Be More Communist!

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This Wall Street Journal column by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa ("the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc") sort of landed with a thud, which is too bad, because it includes wisdom like this:

For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts.

Yes, it's about how Americans need to show more deference to the man who leads one-third of the government. In the Cold War, see, Communists spread nasty rumors and unpleasant historical tales about the president in order to weaken America—just like many Americans say nasty things about George Bush! For example, in 2004 (Pacepa provides no examples fresher than three years old) "visitors to the national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting the American president surrounded by the words, 'Give Bush the Boot.'" Really, it's a miracle we've survived this long.

Note also that Pacepa credits Jimmy Carter's image "as a bumbling peanut farmer" to the well-oiled Communist propaganda machine.

It's all just incredibly weird and wrongheaded. Given that we switched up Leaders every few years did anti-presidential propaganda really play a bigger role than anti-American propaganda, anti-American-militarism propaganda, and so on? Pacepa lumps in "lies" about Vietnam with his presidential examples, possibly because his presidential cultishness is too weak to sustain the whole column.

My favorite writer on the cult of the presidency is Gene Healy, although he was never in the KGB so I don't know if we can take his opinions seriously.

NEXT: FBI Takes "A Small Step Toward Sanity"

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  1. Imagine that. A former KGB agent is a statist.

  2. Note also that Pacepa credits Jimmy Carter’s image “as a bumbling peanut farmer” to the well-oiled Communist propaganda machine.

    This could be true, but I give more weight to the fact that Carter actually was a bumbling peanut farmer.

  3. Presidents often don’t even accord one another such deference:

    John Quincy Adams on Andrew Jackson: “A barbarian who cannot write a sentence of grammar and can hardly spell his own name.”
    Teddy Roosevelt on Woodrow Wilson: “infernal skunk in the White House.”
    Calvin Coolidge on Herbert Hoover: “That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad.”
    Truman called Nixon “a shifty-eyed [expletive] liar.”


  4. John Quincy Adams on Andrew Jackson: “A barbarian who cannot write a sentence of grammar and can hardly spell his own name.”

    That one was sort of true.

    Truman called Nixon “a shifty-eyed [expletive] liar.”

    That one was most definitely true!

  5. It’s good to see the Wall Street Journal, or any Bush-supporting media organ for that matter, coming right out and admit that its view of domestic dissent and subordination to authority is roughly equivalent to that of someone who grew up under communism and held a senior position in the KGB.

  6. Should it really be necessary here to point out that the Communists fucking lost?

    If the authoritarianism lurking in the heart of every Bush supporter was really the best way to mobilize a society for conflict, they would have won.

    Your brilliant propaganda got you a worthless pension and ignominy and humiliation for all time, General.

  7. And T.R. was certainly right about Wilson. Old Woodrow was a disaster for America. He single handedly set race relations back 50 years, and enacted some of the most draconian limits on civil liberties during WW1. Wilson actually DID what Bush gets blamed for.

  8. Wilson also got us involved in the most stupid, pointless war in recent human memory for no good reason.

  9. I’ve suspected for a while that the neocons are actually a soviet sleeper cell left over from the 70s.

  10. Don’t forget that his stupid entry into the war allowed the Allies to decisively defeat the Germans, which led to the Treaty of Versailles, which led to Hitler’s rise, &c.

  11. During the Vietnam War we spread vitriolic stories around the world, pretending that America’s presidents sent Genghis Khan-style barbarian soldiers to Vietnam who raped at random, taped electrical wires to human genitals, cut off limbs, blew up bodies and razed entire villages.

    Hey, they stole this from John Kerry.

  12. Ex(?)-KGB guy: “At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for example, Bush critics continued our mud-slinging at America’s commander in chief. . . .”

    Did I miss the Generalissimo clause in the constitution somewhere?

    America’s commander-in-chief?

    Military C-in-C, sure. But America’s commander in chief?

    That phrase alone says it all.

    (Nice martial way to marshal Marshall Stalin, tovarische.)

  13. Truman called Nixon “a shifty-eyed [expletive] liar.”

    You can say “fucking” here.

