Why didn't the US and USSR jam each other's early-warning radar?

Why didn't the US and USSR jam each other's early-warning radar?

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Radar jamming refers to rendering a radar system ineffective by saturating it with noise, typically by bombarding it with a high-intensity signal on the radar's operating frequency(es) in order to drown out any genuine returns in a sea of noise.

Early-warning radars are radar installations designed (as the name indicates) to provide an early warning in case of attack; during the Cold War, both the US and USSR deployed large networks of these radars to detect incoming bombers or missiles and give them time to retaliate.

Given that blinding these radars would have placed the blinder at an enormous advantage over the blindee (by, e.g., rendering the blindee unable to detect or react in time to an incoming first strike), why were there no US or Soviet attempts at jamming each other's early-warning radars?

John Dallman definitely has the right of it, but I wanted to chime in with a small bit of additional information. The early warning system that the russians used, the Duga Radar (eventually known as the "Russian Woodpecker"), had an enormous range of operating frequencies. It would randomly hop between different channels, sometimes interrupting legitimate broadcasts, presumably in an attempt to subvert jamming attempts and avoid crowded signal bands. This is why it got the name "woodpecker"; people's radios would randomly start emitting a sharp "tap tap tap" noise.

As John answered, jamming the enemy's system is effectively a declaration of attack, and would have caused an all-out attack on both sides. But in addition to that, jamming the Duga network would have likely required jamming every single radio station, including the ones the allies were attempting to use.

The short answer is "Mutual Assured Destruction." If you jam the other side's radar effectively, the natural assumption is that you're attacking, so they'll attack in response. So you will set off a nuclear war with your first serious jamming attempt.

Under normal circumstances, you want the other side's early-warning radar to be working well so that they can see you are not attacking. There was at least one incident when a nuclear war nearly started accidentally owing to an early-warning system (not radar) malfunction.

The only time jamming makes sense is when you've already launched an all-out surprise attack. You start jamming just after the point when you believe the enemy will be aware of the scale of your attack. That handicaps their ability to take defensive precautions, a bit. But that's the most use it can be. Overall, a comprehensive, and thus expensive, jamming system is unlikely to be worth its cost.

Radar jamming is not trivial

First of all, early warning radar (EWR) operate at very low frequencies, for example 7-19 MHz for Duga. For comparison, usual low frequency acquisition radars like P-19 operate in UHF band (300 MHz - 3 GHz). This is the reason why they need such large receivers and transmitters (rule of thumb, lower the frequency, bigger the antenna). Usual jamming aircraft would have difficulty even determining have they been "painted" by low frequency radar, not to mention the part where they had to transmit at the same frequency. Also, jamming techniques could be reduced to two groups:

  • Brute force jamming where you simply emit stronger signal at same frequency towards receiver. To do this, you would need to know emitting frequency of the radar (not easy, because as we mentioned before, it is not easy to detect low frequency radar) which might do "frequency hopping" while emitting. Also, your jamming platform is bound to be discovered, and likely destroyed if it emits for prolonged time interval - it is quite simple to triangulate the position of a jammer. Another concern is that during the arms race both sides developed various anti-jamming techniques like filtering signal from certain azimuth, aforementioned frequency hopping, or even shaping the signal to avoid random patterns from the jammers.

  • False targets is much more devious technique where you would attempt to create decoys for targeted radar system, either electronically or mechanically. Electronic false targets are usually created by jamming aircraft and ships, but unlike brute force jamming, they do not attempt to blind the radar, instead creating fake returns that resemble real targets. Again, because of low frequency, doing something like that is not easy. Mechanical decoys are smaller and cheaper than real radar targets (in this case nuclear missiles), but through various reflective techniques they do have similar radar return. One thing that is hard to mimic is missile speed and height. Usually, decoys would be deployed from the nuclear missile itself to overcome this.

Anyway, any successful jamming technique had to be kept a secret - otherwise the opponent could develop counter-measures or simply be frightened enough to launch first. The downside of this is that you could never be sure that your jamming actually works in the real world. Unlike conventional weapons, there were no proxy wars to test nuclear weapons.

A friend owned a medium-large dog, a male. We went for a walk one day, following a fence between her yard and her neighbor's, also between her dog and her neighbors male dog. As soon as they saw each other, they growled, bared their teeth, ears back, eyes wide open, frothing. They carried on this way until we reached a gap in the fence. Both dogs gave a start, became mute and immediately backed up so that the fence was between them again and commenced threatening each other with assured destruction.

That, in a nutshell, was the cold war. There had to be a fence that prevented the US and the USSR from killing each other. I wouldn't be surprised if we were sharing each other's radar technologies, in secret of course, just to be sure both had the latest and best and neither could be absolutely sure that their missiles wouldn't get past the other's defenses.

How will they jam each other's radars without getting detected? They don't share a land border. No jammer is powerful enough to jam a radar across an ocean. The jammer will have to be placed in a ship and will give away the location once it starts operating.

Unless they were actively planning on launching an attack (or anticipating an imminent "hot war"), there was no real reason to do so. In reality, given how destructive such a war would be, both sides had a strong incentive to avoid outright war with each other.

Another answer (correctly, in my opinion) pointed out the very real possibility that such an action would cause the other side to assume that there was an ongoing (or imminent) attack, so this would risk the other side retaliating by launching missiles. Even if the other side didn't retaliate with missiles, they would almost certainly retaliate in some other way. At a minimum, they'd probably try to do the same thing to the other side, which would in turn leave them equally vulnerable to an attack (possibly even by some hostile third party who might seize the opportunity to frame the other superpower for the attack).

By way of example, think about the Cuban Missile Crisis: what a lot of people forget about that is that placing the missiles there was in retaliation for the U.S. putting missiles in Turkey.

The point being, something that would result in a minor theoretical advantage in a hot war that neither side really wanted anyway would almost certainly result in concrete retaliation (if not outright war).

Operation Ivory Coast

Operation Ivory Coast was a mission conducted by United States Special Operations Forces and other American military elements to rescue U.S. prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. It was also the first joint military operation in United States history conducted under the direct control of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [7] The specially selected raiders extensively trained and rehearsed the operation at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, while planning and intelligence gathering continued from 25 May to 20 November 1970. [8]

On 21 November 1970, a joint United States Air Force and United States Army force commanded by Air Force Brigadier General LeRoy J. Manor and Army Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons landed 56 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers [1] by helicopter at the Sơn Tây prisoner-of-war camp, which was located 23 miles (37 km) west of Hanoi, North Vietnam. The objective of the operation was the recovery of 61 American prisoners of war thought to be held at the camp. It was found during the raid that the camp contained no prisoners as they had previously been moved to another camp.

Despite the absence of prisoners, the raid was executed with a high degree of success, [9] incurring only two wounded and the loss of two aircraft, one of which had been part of the plan from the start. [5] [10] [11] Criticism of intelligence failures to determine that the camp was empty of U.S. POWs, both public and within the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, led to a major reorganization of the United States intelligence community a year later. [12]

5 A Blown Fuse Nearly Triggers Armageddon

In the 1950s, the U.S. Air Force built a network of early warning radar so they could detect a Soviet attack at some point before North America turned into a field of mushroom clouds. These radar stations were linked by communications lines to the Strategic Air Command headquarters in Nebraska, the Air Force bomber and missile bases and the underground Batcave-style NORAD command center in Wyoming.

So, understandably, quite a few pairs of underpants were soiled on November 24, 1961, when communications between SAC headquarters and the radar sites suddenly went dead. You know, as if they had been suddenly wiped off the map by a surprise attack. SAC tried calling the backup lines. When that didn't work, they tried calling NORAD on the regular civilian telephone, but they couldn't even bring up a dial tone.

At this point, the only conclusion was that the Soviet Union had just nuked all the radar sites, as well as NORAD, as the first wave of a massive, world-ending attack. All over the United States, nuclear-armed B-52s lined up on runways and started their engines. For the next 12 minutes, the United States Air Force nervously awaited the order to commence global annihilation.

Luckily for future generations, a B-52 that was already in the air happened to fly past one of the radar sites, noticed a distinct lack of smoking ruins and reported it in time to convince everyone to calm their shit down.

What actually happened? For some stupid reason, every single telephone line connecting NORAD, SAC headquarters and all the early warning radars, including the backup and civilian lines, ran through one single telephone relay station in Colorado. That night, a motor in the relay station had overheated, shutting down every possible line of communication between the nuclear bombers and the people who had to constantly tell them not to kill everyone.

But hey, these were technical errors, right? The machines were overruled by wise human operators. Level-headed, well-trained humans couldn't make a mistake that stupid, could they?

Related: Armageddon Is A Transformers Prequel - Movie Math

Vietnam War: The critical role of Russian weapons

To get a sense of how viciously the Vietnam War was fought and &ndash more importantly &ndash the sweeping nature of Vietnamese victory, chew on this: during the conflict the Americans lost more than 2,000 aircraft the Vietnamese lost just 131 planes.

This astounding record notched up by the Vietnamese against a superpower with virtually unlimited military resources &ndash and which could also count on combat support from allies such as Australia, South Korea and New Zealand &ndash was possible because of the almost superhuman fight put by the Vietnamese military and civilians.

The war began in 1954 and ended with a Vietnamese victory on April 30, 1975. For this resounding victory the people of Vietnam did not just make tremendous sacrifices they made those sacrifices count. The Vietnamese leadership evacuated entire cities (600,000 of Hanoi&rsquos 800,000 civilians moved out from the city to the countryside and mountains) children went to school with leaves attached to their shoulders as camouflage from aerial attacks transport trucks hid by day in the jungles and moved at night guided by lights hung under their chassis.

Vietnamese engineers invented submersible bridges which could not be seen from the air. They also developed a complex network of tunnels &ndash some of them passing right under American-held areas &ndash to move troops, food, fuel, civilians and the injured.

They made each bullet count. On December 22, 1972 a Vietnamese anti-aircraft unit using a single-barrel 14.7 mm gun shot down an F-111 supersonic fighter-bomber. What was remarkable was the anti-aircraft gun had only 19 shells left when they spotted the American aircraft.

While Vietnamese morale, patriotism, superior training and the belief that theirs was a just cause were clearly critical factors, the victory was also due to the virtually ceaseless flow of weapons from Russia.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Moscow had employed a hands-off policy towards the conflict in Southeast Asia. Premier Nikita Khrushchev, for instance, wanted to avoid yet another nuclear standoff as had happened in 1962 in Cuba. But his successors Alexey Kosygin and Leonid Brezhnev wanted to please the hardliners in the Soviet military and consequently ramped up military aid.

Russians are coming

By the spring of 1967, a river of aid was flowing from Russia into North Vietnam.

By the late 1960s more than three-quarters of the military and technical equipment received by North Vietnam was coming from Moscow. Sergei Blagov writes in Asia Times that Moscow contributed weapons essential to North Vietnamese defence capabilities against the American air war, including radar systems, anti-aircraft artillery, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). &ldquoWithout this materiel, Vietnamese air defence would have been hardly feasible,&rdquo he says.

Russia military supplies completely transformed the nature of the war. Unlike what they show you in Hollywood movies, the Vietnamese did not fight with just cunning and camouflage, they hit the Americans with firepower on a staggering scale. Their arsenal included 2,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery guns, over 5,000 anti-aircraft guns and 158 surface-to-air rocket launchers.

The new weapons &ndash although not the latest in Moscow&rsquos arsenal &ndash were more advanced than the American ones, leading to many battlefield routs of US military forces. American aircraft ran into skies streaking with SAMs and thick with ack-ack salvoes.

Entire waves of American aircraft were blasted out of the skies because the Vietnamese fired ceaseless barrages of SAMs, knowing more Russian supplies were on their way. &ldquoIn August 1965, the first SAMs were fired at four F-4 Phantoms over Vietnam, shooting down three. This marked the first time that US planes were attacked by SAMs,&rdquo writes Blagov.

