth: neither side is justified
and kind during the war.
“Citizens of both countries must take the initiative
Indeed! And that’s what I’m trying to do every day (and
night, talking about the U.S. time) on Facebook. I do believe Americans and
Russians should live in peace and I do appreciate I still have many friends
in the U.S. Same about deabstractionization process and on the issue of
common threats in the changing world. (Direct email)
Just so you know, pals. I haven't met a single person in Russia who wanted a
New Cold War to get started. The Iron Curtain and the Arms Race should only
be the subject of interest for historians.
I do hope current American-Russian tensions don't affect
private relations between the peoples of the U.S. and Russia. Take care,
remember good things and smile at bad ones
Your Russian comrade. (Facebook)
I live in the Crimea. I supported the Maidan before it
began to gain force of neo-Nazis. I voted for the return of the Crimea to
Russia (by the way, none of the people with weapons are not threatened...
). Read the article in the American ( and European ) media. I wondered
[about the] blindness [of the] correspondents, the reluctance to talk about
the situation from different sides (what the media should actually do).
In Crimea, [there are] many refugees from the areas of
combat actions. They accused the Ukrainian government and their stories are
horrific! As you know my opinion about the United States steadily sought
The article [by] Mr. Ernest, Partridge again raises my
opinion about the United States.
Thank You, Mr. Ernest Partridge for the truth. It is a
pity that now we will [find it] much harder to believe in the good
intentions of America.
FROM RUSSIA, TRANSLATED BY GOOGLE, EDITED BY EP.
(My essay was translated into Russian at the
internet site. inosmii.ru with the title: "Неуклюжая забывчивость: Письмо
моим друзьям в Россию." It
can be found here).
I read your article "Bungling Toward Oblivion - A Letter to My Friends
in Russia "and I want to express gratitude for all what you wrote.
I was in the last generation of children who joined the Pioneers. [The
Soviet "Boy Scouts" ed.] I remember all the changes in my country, from
the collapse of the USSR, to the shameful and humiliating nineties: the
drunken president and fear for the future of family and country.
While still a student at the school in
the last years of USSR, we were taught that all people of all nations
are equal and should be respected. We were not taught anything negative,
only a knowledge and a love of humanity.
In the early 1990s, the majority of Russians had a positive attitude
toward America, but then it all quickly went down. The actions of the
United States accurately described in your article reflect all that
happened. But this is history. The US attempted to push around and
control other countries - to take advantage of their weakness. This
applies to both external influence from America, and the internal
response on the part of our government, police, etc. Meanwhile, the
Russian people had not learned how to assert their rights.
I like America and Americans: their patriotism, their diligence, their
desire to develop and build. I like that Americans have created a system
which allows smart, creative, hard-working people to achieve success and
enjoy the fruits of their labor. I like their respect for the law,
property, other people's freedom, for their work and achievements. I
would like to live in America, for there are many good features. It's
very close to me in spirit.
But with all my love for the Americans, American policy scares me, in
particular the incompetence of some American politicians, the stupidity
of their statements, and the terrible consequences of their actions. The
American desire to remain at the head of the world has dreadful
consequences, among them disrespect of other countries including its
loyal allies, suppression of civil liberties in the United States, the
overthrow of undemocratic regimes abroad while ignorant of their
historical contexts and heedless of the possible consequences of these
interventions for their peoples. And there is the hypocrisy. For
example, how can the United States be friends with Saudi Arabia, which
stones women and sponsors terrorism, while at the same time condemns
Russia as "undemocratic?" Why does not the U.S. president impose
sanctions on Saudi Arabia?
Oil, gas, loyalty to the United States, are the only criteria of
"friendship" for America. Among sovereign states, a sense of honor,
fairness, trust, respect is absent. Rhetoric about "democracy," "freedom
of speech," "human rights" is merely another type of weapon employed
instead of tanks and bombs, against countries with which it would be too
expensive to fight with these conventional weapons.
Thus the enlistment of the press and television in this bloodless
"warfare." I read a lot of the Western press in translation and what
they write shocks me. Only lies, dirt, anger, disrespect toward Russia
and other countries with rival power. Without respect no person or
country can understand the other side, perceive conflicts from their
point of view and seek compromise and accommodation. Pride kills.
