False Flags & Geopolitical Objectives: From the Reichstag Fire to Douma

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From New Dawn Special Issue Vol 12 No 3 (June 2018)

The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamour for such laws if their personal security is threatened.
– Joseph Stalin

Stalin’s statement has been taken as a guiding principle by several governments in the past century. The objective is not just to “gain control” of their citizens, although that is certainly a by-product. An examination of history shows that the false flag attack is also designed to serve a wider geopolitical purpose.

Wikipedia defines a false flag as a “covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.”

This article examines some of the more notable false flags, but the focus needs to be on the underlying geopolitical objective. In other words, what was the false flag designed to achieve, beyond Stalin’s adage of being a means to control one’s population.

It is also necessary to broaden the scope of the definition to include a frequent corollary of a fictitious argument designed to serve the same geopolitical purposes. A third aspect is the blatant coup designed to effect ‘regime change’. Those three aspects are not necessarily discrete but often shade into one another with, for example, lies about an alleged attack serving as a pretext to influence a change in an opposing government’s policy short of a coup.

Ukraine in 2014 was a blend of several different forms of the regime change paradigm whose actual target was a third country – in that case, Russia. The false flag shooting down of MH17 followed the February 2014 American organised coup. The complete misrepresentation of the circumstances around Crimea re-joining the Russian Federation has been part of an unparalleled demonisation of Russia in the Western media. Anyone who raises any questions about allegations against Russia, of which there are many, is attacked in a manner not seen since the worst days of the late US Senator Joe McCarthy.

On 27 February 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down.

One of the best-known false flag attacks of modern history was the Reichstag fire of 1933. At the Nuremberg war crimes trials in the late 1940s, Hermann Goering admitted German government responsibility for the fire. The fire was used to blame the communists, thus demonising a potential counterforce to Nazi rule. It also enabled the Nazis to pass a series of laws allowing them to arrest designated groups who were then tried and executed after ‘trials’, or held in concentration camps, or used as slave labour.

Martin Niemoller wrote about the consequences in his famous poem in which he refers to “they” who came for the communists, then the trade unionists, then the Jews and finally for him, by which time there was no one left to speak for him. It is a salutary reminder of the perils of remaining silent.

Operation Gladio was a post-World War II program that incorporated many different elements of the broader false flag. It was initially established in the immediate postwar years as a plan to have ‘stay behind’ resistance fighters in the event of a Soviet invasion of western, northern and southern Europe.

In August of 1980, Gladio operatives bombed a train station in Bologna, Italy, killing 85 people.

The idea was that if a country was occupied, trained resistance fighters could carry out acts of sabotage against the occupying forces, much as for example French partisans continued to fight German occupying forces during the period 1940-1945.

Whatever the initial plans of Operation Gladio, they rapidly morphed into a program to carry out sabotage and murder that could be blamed on leftist or communist groups. The general public was thereby to be frightened into voting for conservative right-wing parties who could be relied upon to follow the US’s geopolitical wishes.

The fear, largely imagined, of a Soviet takeover of the countries not allocated to it by the Yalta agreement was part of the driving ideology. Hatred of the Soviet Union and its successor States was always uppermost in Western political leader’s minds. 

Operation Unthinkable was an actual plan devised by Winston Churchill in 1945. It called for an attack upon the Soviet Union immediately after the war had ended. The plan envisaged using recently defeated German troops as part of the spearhead.

Winston Churchill ordered the planning of Operation Unthinkable in 1945.

Churchill’s hatred of the ‘Bolsheviks’ had a long history. He was instrumental in sending British forces into Russia to fight in the civil war on the anti-communist side, for the so-called ‘White Russians’. An Australian warship was used in the Black Sea in 1918 to gather intelligence on behalf of the same operation.

Operation Gladio (which was the Italian version) carried out a series of terrorist attacks. One of the better-known incidents was the bombing of the Bologna railway station which killed scores of people. The bombings, blamed on the Red Brigades, were a powerful propaganda tool against Italy’s Communist Party. The actual perpetrators were right-wing fascist groups such as Ordine Nuovo, organised, financed and armed by the CIA.

