Gar Smith / The-Edge – 2014-08-05 01:22:08
“Of course the people don’t want war…. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
— Nazi Minister Hermann GÃ¶ring
(October 18, 2002) — Since the dawn of politics, governments with a tenuous grasp on legitimacy or an insatiable hunger for power and control have found that the quickest way to quell opposition is to stage a provocation and use that as a pretext for declaring martial law or a state of war. Recent history offers many examples.
Germany: Who Really Burned the Reichstag?
When the Third Reich needed a pretext for declaring martial law, it found a fiery justification in the burning of the Reichstag Building on February 27, 1933. Before the flames were even extinguished, Chancellor Adolph Hitler was blaming the conflagration on a “Communist conspiracy.”
Shortly after Hitler’s black limousine arrived at the site of the burning building, Prussian Interior Ministry Hermann Goering whispered to Hitler, “This is undoubtedly the work of Communists, Herr Chancellor.”
Calling the fire (which occurred only eight days before an important election) “a God-given signal,” Hitler declared: “There will be no mercy now. Anyone who stands in our way will be cut down…. Everyone in league with the [terrorists] must be arrested. There will also no longer be leniency for social democrats.”
While inspecting the ruins, Hitler told a local reporter “God grant that this is the work of the Communists. You are witnessing the beginning of a great new epoch in German history. This fire is the beginning.”
But as Georgetown University History Professor Carroll Quigley pointed out in his book Tragedy and Hope, the Reichstag fire was the beginning of a calculated plan to seize political power and suspend the German Constitution. It was the beginning of Nazi fascism.
German President Paul von Hindenburg quickly granted Hitler dictatorial powers. German Communist Party (KPD) members who were running for office were all arrested and Hitler vowed every member of the KPD would “be hanged that very night.” (Hindenburg managed to veto Hitler’s call for a mass political execution.)
At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial in 1946, German General Franz Halder recalled a luncheon party for Hitler’s birthday in 1942. “I heard with my own ears when Goering interrupted the conversation and shouted: ‘The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!’ With that, he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand.”
Martin Sommerfeldt, the Interior Ministry press officer at the time of the fire, called the fire “the piece de resistance of Dr. Goebbels’ election campaign” and claimed that it was “started by a handful of Storm Troopers, all [ten] of who were shot afterwards by SS commandos.” Writing in 1954, Sommerfeldt stated that the chief of the Berlin Stormtroopers “gave me exact details about the crime and the identification of the ten victims.”
Germany: Hitler Stages a Fake “Attack”
In an August 29 commentary, columnist George Will recounted how Adolph Hitler staged a fake military attack to justify his invasion of Poland. On September 1, 1939, Hitler sent this desperate message: “Polish regular officers fired on our territory. Since 5:45 a.m. we have been returning the fire.”
As Will points out, Hitler was lying. “Immediately before Hitler attacked Poland, the SS staged a provocation — a ‘Polish’ attack on a German radio station near Poland’s border, a sham that included corpses of German ‘victims’ — actually, concentration camp inmates shot by the SS.”
Russia: Was Putin behind the Apartment Bombings?
In September 1999, a series of three “terrorist bombings” demolished several Russian apartment buildings, killing hundreds of innocent civilians.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately blamed the bombings on “Chechen terrorists” and used public anger to justify the bombing of Chechnya. Within a matter of months, Putin’s anti-terrorist campaign culminated in his election as Russia’s newest President.
But there was a fourth apartment bombing. On September 22, a group of FSB agents (Russia’s version of the FBI) were discovered in a Ryazan apartment planting a bomb set to explode at 5:30 a.m. Red-faced FSB officials initially explained that they had “prevented” a bombing but then changed their story to say that the bomb-makers were engaged in an “anti-terrorist training exercise.” Coincidentally, Vladimir Putin had previously headed the FSB.
In March 2002, new attention was brought to bear on “what Putin knew and when he knew it” when embattled media mogul Boris Berezovsky went public with claims that Putin’s forces were actually responsible for setting the series of terror bombings.
