Rear Admiral William Reginald "Blinker" Hall in the Chamberverse


So related to list events and upcoming OFA publications I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's "The Zimmermann Telegraph"

I'd read Max Hasting's "The Secret War" and Tim Weiner's "Legacy of Ashes", and if that was good for anything it was to give a conviction that anything of great degree that clandestine ops achieves is either well-managed and thoroughly passive trawling, or on some level the triumph of brute force and massive ignorance (or the equivocal result of brute force and massive ignorance, which is then presented as a triumph).

But how can you "respectable sources" your way out of paranoid conspiracy theories, when (British DNI) "Blinker" Hall* really did carefully demolish the reputation of the recalled German ambassador to the United States in the German government, quickly when he thought that there was a chance he might be able recover a peace process (not the best phrase to describe that, I admit) from the Zimmermann Telegraph fallout. To say nothing of getting him defacto interned for a few days for the crisis to kick off without him. (And unrelated, the scene of him quietly seated at the third meeting of von Rintelen nearly talking his way out of British custody, then ending the charade with a single sentence, belongs in fiction.)

It's the economy of it all that is unbelievable. If he wasted any time or misdirected even a little bit of effort to get a historically substantial effect that he desired that he didn't have much call to realize he should have wanted, Tuchman didn't get that across. The Kaiser wouldn't see the poor guy for nearly two months.

Add that one to the Stolypen assassination (a capable Russian prime minister being killed in what may have been a tacitly condoned tsarist secret police operation, certainly by a tsarist secret police informer).

*Rear Admiral Hall was involved in a preexisting and less well sourced mental health hazard of mine, specifically referencing a rumor that the British were involved in setting up the Battle of the Falklands. I'm not convinced that they had the tools they needed to do it just then (or that the German navy had enough of an idea of what to actually do with itself that it needed help to get self defeating orders and miss opportunities). The List has been talking about von Rintelen, so we know they might have gotten there eventually (von Rintelen's recall either being on Hall's order with Hall making sparing use of a capability to present messages as coming from Germany or Hall simply being aware of the order being given, being astride German communcations as he was). But what started this descent into possible paranoid historical fantasy is that squirreled away in a volume of a chemical industry history that I have is a blithe confidence that if von Spee hadn't stopped doing what he was doing, the Allies were Deeply Screwed. "He established so complete a control over the Chilean coast that British cargoes became uninsurable and nitrate shipments were practically suspended." (citing G. Jones, Quart. J. Econ. 34, 399 (1920), which I have never so much as looked at but the citation is there). So I'm probably doomed to go to my grave a tinfoil hat wearer on this one- it seems it was worth doing.