The first 1000 or so words of this blog consist of a review of two books. It was written at the suggestion of their author, Tony Kevin. The first book ‘Return to Moscow’ was published in 2015 and thus, is too out-of-date for its review to be acceptable in publications that take book reviews. Finding someone to print a review of the second book, ‘Russia and the West: the last two action-packed years 2017-19,’ is again problematical. Not being able to find a publishing house, or a distributor prepared to risk association with such blasphemous content and from the hand of an author, now seen by the establishment as leprous, Tony Kevin has been forced to self-publish and take mail-orders from home!
Kevin was Australia’s ambassador to Poland and to Cambodia before retiring from the Australian diplomatic service in 1998. From 1969-71, while Russia was at the height of its Cold War powers, he served as a junior diplomat in Australia’s Moscow embassy. Thereafter, he retained a lively interest in Soviet and then, Russian, affairs.
In 2016, retired and well-established as the author of four successful books, Kevin decided to make a journey to observe at first hand the reality of Putin’s Russia and to draw comparisons between it and the Soviet Union of Brezhnev, in which he had served. Kevin is not an average tourist. He speaks Russian and is exceptionally well-informed on Russian history and culture. On his return, he wrote a book ‘Return to Moscow” https://www.bookdepository.com/Return-Moscow-Tony-Kevin/9781742589299 This fascinating book is his report and commentary on what he encountered in the month he spent in Russia.
Kevin makes no secret of the fact that he views the current wave of Russophobia gripping the western world as not at all in the interests of the western nations giving expression to it. Not only, in his view, is it unjustified, but also, given the MAD system of international security, dangerous. He doesn’t pretend that his book is anything other than an attempt to open western minds to a more benign view of its ‘enemy.’ Those resistant to having their minds opened should avoid it.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with life as a junior diplomat in Cold-War Moscow. The second part and the core of the book, deals with a series of visits within Moscow, or within easy striking range of Moscow. These visits and accompanying commentaries include Peredelkino (Boris Pasternak’s home) Suzdal (an ancient town that holds within it a key to how the Russians view themselves) Nizhny Novgorod (site of the forced exile of Andrei Sakharov) Yekaterinburg (Boris Yeltsin’s home base) Yanaya Polyana (home to Leo Tolstoy) the modern Gulag and Jewish Museums in Moscow and a visit to St Petersburg (the city of the Tsars.) Each one of these visits is used as a prompt for interesting and well-informed reflections on Russian history, character, culture and attitudes to the past and the present.
It is in the prologue and in the third part of the book, in chapters titled ‘An Alternative Reality’ and ‘The West’s information war on Russia’ that Kevin departs from the western hymnal. He lists and in turn attempts to rebuff what he sees as the falsehoods, commonly held by victims of the West’s information war, as follows:
“America won the cold war.
It was Putin, not the US backed Yeltsin, who began dismantling Russian Democracy.
The Russian relationship soured after 1991, largely because of policies made in Moscow, not Washington.
Present-day Russia is as brutally anti-democratic as it Soviet predecessor.
Russia’s nature makes it a growing threat abroad, especially to former Soviet republics, as demonstrated by its invasion and occupation of Georgia in 2008 (and now of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine in 2014.)
More NATO expansion is necessary to protect both Ukraine and Georgia.”
In the author’s words “I believe every one of these axioms to be factually wrong, and a dangerously misleading guide to Western policy towards Russia.”
Having read Richard Sakwa’s “Front line Ukraine,” (J.B.Taurus 2015: to my mind, essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the current military confrontation between NATO and the Russian Federation) Kevin’s book answers many of the remaining domestic questions. How do Russians view themselves and their history; how do they actually live (and possibly thrive) under a Putin led government; how do they view the West? The ability of the West to escape from the perils of a deepening cold war is dependent on its leaders being able to take on board insightful answers to these questions. Tony Kevin’s book should aid them in this process – but alas it won’t be allowed to.
After ‘Return to Moscow’ Tony Kevin’s next book was “Russia and the West: the last two action-packed years 2017-19.” This slim book of just 92 pages is self-published and apparently, only available by applying directly to the author via his website at www.tonykevin.com.au I took this route and (having prior knowledge of its contents) was not surprised to see that the package it came in had been clumsily (a not unprecedented intelligence agency scare tactic) opened and resealed in the post.
Kevin’s previous books dealing with travel and/or Australian policy ‘A certain maritime incident’ (ACT Book of the Year award 2005) ‘Walking the Camino’ (ACT book of the year 2008) ‘Crunch time’ and ‘Reluctant Rescuers’ were greeted with widespread acclaim. With ‘Return to Moscow,’ Kevin crossed a bridge too far. In the ’last two action-packed years’ that followed publication of his Return to Moscow, a rather puzzled Kevin describes how he has been ‘deplatformed’ by agencies of the Australian government. (Deplatforming, also known as no-platforming, is a form of political activism or prior restraint by an individual, group, or organization with the goal of shutting down controversial speakers or speech, or denying them access to a venue in which to express their opinion. Wikipedia.)
Clearly there are powerful interests vested in the creation and enhancement of a cold war with Russia. This book offers a prima facie demonstration of their ability to reach into the centre of Australia’s government. It demonstrates how the West’s psyops agencies (the UK’s FCO’s Integrity Initiative etc.) set about making an unperson of any respected opinion leader, who might persuade people away from the officially sanctioned cold war endeavour.