US strategic bombers tumbled out of the skies after being hit by Russian-supplied SAMs (the granddaddies of today&rsquos S-300 and S-400 missiles). Russian crews fired SAMs at the B-52 bombers, which were the first raiders shot down over Hanoi. A Soviet rocketeer told Russian Radio: &ldquoAfter our arrival in Vietnam, American pilots refused to fly.&rdquo (However, after 1966, no Soviet troops directly participated in combat because the Vietnamese forces had been trained to handle the Soviet equipment, the Russian magazine Eko Planety &ndash Echo of the Planet &ndash says.)

Jets that survived these brutal knockouts were picked out by Vietnamese Air Force aces flying MiG-17s and MiG-21s these combat aircraft were vectored towards their targets by Russian-supplied radars.

To give you an idea of just what the Vietnamese were up against, in 1965 just 30 MiGs were doing combat against 660 American aircraft. And yet the Americans lost 46 F-4 fighters, of which 13 were downed by MiGs.

The odds were evened soon. In 1966 the Vietnamese Air Force started receiving the latest MiG-21 interceptor. On July 7, two MiG-21s shot down an F-105 with a Russian Atoll air-to-air missile, creating panic in the US Air Force.

By now the Vietnamese pilots were growing more familiar with their Russian jets. Roger Boniface writes in MIGs Over North Vietnam: &ldquoThe MiG-17 pilots started to indulge in dogfights with American aircraft the former were growing in confidence all the time as they could constantly turn inside the faster F-4s and use their cannon to lethal effect from close range. The MiG-21 would use their superior speed and dive on the Americans from higher altitudes. The VPAF would use both the MiG-17 and MiG-21 against the Americans, using their techniques in unison by catching the Americans in what can only be described as a diving and turning &ldquosandwich&rdquo.

The American pilots became so scared of encountering the Vietnamese air aces that they in several cases they fled the scene of combat at full speed.

Early warning by Russian military intelligence saved countless Vietnamese lives. Truong Nhu Tang, a senior North Vietnamese official, writes in A Viet Cong Memoir that Russian ships in the South China Sea gave vital early warnings to Vietnamese forces. Russian ships would pick up American B-52 bombers flying from Okinawa and Guam. Their airspeed and direction would be noted and then relayed to Vietnamese political and military headquarters. The Vietnamese would then calculate the bombing target and vector their fighters into attack trajectories. These advance warning gave them time to move out of the way of the bombers and while the bombing runs caused extensive damage, because of the early warnings from 1968-1970 they did not kill a single military or civilian leader in the headquarter complexes.

Russia also supplied Vietnam with medical supplies, food, oil, machinery and spare parts. And unlike the material and weapons supplied by China &ndash which demanded deferred payment &ndash most Russian assistance was supplied as aid rather than loans. Over the course of the war the money donated to the Vietnamese cause was equal to $2 million a day.

In late March 1965, Brezhnev announced that his government had been receiving "many applications" from Soviet citizens offering to serve as volunteers in Vietnam. However, Russian freelancers were not really needed. From July 1965 to the end of 1974, around 6,500 officers and generals, as well as more than 4,500 soldiers and sergeants of the Russian armed forces visited the country as &lsquoadvisors&rsquo. In addition, Russian military schools and academies trained more than 10,000 Vietnamese military personnel. Just 13 Soviet citizens lost their lives in the entire conflict, says Eko Planety.

Kalashnikov vs Colt

On the ground the picture was grimmer &ndash if that was possible &ndash for the Americans. The Vietnam War was the first conflict in history in which assault rifles were used by both sides on an extensive scale.

Vietnamese soldiers were fortunate to get that era&rsquos most advanced rifle &ndash the AK-47. The Kalashnikov&rsquos lighter bullet meant each Vietnamese could carry around 350 bullets on their person, which allowed them to fight long after their opponents ran out of ammo. The rifle was also remarkably low-maintenance, translating into better performance in Vietnam&rsquos wet and humid environment.

In contrast the American infantryman was armed with the shockingly poor Colt M16, which jammed so often that newly arriving American soldiers would perform the macabre drama of walking amidst injured or dying American soldiers to grab M16s that hadn&rsquot jammed during battle.

There were numerous instances of American platoons losing firefights because of malfunctioning M16s. During a night ambush by Vietnamese guerrillas, the last words radioed by an American company of troops were: &ldquoOut of hand grenades, all weapons jammed.&rdquo

The situation was so dire that some Americans started picking up AK-47s that belonged to dead Vietnamese soldiers, Esquire magazine reports. It was a dangerous practice because it risked drawing &lsquofriendly&rsquo fire, owing to the Kalashnikov and the M16 having distinctly different sounds. On one occasion a US sergeant carrying an AK-47 was stopped by his commander, who demanded to know why he was carrying a Russian weapon. The sergeant replied, &ldquoBecause it works!&rdquo

The AK-47 vs M16 scenario was symbolic of the superior quality of Russian weaponry throughout the war. In fact, Russian weapons performed so well that the Chinese started pilfering the shiny new gear passing through their territory. Moscow was forced to use the dangerous sea route to ensure the Vietnamese got the supplies they needed to win the war.

American losses would have been greater had Russia provided the Vietnamese armed forces with the latest weapons in its arsenal. For instance, the OSA class missile boats &ndash that India had used to destroy Karachi harbour during the 1971 War &ndash never reached Vietnamese navy. These boats armed with the highly accurate Styx missile had the potential to play havoc with the US Navy. Perhaps the brass at Moscow believed the Americans would have resorted to a nuclear strike on Vietnam had they lost one of their large capital ships such as the aircraft carrier Enterprise.

Blagov says the Vietnamese reportedly complained they were getting missiles of obsolete designs. &ldquoSome of the missile complexes supplied to Vietnam from the Soviet Union during the war were actually second-hand weapons, produced in 1956-1958,&rdquo he writes. &ldquoThe main reason for Moscow's failure to supply North Vietnam with the newest armaments was the Kremlin's fear that the Vietnamese could leak Soviet military secrets to the Chinese.&rdquo

Carl von Clausewitz defined war as, &ldquoan act of force to compel the enemy to do our will&rdquo. The Vietnamese generals simply refused to give the much larger American military the war it wanted. Through their brilliant strategies and sustained firepower they compelled the US to withdraw its forces and finally dump its puppet government in Saigon.

On April 30, 1975 the world was treated to the sight of Vietnamese T-54 tanks bursting through the gates of the Presidential Palace in Saigon. In another part of the city, angry Vietnamese stormed the US embassy, catching the American ambassador Graham Martin virtually in his underpants. Vietnamese army units had the helicopter in which he was being evacuated in their sights but the long war was finally over and they figured it wasn&rsquot worth adding his miserable scalp to the American toll of 58,200 dead, more than 150,000 injured and 1600 missing.

More Comments:

Peter N. Kirstein - 4/14/2011

Wow! A student led me to this, a comment made eight years ago! I stand by my correction of the article's erroneous citation of the first line of the Manifesto. A preamble is considered part of a document so I was right there: it does begin with "A spectre is haunting Europe. " I agree in part with Ms McMillin: People's History is opinion and does not profess to be "objective." It has errors as do all works but it is "factual" enough to merit usage. Yet most historical writing emanates from ideas and biases contained within the author. I did write a HNN piece on Professor Zinn recently if you are interested:
The People's Historian and the FBI Zinn Files.

Albrecht Kübler - 3/7/2011

"Since you acknowledge in your response Zinn is a biased writer, do you think it is appropriate to have biased content given to students? Is this not indoctrination?"

It would only be indoctrination, if Zinn claimed that his statements are the only truth and condemn everybody who disagrees. But he does not! And if any teacher uses his book and makes this claim, that would be inappropriate.
I could imagine giving students a "traditional", i.e. solely positive account of the time of the founding fathers to compare to Zinn's account and have them research and discuss both sides.
The truth can probably be found somewhere in the middle.

Theresa McMillin - 2/21/2011

Hey Peter. you're comment:I have used Professor Zinn's, "A People's History" for many years and students find it very provocative and readable. In fact his teachings and writings were formative events in my life and I can assure Mr Flynn that opposing American militarism, racism and imperialism is in keeping with a democracy's need for vital and sustained criticism of public and foreign policy.
Let's get a couple of things straight. Foreign policy should be about protecting our interests, not some PC crap that leftists love to sight at the expense of our own Nation. We're not here to hold hands and sign 'Kumbya' when other countries are using terror and killing our own people. Or entering our country illegally along with illegal drugs and killing innocents. And if you 'use' the book, I hope you also explain that the book is not based on fact, but opinion. Let's not get the two confused.

Theresa McMillin - 2/21/2011

And I guess that Zinn's own admission that the information in the book is his own OPINION and BIASED and not based in fact doesn't leave you scratching your head wondering why any classroom would use this book as historical fact. I'm all for opposing opinions, but let's label the book what it really is and not as the 'ethical' Zinn would describe it as "A People's History of the United States". Let's instead label it "A Marxist's View of History of the United States". DON'T teach my children this nonsense unless it's accurately identified as someone's opinion and fact.

Kylw Treadwell Svendsen - 2/3/2011

Mr. Bourbina,
Since you acknowledge in your response Zinn is a biased writer, do you think it is appropriate to have biased content given to students? Is this not indoctrination?
Also, you say that this is only one book who shows the peoples views and many other history texts show the "oppressors" view. What good does making your own biased opinion public do? Two wrongs do not make a right.

Thanks for the help with my clarification.

Reid Reynolds - 1/31/2010

It's been a long time since the comment was posted, but in case Zinn's protege Mr. Kirstein ventures here again, "A Spectre is Haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism," is actually the first line of the preamble. The first line of the first section, "Bourgeois and Proletarians" is, indeed, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."

Robert Avant - 12/7/2009

I can assure you Mr. Kirstein that whatever Hitler's failings were the Nazis were avowed socialists" in the mode of Mussolini. I am sure your students whisper "tres tres amusant" when you show how close hitler was to Reagan and Thatcher. Yes, the fruit of the Zinn tree falls not far away. Hoisted on your own petard,sir!

Randll Reese Besch - 1/26/2009

The side normally hidden or glossed over so what is the problem? You certainly haven't studied the climate change question or you wouldn't have made the inflammatory statement,"I havent fully “investigated” Mr. Zinn and checked up on all that he represents, but I still think im entitled to my opinion just like global warming wakos that have no clue about the subject and use a movie ( an inconvenient truth). " suggests a reason why you put quotes around "investigated" was a good idea. But it must be understood that some of us have better more informed opinions (of analysis) than others. We must use our intelligence to discern the difference.

Randll Reese Besch - 1/26/2009

Homer where do you get your point of view. Marx had nothing to do with Russia, Germany or China in any way except those who appropriated some of his words to distort for themselves as they talked about 'helping the volk or 'common man' as they helped themselves to absolute power. Read some history some time, maybe Marx and Engles too would help. is one such place.

Just look at the results of Capitalism uncontrolled both here and abroad as too the death toll and slavery for that?

Randll Reese Besch - 1/26/2009

Well Homer if you do you need to have the crayon removed from your brain forth with!

Hitler was as far away from Marx (who declared he wasn't a 'Marxist') but was a right winger who had no problem mixing church/state and corporation not to far from Reagan and Thatcher. Corporations had free reign in Germany. Marx was for the end of lassaize faire capitalism who he declaimed would "purchase the rope they would hang themselves with" when the people became tired of rampant unregulated businesses destroying everything around them. Much like now. The workers were to unite and take over the businesses and run them by themselves as the owners. No Nazism/Bolshevism there.

Stalin and Hitler controlled the corporations in getting benefits from their labor. Both suppressed labor unions and allowed corporate soveringty from labor but not from the gov't. [They wanted their cut too.]

NH Teacher - 12/21/2008

"Howard Zinn is a master of cheap Marxist propaganda."

