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The Farewell Dossier

Article #262 • Written by Alan Bellows

Soviet pipeline workers
Soviet pipeline workers

In 1982, operatives from the USSR's Committee for State Security-- known internationally as the KGB-- celebrated the procurement of a very elusive bit of Western technology. The Soviets were developing a highly lucrative pipeline to carry natural gas across the expanse of Siberia, but they lacked the software to manage the complex array of pumps, valves, turbines, and storage facilities that the system would require. The United States possessed such software, but the US government had predictably turned down their Cold War opponent's request to purchase the product.

Never ones to allow the limitations of the law to dictate their actions, the KGB officials inserted an agent to abduct the technology from a Canadian firm. Unbeknownst to the Soviet spies, the software they stole sported a little something extra: a few lines of computer code which had been inserted just for them.

Over the years the scientists of the Soviet Union had proven themselves highly adept at engineering feats such as space flight, but they lacked the technical know-how of American industry in areas such as computers and microelectronics. So agents of the USSR had procured pipeline technology from outside sources in order to tap the Urengoi natural gas field in Siberia and transport its bounty to Europe. But none of the USSR's fellow governments were willing to sell the sophisticated control software-- largely due to the US's efforts to block the sale of Soviet gas in Europe.

In July 1981, during a conference in Ottawa, French President Francois Mitterrand took US President Ronald Reagan aside to share some intriguing information. Mitterrand told him of a mountain of secret Soviet documents which detailed the penetration of KGB spies in US industries. The source of these documents was Colonel Vladimir I. Vetrov, a fifty-three year old engineer working for the KGB's Directorate T, a department dedicated to the acquisition of Western technology. Vetrov's duties included the evaluation of the intelligence procured by the department's Line X field agents. Vetrov had become disillusioned with the Communist ideal, however, and in 1980 he defected and began supplying French agents with copies of Directorate T documents. The French assigned him the codename "Farewell."

Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov
Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov

As members of the US Central Intelligence Agency began to receive and digest these documents, it became abundantly clear that the KGB was making up for their country's computer technology shortcomings by employing a vast and efficient network of spies. During the Nixon administration the US government had favored a policy of diplomacy and cooperation known as détente, and the "Farewell" documents showed that Soviets had taken advantage of this openness as a means to insert hundreds of Line X operatives into visiting delegations. During a visit to Boeing, for instance, Soviet scientists secretly applied adhesive to the bottom of their shoes in order to covertly collect metal samples from the floor. The documents also indicated that one of the Soviet Cosmonauts working on the joint Apollo-Soyuz spacecraft project was a KGB operative.

In all, Vetrov provided approximately four thousand documents to the French comprising a collection of data which exposed an astonishing degree of Soviet subterfuge. Ironically, the US had not been engaged in a true technology race with the Soviet Union, rather the US researchers had been constantly attempting to outdo themselves as the KGB cunningly pilfered the progress. The defector's documents also provided a detailed list of all of the technologies the Soviets had set out to gain through such means, consisting primarily of radar, computers, machine tools, and semiconductors. By all evidence, the Line X agents had already fulfilled over two-thirds of the requirements.

Rather than immediately arranging the deportation of the 200+ covert KGB agents named in the "Farewell" documents, CIA officials opted to ply their counter-intelligence trade. Perhaps the most useful data to fall out of Vetrov's leaked intelligence was a list of the technologies which Directorate T was seeking but had yet to acquire. Working in concert with the US Defense Department and the FBI, the CIA began to organize a large-scale conspiracy to plant deliberately defective information for the Line X operatives to stumble upon. Inaccurate-yet-convincing plans for stealth aircraft, space shuttles, machine parts, and chemicals were peppered throughout US industry. Over the following months the polluted intelligence found its way into Soviet manufacturing and military, causing inexplicable problems in tractor factories, chemical production, and aircraft research among other things.

French President Francois Mitterrand and US President Ronald Reagan
French President Francois Mitterrand and US President Ronald Reagan

After the US government denied the USSR's request to buy the software to automate their new trans-Siberian pipeline, a KGB agent was covertly sent to a Canadian company to steal the software. A new batch of Farewell Dossier documents brought these efforts to the attention of the CIA, prompting US agents to tailor a special version of the software for the Soviets, and plant it at the company in question. Delighted at the ease of procuring the program, the Soviets tested their complete pipeline automation system and everything seemed to hum along smoothly. By about the middle of 1982, the pipeline was pumping massive amounts of natural gas across Kazakhstan and Russia to Eastern Europe, bringing in a tidy profit for the USSR government.

Some weeks after going online, in the summer of 1982, the clandestine code in the pipeline control program asserted itself. Disguised as an automated system test, the software instructed a series of valves, turbines, and pumps to increase the pipeline's pressure far beyond its capacity, putting considerable strain on the line's many joints and welds over a period of time. One day, somewhere in the cold loneliness of Siberia, the overexerted pipeline finally succumbed to the pressure.

As satellites for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) watched from orbit, a massive explosion rocked the Siberian wilderness. The fireball had an estimated destructive power of three kilotons, or about 1/4 the strength of the Hiroshima bomb. Initially NORAD suspected a nuclear test, but there was only silence from the satellites which would have detected the telltale electromagnetic signature. US military officials who were not privy to the Farewell Dossier activities were understandably concerned about the event-- one of the largest non-nuclear blasts ever recorded-- but the CIA quietly assured them that there was nothing to worry about. It would be fourteen years before the real cause of the event would be revealed.

It was impossible for the CIA to predict which section of the pipeline would fail once their trojan horse released its payload, but fortunately the failure occurred in a remote location. In spite of the massive energy that was released when the line ruptured and ignited there were no injuries or deaths reported. But the Soviet economy itself was severely injured by the blast. When investigators in the USSR eventually discovered that the event had been triggered by sabotaged software, the KGB leadership were furious, but unable to lodge any official protest regarding the deliberate defect since that would also expose their own large-scale espionage efforts.

An example of a pipeline rupture
An example of a pipeline rupture

Upon realizing that the CIA was serving imitation intelligence, the other recent problems with US-derived designs were no longer so mysterious. Given the dramatic results of the pipeline bug, all of the burgled Western technology was immediately cast under suspicion, a situation which mired the Soviet's borrowed progress in a pit of uncertainty and suspicion.

Colonel Vladimir I. Vetrov fed vital information to French intelligence officials for well over a year, ultimately providing over 4,000 photographed documents. In January 1982, however, the French intelligence agency stopped receiving any more information from him. Later they learned that he had been walking in a Moscow park when he stabbed a fellow KGB operative and a woman for reasons unknown. His espionage activities were exposed during the ensuing police investigation, and he was executed for treason in 1983 on 23 February 1985.

The following year, as the Soviet economy struggled to recover, the United States and NATO dealt a further blow to the USSR by executing a massive deportation of all of the Line X agents named in the Farewell Dossier. With their US and European technology-gathering network in shambles, their giant technology espionage machine ground to a halt.

The documents regarding the CIA's Farewell disinformation campaign were declassified in 1996, finally revealing the truth about the massive Siberian pipeline explosion fourteen years after it happened. The orchestrated subterfuge was one of the most successful US inter-agency efforts ever undertaken, and it was executed with such skill that it was never detected. Some condemn the deliberate explosion as thinly veiled terrorism given the lack of an open war with the Soviet Union, while others insist that ill-gotten goods are the plunderer's problem. In any case, it clearly demonstrates that software piracy can have very serious consequences.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 26 March 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows. Article suggested by thermopile.
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93 Comments
denki
Posted 26 March 2007 at 05:11 pm

CCCP not advanced with computers? Ever hear of a little thing called Tetris?


evokill
Posted 26 March 2007 at 05:17 pm

I remember a professor telling us that the US govt had given serious thought to not allowing the exporting of the NES to the USSR, as it possessed more processing power than the Soviet's had at the time.


Puppeto
Posted 26 March 2007 at 05:24 pm

Truthfully I don't think technology has really progressed that much in Russia even today. The last guy I talked to in Russia was still using a rig with a 400mhz AMD K6 processor with 64mb of ram and a 10gb harddrive. I remember having something similar, in 1997. Not to mention broadband penetration in Russia sucks as well. I'd say they're still a little behind from some of that defective equipment.