    Wilson also got us involved in the most stupid, pointless war in recent human memory for no good reason.

    Come on, Cesar, the U.S. had a compelling national interest in avenging Archduke Ferdinand. [/sarcasm]

  14. The United States had a compelling interest in not seeing a half dozen of our democratic allies subsumed into the empire of a monarchist empire.

  15. The British Empire was democratic? Really?

    Ask the Indians about that.

  16. Hell, ask the Irish.

  17. Fuck *hic* No!

  18. The United States had a compelling interest in not seeing a half dozen of our democratic allies subsumed into the empire of a monarchist empire.

    1. Bullshit we did.
    2. They weren’t about to lose to the Hun anyway.

  19. While they’re asking ex-KGB officials about stuff like this, why not hit up Putin for his opinion? It’d be of similar value.

  20. Hell, the British and French weren’t even our allies, were they? Tell me the treaty of alliance that we had with them that I’m unaware of.

  21. Warty–

    In fact, the United States had real problems with the British right up until 1914. We were actually closer to Germany pre-WWI, TR was a friend of the Kaiser.

  22. Quit shilling for Wilson, joe!

    First, the US had no alliances before it entered the war, and the Allied countries weren’t considered our permanent allies. Even during the war, the US made sure it was legally considered an associate of the allies rather than part of an official alliance.

    Also, we decided to side with two quasi-democratic empires and one very authoritation empire against another quasi-democratic/authoritarian empire and a pretty authoritarian empire to protect the loans we’d made to the former. Come on, you’re supposed to jump right to this semi-conspiratorial conclusions, remember? Anyway, there was no threat of German occupying all of France and especially not Britain. Germany wanted Belgium, some Russian territory, colonial concessions and some respect it felt it lacked. Name six “democratic” countries that it even could have conceivably subsumed. I doubt there were even that many in Europe at the time (fine fine, maybe JUST that many, but most weren’t in the war).

    The British propaganda about Huns impaling babies on their pickelhauben definitely helped make the case to the US public too, just as the baby-incubator story in Kuwait helped ready us to be active in Gulf War I.

  23. Firstly, his name is spelled Ion, not Ian. It’s the Romanian equivalent of John.

    Secondly, Pacepa doesn’t seem to really have let go of the Cold War. His books on Ceausescu-era Romanian politics are excellent — just about the best accounts of Ceausescu and Romania’s secret intelligence projects that exist today — but his reference frame for US politics is a bit outmoded. Has he managed to stay 20 years in the past, but forget all about Ceausescu’s absurd cult of personality?

  24. The British propaganda about Huns impaling babies on their pickelhauben definitely helped make the case to the US public too, just as the baby-incubator story in Kuwait helped ready us to be active in Gulf War I.

    Don’t forget the public relations coup that the Brits scored when the Krauts sank Lusitania. Which, it turns out, was an entirely legitimate target because of the shit-ton of ammunition that they squirreled aboard.

  25. Weren’t the Kaiser and TR actually cousins?

  26. Weren’t the Kaiser and TR actually cousins?

    I think you are thinking of the Tsar and the Kaiser.

  27. I think Willy and Nicky were only cousins by marriage (could be wrong), and undoubtedly they were directly related as well (though more distantly), since that’s how they rolled back then. Wilhelm II and George V were first cousins though, both grandsons of Victoria (and despite his lack of interview skills and jealousy, I believe the Kaiser was a bit of an anglophile).

    Even though they weren’t directly related, the resemblance between George V and Nicholai II is uncanny.

  28. 1. You could just as well argue that America wasn’t democratic because of the denial of voting rights to women and black people. While those are certainly black marks, it doesn’t change the inherent nature of the governments, which were chosen through popular election. Democracy grows; it’s its inherent nature.

    2. We didn’t enter the war “before the war.” We entered a few years into the war, by which time the alliance among Western democracies was indeed real.

    3. Hindsight is 20/20. There was no way to know at the time that the German/Austrian alliance was going to lose.

    Some James,

    Quit attributing the mutterings of the liberal in your head to me. I hold no truck with Wilson, and am not given to believing in conspiracies of international capital. If you’d like to know my beliefs, let me tell you what they are.