The CIA had barely been formed when it organised the rigging of the 1948 Italian elections. In a genuinely free election, the communists would undoubtedly have emerged the largest and strongest party. Since 1948 the CIA has accumulated a long and dishonourable history of interfering in foreign elections. It is a point always worth recalling in the current hysteria being generated over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Ironically, one of the more blatant examples of US interference in foreign elections was the engineering of Boris Yeltsin’s ‘victory’ in the Russian presidential elections of 1995. Time magazine even ran a cover story boasting about the manipulated result.

Next Major False Flag – Target Iran

The United States CIA and Britain’s MI6 also organised the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran. Iran’s crime? It nationalised the Anglo Persian oil company (now BP). That a country should control its own resources was intolerable to these two imperial powers. In 2013 the CIA admitted it was behind the coup. In documents released that year, it was also clear that the British opposed the release of any documents disclosing its role in the Iranian coup. The British still refuse to acknowledge they were the instigators of the coup, and that they needed American help in order to carry it off.

That coup is significant on a number of levels. The then British Prime Minister Anthony Eden saw Mosaddegh as a serious threat to Britain’s strategic and economic interests. Iran’s national interests were not considered.

The coup saw the installation of the Shah’s regime, whose brutal secret police, the Savak, trained by the Americans, became a byword for cruelty and oppression.

The third lesson was that the Shah’s brutalities lead to the 1979 Islamic revolution, putting Iran on America’s “axis of evil” list. Hybrid warfare by the Americans including assassinations, cyber attacks, sanctions and support for the terrorist group MEK have followed ever since.

Iran’s government is still designated for violent overthrow as set out in the Brooking Institution’s “Which Path to Persia” (2009). That publication is nothing less than a blueprint for violent regime change. Again, something to remember when one hears protestations from Western leaders about their commitment to such concepts as the rule of law and respect for national sovereignty.

Iran was one of the seven countries designated for regime change as disclosed by US General Wesley Clark in a revealing interview he gave on the American TV programme ‘Democracy Now’ in 2007. Clark was talking about a document he had seen in the Pentagon shortly after the events of September 2001. The seven countries referred to were Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

In a 2007 interview US General Wesley Clark revealed knowledge of a Pentagon document that called for regime change in seven countries after 9/11.

The United States and its allies have directly attacked five of those seven since Clark’s revelations. Lebanon was previously attacked and occupied by Israel, the United States’ staunchest ally in the Middle East.

Iraq, Syria and Libya have all been devastated by the United States and its allies in regime change operations. They have a number of features in common, not least that they are rich in natural resources, particularly oil and gas. They were and continue to be the objects of sustained vilification through propaganda, false flag attacks and outright lies used to justify invasion and occupation.

In Iraq’s case, for example, the first Gulf War in 1990 featured in its build up the US Senate testimony of a 15-year-old girl identified only as Nayirah. She testified that Iraqi soldiers who had occupied Kuwait (following a green light from the US ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie) took babies from their incubators in Kuwait’s hospital and threw them onto the “cold hard floor” to die.

It was a complete lie, told by the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, and coached by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. None of this was, of course, told to the American public.

In May 1996, 60 Minutes interviewed Madeleine Albright. Correspondent Leslie Stahl said to Albright, “We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And — and, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

The decade of sanctions on Iraq following its defeat in that war caused the death of more than half a million civilians, mainly women and children. This was a price that the then US Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, considered “worth it.”

First Gulf War, Vietnam & 9/11

The 1990 first Gulf War was bracketed by two other major wars based on false flags and lies. The American war in Vietnam got its major reboot (it had been going on in one form or another for the preceding ten-plus years) from the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incidents.

These incidents involved two US warships operating in the Gulf of Tonkin, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy. On 2 August 1964, North Vietnamese gunboats attacked the Maddox. The US said the attack was “unprovoked.” It was anything but. The Maddox was gathering intelligence on the North Vietnamese and giving that intelligence to the South Vietnamese, which in turn used it in attacking the North.

Two days later, the US said the Maddox was attacked again, and also the Turner Joy. In fact, there was no attack at all. The false allegation was used by US President Lyndon Johnson to obtain the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving him the power to wage warfare on the North.