Dixie Flatline
Posted 26 March 2007 at 05:35 pm

Ah, but that's why they produce so many good programmers -- they've learned to extract maximal performance from minimal hardware (because for a long time, that's all they had).


salderosa54
Posted 26 March 2007 at 06:26 pm

That's damn interesting. I think it's awesome that we were covertly able to catch the soviets in the act but reverse the outcome and mess all their stuff up. Ha, too bad our country isn't being run by the same people as it was then, we definetly would not even be in Iraq, nonetheless if we were we'd be wooping ass not getting americans killed.


bitemark
Posted 26 March 2007 at 06:38 pm

Great article Alan!

FYI it's Ottawa, not Ottowa. :)


Alan Bellows
Posted 26 March 2007 at 07:04 pm

bitemark said: "FYI it's Ottawa, not Ottowa. :)"

Doh! Thanks, I'll fix it.


Jeremy
Posted 26 March 2007 at 07:12 pm

I seem to recall reports from right before 2000 (I believe it was an article about Y2k) which stated that the US State Department still had people using Wangs, so the former Soviet Union isn't the only place where governments are a bit behind in upgrading their computer equipment.


quidnuncquixot
Posted 26 March 2007 at 07:33 pm

evokill said: "I remember a professor telling us that the US govt had given serious thought to not allowing the exporting of the NES to the USSR, as it possessed more processing power than the Soviet's had at the time."

Why would the US government be able to stop the exporting of the NES to the USSR? It's a Japanese product.


evokill
Posted 26 March 2007 at 08:46 pm

quidnuncquixot said: "Why would the US government be able to stop the exporting of the NES to the USSR? It's a Japanese product."

The Japanese being our Allies, and relying heavily on us for their protection, probably would listen very carefully if we asked them not to do something.


Old Man
Posted 26 March 2007 at 08:49 pm

Like they couldn't buy a NES in any number of countries and just ship it over...

apocryphal

And what's a Wang?


mkp
Posted 26 March 2007 at 09:22 pm

evokill said: "The Japanese being our Allies, and relying heavily on us for their protection, probably would listen very carefully if we asked them not to do something."

exactly, they're called "Free Trade" agreements. Being an Australian I hear all about them as we're heavily affected by them. Australia is a direct competitor with the US in agriculture exports therefore such agreements limit where our produce can go - in exchange for protection I guess?


Joshua
Posted 26 March 2007 at 09:24 pm

From the article: It was impossible for the CIA to predict which section of the pipeline would fail once their trojan horse released its payload, but fortunately the failure occurred in a remote location. In spite of the massive energy that was released when the line ruptured and ignited there were no injuries or deaths reported. But the Soviet economy itself was severely injured by the blast. When investigators in the USSR eventually discovered that the event had been triggered by sabotaged software, the KGB leadership were furious, but unable to lodge any official protest regarding the deliberate defect since that would also expose their own large-scale espionage efforts.

Exposure notwithstanding, I wonder whether the Soviets would have responded with such restraint had the rupture occurred in a major population center, or near a military installation.


crispi
Posted 26 March 2007 at 10:17 pm

DI!

And, very funny.


SparkyTWP
Posted 26 March 2007 at 11:28 pm

Joshua said: "Exposure notwithstanding, I wonder whether the Soviets would have responded with such restraint had the rupture occurred in a major population center, or near a military installation."

I imagine the response would've been the same. They were woefully behind us in technology at this point and wouldn't have stood a chance in a war. I think Chernobyl also very clearly showed how little they actually cared about their general population.


Keijo
Posted 26 March 2007 at 11:45 pm

According to the official FSB site (http://www.fsb.ru/history/autors/kramar3.html) (fast translation by me): On 3 November, 1982, the tribunal of Moscow military district found Vetrov guilty of the intentional murder and sentenced him to 15 years in a colony of a strict regime with the deprivation of service rank and rewards. But during August 1984 when he was sent to serve sentence in Irkutsk, the criminal intelligence officer "had luck" to return to Moscow - to serve the sentence in the investigation insulator "Lefortovo". During November he appeared before the court of law for charge of treason to the native land in the form of espionage. On 14 December the Military Judicial Board of the Supreme Court OF THE USSR carried out the sentence, after which there was no returning back. On 23 February, 1985, Vetrov was shot. Who knows, if there would have not been quarrel with the mistress, possibly, Colonel would continue and further quietly work in the State Security Agent field, at the same time earning additionally from the French associates.


Gerry Matlack
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:02 am

Keijo said: "Who knows, if there would have not been quarrel with the mistress, possibly, Colonel would continue and further quietly work in the State Security Agent field, at the same time earning additionally from the French associates."

So the reasons unknown that he stabbed the woman in the park probably had something to do with her being his mistress? Should have known better and kept his nose clean...


white_matter
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:11 am

(w/ Russian Accent) In Soviet Russia, Seberian Pipeline explodes YOU!


HiEv
Posted 27 March 2007 at 01:49 am

Dixie Flatline said: "Ah, but that's why they produce so many good programmers — they've learned to extract maximal performance from minimal hardware (because for a long time, that's all they had)."

I've got to second that. I'm an American programmer, and I use Russian firewall and anti-virus software because it's the best out there.


Hayley
Posted 27 March 2007 at 05:28 am

Heh...heh...heh....

I know I ought to be horrified at the environmental damage probably caused and all...but that is too cool on the part of the US.


jarvisloop
Posted 27 March 2007 at 05:53 am

"Puppeto says: Truthfully I don't think technology has really progressed that much in Russia even today."

Your statement matches what I have read about the former Soviet Union's technology then and Russian technology now. However, being suspicious by nature, I wonder how much we hear about Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, etc. is the truth and how much is "disinformation." Have you ever read Orwell's "1984"?

Final item: I have also read that we in the United States lag behind the general populations of Europe and Japan in terms of the latest consumer technologies. Has anyone else read the same information?


Radiatidon
Posted 27 March 2007 at 05:56 am

There were many items restricted when it came to the USSR. During the early 1980s various items in my possession were examined before I could travel into any communist country at that time. I had an old Atari 800 computer system that was on the list of contraband. The computer user group that I belong to at the time acquired an encryption program that was confiscated by the government due to our isolated location and high concentration of Soviet spy network in our area.

When a group of us traveled to the USSR we were told by the State Department that we should not take any religious articles nor more than two pairs of jeans. Seems that trading or selling either of those items to Soviet Citizens would land you in a Russian jail.


Hoekstes
Posted 27 March 2007 at 06:33 am

And what's a Wang?"

According to WikiPedia:
"A slang term for the penis, primarily in North America and the UK. Certain dictionaries list this under whang, which may be a variant or the source of the word wang. "
You know, like a PIPELINE....!!!!


ironcross
Posted 27 March 2007 at 08:41 am

Unfortunately, this would never happen today. Toomuch fear from environmentalists whining about the explosion and the fact the CIA is not 1/10th of what it was in the 1980s. Unfortunately that, as we are going to need it soon when the Chinese start their conquests


atlcog
Posted 27 March 2007 at 08:49 am

Wang marketed an early IBM PC compatible computer that wasn't fully compatible. More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Laboratories


SparkyTWP
Posted 27 March 2007 at 09:43 am

Final item: I have also read that we in the United States lag behind the general populations of Europe and Japan in terms of the latest consumer technologies. Has anyone else read the same information?

That depends on how you quantify that.

Japan tends to make and adopt new technology quite quickly. I can only speculate that it's because they are a resource-poor nation and had to rely on their technology to succeed economically. It helps that much of it is built in nearby in China and Taiwan. Much of the new technology fails, some of it succeeds. It's pretty much a testing ground.

Based on my experiences in Europe, I'd say they are about the same as the US, except that cell phones are much more ubiquitous.


CanInternet
Posted 27 March 2007 at 10:12 am

hehehe reminds of the Concordski...


lostindustrial
Posted 27 March 2007 at 10:58 am

This would make a great movie.

