Putin Personality Cult

Imaging the Putin Personality Cult · 25 December 2009

On Friday 18 December, according to the Moscow Times, Vladimir Putin entered the hall of St. Petersburg’s School of Sport Mastery dressed in a white judogi and black belt, to applause from the assembled squad. After bowing, he went onto the mats, throwing squad members half his age and even tackling the chief trainer, Olympic gold medalist Ezio Gamba. Then, over tea and cakes, Putin made the suggestion. If you need direct help, you can include me in the team, he told the trainer, an Italian who won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Officials praised Putin’s technique in the Japanese martial art and dismissed any hint that he may have been allowed to win. He has the psychology of a winner, the psychology of the victorious, said Georgy Kukoverov, the school’s chief.

Reading this evoked thoughts of 1939, when foreign correspondents were invited to watch Benito Mussolini engage in various sporting activities, including horse-riding, fencing and tennis. An American onlooker commented:

The dictator, garbed in a beige polo shirt and shorts which revealed the scar of the wound he had received in the thigh during World War I, was playing doubles. He was serving underarm like a novice, and he violated every tennis rule and tradition by walking at least two steps beyond the base line to serve. Even so, the two athletes who were playing against him Rome’s leading professional tennis player, and a member of Italy’s national soccer team had difficulty in returning soap bubble his serves. Whenever the ball was returned, it floated slowly up so that a lame man with a broken arm could have hit it. Il Duce lobbed, smashed, and smiled, pleased with his triumph.

Mussolini, of course, won the game!

Putin is, no doubt, better at judo than Mussolini at tennis, but the central idea of promoting the leader as a winner in physical contests is the same. And visual image is the best way to do this. After all, seeing is believing!

Kemal Ataturk believed in looking the part, telling an early colleague that it was a fool’s belief that people like their leaders only with ideals. They want them dressed in the pomp of power and invested with the insignia of their office. His military uniforms, including that of Field Marshal, were used as an important prop early in his career.

The writer, Emil Ludwig was with a group of journalists in a hotel foyer in 1931 when they saw an example of Hitler’s image management:

Clad in a brand new overcoat, he was ambling lazily down the wide staircase, playing with the metal rod attached to the hotel keys to make guests remember to hand them over to the porter before leaving. He was whirling the key round the rod, to his own great amusement. Suddenly, about 20 paces off, he became aware of our group. That very second he dropped his hand to his side, stiffened his arms and legs, put on an expression of gloom, and, for our benefit, was transformed into Napoleon. Moved to the depths of his own schemes, he strode slowly past us.

In 1956, against the advice of colleagues, Mao Zedong swam in the Yangtze River, and his later conversation with Zhu Zhongli made it clear that he understood the importance of looking the part not only for the audience, but for the boost it gives leader himself!

Mao: People should not like to show off. I swam for too long! I felt utterly exhausted, but I wanted to show off, so I kept going. If it hadn’t been for Ye Zilong (one of Mao’s lieutenants) making me get back on the ship, I would have died.

Zhu: I don’t believe that. You swim very well.

Mao: You don’t believe and the audience on the banks of the river didn’t believe either. I understood the illusion therefore the more I swam, the more I was encouraged.

Yet there are subtleties and dangers in such image games!

The image needs to suit the audience and some audiences are not as easily impressed by the image of raw physical power, determination and vigor. Nuance is sometimes required to make the raw power aspect seem less threatening and thus more attractive! Such nuancing seemed to work well with the mind and emotions of Albert Speer.

Speer was surprised at the appearance of Hitler when he saw him for the first time in January 1931 as he addressed students of Berlin University and the Institute of Technology: On posters and in caricatures I had seen him in military tunic, with shoulder straps, swastika armband, and hair flapping. But here he was wearing a well-fitted blue suit and looking markedly respectable. Everything about him bore out the note of reasonable modesty.

With this particular audience, Hitler knew that a military uniform would evoke more negative than positive reactions. He thus acted to reduce any sense of threat to the audience themselves.

The next time Speer saw Hitler, the audience and the clothes were different. Now he presented the image of a purposeful winner. I saw Hitler reproving one of his companions because the cars had not yet arrived. He paced back and forth angrily, slashing at the tops of his high boots with a dog whip and giving the general impression of a cross, uncontrolled man who treats his associates contemptuously. This Hitler was very different from the man of calm and civilised manner who had so impressed me at the student meeting. I was seeing an example of Hitler’s remarkable duplicity indeed, multiplicity would be a better word. With enormous histrionic intuition he could shape his behavior to changing situations in public.

So, image making is a complex and sometimes dangerous process.

Mao put himself in danger, but there is also the issue of blowback. The Yugoslavian politician, Milovan Djilas, who had close dealings with Stalin and his lieutenants from 1944, observed:

The deification of Stalin, or the cult of the personality, as it is now called, was at least as much the work of Stalin’s circle and the bureaucracy, who required such a leader, as it was his own doing. Of course, the relationship changed. Turned into a deity, Stalin became so powerful that in time he ceased to pay attention to the changing needs and desires of those who had exalted him.

It is also possible to try to push the image too far. Mao was lucky that he did not overstep the mark swimming and make himself look silly which is absolutely one of the last things a leader should ever do. According to Hitler’s photographer, Heinrich Hoffman, he was careful what pictures he took because Hitler had a horror of appearing ridiculous. One journalist perhaps with the tennis match in mind noted that Mussolini sometimes looked like a circus performer in off hours.

This is why Putin could not risk being seen to lose to a serious opponent at judo. He has condemned the personality cult that surrounded Stalin, but he now is also part of a similar game. He, and his supporters, aim to send the message that he has the psychology of a winner, the psychology of the victorious.

So, were Putin’s judo fights fixed a la Mussolini-style? Probably! But it is also possible that his opponents were psyched-out by the thought of fighting the Russian leader.

And, this thought brings us to a conclusion about the future leadership of Russia.

My guess is that Dimitry Medvedev believes that he is the best person to be president after the 2012 presidential elections. But power is as much about the psychological need for power and, not surprisingly, Putin’s need has grown with time in power as it is about intellectual analysis. Medvedev’s visual image is very lackluster, and unless he can do something about it in early 2010 and boost his self-confidence (a la Mao) he will be psyched-out both privately and publicly by Putin.

Putin in 2000

Putin in 2000 · 23 March 2000

This article appeared in the AFR on 23 March 2000.

The post-USSR chaos in Russia was bound to throw up a leader whose instinct was more authoritarian and nationalistic than Boris Yeltsin. This leader has now arrived. His name is Vladimir Putin and he will be elected president of Russia this Sunday.

Anatoly Sobchak, the late reformist mayor of Saint Petersburg with whom Putin worked after he left the KGB in 1990, once suggested that Putin might be Russia’s Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon’s career received a spectacular boost in 1795 when, as a less than senior general, he dispersed a Parisian mob with, in his words, a whiff of grapeshot. It killed about 100 people, earned him the gratitude of the Convention and command of the interior army.

Putin’s rise has been as rapid as Napoleon’s and has more than a little to do with his uncompromising militaristic attitude to Chechnya. Putin is not going to lose sleep over a few thousand civilian deaths in Chechnya if they help him achieve his aims.

So what are these aims? It might well be that he will become a sort of Napoleon who, after becoming first consul in 1799, reorganized French administration under strong central control and reformed the tax and legal systems. Certainly after the 1990s, Russians and the world will welcome a more focused and disciplined leader.

The 1990’s chaos resulted from both the nature of Yeltsin, who was essentially an instinctive revolutionary rather than a thoughtful administrator or builder, and the desire of society to escape the State-enforced order of the USSR. Yeltsin and society complemented each other in their goals in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

While Yeltsin wanted to destroy communism forever and build a democratic capitalist state, neither he nor his Russian or Western economic advisers had thought enough about what really makes a modern democratic capitalist country function. Yeltsin did not understand that not only are good laws needed, but they must be effectively and impartially administered; that, wrongly handled, privatization may as easily created thieves as capitalists; and that markets, unless transparent and free, are easily cornered.

The Putin discipline will not be without downside. Domestically, liberalism as generally understood in the West will take a back seat to notions of rebuilding the State and nationalism. In 1989, Boris Yeltsin, a member of the Supreme Soviet, was leading a group seeking amendments to the USSR Constitution at the Second Congress of People’s Deputies. The dissident Yeltsin wanted to uphold the principle of diversity and explained: Unity has already inflicted a great deal of damage on our country. Unity stood for thinking exactly the same way the supreme leader thought. It is time we got rid of this stereotype. It is in the clash of opinions that the best solution develops.

The wheel has now turned almost full circle. Before Yeltsin’s resignation on New Year’s Eve, and Putin’s appointment as acting President, the Kremlin thought it necessary to create a new political party to help it gain control of the Duma (the lower house of parliament) at the December 1999 elections. The party was named Unity. It describes itself as Putin’s party and is backing him for election as president.

In 1989 Unity was a dirty word, but now both society and Putin want it. In this sense, the desires of Putin and society complement each other in much the same way as did Yeltsin and society a decade earlier. Putin will be seeking to reconstruct some of what Yeltsin sought to destroy. Whereas Yeltsin sought, in his own way, to promote diversity within society and to free the Russian regional governments from the centre, Putin will be aiming for consolidation.