  29. Looking at the Bush presidency, looking at Bush’s close friendship and support of Putin as he re-sovietizes Russia, looking at the WSJ’s support of soviet philosophy, as well as the Republicans very statist views…

    I wonder…sure communism “lost” but did the soviets? Sure communism lost…but statism on the levels that Soviet Russia, and now Greater Russia, as well as China exhibited/exhibit seem to have won here in America.

    Who one the cold war? The statists. Long live the motherland (homeland, fatherland…etc)

    You might think me a liberal troll (snicker), but watch, Hillary will capitalize on the executive authority that Bush pioneered to such “success” to insure a future where the US resembles China more than its own past.

  30. We entered a few years into the war, by which time the alliance among Western democracies was indeed real.

    What exactly are you talking about here? Even during the war, the US was never a formal member of the Allies.

  31. Er, even after the US entered the war, I mean.

  32. joe, Germany was hardly an absolute Monarchy in 1914. Its lower house of its legislature was elected by universal male suffrage, its upper house was appointed by the state governments–exactly like our Senate at the time.

    Though the Kaiser had many powers, the legislature could (and often did) cause him many headaches and successfully oppose some of his policies.

  33. Huh, guess I misremembered. I knew about all of the relations in Europe (he being Victoria’s grandson)–not sure how I got the idea about TR.

    WWI was a mess for all concerned. I think our direct involvement was likely a mistake, even at the time, but it’s impossible to know what would’ve happened if we hadn’t entered the war. Of course, it’s entirely possible that none of the totalitarian regimes would’ve risen–including the U.S.S.R.–if we hadn’t joined in. Massively bad unintended consequences, if true.

  34. … but Wilson got the word “twenty” back

  35. joe,

    I wasn’t trying to criticize you for “typical liberal” thinkings. I was poking fun a bit, but I think there is a grain of truth in “Merchants of Death” explanation for the US entry into the war as well. Not THAT simplistic, but general economic security reasons. Though, like PL I think overall the US involvement was a mistake probably, and with hindsight we can see that the war and the aftermath led to much greater carnage later.

    I’m seconding the point, which I also made earlier, that the US never officially allied with the allies in WWI. Also, by your definitions, Wilhelmine Germany was about as democratic as the UK.

  36. I’ve always suspected that that swamp rabbit that attacked President Carter was a Commie operative.

    Just look at its beady little collectivist eyes.

  37. Warty,

    I’m not talking about formal alliances, but about overall orientation in the world. The events of World War 1 created the enduring confederation of the western democracies through events on the ground, before we formalized that rough confederationw ith treaties.

    Cesar, Some James,

    I realize that Germany was not an absolute monarchy, but it wasn’t like Britain, either.

    The Kaiser actually was the inhereted, “divine right” chief executive and Commander in Chief. Not to mention the domination of German politics – at least in the spheres of foreign and military policy – by the virtually fuedalist Prussian military elite. That was a pathological government, qualitatively different from the maturing democracies of the west.

    Just to be clear, I’m not venturing an opinion on whether it actually was wise for us to enter the war, or whether the outcomes produced by our entry were positive. I’m just saying, there were solid and defensible, even in hindsight, reasons for our entry.

  38. In the latest Time/Zogby poll, Woodrow Wilson has a higher approval rating than Ron Paul. Case closed.

  39. In the latest Time/Zogby poll, Woodrow Wilson has a higher approval rating than Ron Paul. Case closed.

    I attribute this to the generally low quality of High School history teachers, and the whitewashing of our historical figures

  40. The British, French, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian Empires were all approximate moral equivalents in 1914. The tragedy is that the U.S. ever felt compelled to send our youths into the meatgrinder alongside them.

  41. Fuck you commies! You can’t call our president a braindead inbred freak! Only we can call him a braindead inbred freak.

    Which he so clearly is.

  42. The leader is good
    The leader is great
    We surrender our will
    As of this date

    or,

    Na na na na na na na na leader!

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