Unfortunately, the Russian press and television are no better. They have
become impossible to see and read. Among my friends and colleagues are
educated and intelligent people who no longer watch and read this
nonsense. But most people are very easily convinced by official
propaganda, and it is extremely difficult to convince them otherwise.
How sad that so few recognize with this influence, forestalling for many
decades mutual respect among peoples. I would love to be wrong here.
I very much hoped that U.S. President Obama would see and act above the
propaganda. I thought this young and intelligent man might bring into
the relationship between our two countries trust, mutual respect and
peace. But unfortunately this did not happen.
Regardless of what one thinks of Putin, it is simple to compare his
speech and Obama's speech. Obama speaks in the abstract as if he were
not the president of a real country, but rather a Hollywood actor in a
film about the attack on an alien planet, playing the president and
inspiring the nation to a heroic victory. In his speeches there are few
facts; only bravado about the great and exceptional nation. Likewise
almost all U.S. policy-makers up to the highest ranks. They easily blame
others and never will blame themselves, even though the whole world
recognizes their mistakes. Black and white. Putin is also responsible as
he confirms all the facts rasied by his opponents, while not always able
to present arguments against them.
I'm not a fan of Putin, nor am I an outspoken opponent. Every position
has pros and cons. I am for freedom and a democratic future for all of
our neighbors and our country. I am strongly opposed to military
operations; war always brings sorrow. I am for the eradication of
corruption at all levels. I believe in science and in virtuous and
I dreamed that the forces of Russia and America would come together to
tackle the truly important and interesting challenges for humanity:
exploration of the cosmos, science, medicine, ecology, safety.
I was hoping it would all be realized in my lifetime -- that I would see
it with my eyes. But I can already see that it will not. Mankind has
learned how to create technically complex things and to manipulate
atoms. But when it comes to the development of mutual understanding,
communication and global thinking mankind is still in the dark ages.
Now it remains for me to believe that conditions will improve when a new
generation of young Americans come to power; that these educated young
people will not be subject to the old stereotypes and thus be able to
build a new world based upon mutual respect of people, interests and
opinions. That same hope applies to Russia.
And I hope that journalists, especially mass media and popular
television, become aware of the responsibility that they bear toward the
public, and that they will examine world's problems impartially with
respect to all sides of global conflicts. Journalists should be citiznes
of the world, treating all peoples with honor and dignity.
There are, to be sure, bad conditions and evil people. But neither the
America or Russia people in general are evil. The world's problems are
created by historical, political, private reasons. If we are to resolve
these problems, we must be willing to negotiate and communicate.
Sanctions will not resolve these problems. Sanctions humiliate and
create hostility, dismantling decades and generations of constructive
dialogues and positive perceptions.
If you look at the sky, there are an infinite number of stars, galaxies,
planets . There's so much unknown and interesting. Let's negotiate and
implement the dreams of science fiction.
Once again thank you for what you are doing!
(Name withheld at the author's request).
Read a translation of your article, I agree with you - the dialogue is
needed, especially among ordinary people. I remember Posner - Donahue, it
was a real journalism. As a psychologist, I am reminded of the phenomenon
LyaPera, the closer we get to each other the less and less manifest
stereotypes about each other.
I remember eight years ago when my friend and I clearly believed that the
Cold War was over, and that the time had passed when the US could be
regarded as an enemy. We believed then that we could and should be allies
with the United States, a country with a developed democracy. We actively
argued with fellow students who did not think so.
Yesterday I realized that my attitude toward the United States in recent
years, only worse. I did not even notice how your country became perceived
as an enemy. Today I read your letter and realized that all is not lost even
at the state level.
What changed my opinion? I do not think it was the propaganda, which
certainly exists in every country. I am quite smart enough to be able to
read alternative views, including those from abroad. I changed my opinion
because of the behavior of the U.S. in the international arena. The war in
Afghanistan seemed to me to be reasonable. I even thought it was a gift for
Russia, close to the border of a developing a terrorist state that could
bring big problems in the future. I even thought that the U.S. was
completing our work in the Eighties, although the historical background was
different. But now that the war is over, the new world did not come. There
was damage, but no creation to follow.
Then there was Iraq, the support of the Arab Spring, then Ukraine. And one
cannot forget the tragic events earlier in Yugoslavia when inept politicians
actually made two enemies of the people - Albanians and Serbs -- which could
have been avoided. So more and more it became clear that the U.S. is trying
to impose uni-polarity, values (??), democracy, as she understands it.