Yeltsin generally tolerated the communists, but Putin will actively work with them because of their nationalism. Yeltsin offered the regions elected governors, but Putin would find it hard to knock back any opportunity to appoint them from Moscow. In one sense, Putin the leader will be more like Gorbachev than Yeltsin. Gorbachev did not like disorder. He wanted to change the political system to make it more humane and the economy more efficient, but he did not want to pull it down. Indeed, Putin may be even less inclined than Gorbachev to promote liberal change. From this point of view, Russians are probably lucky that they are giving Putin a weakened State apparatus rather than the highly centralized one that Gorbachev inherited.

Western leaders such as Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright meet Putin and are relieved to find that he can behave himself in a meeting (in this regard Putin is also more like Gorbachev than Yeltsin who was always too spontaneous for the liking of Western leaders) and seems to understand the points being made. Moreover, he has even allowed himself to make the fatuous suggestion that Russia could one day join NATO.

But the West should beware. Putin’s electoral victory will mainly be the result of an expectation that he will get things done and if that has echoes of the toughness he has shown in Chechnya, then so be it. Putin has neither the Yeltsin verve nor the capacity to inspire that could sustain his popularity through a period of inaction. Unless he brings results quickly, his popularity will fade rapidly. Once he has power in his own right he will grow to like it very much. There is enough nationalism in Russia to make it the obvious card to play. The stronger Russia becomes economically, the stronger (ironically) is likely to be its nationalism. Thereafter, Putin may be continually forced to play harder ball with the West.

Russia is not an inward-looking country. It is expansive, and the West will have to increasingly deal with this over Putin’s four-year term as he eyes the electorate for a possible second term. Putin may not be a conqueror like Napoleon, but he will miss no opportunity to boost Russian power and influence.

Putin: New Faces and Flaws in the Weave

Putin: New Faces and Flaws in the Weave · 11 July 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently issued reprimands to six deputy ministers for not fulfilling Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential orders in a timely fashion.

Apparently, under the Russian Labor Code, a reprimand is the lightest possible form of punishment.

Last year, only one in six presidential orders was completed on time, while for the first five months of 2010, one in five was finished, the head of the Kremlin’s control department, told Medvedev on 21 June. At that meeting, Medvedev ordered the government (headed by Putin in his position as prime minister) to give him a list of those to blame, including their punishments, “right up to termination.”

One newspaper article then carried this paragraph: The government treats the president’s orders just as seriously as any other orders, a government official said. The official suggested that people close to Medvedev could be pressing the issue because they are uncomfortable with the prime minister’s political clout.

Despite Medvedev’s comments, neither Putin nor Medvedev seem generally inclined to use the termination option as a management tool. After the disastrous Yeltsin years, both Putin and Medvedev crave stability in the Russian governmental system.

But there is also a difference. Medvedev is probably disinclined to use termination because of his intellectual nature which seems to generally focus on the good in people. Putin, however, is clearly more manipulative and inclined to use force.

Putin’s reluctance to use the termination option can be explained, at least in part, by considering how some historical strong-men have approached this issue.

There will be an element of Stalin in Putin’s approach. Sergo Beria, son of Lavrentiy and who had his own professional dealings with Stalin, wrote that above a certain level in the hierarchy of Party and State, Stalin appointed only individuals he knew personally. He sent for them from time to time and never ceased studying them. Before promoting a cadre he spent a long time analysing him. He had one unchanging rule: one can never be too suspicious.

Such analysis and study takes time, so there is a lot to be said for sticking with old faces. Louis Bourreinne, Napoleon’s first secretary, wrote that Napoleon had an extreme aversion for mediocrity, and generally rejected a man of that character when recommended to him; but if he had known such a man long, he yielded to the influence of habit, dreading nothing so much as change, or, as he was accustomed to say himself, new faces. Napoleon’s third private secretary, Fain, confirmed that Napoleon had a horror of change, feared new faces, and held single-mindedly to conserving all the men who were formed under his shadow.

All this sounds like Putin who had a solid eight years as president beginning in 2000 to choose who would progress under his shadow and those who have so progressed generally seem at little risk from new faces.

At Nuremberg, Herman Goering said that Adolf Hitler found it extremely hard to get used to new faces, and that he did not like to make changes in his entourage. He preferred to continue working with men whom he did not like, rather than change them.

Albert Speer explained that Hitler was generally pleased if his lieutenants showed some flaw in the weave, and quoted one of them, Karl Hanke:

It is all to the good if associates have faults and know that the superior is aware of them. That is why the Fuhrer so seldom changes his assistants. For he finds them easiest to work with. Almost every one of then has his defect; that helps keep them in line.

In Hitler’s case, wrote Speer, immoral conduct, remote Jewish ancestors, or recent membership in the party were counted as flaws in the weave.

Mao Zedong operated on a similar principle. His doctor, Li Zhisui, wrote of Mao’s method of finding the flaw in the weave and of the control this gave him:

Repeatedly in my years with Mao I watched him win loyalty from others in the same way he had won it from me. He would begin by charming people, winning their trust, getting them to open up, to confess their faults just as I had told him about my problematic bourgeois past. Mao would then forgive them, save them, and make them feel safe. Thus redeemed, they became loyal.

Dr Li then added:

His loyalists, in turn, would become dependent on him, and the longer they depended on him, the more they had to depend on him, the more impossible life outside his circle became.

This is a very similar comment to that of Speer who wrote that all of Hitler’s lieutenants who had worked closely with him for a long time were entirely dependent and obedient.

Somewhat paradoxically, Speer also wrote that Hitler loved to see new faces, to try out new persons. The paradox would seem best explained by the combination of factors. Firstly, Hitler recognised his own hypnotic powers and ability to fascinate; so it was a bit of a game some diversion from the familiar servile faces around him and possibly a chance to overcome his loneliness at the top.

Secondly, it accorded with his tendency to divide power wherever he encountered it. Speer noted that Hitler often had two or three competitors for each important position, all of whom he directed immediately (personally). Thus, Hitler was all to ready to treat the second men in an organisation, as soon as they were presented to him, as members of his staff and to make assignments directly to them.

Hitler was an instinctive psychologist of genius in his manipulation of people. In this he differed from Stalin, Mao and even Napoleon who had a more methodical approach. Indeed, Speer wrote that Hitler seemed to have no sense of methodical deceit that is, he did not plan his moves in advance like a chess-player or a Stalin. In his approach to divide and rule Hitler was more instinctive than Stalin etc

From the point of view of manipulation and deceit, Putin is no Hitler. His psychological approach is closer to the methodical Stalin, Mao and Napoleon.

So what is the result of all this?

General Caulaincourt, a close aide to Napoleon, wrote of a positive effect of not liking new faces: The master’s well-known dislike of any change (among his entourage) gave everyone a sense of security which proved greatly to the advantage of truth.

This aversion to new faces also had another benefit in that Napoleon’s lieutenants generally had little fear of exposing their own lieutenants to Napoleon. His third secretary, Fain, wrote about the Administrative Councils: Each minister was careful to bring with him to the council the colleague who could be most useful to him. It thus helped ministers avoid the type of reaction that Speer noted, when he wrote that in order to avoid raising up … a rival in his own household, many a minister took care not to appoint an intelligent and vigorous deputy.

So, this could be one benefit of Putin’s approach; and indeed I suspect that it is.

The disadvantage is that too many incompetent (and corrupt) people remain in the highest levels of government, and this impedes the progress of Russia. Medvedev may well understand this better than Putin, and his proding on this issue may be more than simply being “uncomfortable with the prime minister’s political clout”.

Psychology of Supporters of Bush & Saddam

The Similar Psychology of Supporters of Bush and Saddam · 18 September 2006

There was outrage last Thursday, 14 September, when the chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein, Abdullah al-Amiri, said to him: You were not a dictator. However, the people or the individuals and officials surrounding you created a dictator (out of you). It was not you in particular. It happens all over the world.

Touche! Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Ataturk, Mussolini and Mao were like Saddam Hussein highly intelligent, skillful, ruthless, possessed of enormous will-power and self-belief, and (when they wanted to be) charming men. But it was the people around them who surrendered their own independence who enabled these men to realize their ambitions for power.

There are a host of reasons while people become servile. Napoleon summed them up nicely when he said that there are two levers for moving men interest and fear. On the interest side may be included ambition for money, prestige, the power to boss other, and the sheer excitement of being part of events; and there is also love of country or tribal-group, and a desire to contribute even if the man in power is not well thought of. On the fear side, there is the potential loss of what one has: life, liberty, family, and all those interests which come with being subordinate and servile.

Yet, there is also something else and it is illustrated by a recent survey which links trust in George Bush to an individual’s concept of God. The study, American Piety in the 21st Century, released last week by the Baylor Institute for Religious Studies, showed that 32% of people who believed in a god which was highly involved in their daily lives and world affairs also trusted Bush a lot. The researchers called this type of god authoritarian.

The study also identified three other categories of god benevolent, critical and distant. The benevolent god is very active on our daily lives but less so in the affairs of the world than the authoritarian god, and less wrathful; only 23% of believers in such a god trusted Bush a lot. Only 12% of people who believed in a god that really does not interact with the world a critical god trusted Bush a lot; and the figure was only 9% for those who saw god as distant, more as a cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion.