I AGREE. And the sad part is our kids may never learn the truth about the founding of this country or why they have been free, up to now.

NH Teacher - 12/21/2008

Not hardly. Zinn scares me.

NH Teacher - 12/21/2008

This is what you get for American History in the International Baccalaureate program, a stealth program to indoctrinate children to the world government, created and controlled by the United Nations from Geneva, Switzerland.

All the good things you hear about this program are self-laudatory and inaccurate -- is quite open about their social agenda. TOK is a philosophy course that teaches students that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. etc. and there are many pornographic books used in the literature part.

We will never be a free people if we allow the government to control our educational system. The DOE must be stopped and dissolved.

Heriberto Tovar - 8/4/2008

When I took the second part of History this summer, my professor required the supplemental readings of “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. I was perplexed as to why the supplement was necessary, however, after reading the first few chapters I soon realized Zinn’s “biased” views of history. The course consisted of the traditional objective textbook readings along with the corresponding chapter of “A People’s History”. Interestingly, reading both chapters added some depth and better interpretation to the events in history.
My professor is among the growing number of educators across the nation that believe that Zinn’s works should be “required reading for students”. I agree with my professor’s decision to use Zinn as a supplemental reading, however, I do not believe it should be the single source of information for any history class. I am in accord with Daniel J Flynn’s critique that “A People’s History of the United States” provides the “author’s familiar reaction to every major event in American history proving that his is a captive mind long closed by ideology”.
Flynn believes that Zinn and Marx interpret society in much the same manner by incorporation class struggle and greed into every event in history. Flynn critiques Zinn’s work on two case studies The Pequot War and The Founding. In the Pequot War incident, Flynn claims that Zinn summarizes the incident as “a story of native American innocence versus rapacious and evil white settlers”. The facts of the incident are both the Native Americans and the white settlers each experienced horrible atrocities. He argues that not all bloodshed was done by the settlers and they too had to defend themselves from the evils of the Native Americans. Flynn graphically describes atrocities by the Native Americans where they mutilated and even roasted alive and rationalizes the settler’s needs to defend themselves with any violent means necessary.
As stated above, Zinn justifies many of America’s historic events with an ulterior motive greed. Flynn points out in an excerpt for “A People’s History”, that when “certain important people” were founding the English colonies, they found an ingenious way to create a country not for the pursuit of happiness but the pursuit of profit. Slavery is another issue where Flynn tries point out irregular stance on an issue. Zinn believes that profit is at the heart of slavery and profit too is at the heart of the emancipation of slaves. Whatever the US did either to tolerate or eradicate slavery, profit was the motive.
Flynn claims that not all information found in Zinn’s chapters are factual. Zinn claims that George Washington was the richest man in America however, Flynn discredits that by the anecdote that George Washington had to borrow money to pay for his travel to New York when elected to the presidency. Again during the Reagan years, Zinn claims that unemployment grew in the Reagan years, however, Flynn points out that unemployment had fallen 2.1 percent at the time he left office.
Flynn argues a very important point that “A People’s History” omits important events in history such as important presidential addresses like the Washington’s farewell address and milestone events like the first walk on the moon and even successes in America like Alexander Hamilton.
Zinn admits that his work is of a “biased account” and justifies his work by “…wanting to be a part of history and not just a recorder and teacher of history”. Zinn’s biased views and Marxist tone provide just that. As I mentioned before, I enjoy his work, however, I sometimes feel depressed and disgusted at the actions America has taken to be what we are today.

Chelsea Ann Handy - 8/3/2008

There is a man whom is remembered in his thought on history of the America’s, one I might say is “A People’s History of the United States”, Howard Zinn. My opinion is a negative one for Howard zinn because of his “cruelidity and disillusion” as Daniel J. Flynn once said opinion on all history.
An author named Daniel J.Flynn was an inspiration to me, he showed the negative side on all Howard Zinn’s point of views and things he would mention in history books. He saw Howard zinc a pro-communist, is a man that “plagued with inaccuracies and poor judgment” he does not have the will nor should he be a famous writer whom critics are American history. Much of his opinions amongst history in the United Sates are never well back up. As he mentions the Clinton Year in the 2000 election and the 9/11 had no kind of resemblance to the reality his current readers have lived through. We young readers who are pushed to read and remember to learn about Howard Zinn, have a difficult time to understand him, since much of his things he talks about do not relate to much of the things we in the year 2008 are living through. There is also Zinn’s un- researched opinion on violent crimes, “violent crime continues to increase.” As to the Department of Justice report released in September of 2002, the violent crime rate has actually been cut in half since 1993.
Howard Zinn divided the mankind into oppressors and the oppressed. Describes and utterly distorts the early settlement of North America. The Pequot War serves as his example, as it will ours. . Here are some examples not to be found in Zinn::“[T]hey took two men out of a boat, and murdered them with ingenious barbarity, cutting off first the hands of one of them, then his feet,” writes 19th century historian John Gorham Palfrey about the Pequot’s’ assaults upon settlers. There is a much needed writer who has the courage to actually put out the truth and mention every little aspect of the things we went through in the past times. Daniel J. Flynn said “Forget about all men are created equal, forget about liberty and the pursuit of happiness, America’s founding can be reduced to the pursuit of exploitation and profit. Well maybe for academics with lifetime subsidies and rock stars with drug-fried brains.” It is not just self minded but also very true. It something like this man who should be replaced and very much remembered for are sake to learn the truth about are history.
Zinn was later killed because of his opinions upon the Mumia abu-Jamal’s and his criticism against the Philadelphia police. He was sentenced to death row in 1980.Zinn’s book contains not a single source citation. Howard Zinn is a master of cheap Marxist propaganda. His book is a stab to the back on his “country that has given him more freedom than most of the writers who have ever written and made him a millionaire in the process”. Where is all that American history that mentions the “first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon?”
Are necessity to learn are history of the United States is crucial to understand why we have government established and regulations? Howard Zinn is a powerful man “This slanderous tome and its popular and academic success are monuments to human credulity and delusion, and to the disgraceful condition of American letters” think about it, do you want learn not well backed up evidence?

Christina quinter - 8/3/2008

Howard Zinn as a historian who is still selling 128,000 for twenty years. Zinn’s articles are taught in colleges and high schools around the world. Daniel J. Flynn is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia and is also an author for Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation’s Greatness. Daniel Flynn thinks of Howard Zinn as a man who can’t really back his evidence up on what he’s publishing. Daniel thinks that since Zinn discussed politics with Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine had Zinn on their reading list that people should be beware of rock bands that issue reading lists. Flynn emphasizes that the New York Times reviewer declared Zinn’s book to be “required reading,” only because Jayson Blair, the New York Times reviewer, is Zinn’s cousin. Flynn believes that Howard Zinn’s book is so crucial and seems to mess up the minds of developing young students. Flynn thinks that Howard Zinn always wants people to believe him and his rhetoric is always opposite of what he says. Howard Zinn had an equivalence towards the 911 terrorist attacks and uses phrases that he dislikes, according to Daniel J. Flynn. Howard Zinn does not seem to have a good impression on Daniel at all because Daniel believes that Zinn only tries to make his stories sound clear and tries to put in evidence that has nothing to do with what Zinn is publishing just to make it sound better. For example, Zinn suggests that “George Washington was the richest man in American,” he really wasn’t the richest man but the idea of it made the story for the Marxist sounds better. Also, Reagan did not have an impact on unemployment according to Zinn, statistics show otherwise. Daniel Flynn points out these small things out because he thinks that it is not fair for Howard Zinn to put these ideas into people’s minds without any true evidence to back it up.
I definitely agree with Daniel J Flynn because I wouldn’t want to read about somebody’s publishing that is not backed up with true evidence. I agree with Flynn because of the fact that he points out that Howard Zinn did not have any single sources of citations. That proves to me that if you can’t put at least a citation then you are obviously make things up. Also, according to Zinn, the Pequot violence had two massacres on both sizes, but in the book he only talks about one side, the Puritans. If I was reading a book and read this information I would want to know about the both sides, not only the side that the author wants to tell me about.

Kimberly Cantergiani - 8/3/2008

Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus at Boston University, and author of the widely read and notoriously challenged volume, A People’s History of the United States, has been hailed, according to Daniel J. Flynn as “the most influential historian in America”. However, according to Mr. Flynn, Zinn is nothing more than an “unreconstructed, anti-American Marxist” whose “captive mind long closed by ideology” is rooted in “conspiracy theory with a vengeance”.
Flynn begins his critique with his disturbance that Zinn’s work has reached such “massive sales figures” which he believes is based on the skewed requirements of liberal-minded college educators and journalists, who all share the “social aim” of indoctrinating America’s youth against capitalist business and foreign profiteering. Flynn postulates if “the million or so copies sold have been done so via coercion” and that “the commercial success of A People’s History…is a case of simple ideas for simple minds.
It is intriguing that a well-read historian of the 21st century such as Flynn would have such vehement opposition to the possibility of revisionist history. Surely, it must be conceded that tremendous substantiation for many historical accounts, both domestic and abroad, are unearthed on an on-going basis, providing a more well rounded and balanced perspective of what truly occurred throughout American history. It is a shallow and narrow-minded view to assume that the traditional view posed by academia is in any way complete and to ignore the possibility that it in fact, it was entirely constructed with the very same intent for which Flynn accuses Zinn - that of slanting and tainting the minds of the youth of America.
Further, Flynn attributes some of the work’s notoriety to that of endorsement and affiliation of Hollywood celebrities and musicians. In his mention of Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine, Flynn advises the reader to “beware of rock bands that issue reading lists” and to remember that they are “rock stars with drug-fried brains”. It is the height of condescension to imply that due to one’s employment, affiliation, or artistic capability they are precluded from forming thoughtful, introspective and intelligent opinions regarding weighty political issues or that they must participate in the use of recreational or mind-altering drugs. To the contrary, for Flynn to resort to such infantile, and humorous, accusations it reduces his credibility as a mature and logical professional. One must speculate on the possibility that Flynn is jealous of Zinn’s accomplishment’s and, barring any original proposition of his own, is condemned to the deprecation of others.
Flynn also resorts to the use of government issued statistics for the purpose of countering Zinn’s contentions. For example, in response to Zinn’s statement that despite the initiation of President Clinton’s crime bill “violent crime continued to increase”, Flynn offers that “according to a Department of Justice report…the violent crime rate has been cut in half since 1993”. This is a weak argument attempting to validate information as provided by the government, which naturally would like the public to believe that its programs are effective. It is preposterous to assume biased figures as facts and also naïve to overlook the likelihood that the manner in which statistics are compiled and reported is inconsistent. What may have been considered a “violent crime” in one year may have been redirected to another data group in another. Additionally, it was not necessary for Zinn to quote specific numbers, as even a casual observer of the news and human events can see that crime and corruption continue to escalate, despite supposed government intervention.
Moving on Flynn utilizes a “case study” of the Pequot War, attempting to discredit Zinn as “brushing aside” the “Pequot atrocities” and focusing solely on that of the Puritans. From the limited review by Mr. Flynn it would appear that Zinn has “simplistically divided mankind into two groups: oppressors and oppressed” when it should be immediately evident from the most superficial reading of Zinn that he is a humanist with compassion, integrity and ethics at his core, which provide the foundation for his passion regarding the obstacles of class in the struggle for equality. With the existing body of traditional history recounting the detail of barbarism among the Pequot’s, the relevance of delineating again is eliminated. Flynn does not seem to consider the actions of both groups within the context of societal and cultural structure either. Natives had long depended upon what might be considered primal tactics today for the mere process of survival as compared to the Puritan’s whose civilized, God-fearing beliefs and values should have easily conveyed into a more sophisticated mechanism for problem solving.
With absolutely no regard, compassion or intelligent thought for the merciless persecution and carnal savagery endured for generations by black America, Flynn states that “the fact that America was half free and the site of an anti-slavery crusade…goes unnoticed” and that “rather than welcoming emancipation, Zinn is depressed by it”. Flynn dismisses slavery and black issues as minor challenges in the history of mankind and eliminates the consideration that race and class issues are as ever present as they once were, but wrapped in a different package. The explanation as offered by Zinn, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many other notable historians and political spectators is clear that efforts at national growth and expansion have always come through the oppression of minority groups and divisions along class lines. It has occurred both through the use and exploitation of laborers and through the use of diversionary tactics designed to draw the focus away from genuine issues, which might actually encourage a colossal revolution in America that would overthrow the government and bring true and lasting change.
On the subject of the Communist movements’ collaboration in the case of the young, black Scottsboro boys in Alabama, Flynn charges that although they were “associated with the defense…in reality the Communists merely used the embattled youngsters” to “bring the Communist movement to the people and win them over to Communism”. While this utterance was intended to tarnish Zinn’s account of the matter, in fact, Zinn has already noted that the Communists and blacks had different agenda’s and the blacks were very aware of them, choosing regardless to align themselves for the strength which the party provided.
Flynn’s critique of Howard Zinn is at best a wildly speculative and a far reaching attempt to disparage both his reputation and his account of history. Zinn boldly proclaims that A People’s History is a “biased account” indicating that he has no “trouble with that because the mountain of history books under which we all stand leans so heavily in the other direction”. As an intellectual scholar, Mr. Flynn should be capable of considering alternate viewpoints and be able to follow the rational position that Mr. Zinn represents. His claims to prove otherwise are lacking credulity in every sense of the word.