Against this background, the result was a disruption of the country,
anarchy, brought about by the major lobbying oligarchs of the United States.
I am not well acquainted with the internal problems in your country and I
can not on this account make any conclusions. I'm just describing what I saw
in the international arena.
I read a book by the creators of Google, which describe the future of
technology, but even there a lot of attention is paid to politics including
the influence of the United States on other countries. The book discusses
how new technologies are helping people fight for their rights, as they are
able to support the revolution. It was amazing. Because this issue is such a
big concern even for politicians, I want to ask whether, through this aid to
other countries, the United States might become a policeman to the entire
At the same time I have heard the active criticism that we have not held
elections and that we are not a nation of laws. But to my eyes the election
system of the USA is also imperfect and more like a show. Yet no one is
instructing the United States as to how it should be changed. There is a
constant pressure and attempts to dominate the culture and values, and to
teach public administration and economics. But Russia in the nineties passed
this way with a pseudo-liberalism, when we tried to instill uncorrected
attitudes, and established a traditional Western ideal of democracy. In this
connection, I recall a book by the first President of Singapore, where he
wrote that while he respects the United States and its ideals and even
shared some of them, but did not believe that it applies everywhere. And so
he pleaded with Americans to consider the opinion of the inhabitants of the
country, and not to impose opinions from the outside. Singapore is not a big
player in the global political arena. But because Russia is a big player,
such impositions from the outside are impermissible.
Yes, we have an imperfect society with a lot of internal problems. here is
also in the international arena a perception of increasing Russian ambition.
There are no illusions about crime, corruption and economy problems in
Russia, although in recent years this is changing for the better. We are
waiting still a long road to progress. Our response to the Ukrainian crisis
is the result of a defense mechanism. If Russia is perceived as a foe, any
misstep will be be blamed on Russia. If civilians are killed, this will be
regarded as the fault of Russia. In fact, any escalation of the conflict
will result in sanctions against our country no matter who inflames the
situation. So what should we do? Sit and wait until the question of Ukraine
is decided to the advantage of the United States? This is the impression I
have now, I thought quite differently eight years ago.
Refugees come to our city from Ukraine They tell of such horror which does
not even appear on official Russian television, nor anywhere else. They talk
about the horrors of the National Guard, about the atrocities of official
troops, about the tragedy of young Ukrainian soldiers called up for war. And
it's not propaganda. These are real people who saw everything with their own
eyes. Some of their stories may be exaggerated. Shock and horror can have
that effect. But still the overall essence is clear .
Eight years ago, I honestly believed in American justice, but now I see in
the U.S. an interest to arrest people all over the world, from third
countries be deported to the United States. Your country for some reason
felt that its laws apply to other countries, territories, and citizens of
other states. Eight years ago I believed that the media was fair. I can see
how events are served in the Western media, it is not the ideal of freedom
of speech, which I had seen before. Eight years ago I believed the U.S. was
a model of democracy. I did not idealize the country, but believed that it
was fighting for the opportunity to allow different opinions and to defend
of the rights of the people. But now I realized that the multi-polar world
does not need the United States. The U.S. believes that it does not need
other opinions. But the differences among the world's cultures is beautiful,
and the world would be better if throughout the Earth various attitudes,
beliefs, norms and principles were tolerated. This variety is primarily the
I frequently watch Vladimir Posner on TV. I understand that his view has
also changed. He no longer believes that the U.S. is a guarantor of
democracy. I could be wrong, but I think he has also begun to see that the
United States at this stage acts in its own interests, which means
specifically in the selfish interests of the oligarchic elite.
But you know what I'm most afraid of now? I think that because of this
tension, it will become clear that the leaders of the United States will
have no use for a multi-polar world. Instead, through sanctions and other
pressures, your country will seek unconditional world domination, followed
by similar objectives by the leaders of Russia -- despite our previous
attempts to promote a multi-polar world.
I don't know if there will be a new cold war, but instead of multi-polarity
our countries will compete for dominance, trying to impose their values (??)
on other countries as multiculturalism is forgotten. In this situation, of
course, no one will win. Far better that we work together rather than
compete, as we both face very difficult and common environmental problems.