In short, people most anxious to believe in a highly involved god in spite of a complete lack of evidence that any sort of god exists at all also want to believe in Bush. They are very ready to surrender their own critical thinking to an authority figure, be it a god or a man. When they have to think, they as the researchers note believe that God helps them with their-decision making. It is God at the controls! Albert Speer explained the phenomenon, and his support for Hitler, this way: My inclination (was) to be relieved of having to think, particularly about unpleasant facts In this I did not differ from millions of others.

There is an almost willful blindness to reality in this attitude which leads to extreme gullibility. In spite of a complete lack of evidence once again 54% of those who believed in an authoritarian god also believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks. This percentage declines rapidly when people are less dependent on authority, and more willing to take responsibility for their own thinking: it is 44% for those who believe in a benevolent god; 32% for a critical god; and 24% for a distant god.

Those people who strongly desire to believe in someone and hand-over their critical thinking to another be it god or man, or both are ripe pickings for aspiring dictators who market themselves as the Man. Angling to rise from First Consul to Emperor, Napoleon put out a pamphlet comparing himself to Caesar and Cromwell, who in classical times would have been considered as living under the protection of a genie, or a god. Hans Frank described what he thought was the secret of Hitler’s power: He stood up and pounded his fist, and shouted, I am the Man! and he shouted about his strength and determination and so the public surrendered to him with hysterical enthusiasm. George Bush would love to get the same response; and, in some quarters, he does.

People are generally fearful, gullible, and ever-willing to believe in a savior. It is ironic, and even terrifying (for a rational mind, perhaps even more terrifying than terrorists) to think that psychologically at least Bush’s strongest supporters are also those who may have most favorably looked upon Saddam Hussein.

Psychology of Secret Courts / Military Tribunals

Dangerous Psychology of Secret Courts / Military Tribunals · 4 September 2006

Psychologist and ex-army officer, Norman F. Dixon, in his book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, wrote about the staggering irrationality which can beset the thinking of otherwise highly competent, intelligent, conscientious individuals when they begin to act as group. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology notes that the group-think tendency has been suggested as one of the prime reasons why politicians operating in closed groups so often make disastrous decisions.

The symptoms of group-think include: collective attempts to ignore or rationalize away items of information which might otherwise lead the group to reconsider shaky but cherished assumptions; an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, thus enabling members to overlook the ethical consequences of their decision; stereotyping people outside the group as less worthy in some ways; shared illusion of unanimity in a majority viewpoint, augmented by the false assumption that silence means consent; self-appointed mind-guards to protect the group from adverse information that might shatter complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.

Dixon notes that homogeneity of the group in such areas as education, experience will tend to increase the chances of group-think. He notes that this will particularly be the case with military officers. He also notes that it is a feature of armed services that the penalty for error is very much more substantial than the reward for success. The net result of this bias toward negative reinforcement will be that fear of failure rather than hope of success tends to be the dominant motive in decision-making. Such fear increases the tendency for group-think, particularly as the militarist is relatively prejudiced and authoritarian person socially conformist security-seeking, prestige-orientated anti-intellectual, … Dixon adds that they are lacking in complexity of thinking, independence, and relatively high in anxiety.

Dixon notes the connection between the conservatism syndrome and a liking for militarism. In Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition, Jost, Glaser etc. note that conservatives perceive the world as generally threatening. High profile terrorist attacks such as those on September 11, 2001, might simultaneously increase the cognitive accessibility of death and the appeal of political conservatism. In turn, mortality salience leads people to defend culturally valued norms and practices to a stronger degree and to distance themselves from, and even to derogate, out-group members to a greater extent And, in turn, mortality salience has also been shown to evoke greater punitiveness, and even aggression, toward those who violate cultural values.

This combination of the general tendency to group-think and of military minds will make it very difficult for a military court/tribunal such as at Guantanamo Bay to objectively evaluate information and make balanced decisions. Secrecy will make it almost impossible.

But what about secret civilian courts, or civilian courts where important evidence is heard in secret?

Almost by definition there is little in the way of public information about the operation of secret civilian courts. However, the operation of open criminal courts provides examples of how lack of public scrutiny can lead to distorted results. There is the case of a prominent former Australian judge who pleaded not guilty to a driving offence on the grounds that someone else was driving his car. The Court accepted his defense. It was only through the efforts of a journalist that it subsequently emerged that the supposed driver was actually dead at the time. If the former judge’s evidence had been given in secret court, or as secret evidence, the lie would have stood.

And, how much easier it must have been for the magistrate (judge) hearing this traffic case to accept the excuse of the former judge precisely because he was a former judge the magistrate would not only have not suspected, but would have psychologically resisted the idea, that someone in his identification group would lie to a court.

The same is true for in-house court experts. The Australian Family Court is effectively a semi-secret court because legal restrictions on identifying people before it mean that there is no media interest in reporting any of its proceedings; something that the Court finds very useful in allowing it to engage in its own group-think. The Court employs so-called counselors/mediators to make assessment of the psychological situation of families. Once a family assessment has been made and presented to the court, it will be very difficult for a judge to take a significantly different view. Indeed, the judge may feel that he must act to exclude contrary evidence; and he may frame his reasons for judgment in terms that ensure appeal court judges will be biased toward the biased conclusion that he has reached a conclusion that is not so much his, as that of the counselor/mediator!

Like the Family Court, military tribunals will receive evidence from in-house experts (in this case, in-house will mean military / security people who are effectively part of the military identification group) and this evidence in unlikely to be subjected to a great deal of scrutiny.

As with military courts, the Family Court judge’s group-think will be promoted by feelings of the groups inherent morality and superiority to others. (This site has an account of a Family Court case in which these characteristics of group-think were on ample display—see article “Which Judge? Deceit dressed as profound policy!”)

Thus anyone before a secret court or military tribunal runs the risk of suffering the same fate as Japan’s General Yamashita. According to a 2004 CRS Report to Congress, Military Tribunals: Historical Patterns and Lessons, Yamashita was charged as a war criminal in 1945 with neglect of duty in controlling his troops. According to the CRS Report, none of the charges established a direct link between Yamashita and the underlying criminal acts. Nevertheless, Yamashita was found guilty as charged.

According to the CRS report, twelve international correspondents covering the trial voted 12 to zero that Yamashita should have been acquitted. Frank Reel, a (US army officer and lawyer) member of the defence team, concluded that Yamashita was not hanged because he was in command of troops who committed atrocities. He was hanged because he was in command of troops who committed atrocities ON THE LOSING SIDE.

If a public military tribunal can convict a man without evidence, just imagine what a secret military tribunal can do!

Psychologies of Putin and USA

Psychologies of Putin and USA · 14 August 2012

Vladimir Putin as an individual and the USA as a country have a lot in common although they would both hate the comparison. Both Putin and the US are very fearful of the changing world around them. They do not fully understand it and have the same basic and all too human —reaction to the feeling that they are facing reduced ability to influence, if not control, events.

In this sense, countries are like individuals when it comes to power; it is addictive and no individual or country wants to give it up or see it reduced.

Putin and the USA see themselves as bulwarks against anarchy and injustice in Russia and the World; and to a certain degree both are right. For several years after his election as president of Russia in 2000 Putin was on balance an anchor of stability for Russia, and for much of the post-Second World War period the US was again, on balance the mainstay of a more stable and better world.

These achievements, and the resulting accolades of others, have contributed to both Putin and the USA feeling indispensible for the future well-being of, respectively, Russia and the World.

Time is also a factor here. The longer an individual or a country has power, the harder it is to cede.

The second chapter of my book, Dictatorial CEOs & their Lieutenants – Inside the Executive Suites of Napoleon, Stalin, Ataturk, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao, is entitled The Power Personality and has sections on self-belief, passion and focus, and will-power. I think that these categories can be used to examine countries as well as individuals.

Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian Government insider and now head of a PR company, recently wrote in a Moscow Times article that Putin is quite sincere when he emphasizes the importance of continuity of government as a prerequisite for development and sees his job swap with Dmitry Medvedev as an efficient way of combining change with continuity:

He honestly thinks he is acting in the nation’s best interests and that nobody else has a better plan. Maintaining the continuity of his rule is the best long-term strategy for Russia. A change of regime means upheaval and would be bad for the country. Therefore, those who advocate a Russia without Putin are Russia’s enemies, and their coming to power should be prevented.

An article by Condoleezza Rice, published in the Financial Times on July 26, 2012, seems to nicely summarize the basic US attitude. She wrote that:

American pre-eminence safeguards rather than impedes global progress. The US is not just any other country: we are exceptional in the clarity of our conviction. and in our willingness to act on those beliefs. Failure to do so would leave a vacuum, likely filled by those who will not champion a balance of power that favours freedom. That would be a tragedy for American interests and values and those who share them.

In many ways, there is little difference in the basic attitudes of Putin and the US.

No matter how much Putin and the US may wish for a better Russia and a better World, their fears are blinding them to the obvious: that their self-belief and intransigence is likely to eventually promote, rather than reduce, what they most fear. That is uncertainty and instability!

