By Gilad Atzmon, Gilad.online
Ashraf Marwan is a controversial figure within Israel’s intelligence community. Some regard him as Israel’s best-ever Arab spy, others see him as an Egyptian spymaster who misled the Israeli military ahead of the 1973 war that was a military disaster for the Jewish state. In June 2007, Marwan ‘fell’ from the balcony of his London house. His wife and many commentators accused Mossad of the assassination.
Marwan was born in 1944 to an influential Egyptian family. At the age of 21, he married Mona Nasser, president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s second daughter, and secured his place in the corridors of power in 1960s Cairo.
Following its humiliating defeat in the 1967 war, Egypt started to prepare its military to take back the Sinai peninsula. Marwan was privy to Egypt’s best-kept secrets; its war plans, detailed accounts of military exercises, original documentation of Egypt’s arms deals with the Soviet Union and other countries, military tactics, the minutes from meetings of the high command, transcripts of Sadat’s private conversations with world leaders, etc. All of that allowed him to provide Israel with invaluable information about the coming war.
The intelligence that Marwan provided to the Mossad made its way to the desks of Israeli political and military leaders and shaped Israel’s so-called post ‘67 strategic ‘concept’ – the belief that Egypt’s Sadat wouldn’t launch a war against Israel unless his minimum requirements were fulfilled. Without long-range attack aircraft and long-range Scud missiles, Israel was made to believe, Egypt could not overcome Israeli air superiority and would not launch a war.
The reports that Marwan provided to Israel contained precious information that, although accurate, systematically contributed to Israel’s misconceptions about Egypt’s aspirations, plans, and capabilities.
In April 1973, Marwan persuaded the Mossad that Egypt planned an attack on Israel in mid-May. As a result, Israel raised its military to red alert, but that May war never happened. In late September, Marwan once again convinced the Mossad of an Egyptian plan for an attack, but this time the Mossad had lost its credibility and until the last minute, the IDF military chiefs treated Marwan’s information with suspicion. They basically ignored him.
A few hours before it began, Marwan provided the Mossad with a final warning that a war was about to launch. Late on the 5th of October 1973, Tzvi Zamir, the head of the Mossad, met Marwan in London and learned that a war would start the following day at 6pm. The war did indeed start the next day, four hours earlier than predicted. The 1973 war is considered by Israel to be its most humiliating and scandalous military blunder. Israel was totally unprepared. IDF battalions on the frontline were exposed to a full-on Egyptian and Syrian assault. They were wiped out within hours. Some rightly argue that it is only because the Egyptian and Syrian armies had limited plans in terms of territorial gains that Israel survived this war militarily and exists to this day. Most Israeli military commentators agree that it was not the IDF generals who saved the country but the foot soldiers on the ground who fought heroically with their backs to the wall.
General Eli Zeira, then Director of Israeli military intelligence is regarded as a major contributor to the 1973 military blunder. Zeira claims that it was Marwan’s earlier misleading information that led to Israel’s ‘misconception’ of Egypt’s true intentions. Zeira argues that Marwan was a ‘double agent’ or more rightly, a skillful Egyptian spymaster, who brilliantly managed to deceive the Israelis into a delusional ‘misconception’ of the conflict. Those who believe that Marwan was assassinated by the Mossad tend to accept General Zeira’s opinion.
For months and months America, Britain, and NATO warned the Ukrainians that Russia was planning a war. The Americans in particular have made it clear that they were privy to information, that although it couldn’t be shared with the general public, indicated that Putin was planning an imminent attack. Naturally, not many people bought into these repeated American warnings: by now American and British intelligence has been involved in too many blunders and spectacular lies (among them phantasmic WMD in Iraq and chemical attacks in Syria) that no one, including the Ukrainians, has taken these military institutions seriously. It was also evident that even more than Ukraine or Russia wanted or needed a military conflict, it was Washington and London that desired one. Ukraine has become an energy hub following the discovery of large reserves of gas and oil within its territory. The West saw it as an alternative to Russia as the major gas supplier to Europe.
As happened with Marwan in 1973, someone ‘helped’ the Pentagon to build a ‘concept’ of an ‘imaginary Russian campaign.’ In America’s delusional war plan, Putin would capture Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions in the East and might also attempt to seize some ground in the south to create a land passage to Crimea. This war would have come to an end within a short time as its military objectives were limited. Ukraine would accept the Russian territorial gains as it would allow Ukraine to rid itself of its most problematic and contested regions. Russia would be condemned but, in this scenario, when peace prevails, Ukraine would be able to join the EU and maybe even NATO and most important, become Europe’s prime energy supplier.
This ‘concept’ of war may well have been induced by a Putin / Marwan figure. It misled the Americans and the Brits to build a completely wrong strategic and geopolitical vision. The Ukrainian military was foolish enough to follow the Pentagon’s intelligence scenario and deployed its elite units to the East. Those units prepared themselves for an express war on some disputed but defined territories. But that wasn’t the war that happened. Instead what transpired was tragic for Ukraine and its military. Just before the 24 February Russian invasion, it became clear that Russia had extended its military drills to Belarus. Days later, Russia launched its military campaign. Russia’s main effort was launched from Belarus and it was aimed at the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, not the Eastern regions as predicted. In a simple move, the Russian Army basically managed to cut off most of the Ukrainian Army far from the capital and with no supply routes or logistical support from the West.