One question...I thought Vladimir defected? If so how would he be walking in a Mosow park? I thought once you defect, you can never return (unless of course the government changes)?


nukebass
Posted 27 March 2007 at 11:01 am

Something I don't understand... if Soviet computers, aircraft, rockets, ICBM's, ships, subs, rifles, spies, tanks, nuclear powerplants, programmers, technology at all...etc... are a big pile o'crap in comparison to US, why they were such a threat to US and its allies??? Why did US government were so afraid of Soviets? Why such a worry with a "junkyard" like URSS? I think US tends to underestimates everyone... I just wonder... let's pretend we believe...

(waiting flames now :-)


SparkyTWP
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:01 pm

nukebass: Because a poorly-built nuke is still a nuke. From the 70s on, the Soviets knew that they wouldn't be able to hold their own in a regular war, the nukes were all they had left to deter an invasion.


wh44
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:20 pm

nukebass said: "Something I don't understand… if Soviet computers, aircraft, rockets, ICBM's, ships, subs, rifles, spies, tanks, nuclear powerplants, programmers, technology at all…etc… are a big pile o'crap in comparison to US, why they were such a threat to US and its allies??? Why did US government were so afraid of Soviets? Why such a worry with a "junkyard" like URSS? I think US tends to underestimates everyone… I just wonder… let's pretend we believe…

(waiting flames now :-)"

Several reasons:

- Quantity can trump quality (10 excellent tanks may still lose against 100 poor tanks).

- The Soviets were often better at propaganda ("winning over hearts and minds").

- The USSR doesn't have to win in order to make us lose. Ever hear of MAD = Mutually Assured Destruction?

- At least some of the fear was deliberately produced by the Military-Industrial Complex (i.e. some companies and high ranking military) to increase defense spending.

(No flames. :-)


frisbee212
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:36 pm

I seem to recall hearing about the US doing something similiar during Operation Desert Storm. I remember reading that the CIA was able to plant a virus in the operating sytem of Iraq's SAM Central radar software... It seems that when the airstrike began, the virus immediatly shut down Iraq's guidance system, or something like that. Has anyone else heard this? It was a long time ago, but reading this DI article jogged this little bit of info from the deep recesses of my brain.LOL. Great article Alan


agooga
Posted 27 March 2007 at 12:41 pm

Nukebass: Also, that is why Soviet nukes had such massive yields compared to US nukes. They knew they were innacurate, but a big enough fireball (and perhaps peppering a target with a few back ups) will kill the target just as dead as a lower yield, highly accurate US warhead.


inmyopinion
Posted 27 March 2007 at 01:29 pm

mkp said: "exactly, they're called "Free Trade" agreements. Being an Australian I hear all about them as we're heavily affected by them. Australia is a direct competitor with the US in agriculture exports therefore such agreements limit where our produce can go - in exchange for protection I guess?"

Yeah you got to pay money/oil for protection or you gonna get your country trashed. That will teach you to show some respect for the Godfa... I mean president.


Sulevis
Posted 27 March 2007 at 01:42 pm

I absolutely adore the tone of the comments. It can be summed up as "hur hur stupid Russkies, go CIA! Terrorism is A-OK if America is doing it!"

If the article concerned France or the UK, you'd all be foaming at the mouth of the atrocities commited. But no, it's USSR, the universal bogeyman, so it's okay to laugh and celebrate.

Now that's over with, USSR's stupidly strict laws as to what could and could not be imported resulted in huge shortages of everything. But that doesn't mean that Soviet programmers were or are worse than USA ones or that the former USSR is "backwards". It's "backwards" because all of it is pretty much in ruins and definitely in an economic crisis.

Oh and nukebass? Ex-Soviet and Russian programmers are not crap. Most of them work in Silicone Valley now.

Also, while our military technology was not as advanced as USA's, we did a hell of a lot more space exploration. And everyone seems to be forgetting the Soviet triumph in World War II. We don't have shiny toys to blow other people up with, but we make up for it in other ways.

(Note: I'm an expat from Russia.)


King of the Cows
Posted 27 March 2007 at 02:18 pm

Jeremy said: "I seem to recall reports from right before 2000 (I believe it was an article about Y2k) which stated that the US State Department still had people using Wangs, so the former Soviet Union isn't the only place where governments are a bit behind in upgrading their computer equipment."

I still use my Wang all the time.

/can't believe it took that long


SparkyTWP
Posted 27 March 2007 at 02:44 pm

"hur hur stupid Russkies, go CIA! Terrorism is A-OK if America is doing it!"

Sorry, but I think this hardly counts as terrorism. We didn't bomb them, we didn't even help build it. They stole something, then stupidly installed it without checking it vigorously, then had it blow up (Pardon the pun) in their face. Terrorism targets civilians, and that wasn't the goal of this. It was to completely destroy their espionage program, and it brilliantly succeeded.


ZBrisk
Posted 27 March 2007 at 02:51 pm

nukebass said: "Something I don't understand… if Soviet computers, aircraft, rockets, ICBM's, ships, subs, rifles, spies, tanks, nuclear powerplants, programmers, technology at all…etc… are a big pile o'crap in comparison to US, why they were such a threat to US and its allies??? Why did US government were so afraid of Soviets? Why such a worry with a "junkyard" like URSS? I think US tends to underestimates everyone… I just wonder… let's pretend we believe…

Underestimating the USSR would've been a mistake. Sure America had more fancy equipment, but the Russians were resourceful. Like someone mentioned, they made up for their hardware with great progammers. Their weapons were generally cheaper and more reliable too. Take the comparison of AK-47 and m16 rifles for example. While the m16 is regarded as an accurate rifle, the AK-47 is more durable and far less prone to jamming, plus they're good submachine guns. Russian tanks are generally lighter than the powerful Abrams, and have smaller crews. Russian subs are by no means junk; they could be very deadly, and there were a lot of them. The fact that the Russians won the space race says something about how they fared in space travel. As for nuclear power, Chernobyl was human error, not mechanical. There have been a share of nuclear accidents in the West as well, but Chernobyl had the poor luck of being a serious mistake. Soviet factories were readily convertible to military production. In the event of a war, they would've quickly manufactured a whole crapload of weapons. So basically, the US would have something to fear in a war with the Soviets, even without nuclear weapons.

But the idea of the Soviet Union starting a war was unrealistic. They kept to their own borders far more than the US did. The thing that scared power in the West was the fact that there was another superpower to compete with. The fact that Cuba, India, or whoever could turn to the Soviet economy was what antagonized them so much.


Radiatidon
Posted 27 March 2007 at 03:15 pm

Sulevis said: "I absolutely adore the tone of the comments. It can be summed up as "hur hur stupid Russkies, go CIA! Terrorism is A-OK if America is doing it!"

(Note: I'm an expat from Russia.)"

I am not Russian, but visited portions of the old USSR.

First it is a misconception here that the USSR equipment was all total el’ crapo. Lots of the hardware was as good as the USA. The difference was the technology. The jets flew just a fast, but the radar/missile tracking ability was lacking. During the cold war, countries across the globe were stealing stuff from one another, not just the USSR from the USA.

The USA had spies in the Soviet Block stealing as much state secrets as the USSR had in the USA.

Don’t knock a country because of its leaders. I chatted with many Soviet Citizens who were both true Red loyalist and those who were not. I encountered a little old lady, wearing shawl and as wrinkled as an apple left a week in the sun. She was KGB. I sweated for two hours while two Soviet guards held AK-47s pointed at me. I met villagers who asked me why I didn’t talk like a gangster and if everyone in the USA carried a Tommy gun. Or others who asked if any of my family had been scalped lately and if I could plug a nickel with my six-guns (this was funny since I am part Cherokee). Just as in any country I discovered new friends, enjoyed friendship, and loved the culture and craftsmanship of the soviet people.

Every country has its pride and its shame. Too bad each country has its zealots. Russia has contributed its share of advancements to the world just as America has. Russian people have every right to be proud of their fellow countryman’s achievements as any other country.

You have every right to be proud of your countrie's achivements Sulevis.


