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Post Why Would China and Russia be Interested in Venezuela?
Created by John Eipper on 09/23/18 11:28 AM

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Why Would China and Russia be Interested in Venezuela? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 09/23/18 11:28 am)

I am very grateful for Timothy Ashby taking precious time from his busy schedule to read my book God for Atheists and Scientists.

Since it was published I have been forced to expand, explain and justify many of the few controversial points made in the book, including some great discussions we had recently in this Forum. It turned out that apparently I have so far been the greatest beneficiary from writing this book and I continue to learn from it. I hope Timothy finds it interesting and shares his thoughts with me.

Regarding the situation in Venezuela, it is hard to believe that countries like Russia and China would be willing to invest their capital in a corrupt, social/political basket case. Nevertheless, presently I will accept Timothy's assertion that "the clear cause of this once thriving country's catastrophic economic and social decline is the 'Bolivarian' (populist/socialist) policies of the Chávez and Maduro administrations, which have destroyed the free market and created unprecedented misery for millions of Venezuelans of all classes." For sure I know that without free markets, neither Socialism nor Capitalism would work.

Regarding Winston Churchill, I have great admiration for his rhetoric, command of the English language, and great leadership during WWII. Without him I often think the British Empire would not have survived so long in its different forms. On the other hand, just as most great leaders, he committed some great mistakes which cost England, its allies, or mankind dearly. One of his most hurtful mistakes for mankind was ignoring FDR's attempt to spread democracy and social justice throughout the world after WWII. Instead, Churchill cynically partnered with Stalin and carved out the world into their spheres of influence.

Further, I strongly disagree with Churchill's statement, "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." It is one-sided, with a British Empire perspective, and it is wrong because without social justice, law and order applicable to all, democracy, and free markets, we by now should know that either Socialism or Capitalism will fail. Even under a criminal like Stalin the USSR made great strides against failure, ignorance, and helped defeat the supposedly invincible Fascist Nazis.

Last, envy has nothing to do with ideology.  It is a common condition shared by all humans.

JE comments:  In the Churchill-FDR-Stalin triumvirate, wasn't Churchill more suspicious of "Uncle Joe" than FDR was?  Nigel Jones, this is a question for you.

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  • Austrian Revanchism in Italy (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/24/18 3:27 AM)
    Generally I very much like the WAIS posts of Tor Guimaraes, even if I do not accept his concept of God.

    However, now I have some views on more earthly matters.

    In my opinion Russia and China have a great interest in placing a foot in Venezuela, even if it is expensive. This also applies elsewhere in Central and South America.

    About Churchill, he strongly wanted WWII. Officially he won it, but he lost its empire, replaced by a smarter and more modern Empire. The British politician did not seriously read Mein Kampf and did not understand Hitler's dream: a friendly triumvirate of UK, Germany and Italy. Note that to achieve this, Hitler was the only past or present German or Austrian not to make a fuss about the Alto Adige/Sud Tyrol. Note that now, the new Austrian government wants to give to the German or Ladino-speaking inhabitants of said Italian province an Austrian passport. Why did these peoples want to go to the Third Reich in 1939 but then want to return in 1945?

    It is always reported that Hitler followed literally what he wrote, but the case of friendship with England is somehow never mentioned.

    Churchill had a good knowledge of Stalin and was ready (though his Army was not) to go to war against the Soviets already on 1 July 1945. FDR and his entourage were prepared to give, and effectively gave, Stalin whatever he wanted. Churchill during a discussion of what to do with the Third Reich objected to the killing of 50,000 POW German officers. FDR did not, even if later someone said that it was some kind of joke. But consider for instance that of the 90,000 Germans taken at Stalingrad, only 5000 returned.

    About the entourage of FDR we may remember the nice fellows Hans Morgenthau and Theodore Nathan Kaufman and their plans to finally solve the German problem.

    Anyway I still believe that the nation which was the most defeated by friends first and then by enemies and then again by friends was Poland. Italy and Poland never went to war against each other, and although it is now forgotten, Italy in 1939 helped Poland as far as possible. Nor did it not stop at the borders the many Jewish or Catholic Poles that entered in Italy to find refuge. This act enraged Hitler. In Italy there was a racial law against the majority of Jews (a good portion were not considered to be under the jurisdiction of this ignominious law).  This was a purgatory for the Italian Jews but a paradise for the Jews coming from Poland, Austria and Germany and whose entrance in the democratic nations of the West was denied.

    The foreign Jews were supported by the officially recognised Delasem, economically supported by the American Jewish Associations, and when Italy entered in war against the US the money continued to arrive through Switzerland.

    Oh by the way, the Polish troops of the great General Anders were a special case, considering that at Bologna on 21 April 1945 Italian communist partisans and the soldiers of Anders were ready to shoot at each other. Real nice fellows, Anders's men!

    Many Poles did not want to return to the communist motherland and settled permanently in Italy. If you go on Facebook you will find the "Associazione delle Famiglie dei Combattenti Polacchi in Italia," an organization that remains active.

    JE comments:  Churchill was a hard-liner towards Nazi Germany from the outset, but the war was already raging before he became PM.  Eugenio, are you saying that WC "strongly wanted" the war because he didn't sue Hitler for peace in the summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone?

    Austria's Kurz indeed is playing revanchism at Italy's expense.  He must be too young to understand that this is a dangerous game.  See below:


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  • Churchill and FDR: Who Was More Suspicious of Stalin? (Nigel Jones, UK 09/25/18 8:04 AM)
    John Eipper asked on September 23rd, "wasn't Churchill more suspicious of Stalin than FDR?"

    The answer is of course "yes."

    Churchill was happy to suspend his lifelong aversion to Socialism/Communism to ally with Uncle Joe in 1941 against their common enemy Hitler. But once the war was won, he did what he could to stem the advance of Stalinism in (for example) Greece. And he famously roused the West against Communism in his Iron Curtain speech at Fulton.

    FDR, by contrast, a typical Leftist Bollinger Bolshevik, and already mortally ill at Yalta, allowed Uncle Joe to walk all over him and his regime was honeycombed with Stalinists like Alger Hiss.

    As for Tor Guimaraes' apologia for Stalinism--that it successfully resisted Hitler's invasion--this is utter nonsense. Any other regime would have done the same more successfully.