So here is a view from Russia on global issues, addressed to the United
States. It my personal opinion, but I think it will be shared by many. In
recent years I have come to believe that the American people can not
actually change things democratically in their own country. In fact,
everything is orchestrated and arranged. And so now, when the world is ruled
by the Internet, we have unlimited access to information. Even so, I feel
that we profoundly misunderstand each other.
I have written too much about your country and too little about our own. But
I wanted to show how things are seen from our perspective, and to say that,
indeed, you are right in many ways. So do not consider it as a blanket
criticism. This is a look at the U.S. from here in Russia. I would very much
like to change these conditions and at least to return them to how they were
eight years ago.
I read your article "Bungling Toward Oblivion - A Letter to My Friends in
Russia" translated into inosmi.ru.
I am Russian and I love Russia. I clearly remember the humiliating 90-years.
Taking into account the promotion of tolerance as a child, interested in
politics and not listening only to TV. After the collapse of the Soviet
Union in 1998, I formed a persistent contempt for American politics,
culture, film, government, arrogance and contempt for other nations and
peoples. Moreover, these findings were not based on our propaganda, but
rather were based on the actions of your government. These conclusions [led
me to] a website, inosmi.ru, which publishes translations of periodicals
from around the world. But this does not apply to the American people who,
for the most part, are fooled by the government and the media. The same
thing is happening in Russia.
I was surprised to read your article. I wanted to write and express my
appreciation for your words. I believe none of us wants war. But believe me,
it is hard to understand when a "democracy" moves on NATO bayonets.
Once again thank you for your point of view. It is so rare in the U.S. media
to hear a reasonable opinion.
Regards from Russia
Ernest Partridge replies:
I believe that I can offer you some small
reassurance. The American public does not want war, and is very
suspicious of those among us who seem eager for war. Following the
disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the outright lies by the US
government and media that led to these wars, most Americans are
reluctant to start new military adventures. In addition, many Americans
have not forgotten the good feelings toward Russia that followed the
fall of the Soviet Union -- glasnost and perestroika..
In short, many Americans share the views that I expressed in my essay.
The bad news is that the media propaganda in the US these days is
poisonous -- particularly as it regards Vladimir Putin and his
government. And this worries me very much.
As I wrote in my essay, peace-loving people of both of our countries
must resist this drift toward a new cold war. They must make themselves
heard by their governments, and reach across the globe in cooperation
with "the other side."
Your letter, and others like it that I recently received, give me hope.
The media and our leaders provoke despair. Better to focus our attention
С уважением в мире и дружбе,
FROM THE UNITED STATES:
Now and then I will read something that gives me hope in
the face of the insane rhetoric of exceptionalism. Such is your recent
'letter to the Russian people.' It articulates a well considered set of
thoughts engendering hope that sane heads my prevail.
Then, I consider our imperialist/exceptionalist ideology
... one often masked by rhetoric that appears/sounds pleasing ... stemming
from the very first Europeans to come to the Americas. Even the continent
was named after a European ... and indigenous peoples faced a holocaust that
makes the Hitlerian destruction of Jews appear mere child's play.
And, with that second thought in mind, I go back to
rethink what I thought might give me some hope ... and I end up saying:
perhaps the best thing for life is for us to annihilate ourselves so the
next iteration of life on this blue orb of ours can try again to create a
world sans what we call sentient
Rarely a genuine kindly article penetrates the logic-filled, belief-driven
pieces re the U.S./Russia/Ukraine/Eu situation that usually comes over
cyberspace. This letter to Russian friends by Ernest Partridge is one of
those well thought out pieces that delights the soul by addressing the
current U.S.-Russia challenges in a quieter and more perspective manner.
Even more so this letter calls us to remembrance of the uncanny delight we
find in "the other" -- the right-hemispheric music, poetry, and philosophic
minds of our Russian friends and the overall Russian experience. Bear with
this long piece and read it to the end, it will give you much to ponder and
sooth your day. I send it for much-needed relief for us all.
Sharon Tennison, Editor: Russia:
Other Points of View
From OpEd News
First I would like to mention that it seems to me that
you repeat to your Russian friends things that they are already told. I am
pretty sure that Russian Television covered all the American sins that you
You mentioned their duty to expose the "Russian
mistakes/sins", are you aware of some and could you share them?