ZBrisk
Posted 27 March 2007 at 03:28 pm

Also...This reminds me of the Civilization/Alpha Centauri games. Getting technology that's already been researched is a very good thing, since that way you don't have to waste your time making it yourself.

I don't think this can be justified though. Was it worth it to waste gas, damage the environment, and risk the lives of civilians (they had no idea where the pipeline could've blown) just to keep Russians from collecting their natural resources? I'll admit it was well pulled off though.


1c3d0g
Posted 27 March 2007 at 03:52 pm

So now it's the Chinese instead of Soviets playing the same old game. Perhaps one day they'll also realize the error of their ways and start innovating before it's too late...


Sir Osis Of Liver
Posted 27 March 2007 at 04:01 pm

Once upon a time I sold used computer equipment. This was many years ago. A woman called one day and asked if we had any old computer equipment. I asked her what she was looking for. She replied, "What I'd really like is an 8" floppy Wang." And then the phone went silent. You could almost hear the blood rushing to her cheeks. She hung up...

Why are there no British computers?

Their engineers still haven't figured out how to make a computer leak oil.


thingummy
Posted 27 March 2007 at 04:39 pm

Sulevis said: "I absolutely adore the tone of the comments. It can be summed up as "hur hur stupid Russkies, go CIA! Terrorism is A-OK if America is doing it!"


First I don't think this was terrorism. Sorry. It was a case of reaping what you sow.

Second. I don't know what life was like in the USSR in the 50's and 60's but here there was so much fear of being bombed people were just not normal anymore. The media and the US Government had us all in a panic attack, running around building bomb shelters, suspecting our neighbors of being "commies", etc.
We were not encouraged to think of Soviets as people but rather scheming evil trolls who wanted to take us over and make us all live unhappy miserable captive lives.

So picture how someone raised like that is going to feel, react and talk when the "perceived" threat is gone. There's going to be a lot of braggadocio (sp?) and chest thumping out of sheer relief. The next generations won't be so mean and really won't understand what all the fuss was about. In the meantime extend to us some of the understanding you want to get. We're all doin' the best we know how.


~LooEz_ProvinCIA~
Posted 27 March 2007 at 06:32 pm

Sir Osis Of Liver said: " I asked her what she was looking for. She replied, "What I'd really like is an 8" floppy Wang." And then the phone went silent"

Damn that was interesting and hilarious, both the article and the comment.

But seriously now, can someone explain why the CIA is 1/10 of what it used to be? Is there more DI articles of cool CIA plans of back when they were in their prime?


mkp
Posted 27 March 2007 at 06:37 pm

yep, reaping what you sow.............

like arming and training the Taliban/mujahadeen to fight the Russion in the 80's, or arming and financing Suddam and his boys to go fight Iran back in the 80's as well. Or how about again arming and financing the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in case of an attack from communist Vietnam - never mind the Khmer Rouge were also committing mass genocide of their own people at the same time. Same goes for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor back in the 70's (Austrlaia was helped out with this as well, although 25 years later the same govt flipped and decided to help kick the Indo's out of East Timor - go figure).
it all comes back around


Keijo
Posted 27 March 2007 at 10:24 pm

lostindustrial said: "This would make a great movie.

One question…I thought Vladimir defected? If so how would he be walking in a Mosow park? I thought once you defect, you can never return (unless of course the government changes)?"

defect (verb) according to http://www.m-w.com:

1 : to forsake one cause, party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology
2 : to leave one situation (as a job) often to go over to a rival (the reporter defected to another network)

So he just forsake his cause as a KGB agent. He didn't physically move anywhere.


Old Man
Posted 27 March 2007 at 10:45 pm

Really, you should all be thanking the French for this great victory. Vive la France!


ccollett
Posted 28 March 2007 at 06:04 am

This story strikes a remarkable resemblance to a book I read called "The Octopus: Secret Government and the Death of Danny Casolaro" (Amazon ISBN: 0922915911). It's the story of an investigative reporter who dies a mysterious death after researching Inslaw, the software company that developed the spy software, PROMIS for the Justice Dept. It is rumored that he got to close to the truth and died as a result. A great read if you liked Alan's story here on Damn Interesting.


Sulevis
Posted 28 March 2007 at 10:19 am

[q]So picture how someone raised like that is going to feel, react and talk when the "perceived" threat is gone. There's going to be a lot of braggadocio (sp?) and chest thumping out of sheer relief. The next generations won't be so mean and really won't understand what all the fuss was about. In the meantime extend to us some of the understanding you want to get. We're all doin' the best we know how.[/q]

I can understand that, though it goes both ways. My grandparents' generation don't trust Americans same as Americans their age wouldn't trust anyone from the former USSR.

I think you're right, it's just a matter of time until both countries stop thinking the other was the ultimate enemy. Sadly I've seen little attempt to generate a more positive outlook towards the former Soviet Union. Maybe it's because I'm not directly exposed to USA's culture. :P

Too bad each country has its zealots.

Yeah. The Russian patriots can be as scary as American patriots. We're all a product of two cultures that were in some ways incredibly similar. Rabid jingoism was (and still is, to my knowledge) is still encouraged. :/

(I'm not a zealot but after years of seeing nothing but the West's viewpoint in history books, especially concerning WWII and the Cold War and the

In any case, I realise I over-reacted yesterday. No (serious) offence meant to anyone.


agooga
Posted 28 March 2007 at 11:09 am

"Sadly I've seen little attempt to generate a more positive outlook towards the former Soviet Union. "

In modern America (as well as most "western" democracies) you have all the access to the facts you need to form your own opinion. Many Americans have the opinion that the former USSR hasn't got it's shit together yet. The positive outlook will come when corruption is contained, rule of law is firmly established, business, medicine, manufacturing and technology are brought up to par, etc.

And now, Putin's Russia is being viewed by many Americans as something in between an enemy and an ally with his financial dealings with rogue states and his history as the former chief of the FSB which has been widely implicated in suppression of public dissent.

There is reason still to look somewhat askance at modern Russia, but maybe in time, these reasons will fade.


Mike I
Posted 28 March 2007 at 11:20 am

Puppeto said: "Truthfully I don't think technology has really progressed that much in Russia even today. The last guy I talked to in Russia was still using a rig with a 400mhz AMD K6 processor with 64mb of ram and a 10gb harddrive. I remember having something similar, in 1997. Not to mention broadband penetration in Russia sucks as well. I'd say they're still a little behind from some of that defective equipment."

400mhz? My home machine is still my PII-233 Gateway G-6, with the original 4gb drive. It may be slow (hell, it is slow!) but it is as strong as ox. And about as big as one.

It's always been well known that the Soviets snarfed info and technology where they could, much of it from the U.S. Does anybody know what, if any, similar stuff we've stolen from them?


SparkyTWP
Posted 28 March 2007 at 12:00 pm

We learned a lot of aeronautical stuff from them in the 50s and 60s when their planes were better. Captured MIGs were a great resource that the US government put a huge bounty on. There were others, but I'm not familiar enough to name any specifically, although I think they were mostly focused on the military.


Radiatidon
Posted 28 March 2007 at 03:06 pm

SparkyTWP said: "We learned a lot of aeronautical stuff from them in the 50s and 60s when their planes were better. Captured MIGs were a great resource that the US government put a huge bounty on. There were others, but I'm not familiar enough to name any specifically, although I think they were mostly focused on the military."

To continue SparkyTWP's post (hope you don't mind) A few US missions (in a nutshell) to obtain Soviet tech:

September 1946 – US B-17 used to collect ELINT (Electronic Signals Intelligence) by landing at a recently abandoned Soviet Station in the Arctic. Otherwise recording a rival’s electronic defense/attack network from an area near or within the rival’s territory.

During the Korean War the US captured and studied many Soviet MiG-15 jets, I1-10 and Yak-9 aircraft.