    Indeed, Stalin's insane decapitation of the Red Army's leadership and his refusal to believe the obvious signs that Hitler was about to invade cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Russian defeat was only averted by the arrival of winter. Stalin was in this respect an idiot as well as a criminal.

    JE comments: Sorry, I have to say it. Any other regime would have resisted Hitler more successfully? The French, alas, did not. (I was unfamiliar with the term "Bollinger Bolshevik."  It's equivalent to a Champaign Socialist--Bollinger being a brand of bubbly.)

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    • Would the Tsars Have Better Resisted Hitler? (Nigel Jones, UK 09/26/18 4:19 AM)
      John E misunderstood my remark of September 25th. I meant that any other Russian regime--eg, the Tsarist regime--would have resisted Hitler more successfully than Stalin did.

      The basic problem being that it's impossible to conquer and occupy Russia because of its vast size and difficult climate. But Stalin certainly helped Hitler by his paranoid purges of his generals and refusal to recognise the obvious signs of impending invasion.

      JE comments:  This is a fascinating What If?  Would Tsar Alexei have better rallied his Empire against the German onslaught?  His father did not do so well in 1914.  My first thought is that stopping Hitler was as much a matter of political will as military power.  France is the counter-example:  it had ample military capabilities, but none of Stalin's willingness to sacrifice tens of millions of his citizens.

      Cameron Sawyer addresses this very topic.  Read on.

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    • Could the Tsars Have Defeated Hitler? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 09/26/18 4:33 AM)
      I think it's actually more complicated than what Nigel Jones wrote (September 25th).

      I agree with him that the madness of Stalin's purges of the 1930s, which indeed, as Nigel wrote, decapitated the Soviet military leadership, had a devastating effect on the effectiveness of the Soviet military, to such an extent that the war was almost lost by December 1941.

      But the Soviet economic system, while it impoverished ordinary people, concentrated capital in the hands of the state in a way which made it possible to build up huge military production capacity, capacity which far exceeded that of Nazi Germany in almost every category. It was this productive capacity which won the war, more than any other factor, and it is doubtful whether a continuation of the Tsarist regime would have been able to match this productive capacity.

      So the real picture is complex: on the one hand, the Soviet system, especially, Stalin's dictatorial and mentally unbalanced leadership of it, brought the country to the brink of defeat and destruction. On the other hand, the Soviet system also won the war with its huge capacity to produce weapons and other war materiel.

      Before someone jumps in with Lend-Lease--that was surely another crucial factor in the Soviet victory, in the absence of which perhaps the Soviets could not have won. But Lend-Lease accounted for only about 10% of the materiel used, and did not actually start reaching the Soviet forces until the war was basically over already for the Nazis, so we cannot say that Lend-Lease was the most important factor in Soviet supply and logistics.

      JE comments:  The title of this essay was my doing.  Any post with "Hitler" in the title gets lots of hits! 

      If we're going to jump into the hypothetical, we might go further and ask, Would Hitler even have attacked Tsarist Russia?  His foolish invasion of 1941 was chiefly motivated by an obsessive hatred of Bolshevism.  Of course, had the Tsars survived, there would have been no Polish state to invade, which would not have started the war in the first place.

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      • More WWII What Ifs? Jet Technology and the Soviets (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 09/27/18 5:00 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        Pairing with Cameron Sawyer's important statement (September 26) that it was precisely
        Soviet totalitarian control that won World War II for them by focusing Soviet productive
        Recently a Smithsonian Channel documentary stated that one of Britain's greatest blunders
        in the Cold War was Clement Attlee's post-World War II passing of jet engine technology to Stalin,
        via the Rolls Royce Nene design, resulting in the seemingly unstoppable MiG.

        I hope some of the various experts in WAIS might illumine this.

        JE comments:  Interesting question.  If the Soviets could build the Bomb (more or less) on their own, couldn't they have done the same with jets?  Or else taken the technology from the defeated Germans?

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        • Early Soviet Jet Technology; the MiG-15 (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 09/28/18 3:17 AM)
          JE asked on September 27th:  "If the Soviets could build the Bomb (more or less) on their own, couldn't they have done the same with jets? Or else taken the technology from the defeated Germans?"

          Of course they could have. Development of the jet engine was not at all the most complex technological development of this era. The Soviets copied the Rolls-Royce Nene engine for the MiG-15 (their version of that engine was called the Klimov RD-45) just because that shortened the development period and saved a lot of investment into the basic engineering. And the US did exactly the same thing, and in exactly the same way.  Our first jet engine, the General Electric A-1, was also a copy of a British Frank Whittle design--in this case, the Whittle Power Jets W.2B a/k/a Rolls-Royce Derwent. The GE A-1 powered our first jet aircraft, the Bell P-59. These were centrifugal turbines, already not the state of the art, but the British were far ahead of the Germans in making the jet engine practical and reliable, and neither the US nor the USSR wanted to lose time getting up to that stage of development themselves.

          Interestingly, the MiG-15 was not indeed the first Soviet jet fighter, nor was the Rolls-Royce Nene/Klimov RD-45 the first jet engine produced by the Soviets. That was the MiG-9, powered by a copy of the BMW 003 axial-flow engine. At around the same time, so with first flights in 1946 already, another jet fighter, the Yak 15, was developed by the Soviets, using a copy of the German Jumo 004 engine, the engine which powered the world's first operational jet fighter, the Me-262, and another axial flow design, but a primitive design with very little power and very short service life. All jet engines these days are axial flow--that is, the air flows straight through them, with all the turbines perpendicular to the air flow like fans. But these German engines, axial flow or not, were not as well developed as the brilliant Frank Whittle designs made by the British, so instead of developing the German designs further, the Soviets decided to switch to the British design.

          So the MiG-15 was the third jet fighter developed by the Soviets. They quickly improved the Rolls-Royce/Klimov engine into a new engine called the Klimov VK-1, which was possibly the best jet engine ever made up to that point, much longer lasting and more reliable than the Nene.

          If anyone is interested in this story, there is a fascinating book on it, published by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, called Early Russian Jet Engines: The Nene and Derwent in the Soviet Union, and the Evolution of the VK-1 by Tony Buttler, Derby UK, 2003. https://www.amazon.com/Early-Russian-Jet-Engines-Derwent/dp/1872922252

          The VK-1 was fitted to the famous MiG-15bis, one of the best fighters of the early 1950s, nemesis of our forces in the Korean War. Light, simple, reliable, and rugged, with very high performance, the MiG-15 was an excellent weapon, which had Western powers scrambling to catch up.

