Wednesday, December 24, 2008


This is coolbert:

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." - - Sun Tzu.

Even the most casual student of military history is familiar with this famous quotation, attributed to the Chinese military theoretician [?] Sun Tzu?

That word - - "knowing" - - in the sense as would have been understood by Sun, is a much more complex proposition than generally realized? We are not just talking about bean counting here. NOT just talking about knowing, from intelligence sources, the number of tanks, submarines, manned long-range bombers, etc., that your potential adversary possesses.

KNOW must be understood in a much more nuanced sense as well?

We are also, perhaps, even more interested in the THOUGHT PROCESSES of the potential adversary. Intentions, motivations, the logical, rational, reasoned manner with with the foe arrives at decisions.

Here, from the Penskovskiy Papers, the Soviet GRU Colonel and spy for CIA/M16 Oleg Penskovskiy elaborates on the difficulties faced by those that "hope" to "know" the enemy:

"One thing must be clearly understood. If someone were to hand to an American general, an English general, and a Soviet general the same set of objective facts and scientific data, with instructions that these facts and data must be accepted as unimpeachable, and an analysis made and conclusions drawn on the basis of them, it is possible that the American and the Englishman would reach similar conclusions - - I don't know."

"But the Soviet general would arrive at conclusions which would be radically different from the other two."

And, according to Penskovskiy this is because of:

1. "he begins from a completely different set of basic premises and preconceived ideas."

2. "the logical process in his mind is totally unlike that of his Western counterparts."

3. "a different set of moral laws governs and restricts the behavior of the Soviet."

4. "the Soviet general's aims will be radically different from those of the American and the Englishman."

Premises and preconceived ideas - - logical processes - - moral laws - - radically different aims!!

And for each adversary, whoever they may be, the premises, the processes, the laws, the aims, WILL ALL BE DIFFERENT!! The Russians one way, the Chinese another, Bin Laden yet one more, etc.!!

There IS a lot of controversy regarding the "Penskovskiy Papers". Reputed in some circles to be a fraud. A fake, a forgery, concocted by the CIA.

According to the author Frank Gibney, these "papers" are not a fraud, a fake, a lie, a forgery.

Gibney relates how he was handed [by the CIA] a "mass" of typed anecdotal ruminations, random musings, incomplete essays and narratives. All purportedly written by Penskovskiy during his espionage career.

Gibney, along with the translation done by the Soviet defector Deriabin, put this incoherent "mass" into book form for publication. As simple as that?

Works for me! For others, such as Victor Marchetti and the Church Commission, the whole thing was a fraud. Gibney protests that NO ONE EVER ASKED HIM ABOUT ANY OF WHAT WAS PURPORTED TO BE TRUE OF FALSE!!

"The book was commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency. A 1976 Senate commission stated that 'the book was prepared and written by witting agency assets who drew on actual case materials.' Author Frank Gibney denied that the CIA forged the provided source material, which was also the opinion of Robert Conquest. Other dismissed the book as propaganda and having no historic value"

What is one to think? I guess each reader must make their own judgement.


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