In April 1968 a Soviet Golf-class ballistic missile sub sank near Hawaii. The USSR performed a search nowhere near the site, but the US had sonar data that gave a 10 mile radius of possible location. The CIA used a recovery vehicle built by Howard Huges’ company to salvage the sub. Known as Project Jennifer with the cover story that this was a deep sea mining rig. This gave access to soviet nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cipher/code equipment, sub design & control mechanisms, and ballistic missiles. All of which the US security needed to see just how advance and accurate these items were. The story was that only the forward section had been retrieved with two torpedoes, 8 dead crewmen, and various cipher equipment. Little is known just how much was really retrieved.

In 1973 during the Yom Kippur war Israel captured various Soviet tanks, weapons, and other equipment that was shared with the US. Military experts were surprised at the advances made in weapon and chemical warfare by the USSR vs. what US intelligence thought they had.

As a side-note to the story, the Soviet Union was far superior in the use of disinformation to dupe US intelligence. Using moles, double agents, and false documents they showed a front of inferior technology, primitive weapons yield, and sub-standard war machine numbers. No the USSR was not a minor pain in US Intelligence and defense but a major power to be reckoned with throughout the cold war.

The US had superior technology, but the Soviet’s were superior in counterintelligence. Basically a stalemate when the two sides are compared as to who was more likely to win a major conflict.


USNSPARKS
Posted 28 March 2007 at 03:18 pm

I still remember this story that I probably heard a good 40 years ago. During WWII the Americans drafted
up some phony plans for a battleship and made it easy for the Japanese to "steal". Naturally they did and
they proceeded to build this massive ship. When it was launched it sank like a rock. I've never tried to
track it down. Seems a bit far fetched but then again.


Radiatidon
Posted 28 March 2007 at 03:29 pm

Puppeto said: "Truthfully I don't think technology has really progressed that much in Russia even today. The last guy I talked to in Russia was still using a rig with a 400mhz AMD K6 processor with 64mb of ram and a 10gb harddrive. I remember having something similar, in 1997. Not to mention broadband penetration in Russia sucks as well. I'd say they're still a little behind from some of that defective equipment."

Just because a country is weak in some areas, it can still be more progressive in others. For example NASA's Atlas I-Centaur is using a Russian RD-180 engine built by NPO Energomash of Russia. Due to the superior design and power abilities on the engine over US rocket engines of similar design and fuel requirements.


Radiatidon
Posted 28 March 2007 at 03:30 pm

Oops... forgot the link about the Atlas I-Centaur -- http://www.spaceline.org/rocketsum/Atlas-IIIa.html


goose
Posted 28 March 2007 at 03:40 pm

It's the shame of the 20th century. At the start of the Russian revolution the Communist Party proudly announced themselves to the world and seriously expected to be welcomed into a triad of great humanist, experimental republics along with France and the US. They were flabbergasted to find themselves completely isolated by the Wilson administration and the international community taking his lead, and in time became a state permanently subjected to economic warfare and various conditions of military siege or invasion. Their revolution had been marred by repression, hypocricy and mass murder but this is not unusual for a republic's beginning - France for example outgrew the atrocities of its revolution. What if the international community had welcomed the new Soviet Union - as they did France - and helped them gain the industrialisation they wanted more than anything? Then, arguably, they might have grown a different way, having no use for the closed borders, the terror, the collectivisation program, leaders like Stalin, and the gradual takeover of all levels of government by the secret police.


Marko11
Posted 28 March 2007 at 05:11 pm

If I recall correctly France was invaded following its revolution and condemned by the various kingdoms that made up the international community at the time.


misanthrope
Posted 29 March 2007 at 03:55 am

Mike I said: "400mhz? My home machine is still my PII-233 Gateway G-6, with the original 4gb drive. It may be slow (hell, it is slow!) but it is as strong as ox. And about as big as one.

Ahhh, your comment is a wee bit late for me to be able to trump you - A few years ago I had to throw out my old IBM XT with original 10Mb HD! It died once too often and I just couldn't get it fixed. I still used it right up till the day it died for the final time...


Dave Group
Posted 29 March 2007 at 05:59 am

Terrific article. I know I shouldn't laugh, but I guess they got what they deserved. James Bond couldn't have done any better. Let's not forget that, under Stalin, 50 million citizens were killed.


Sulevis
Posted 29 March 2007 at 06:05 am

Well said, goose.

I sometimes think that if Leon Trotsky came to power after Lenin, we'd all be a little better off. Trotsky was the one gagging for a world revolution, for those that don't know.


agooga
Posted 29 March 2007 at 08:45 am

Goose: You are claiming that it's the fault of the west that the USSR failed? Please!

While there may be a shred of truth to the supposition that friendly relations with the USSR might have made the nation a better place to live, no one forced it to be the totalitarian nightmare it quickly grew into.

To "prove" to the west that the USSR was capable of joining the brotherhood of free and progressive nations, they could have done any number of things to illustrate a genuine intent to reform.

After WWII, Americans were tired of war and ready to enjoy their peace dividend and get on with their lives. What did the Soviet Union do? Invade and brutally subjugate several eastern bloc nations, steal atomic secrets from the US and develop their own nuclear arsenal and begin rattling the war sabres. Meanwhile, they ratcheted up their gulags and killed or imprisoned millions of their own dissidents for the least crimes.

There were VERY GOOD reasons, then, to fear and loathe the Soviet Union.


agooga
Posted 29 March 2007 at 09:46 am

And @Sulevis:

"I sometimes think that if Leon Trotsky came to power after Lenin, we'd all be a little better off. Trotsky was the one gagging for a world revolution, for those that don't know."

Good-hearted, benevolent, educated dictators will eventually, inevitably be replaced by stupid, evil and corrupt dictators. It is not enough to hope for a good one, or even a series of good ones. It is the SYSTEM that allows them that is at fault.

And I would also suppose that the more stupid, brutal and corrupt you are, the MORE likely it is that you will succeed and thrive as a dictator, so the system inadvertantly favors brutal, totalitarian regimes.

It is best for the world to be rid of such regimes as quickly and expeditiously as possible.


Jeffrey93
Posted 29 March 2007 at 10:01 am

agooga said: "And @Sulevis:


Good-hearted, benevolent, educated dictators will eventually, inevitably be replaced by stupid, evil and corrupt dictators. It is not enough to hope for a good one, or even a series of good ones. It is the SYSTEM that allows them that is at fault.

And I would also suppose that the more stupid, brutal and corrupt you are, the MORE likely it is that you will succeed and thrive as a dictator, so the system inadvertantly favors brutal, totalitarian regimes.

It is best for the world to be rid of such regimes as quickly and expeditiously as possible."

First....who are you to decide what is best for the world?

Also, Communism is the most equal and fair system out there. If the entire world was under communist rule, in theory, we'd all, as a whole, be much better off.

The problem is the people invovled in the system. They ruin it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If the system was operated how it theoretically should be, it would be the best choice, by far.

Everyone treated equally and getting their fair piece of the pie. What could be better?


smokefoot
Posted 29 March 2007 at 10:08 am

"(I'm not a zealot but after years of seeing nothing but the West's viewpoint in history books, especially concerning WWII and the Cold War and the"

You might want to read _Why the Allies Won_, which does a very good job discussing the miracle the USSR pulled off in dismantling entire factories and moving them to be safe from the German advance, and then producing incredible numbers of basic but effective tanks and other weapons. As well as the incredibly vicious fighting in Stalingrad (considered by some the bloodiest battle in human history), and finally the use of intelligence to figure out where the final German advance would be and the setting of a trap which smashed any hope of Nazi victory in the east.

This also shows why the USA and NATO were worried about the USSR - they made up for any technological deficiencies with simplicity, numbers and brute force. During WW2, the USSR's T34 tank was a simple tank compared to the German's, but it had a bigger gun, more armor and was built in quantities the Germans hadn't imagined.


SparkyTWP
Posted 29 March 2007 at 10:58 am

First….who are you to decide what is best for the world?

I think that's the point he was trying to make. Dictatorships are run by people who think they knew what's best for the people they rule over. It's in the people's best interest to get rid of them.

Everyone treated equally and getting their fair piece of the pie. What could be better?

Who gets to decide what's fair? What I may consider fair may not be fair to someone else. Who gets to distribute the share? You need to someone to be in control over it to make sure no one takes more than their share. And what about people who worked to create a large slice of the pie for themselves, why do they have to forcibly give it up? What about people doing more important work (Such as a doctor)? What's their incentive for working if the fruits of their labor are no better than someone digging ditches?