On March 17, 2000, The Moscow Times reported that there was “no proof Chechens blew up buildings” and a number of Russian politicians demanded an independent investigation of the bombings. The Russian Parliament nixed the call for a probe and Putin ascended to the presidency within a matter of weeks.
The March 21 edition of Egypt’s Al-Ahram Weekly took notice of Berezvosky’s charge. Berezovksky, a former Putin ally who now lives in exile, has since produced a controversial documentary called “Assassination in Russia.” In the documentary, a former Russian state security agent and a British explosives expert discuss their roles in the bombings.
The Independent (London) also reported that Alexei Gaitin, a member of the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence service), had videotaped a confession that “the FSB, in cooperation with the GRU… is responsible for the explosions in Volgodonsk and Moscow.” The Independent notes that these bombings “ignited the latest war in Chechnya and propelled Vladimir Putin into the Kremlin.” (Putin is now busy dismantling Russia’s civil rights protections, following in the bootsteps of Attorney General John Ashcroft.)
The United States
Cuba: From the Maine to Operation Northwoods
When the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, the US pounced on the opportunity to claim that Cuban terrorists had attacked an innocent US vessel with a “perfidious” mine. “Remember the Maine” became a national rallying cry.
The facts were somewhat different. President McKinley had sent the warship into Havana harbor as a direct provocation to the Spanish government. In 1975, a US Navy report concluded that the explosion occurred inside the vessel when coal dust ignited in a bunker next to a powder magazine. Some researchers believe that the explosion was engineered as part of a deliberate plan to incite war fever.
The US declared war on Spain and within six months had seized control of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. Cuba, which was about to gain autonomy from Spain was placed under US domination. The US used the sinking of the Maine as a springboard to becoming a global power whose reach extended across the Pacific Ocean.
After the 1961 Bay of Pigs Fiasco (a failed CIA-lead invasion of Cuba using a force of US-trained and financed anti-Castro Cubans), President Kennedy signed off on Operation Mongoose, a secret plan to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, who directed Operation Mongoose, tasked the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) with producing a pretext for attacking Cuba. One of the plans, Operation Northwoods [See Eco-Mole, The-Edge, September 13, 2002], called for “hijacking airplanes,” murdering individuals in the US and faking the loss of US civilian lives in a faked air attack.
In March 1963, when Gen. Maxwell Taylor became the new chair of the JCS, he ordered his staff to engineer “an incident as a cause for invasion [of Cuba].” One plan proposed using Soviet-made MIG jets flown by American pilots to shoot down a “civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela.”
Another plan called “Operation Bingo” called for staging “well-coordinated incidents… in and around Guantanamo.” The preferred “incident” involved an attack on the base by US soldiers posing as “a hostile Cuban force” to justify a the aerial bombardment of Havana. (This tactic was employed by secret Delta Force teams prior to the invasion of Panama. See the companion article, “Operation Just Cause.”)
Operation Dirty Trick called for blaming Cuba for the death of astronaut John Glenn, in the event his space capsule failed to making it safely into orbit. “This would be accomplished by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans,” a declassified memo states.
Apparently running out of fresh ideas, one Pentagon memo suggested resorting to the “Remember the Maine Option” and proposed: “We could blow up a warship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.”
Japan: Pearl Harbor
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed an excuse to join the Allies in the fight against the Axis powers in WWII, the Japanese provided an excellent entry with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Innumerable books have been written since, positing that FDR and others in the command structure were well aware of the approaching Japanese fleet but allowed the attack to happen.
Vietnam: The Gulf of Tonkin
When Lyndon B. Johnson needed an excuse to widen the war in Vietnam, the Gulf of Tonkin incident became the means by which LBJ was able to implement new war powers – using a document that had been written prior to the Tonkin episode.
Had LBJ not been is such a hurry to declare that US gunboats had been attacked, Congress might have learned the truth – the supposed “enemy ships” detected by Navy ships turned out to have been nothing more than radar beams bouncing off the backs of some high waves.