Jose alberto lopez - 12/6/2007

This is my interpretation of the Howard Zinn being biased article. First off… the writer did point out certain key areas that really do put Zinn on the spot, and makes a former ( even if it were the first time) reader of Zinn question and doubt all of his statements. Certainly every writer, reporter, news organization ,teacher ,or professor for that matter, has a certain agenda and/or point of view that changes the teaching or preaching style of that individual. I most certainly agree with Daniel Flynn that a major reason for the huge sales figures is the requirment by the instructors to purchase the book. I havent fully “investigated” Mr. Zinn and checked up on all that he represents, but I still think im entitled to my opinion just like global warming wakos that have no clue about the subject and use a movie ( an inconvenient truth) and celebrities ( sheryl crow for example ,with her proposition to use one square of toilet paper tissue to wipe your ass in an effort to save trees) to back up theyre claims. But back to the subject at hand. After reading the Zinn materials that were assigned to us in class, its obvious that Zinn does have a built in mentality of how America is/was. His vocabulary offends in now way, and the way he illlustrates the topics are done very well to the point where it makes you want to read more , but… It isnt my nature to believe anyone or anything that continuosly shows one side. Zinns sounding to be as regarding as America as nothing but Bad. Another anti american, living in america. Seems a bit contradictory considering how if someone really disagrees with how america is or is disgusted by its history, then why stay here?

Donna nonya - 1/28/2007

I wonder if anyone would consider our forefathers Marxists, or unpatriotic. Thomas Jefferson? James Madison, perhaps? I think not.

Nor do I believe that they were puppets on a string, blowing in the wind to all atrocities those in power commmited.

Govermental powers are not absolute, but are given to them by those they govern.

If you have any doubts, might I remind everyone what they stated in the Declaration of Independence (and also why Madison wrote the Bill of Rights for our rights and protections from those in power):

"WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security."

Hmm. not only were they not unpatriotic, they stated it IS OUR RIGHT, IT IS OUR DUTY.

Joseph Caramello - 8/3/2005

Zinn did fight in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After all, the Soviet Union was our ally in that war so why should he have not fought the Nazis. The question is who was he really fighting for us or the Soviets.

John Brent Hiller - 5/18/2005

What are you talking about. You have missed the point in such a dangerously ignorant way that I can't believe you're literate. You compare Zinn's book with traditional history and call one fact, and the other biased fiction? I challenge you to disprove one sentence in Zinn's book. The premise of the book (and you don't have to read beyond the title to know this) is to report history through the eyes of THE PEOPLE. NOT the traditional approach that tells history by stating for example "in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Is this the sort of FACT that you cherish as so valuable. Is this the sort of fact that inspires people. Is this as far as our history teachings should probe into the past. This is a glossed over biased report through the eyes of rich white men, and leaves out anything controversial (and controversial does not mean fiction as you seem to indicate). We have been lied to about these rich white men. They are not the heroes our traditional history teachers have made them out to be. Traditional history books are government approved loads of propaganda written to create narrow minded good little patriots. But, I suppose you're a better citizen than I am. You tell it like it is. You're a real patriot with unblemished love for our heroes. Well, God bless you, because you, unlike most of us, are worthy of God's blessing.

Michael A. Bourbina Jr. - 1/6/2004

This is to Daniel J. Flynn:

I read some of what you wrote about Howard Zinn. Basically what you did was say he didn't tell the whole story. He never claimed to tell the whole story. He even admits that the whole story can never be told. He even offers to tell you that he is only telling you the history of the United States from the voices that don't usually get heard. I think he's done it. And I think all you've done is call him names, progoganda writer and biased. He admits to bias. I read a few of his books. I can't remember thinking that he thought Fidel Castro was a great guy or anything like you quickly joted down there. What I remember about Cuba I mostly learned from a Venezuelan, who admitted to Cuba's faults, but also told of how terrible-- how much worse in fact-- it was before Fidel Castro when the United States' rich buddies and citizens were allowed to rape the country or its natural resources, while the majority of Cubans were terribly poor, great numbers of them dying from poor medication, from diseases that were nothing to our country. Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Fidel Castro at least took it upon themselves to improve the overall state of health there and to help the people there get food and jobs. I agree that it was a terrible thing the way they killed homosexuals and dissenters, but were there more dissenters against them or against Cuba before 1959-- this is the underlying question to what you were talking about, and I think you misrepresent the truth about that country-- and about Howard Zinn in this case.

Really what I have to say has little weight on you, on Howard Zinn, on the world we live in. But I just wanted you to know that I've read Zinn's books. I think he's a wonderful writer. I think I've learned a good deal from him. And I think he makes a good case that the world is in the hands of the rich, the powerful, always has been, and still is, but should not be. You fail to mention Howard Zinn's take on violence, however. While you like to do all but call him a communist-- you fail to mention that he is non-violent, that he was a part of the Civil Rights Movement in the South, that he was a soldier in WWII before he changed his mind about the way the world was.

Howard Zinn is a great man. He is not God and he doesn't claim to be. He only asks his readers and students to see what power is-- who has it-- how do they use it-- how do they get away with using it to destructive ends? That is what Howard Zinn does. We could all use a little more Zinn in our lives.

. - 1/5/2004

What makes you say that Howard Zinn has a "virulent hatred for this country"? From reading the book, I gained a completely different perspective: That Zinn actually cares about his country, its people, and the directions it's heading in. The reason he is pointing out the misdeeds of the U.S. government is to present an alternative view of the glorified history we have been commonly led to accept. While the book is guided by certain biases and ommission of certain facts while selecting certain others, he is not writing the book simply to express hatred towards America. He obviously cares greatly about America and its people to take such pains to write the book. Just because he attacks the government doesn't mean he's Anti-American. It is evident that he cares about the well-being of the PEOPLE of this country, that is why it is called a PEOPLE's history.

Jerry Ku - 12/8/2003

Zinn fought as a US bomber gunner in World War 2, and did so proudly. Part of his radicalisation even came from a fellow gunner who talked about radical politics, who was a Communist. That Communist gunner was later killed on a mission.

Zinn might not like the concept of patriotism in the same way most do. And that Communist probably didn't like it either. Afterall, Communists oppose the very concept of nation-states. Still, Zinn fought for America at one point. that's gotta be worth somethin.

Davis D. Joyce - 10/31/2003

I'm new to HNN. I'm surprised by the ranting and raving going on here, including by Flynn. All of you interested in this will, I hope, read my book, HOWARD ZINN: A RADICAL AMERICAN VISION, just published by Prometheus Books. Somehow Flynn's characterization of Zinn as "anti-American" bothers me most. See my sub-title. I argue that Zinn's vision is radical in the sense that it calls for fundamental change in the political/economic order (see your dictionary), American in the sense that it is based on the very ideals the country itself was based upon (see the Declaration of Independence), and a vision because it is not yet reality (look around you). Howard Zinn's PEOPLE'S HISTORY obviously continues to resonate with increasing numbers of people almost 25 years after its publication maybe it can contribute to the on-going struggle to live up to our best American ideals. If Flynn is correct that Zinn is "the most influential historian in America," I find that very encouraging indeed!

J.Caramello - 10/21/2003

On the day after the 9/11 attack I read a piece in the San Diego Union that was written by Mr Zinn. As usual he bashed this country for what had happened. To say that his timing was a little insensitive is probably the understatement of all time. Mr Zinn certainly has his right to his opinions but so do the rest of us. The people that died on that day will probably be remembered in a future Zinn "history" as oppressors of the Middle East.

John - 10/21/2003

First of all, Daniel J. Flynn, misses the point of Zinn's book and this makes his so-called review misleading an not worth the time it took to read it. Zinn himself repeats several times in lectures and in his book that oppressed individuals often become the oppressors and vice versa. This point, although a major point in Zinn's book is ignored by most of the posts on here as well as the so called review.
Furthermore, many people will claim Zinn is exaggerating the truth or just plain lying. However, in almost every argument that claims this they base it on what the dominant culture has recorded as our history. Many of us not only see this as misleading, but realize that the recent history has already been recorded in a misleading way especially concerning 9/11 and the actions of an incompetent president. I have not verified every case in Zinn's book. The ones I have chosen to have shown that there is at the very least evidence that what Zinn says is the truth or a version of one of the many possible truths. To openly accept everything in the book is absurd but to reject it entirely is just plain closeminded.

J. Caramello - 10/17/2003

Yes he may be a "patriot" but in whose country? It's certainly not this one. Incidently I have researched some of the more strident claims he makes in his screed and found for the most part that his versions are gross exaggerations of actual events. All have an obvious slant showing that the United States is the most evil, vicious and contemptible nation on earth. Mr Zinn is a former Communist Party member and is now a Socialist. Mr Zinn should take his books and emigrate to the former workers paradise and try to pull some of his stunts in that environment.

William Goldberg - 10/14/2003

I assigned sections of Zinn to a class on Peace and Justice in America. We are focusing on "what makes a patriot" and if it is possible to be a patriot and disagree with your country.

Zinn may not have all of his facts perfect, and I don't like per chapter bibliographies with no internal citation, but it definitely gives a different history than I learned in high school. It is worth reading just because it sometimes makes you say "that couldn't have really happened" . . . and then you go and research that topic. Perhaps you find that it did happen, perhaps you find that it mostly happened like that.

All in all, I would say that Zinn is needed to counter some of the skewed history we teach our children in high school, all of the niceness of history written by those victorious in a war.

As for patriotism, As for patriot, defines patriot as "one who loves his or her country and supports its authority and interests". I have taught my students that loving your country so much that you question its policies and how it treats its people and its history make them patriots, even if society currently disagrees. Zinn is a patriot to me.

Joe Caramello - 9/15/2003

I had to read Zinn's Peoples History as part of a history class. After finishing the book, I came to the conclusion that Mr Zinn has a virulent hatred for this country. This was the most biased book purporting to be history that I have ever had the misfortune to read. This man literally despises the United States and everything that it stands for. If it were up to him the country would have never been founded. This person more than most personifies the "Loony Left" at its most extreme.