          Meanwhile both the US and the USSR, while using British Frank Whittle-derived engines in their first generation fighters, concentrated on developing axial flow jet engines of their own, for the next generation.

          JE comments:  Wiki-fact:  the MiG-15 is still used in North Korea as a trainer.  They also serve in the (presumably formidable) air force of Guinea-Bissau.  Their longevity alone says volumes about reliability.

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          • WWII-Era German Jet and Rocket Technology: Another Question (Tor Guimaraes, USA 10/02/18 4:57 AM)
            Cameron Sawyer (September 28th) stated that the "British were far ahead of the Germans in making the jet engine practical and reliable."

            I hope Cameron can clarify why the Nazis were able to make operational (albeit too few to affect the war outcome) the first jet fighter/bombers significantly ahead of the Allies?

            Another question is based on the fact the V2 rocket was instrumental in the early development of the US and Soviet rocket programs. Both copied the Germans at first. We had the principal German scientists, but the USSR had to bring Korolev from the Gulag to develop the next generation of rockets.

            Is there a big difference between propulsion systems for rockets versus airplanes? My ignorant impression is that they should be similar but that does not seem to be the case in practice.

            JE comments: I'm no (sorry...) rocket scientist, but I do know that rockets, jets, and propeller planes are all very different. For starters, rockets carry their own oxygen for combustion, as well as fuel. Cameron Sawyer will be able to give a far more informative answer.

            One of the most intriguing WWII weapons was the German Me-163 Komet, history's only rocket-powered fighter plane.  Its range was just 25 miles, and it was far more lethal for its pilots than for the enemy.  You had to have real chutzpah to take one of these up for a spin:

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            • WWII-Era Jet and Rocket Technology (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/03/18 4:48 AM)
              Tor Guimaraes asked on October 2nd: "I hope Cameron Sawyer can clarify why the Nazis were able to make operational (albeit too few to affect the war outcome) the first jet fighter/bombers significantly ahead of the Allies?

              "Another question is based on the fact the V2 rocket was instrumental in the early development of the US and Soviet rocket programs. Both copied the Germans at first. We had the principal German scientists, but the USSR had to bring Korolev from the Gulag to develop the next generation of rockets.

              "Is there a big difference between propulsion systems for rockets versus airplanes? My ignorant impression is that they should be similar but that does not seem to be the case in practice."

              At the outset I would comment that the Germans did not indeed make jet fighters operational "significantly ahead of the Allies." The Gloster Meteor was deployed around the same time as the Me-262, and there was actually an operational squadron of Meteors in service earlier than there was an operational squadron of Me-262s. We say that the Me-262 was first because this plane was flying actual missions in an experimental capacity slightly earlier, than the Meteor, but for all practical purposes these aircraft were developed and deployed simultaneously.

              Jet engines are indeed, as John E supposed, quite different from rocket engines, in terms of engineering challenges. Both operate by reaction (and the Russian word for "jet," the adjective, is "reaktivny"), but rockets are far simpler--fuel and oxidizer are combined in a combustion chamber and are shot out through a nozzle. Jet engines, which are vastly more efficient, have to process a stream of air, which is used both as oxidizer for the fuel, and as the reaction medium. There are several different types of jet engines, but the first type to be used widely was the turbo jet, which uses compressors and turbines, sometimes multiple stages of compressors and turbines, to force air into the combustion chamber and then harvest energy from the stream of hot, expanding gas produced by combustion of the fuel.

              Early jet engine development was dominated by a few great engineers, principally by two great engineers, the Englishman Frank Whittle and the German Hans von Ohain. The third "great personality" who might be put in the same category as Whittle and von Ohain is the Soviet engineer (of Ukrainian extraction), Arkhip Lyulka, who invented the fanjet (the type of jet engine we use today; the turbojet is obsolete) from whole cloth, and patented it, in the 1930s. But if you wanted to narrow it down you might actually say Whittle was the "father of the jet engine," since it was his work which led to the first practical jet engines, and von Ohain, although he was clearly a genius engineer, responsible for many key advances in jet engine technology, knew of Whittle's work and drew upon it before he started his own first designs.

              Although Whittle was ahead of von Ohain at the beginning, von Ohain obtained crucial early support for his project from the Heinkel aircraft works, and managed to produce the world's first flyable jet engine in 1939, the Heinkel HeS-3, a centrifugal flow engine like Whittle's, which I have seen with my own eyes in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. This engine propelled the first flight of a functional jet aircraft the same year, the Heinkel He 178. The He 178 "proved the concept" of jet aircraft, but did not have usable flight characteristics, flew only a few hours, and was never produced beyond the one working prototype.

              The British followed this with their Gloster E.28/29, powered by Whittle's Power Jets W.1 engine, and both the aircraft and the engine were far more sophisticated and satisfactory than the Heinkel/von Ohain counterparts.  The E.28/29 turned out to be a good flying aircraft which was used in extensive testing over several years. The lessons learned led to the Gloster Meteor fighter, which became operational only a few months later than the Me-262 (or even before the Me-262, depending on how you define "operational"), and which was in many ways a far better aircraft, at least in terms of reliability and practical serviceability.

              Meanwhile, in a parallel program to von Ohain's, Dr. Anselm Franz at Junkers Motoren ("Jumo") was developing an axial-flow turbojet, the kind which would be predominant until the advent of the fanjet. Interestingly, the electrical giant AEG participated heavily in the development of Jumo's early jet engines, foreshadowing the large role General Electric would play in jet engine development in the US. That is not hard to explain--turbines of various types had been used for some time in the electrical power industry, so both companies had significant intellectual capital which could be applied to development of jet engines.

              The Jumo 004 used in the Me-262 was produced in large quantities, as the Me-262 was deployed in fairly large numbers in 1944, but it is hard to say that the engine was really practical, especially considering the severe shortages of resources the Germans were experiencing by that time. The Jumo 004 only lasted from 10 to 25 hours, and was prone to failure even during that short life. How much of that is due to insufficient development or fundamental design flaws, and how much to the lack of strategic materials which could have otherwise been done to strengthen turbine blades, is hard to say, but the Whittle engines used in the Gloster Meteor were far more reliable and lasted 500 hours by the time of the Rolls-Royce Derwent version. The Gloster Meteor was used operationally into the 1980s and there are a couple still flying today. The Me-262 outperformed the Meteor, but the Meteor was a far better developed design, running far more reliable and long-lasting engines.