In my opinion it is wrong to speak about "strategic
interests". The country's interests should end at their border. This
basically boils to a militaristic "interest" that ends in meddling in other
To somehow compare NATO with the "Western Armies" is
wrong. What about concerns of Russian neighbors who were all targets of
Russian invasions? Should Turkey be worried since "Russian Armies" for
centuries pushed the Ottoman Empire in a series of wars? This history, the
way you present it, smells "religious" and "ethnic".
I sure hope that Putin is better than I think he is but
would like to see some evidence. I would like cooperation with Russia and a
better Russia for Russians too. For them to become more authoritarian,
militaristic and police controlled is a very serious danger.
Reply to B Falcon:
“What about concerns of Russian neighbors who were all
targets of Russian invasions?”
When you talk about the Ottoman Empire, I want to note
that she constantly waged wars of conquest. Russia has never waged wars of
conquest. However, I would not now became immersed in the study of history.
Can be of the same mind.
Let's look at just the past quarter century. When there
is no "evil empire", "spiteful" communists and KGB. Who now leads the
ongoing war? Who killed more people? Who ever took the sole right to appoint
separatists (in Ukraine) and the freedom fighters (in Yugoslavia)?
Reply to rus_programmer:
Don't get into history, you don't seem to understand it.
What "the freedom fighters (in Yugoslavia)"?
As for Ottoman Empire, it waged wars of conquest and then
Russia took some of those territories by "never waging wars of conquest"?
I am really wondering how you explain the huge territory
of Russia without conquest.
I may not have heard of plebiscite in Siberia to join
R. B Falcon
If you do not recognize the evil of the Ukrainian govt
and Pro- Nazi politics of Obama , your love of your Russian friends means
nothing. We all love our friends from afar. It is time to help them. How do
you help them? How do you tolerate that your govt. helps the most evil force
Absolutely brilliant! A whiff of sanity in an air poisoned by lies and
It is ill-considered to criticize such an important article. It should be
widely disseminated. I have one niggling thought, however: the suggestion
that a reformed NATO should be brought into the UN is correct, but I believe
it should actually become the UN's 'army'. And yet, the continuation of
military action contradicts the eloquently stated need to save the planet
from over-heating. I don't know how much military action contributes to the
rise in global temperatures, but it's probably considerable. When European
Parliamentarians are criticized for regularly flying from Brussels to
Strasbourg instead of taking the train, should we not be thinking about the
impact of warfare? It's obviously wishful thinking to imagine that humanity
is going to do away with war in order to save the planet, but as all good
men and women increasingly campaign for that to happen, I would like to see
NATO become, mainly, the UN's emergency task force.
Finally, I cannot resist mentioning that during my
previous stay in the US in the seventies, I began a book whose title was
U.S.-S.U.: A Mirror Image. The first chapter was devoted to a critique of
the US media......
Reply to Deena Stryker:
The U.S. Department of Defense is the worst polluter on the
planet. This 2010 article at Project Censored details the extensive
environmental damage the Pentagon is responsible for.
"Environmental journalist Johanna Peace reports that
military activities will continue to be exempt based on an executive order
signed by President Barack Obama that calls for other federal agencies to
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Peace states, "The military
accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government's energy demand."
Outstanding letter. I very much hope this gets the circulation it deserves.
Keep it coming.
I agree with Mark's comments. BUT since this saga began, nowhere have I
witnessed aggressive action emanating from Russia or Putin, in fact the
restraint exhibited by Putin is to be admired. I question why the author has
omitted to mention the fact that the U.S. is ENTIRELY to blame for these
events, published at RSN, America's Staggering Hypocrisy in Ukraine By
Robert Parry, Consortium
And at the Times Published at Information clearing house.
Crimea Self-Determination Amid Western Law of the Jungle By Finian
Cunningham March 15, 2014 -
And finally, how come it was OK, to split up Yugoslavia
and create Bosnia under the exact same conditions ? Are we expected to
believe the author of this article is unaware of these discrepancies ?
Reply to Eddy Schmid:
Yes, I think who has a lot has to do a lot. Mr. Partridge
claims to have a vision: then he has to show his position on the issues.
BTW I personally think that Putin is too restrained....
But just IMO...
