International Man: People who look outside the mainstream narrative of historical events often encounter the term “false flag” attack. What does this mean exactly? Who uses this tactic?
Doug Casey: Let’s define this term exactly. The Oxford Dictionary defines a false flag as “A political or military act orchestrated in such a way that it appears to have been carried out by a party that is not in fact responsible.”
The concept of false flags has gotten a bad reputation in media and government circles and perhaps with the population in general, because they’ve come to be associated with conspiracy theories. And “conspiracy theory,” whether valid or not, is used as a pejorative. While there are definitely some people out there with tin foil hats, the establishment likes to label any beliefs that don’t follow the party line as conspiracy theory.
In fact, false flags make all the sense in the world for someone who wants to start a war or who needs a cover for some other criminal enterprise. You never want to be seen as the aggressor or the bad guy. You always want to be able to blame what happens on the other guy. If you’re going to start a war, you want to look like the innocent aggrieved party in order to get the population on your side.
It’s been said that in war, truth is the first casualty. Using a false flag to disguise criminality is an essential part of that. And it’s not just one of the two major parties in a war who uses false flags. It can be a third interested party that is looking to create trouble between the other two.
I’ll use a schoolyard analogy. Sometimes a third party goes to Billy and says that Joey is badmouthing him. He’ll then go to Joey and say that Billy is badmouthing him. A “third party” can create a lot of mutual antagonism where it didn’t exist before. There are plenty of variations on the false flag routine.
I’d go so far as to say that most wars are started with false flags in one way or another, where the real bad guy is disguised.
The people who run nation states are never of the highest moral character. In fact, when it comes to political leaders, the scum rise to the top. These people are necessarily Machiavellian and capable of anything; they have to be in order to claw their way to the top of the political snake pit. Even if a person is basically decent when he gets into politics, he’ll inevitably be corrupted by his environment—and the fact he’s expected to exert power and use force to preserve the interests of the State. You can expect mainly duplicity and sanctimony from them.
International Man: There have been many instances of false flag events that have changed the course of history—by leading to wars, military interventions, and political upheavals. What do you think are some of the most notable historical examples, like the Gulf of Tonkin for instance?
Doug Casey: That’s an excellent one. The Gulf of Tonkin was entirely fabricated by the Johnson administration, which was looking for an excuse to invade Vietnam.
In recent history, when the Japanese needed an excuse to invade China in 1931, they fabricated what’s known as the Mukden Incident, the destruction of a railroad line in Manchuria. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they fabricated what’s known as the Gleiwitz Incident, dressing up German soldiers in Polish uniforms to make it look like the Poles were the aggressors. In 1962 the US created Operation Northwoods, which plotted all kinds of incidents—shooting down a US airliner, sinking US ships—to blame it on Cuba. That plot was, fortunately, never executed.
This is standard operating procedure when you want to start a war. You need a casus belli—a cause of war—but you want to blame it on the other guy.
More recently, take the 1991 Gulf War, which was simply an issue of criminals in Iraq trying to oust the criminals running Kuwait, mainly the Sabah family. The media immediately circulated a meme that Iraqi soldiers were taking Kuwaiti babies from their incubators in hospitals and putting them on a cold floor so they could send the incubators back to Iraq.
Then it was discovered that the source of this information was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, who never gave a subsequent interview. It was all a lie, but before the truth came out, the damage was done.
You can’t believe anything that you hear regarding a war, nor any of the reporting regarding a war. Psychological warfare is as important as the kinetic warfare, certainly in today’s world.
International Man: It almost doesn’t matter that the truth comes out in the long term. By then the damage is already done. As long as the propaganda serves its purpose to create the intended reaction in the short term, that’s what really counts.
Another recent example of this is in Syria, in which a suspicious incident prompted a direct US military response.
Famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria—supposedly committed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—was in fact a staged false flag event designed to trigger US military intervention. What do you make of this?