              In my opinion, the Germans wasted resources on the Me-262, probably because of Hitler's fascination with Wunderwaffen, which was not sufficiently developed to be worth the huge expenditure of resources required to deploy it.

              The British definitely get the prize for leaders in jet aircraft technology in its early stages, and they continued this leadership for some time after the war, developing the first production turbofan engine in the early 1950s, the Rolls-Royce Conway. By this time, however, the Cold War was in full swing, and the US and USSR were investing huge resources into further development of the jet engine, coming on with the next generation of jet engines based on original designs. An interesting footnote is the career of Arkhip Lyulka, who produced a series of failures in the 1940s, but for some reason continued to enjoy official support and went on to become one of the world's most prolific and innovative jet engine designers. His last design, the Saturn AL-31, from 1976, was the first jet engine with 3-dimensional thrust vectoring, and is still being produced, powering the Su-27 family of jet fighters, introducing 3D thrust vectoring more than a decade before Western jet fighters had this capability, in the F-22 Raptor.

              This little essay should not be taken as a comprehensive history of the jet engine. I have not mentioned many significant early developments, including other German and British designs, I didn't mentioned the US jet engine program, which started with copies of the British Whittle designs (and other British designs like the Metrovick), but soon took off (so to speak) with many innovative and original designs, nor did I mention the historical oddities (and technological dead ends) like the early Italian motor-jets, one of which actually flew before the first British jet.

              As far as rockets are concerned--here, too, we shouldn't think that just because someone copied some design for whatever reason, that doesn't mean they were incapable of developing it themselves. The first liquid-fuelled rocket was actually built by an American, Robert Goddard, and the greatest volume of basic research in rocket propulsion was carried out in the Soviet Union, under a well-funded and official program at the Gas Dynamics Laboratory in Leningrad from the early ‘30s, at a time when most research in other countries was being carried out by brilliant amateurs like Goddard. The Soviet designer, Sergei Korolev, from a Cossack family from Northwestern Ukraine, is considered to be the father of modern rocketry, or at least, space travel. German designs, like the V2 (basis of the American Redstone and Soviet Scud rockets) were copied by the Americans and Soviets only to save development time--the Germans had spent (or wasted) a lot of resources on developing rockets during the war, and it simply shortened development time to take advantage of that work.

              JE comments:  Nothing to add to this informative essay, except to stress that Cameron Sawyer does an excellent job (here and elsewhere) of dispelling a common assumption in the West:  that the Soviets were incapable of developing their own highly sophisticated technologies, and must have stolen from the Germans, the British, and/or the Americans.

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              • Soviet Reverse-Engineering of Western Technology: the 1960s and '70s (John Heelan, UK 10/05/18 3:23 AM)
                JE commented on the common assumption in the West "that the Soviets were incapable of developing their own highly sophisticated technologies, and must have stolen from the Germans, the British, and/or the Americans."

                The high tech world in the 1960s and '70s had to obey strict US rules on "export compliance" to avoid suspicions that "the Soviets" reverse-engineered high-tech products acquired by "grey imports." Compliance was enforced with multi-million dollar fines and sanctions on US corporations by the US government: given the size of the US military and space budgets, any threat to nuzzling up to the milch cow was taken very seriously indeed!

                Running an international training operation, we had to take extreme caution about training Eastern Bloc engineers on relevant hardware and software, as it was alleged that Soviet space and missile technology depended heavily on the reverse-engineered computers and software acquired from the West by devious routes.

                JE comments:  There's an irony here.  The Russian "heirs" to the Soviets mastered computers so well, that they managed to influence elections all over the West.  Who in the 1960s and '70s could have imagined that the threat was political, not military?

                So good to hear from WAIS stalwart John Heelan.  John switched e-mail addresses and was out of the loop for several weeks.  I missed you, Tocayo!

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              • Post-WWII Labour Government and Soviet Jet Technology; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/05/18 3:51 AM)

                Gary Moore writes:

                To pin down Cameron Sawyer's (October 3) fine essay on jet engine development:
                both the Smithsonian Channel and a prestigious-sounding book say that it was
                "probably one of the greatest blunders" by Britain in the Cold War that the post-WWII Labour government gave or sold the Rolls-Royce Nene jet engine to the Soviets,
                leapfrogging their development of the MiG. Is Cameron saying flatly that this statement
                is mistaken, and that is wasn't a major blunder at all, because the Soviets were developing
                their engines anyway, independently?

                The distinction matters. Does it indict Smithsonian Channel fact-checking, or Clement Attlee's
                Labour-party naivete?

                JE comments:   While we're on the topic, might it be time to revisit the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?  Nobody paid a higher price for passing military technology to the Soviets.

                Julius's 100th birthday was on May 12th.  I don't recall anyone making note of this, on or off WAIS.

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                • How Significant Was the Impact of British Designs on Soviet Jet Technology? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/06/18 6:02 AM)
                  Gary Moore asked on October 5th: "Is Cameron Sawyer saying flatly that... the Soviets were developing their [jet] engines anyway, independently?"

                  Both I, and these other sources, are speculating, because we don't know how the Soviet jet program would have gone without the British technology. So one can't really say anything "flatly."

                  But it's hard for me to see how not giving them the technology would have changed much. The Soviets had already been building jet engines for years before they got the two Rolls-Royce designs (Nene and Derwent) they copied, then improved, with such success in the MiG-15/17.

                  The British designs were well developed, and were probably the best jet engines in production at the time, but they were centrifugal flow designs which were a technological dead end.  Future Soviet and US engines--the US also copied the Rolls-Royce engines for a time--were axial flow turbo jets, then soon after that, fan jets like all jet aircraft use today. The fan jet, as I wrote, was invented and patented by the Soviets already before the war, and the Soviets already had working jet engines of their own, designed from scratch by Lyulka, during the war--the VRD-1, VRD-2, VRD-3, and TR-1. These were axial flow engines. I don't see why the Soviets could not have developed those designs into workable production engines for their MiGs more quickly, if they had not been given the Rolls-Royce designs. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the basic design of them, and the Soviets had very strong design capabilities, led by one of the world's great jet engine designers.