Unless pushed into an absolute corner, neither Russia’s domestic protesters nor country regimes, such as China, are interested in a death struggle with Putin or the USA. Both are trying to achieve recognition of what, they believe, are their legitimate aspirations which have been boosted by their economic success. And, this means greater control over their own lives and environment.

The new claimants for political power in Russia and the World are not totally united, and in some cases are even fearful of each other. This opens the possibility for both Putin and the US to engage in certain divide and rule tactics.

Both there are other reasons for much of the support that Putin and the US still enjoy.

In my book, I divided the reason that a lieutenant serves a dictator (or a very powerful leader of any sort) into the following categories: lieutenant’s respect, admiration and attribution for the leader; the leader makes lieutenant feel personally needed; the leader shows loyalty to lieutenant; the lieutenant is nothing without the dictatorial leader; love of the country, the company, or the organization; and excitement, ambition, money, prestige, power to boss others.

Anyone with experience in organizational life should easily see how these reasons might cause many people around Putin to support him. Of course, in reality, no one reason accounts for why one individual will support Putin; there will be some sort of mixture.

However, it may be less obvious how these categories can be applied in international relations and/or in the case of the relationship between the US and other countries.

But consider the following:

Lieutenant’s respect, admiration and attribution for the leader. The US certainly garners are lot of support for its many admirable attributes, ideas, and actions both historical and present-day. But, there is also often attribution of positive qualities to the US that exist only in the mind of admirers;

The leader makes lieutenant feel personally needed. Hints by US leaders of special relationships and various (although ultimately self-serving) signs of a willingness to consult is something that the US seems particularly good at;

The leader shows loyalty to lieutenant. The most stark example of this is probably the willingness of the US to support unsavory governments if it feels that these governments will support US interests;

The lieutenant is nothing without the dictatorial leader. The UK seems to be an example of this. As a country it is under almost no conceivable threat, but clings to its so-called special relationship with the US to try to contain the continual slide in its own international influence;

Love of the country, the company, or the organization. In international relations terms, such sentiments are probably best thought of in terms of a feeling of being part of “something bigger”, and that the welfare of this something is promoted by cooperating with its most powerful individual element. While any organization or country cannot function without some explicit or implicit concept of cooperation, people who fear change often become excessively attached to (in love with) the organization, country, or World as it is (or as they think it is);

Excitement, ambition, money, prestige, power to boss others. There can be no doubt that many non-US leaders are attracted by the excitement and prestige of personal meetings with high-ranking US officials. In their own countries this helps to further their ambitions and maintain power to boss others. As far as money is concerned, the US can be quite generous to those countries which offer it support.

But, where does all this lead? Can personal and organizational psychology help understanding of relationships between countries?

It needs to be recognized that the aspirations of Russia’s domestic protesters and of other countries, such as China, cannot be eliminated. They can only be suppressed for a period of time.

But, how long is the period? And, how best to suppress? What will the end result be?

Each of the dictators covered in my book held power for a prolonged period. While many of the circumstances are different, there are commonalities. Based on my knowledge of them (and others such as Castro, Mugabe) I offer the following thoughts on Putin (who as yet, remains more authoritarian than dictatorial):

Firstly, Putin will cede power only when he feels that he has no choice, and then will try to recoup the losses. Secondly, his psychological hold over others is such that he will remain top dog for longer than non-psychological factors would suggest. Thirdly, once that psychological hold is sufficiently disrupted, change can come quite quickly—and possibly violently. Fourthly, Putin can best prolong his power, and avoid the use of reactive force by others, by eschewing overreach and excessive abuse of power.

I suggest that the same thoughts could apply to the US when dealing with the changing world.

Peter FitzSimmons, George Pell, bias and group think.

Peter FitzSimmons, George Pell, bias and group think. · 3 March 2019

Peter FitzSimons has written that it is an undeniable fact that Pell is guilty (Doubter’s outcry over Pell verdict disrespectful to jury, legal system, Sydney Morning Herald). He adds that to the rest of the community, it is extraordinarily disrespectful to the jury members who, after weighting all the evidence, listening to all the testimony, came to the conclusion that he was guilty. He then quotes Judge Kidd in support of the jury decision: He did it. He engaged is some shocking conduct against two boys. I’m not making guesses about what else he might have done as King of the Castle.

Perhaps because I presently live in Russia and have read a lot of Russian history, I find the secrecy attached to this trial very unnerving. Secret evidence in trials is, deservedly, criticized in other countries, but seems to be acceptable in the Pell case.

There are several other points worth noting. If it was in a Russian court, there would be much criticism of a judge speaking as Kidd did when he strongly implied that Pell has committed other crimes as King of the Castle without giving any evidence. It would smack of a political show trial.

There is also the question of group think. We know nothing about the composition of the jury, their possible prejudices or level of intelligence. But it is easy to imagine that several conditions existed for group think. These include insulation of the jury group, belief in their inherent morality vis–vis Pell (and possibly the Catholic Church more generally), directive leadership (which Kidd may have at least implicitly given throughout the trial and thus effectively joined the anti-Pell ingroup, before later making it explicitly clear what his views were), and probably high stress brought about by the need to come to a decision. We do not know about the cohesiveness of the jury group nor any pressure that there may have been on dissenters.

Groups like this can become impervious to rational argument. And, it can happen in plain sight for all to see. A US Senate Intelligence Committee identified group think as one of the factors that led the Bush Administration (and many supposedly independent, but in reality ingroup, analysts) to claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (and invade that country) despite all the objective evidence to the contrary. We now see some similar thinking in the Putin led Russian government’s attitudes to the US.

I have no idea whether Pell is guilty or innocent, but the words of Kidd and the possibilities for group think raise lots of suspicions.

Peta Credlin and Abbott, like Hitler-Bormann

Peta Credlin and Abbott, like Hitler-Bormann · 5 December 2013

A number of journalists including Philip Dorling, Jonathan Swan, Chris Johnson and Heath Aston—have been following up on the activities of Peta Credlin. The more I read, the clearer it becomes that Credlin is much like Martin Bormann. So, this blog is now an update of the one initially posted on 5 December, and—as more information comes out—I will keep up-dating.

The ball really got rolling on this issue when Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald made a speech in parliament saying that prime minister Tony Abbott and his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, are enforcing a culture of obsessive centralised control phobia. According to another Coalition member: The level of control is far in excess of the Howard government at its peak. It’s Peta Credlin who is the problem, she’s a control freak and this is feeding into all sorts of things.

In my view, the issue is not going to go away!


The first issue to understand is the importance of Credlin to Abbott.

Credlin has been Tony Abbott’s most trusted confidant since he took over as opposition leader in the lead up to the 2010 election. She has been widely credited for coordinating a highly effective office and media strategy. She is seen by many as the most capable political operator in the Abbott government and on election night Abbott described her as the smartest and fiercest political warrior he has known.

According to Abbott: Peta Credlin and my office are largely responsible for the Coalition’s success in opposition and for winning government.

Adolf Hitler almost equally valued Martin Bormann.

Bormann had officially succeeded Rudolf Hess when the latter flew to England in May 1941. Before his flight, Hess had increasingly been out of his depth and left many details to Bormann, his own senior lieutenant. This allowed Bormann to ingratiate himself with Hitler, as Alfred Rosenberg, a prominent Nazi, recalled:

Hess was obviously getting on the Fuhrer’s nerves, and so Bormann took care of the queries and orders. Here is where he began to make himself indispensable. If, during our dinner conversations, some incident was mentioned, Bormann would pull out his notebook and make an entry. If the Fuhrer expressed some displeasure over some remark, some measure, some film, Bormann would take a note. If something seemed unclear, Bormann would get up and leave the room, but return almost immediately after having given orders to his office staff to investigate forthwith, and to telephone, wire or teletype.

Hitler admired Bormann’s efficiency, saying:

I know that Bormann is brutal. But there is a sense in everything he does and I can absolutely rely on my orders being carried out by Bormann immediately and in spite of all obstacles. Bormann’s proposals are so precisely worked out that I have only to say yes or no. With him I deal in ten minutes with a pile of documents for which I should need hours with anyone else. If I say to him, remind me about such and such a matter in half a year’s time, I can be sure that he really will do so.

Hitler once summed it up: I’m glad to have a door-keeper like that, because Bormann keeps people off my back.


But Bormann had become more than a door or gate-keeper. He was starting to act independently although only to the extent that Hitler could feel that Bormann was working for his interests. When the large expenditures on facilities at Hitler’s mountain retreat caused some is his entourage to remark on the gold-rush town atmosphere, Speer noted that Hitler regretted the hub-bub but commented: It’s Bormann’s doing; I don’t want to interfere.

Speer recalled that Bormann’s approach which, as already noted, Hitler admired meant that Bormann had more power than Hitler would have actually intended:

In a few sentences he would report on the memoranda sent to him. He spoke monotonously and with seeming objectivity and would then advance his own solution. Usually Hitler merely nodded and spoke his terse, Agreed. On the basis of this one word, or even a vague comment by Hitler, which was hardly meant as a directive, Bormann would often draft lengthy instructions. In this way ten or more important decisions were sometimes made within half an hour. De facto, Bormann was conducting the internal affairs of the Reich (ie Germany).

Credlin also seems to have accumulated much power! Abbott says that decisions made by my chief of staff and my office have my full backing and authority. Anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong.’’