Steven Malcolm Anderson - 8/17/2003

You are right. I am lucky to have been born in the United States of America. I am proud to be a loyal supporter of my country and her Constitution, including _all_ of the Bill of Rights. I am proud to have as my countrymen those two heroic men John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who stood up for their freedom and mine. I am lucky to have had a man like Justice Anthony Kennedy on my country's Supreme Court. Now we can all enjoy the unalienable right to privacy in our own homes, along with other vital freedoms such as free speech and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Barrie Bracken - 8/15/2003

Howard Zinn is idolized by the general population of readers because the facts are boring compared to the fantasy that belittles the good effect the existence of the U. S. has had on the world. Howard Zinn as an historian is equal to the "journalists" who compose the tabloids found at the supermarket check-outs. As a young man I was as left as Zinn, maybe, to my stand, he was on the right, but maturity has left me with a deeper understanding of the workings of history. History is, after all, the interpretation, not just the telling, of the past of humanity. An historian viewing the revolutionary era in this country and the world today must see the time in the eyes of the participants, not in the eyes of some 19th century philosopher alone. Should the ideas of Marx be considered? Certainly. But in their proper context. Zinn would take us back in religion to say the Judeo-Christian philosophy must consider only the admonision to take an eye for an eye.

Is it the job of the historian to point out the errors of our past and warn of the errors being repeated in the future? Yes. Is the job of the historian to present the world as nihilist? No. Whatever worth Zinn has to civilization is minimal, at best.

Joshua Chernin - 6/27/2003

Ok, last time I checked, history occured in a political context. In other words, yes, history is political, and pretending that it is not is doing it injustice, as Zinn so himself put it, becasue the purpose of looking at the past in the first place is to learn from what we have done wrong and to prevent similar mistakes in the future. Of course Zinn focuses on the parts of our history we're ashamed of, that's the point. So we can learn from it. Ignoring it, and just saying our country's great is like randomly waving a flag and saying THAT makes you patriotic when you don't even have a clue what this country is about.

NYGuy - 6/20/2003

I appreciate your comments. Issues have to be in context, be balanced, benchmarked and have a frame of reference.

Please tell all your friends. We may have done somethings wrong, but we are lucky for those who made this the great country it is.

LAGuy - 6/20/2003

That comment about Babe Ruth was excellent. I will tell everyone who tries to defame this great nation that analogy.

Also well put about the Japanese internment camps of World War II. I too think this policy was wrong however, I never thought about it the way you put it.

James Lambert - 6/19/2003

You obviously have no real criticism of Daniel Flynn to offer, nor do you seem to have a good grasp of the English language.

1) The fact that “slander” has a legal definition, which is different from common usage is neither here nor there. Everyone, including you, knew what Mr. Flynn meant.

2) Your closing sentence is simply pathetic:

>>But else beside rank stupidity can anyone expect from a Reed Irvine apparatchik?

But know you bad communicator.

Josh Greenland - 6/18/2003

"This slanderous tome and its popular and academic success are monuments to human credulity and delusion, and to the disgraceful condition of American letters."

How can a tome be slanderous. Isn't slander spoken and libel written?

But else beside rank stupidity can anyone expect from a Reed Irvine apparatchik?

Horatio - 6/17/2003

When are we going to get a smear piece on Paul Johnson? Don't let Daniel Pipes be the only one spewing invective.

NYGuy - 6/16/2003

The problem is not the history, its the predjudices of the history teachers who should have been trained better. Unless of course they were trained to twist the facts to their own political philosophy. But, then, that is what history has become.

After reading about Babe Ruth's strikeouts I have now lost another hero.

Josh Greenland - 6/16/2003

Could you recommend any histories that do the things you describe?

This is a separate question: are there any you could recommend written by authors whose politics you strongly disagree with?

NYGuy - 6/16/2003

No one said the U. S. was perfect. But, what is so "goofy" about the analysis of Babe Ruth? As a trained historian you should be able to give a better answer to this analysis than it is "Goofy” Yet you accept Zinn at face value. What is factually wrong in the Babe Ruth comments? As you say we have to look at the bad with the good. You are not suggesting that your ”Goofy” remark means that you are subjective and believe and teach only what you want others to believe and this is what you teach your students?

You say:
1.” The extermination of Indians.” Indians are still a part of our population and were heroes in defending our country in the Second World War.
2. “The lynchings, averaging two a week, of African Americans starting in the 1890s.” I don’t want to sound callous about this statement but that is 104 deaths a year, which in the total scheme of the U. S. and world History is very small. In Russia alone the Pogroms killed more people. The Jews had no place to turn but to the U. S. and there was a large immigration of East Europeans into this country around the turn of the century. Meanwhile slavery was still a part of the world and vicious crimes were being perpetrated against citizens of just about all countries.
3. “The end of immigration in the 20s on eugenecist grounds.” The U.S. was in a deep depression, veteran’s marched on Washington for jobs, farmers had the dust bowl and college graduates sold apples on the street. Your solution, bring in more mouths to feed and put more American’s out of work.
4. The internment of the Japanese Americans.” I will not defend this policy but we were at war and many civil liberties were curtailed. Do you also teach about the Bataan death march, the rape of Nanking, the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bund meeting in NYC and elsewhere by those who supported Hitler? Do you tell your students that Canada had the same fears as the U. S. during this time of war and had similar policies to the U. S? Do you also tell your students that we were at war? That there were spies in this country trying to help the enemy and supplying them with information that got people killed. Do you know why they used the phase, “A slip of the lip can sink ships.”

Meanwhile the civil liberties of all Americans were suspended during WWII when people could not buy gas, meat and other products at will. They had to cover their windows at night, or shut their lights off so submarines off shore could not use cities as a guide for navigation. Some citizens were prevented from continuing their schooling and put into the Army or Navy with all its restrictions. My grandmother had to register since she was not born in this country. The list goes on. The widows of those KIA for putting their lives on the line probably got a lot less than the settlements received by those interned. And, as far as I know, all those interned remained in the U. S. after many American’s were killed defending these people and saving the world. I understand many Japanese families were separated. Do you tell your students that many more American families were separated during this war and many were killed.

The reason the Babe Ruth story bothers you is because you understand the key defect which is, as Heretous says, this is not a balanced report. It is not benchmarked against anything and has no frame of reference. When we accept such analyses without these considerations we get very biased teaching and propaganda.

Herodotus - 6/15/2003

"I'm serious--what sort of history do you people think it's ok to teach?"

That's easy: balanced history. One free from bias and as objective as possible. One that distances the problems of the present from the analysis of the past. One that is dispassionate, but still engaging.

Hepatitus - 6/14/2003

Look you two--be as proud as you want. There's lots to celebrate. But you two are supposed to be historians. Should historians just ignore things that aren't pleasing?

There are some nasty aspects to American history--the extermination of indians, the lynchings, averaging two a week, of African Americans starting in the 1890s, the end of immigration in the 20s on eugenecist grounds, the internment of the Japanese Americans--there are many nasty aspects to Us history just as there are many nasty aspects to all countries' histories. What are we supposed to do--just ignore these facts? Should i teach course on the 1890s, and pretend that the JimCrow laws were never passed? I'm serious--what sort of history do you people think it's ok to teach?

Les Milton - 6/13/2003

Why do you assume I'm a leftist (let a alone a Marxist)?

Do only leftists criticize U.S. foreign policy?

I'm getting the feeling you're actually some kind of primitive computer program, capable of issuing only rote, meaningless phrases. Addressing a specific question in a rational manner would help convince me that you are, in fact, a human being.

Homer Simpson - 6/13/2003

This guy makes sense. This rarely happens here. I applaud. God bless America.

Somebody tell me why, in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, Marxism has infected the supposedly intellectual class of America? What happened to make so many who consider themselves so bright so damned stupid.

God didn't did. Marxism did.

Homer Simpson - 6/13/2003

You see it on this board all the time.

Judging from the tortured responses, you'd never understand that the past 40 years has been a landslide of comment denouncing the U.S. for the crimes of imperialism, racism, etc.

This point of view is hackneyed. It's been said a million times.

The era of every citizen holding his or her own foreign policy is over.

I'm calling the people one this board who think this hate the U.S. rhetoric novel "morons" because they are. The leftists who dominate this board keep insisting that this analysis is fresh and courageous. It's just the same old drivel.

Here's the problem the left needs to confront. God didn't die. Marxism did. This has gutted the left.

NYGuy - 6/13/2003

Babe Ruth struck out many times. The actual number which I don't remember is a fact.

I was just reading a book about the "Babe", titled, "Babe Ruth was a loser." The author focuses on his number of strikeouts and concludes that the "Babe" was not really a good player and has no place in the Hall of Fame.

The author points out the many times when the babe had men on base and he struck out. He even struck out with no men on base, one man on base and two men on base. He never struck out with women on base because they were not permitted to play at time. Still the Babe was a chauvanist and never fought for women's rights. He was also a racist who never played against teams that had non-whites on it. Many other examples are given to show the "Babe" was self centered and only played to make money and get rich, for his own pleasure and amusement and really if ever did anything to improve the plight of the poor and downtrodden. He also cheated the management and bosses of the Yankees with all his strikeouts.

The fans in the stands were cheated when this happened, as well as the man in street who worshipped the Babe. These strike outs happened thousands of times and the Babe did nothing about them, but continued on with his sloppy way.

This book reminded me of Zinn's portrayal of America. No wonder we can't be proud, particularly when we can't even have a hero in baseball.

Les Milton - 6/12/2003

Calling critics of the U.S. "morons" implies you have no intellectual response to their criticisms. You wouldn't want people to think that, would you?

How is it against one's self-interest to take responsibility for one's mistakes?

The president is also a representative of our country and to say that there are no circumstances which merit an apology from us, is to admit to such arrogance and absence of honor as to tarnish the moral land intellectual reputation of the U.S..

You have to be pretty defensive to take criticisms of the U.S. as saying how "awful" the country is. Is it impossible to criticize your parents and still love them? Does pointing out a flaw in your spouse mean you think he/she is absolutely worthless? Of course, not. Try to relax.

Les Milton - 6/12/2003

I don't think I ever implied that George Bush Sr. was less credible a historian than Zinn, because he's not. He was our president, our leader, and our representative to the world.

One only has to look objectively at U.S. foreign policy over the last 50 years to see that there are many mistakes made by the U.S. government that cost innocents their lives. Anyone with any honor whatsoever knows that when one makes a mistake that hurts others, one apologizes. And what's worse, Bush Sr.'s comment implies that there are NO circumstances which merit apology. This is a position devoid of honor or courage.

I've never heard Zinn or any other leftist say that the U.S. is the "worst country in the world". Only that it has yet to take responsibility for its mistakes.

And it's rather silly to be proud to be an American, unless you're an immigrant. I feel lucky to be an American, but I had nothing to do with being born here. One might as well be proud to have a certain eye color.

David Salmanson - 6/12/2003

Thanks Caroline. I remember reading several book reviews on recent work on the Pequot war but couldn't locate which titles were the better ones. Although a typical "leftist academic" I do not think of Zinn as a particularly good historian. He is, however, an extremely talented polemicist and that is why his writing teaches so well. Whether they agree with him or not, students are forced to confront their own assumptions and construct coherent responses. This results in better thinking by all students.

Caroline Ward - 6/11/2003

For anyone reading these exchanges interested in the most recent scholarship on the Pequot War (which accords fully with neither Howard Zinn--not an expert on colonial history by any measure--nor Mr. Flynn's tirade [good grief! couldn't he find a better, more accurate, and less biased source on the war than John G. Palfrey, who has all the racist prejudices of other 19th c. authors]), I suggest Alfred Cave's recent eponymous and probably definitive book, The Pequot War. It is far more even handed than either Flynn or Zinn. Yes, the Pequots were aggressors vs. other tribes yes, they initially attacked the settlers (but the first English men to die, it is now believed, were NOT killed by Pequots) but yes, also, the burning of the Mystic fort, with hundreds of women & children (not warriors) inside, was a great atrocity, one so terrible it horrified the Narragansett allies of the English.

