Comrade J: What's true in the world of spies and lies?
February 2, 2008 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Sergei Tretyakov has been interviewed on CSPAN and NPR's Fresh Air and elsewhere this week, and I have had such mixed feelings about him. How has he helped his countrymen by betraying his country and defecting to the US? How would Americans view someone who defected from Bush's America, in a similar intelligence position, to Putin's Russia? (I'm no fan of Putin, I am VERY sympathetic to the plight of everyday Russians, and I loathe the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations in respect to Russia. I terms of analysis I tend to agree with Stephen F Cohen overall, and Anatol Lieven.)
posted by Auden at 8:53 PM on February 2, 2008

I find it difficult to believe that the "Nuclear Winter" scenario was merely a scam. Climatic modeling (and observation of natural phenomena with similar side effects) as continued on to this day. A recent report studying the effects of a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan concluded that effects on global temperature would be felt for over a decade.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:34 PM on February 2, 2008

Interesting stuff. Christ knows which parts are true and which not. Not that I doubt the various powers are still making life a riot with spy-vs.-spy1, but this sort of stuff goes through the looking glass and it's hard to know who to believe or what is really going on.
The Family Security Matters site looks like a spoof post-fascist-coup-America portal - the blonde matron and child staring into the mystic distance against a flag background (one tagline I saw: "What are the obstacles to American victory?" - I suggest massive hubris and a comical lack of self-awareness.) and has an anti-UN axe to grind. The undoubted corruption in the Oil-for-Food scandal is a free gift to these types. Whatever, Strobe Talbott's denials seem plausible enough; hardly surprising that a diplomat might speak candidly to the agent of a foreign power, well aware his words might eventually reach other ears.
The professor of English who wrote the Cal. Lit. Review piece is barely coherent, makes some odd claims and thinks Orwell was shot by the NKVD while in Spain (as opposed to by a fascist sniper as the man himself wrote).
posted by Abiezer at 9:43 PM on February 2, 2008

Family Security Matters was responsible for his particularly insane piece of wingnuttery (link to Digbys "Hullabaloo" blog, since FSM scrubbed it off their site once it got noticed by the outside world):

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead...

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans...He could then follow Caesar's example and...wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court...Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world?

And no, it's not a parody site.
posted by PlusDistance at 10:17 PM on February 2, 2008

Can we sidebar PlusDistance's comment, or would that hurt too many wittle feelings?
posted by trondant at 11:09 PM on February 2, 2008

Can we not use the word "wittle," ever?
posted by lumensimus at 11:33 PM on February 2, 2008

Can we sidebar PlusDistance's comment

How endwellian.
posted by dhartung at 11:58 PM on February 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans

That only really works at lower population densities, for example when expanding into territories held by hunter-gatherers, or when you're prepared to commit Mongol/Nazi-level slaughter, which requires state action and causes an adverse reaction from other states.

Also, your population growth rate is too low. You'd have to destroy women's rights to increase the birthrate enough, and that would result in a huge economic hit as you lose half your workforce.

Better to continue with your successful conversion of other societies into ones that mirror your own through marketing, immigration and assimilation, and continued economic and social success.
posted by alasdair at 3:27 AM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of heavy breathing about this guy (mainly fueled, of course, by the publicity machine for the book), but as Abiezer says, we'll never know how much is true and how much is self-serving bullshit. For anyone tempted to bother with the first review (by Prof. Kessler), here's a pull quote:

(Partly, some Stalinoidal academic critics were to blame for Melville’s having been occulted.)

Yes, as Stalin's minions were perpetrating all their other ravages, they were also busy suppressing Herman Melville! Fortunately, brave lit profs like the reviewer kept his banner flying high!

The second (WaPo) review is sensible.
posted by languagehat at 6:27 AM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, he'll probably sell a lot of books with all this bullshit, and I think that's all he REALLY cares about.
posted by briank at 7:54 AM on February 3, 2008

the first review reads like it was generated by a very stoned second-year english lolcat.
posted by yonation at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2008

"Stalinoidal" -- wow. My post-Cold War vocabulary is hereby expanded.
posted by pax digita at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2008

Here's the problem with any defector's story: traitors are not trustworthy narrators. How much of his tale is true, how much is self-promotion? How can we ever know?
posted by SPrintF at 11:16 AM on February 3, 2008

posted by Smedleyman at 1:32 PM on February 4, 2008

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