                  Centrally planned economies do a very poor job of producing overall wealth, and do a very poor job of producing consumer goods. But centrally planned economies do quite a good job of doing basic scientific research, and producing strategic goods like weapons systems. The Soviets aerospace industry, after all, launched the first artificial satellite and put the first man into space, and was very strong in space technology from the very beginning, and even today Soviet technology powers an absolute majority of all commercial space launches. The naïve mind would like to judge Soviet technology by its cars and washing machines, but the reality is much more complex than that. The Soviets designed and produced some of the best weaponry of WWII, including for example the best tank, and their aircraft designers were very strong from the very beginning and throughout the Cold War up to the very end of the Soviet Union.

                  Another piece of evidence that the Rolls-Royce technology did not play a crucial role in the development of Soviet jet technology was the simple fact that future Soviet jet engines did not draw upon the Rolls-Royce designs. The Soviets produced no further centrifugal flow jets after the VK-1. By 1952, Lyulka was testing a quite advanced axial flow engine, with supersonic air flow, based on his earlier original axial flow designs from wartime, the AL-7, and which had nothing to do with the centrifugal-flow British designs. This engine, unlike several previous Lyulka designs, was extremely successful and was produced in large numbers through the 1970s. By 1948, Lyulka's rival Tumansky was producing advanced axial flow afterburning jet engines which had nothing to do with either British or German technology, and the Tumansky RD-9 was chosen to power the first Soviet supersonic fighter, the MiG-19, in 1951. An early prototype of the RD-9, the Klimov AM-5A, was already outperforming the Rolls-Royce based VK-1 with higher power and better fuel consumption, before the MiG-19 went into production.

                  I really can't credit the idea that the Soviet jet aircraft program gained some irreplaceable leap forward by having been given the well-developed but already fundamentally obsolescent Rolls-Royce centrifugal flow jet engine designs. It seems to me to be pretty clear, that what the Soviets gained with this technology transfer was a quick path to a reliable, functional Gen 1 fighter, the MiG15/17, to fill the gap for a few years while they continued development of their own jet engines. By the beginning of the 1950s, the Soviets were already producing highly advanced jet engines, no less advanced than US engines of the same period, based on completely original axial flow designs, and capable of powering supersonic aircraft. I would add that the Tumansky RD-9 engine was so successful, that it was produced up into the late 1980s and was still being operated by several air forces into the 21st century, powering MiG-19s and Chinese Shenyang J-6s.

                  JE comments:  Perhaps the most notable advantage of Soviet weapons is longevity.  Cameron Sawyer cited the venerable RD-9 jet engine.  And it won't be long until the AK-47 has its 75th "birthday."  It remains the Gold Standard of small arms for much of the world.

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                  • Pitfalls of Getting Your History from Documentaries (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA 10/07/18 4:32 AM)

                    Gary Moore writes:

                    Many thanks to Cameron Sawyer (Oct. 6) for pinning down the answer to my question on jet engine development..
                    The references I saw, when looked at more closely, seemed to be stressing how the MiG and "MiG Alley" impacted
                    the Korean War, so in the window of time before 1952 (as I gather it from Cameron's discussion) the technology
                    transfer from Britain may have upped the ante, though perhaps this shouldn't be allowed to appear as an overall leap
                    or as "probably one of Britain's greatest blunders in the Cold War."

                    The cautionary note may be on getting one's
                    history from video documentaries, which, no matter how methodical (or methodical-looking), are always pushed
                    toward the attention-getting over-generalization. This isn't the same as a fact error, but it coaxes the viewer toward
                    making the error, by extrapolation.

                    JE comments:  I am reminded of an evening not long ago.  I was dozing on the couch in front of the History Channel and awoke to find a talking head on the screen--it was our own Nigel Jones!  Nigel seemed to be saying:  "Wake up, Old Chap, and get back to work on WAIS!"

                    Mass-market history documentaries certainly promote misconceptions, but as with sanctions, what is the alternative?  Here, the answer would likely be, "no history at all."

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                  • Russian Engineers and Jet Technology (Istvan Simon, USA 10/07/18 7:14 AM)
                    I do not want to contradict my good friend Cameron Sawyer, who is knowledgeable and very well informed about all things related to Russia. After all, Cameron lives in Moscow and knows Russia well. Nonetheless, I believe that Cameron tends to attribute more engineering skill to Russian engineers than they deserve. The history of jet engines is well known and easily available. See for example, this article for an excellent summary:


                    We can see that jet engines were pioneered by a French engineer, René Lorin, who patented a design in 1913. But no prototype was ever built, so this was an early important idea, but still an impractical one. The first practical workable design was by Hungarian engineer Albert Fonó. He applied for a patent in 1928 and was awarded one in 1932.

                    I leave for interested WAISers to read by themselves this easily available reference in Wikipedia. It sheds much light on this WAIS discussion.

                    Back to Soviet engineering. Soviet engineering achievements were in fact inferior to Western designs. The first proof of this was in the Korean war, later in Vietnam also, where in dogfights between American pilots and Russian ones, most often the American pilots prevailed. I would like to hear my friend and our expert WAISer Michael Sullivan to give us his views on this subject.

                    From what I understand, part of the advantage in dogfights was due to pilot training and G suits, which allowed American pilots to remain conscious when their Soviet counterparts would pass out because of excessive G forces in hard turns. The Soviets were great pilots, but nonetheless they mostly lost in these dogfights.

                    The Mig 21 was one of the best and most advanced fighters in the Soviet arsenal in the mid 1960s. In August 1966, an Iraqi pilot defected, landing a Mig 21 in Israel. Israeli and United States engineers took the plane apart to study its characteristics in depth.


                    What their study revealed was that the Mig 21 was a well designed and very good plane, but nonetheless Soviet engineering was in many ways primitive when compared to contemporaneous Western technology.

                    The same would be revealed later in the Space Race between the United States and Russia. The Russians had an edge in designing powerful rockets. We took much longer to get equivalent technology. But Russian electronics design was primitive. We invented the integrated circuit in part because of the space program. Putting weight into orbit requires enormous amounts of energy, so miniaturization in electronics was in part a necessity considering our inferior rocket designs. Miniaturization, as it turns out, is a win-win, because it also increases speed, reliability, and decreases power consumption. It paid big dividends to the United States in computer technology, which persist to this day.

                    JE comments:   Istvan Simon has every right to be proud of Fonó.  Another Hungarian, László Bíró, invented the ballpoint pen.  He was living in Argentina at the time, so the Argentines also claim ownership.  This essential tool of everyday life is still called a "birome" in Argentina, in honor of its inventor.