An earlier “attack” by Vietnamese naval forces turned out to have been in response to a secret penetration by US vessels inside Vietnamese waters. The penetration was deliberately mounted in hopes of provoking a Vietnamese response.
Grenada: Save the Medical Students!
When Ronald Reagan needed to distract attention from the devastating attack on US Marine barracks in Lebanon in October 1983, he found it on the Caribbean island of Grenada. Instead of having to explain why hundreds of US Marines (who were supposedly on a peacekeeping mission) had been attacked and killed, the White House quickly shifted attention to Grenada where, it claimed, a group of American medical students were in mortal danger.
On March 13, 1979, a band of idealistic young revolutionaries had toppled a corrupt US-backed dictator named Eric Gairy and set about building a “peoples government” dedicated to meeting social needs. When Grenada forged an alliance with Cuba, the US went into overdrive concocting plans to destabilize the new government.
In order to whip up enthusiasm for an invasion, Washington falsely claimed that the Russians were building a submarine base underneath the island. The US falsely claimed the Cubans were building a new airport to allow Russian planes to invade South America. (Both of these claims vanished immediately after the invasion.)
As this reporter revealed (more than a year before the actual invasion), plans to attack Grenada had been in the works for several years and pre-invasion military exercises already had been undertaken on neighboring islands. All that was needed was a useful pretext.
Panama: Operation Just Cause
[See the companion story: “Operation Just Cause: How to Stage a Regime Change”.]
Iraq I: Operation Desert Storm
In 1990, the US began secret plans to foment a war with former US ally Saddam Hussein. US Ambassador April Glaspie was instructed to give Hussein her personal assurance that the US would not intervene if Iraq annexed disputed territory in Kuwait. [The Attack on Iraq Was Planned Before the 2000 Elections, October 4, 2002.]
In order to rally support for an attack on Iraq, President George H. W. Bush told the world that Iraq had massed thousands of tanks and troops along its border with Saudi Arabia and was planning to attack “within 48 hours.”
But as John McLauglin gruffly observed in a September broadcast of The McLaughlin Group: “When George HW Bush was drumming up support for an incursion against Iraq, Pentgon officials cited top-secret satellite images of what they said were 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks massed on the Saudi-Iraqi border and about to roll into the key US oil supplier, Saudi Arabia. But commercial satellite photos of the same area taken at the same time showed no Iraqi troops at all — just lonely desert.”
Even the State Department’s official report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism” (the updated George W. edition), confirms that there has not been a single instance of an anti-Western attack by Iraq in the past ten years.
Iraq II: Targeting the Constitution
In a September 7, 2002 press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, George W. Bush stated: “I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq [in 1998] and were denied finally denied access [sic], a report came out of the Atomic, the IAEA, that they were six months away from developing a weapon.” But — like father, like son — Bush Jr. was lying.
As the Washington Times reported on September 27: “The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was ‘six months away’ from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist.”
The White House insists that it must act unilaterally to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. But the US has no concrete evidence that such weapons exist. The only way to determine whether Iraq has these weapons is with ground inspections by UN representatives. Inspections (not aerial bombardment) are the only way to effectively identify, isolate and safely destroy such weapons.
Beware the “October Surprise”
The US and Britain have increased the number of flights over Iraq’s no-fly zones, thereby raising the chances that an allied plane will be shot down. In addition, the US/UK air armada has begun flying beyond the no-fly zones, deep into Iraqi airspace. Allied warplanes have routnely violated international law by penetrating Iraq’s soveriegn airspace and staging provocative overflights over the capital of Baghdad.
In early August, US Special Forces engaged Iraqi troops in armed combat around the oil fields of Northern Iraq and Israeli forces and Mossad agents are reportedly engaged in penetration missions inside southern Iraq. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has told Washington that Israel reserves the right to stage its own preemptive attack on Iraq.
As history has shown, it is easy to stage a provocation and it can take years for the truth to emerge.
It is no longer sufficient just to be watchful. Every statement and action emanating the current rogue regime in Washington should be met with the utmost distrust.
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