As my original review (above) was written with a view to finding a media outlet that would publish it, my commentary on the second book was unduly restrained. I will now elaborate on its contents and the story of Kevin’s leprosy.
The first 32 pages are taken up with a lengthy author’s preface. This starts with a selection of favourable readers’ comments indicating that Kevin is not totally out on a limb in his assessment of the situation. The rest of the preface details his experience of being deplatformed and moving from acclaimed and respected author and political commentator, to being a non-person, beyond the pale of association with his fellows. He itemises instances such as the peculiar loss of his books at a book show, the fading of all invitations to attend writers’ events, the moving away of friends, who perhaps don’t want to have an association with him entered into their career files, approaches from a strange UK ‘publisher’ wishing to buy sole rights to his book, old friends advising him to be ‘more balanced’ when articulating his views on Russia. Finally he expresses his bemusement and huge frustration that he is not going to be allowed to have his well- informed views heard by the Australian public, or anyone that matters in Australia’s foreign policy decision-making machinery.
The remainder of the book is taken up with two very similar texts, both being transcripts of a lecture given in September 2019 to The Independent Scholars Association of Australia.. One of the transcripts, ‘The devolution of US Russian relations,’ was published in the USA by Consortium News and the other, in the UK, by the Off-Guardian. In his lecture, Kevin details the West’s far-reaching campaign against Russia and the disinformation and false flag operations intended to deceive its citizens into the New Cold War. The Ukraine, the ad hominem hate attacks on Putin, the Skripal and Douma false flags, the White helmets and other examples are detailed.
In his book, Kevin quotes Chomsky on de-platforming. “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
In his two award winning books prior to “Return to Moscow’ Kevin had criticised Australian government policy in regards to boat-people and refugees. This critique must have been unwelcome to Australia’s politicians, but judged and allowed to fall within Chomsky’s ‘spectrum of acceptable debate.’ However, Kevin’s attempt to present Russia in a light other than as an enemy to be opposed with all the tax-payers’ power, was something beyond the spectrum of acceptable debate. Kevin as a respected and articulate opinion leader had to be suppressed.
Australian public opinion in matters of defence is clearly not only of interest to Australia, but also to those who wish to have Australia as an ally. Kevin’s advocacy was not a question of acceptability just to Australian, but also to foreign interests. The recent announcements over Australian defence policy make it clear just where those foreign interests are located. https://asiatimes.com/2020/03/australia-ups-the-ante-to-counter-china/ (See footnote.)
It would appear, from Kevin’s treatment and as he suggests in his book, that Australia is being manipulated through its intelligence connection to the USA and UK to pursue a policy of confrontational hostility towards its main trading partner, China. By force of logic, Australia’s hostility has to be extended to a Russia that the same daft and aggressive western interests have forced into a defensive and formidable alliance with China. This is a policy which is clearly against the national interests of Australia – and with it, given the defence bonds that exist, of its New Zealand ally.
If treason is to work for a foreign power against the interests of your own country, then a case could be made for indicting certain Australian political and opinion leaders. However, asking the ASIO to identify these traitors would be in vain. The senior ranks of the ASIO and of the Australian armed forces’ career structure is based on maintaining the illusion of Russian and Chinese hostility to Australia – and the consequent need for the Australian tax-payers to spend their dollars in preparation for participation in a USA & UK-led war with China and Russia.
That might all seem very OTT, but then follow Kevin’s recommendation and watch this seven-minute video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jn5qyyDInTk The video was produced in response to a successful hack by Anonymous that dumped a swag of incriminating emails into the public domain. The avuncular Col. Christopher Donnelly, with his homely Lancashire accent and his house-next-door, kitchen surroundings, explains just how his organisation, the Institute of Statecraft and its subsidiary, the Integrity Initiative, work in Britain’s national interest. (He fails to mention that his funding is largely from British government sources with the odd donation from the private sector – (loaded Russophobes and Sinophobes.)
Donnelly openly and proudly admits his organisation is set up to wage and is waging a propaganda and psychological war against ‘the enemies of democracy.’ This war is being fought by Donnelly’s Ministry of Truth for control of the minds of the citizens of western democracies. This includes such campaigns in the national interest as coordinating the media assault on Jeremy Corbyn. The good Colonel also admits to establishing ‘clusters’ of opinion-leaders in many other countries, to further his organisation’s aims and inject ‘the truth’ into the minds of their citizens. The Anonymous hack revealed details of how such Clusters are recruited and trained.
There will be a Donnelly cluster somewhere in New Zealand. That cluster will be responsible for some of the distortions in articles and commentaries New Zealanders and their political leaders are exposed to in their media. Likewise it will be responsible for the omission of certain truths, such as those contained in Kevin’s books, that the New Zealand public are to be shielded from.
(The Australians responsible for this policy are seriously misled and criminally negligent if they believe, as the Asia Times (above) reports, that the new naval facilities are “‘for the time being — beyond the reach of Chinese conventional ballistic missiles.” https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/df-41/ The Chinese mainland is less than 7,500 km from Australia’s Northern Territories. The now deployed Dongfeng-41 has a range of around 12,000 km, has multiple, independently targetable warheads and is capable of carrying either nuclear or conventional payloads. As readers of https://khakispecs.com/avoidable-nuclear-war/ will realise, the Chinese can destroy all these expensive facilities using precision targeted conventional munitions. Australian policy gives the Chinese an excuse to follow the American example in arguing that such a strike was a justified pre-emptive move to prevent hostile acts by an enemy.)