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                    • What Does Air-to-Air Combat Look Like Today? (Michael Sullivan, USA 10/08/18 3:21 AM)
                      I'll try to answer Istvan Simon's request (7 October) with how I view the development of jet fighter aviation. When I started flying Generation 1 jet fighters in the late 1950s, the ideal fighter would consist of an American airframe, British engines and Russian simplicity and smallness in size.

                      So much has changed since then.  We're now up to Generation 5 aircraft, with only two being operational, both the American F-22 and F-35; both possess advanced stealth and avionics capabilities. Russia has cancelled their version of their Generation 5, Su-57 or T-50, while the Chinese are still pressing ahead with their Generation 5, J-20.

                      The preponderance of the world's fighters today are Generation 4 fighters similar to the American F-15, F-16 and F-18, while the competition is the Russian MiG-29, Su-31 and Su-35. These aircraft are all supersonic, highly maneuverable, have advanced long-range radars and lethal, long-range missiles.

                      However, I used to teach fighter tactics in a Marine Aviation Fighter Tactics course in the 1970s-'80s.  The facts were then that in 80% of all kills generated in air-to-air combat since WWI, the pilot being shot down never even knew he was being set up for a kill.  In the next 18% the pilot realized he was in trouble when he saw his attacker in his 5 or 7 o'clock position and tracers going by, and only in 2% of air-to-air kills did it ever start with a neutral start where the superior pilot would win the dogfight. With the advent of the Vietnam War air-to-air missiles, both heat seekers and radar-beam riders, were introduced on fighters.

                      When the MiG-21 came out during Vietnam it was formidable, as it was small and hard to see, fast and fairly maneuverable. Its weaknesses were it couldn't fight in the vertical, its range was severely limited because of carrying such a small fuel load, and the pilot had terrible rearward visibility! Most of the MiG-21s kills on American aircraft were due to their ground controlled intercept tactics coming up from behind on American aircraft, where most of the American kills on MiG-21s were a result of a maneuvering dogfight and using either the Sidewinder heat-seeking missile or guns to shoot down the MiG.  The MiGs did a good job in Vietnam early in the war, but once we learned how to fight the MiG-21 through the Navy's Top Gun School and the USAF fighter Weapons School, the kill ratio was reversed and the US fighters, mainly F-4 Phantoms and F-8 Crusaders, built an impressive record.

                      Today with supersonic fighters possessing long-range radars and missiles, with hundreds of decoys being released by the fighters or supporting aircraft while the fighters are still hundreds of miles apart, with electronic jamming constantly taking place, it's hard to imagine the fighters will ever get to the merge position inside BVR (beyond visual range) to commence a dogfight!

                      Yet as questionable as it may seem in today's world, most nations that can afford it are buying as many Generation 4 fighters as they can afford while richer nations are opting for the American F-35 Lightning Generation 5 aircraft. The American F-22 Raptor is not for export.

                      JE comments:  This is the kind of insider perspective that makes WAIS unique!  Thank you, Michael.  I've been worried for you and Nicole during the whole Florence ordeal.  (Michael Sullivan lives on the North Carolina coast, which was hit hard.)  I trust you, yours, and your home were all unscathed.

                      When time permits, could you send your thoughts on why the Russians cancelled their Generation 5 fighter?  Was it solely an economic decision?

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              • Phyllis Gardner Checks In (Phyllis Gardner, USA 10/05/18 4:24 AM)
                Personally, I found Cameron Sawyer's post of October 3rd to be amazingly informative. That is a trite statement, but it was so comprehensive, which is why I still read WAIS posts. Thank you!

                JE comments: WAIS doesn't usually publish Attaboys, but this one from our esteemed Chair Emerita, Phyllis Gardner, directed to her esteemed successor, Cameron Sawyer, deserves to be immortalized.  Very happy to hear from you, Phyllis!  When time permits, please send us a personal/professional update.

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      • Were Stalin's Military Purges a Good Strategy? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/27/18 5:00 PM)
        Almost any armchair historian will point out the foolish action of Stalin to decapitate the Soviet military leadership on the eve of Hitler's invasion.

        But I believe that after all it was not strategically a wrong decision.  Maybe it was criminal, but not wrong. Stalin assured for the State the loyalty of the new generals and admirals.

        Unfortunately Mussolini (the poor guy was too kind-hearted) never thought of doing the same thing, so he entered the war with a bunch of lousy generals and even worse admirals, all sponsored by the lousiest king. Instead of trying to win the war, these officers did their best to lose it. This led to a military/monarchist coup and finally with the unconditional surrender/betrayal.

        Unfortunately Mussolini, the greatest legislator as per Churchill, in the military field remained an obedient corporal respectful of the king and the military hierarchy.

        If Mussolini instead of being respectful of the Chief of the State (the king) had instead carried out a coup proclaiming the republic and placing also the monarchist generals and admirals out of action, it would have been much better for the nation.

        Italy may still have lost the war but made up for it with a good fight.  At the very least it had some good chances at the beginning.

        JE comments:  Eugenio Battaglia raises a controversial point:  was Stalin "smart" to purge his generals?  Certainly not for Mother Russia and for the tens of millions of Soviet citizens who lost their lives, but perhaps he wasn't so stupid in the political sense.  (Ruthless certainly, but stupid?) 

        The wider question is this:  for any authoritarian leader at war, it is better to have competent generals or loyal ones?

        So were the Italians in WWII lions led by donkeys?  (I cribbed this appraisal from an observer of the British Tommies in WWI.)

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        • Stalin's Military Purges: Were They Necessary for His Political Survival? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/30/18 8:48 AM)
          My friend Eugenio Battaglia stated on September 28th, "Almost any armchair historian will point out the foolish action of Stalin to decapitate the Soviet military leadership on the eve of Hitler's invasion. But I believe that after all it was not strategically a wrong decision. Maybe it was criminal, but not wrong. Stalin assured for the State the loyalty of the new generals and admirals."

          There is some truth in that and also the timing is important: the purge occurred while Stalin was fighting for political survival and there was only suspicion that Hitler might invade the USSR so soon. Stalin knew the USSR was not ready for war. He was hoping that his significant but relatively small contribution to the Republicans in Spain would keep the Fascists busy for a while. Everyone, including Stalin, severely underestimated Hitler's and Mussolini's military support for Franco. Also Stalin tried to slow the Nazis by offering an alliance with England and France. Rebuffed, he then made a treaty with Hitler.