Credlin, says an insider, ‘’is way too controlling, not just of the PM’s diary and who has access to him, but of staffing appointments, their conduct and what MPs and even ministers can do or say.’’

(1) On access:

On September 8, Credlin was the only other person with the newly-elected prime minister during a briefing from senior departmental secretaries. So, Ministers were already being by-passed! Even business leaders are being afftected. ‘’We are not getting the access we should and what has really annoyed some is there have been times when people thought they were getting in to see Tony when in fact Credlin appears and says the meeting is with her,’’ one said.

Martin Bormann, according to Albert Speer, Minister for Armaments, was little more than Hitler’s shadow who never dared go on any lengthy business trips, or even to allow himself a vacation, for fear that his influence might diminish. The reality was, according to Walter Darre, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, that Hitler was the beginning and end of (Bormann’s) work, and except for temporary alliances of convenience, he was not interested in winning support from anyone else.

And Credlin?

(2) On staffing appointments:

Apparently ‘at least a third of Abbott’s 19-member cabinet have had senior staffing appointments either knocked back or imposed on them by a Credlin led “star-chamber” panel. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Senate leader Eric Abetz, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce have all been overruled by the staffing panel or had senior advisers imposed on their offices. Media reports suggest that Credlin has insisted that all 420 government staff appointments right down to junior electorate officers are approved by the panel.

‘’If Credlin doesn’t like someone, they don’t get the job even though they might be abundantly qualified and obviously the right person,’’ one minister said. It is her vetoing of ministerial staffing appointments, though, that is causing the most anger in government circles. She has quashed or stalled the appointments of people who worked at senior levels in opposition or in high positions in the Howard government. ‘’It is at a ridiculous stage,’’ one minister said.

Even Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos’a former long-time very successful chief of staff to former Prime Minister John Howard’has also had a potential chief of staff vetoed. However, it may be that Credlin “doesn’t like” Sinodinos.

(3) Even ministers can do or say:

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was reportedly chided by Credlin as they left a cabinet meeting last month. In the exchange Credlin spoke about Mr Morrison’s poor performance during a recent news conference. Morrison then expressed frustration that he was not allowed to say much at his press appearances. Credlin shot right back at Morrison with: ‘’We will tell you what you can say and what you can’t say.’’

As will be related later, Speer recalled being told-off by Bormann “in his usual loutish fashion.

Walter Funk, the Minister of Economics, complained that it was incredibly hard to have a reasonable conversation with the Fuhrer because Bormann butts in all the time. He cuts me short and constantly interrupts.

Does the same happen with Credlin?

More generally, and apart from the above three categories, there have been numerous past instances when Abbott does not seem to have fully read documents or reports. His physical self-discipline does not seem to be matched by intellectual self-discipline. This may be letting Credlin control more than would normally be expected by a PM’s chief-of-staff and, consequently, adversely affecting all sorts of things.

One recent example may be Abbott being in the dark about what exactly Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has been saying to the Indonesians regarding spying. Does Abbott communicate directly with Bishop or, do the messages go via Credlin?

Another may be the travel cost issue. Abbott has ordered cabinet ministers and top public servants to personally approve the airfares and hotel bookings of tens of thousands of bureaucrats. All public servants’ travel costing less than $20,000 must be approved by departmental secretaries or agency heads and responsibility “should not be delegated below that level”. Coalition ministers, aides and senior public service executives have privately condemned the directive as “unworkable”, “ridiculous” and showing “a complete ignorance of the practical realities of government”. Apparently, Abbott’s directive was issued without consultation with departmental and agency heads. Coalition ministerial staff described the instructions as part of “the controlling tendencies of the Prime Minister’s office”. The order seems to have been ordered by someone who has no executive experience in a large organization. Peta again ?

Balder von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth, recalled: At first we Reichsleiters (members of the executive board of the Nazi Party) had no reason to complain about Bormann. He dealt with matters needing Hitler’s attention more quickly than Hess, who was always vague and slow. Bormann pretended to be your friend, innocent of any self-serving, who represented the interest of the Party leaders. It took quite a while before I saw through him and realised how dangerous he was.

Speer described Bormann’s modus operandi:

He never worked by direct attack. Instead, he would weave little incidents into his conversation which were effective only in their sum. Thus, for example, in the course of teatime chatter Bormann would tell unfavourable anecdotes from Vienna in order to damage Balder von Schirach, the Hitler Youth leader. But Bormann carefully avoided agreeing with Hitler’s subsequent negative remarks. On the contrary, he though it prudent to praise Schirach afterward the kind of praise, of course, which would leave an unpleasant aftertaste. After about a year of this sort of thing Bormann had brought Hitler to the point of disliking Schirach and often feeling outright hostility toward him.

When, in 1942, Heinrich Himmler’s subordinate Walter Schellenberg raised with Himmler the possibility of Germany trying to negotiate peace while it still had some strength, Himmler replied: But we could never let Bormann know about our plans. He’d wreck the whole scheme, or else he’d twist it round into a compromise with Stalin. And we must never let that happen. In mid-1943, Himmler told Schellenberg that the Fuhrer has become so accustomed to Bormann that it’s very difficult indeed to lessen his influence.

It was not long before Speer began to have his own problems. Hitler refused to sign a document presented to him by Speer, saying that only a few hours ago Bormann had warned him that I was going to lure him into signing something that had not been appropriately discussed with others: Hitler cut me off with unaccustomed curtness: I am glad that in Bormann at least I have a faithful soul around me.

Speaking of Bormann, Speer opined that a few critical words from Hitler and all his enemies would have been at his throat.

And, what about Credlin’s enemies?


Ian Macdonald’s speech, and the numerous comments being reported, are about trying to rein in Credlin by sending messages to both her and Abbott. According to one minister, ‘’Credlin is fiercely loyal to Abbott and so he is loyal to her, but I think he will soon learn that his prime ministership is more valuable than to allow what is going on right now to continue for too much longer’’.

But Abbott is in powerful position (he has a solid majority in the House of Representatives, and after the Labor debacles no-one in his party will ever try to move against him)—- and he may not soon learn! If he does not soon learn, what can be done? Not much, so it is better for Credlin’s “enemies” to suck-up!

Thus, the likes of finance minister Mathias Cormann are urging unnamed colleagues to back off from their destructive media attacks on Credlin. Cormann said coalition MPs should be thanking Credlin for the central role she played in getting them into power, rather than resorting to cowardly anonymous attacks through the media. Peta Credlin has done an outstanding job for us in opposition, he said. She’s been central to get us back into government She obviously has a very important job at the heart of the government and she will be central to our success. Education Minister Christopher Pyne, backed Cormann, saying that Credlin ‘’gives more freedom to the cabinet and the ministry’’ than most chiefs of staff he had seen in his 20 years in politics.

Well before the end of the war in 1945, some efforts were made by Hitler’s ministers to try and rein-in Bormann.

In February, 1943, Goebbels complained to Speer that Hitler was becoming out of touch because of his isolation at his various military headquarters and Bormann’s gate-keeping activities: Things cannot go on this way. Here we are sitting in Berlin. Hitler does not hear what we say about the situation. I cannot influence him politically, cannot even report the most urgent measures in my area. Everything goes through Bormann. Domestic policy, Goebbels continued, has slipped entirely out of Hitler’s hands. It was being controlled by Bormann, who managed to give Hitler the feeling that he was still directing things.

Goering, who had generally lost interest in the war effort because it was a war he had argued against and did not believe could be won had now been stirred up by Speer and showed interest in joining Goebbels, Speer and others in reining-in the influence of Bormann and the remainder of the headquarters clique which included Keitel and the Chancellery Chief-of-Staff, Lammers. Goering, knowing that these three were entirely subservient to Hitler, was even somewhat dismissive: Bormann and Keitel are nothing but the Fuhru’s secretaries, after all. As far as their own powers are concerned, they’re nobodies.

Goering did, however, have some concern that Bormann was aiming at nothing less than the succession to Hitler, and that he would stop at nothing to outmanoeuvre him as the designated successor. Speer, Goebbels, Goering and a number of others decided to use a meeting on labour force mobilisation to begin the process of undermining Bormann, Keitel and Lammers. But, for Speer, things went wrong from the start. Goebbels didn’t turn up to the 12 April, 1943 meeting and Goering changed sides; as though he had picked up the wrong phonograph record.

Speer and the others had been deserted, and were nonplussed. Speer later wrote that Goebbels may have reported in ill because he had an instinct for what was about to happen. Not only had Goering changed sides, but 12 April was the day that Bormann became, officially at least, even more powerful. He was appointed Secretary to the Fuhrer in addition to his official Nazi Party position and authorised, according to Speer, to act officially in any field he wished.

While it meant little change in what Bormann actually did, the new title meant that Bormann was clearly in Hitler’s good books. Hitler said: In order to win the war, I need Bormann. Anyone who is against Bormann is against the state. This would have been enough for Goebbels to suck-up to Bormann.

Bormann and Goebbels now came to an arrangement Goebbels promising to direct reports to Hitler through Bormann, in return for Bormann’s extracting the right sort of decision from Hitler.