By attacking Ukraine from Belarus, the Russians copied Hitler’s Belgium maneuver. In 1940 the French waited for the German Panzers on the vastly fortified Maginot Line. But the Germans bypassed the Maginot Line and went into France through Belgium and headed straight to France’s soft belly and Paris. That left the French military stranded at the Maginot line and exposed from the rear as the enemy was then behind them. It would have helped if American, British and Ukrainian generals had spent some time learning military history or even watching some relevant Youtube history channel documentaries.
Why did these military leaders badly misjudge Putin’s plans and Russian strategic objectives? As happened with Marwan in 1973, someone or something planted into American, British, and Ukrainian decision-makers a complete misconception of Russian intentions. This blunder has caused a total disaster for Ukraine, its people, its military, and the integrity of its land. It was their complete shock at the Russian decision to invade Ukraine from Belarus that led the West into panic and rapid escalation in sanctions and language. For the West the situation is hopeless. Even if NATO would have liked to support the Ukrainian forces; it literally can’t.
The European nations who promised to supply military equipment to the Ukrainian army can’t do so as the Ukrainian army is cut off in the East. If you don’t believe this, ask a simple question. How was it possible that the 60 km Russian convoy was stopped, standing still like sitting ducks for 10 days without being attacked? The answer is simple. The Ukrainian army is unable to engage in a concentrated military effort. It is limited in its capacity to attack Russian logistics and it certainly cannot launch a counterattack. The misconception comes with a price, especially when your leaders engage in relentless warmongering. Yet, as in Israel 1973, in Ukraine in 2022, it isn’t the generals or the mini oligarch -actor/president who can save the situation. It is the resilient heroic fighters on the ground. They don’t seem to give up and fight to their last drop of blood.
The Russian military ‘achieved’ its goals in just two days: it cut out the Ukrainian army and dismantled its ability to defend the country, let alone secure the area around the capital. The Ukrainian air force lost its control over Ukraine’s skies on the first day. Command centers around the country were destroyed. Despite these losses, despite its clear military superiority, the Russians haven’t won the war, far from it, a decisive victory isn’t on the horizon.
The Russian war planners fell into the same trap as their counterparts in NATO and Ukraine. They also held a delusional misconception of Ukraine. The Russians overestimated the support they would find amongst the population and Ukraine’s political class. They grossly underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to defend their land. They underestimated the Western reaction to their campaign. They grossly underestimated the world’s animosity towards Russia, its leaders, it’s Israeli/Russian oligarchs. They couldn’t envisage the present solidarity with the Ukrainians and their resistance. They certainly couldn’t see Zelensky, the actor, morphing into a Che Guevara character: in their eyes, and for good reason, he was seen as a comical character and a political puppet. The modernist old-fashioned Russian generals didn’t understand that in a world shaped by Tik Tok and Zuckerbergs, all it takes for a male actor who was dancing in high-heeled shoes to become an iconic ‘freedom fighter’ is simply a matter of makeup and costume.
The Russian was mistaken on most fronts. But being clumsy, heavy, miscalculated and delusional is not new to Russia, it may even be engraved in the Russian operational mode. Throughout its history, Russia was caught sluggish and dysfunctional in battles against enemies who were superior technologically, tactically, and spiritually. Remember that at one point the Soviets almost lost their capital to the 3rd Reich. Their allies (the USA and Britain) betrayed them, but despite that, it was the USSR that won the big war and chased the defeated German army all the way from Stalingrad to Berlin. The Russians are somehow resilient or at least used to be.
I Misconceive Therefore I am
Being trapped in misconception is probably inherent to the human condition. Projecting our own faults on others is often the means by which we bring disasters on ourselves. But in 2022, the Ashraf Marwans do not stop at just manipulating leaders or generals. In the world we happen to find ourselves in, the incessant duplicity is designed to enslave us all. We are repeatedly trained to be tormented by ‘global disasters’ from ‘Climate’, to ‘Covid’ to ‘Russia’ to Energy, to the Economy and back again. We are kept in a state of constant collective hysteria, united against our (global) ‘public enemy’ at the time. Unsurprisingly, this ‘universal’ panic mode is set to make the rich richer.
It seems to me as if those who detected the deep propagandist misconception that that was pushed by Fauci, Bill Gates, and Bourla also tend to be suspicious about the continuum between Biden (the father and the son), Johnson and Zelensky.
It is not a matter of Left or Right, it isn’t a matter of education or cognitive ability. It is a clear division between Jerusalem and Athens that is now dividing us and may as well leading us into a global civil war. Jerusalem within that context (as defined by Leo Strauss), is the city of revelation. It sustains itself by maintaining tyranny of correctness, legalism (Torah and Mitzvoth). Athens, on the contrary, is the birthplace of (Western) philosophy. It is all about skepticism, the ability to think for yourself. While Chomsky and Dershowitz tell you what to say – what is right and who is wrong, Kant and Heidegger teach you how to figure out things by yourself.
To survive the Marwan’s and defeat misconceptions, skepticism isn’t just a tool, it is an existential necessity. Yet such skepticism is almost impossible to maintain, it entails constant regression and consistent questioning of your most elementary thoughts and findings.
Jerusalem is winning, at least at the moment, and for obvious reasons. It is easier to train people to act like sheep and be politically correct than to encourage people to think for themselves and allow for unpredictable results. Accordingly, the survival of the skeptic is alone war that resembles heroic insurgency, it is a guerrilla battle.
Maybe it is time to accept that the true meaning of globalization is the acceptance that there is no refuge, no safe haven, no escape. Even when you see it all, the lies, the propaganda, the tyranny of correctness, Jerusalem, and the decline of the West as we know it, you are still locked together with the rest of humanity in a vessel spiraling down to impact.