          Last, no one has brought out the fact that Stalin in his paranoid criminal mind may have had no choice but to purge his military leadership. We must not forget that Trotsky was the organizer of the Red Army which successfully defended the Bolshevik Revolution from internal and external enemies. Trotsky had the loyalty of the military leaders, so Stalin had to purge them or likely be destroyed. Apparently he was scared to death by Trotsky and made it a high priority to kill him through Ramón Mercader.

          JE comments:  There must have been Trotskyists in the Soviet military in the early 1930s, but weren't they fully purged by '38-'39?  I know Luciano Dondero can comment on this.

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          • The Social Revolutionaries' Attempted Coup, July 1918 (Luciano Dondero, Italy 10/04/18 11:54 AM)
            I have to disagree with Tor Guimaraes (30 September), who quoted favorably Eugenio Battaglia's statement, "Almost any armchair historian will point out the foolish action of Stalin to decapitate the Soviet military leadership on the eve of Hitler's invasion. But I believe that after all it was not strategically a wrong decision. Maybe it was criminal, but not wrong. Stalin assured for the State the loyalty of the new generals and admirals."

            The accusations leveled against Tukhachevsky and others had some elements of factual truth in them, namely "connections with the German Wehrmacht." This happened because after Versailles, when Germany was forbidden from rearming, and specifically testing new weaponry (like planes), the Soviet leadership agreed to a joint (secret) endeavor. This policy was started when Trotsky was still in charge of the Red Army, as he was demoted in 1925.

            But if that reasoning--fear of any connections with the Germans--had been for real in Stalin, and not a ruse to get these generals killed, then he would not have trusted Hitler when he decided to run into a military pact with Nazi Germany. In fact, had Stalin been really hell-bent against Germany, he would have never signed such a pact in the first place.

            Stalin hated Tukhachevsky since their clash at the time of Polish-Russian war in 1920. "According to Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin regarded Tukhachevsky as his bitterest rival and dubbed him Napoleonchik (little Napoleon)". See more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Tukhachevsky

            At any rate, Tukhacevsky and the other military leaders that were purged were not Trotsky loyalists, basically none remained after 1926 when the United Left Opposition (ULO), which included Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev (these two were the former allies of Stalin in the so-called Troika), was defeated in a rigged Party Congress and purged from all posts and positions of influence.

            All the leading ULO people were then assassinated as a result of the 1936-37-38 Moscow Trials, together (in 1938) with the former Right Oppositionists led by Bukharin.

            Actually, somebody had urged Trotsky early on to use the army as a base from which to launch an offensive against Stalin, but Trotsky argued against it, saying that it would only accelerate the triumph of the bureaucratic apparatus, just with a different man in charge. The proponent? A young American, Max Eastman, who was also raked over the coals by Trotsky for publishing in English Lenin's Testament. He later remained connected to Trotsky only as one of the very few good translators of Trotsky's works.

            But there is an even earlier event which is worth recalling, in the history of Soviet Russia, as this happened before the USSR was formed.

            It was an attempted coup d'etat in July 1918, around the time of the Brest-Livotsk treaty, which was actually the capitulation of the new revolutionary state faced with the might of the German army. Trotsky had some disagreement with this policy, strongly urged by Lenin, but finally agreed to it, and carried it through, as he was the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

            Bukharin at the time was a leftist within the Bolshevik party. The party was running the country in alliance with the left-wing of the former Social Revolutionaries, a party which had made a name for itself by carrying forward various assassinations against the Czar and his men. These left SR and a relevant chunk of the Bolsheviks led by Bukharin began a coup, using their people in the Army and the Cheka to carry it through. This happened in the middle of a war with Germany that was still on, and they killed the German ambassador von Mirbach to make sure that the Germans would keep the war going, And also while the civil war with the Whites and with various troops sent by Britain, the US, France, Japan, Italy and a few more enemies of the revolution was still going on.

            Bukharin spoke with Trotsky asking him to become their leader, which proposal he refused. The coup was short-lived, precisely because Lenin and Trotsky, who was in charge of the Red Army, made it clear that they would fight it. The Cheka was also instrumental in this. Bukharin hesitated when he was faced with the need to arrest and maybe shoot Lenin and Trotsky. End of story. Very few people were actually punished for their involvement in this event. But the Left SR party was dissolved, and the Bolsheviks remained as the only party in charge of the Soviet government. The Chekist who had shot von Mirbach, an SR named Blumkin, was won over by Trotsky himself, and he later remained in the Cheka as a supporter of Trotsky, more or less underground. In 1929 he visited Trotsky in exile in Turkey. When he went back to Moscow, he was arrested and shot. Yakov Blumkin was the first victim of Stalin's terror against his former comrades.

            You can read Trotsky's recounting of this event here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/military/ch34.htm

            JE comments:  Interesting history, Luciano.  We can now categorically conclude that there were no Trotskyists left in the Red Army by the time of the massive purges of the late 1930s.  On another topic, I thought I knew my Great War history, but I'm not versed in the Von Mirbach assassination.

            How little do you have to be to be a Little Napoleon?  (The "Big" Napoleon stood 5 feet 2 inches tall.)

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      • How Productive Was Stalin's War Industry? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 10/19/18 4:13 AM)

        Gary Moore writes:

        My quest to demystify some Large Historical Numbers takes me back to Cameron Sawyer's
        valuable statement (September 26) on Stalin-era productivity, but in light of a price, such as the 1932-33 Soviet famine, especially in Ukraine.

        Cameron wrote that by World War II, Soviet industrial production was perhaps decisive in stopping
        the unstoppable Wehrmacht: "The Soviet economic system, while it impoverished ordinary people,
        concentrated capital in the hands of the state in a way which made it possible to build up huge
        military production capacity, capacity which far exceeded that of Nazi Germany in almost every
        category. It was this productive capacity which won the war, more than any other factor."

        Since in popular forums this insight is rarely grasped, it seems to be rarely compared to the famine
        a decade earlier.  Even scholars who caution about demonizing the famine seem to agree that its roots
        lay in an ill-considered rush to industrialize, diverting resources. The now-notorious New York Times
        correspondent Walter Duranty won the Pulitzer in 1932 for his reporting on Stalin's Five-Year Plan
        that made that rush, as Duranty hid the famine and touted the New Order ("there is no famine"),
        coyly calling the Soviets "fanatics" so he could paint them as being fanatically committed to progress
        (the omelette and eggshells statement, also famous). This, very belatedly, has made Duranty
        perhaps the most reviled of twentieth-century foreign correspondents.