Following the 20 July, 1944 assassination attempt, Hitler’s increased suspicions of the army saw him turn back to his Nazi Party stalwarts for support, which suited both Goebbels and Bormann. Goebbels finally managed to get himself appointed to a position of direct national power Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War even if his powers were less impressive than they actually sounded. When Speer complained to Hitler about increased Nazi Party interference in the work of various armaments factories, he got short-thrift:

I handed Hitler my letter at headquarters. He received it without a word and looked through it. Hitler explained that Goebbels and Bormann would decide together what to do A few hours later Bormann asked me to his office. Goebbels flatly declared that he would now command me. Bormann agreed: I was under Goebbels now. For the rest, he would not stand for any further attempts on my part to influence Hitler directly.”

And, wrote Speer, “Bormann told me off in his usual loutish fashion”.

Sounds like Credlin and Morrison!


Peter van Onselen, a political commentator, has also written:

Credlin’s success has helped her and the Coalition get to where it now is. The next big test is how she performs over the medium to longer term, now that the Coalition is the incumbent. Being an effective chief of staff in government is very different to opposition. Few survive the transition. Howard and Kevin Rudd were forced to change chiefs of staff soon after winning elections and Julia Gillard’s chief of staff when she was deputy PM didn’t last long once she had the top job. Only time will tell if Credlin can buck the trend and develop from a powerful opposition chief of staff into a long-term prime-ministerial chief of staff.

In my view, time is already telling us the answer!

Paul Lodge (Family Court, Australia)

Paul Lodge (Chisholm Australian Family Court Violence Review) an abusive man! · 2 February 2010

Paul Lodge made a submission to the Chisholm Violence Review and met with Chisholm. He seems to be quite influential within the Family Court system and is involved in training staff.

But who is the real Paul Lodge?

I write this while in St. Petersburg where I have been visiting Anastasia. She is one of Lodge’s (perhaps many) victims in his abuse of power as he hides and reveals the truth as he sees fit.

Below is a section of my submission to Justice Steele of the Family Court on 20 April, 2005. It will give you an idea of the quality of Lodge and possibly an idea of the quality of his submission to Chisholm, and maybe even the quality of the Chisholm report itself. But we will only know if Lodge’s submission is made public!

The background on this case, and on Lodge and Steele, can be read here:

Paul Lodge is actually representative of broader problems with the Family Court of Australia. Somewhat like a fervent Russian ideological believer of communism in the 1930’s, he believes that he knows what is best for other people and is prepared to be dishonest to achieve justice (his own words) for them. This is also characteristic of the Family Court more generally, although I am not for one moment suggesting that all its members are like Lodge.

In fact, the Family Court of Australia is a fake court. It is not a real law court in that it interprets the law because it approaches the best interests of the child from a psychological perspective. The only real law in the Family Court is writing orders and protecting itself from public scrutiny. It is NOT a court and does not deserve to be afforded the traditional laudable independence of a court.

Thus we may have a Judge, who may not have any feeling for psychology (and appointed for who knows what reason), often being advised by a family report writer who may equally lack a feel for psychology. Yes, psychology can often be learned via study and experience, but any reading of history tells us that some people have a greater natural aptitude than others. In this, it is perhaps a little like economics, history, and even politics.

Two aspects of the operation of the Australian Family Court can interact with this lack of ability to actually make it intellectually corrupt and, indeed somewhat Stalinist.

Firstly, hiding behind a legal veil of secrecy (which is facilitated by an easily intimidated media), the Court communicates with the outside world only in generalities and media releases aimed at burnishing its image. As is often noted, and history continually tells us, lack of oversight is a guarantee of intellectual and moral corruption.

Secondly, the use of in-house family report writers will often result in judgements that are aimed at the the best interests of internal organisational relationships rather than the “best interests” of the child. In a sense, it is similar to a government bureaucracy that works for an unelected eg Soviet government.

But before further details on Lodge, I want to make a comment about the Darcey Freeman issue. This is mentioned in the Chisholm terms of reference, but is not pursued by Chisholm.

Rather than relating the Darcey Freeman issue to the Family Court, it might be better to look at the activities of the Child Support Agency. I will briefly note her that nearly 5 years after Anastasia was taken from Australia, the CSA is still trying to get money from me. What was happening in the Darcey Freeman case? Did her father crack under CSA pressure? I may have more to say on this latter!

If the Government is serious about ensuring violence is appropriately addressed in Family Court cases it should repeal that part of the law that forbids the publication of the names of people involved in cases. Organisations like the Family Court and the CSA thrive when working in the dark. As in dictatorships, the lack of public light is conducive to lies being told to them and lies being told by them. Just think of Stalin!

Now, we can proceed to some “life and times of Paul Lodge” and my Submission to Justice Steele on 20 April, 2005. This is a section of my submission (with some small deletions and a small amount of added explanatory material).

Submission, 20 April, 2005

Truthfulness of Ms. S (who is Anastasia’s mother)

Justice O’Ryan, in his judgment on 23 December, 2002 (when he gave me joint custody of Anastasia with equal time), explicitly states on 11 occasions that he accepts or prefers my evidence over that of the wife in regard to single incidents (he uses these words in para’s 44, 48, 73, 82, 83, 114, 145, 155 (twice), 156, 190) and on 4 occasions he explicitly states that he rejects or do not accept Ms. S’s evidence (para 82, 95, 102, 154). On no occasion did O’Ryan say that he rejected or did not accept my evidence.

Lodge’s Family Report General Comments

It is clear that Ms. S presented herself to Mr. Lodge as a women-in-distress. And, it is clear that Lodge fell for this line. It is perhaps not difficult to see why.

O’Ryan said these words:
Dr Quadrio said that the wife impressed as an intelligent and persuasive women. There appeared to be more corroboration of the husband’s history than of the wife’s and on that basis it would appear that the wife had been dishonest and perhaps manipulative of the situation.

Dr. Quadrio thought Ms. S persuasive but then, in contrast to Mr. Lodge, she looked past the tears to see what could be corroborated.

O’Ryan used these words:
I had the opportunity to observe the wife being cross examined and she did not demonstrate to me any timidity.

In these proceedings, this Court has seen Ms. S in action over many days. She is clearly not a women-in-distress. Nor is she timid, or afraid of me.

Mr. Lodge admitted to having a brief time with Anastasia. His Family Report dated 27 October, 2004 does not mention that he read or consulted any documents, or talked to anyone else apart from myself, Ms. S, (her new husband) and Anastasia.

I would submit to this Court that this limited approach by Mr. Lodge is quite apparent in his evidence.

When I asked Mr. Lodge if Ms. S could be trying to maliciously take Anastasia (to Russia) or stop Anastasia having any contact with me, he replied with these words:
I said I didn’t get that impression on the weight of other things she said.

So, Lodge believes what she (that is, Ms. S) said to him.

This is again apparent in Lodge’s answer to a question by His Honour concerning possible residency arrangements. Lodge uses these words in relation to the intensity of the conflict:
If there continues to be phone calls …

The implication is clearly that I am making unnecessary phone calls to S in the course of perpetuating the conflict. The reality is that there is no evidence of such phone calls, yet Lodge clearly believes that there has been phone calls of this type because S told him that this was the case.

In his Family Report, Lodge wrote:
In the context of Anastasia’s identification with her mother, Anastasia’s response to her mother’s advice that she should tell the Counsellor what she really wants, seems to have been to assume an unambiguously negative position with respect to Mr Schubert. Her manner during observation with Mr Schubert had a somewhat theatrical quality.

Once again, Lodge has accepted as true that what S said to him was true. How can he know that this is what S really told Anastasia? Indeed, how likely is it that she said this given that Anastasia was engaged in theatre?

In his evidence, Lodge admitted to not reading the Quadrio report (which like several faxes, mysteriously disappeared). However, despite not listing the O’Ryan judgement in the sources of information for his Family Report (which is where the Child Representative told me they should be), he said in evidence that he had read it. Later, as I go through some individual issues, I will demonstrate that it is unlikely that Lodge read the O’Ryan judgement with any care.

In general, Lodge seems to have seen accepted events as described by the mother, and then seen the interaction of Anastasia with myself, S through this prism.

Lodge says Anastasia was trying to please her mother because she wants to live with her, and thus displayed a negative attitude towards me. A more likely and complete explanation for this negative attitude is that Anastasia is intimidated by her mother, and that Anastasia knew that she could later tell me that she was nervous and that she was sorry for what she said, and that I would understand.

It has happened before. Two particular instances are in paras 94 and 103 of my affidavit when Anastasia explicitly makes clear the dilemma that her mother has put her in and her way of coping with it.

(Para 94 refers to an incident in which Anastasia had refused to go with me one day when I went to collect her from her mother, saying: I’m sick and I want to stay with Mummy. The next time I had contact with Anastasia when I picked her up from school she was very happy to see me, and eventually said: I’m sorry for what I said. In reply I said: It’s alright. Just remember that I love you very much. Para 103 refers to another incident and the subsequent conversation. Anastasia said to me: You are a good daddy. But it’s a secret. Myself: Why is it a secret? Anastasia: Don’t tell Mummy. She hates you. She will smack me.)

I want to make one final general point about Mr. Lodge’s Family Report and evidence. During cross examination I asked Lodge whether a parent should encourage a child to be honest by example and work and Lodge replied with these words:
And the answer would be in most circumstances probably yes.

I then asked: Why only probably?