Nicholas Freedman - 6/11/2003

Why is HNN printing this kind of rhetorical nonsense? There are many rightist academics who could supply a counterbalance to the arguments of Professor Zinn. While I probably wouldn't agree with many of them, it would further the historical discourse that this site is supposed to be about.
Come on, HNN, you can do better. And you are trying to fundraise?
There is plenty of genuine scholarship from across the politcal and ideological spectrum. Why go to the pseudo-intellectual punditry that passes itself off as scholarship in the popular media?

Homer Simpson - 6/11/2003

No, he's the president and commander-in-chief. His job is to represent the self-interest of our nation to the best of his ability.

You morons can gas about how awful the U.S. is. Evidently some of you get paid to make a nuisance of yourselves in this fashion. And, it's not like this gassing has been in short supply. We've been fed a nauseating diet of it for four decades.

No, Prez Bush is absolutely right. He shouldn't apologize for anything. He should fight for the self-interest of the U.S.

Homer Simpson - 6/11/2003

Why won't leftists worship the real god? The false god of Marxism continues to tempt our moral betters. Even after the 100 million executions.

And, then the morons want to lecture the rest of us. Astonishing!

The Marxists used the social movements you've mentioned in the hope that they could spread chaos, hatred and violence in the U.S. That those movements had value has nothing to do with the Marxist attempt to subvert the U.S. This has always been the Marxist ruse, and here we have another bunch of morons falling for it. Useful idiots of the world, keep belching out the fumes!

Arnold, why don't you get some real religion, instead of the fake Marxist religion? Well, that would entail revealing your motives. Marxism isn't called the politics of envy for nothing.

Marxism is Nazism. Marxists are Nazis. The result is what counts. How does this idiocy continue?

Homer Simpson - 6/11/2003

I'm glad he finally admitted it.

God didn't die, Kirstein. Marx did.

Marxism is Nazism. There is no difference.

Kirstein is a worshipper of the False God. He missed the primary moral lesson of the 20th century.

How's that arm, Peter? The patting yourself on the back has got to be painful.

I knew you were completely ignorant. Wasn't aware that you are without any moral compass as well.

Arnold A. Offner - 6/11/2003

Sorry Mr. Flynn, but the truth is that if Howard Zinn did not exist, it would be necessary--and my pleasure--to invent him. Since the 1940s he has has served as one of this nation's moral consciences in addressing the great issues of our life time: civil rights, the dreadful war in Vietnam, and all the social welfare issues you might care to list. We are all the richer for his contributions to our society. May they continue .

Dan - 6/11/2003

“Objectivity is impossible,” Zinn once remarked, “and it is also undesirable."

In that one sentence, Zinn has proven himself infinitely more capable of holding a reasoned discourse (AND more objective) than ANY of the current wave of hate-America-first right wing pundits pandering to the ignorant masses in our country today. No wonder they fear this guy so much!

NYGuy - 6/11/2003

What is the difference between these two statements?

GW Said: "The promise of our Constitution and our ideals are doomed if we adopt the attitude of George H.W. Bush when he said, "I'll never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are."

I agree with him. Facts have to be weighted to reach a good conclusion. I don't believe the negative facts overwhelm GW's observation. What period in history was the US a less worthy country than others in the world. Every country experienced fighting, violence and many supported slavery, particularly in Africa.

This is what you said about Zinn: "Obviously, his ideology does interfere with his objectivity." What makes him more creditable than GW. And when you weigh his statements about our problems or weaknesses, do you come out with an opinion that the US is the worst country in the world and therefore we have no right to feel proud?

Hepatitus - 6/11/2003

Everyone is--"bias" is the reason we provide footnotes.

The great thing about zinn's book is it has a strong argument and makes a provocative point. I use it in class, and even the most conservative students like its anti elite, egaltarian focus. There are any number of texts which teach history as cheerleading, and students find them tedious, as they have hear dit all before. zinn's book provokes--it provokes conservative students into strengthening their arguments, among other things. I don't agree with everything in it, but then I don't agree with everything in ANY book

This is a dumb piece, but sadly, it's well calculated to ride the wave of cheerleading books by Hannity, Savage et. al. The authors pat themsleves on the back for being bold and contrary, but as is often observed, it takes no particular courage to tell people they are great. People like to here that. Getting them to understand that greatness is mixed with baseness, virtue with venality, success with failure, is harder, but it would be easier if dumb books like this weren't out there.

Herodotus - 6/10/2003

to have phrases like this:
"The New York Times?s reviewer (no doubt a cousin of Jayson Blair) declared that the book should be ?required reading? for students"

if you're trying to encourage accuracy in recounting events. Is the review a cousin of Jayson Blair? Is he not? Is it just a cheap shot (clearly it is) and does it weaken the importance of the sentence (absolutely).

Peter N Kirstein - 6/10/2003

Actually the first line of Marx and Engels's Communist Manifesto is, "A Spectre is Haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism," and not “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle.” Perhaps had Mr Flynn been as fortunate as I was to matriculate in Professor Zinn's Marxism course at Boston University, he would have avoided the error.

I have used Professor Zinn's, "A People's History" for many years and students find it very provocative and readable. In fact his teachings and writings were formative events in my life and I can assure Mr Flynn that opposing American militarism, racism and imperialism is in keeping with a democracy's need for vital and sustained criticism of public and foreign policy.

Paul - 6/10/2003

Mr. Flynn's writing takes a cluster bomb approach to argumentations: spray enough bad stuff around and hope it hits something worth hitting. It is this essay that is a monument to credulity and delusion. What a pathetic diatribe.

Les Milton - 6/10/2003

I don't agree with Howard Zinn on a number of topics. Obviously, his ideology does interfere with his objectivity and I don't think one can argue that his scholarship is flawless, but it's humorous to have this pointed out by someone like Mr. Flynn who has written a book with the hilarious title, "Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation’s Greatness".

Maybe I'm just ignorant, but which Americans on "the Left" hate America? Most of them? Certainly not all, because, though I'm not a Leftist (finding them as frustrating as I do the Right), I have many friends who are and they all LOVE America.

And which lies, exactly, have obscured America's "greatness"? I mean besides Nixon's and Reagan's and Bush's and Clinton's?

Mr. Flynn claims that the Contras' candidate won the first free elections in Nicaragua after the Sandinistas took control. But Daniel Ortega won the first free elections in 1984 which were monitored by representatives of scores of countries and found to be free and fair by all of them, except one, of course (care to guess?). I'm no fan of the Sandinistas, but the facts of the matter are more important than my opinion of the Sandinistas. I wish Mr. Flynn understood this.

I tend to agree with Mr. Flynn regarding Zinn's opinions of Castro, Mumia Abu-Jamal and even some of the sloppy arguments against our war in Afghanistan, but to say that "Readers of A People’s History of the United States learn very little about history" is even more ludicrous than Zinn's most ludicrous assertions. The fact is that readers of Zinn's book have learned and will learn many, many things about American history that they didn't learn in high school. Things that are absolutely necessary in order to grasp the complexity of what the U.S. has been and what it is today.

As an aside, I'm pretty sure most historians believe that the Americas were unpopulated by humans when Asians crossed the Bering strait.

I think that Mr. Flynn has missed the point of this book, which (horror of horrors) is not to celebrate America. It's not meant to repeat the stories of greatness we've been told time and again (lest we forget how great we are), but rather to point out the weaknesses we've experienced. Arrogance and deceit mark as much of our history as ingenuity and strength. But our strength will never increase until we, as a nation, have the courage to look back and take responsibility for the lives (at home and abroad) we've destroyed. It's easy to look at the accomplishments and puff up our chests, but it takes something more to look at our faults honestly and admit them. I mean, I don't know of any winning football teams that only review the plays that went right on the Sunday before. That's because improvement doesn't arise from focusing only on what went right.

There are many who despise those who point these things out. They bristle at the notion that America might not be the greatest nation in the history of civilization. And while I think it's possible that our Constitution might be the greatest governing document ever created, to suggest that our government or our citizens have been somehow superior to all other governments and all other citizens is to engage in the same kind of ideological myth-making of which Howard Zinn is regularly accused.

Drink this to put on weight

Posted On April 29, 2020 15:55:22

Are you trying to put weight on?

If that seems like a ridiculous question to you, well, you’re not going to enjoy this article.

For those of you intrigued by the idea of gaining some mass, the following is the answer to all your hard-gaining woes.

I’m going to share with you the recipe I recommend to help you gain lean muscle in a sustainable way.

It’s a shake, and it’s delicious.

Adding size isn’t rocket science, it’s just regular science.

How do you actually put on weight?

In the Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, I lay out a very simple and clear formula to manipulating your body composition without getting fat in the process, like would happen on a dirty bulk.

In short, that entails adding 300-500 calories to your daily consumption each and every day for a period of up to 6 months.

That is the answer. Follow that sentence, and you will add a sustainable amount of weight without losing the definition you’ve already achieved past the point of no return.

The easiest way to do that is to have the Weight Gain Shake. It’s one simple addition to your diet. One variable change, that’s my kind of math.

It doesn’t need to be pretty, but it will be tasty.

The weight gain shake

When I’m cutting or maintaining my current weight, I have my daily protein shake with water. That’s

When trying to add size I simply throw in:

In total, I’m adding 1.5 servings of carbs, 1 serving of fat, and ⅔ of a portion of protein.

It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of extra calories each day 450-500 calories per day. That’ll keep your second brain happy.

BOOM! That’s your caloric surplus.

Eat normal and have this shake every day, and weight will accumulate.

You can always eat more, if it’s sustainable…

Is that really enough?

If your goal is to really pack on size you should be more aggressive. BUT, if you’re a true hardgainer there’s a psychological barrier you need to overcome, or a more aggressive bulk will never work out for you.

I go deeply into the psychology of a hardgainer in the Ultimate Nutrition Guide.

One of the main hurdles for you to overcome is to become okay with your “abs” becoming softer. Skinny guys almost always take solace in their abs. It makes sense, everyone has abs if they can just get lean enough. Modern culture has decided that abs=strength. Not true.

Especially not true if the rest of your body looks emaciated.

Nevertheless, hardgainers find their identity in their stomach muscles that look more like extra ribs than something capable of protecting their midsection and developing power.

If that’s you, a more modest caloric surplus is the best way to start adding some size. You won’t “lose” your abs and may even start to see an increase in definition depending on how diligently you’re training.

If any of your bulking meals look like this you have a 99.99999% chance of having a bad time.

The dirty bulk

90% of the time, the above is my recommendation to add weight (in addition to doing the opposite of everything laid out here). That other 10% are people who need to add weight faster or are of a different caliber of mind.

Not better caliber, just different.

The dirty bulk, AKA eating like an asshole, is unsustainable for true hardgainers. It implies that you’ll get a few calorically heavy days and then go back to your normal eating patterns. Being a hardgainer means that you naturally eat less than you should, you can’t trust your body to intuitively want to eat more than will feel physically comfortable.

A more modest increase of 300-500 calories is much more sustainable for the time period it takes to gain muscle. On average, if you’re gaining more than 5 lbs a month, it’s going to be mostly fat. You don’t want that. The math of a 500 calorie surplus works out to about 4.5 lbs of muscle gain per month for a novice lifter. That’s right in the sweet spot.

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Final Note

If this article has spurred more questions than it’s answered, check out the Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, it’s in my Free Resources Vault over at Composure Fitness. This guide is the perfect compliment to the Mighty Fit Plan, which is about to get a huge update shortly. If you’ve already completed the plan or are interested in it, now is the time to sign up for it so that you can be one of the first people to experience the plan in all its mighty glory after the overhaul.

More on We are the Mighty

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Adversary Drones Are Spying On The U.S. And The Pentagon Acts Like They're UFOs

US GOV via Jeremy Corbell, AeroVironment, USN,, USPTO

We may not know the identities of all the mysterious craft that American military personnel and others have been seeing in the skies as of late, but I have seen more than enough to tell you that it is clear that a very terrestrial adversary is toying with us in our own backyard using relatively simple technologies—drones and balloons—and making off with what could be the biggest intelligence haul of a generation. While that may disappoint some who hope the origins of all these events are far more exotic in nature, the strategic implications of these bold operations, which have been happening for years, undeterred, are absolutely massive.