        Did the famine kill 3 million?
        Or the 10 million that Ukraine says by adjusting for lowered birth rate? Either way horrendous,
        it reaches out to Cameron's statement: Could fantastically large killing (whether demonically planned
        or fanatically shrugged off) actually be effective in producing a fortress state? Or is it that the
        same utopian delusions that could enable Stalin to kill a million or so in the 1937-38 Terror/purges
        and identify it as building the future, while decapitating the Soviet army of its leadership,
        make it necessary for fantastic gains from horrifically callous industrialization, to balance out
        all the instances of sawing the legs off the table? This might put Cameron's statement in a new
        light, perhaps the light intended all along. It begins to seem that, even without McCarthyist
        demonizations or right-wing exultation, the "communist century" managed to demonize itself.

        The questions grow when Stalin's Five-Year Plan is compared to its apparent copy, Mao's Great
        Leap Forward, timed about like Stalin's effort a few years into power, and also producing catastrophic
        famine, not least with delusional planting techniques borrowed from Stalin and his pseudo-scientist
        /agronomist Lysenko. And Mao's numbers didn't mess around, even by the very lowest count outstripping
        Stalin's, with more weather to complicate the mix but still the callous devouring of millions. Or tens
        of millions? It's perhaps too large and too horrific--and perhaps too soon--for our own supposed sanity
        to place all this in some sort of perspective.

        JE comments:  How productive was Stalin's war industry?  The stark answer must be "productive enough."  Totalitarian states have distinct advantages in war, given their draconian ability to focus resources and to quell dissent.  But they are also at a disadvantage in terms of innovation and the building of coalitions.  Ultimately, we're left with Gary Moore's question:  Is a brutal, murderous regime effective at building a fortress state?

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        • Did Stalin's Purges and Famines Help His War Effort? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/20/18 11:44 AM)
          To answer Gary Moore's question (19 October) about whether killing off millions of people did something useful for the Soviet war effort:

          In my opinion, definitely not. Human resources are desperately needed in war, just as much as materiel is needed. The famines of the early 1930s, and the 1937 purges, eliminated millions of people who could otherwise have been engaged in the war effort after Hitler attacked. This definitely weakened the Soviet side, and weakened it out of proportion to the numbers--the officer corps was decimated in 1937, leaving the Soviets with a horrendous deficit of military leadership which dogged it until nearly the end of the war. Despite some decent generalship from the younger generation like Rokossovsky (especially), Zhukov, Chuikov, etc., the Soviets were mostly outclassed by the Germans in military leadership throughout the war.

          So I don't think you can put this in one basket with Soviet industrialization, which was without any doubt a success, at least from the point of view of war potential.

          As to whether the famines were a specific genocidal plot to wipe out Ukrainians, or just the horrendous effects of a command economy implemented clumsily and brutally, I haven't studied the matter enough to feel entitled to an opinion. Probably there were some elements of both at work.

          JE comments:  Who can tell us the current state of scholarship?  Was the Holodomor a deliberate genocide, or the "accidental" result of collectivization, confiscations, and ruthless industrialization?  It could be impossible to answer this question.  Ultimately, alas, it may not matter.

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        • Collectivization and Famine in USSR, China (Istvan Simon, USA 10/21/18 6:10 AM)
          Gary Moore's theory (19 October) that the famines in the Soviet Union and in Mao's China were connected to concentrating too much on rapid industrialization at the expense of agriculture is a very interesting idea that I never thought about. It is perhaps one that deserves further research and study to support it or contradict it, which I am not competent to undertake.

          But I would like to advance what I always thought were the causes of these two famines, other than any possible connection to industrialization which may have been a factor too.

          I always thought that the famine in the Soviet Union was caused by the forced collectivization of farms and Stalin's war on farmers that he called Kulaks.  By killing the farmers and forcing those who were not killed into giant collective farms, Stalin simultaneously killed any desire of the farmers to produce food, and the productivity of the collective farms was far worse than what the farmers had produced on their own land. The result was famine. The collectivization of farms turned out to be just one more insane Marxist theory that did not work the way the theorists anticipated. The same idiotic ideas were repeated by Mao Zedong, with the same results. But in Mao's case there were other factors which greatly compounded the problem.

          Mao had decided that sparrows were eating too much grain, and urged the fanatical killing of sparrows, which the Chinese dutifully did like lemmings. Millions of sparrows were killed, which resulted in an epic ecological disaster. The dead sparrows did not eat any grain all right, but did not eat worms and insects either, which led to an explosion of insects and plagues of locusts that devoured everything. This greatly increased the damage already caused by collectivizing farms.  Collective farms in China did not work any better than what happened in the Ukraine and the Soviet Union in general.

          JE comments:  Stalin also confiscated great amounts of grain from the starving Ukrainians, in an attempt to raise hard currency for industrialization.  As for China, the Ian Johnson essay recently forwarded by Paul Levine told the sad and ridiculous story of farmers forced to melt down their implements in order to meet the "backyard steel mill" quotas set by Mao.  If both examples are not quite deliberate genocide à la Hitler, they come very, very close.

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          • What Are the Causes of Stalin's and Mao's Mass Famines? (Timothy Brown, USA 10/25/18 4:44 AM)

            Istvan Simon (21 October) discusses the famines that caused millions of deaths under Stalin and Mao.  The explanation is not complicated.

            Marx said there are only two classes--bourgeoisie and proletarians. In a capitalist system the bourgeois minority owns the means of production and disposes of the profits. They do this by exploiting the proletariat, who neither own the means of production nor dispose of any surplus. Therefore the bourgeois minority are enemies of the proletarian masses and must be converted or destroyed.

            History has proven that committed Marxists do not hesitate to do whatever they feel is needed to accomplish their objective. And if this results in the deaths of a few million bourgeoisie, so be it, since "the end justifies the means."

            JE comments:  Perhaps we should turn our attention to the biggest famine...today.  As many as 13 million people face starvation in Yemen, and the cause is closer to home:  US frenemy Saudi Arabia, with ample US technical and logistic support.  Shouldn't there be more outrage in the West?  I'm sure there's plenty of it in the Middle East.

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