Obama is getting us into serious unneeded trouble. I suspect it is for his
corporate sponsors to facilitate funneling taxpayer money to the filthy rich
and thereby increasing his speaking fees if he leaves office in 2016.
I never thought I would see the day when the Russian
leader was the reasonable one.
Obama and Kerry goad Russia and China to war. These
countries have the two biggest militaries outside of the USA.
We lost Vietnam, or at least left with our tails between
our legs, Iraq has dragged on until we destroyed the country and we left,
now we go back, I guess because we left something unrefined At least we got
revenge for 911 (What! they didn't do 911.
It was our allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Never mind)
Afghanistan seems to be never ending with no successes,
no goals and no reason that I can see for being there. Oh, yes, the Taliban!
Tell me again why we are at war with the Afghani Taliban. OK, I'll let you
have a few hours to ponder this and maybe you will have time to make up a
To protect their freedom, they have weapons of mass
destruction, we have to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here
and "they hate us for our freedom" have already been used and you can't use
America, what the Hell happened?
Glad to see that in America there are sane people! In
Russia many people read the American press and alas about sanity most
authors have great doubts.
The foregoing thoughts have much in common with my
thoughts. I just think that no new Cold War is not. In the United States is
only the continuation of the old war. Many influential people are not bad
P.S. Small tip: this long article none of your countrymen
will not master. Among the Russians and everything is clear. Write shorter,
but with link to confirms the facts.
From The Smirking Chimp
An Excellent Commentary!
For anyone wishing to understand the mechanics of the
seemingly inexorable slide into Cold War II and the reasons why this should
be avoided at all costs, the above article is a must-read.
While I am pleased to note that many individual points
expressed therein have also been individually expressed here on Smirking
Chimp in the past on various threads, this is the first time (to my
knowledge), that this particular subject has been so coherently addressed
History can only be hindered from repeating itself if we
learn from it with empathy and understanding.
This article is a step in that direction.
The core reason for US involvement in the UKRAINE
I did not take the time to carefully read this lengthy
article. PARTRIDGE was obviously writing to satisfy the image he has of
himself as a writer, not so much to educate the reader about RUSSIA.
And then one reads this quote: “Be assured that no
Americans, including the “military-industrial complex,” want a “hot” war.”
Maybe he means a “war with RUSSIA.” he didn’t elaborate.
as a generalization it is totally false. perhaps he can’t be as openly
cynical as those of us willing to admit to some pretty sad stuff, like the
LIHOP version of 9-11. the reason for this new “war on terror” being the
ending of the cold war with the soviets that had justified our massive
Unlike the cold war, which could not generate new
generations of communists as an ongoing threat (we tried best we could with
NAM,) the war on terror is designed purposely to spawn terrorists.
considering the culture of vengeance in the mideast, so far this has been
PARTRIDGE failed to include perhaps the core reason for
American involvement in the UKRAINE, which is, same as in IRAQ, to prevent
oil from being traded without benefit of the USD. propping up the dollar at
all costs is our strategic military objective.
Limiting RUSSIA’S influence in Eurasia serves this
objective, it keeps those ring countries dependent on the dollar, mainly
military aid, where a few billion dollars which are pocket change to the US,
“butters a lot of bread” in a small country. and prevents them from biting
the hand that feeds them. this keeps the dollar in circulation and russia on
What a brilliant and well articulated post, thank you.
The first step in a long process is for Americans, of all
stripes, to understand this point: "The American news media, once the envy
of the world, has recently deteriorated to a condition in which it can no
longer be trusted as a source of international news, least of all of news
and opinion about Russia. This is because the news media, a vast majority of
which is owned by just six corporate conglomerates, has in effect become the
propaganda arm of the U.S government and of the oligarchs and corporations
which, in effect, own that government."
Propaganda is a very effective tool, and right now it is
crushing America - just see all the fools (on both sides of the aisle).
"Obama is a socialist", huh?) who think that there is a
difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the perilous
direction this country is headed.
Just a Few Comments:
sat next to one of these “free market fundamentalists” on a flight back from
Moscow, and I was appalled by his recitation of what he “told” the Russians,
with scarcely a word about what he had learned from the Russians.”
And not a thing has changed since then. Now we have the
US Secretary of State careening around the globe, arrogantly handing out
instructions to other nations on how they should conduct their affairs.