Doug Casey: Hersh is one of the very few reporters who does original research and thinks for himself. There was nothing in it for the Syrian government and Assad to launch these chemical attacks. They’re well aware that it would only damage their image. Entirely apart from the fact that chemical weapons are almost as dangerous to the people who launch them as they are to the people they’re launched at. Plus, they were militarily completely unnecessary.
So, it seems to me it’s another false flag launched by who knows what party to make the Assad government look bad. To make Assad into a new devil, like Saddam. Assad is no saint, but he’s a natural consequence of trying to hold together dozens of mutually antagonistic religious and ethnic groups. But that’s another story, for another conversation.
Incidentally, people forget that Assad was our ally in the 1991 Gulf War. He was our subsidized ally of the moment, just as Saddam himself was a US ally of the moment when he launched a war against the Iranians in the ’80s.
The fact is that Americans know little about anything abroad, beyond what they see or hear on TV and other mass media. Most “reporting” is just a rehash of official press releases.
International Man: Recently, two oil tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The US government said Iran did it. Iran said it was a false flag attack. What is going on there? Do you think we’ll soon see a suspicious event used as a casus belli for another war in the Middle East?
Doug Casey: I’d say the chances of the Iranians having done that are slim or none. The last thing the Iranians want is to look like they’re trying to disrupt a quarter of the world’s oil supply and perhaps provoke the US into attacking them. They have nothing to gain from it. So, it’s a question of cui bono.
It could be the Saudis who fabricated this; they’re enemies of Iran but have a completely worthless military. They’d rather trick the Americans into doing the fighting. It could be the Israelis. They’re very antagonistic toward Iran, which is the last country in the region capable of mounting a military challenge against them.
It could be another third party that we’re not even thinking of at this point, which would benefit from the US getting bogged down in yet another war pounding the Iranians.
I’m skeptical of anything that I read in the papers or see on television. Chances are excellent the tanker explosions were fabricated, twisted, or misrepresented.
It bears mentioning that the US Navy doesn’t belong in or near the Persian Gulf any more than the Chinese or the Russian navies belong off California or in the Gulf of Mexico, 20 miles off the American coast.
It’s provocative. The US gets very little oil from the Persian Gulf. Most of that oil goes to Asia—the Chinese, Indians, and Japanese. This is not our problem.
The US is not the world’s policeman, and the rest of the world resents being bossed around. The US is putting itself in a position to provoke a major war. Not just another sport war, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq.
International Man: What does it say about the nature of the US government—or any government—that would use a false flag to sell its citizens a war?
Doug Casey: Well, let me say it again, most of the people at the high levels of government are actually criminal personalities who are capable of absolutely anything.
Once it hardens into an “us” against “them” situation, it will be very dangerous for anybody in either country to speak out against the war. Even H.L. Mencken went silent once the US got into World War I, even though it was obvious our involvement was fomented by Woodrow Wilson—who prosecuted outspoken opponents of the war. The chances of your being labeled a traitor and jailed—or stoned by the mob—is extremely high once the first shot is fired.
As Randolf Bourne famously said, “War is the health of the State.”
War is always destructive of individual freedom and always increases the power of the State.
International Man: It’s true that war can lead to unpredictable negative consequences for civil liberties at home. What can people do to protect themselves?
Doug Casey: You don’t want to be in a country that’s fighting a major war. You want to be in a neutral and isolated country—although the nature of the next major war will make it so that there’s almost no safe place to hide. But some places will be safer than others. As a matter of fact, your biggest danger may not be “the enemy.” Your biggest danger may be your so-called fellow citizens.
It’s very important to have a backup. Anything can go wrong anywhere.
Anyone who has the means should have a second residence outside of their home country, and perhaps a second citizenship and a second passport. You never know when any government might decide to round up the usual suspects. And during wartime everyone and anyone is suspect. At that point it’s wiser to get out of Dodge.