Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kim Philby. In his autobiography, My Silent War, Kim Philby, obviously, takes issue with John Bullock's account of the Philby's spy case. Philby said: "I have even read recently, in John Bullock's Akin to Treason, that Lebanese security is "very efficient"--a misuse of language by any standard." (p. 135 of the American edition). I have been doing binge reading of the Philby case after watching on DVD the BBC mini-series of the case. So many aspects of the BBC account were not true, of course. (For example, Philby and Maclean did not stay in touch over the years). Personally, I think that those who were motivated in their loyalty to the Soviet Union during the pre-WWII by idealism and keen interest in fighting against the threat of fascism and Nazism should have broken with the USSR in 1939--at least, with the Soviet-Nazi agreement. Philby does not mention much about his stay in Beirut (for years) in his autobiography: it is probably part of the large chunks that were deleted by the KGB censor which had to screen his book, according to Philby's biographer, Philip Knightley. (In Beirut, Philby was of course serving two masters: British intelligence for which he did work in Lebanon, and the KGB. British intelligence did not want to discuss that because it would have been embarrassing for them admit that Philby's services continued long after his forced resignation). Now as is well-known, Philby's father was the Orientalist, St. John Philby, who advised the Saudi King (and predicted to him the victory of Nazism). (Did I tell you that a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia told me that the current Saudi King keeps a dagger with Nazi symbols on it in his desk--a gift to his father from you know who. And whatever happened to the two kids that St. John Philby fathered with his Saudi concubine?