Quote: “ .
. . perhaps Crimea should rejoin the Russian Federation. My concern is how
this was accomplished. It strikes me that it was too sudden. These things
should take time, and should involve diplomatic negotiations and some treaty
compensation with Ukraine.”
It would have been nice if the fate of the Crimean people
could have been decided in a nice, academically-paced and leisurely process.
Unfortunately if that had been attempted, then the people of Crimea would
even now be dying under the same Nazi onslaught that is even now attempting
to exterminate the Russian-speaking and Jewish populations of Eastern
Ukraine. The people of Crimea understood that very well, as the Nazi
terrorists who seized power in Kiev made those intentions perfectly clear in
numerous public pronouncements.
Americans are fully aware that they were lied into a disastrous war in Iraq.
Today, the same individuals that led us into that war are scorned, even in
the corporate media.”
Actually, those same individuals have been brought on
board by the corporate media, to make solemn pronouncements about the
justifications for the US and EU attempt to destroy what was left of
Ukranian democracy and steal everything of value in that desperately
Everything you say is supported by numerous bits and pieces of the foreign
media. I only wish that American bullying of home-made enemies abroad could
be handled in a 6-step program. I can see no circumstances where the media
will surrender to public interests or their own ethics. The US is widely
considered to have the most uninformed citizens on earth, which I seriously
doubt will influence the architects of blowback or the categories of their
Quote: “The US is widely
considered to have the most uninformed citizens on earth, which I seriously
doubt will influence the architects of blowback or the categories of their
The U.S. has not even begun to see what the blowback will
mean to them. The architects couldn’t care less and the victims, when it
occurs, will no longer be around to complain.
December 8, 2013
A Letter to Richard Dawkins:
Dear Prof. Dawkins,
I have just watched "Richard Dawkins teaching evolution
to religious students." on You Tube.
As expected, it was a brilliant performance. I was
especially impressed by your patience and engagement with the students.
But why why should I expect anything less from Richard
Dawkins? Your are in my opinion, and that of your professional peers, a
legend and an intellectual giant.
And so I fully agreed with 98% of what you had to say.
I would like to discuss that remaining 2%. It pertains to
the question (25 minutes into the discussion) which was something like this:
"If evolution is just a theory, why should we take it to be a fact?"
Unfortunately, this is the very challenge that is routinely raised by
creationists throughout the realm. Unfortunately, you took it at face value.
Philosophers of science (and I am convinced many
scientists who reflect on the question), deal with the question quite
This, I submit, is the correct response: " the word
'theory' as used by science, has a distinctly different meaning than
'theory' as used in ordinary 'man-in-the-street discourse."
In ordinary discourse, "theory" means a "hunch" or (as
the scientist would say) "an hypothesis." This sense of "theory" therefore,
means a "proto-fact" which, with additional evidence, may "grow up" to be a
"real fact." So when you answered the student that when the evidence for the
theory evolution is so strong that it might as well be called a fact, well I
surely cannot disagree so long as we understand that we are using the common
discourse meaning of "theory." Even so, we are edging dangerously close to
that trap, "evolution is just a theory, not a fact."
But I insist that the philosopher of science (and
scientists) uses the term "theory" very differently. Theories never "grow up
to be facts," because facts are ingredients of theories. The notions
that "theories are baby facts" commits a category error, like Gilbert
Ryle's: "I see the dormitories, the classrooms and the library, but where is
Theories (qua science) are elegant logical "models"
composed of facts, stipulated definitions (the vocabulary), and laws, all
woven into elegant structures with wide-ranging entailments and empirical
implications (thus confirmable). For example, the theory of relativity
explains, and is proven by, such diverse phenomena a particle accelerators,
atomic explosions, clocks in space ships and astronomical observations. And
evolution explains, and is proven by, DNA, fossils, historical geology,
species distribution, comparative anatomy -- well, you know about all that
far better than I do.
Bottom line: Theories are not proto-facts; facts are
ingredients of theories.
The bumper sticker on my car puts it very well:
"Evolution is just a theory; kinda like gravity."
Talk to some of your Oxford Philosopher friends and see
if they don't agree with me.
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D
Retired philosopher -- Environmental Ethics.
CF my "Creationism and the Devolution of the Intellect"
(begin sixth paragraph).