And Lodge replied:
Well, this is getting very hypothetical but there are circumstances ..where you might expect the child to be a little strategic about the way they conduct things.

Earlier in cross- examination, the Child Representative had asked Lodge about the implications of one parent being little able to grapple with the truth, and Lodge replied:
Well, not always in the interests of, in terms of honesty and dishonesty, justice is served.

Lodge’s readily equivocal views on the principles of truth and honesty are somewhat disturbing, and I submit to this court that this attitude is reflected in parts of his evidence. Lodge has been prepared to be a little strategic with the truth because he believes that he knows what is right for, or is justice for, or is in the interests of Anastasia.

It was in anticipation of this attitude that I argued before Justice Le Poer Trench on 18 November, 2004 for a second Family Report. He rejected this request, saying: I don’t believe anyone in this Court would lie.

Physical violence

In cross examination I put it to Lodge that there’s no evidence that there’s any sort of physical conflict since Dr. Quadrio did her report.

In reply, Lodge said these words:
Yes, indeed, I would accept that, I tried to find out really what’s happened at what dates, that was a bit of a task.

The words bit of a task are a surprise. Dates involving physical conflict of any sort when Anastasia was present are thoroughly detailed in the O’Ryan judgement. There has been no evidence presented to these proceedings that there has been any physical conflict since the O’Ryan judgement. This evidence was not challenged in these proceedings.

O’Ryan refers to an incident on 27 August 1999, and said these words:
The husband gave extensive evidence asserting he was physically assaulted by the wife. The wife asserts that she was physically assaulted by the husband. (He said) the child (Sa from my first marriage) was present …when this happened. She also said that the child (Anastasia) was present. The wife then called the police.

O’Ryan said these words in regard to this same incident:
The child (Sa from my first marriage) prepared a written statement, stating that she saw the wife hit the husband on the face. She said she did not see the husband hit the wife. The wife said that she did slap the husband once. The wife was then shown a police statement and she admitted that she hit the husband twice.

O’Ryan refers to an incident at changeover of the Anastasia on 5 February 2000. O’Ryan said these words:
The wife admitted she hit the husband.

O’Ryan said these words:
Dr. Quadrio interviewd the child (Sa from my first marriage) and she confirmed much of what the husband said to the extent that (Sa) has first hand information about certain aspects of his relationship with the wife. It is clear that this child is fearful of the wife … and this tends to confirm her account of experience with … (the wife) … as violent. The child (Sa) was witness to what happened on 27 August 1999 and 28 December 1999.

There is no finding in the O’Ryan judgement that I at any time initiated or threatened physical violence, and there has been no evidence presented in these proceedings that this is the case.


During cross-examination by Ms. Christie (the Barrister, with Jane Saltoon), Lodge expressed doubt that that I would be able to relinquish the conflict, even in the mother’s absence as far as Anastasia is concerned.

I submit to the Court that the over-whelming evidence is that it is Ms. S, not me, who has been unable to relinquish the conflict.

In her signed Statement to the police on 21 December 2003, S used these words:
I am scared that Jeff will come to my apartment and try to hurt me. I am sacred of this because he has a long history of physical abuse. I have had 6 Apprehended Violence Orders against Jeff. The last AVO expired in August 2002. I feel that I have no other choice but to get another AVO to protect myself and my daughter … I don’t feel that this situation can be resolved any other way.

I gave evidence in these proceedings that the mother has successfully taken out one AVO against me. Indeed, I consented to it. O’Ryan uses these words:
On 3 August 2000 the husband consented, without admission, to a final Apprehended Violence Order being made in favour of the wife for a period of two years.

In her signed Statement to the police on 21 December 2003, S refers several times to telephone calls and suggests that these were excessive. This claim of telephone calls seems to be the basis of Lodge’s comment that a change to the residency arrangements in Sydney would not reduce the visibility of the conflict if there continues to be phone calls.

S had ample time and opportunity to subpoena and submit to the Court any telephone records that might suggest that she and/or Lodge, had any factual grounds for referring to or implying anything about telephone calls. No such records were sought or presented.

Once again, it is clear that Lodge has accepted S at her word. And once again, I submit, this has been a factor in forming the prism through which Lodge has observed and evaluated this case.

During cross-examination, Lodge said these words in relation to S:
It emerged almost volcanically in terms of distress, when we were talking about the impact on her of this ongoing conflict that had gone on for years and years. She inferred that this was an attempt to destroy her, and that it was basically emotionally, at least, succeeded in that. But she had had enough. She really just felt that she could not take any more. That is probably the best way of summarising it.

In response to my question on this statement during cross-examination on this, Lodge said these words:
Her experience of this is exactly that. That is how it came across to me.

Lodge then said these words:
It was in the context of her view about her views about the number of apprehended violence orders, the number of breaches, the number of Court cases, that she felt that that was destructive as far as she was concerned.

He then said these words:
Ms. S is involved in repeated litigation and indicated that she feels that it is destroying her.”

This is another example of Lodge believing what S told him, rather than objectively trying to get on top of the facts and evidence. Unlike Lodge, this Court needs to look at the evidence as to the number of apprehended violence orders, and the causes and source of the breaches and the Court cases.

Sexual abuse allegations

O’Ryan said these words:
On Friday 20 July 2001 the wife’s solicitors sent a facsimile to the husbands’s solicitors alleging that the child had made a number of disclosures following the previous weekend contact. A number of serious allegations were made. It was alleged, among other things, that the child had said that the husband touches her genitals. The information was quite explicit and went on to state that a representative of the Department of Community Services (DOCS) interviewed the child ..

O’Ryan said these words:
It was apparent, when giving his evidence in the witness box, that he was upset about what had been alleged. The wife has given no evidence supporting the allegations or any evidence suggesting similar behaviour by the husband at any time with the child.

O’Ryan said these words:
On 22 July 2001 the husband collected the child and the child said Mummy say no kisses and no hugs and further, take you away to jail and Policeman say they will take you to jail. I do not propose to repeat all of what the child said. I accept the evidence of the husband. The child probably said these things because of the interviews relating to the allegations of abuse of the child by the husband.

I submit to this Court that these allegations against me were an early example of the continuing inability of Ms. S to relinquish the conflict and of her continual attempts to restrict and eventually eliminate my contact with Anastasia.


In his Family Report, Lodge wrote that Anastasia said that:
It is not safe to go to Mr. Schubert’s house because there are lots of spiders.

During cross-examination, I asked Lodge why he included this comment. He replied with these words:
Is her attempt to convey to me in a child like and childish manner, probably an incorrect manner, information that would support what she was wanting to say to me. To put it simply, okay, I doubt in all honesty that she was afraid to go to your home because there were spiders there.

In fact, if Lodge had taken the trouble to ask either my first ex-wife or my other daughter, Sa, about this, they would have realised that Lodge should, indeed, take seriously her allegation that spiders are the only reason she feels unsafe in my house. As I wrote in my affidavit:
The fact is that between the garage and the house is a 40 metre winding pathway through a lovely garden with many plants and trees and at almost anytime it is possible to see spider-webs and spiders, and Anastasia is scared of them.

S’s psychological state

During cross-examination by the Child Representative, Lodge said these words:
The other factor that would be needed to be taken into account would be the impact on the mother and therefore the mother/child relationship, if she was unable to go (to Russia), what would be the impact on her vacationally, emotionally, etc.

S says that she is going to Russia regardless of whether or not the Court permits her to take Anastasia. If claim were to turn out to be untrue (like so many others she has made) and she did not go to Russia, I submit to this Court that there would be no impact on the mother/child relationship. Or, if there was, it would only be a reflection of the fact that S had failed in her long standing efforts to prevent Anastasia from having any contact with me.

His Honour said these words to Lodge:
I suppose it is possible that her mother sees for herself even the same need. That is, to take herself out of the situation where she is having persistent and constant conflict with Mr. Schubert?

Lodge replied with the word: Yes

This question seems to ignore the issue of who is causing and initiating the conflict.

Anastasia’s attachment to me

In Family Report, Lodge wrote these words:
It is also common for children who have learned to accommodate and appease the contradictory emotional demands of conflicted parent figures to begin to align with one or other parent at about the age of six or seven.

During cross-examination, Lodge said:
The intense and chronic conflict between the parents has begun to erode whatever attachment there was between Mr Schubert and Anastasia, as is entirely predictable given her age and intensity of this conflict.

In his evidence, Lodge said these words in regards to Anastasia:
By Ms. S’s account she is incredibly distressed on a Wednesday in anticipation of and I would suggest the contact exchange not necessarily moving to one parent or the other, but the actual apprehension about what is going to happen when exchange occurs, because she has witnessed some difficult events between the parents.

Once again, Lodge has accepted that what S say is true.

The facts are that on Wednesdays there in never any exchange of Anastasia from one parent to the other. I always pick up Anastasia from school and Anastasia is totally aware of this.

While SF (from After School Care) did not give evidence in the Court (interestingly, Ms. S indicated in Court that she had a conversation with SF about giving evidence, and related that she was unwilling to do so, and SF confirmed this when I later spoke with her) her affidavit of 2 November, 2004 indicates that Anastasia looks forward to seeing me on Wednesdays.