6-10 Satellite Facts

6. The first American spy satellites literally dropped their film from space in a “film bucket” that was then scooped up in midair by a plane. – Source

7. The first attempt of the United States to launch a satellite into orbit failed, the Soviet Union offered the United States aid which was earmarked for undeveloped countries. – Source

8. There is a satellite orbiting Earth that is predicted to re-enter the atmosphere in 8.4 million years, carrying a message addressed to the beings/humans and civilization of the future. – Source

9. In 1977, William Kampiles stole a top secret KH-11 spy satellite manual from the CIA which he sold to the Russians for $3000. He then told the CIA for who he worked what he had done in the hopes that they would hire him as a double agent. They didn’t and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. – Source

10. Older generation spy satellites predated any form of digital imaging by decades. They literally exposed film and dropped it back to earth in small re-entry pods. – Source

Scattered Thinking

The question is so huge it will never receive a satisfactory answer. Some, including Judge Mazzola, will state that it is unscientific to even pose the very question. But interestingly, Francis Crick’s book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, published in 1994, mapped Crick’s foray into the “Neural Correlates of Consciousness” (NCC), an approach which suggests that consciousness is operated from a neuronal level—and that tinkering with neurons will, therefore, bring changes to consciousness.

Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, stated that the 40 Mhz wave was instrumental in our perception of reality. Most NCC studies—and hence experiments—focus on vision as a means of manipulating the perception of time and space. Though ideal for laboratory experiments, in the shadowy regions in which intelligence agencies operate, where NCC was not studied for purely scientific advances but for military applications, sound would obviously have been a more preferable method: sound travels further and easier than visual displays, which require line of sight. The fact that the Woodpecker travelled far and strong was in evidence when most of the Western world complained about it to the Soviets.

Whether coincidence or design, whether it deliberately, accidentally or not all modified the human brain, there are questions that will forever linger over the Woodpecker. In the field of electronic harassment, whether the Moscow or Woodpecker signal, the U.S. government has shown a general unwillingness to openly investigate. But it is clear that the Woodpecker was not the lone delusion of Ira Einhorn, but widely supported by all of those who investigated the signal or who had inroads into the world of American intelligence.

©2008 Philip Coppens. Philip Coppens is an author and investigative journalist, in subjects ranging from the world of politics to ancient history and mysteries. He is the editor-in-chief of the Dutch magazine Frontier and the online REAL NEWSpaper and a frequent contributor to Nexus Magazine. Since 1995, he has lectured extensively around the world. He is the author of The Stone Puzzle of Rosslyn Chapel, The Canopus Revelation, Land of the Gods and The New Pyramid Age. His website is

How Iran Is Taking Ancient F-14 Tomcats and Making Them Better

On April 9, 1972, Iraq and the Soviet Union signed an historic agreement. The USSR committed to arming the Arab republic with the latest weaponry. In return for sending Baghdad guns, tanks and jet fighters, Moscow got just one thing — influence … in a region that held most of the world’s accessible oil.

In neighboring Iran, news of Iraq’s alliance with the Soviets exploded like a bomb. Ethnically Persian and predominately Shia, Iran was — and still is — a bitter rival of Iraq’s Sunni Arab establishment, which during the 1970s dominated the country’s politics.

In Tehran, King Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi — the “shah” — moved quickly to counter Baghdad’s move. First he set loose an army of secret police in a desperate and bloody bid to quell internal dissent. And then he reached out to the United States.

(This first appeared several years ago.)

The shah wanted weapons. And not just any weapons. Himself a former military pilot, the king wanted the latest and best U.S.-made warplanes, with which the Iranian air force might dominate the Persian Gulf and even patrol as far away as the Indian Ocean.

The Iranian leader’s appetite for planes was notorious. “He’ll buy anything that flies,” one American official said of the shah. But Pahlavi was especially keen to acquire a fighter that could fly fast enough and shoot far enough to confront Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat recon planes that had been flying over Iran at 60,000 feet and Mach 3.

The administration of U.S. president Richard Nixon was all too eager to grant the shah’s wish in exchange for Iran’s help balancing a rising Soviet Union. Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger visited Tehran in May 1972 — and promptly offered the shah a “blank check.” Any weapons the king wanted and could pay for, he would get — regardless of the Pentagon’s own reservations and the State Department’s stringent export policies.

That’s how, starting in the mid-1970s, Iran became the only country besides the United States to operate arguably the most powerful interceptor jet ever built — the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, a swing-wing carrier fighter packing a sophisticated radar and long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles.

It’s fair to say American policymakers quickly regretted giving Iran the F-14s. In February 1979, Islamic hardliners rose up against the shah’s police state, kidnapping 52 Americans at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and ushering the return of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Islamic Revolution transformed Iran from an American ally to one of the United States’ most vociferous enemies.

An enemy possessing 79 of the world’s most fearsome interceptors.

For the next five decades, the United States would do everything in its power — short of war — to ground the ayatollah’s Tomcats. But the Americans failed. Through a combination of engineering ingenuity and audacious espionage, Iran kept its F-14s in working order — and even improved them. The swing-wing fighters took to the air in several conflicts and even occasionally confronted American planes.

Today Iran’s 40 or so surviving F-14s remain some of the best fighters in the Middle East. And since the U.S. Navy retired its last Tomcats in 2006, the ayatollah’s Tomcats are the only active Tomcats left in the world.

The F-14 was a product of failure. In the 1960s, the Pentagon hoped to replace thousands of fighters in the U.S. Air Force and Navy with a single design capable of ground attack and air-to-air combat. The result was the General Dynamics F-111 — a two-person, twin-engine marvel of high technology that, in time, became an excellent long-range bomber in Air Force service.

But as a naval fighter, the F-111 was a disaster. Complex, underpowered and difficult to maintain, the Navy’s F-111B version — which General Dynamics built in cooperation with carrier-fighter specialist Grumman — was also a widowmaker. Of the seven F-111B prototypes that the consortium built starting in 1964, three crashed.

In 1968, the Defense Department halted work on the F-111B. Scrambling for a replacement, Grumman took the swing-wing concept, TF-30 engines, AWG-9 radar and long-range AIM-54 missile from the F-111B design and packed them into a smaller, lighter, simpler airframe.

Voila — the F-14. The first prototype took off on its inaugural flight in December 1970. The U.S. fleet got its first Tomcats two years later. Grumman ultimately built 712 F-14s.

In 1974, the shah ordered 80 of the fighters plus spare parts and 284 Phoenix missiles at a cost of $2 billion. Seventy-nine of the Tomcats arrived before the Islamic Revolution forced the shah into exile in Egypt and compelled the United States to impose an arms embargo. The U.S. Navy eventually scooped up the 80th plane for one of its test squadrons.

The U.S. State Department oversaw the F-14 transfer and, in its eternal wisdom, delegated most of the work to the Air Force. But the F-14 was a Navy plane and only the Navy had pilots qualified to fly the machine. The sailing branch seconded Tomcat crews to the flying branch, but only after extensive security checks lasting six months — and not without some culture clash.

The Navy pilots picked up the brand-new Tomcats at the Grumman factory in Long Island, New York and flew them three at a time to Iran. “Few pilots in their careers ever have the opportunity to fly an airplane that ‘smells’ exactly as a new car, and still has cellophane covering the cushions of the ejection seat,” one F-14 flier wrote years later. “Well, I had that amazing experience.”

“Although my F-14 was ‘factory fresh,’ it had an Iranian specified camouflage paint scheme. And while it did have U.S. military markings, as I found out later, those markings would be ingeniously and quickly changed upon arrival in Iran. The U.S. paint easily disappeared when a certain solution was applied, thus exposing the Iranian air force markings underneath.”

The journey to Iran involved two legs — from Long Island to Torrejon, Spain, and then onward to Iran’s Isfahan air base, with Air Force KC-135 aerial tankers constantly attending to the F-14s.

It was a complex and, for the pilots, uncomfortable undertaking. “We needed to be ‘topped-off’ with fuel for most of the seven-hour flight in case we had to divert to an emergency field,” the ferry pilot wrote.

“This meant at least six in-flight refueling events for each leg, despite some weather conditions — and the KC-135’s difficult, Rube Goldberg type of refueling hose to accommodate Navy aircraft.”

Air Force planes refuel in mid-air via a probe extending from the tanker into the receiving plane’s fuselage — the tanker crew does most of the work. Navy aircraft have their own probes and refuel by maneuvering the probe into a basket dangling from the tanker’s underwing fuel pods. The receiving pilot does the work — an arrangement consistent with the incredibly high demands the Navy traditionally places on its combat pilots.

To make the KC-135s compatible with the F-14s, the Air Force awkwardly fitted a basket to the tankers’ probes. The improvised contraption tended to whip around in the air, threatening to smash the Tomcats’ canopies every time they refueled.

Keeping gassed up wasn’t the only source of stress for the Tomcat ferry crews. “People often wonder, and it is rarely discussed — how did you relieve yourself, strapped into an ejection seat and immobile for seven-plus hours?” the pilot wrote.

The Navy offered the fliers diapers, but some refused to wear them. “I personally held it for seven hours … as I had planned and for which I had prepared by remaining dehydrated. Hey, I’m a fighter pilot.”

“However, upon arrival in Torrejon, I could barely salute the welcoming Air Force colonel,” the pilot continued. “Bending over and doubled-up under pressure, I feverishly ran to the nearest ‘head’ to relieve myself — for seemingly and refreshingly forever, before I could then return to properly meet, greet and properly salute the receiving Air Force colonel.”

While the U.S. Air Force and Navy worked together to deliver Iran’s F-14s, the State Department arranged for Iranian aviators and maintenance technicians to get training on the Tomcats and their complex systems. Some of the Iranians attended classes in the United States, others received instruction from American contractors in Iran. By 1979, the Americans had trained 120 pilots and backseat radar intercept officers.

The shah’s Tomcat squadrons were coming to life. But the Iranian king wasn’t entirely happy with his acquisition. In late 1975, the shah complained to the U.S. embassy in Tehran that Grumman had paid agents in Iran $24 million to facilitate the F-14 sale. The shah considered the payments bribes — and wanted Grumman to take the money back.

“Shah views with bitter scorn corrupt practices of agents for U.S. companies and ineffective [U.S. government] efforts to deal with problem,” the embassy reported back to Washington in January 1976. The shah was so angry that he threatened to halt payments to Grumman. Washington reminded Tehran that failure to pay would amount to breach of contract.

“The dispute over agents fees was poisoning U.S.-Iranian relations,” American diplomats in Tehran warned. Amid the diplomatic tension, Tehran put its Tomcats to good use performing the mission for which Iran originally wanted them — deterring the Soviet Union’s MiG-25 spy planes. In August 1977, Iranian F-14 crews shot down a BQM-34E target drone flying at 50,000 feet. “The Soviets took the hint and Foxbat over flights promptly ended,” Iranian air force major Farhad Nassirkhani wrote.

Tehran’s spat with Grumman continued, but a year and a half later the Islamic Revolution intervened and rendered the issue moot. Revolutionaries took the streets. Violence broke out. On Jan. 16, 1979, the shah fled.

Twenty-seven of Iran’s freshly-minted F-14 fliers fled, too. On their own way out of the country, American technicians working for Hughes, the company that manufactured the Phoenix missile, sabotaged 16 of the deadly missiles — or tried to, at least. Engineers loyal to the ayatollah eventually repaired the damaged munitions.

Agents of Iran’s new Islamic regime suspected the remaining F-14 crews of harboring pro-shah and pro-American sentiments. Police arrested at least one F-14 pilot at gunpoint at his home, finally releasing him months later when the regime realized it actually needed trained aircrews if it ever hoped to make use of all those brand-new F-14s lined up on the tarmac at Khatami air base.