These problems necessitate central planning, and when you have central planning, you're flushing your economy down the toilet. It's why communism will never, ever work. The problem goes way beyond the people running it, it's counter to human nature. Greed is embeded into the human brain.

Adding to the discussion: Integrated circuit makers often make "easter eggs" in the actual circuits of the chips such as pictures or words written with metallic traces. During the cold war, it wasn't unusual to see insults and invectives against the USSR written in the traces of the chips, so the reverse engineers would see it when they were studying it.


Keijo
Posted 29 March 2007 at 10:40 pm

Jeffrey93 said: "First….who are you to decide what is best for the world?

The problem is the people invovled in the system. They ruin it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If the system was operated how it theoretically should be, it would be the best choice, by far.

So the only thing that would need to be done is to remove the humans from the system for communism to work ? I wonder how that can be done.


Misfit
Posted 30 March 2007 at 03:30 am

Okay, I've heard nothing but "oh Russian technology was bad and is still a bit behind" and then oh yes I've been hearing this too: "this and this and that and all of those are all great about Russia and screw you if you think our stuff is or ever was bad." (although I will admit, a fair share of people seem to agree that this particular story was not a mistake on our part and gave them their comeuppance at the time). Here's a prime example of the "in fact, screw America for everything you've done wrong, too" mentality that a scant few seem to be having here:

mkp said: "yep, reaping what you sow………….

like arming and training the Taliban/mujahadeen to fight the Russion in the 80's, or arming and financing Suddam and his boys to go fight Iran back in the 80's as well. Or how about again arming and financing the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in case of an attack from communist Vietnam - never mind the Khmer Rouge were also committing mass genocide of their own people at the same time. Same goes for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor back in the 70's (Austrlaia was helped out with this as well, although 25 years later the same govt flipped and decided to help kick the Indo's out of East Timor - go figure).

it all comes back around"

This has NOTHING to prove here! Hardly anybody in this post is worried about which country is better!

thingummy said: "So picture how someone raised like that is going to feel, react and talk when the "perceived" threat is gone. There's going to be a lot of braggadocio (sp?) and chest thumping out of sheer relief. The next generations won't be so mean and really won't understand what all the fuss was about. In the meantime extend to us some of the understanding you want to get. We're all doin' the best we know how."

Well said. We aren't living in the old days anymore. I personally don't have anything against Russia at this point, nobody I know has anything against Russia today, NOBODY'S trying to prove who's better than who here! As for the conclusions Americans today draw on the former Soviet Union as it was during the Cold War, all we have to go on are the lingering opinions of the time as told to us by older generations, and I'm quite sure the same thing is likely to be happening on the other side of the fence, too.

As for the idea that not enough praise is being given to Russia in these posts... I think that's ridiculous and untrue.


Sulevis
Posted 30 March 2007 at 03:36 am

As for the idea that not enough praise is being given to Russia in these posts… I think that's ridiculous and untrue.

Now where did I, or anyone, say that?

All I complained about was the attitude people seem to have towards the former USSR -- that they're really the bogeyman McCarthy made them out to be.

Look, would you like it if everywhere you went, you had to hear about how your country was eviller than Sauron, Darth Vader and Hitler put together?


whaaat
Posted 30 March 2007 at 05:04 am

Hey Sulevis uhhh i dont know any american presidents that can fit in with hitler but i do know a russian one...hmm stalin maybe? the person who killed more of his own citizens than people who died in world war 1 and 2 combined??? now america by faaaaar is not perfect but i think its a notch or 2 above russia if you look at both countries histories


Bolens
Posted 30 March 2007 at 06:24 am

Reading the excellent article and all the comments, I am glad that at least history still means something! May all of our memories lengthen as we scrutinize future potential leaders, whatever our country of origin.


GigsTaggart
Posted 30 March 2007 at 09:22 am

"The orchestrated subterfuge was one of the most successful US inter-agency efforts ever undertaken"

And all without the help of the supposedly so badly needed PATRIOT Act. Imagine that. Our current administration really is a farce.


another viewpoint
Posted 30 March 2007 at 09:34 am

Hoekstes said: "According to WikiPedia:

"A slang term for the penis, primarily in North America and the UK. Certain dictionaries list this under whang, which may be a variant or the source of the word wang. "
You know, like a PIPELINE….!!!!"

...so who was the first couple to ever use a computer? Why it was Adam and Eve, of course...
Eve had an apple...Adam had a Wang!

...what's really a shame in the "who's better" debate, is that it doesn't really matter. People are people, no matter where you go...ALL over this great (any only) world we know. All of us (well most of us I assume) are just trying to make a living and hopefully, someday, reach a point in our lives when we can kick back and do the things we WANT to do as opposed to do things we HAVE to do...like work and fill someone else's pockets with millions of dollars (or whatever your local currency). It doesn't matter whether you're American, Russian, European, Asian, South/Central American...or any other country resident. We're just trying to live a life in the hopes that our governments and politicians DON'T screw things up for the rest of us...any more than they already have. It is the politicians that have tried to tell us what to fear and tell us that someone else is better. Who are they to judge? If we could all speak the same language, we'd probably have one helluva party. Fear and the unknown incite terror...and that fear continues to cost us dearly...not only in human terms, but in monetary terms as well.

We have all learned valuable things from other peoples and countries in this world. To think the US is better than anyone else...is the very reason why so many countries would like to take us down a notch or two. In which case, arrogance and ignorance are the real enemies of state.

Life...you gotta luv it. Get into it...or get out of it. It's your choice.


Dave Group
Posted 30 March 2007 at 01:17 pm

First….who are you to decide what is best for the world?


Also, Communism is the most equal and fair system out there. If the entire world was under communist rule, in theory, we'd all, as a whole, be much better off.

The problem is the people invovled in the system. They ruin it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If the system was operated how it theoretically should be, it would be the best choice, by far.

Everyone treated equally and getting their fair piece of the pie. What could be better?"

"In Capitalism, man exploits man; in Communism, it's the other way around."


Misfit
Posted 30 March 2007 at 08:50 pm

Sulevis,

YOU said: "Sadly I've seen little attempt to generate a more positive outlook towards the former Soviet Union."

And the part about your former land being depicted as being eviller than Hitler, Darth Vader and Sauron put together (while a hilarious way of putting it, I must admit), you asked for my opinion on that and here it is:

I would try and focus on the fact that things are different today (again, I do not know anybody who harbors those opinions about today's Russia), and that all we have to go off of are the memories of our parents who lived during that time. I would just try to be patient, and wait for the day when it's all just ancient history.

Oh, and just FYI: America, the country I'm from, and its leader, are CURRENTLY being put in much the same light as you describe for your former nation... plus a monkey thrown in too. Believe me when I say this, I feel your pain.


tech42er
Posted 31 March 2007 at 01:57 pm

Great article. Damn Interesting!

The Adam and Eve joke was a great joke!

And I believe the French Revolution was a disaster and they were invaded and deposed.

As far as the US and the former USSR, well, I don't like the former USSR. Luckily, I did not live in that era, so I don't really care. As far as Russia today, well, Putin's Russia seems a little totalitarian and repressive and I worry about its support for Iran, but otherwise I don't really care. Would I want to live in Russia? No. Would I consider visiting Russia? Possibly.

As far as Capitalism vs. Communism, I hate communism. I'll tell you that right off the bat. I'm more open to socialism, however. In theory, socialism is a perfect system, I suppose, but not practically (sorry) except on small scales. I'm a strong supporter of free market economies and capitalism. I'm a libertarian/classical liberal. I read the Economist. Capitalism accounts for people's greed. And greed is human nature. I also believe in (private) philanthropy and charity, however. I'm not heartless, but I am libertarian.


Tincup
Posted 31 March 2007 at 04:02 pm

First….who are you to decide what is best for the world?

Also, Communism is the most equal and fair system out there. If the entire world was under communist rule, in theory, we'd all, as a whole, be much better off.