In her affidavit, SF used these words:
In the afternoon when Jeffrey comes to collect Anastasia she always runs up to him when she sees him and she will not let go of him to let him talk to staff members or even sign her out. She often says during the course of afternoons when Jeffrey is picking her up, in an exited tone: Daddy’s picking me up this afternoon, Daddy’s picking me up this afternoon.

My first ex-wife presented herself for cross-examination but when she took the stand she was not asked about Anastasia’s attachment to me. However, in her affidavit signed 22 November, 2004, she uses these words:
Finally, I understand that there is some question as to her general attitude towards him. I have observed that when she is here, Anastasia likes to walk the dogs with me, likes to be with Sa, likes to play with J and J, and likes to play with the two girls next door, but most of all she likes to be with Daddy.

KH (the mother of J and J) also presented herself to the Court, but was not called to the stand. In her affidavit, signed, 29 October, 2004 she uses these words:
Anastasia is always happy when she is around Jeff. She has occasional sleepovers at our house but is always keen to find out when is Dad coming to get me. Every time they are reunited in my presence she is overly happy and usually jumps into his arms saying: Hello Daddy, I missed you!. She has no problem is showing affection and that affection is constantly reciprocated.

I would submit to this Court that there is much evidence that there has been no erosion of the attachment of Anastasia to me.

Because Lodge believes that this erosion of attachment should be occurring because, in his words, it is entirely predictable—he has then interpreted Anastasia’s actions as evidence of this actually occurring rather than seeing those actions for what they really are which is, Anastasia bowing to her mother’s wishes / intimidation while knowing that I will understand and that she can later indicate to me that she was sorry for what happened and that she still loved me. (As noted in the examples above.)

Moreover, because Anastasia’s behaviour fits in with what he believes is common or entirely predictable, Lodge has refused to talk to other people (eg my daughter Sa, SF whose mobile telephone number I faxed to him— my first ex-wife, KH) who might muddy the waters of his neat story.

During cross-examination Lodge said that he had not read the previous Family Report by Dr. Quadrio because it wasn’t in the file. In response to my question about his style of approach to the job, Lodge replied:
Did I contact as many people as Dr. Quadrio? No, I doubt it very much.

I would submit to this Court that there must be significant question marks over the thoroughness of the Lodge report, and questions as to why it was not thoroughly done.


Lodge said in his evidence that I had reacted to Anastasia’s apparent attitude toward me with counter rejection.

When I asked Lodge to elaborate on this, he offered these explanations:
You seemed reluctant when she was reading to participate fully. You didn’t seem to be trying to take her out of the state she was in, which I have accepted, and I hope you do understand this, probably had a level of theatricality about it. … I noted that you didn’t seem to take pleasure in her reading and observed that in that context you demonstrated in terms of your interactions with her a lack of spontaneity.

I later asked Lodge:
Could it be that given the history of these things, and the fact that I was shocked by Anastasia’s reaction to me what you observed in me wasn’t counter-rejection. It was just not wanting to put more pressure on her when she was obviously under a lot of pressure?

In reply, Lodge just continued to talk about counter rejection.

During cross-examination by the Child Representative , I said that I was surprised that Lodge let the situation go on as long as he did.

Obama, Jefferson, slaves, murder, Nobel Prizes

Obama, Jefferson, slaves, murder, Nobel Prizes · 12 December 2012

Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times (America’s drone war is out of control, December 10, 2012) wrote that the use of drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists has become a trademark of the Obama administration. This often involves killing somebody whose name you don’t even know because his pattern of behaviour suggests to you that he is a terrorist.

Yet while Guantnamo attracted worldwide condemnation, the use of drones is much less discussed. It is hard to avoid the impression that Barack Obama is forgiven for a remarkably ruthless antiterrorism policy simply because his public image is so positive. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for goodness sake!

America argues that even signature strikes are precisely targeted and that civilian casualties are minimal. But that is disputed. A recent study by Stanford and New York University law schools endorsed the claim that between 474 and 881 civilians, including almost 200 children, have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. One case in which a meeting of tribal elders called to discuss a mining dispute was hit, killing 42 people is now the subject of legal action in Pakistan and Britain. (The British are accused of providing intelligence to the US.)

Paul Finkelman (New York Times, November 30, 2012, article headed The Monster of Monticello) wrote that when looking at the life of Thomas Jefferson, we seem unable to reconcile the rhetoric of liberty in his writing with the reality of his slave owning and his lifetime support for slavery. Time and again, we play down the latter in favor of the former, or write off the paradox as somehow indicative of his complex depths.

The reality is simpler! Obama does not have complex depths, and I suspect that neither did Jefferson. For both Obama and Jefferson, words have the most meaning if they sound good to other people and the words suit their own purposes. Yet, they get away with so much cruelty because in Gideon Rachman’s words their public image is so positive.

This raises several possible questions:
(1) Would Jefferson have received the Nobel Prize if it had existed in his day;
(2) Would Barack Obama have been a slave owner if he had been a white man in the same era as Jefferson?

While highly intelligent, Obama lacks real empathy and an interest in the feelings that drive the behavior and personalities of human beings.

Jodi Kantor wrote (New York Times, Obama Now a Chance to Catch Up to His Epochal Vision, November 7, 2012) that from the first time Barack Obama summoned the country’s leading presidential historians to dinner, they saw that. though Mr. Obama knew many of his predecessors stories cold, he was no history buff: he showed little curiosity about their personalities and almost no interest in the founding fathers. His goal, the historians realized, was more strategic. He wanted to apply the lessons of past presidential triumphs and failures to his own urgent project of setting the country on a new path.

Obama is only interested in his good intellectual aims almost like a Lenin!

And, when it comes to Obama’s consideration of human beings outside his US-centric in-group, this may help:

In 1950, Gustave Gilbert, the US prison psychologist at the Nuremberg Trials wrote that white, American-born Protestants can patriotically defend the humane American way in defiance of dictatorship, while feeling no concern over the mistreatment of racial minorities at their own back door. Many Germans and many Americans, when confronted with these inconsistencies in their professed behavior as decent citizens, recognise the inconsistency intellectually, but still find it difficult to modify their behavior. Insight is not sufficient to overcome the deeply rooted social conditioning of feelings. … As a general principle . the normal social process of group identification and hostility-reaction brings about a selective constriction of empathy, which, in addition to the semi-conscious suppression of insight, enables normal people to condone or participate in the most sadistic social aggression without feeling it or realising it.

Obama, if he had lived in the time of Jefferson, would not have been uncomfortable as a — at least honoury — white, American-born Protestant with a few slaves.

And finally, more on Jefferson!

According to Finkelman:

Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience.

There is, it is true, a compelling paradox about Jefferson: when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, announcing the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, he owned some 175 slaves. Too often, scholars and readers use those facts as a crutch, to write off Jefferson’s inconvenient views as products of the time and the complexities of the human condition. But while many of his contemporaries, including George Washington, freed their slaves during and after the revolution inspired, perhaps, by the words of the Declaration Jefferson did not. Over the subsequent 50 years, a period of extraordinary public service, Jefferson remained the master of Monticello, and a buyer and seller of human beings.

Rather than encouraging his countrymen to liberate their slaves, he opposed both private manumission and public emancipation. Even at his death, Jefferson failed to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric: his will emancipated only five slaves, all relatives of his mistress Sally Hemings, and condemned nearly 200 others to the auction block. Even Hemings remained a slave, though her children by Jefferson went free.

Nor was Jefferson a particularly kind master. He sometimes punished slaves by selling them away from their families and friends, a retaliation that was incomprehensibly cruel even at the time. A proponent of humane criminal codes for whites, he advocated harsh, almost barbaric, punishments for slaves and free blacks. Known for expansive views of citizenship, he proposed legislation to make emancipated blacks outlaws in America, the land of their birth. Opposed to the idea of royal or noble blood, he proposed expelling from Virginia the children of white women and black men.

Jefferson also dodged opportunities to undermine slavery or promote racial equality. As a state legislator he blocked consideration of a law that might have eventually ended slavery in the state. As president he acquired the Louisiana Territory but did nothing to stop the spread of slavery into that vast empire of liberty. Jefferson told his neighbor Edward Coles not to emancipate his own slaves, because free blacks were pests in society who were as incapable as children of taking care of themselves. And while he wrote a friend that he sold slaves only as punishment or to unite families, he sold at least 85 humans in a 10-year period to raise cash to buy wine, art and other luxury goods.

Destroying families didn’t bother Jefferson, because he believed blacks lacked basic human emotions. Their griefs are transient, he wrote, and their love lacked a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Jefferson claimed he had never seen an elementary trait of painting or sculpture or poetry among blacks and argued that blacks ability to reason was much inferior to whites, while in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. He conceded that blacks were brave, but this was because of a want of fore-thought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present.

A scientist, Jefferson nevertheless speculated that blackness might come from the color of the blood and concluded that blacks were inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind.

Jefferson did worry about the future of slavery, but not out of moral qualms. After reading about the slave revolts in Haiti, Jefferson wrote to a friend that if something is not done and soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children. But he never said what that something should be.

In 1820 Jefferson was shocked by the heated arguments over slavery during the debate over the Missouri Compromise. He believed that by opposing the spread of slavery in the West, the children of the revolution were about to perpetrate an act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world.