By September 1980, Iran and Iraq were at war. Baghdad’s own MiG-25 fighters and recon planes could dash into Iranian airspace unmolested by Tehran’s much slower and lower-flying F-4 and F-5 fighters. Over the course of the eight-year war, MiG-25s shot down more than a dozen Iranian aircraft, including a priceless EC-130 electronic warfare plane. Iraqi pilot Col. Mohommed Rayyan alone claimed eight kills in his MiG-25.

Only the F-14 could challenge the MiG-25.

When war broke out, just 77 Tomcats were left — two had crashed. With crews and maintainers scattered and Tehran cut off from Grumman, Hughes and the U.S. Air Force and Navy, most of the Iranian F-14s were inoperable. The ayatollah’s air force managed to assemble 60 loyal pilots and 24 back-seat radar operators. By stripping parts from grounded Tomcats, technicians were able to get a dozen F-14s in fighting shape.

They immediately flew into action. At first, the Tomcats acted as early-warning and battle-management platforms while less sophisticated planes did the actual fighting. “The planes have not been used in combat,” The New York Times reported in December 1981. “Rather they have stood off from the battle and been used as control aircraft, with their advanced radar and electronics guiding other planes to their targets or warning the pilots of Iraqi aircraft attacks.”

The fighting escalated and drew the F-14s into battle. In eight years of combat, Iran’s Tomcat crews claimed some 200 aerial victories against Iraqi planes, 64 of which the Iranian air force was able to confirm. One F-14 pilot named Jalil Zandi reportedly claimed a staggering 11 air-to-air victories, making him by far Iran’s deadliest fighter pilot of the war.

“The Iraqi high command had ordered all its pilots not to engage with F-14 and do not get close if [an] F-14 is known to be operating in the area,” Nassirkhani wrote. “Usually the presence of Tomcats was enough to scare the enemy and send the Iraqi fighters back.”

At first, the F-14s were armed only with their internal 20-millimeter cannons and the long-range Phoenix missiles. American contractors had not had time to integrate medium-range Sparrow and short-range Sidewinder missiles.

Normal tactics called for F-14 crews to fire Phoenixes at their targets from a hundred miles away or farther, but with no alternative armament Iranian aviators relied on the heavy AIM-54s for close-in fighting, as well — once even hitting an Iraqi plane from just 12 miles away, according to Iranian reporter Babak Taghvaee.

Eight F-14s fell in combat during the war with Iraq — one accidentally shot down by an Iranian F-4 three struck by Baghdad’s Mirage F.1 fighters one hit by an Iraqi MiG-21 and two falling victim to unknown attackers.

The eighth Tomcat that Tehran lost during the Iran-Iraq war reportedly wound up in Iraq when its crew defected. Taghvaee claimed that U.S. Special Operations Forces infiltrated “deep inside Iraqi territory” in order to destroy the abandoned F-14 and “prevent it falling into Soviet hands.”

Iranian Tomcats intercepted Iraqi MiG-25s on several occasions. But only one Iranian flier succeeded in downing any of the Mach-3 MiGs. In September 1982 and again in December, Shahram Rostani struck MiG-25s with Phoenix missiles.

Combat ops were hard on Iran’s F-14 force. A lack of spare parts compounded the maintenance woes. After the revolution, the United States had frozen Iranian assets, embargoed Iranian trade and imposed other economic sanctions. The United Nations and many U.S. allies followed suit, cutting off Tehran from global supply chains.

In 1981 an Iranian trade agent wrote to the London office of F-14-builder Grumman asking to acquire parts for Iran’s Tomcats. Citing the new sanctions, Washington declined to grant Grumman a license to sell the components. “It is the present policy of the United States government not to permit Grumman or any other defense contractor to obtain a license to provide Iran with these materials,” the Navy told The New York Times.

By 1984, just 15 or so of the twin-engine fighters were flightworthy, according to Nassirkhani. Technicians kept the 15 jets in good repair mainly by taking parts from the roughly 50 F-14s that couldn’t fly.

Starting in 1981, Iranian Aircraft Industries began performing overhauls and upgrades on the F-14s as part of the Tehran’s effort to make the country militarily self-sufficient. The upgrades finally added Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles to the Tomcats. The self-sufficiency program had help from Iranian agents working abroad — and at great risk to themselves — to divert spare parts for the F-14s and other weapon systems.

America begrudgingly helped, too — albeit briefly. In negotiating to free American hostages that an Iran-backed militant group was holding in Lebanon, the administration of Pres. Ronald Reagan agreed to transfer to Tehran badly-needed military equipment, reportedly including Phoenix missiles and bomb racks. Iranian engineers added the bomb racks to four of the F-14s as early as 1985, transforming the Tomcats into heavy ground-attack planes. Years later, the U.S. Navy would modify its own F-14s in the same way.

Rostani flew the “Bombcat’s” first ground-attack mission in 1985, targeting an Iraqi field headquarters … but missing. Frustrated technicians boosted the Bombcat’s weapons load-out with a whopping, custom-made 7,000-pound bomb — one of the biggest freefall munitions ever. As Iranian commander-in-chief Gen. Abbas Babaei observed from near the front line, an F-14 lobbed the massive bomb.

The estimated time on target passed … but nothing happened. Babaei was getting ready to return to his jeep when a powerful blast shook the ground. The bomb had missed, but its psychological effect on Iraqi troops was surely profound.

By the war’s end in 1988, 34 of the 68 surviving F-14s were airworthy. But just two of the Persian Tomcats had working radars. And Iran had expended all of its original consignment of Phoenixes. More Phoenixes reportedly arrived as part of the hostages-for-arms deal with the United States, and in the post-war years Iranian Aircraft Industries experimented with “new” weaponry for the F-14 — including modified Hawk surface-to-air missiles that the shah had bought from the United States as well as Soviet-supplied R-73 missiles.

The experiments added flexibility to the F-14 force, but it was the spare parts that kept the Tomcats in working condition — and the Iranian air force quickly burned through the spares it obtained from the hostage deal. Tehran established self-sufficiency programs — not just in the air force, but across the nation’s economy — in an effort to satisfy material needs that foreign companies had once met.

In many sectors, the self-sufficiency initiative worked. Besides producing all its own oil, Iran has declared itself autonomous in agriculture, steel production, electricity generation and civil aviation. “Well before the advent of abundant oil wealth, Iranians have tended to see their country as a unique nation amply endowed with natural resources that could take care of itself without outside assistance,” said Rudi Matthee, a history professor at the University of Delaware.

But Iranian companies struggled to produce all the specialized parts that the Tomcat requires. In the late 1990s, the air force considered simply buying new planes to replace the F-14s, but China was the only country that would sell fighters to Iran. In 1997 and 1998, Iranian pilots evaluated China’s F-8 … and rejected it. Even deprived of spares and mostly grounded, the F-14s were superior to the Chinese planes in the eyes of Iran’s air force.

Tehran turned to the black market, paying huge sums to shady middlemen to sneak F-14 parts into Iran. American authorities became aware of the illicit trade as early as 1998. In March of that year, federal agents arrested Iranian-born Parviz Lavi at his home in Long Island, charging him with violating U.S. export law by attempting to buy up spare parts for the F-14’s TF-30 engine and ship them to Iran via The Netherlands. Lavi got five years in prison plus a $125,000 fine.

The arrests came in a steady drumbeat. In 1998, an aircraft parts vendor in San Diego told U.S. customs officials that Multicore Ltd. in California had requested price information for air intake seals used only on the F-14. Agents arrested Multicore’s Saeed Homayouni, a naturalized Canadian from Iran, and Yew Leng Fung, a Malaysian citizen.

“Bank records subpoenaed by the Customs Service showed that Multicore Ltd. had made 399 payments totaling $2.26 million to military parts brokers since 1995 and had received deposits of $2.21 million,” The Washington Post reported. The company shipped parts mostly through Singapore.

The feds began investigating 18 companies that had supplied airplane components to Multicore.

In September 2003, U.S. authorities nabbed Iranian Serzhik Avasappian in a South Florida hotel as part of a sting operation. Agents had shown Avasappian several F-14 parts worth $800,000 and arrested him after he offered to buy the components.

“While these components may appear relatively innocuous to the untrained eye, they are tightly controlled for good reason,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement interim agent Jesus Torres said in a statement. “In the wrong hands, they pose a potential threat to Americans at home and abroad.”

Even with U.S. authorities tamping down on the illicit trade in F-14 parts, Iran persisted. After shutting down Multicore, the feds confiscated the firm’s Tomcat components and sent them to the Defense Department’s surplus-parts office. In 2005, a company — allegedly Iranian — bought the very same parts from the military.

The parts war escalated after the U.S. Navy retired its last F-14s in 2006, leaving Iran as the type’s only operator. In 2007, U.S. agents even seized four intact ex-U.S. Navy F-14s in California — three at museums and one belonging to a producer on the military-themed T.V. show JAG — charging that the F-14s had not been properly stripped of useful parts that could wind up in Iranian hands.

The U.S. Congress was furious at the Pentagon for its lax handling of the F-14-parts problem. Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, described it as “a huge breakdown, an absolute, huge breakdown.” Lawmakers passed a bill specifically banning any trade in Tomcat components to Iran or any other entity, and then-president George W. Bush signed the law in 2008.

A minor tragedy unfolded as the military paid contractors to dismantle, crush and shred many of the approximately 150 retired F-14s. Scores of old F-14s — properly “demilitarized” — are still on display in museums across the United States. But none remain at the famous airplane “boneyard” in Arizona, where the Pentagon stores retired planes just in case it needs them again.

Even so, the underground trade in Tomcat parts continues, with shady companies scouring the planet for leftover components. In early 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigated Israeli arms dealers that it said had twice tried to send F-14 spares to Iran.

And it’s not for no reason that Tehran would keep trying to supply its Tomcats. In recent years the United States has stepped up its efforts to spy on Iran, deploying drone aircraft including the secretive, stealthy RQ-170 to the Middle East apparently to surveil Iranian nuclear facilities. An RQ-170 crashed in Iranian territory in 2011.

Tomcats have led the effort to intercept these drones. In the early 2000s, the Iranian air force stationed an F-14 squadron in Bushehr, the site of Iran’s first nuclear reactor. That squadron eventually disbanded as its Tomcats fell into disrepair, but other F-14 squadrons maintained vigil over Bushehr and two other atomic facilities as U.S. spy flights continued to probe the sites, trying to glean intelligence on Iran’s nuclear efforts.

And that’s when things got weird. F-14 crews protecting the facilities reported seeing increasingly sophisticated and bizarre drones, according to Taghvaee. “The CIA’s intelligence drones displayed astonishing flight characteristics, including an ability to fly outside the atmosphere, attain a maximum cruise speed of Mach 10 and a minimum speed of zero, with the ability to hover over the target.”

“Finally,” Taghvaee added, “the drones used powerful [electronic countermeasures] that could jam enemy radars using very high levels of magnetic energy.” In November 2004 one F-14 crew intercepted a suspected CIA drone over the nuke facility at Arak. As the aviators tried to lock onto the drone with their Tomcat’s AWG-9 radar, they “saw that the radar scope was disrupted.” The drone lit its green afterburner and escaped.

To be clear, it’s highly unlikely the CIA possesses hypersonic space-capable drones with radar-killing magnetic ray weapons. The point is that Tehran is protective, even paranoid, when it comes to its nuclear sites — and yet entrusts their defense mainly to the 40-year-old F-14s.

Whether it’s producing parts itself or acquiring them abroad, Iran is clearly succeeding in its efforts to supply its F-14 squadrons. In October 2013, Taghvaee estimated that more than 40 of Tehran’s surviving F-14s were in flyable condition, possibly the highest number since the mid-1970s. Iran has begun upgrading the Tomcats with new radar components, radios, navigation systems and wiring while also adding compatibility with R-73 and Hawk missiles.

Five decades in, Iran’s F-14s are only getting better and better. And more and more important to the Persian state’s defense.