Dave Group said: "The problem is the people invovled in the system. They ruin it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If the system was operated how it theoretically should be, it would be the best choice, by far.

Everyone treated equally and getting their fair piece of the pie. What could be better?"

"In Capitalism, man exploits man; in Communism, it's the other way around."

"In Theory" is always a big qualifier. My favorite way of putting it is by quoting Orwell, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
The idea of everyone being treated equally has always been a myth, and that is the veiled hypocrisy of Communism and Socialism, where there are always those more equal than others. The biggest flaw of Capitalism is that while everyone is free to succeed, they are equally free to fail. That flaw, however, is not hidden from our view by government or a dogmatic ideology, and I feel is the system's main strength. Capitalism is fueled by the enterprising nature of humanity, and yes, human greed. Interesting though, isn't it? The same forces of human nature that strengthen Capitalism must be suppressed (never successfully) or they pervert Communism. What I cherish is the promise that with my hard work and ingenuity I can do and be whatever I want to be. It is not a guarantee that I will, but the promise that I can always try. If I'd been born a Soviet citizen without connections with the "more equal" I probably would have been given a job stamping out tractor gears and a one-bedroom block apartment and told to have a happy life. That is contrary to human nature, which (as controversial as this seems to be these days) is to be free. Once we strip away the lofty sentiment of everyone being taken care of or everyone getting their share we are left with one basic question: freedom or control? I'm personally grateful I grew up in a world where I have the chance of greatness instead of the virtual guarantee of mediocrity.

Having dealt with how "we'd all be better off" in a human sense, I now ask: Would our world be cleaner? Our evironment any more pristine? Probably not. Ecologically, Soviet Communism has been one disaster after another. They had Chernobyl and we had Three Mile Island, you might say, but in the western world the people will be satisfied or the matter does not end. We demanded our answers and we got them. We demanded our safeguards and we got them. We had our objections to Nuclear energy and no new reactor has been built in decades. In Russia Chernobyl was covered in concrete, everyone got a reassuring pat on the head and everyone resumed working, playing, and farming next to the accident site.
In America we have a plan to eliminate our massive stocks of chemical weapons. The people have doubts and that work has stalled until those doubts are answered. God only knows what Russia did with theirs, but I would guess it would be to let them rot and leak in the ground.
Is the reactor in your nuclear aircraft carrier run down? If you're western it goes into dry dock for service and proper handling. If you're Soviet Russian you dump it in the ocean. To this date the American nuclear propulsion program has a 100% perfect safety record because we didn't want sailors to die just because we could have built a better boat. Soviet Russia can claim no such thing.
So far I've seen no material benefit to going red.

Having finished ripping into Communism, I should add that my feelings toward Russia are another matter. It is a good place with good people that was hijacked for the duration of the 20th century. I trace 1/4 of my blood to Russia. To use a convoluted metaphor: Russia was a source of material. Well-meaning old men took those materials and made a carriage to carry the people and relieve their suffering. As the old men passed the reigns of that carriage on to the next generation of leaders, those leaders saw how good they personally had it in the driver's seat and the people were at their mercy.
The people tore those reigns away once and were a little frightened by their new freedom, so they chose a more experienced driver named Putin. Since then it has broken my heart to see the old Soviet state rising up again, and I pray the people take their country back again before it is hijacked again for the duration of the 21st century.


agooga
Posted 31 March 2007 at 11:16 pm

Nice rant, Tincup. I'd like to also state for Sulevis, if he's still reading this thread, that there is a lot to admire about Russia. I've been there-- back in '84. The people were as good as any you could find, but their futures were held hostage by a system that no one envisioned or wanted back when it was conceived. I have hope that they will get it together and move forward and become as great as they should be. But that's contingent on making the right moves. And that's not to say that America is making the all right moves and that our crap doesn't stink. We've got our own problems to deal with as well.


Tincup
Posted 01 April 2007 at 09:27 pm

Aooga, you flatter me, and I thank you. Notice at no point did I suggest that the west or America is firmly on the road to perfection, simply that as it's citizens we have a ligitimate position from which to question and correct the road we are following. Again, not to say the we can't be better, just that we can be a lot worse.


m4gill4
Posted 03 April 2007 at 12:27 am

I was hoping this thread would include a good ussr vs. usa debate. Thank you Jeffrey and Tincup et all...

I find both systems to be repugnant. The details of their petty and quaint rivalry amuse me. No system of government administered by humans can succeed in being truly "righteous" or deliberately and significantly advance the cause of human progress until the humans administering them are truly held accountable to the masses. Both capitalism and communism are inevitably commandeered by the ambitious and corruptible. Only a system which guarantees *absolutely* transparent government can truly escape corruption by a firmly established elite.

That means all polititians' bank/credit/medical/criminal records should be manditorally made public immediately upon election. Constant public surveillance via webcam. Immediate forfeiture of personal assets to the state upon election. Don't stop there, keep thinking of more ways to constitutionally ensure that the people ruling you arent screwing you for a buck. If they should call themselves public servants, and thus wield power, let them be servants to the public. Let only those with the true desire to sacrifice all personal gain in order to lead their countrymen be the ones to wield power over them.

Anyway, if anyone starts a political party which advocates eliminating all possibility of violent misuse of power, I'll join!

Till then, the USSR and USA were/are both murderous oligarchies hiding behind equally transparent ideologies in order to further entrench the power of their respective elites.

love ya!


agooga
Posted 03 April 2007 at 12:36 pm

Interesting rant, M4gill4. I share a sense of your outrage at the modern American political system (the Soviet system is dead, so it's not useful to discuss at length), but I think there is the potential for a solution in the American system, that don't necessarily go to the punitive/draconian extent that you advocate.

There was a time in American politics when it was considered a solemn duty, an unwanted obligation even, to participate at the higher strata of politics. There was little pay involved, and little power wielded. As a congressman, you gave up a lot-- left your productive farm or business to be tended by others-- and moved a LONG way away to sit and cast votes that you believe represented your district's interests. Generally, representatives served a single term and returned to civillian life.

Today, our congresscritters aim to sit for life in their seats of power, attempt to wield as much power as possible and are greatly consumed by the corrupting influence of lobbies. The Libertarian Party, of which I am a member, believes that by somehow coercing the congress to restrict their voting to the guidelines established by the Constitution, that we can escape from the influence of the above mentioned problems.

That is not a reality-based solution. Legislation to restrict or outlaw lobbies would be a good start. And a term limit of one term as a senator and one term as a congressman (as well as the two terms as a president) would also be useful. Moreover, there should be a serious scaleback of the various benefits and perks associated with the offices.

I would like to see the way a congressional job is viewed move away from that of minor deity to what it really is-- a bunch of people voting for the best interests of their district or state.

We're on the same page here-- but the best way to stop the corruption is to take it out at the root. You eliminate the ability to achieve money and comfort and you eliminate much of the problem.


greyish
Posted 03 April 2007 at 04:50 pm

Wow, I love how such a simple historical article devolved into a "commies vrs. the west" debate.

Jeffrey93: Life isn't fair, and to try to make it as such is to go against the very nature of the universe. And in the end - the universe always wins.

Tincup: I second agooga - nice rant.

m4gill4: Both systems are absolutely repugnant, but unfortunately we are running out of options for governmental systems that work. Your ideas about turning politicians into public spectacles (while completely desirable) pointedly undermines the basic belief that "all men are created equal" and therefore should be treated equal by the law. The short of the issue is that no matter what hoops we would make people jump through to get to positions of power there are always masses that would be ill-informed or simply stupid enough to allow corrupt people to be corrupt in them.

agooga: If only there were more libertarians willing to abandon both major (US) political parties, my friend, then perhaps true political reform could be made. But until enough people walk away from the two party system they have become tolerant of we will forever be mired in cold war style intrigue and actionless rhetoric from our red and blue colored congresscritters. :)


Mez
Posted 01 May 2007 at 07:39 am

SparkyTWP said: "These problems necessitate central planning, and when you have central planning, you're flushing your economy down the toilet. It's why communism will never, ever work."

I recently heard an interesting perspective on this point that I'd never considered. How efficient an economy is depends on how you define efficiency. In Western capitalism we define it as produce per worker. As production fluctates with the economy, so does the number of active workers - ie the employment rate. Thus we have an inbuilt ineffeciency - not all available workers are working. There is another big efficiency that is ignored - we need to sort out our own health etc problems (particularly in the US, I believe - I'm from Australia).

In communism however, work is divided/spread between all available workers. The costs to the economy associated with unemployed are erased. Add to this the State social security and health programs and the two systems seem more comparable.

That's all I remember, but I've got a feeling I've missed out some points which made the argument stronger.

Another interesting consideration that no one has discussed here yet is the fact that China is politically communist but quite capitalist economically. Where does that fit in?

About politicians' greed - I'm reminded of the statement that anyone who wants should be automatically disqualified from doing so.


Tomo809
Posted 03 May 2007 at 04:38 pm

If only the CIA could have a few more successes today...


911review
Posted 05 May 2007 at 02:44 pm

even the democrats dont have enough spine to stand up for what they believe,
so how can a 3rd party take hold ?
Dont get me wrong, i wish one would i am a green party member.
but the GREENS decided not to run a presidential candidate the last couple of elections,
and rightly so IMHO.
last time it cost them DEMS dearly, and started 2 wars.

great historical stuff about russia , spies, murders etc...
http://911review.org/Wiki/FSBThreatWithinRussia.shtml


911review
Posted 05 May 2007 at 03:00 pm

Tomo809 said: "If only the CIA could have a few more successes today…"

George tenets book came out trying to distance him from Bush's desire to go to war with Iraq
Tenet at the time was just trying to position himself in the administration, so he was a YES man.
http://911review.org/Sept11Wiki/Tenet,George.shtml

Adnan Khashoggi Linked to 9/11 Terrorists, Part 36:
Who Mentored Michael Hayden?
http://911review.org/Alex/Khashoggi-36_Hayden.html

Black later calculated that all he needed was $500 million of covert action funds and reasonable authorization from President Bush to go kill Bin Laden and "he might be able to bring Bin Laden's head back in a box," Woodward writes.
Black claims the CIA had about "100 sources and subsources" in Afghanistan who could have helped carry out the hit.
http://911review.org/Media/Osama_pre_9-11.html

Additional ties between southern Christian fundamentalists, Texas oil interests, and Russian-Israeli mobsters and weapons smugglers uncovered. According to informed Washington insiders, there is increasing evidence of financial links between key "Christian Right" GOP notables and an international ring of Russian-Ukrainian-Israeli mobsters. (also CIA +FBI)
http://911review.org/brad.com/911contractors/CIA_contractors_isreali.html

J. Michael Springmann, formerly chief of the visa section at the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has testified that he rejected hundreds of suspicious visa applications by Saudi Arabian men similar to those named as the "9/11 Hijackers Patsies" when we was head of the consular section of the US embassy in Jeddah, but C.I.A. officers repeatedly overruled him and ordered the visas to be issued.
Springmann protested to the State Department, the Office of Diplomatic Security, the F.B.I., the Justice Department and congressional committees, but was told to shut up. He later realized that this was a CIA operation, and wrote about it in the Spring 1997 issue of the journal Unclassified. After 9/11, Springmann observed that 15 of the 19 Hijackers Patsies got their visas from the very same CIA controlled consulate in Jeddah
http://911review.org/Wiki/CiaVisasForPatsies.shtml

The highest-ranking CIA official to admit he attended the poker parties thrown by Wilkes is Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the agency's third-ranking official. (Foggo even "occasionally hosted the poker parties at his house in northern Virginia," though he denies ever seeing prostitutes at the gatherings.) Foggo's relationship with Wilkes goes back 30-plus years; the two were roommates in college, best men at each others' weddings, and even "named their sons after each other."
http://911review.org/humor/CIA/Goss.html

more...
http://911review.org/Alex/alex.html


monkforhire
Posted 13 May 2007 at 08:59 am

I did a GAP year in Russia for seven months and I have to say, the problem now isn't that they don't have the technology, it's that they can't afford it. Perhaps if America had let a little bit of info slip on the side, for non-military projects, then Russia wouldn't be in such a state now. On the other hand, when you're throwing everything into a cold war (or even a hot one) then what doesn't get used for the military eventually.

God damned commies. bloody capitalists. F'ing French! (Just because. You understand)


Kao_Valin
Posted 26 July 2007 at 12:00 pm

I dont know about the rest of you, but Rocky IV didnt seem to make Russia look that bad, just damn cold. I'd have to say the problem with any government deals with the lack of involvement of its people. If the people they governed really cared they would take active parts in preventing it. There was a hands-off revolution in America where freedoms were let go for conveniences. As a result more corruption can take place because of oppertunity (which is always there in possitions of power) and lack of accountability (due to the hands off nature of society).

I heard it mentioned that reducing political terms would help aid in corruption crushing. That idea is nice, but changing the rules doesnt make the game any less playable. Corruption is a issue of involvement more than simply oppertunity. For example, if one were to corrupt such a system, they would simply push puppets into the government and pull their strings from a far. The biggest issue with this situation isnt just the corruption, but the security issue this posses when the real power can't react quickly enough because of the hundreds of middle men in the system. Imagine the latency in decision making during emergency situations.


Yardvark
Posted 28 December 2007 at 12:57 pm

SparkyTWP said: "I imagine the response would've been the same. They were woefully behind us in technology at this point and wouldn't have stood a chance in a war. I think Chernobyl also very clearly showed how little they actually cared about their general population."

Just so you know, Chornobyl is in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are European ... westerners. The Russians are Asians, essentially ... easterners. So really they didn't give a rip about leaving a mess for the Ukrainians to clean up. Nor do they now. Keep it in mind.


my2cents
Posted 13 February 2008 at 02:45 pm

Wow. This sounds like something from a movie -- using adhesive to collect metal samples from the floor. They were desperate for anything they could get their hands (or feet) on. I wonder how the researchers felt when they found out they were outdoing their own research all along and not competing against the Soviets. It's almost comical.


envelope
Posted 10 August 2011 at 09:13 pm

These comments fascinate me. It is sometimes obvious where the commenter is from, and how emotional they become over perspectives that contradict their own moral system or national pride. Sometimes it is not.

This was war. War is not fair. War is not good, or right, or clever. It's just war, just opposing factors abiding by arbitrary surface values and rules of engagement to achieve the ends desired by those holding the reins. Sometimes, the outcome of actions taken by an opposing factor will achieve the ends desired, and sometimes those outcomes are good--perhaps certain people live, or the accepted metric of free will is preserved. Sometimes--usually--the outcomes are mixed. That is why we don't just go to war to make the day better, or to help a neighbor, or to spread knowledge and happiness--the outcome is usually at least partially bad. Often, as we have been told, the surface values proclaimed in a war by opposing leaders were at complete odds with what the actual actions perpetrated and the internal goals of the controlling parties truly were. Each side did what they thought would put their country in the more favorable position, a position of greater power. Each side executed brilliance and idiocy, and no boundary on a map can succinctly dictate any man or nation's sum total, as if just taking a step over an invisible line can change an engineer's logic, or sway a leader's compassion, or alter fact from a distance.

Both were wrong. It was a war, even if there weren't visible plains of battle...

OK, that's my soapbox speech (did you hear the preach?) :D Would have been better with pictures, but you'll have to just use your imagination (I prefer some kind of back lighting, maybe some ambient noises, evil-doer theme song when the part about contradicting 'surface values' comes up)... :)

Nice article, thanks for posting it for free over several years.


envelope
Posted 10 August 2011 at 09:19 pm

Imagine what two of the largest nations could have achieved if they weren't at war. That would have been amazing! Combine the technological and strategical competence of the two, the sheer willpower and strength of the two peoples, and think where humanity would be now, if there hadn't been a war in the way. Might make for a cool alternate history novel... speculative fiction, are those called?


Shobhit
Posted 13 April 2015 at 01:57 pm

No one in Russia was able to make a computer programs?

What I mean is that, such a software should not be that hard to make.

PS: I don't know much about programming.


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