The resulting war, which ended in 1975 with the undignified scramble for evacuation by helicopter from Saigon’s rooftops, killed more than three million Vietnamese, devastated the countryside, and left a toxic legacy from chemical warfare that reverberates to this day.

No legal consequences have flowed from this or any other attack upon nation states undertaken by the US and its allies, including the ever-willing Australians.

The other ‘bracket’ to the first Gulf War was the October 2001 attack on Afghanistan. It was ostensibly justified by the ‘9/11’ attacks in New York City and Washington. The whole 9/11 saga ranks as one of the major false flag operations of the past 100 years. To accept the US government’s version of that event requires a total suspension of disbelief. It also requires one to reject as false basic scientific principles, common sense, and a now overwhelming body of evidence demonstrating the falsity of the official conspiracy theory.

The events of 9/11 have a much broader significance. Exactly as with the Reichstag fire 68 years earlier, 9/11 was used to implement a legislative program and policy changes that dismantled basic constitutional protections, to wage war on dissent, and to justify a series of foreign wars and occupations under the false rubric of a “war on terror.” A series of wars of terror would be a more accurate nomenclature.

The events of 9/11 were blamed on ‘former’ CIA asset Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government of Afghanistan who the United States alleged were sheltering him and refusing to turn him over. As noted, none of the official story relating to 9/11 could possibly be true, and that extends to the invasion of Afghanistan. We now know that the decision to invade Afghanistan was made in July 2001, two months before 9/11, and immediately after the Taliban government had refused an American offer to build and control a gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea. 

The decision to invade was only partly due to the pipeline issue. Afghanistan has a very lucrative opium crop, and the proceeds from the sale of its refined product – heroin – finances much of the US’s clandestine operations. Afghanistan is now part of a string of nearly 400 military bases designed to ‘contain’ China. 

Although the Taliban government was quickly overthrown, the United States and its allies (including Australia) have shown no intention of leaving. Nearly 17 years after the invasion, there is precious little progress for the Afghan people that can be demonstrated. The Taliban now control more Afghan territory than at any time since the 2001 invasion. The Australian government periodically makes statements about staying to complete its ‘mission’ of training Afghan security forces. It is silent on the question of what it hopes to achieve in the future that it has been unable to realise in the past 17 years.

Since Operation Cyclone in the 1970s, the US geopolitical objectives in Central Asia have been control of its oil and gas resources, fomenting unrest in the Muslim republics of the then Soviet Union and China’s Xinjiang province (also with a significant Muslim population), and undermining the capacity of China and Russia to challenge the full spectrum dominance ambitions of the US government and its Deep State operatives.

Yinon Plan for the Middle East

Another key to understanding the geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East is the Yinon Plan, named after Oded Yinon, an advisor to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. In an article published in the Hebrew journal Kivunim (Directions) in February 1982, Yinon sets out what he termed “a strategy for Israel in the 1990s.”

The plan envisaged the dismemberment of Egypt with Israel annexing the Sinai Peninsula. The Palestinians were to be squeezed out of the West Bank. Jordan was to be liquidated as a State, Lebanon was to be cantonised along ethno-nationalist lines, and Iraq split into its Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish components.

Syria was similarly to be split into smaller states. Israeli foreign policy has essentially followed this plan, although there have been setbacks including the expulsion from Lebanon and Iraq retaining its territorial unity. Syria is an ongoing project, although thanks to Russian, Hezbollah and Iranian intervention, that plan has also, at least for the time being, been thwarted. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, blatant murders of Palestinians including children, and the theft of their land has, however, continued unabated. 

Israel continues to illegally occupy the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the 1967 war. It does so in defiance of international law and multiple UN General Assembly resolutions (Security Council resolutions are invariably vetoed by the United States). On all these issues they have the tacit support of the Australian government, either through silence or voting in Israel’s favour on UN resolutions.

Iran represents far too big a challenge for Israel on its own, and accordingly the US has been recruited to fight Iran on Israel’s behalf. That is also likely to fail, not only because the US has failed for the past 39 years to achieve its geopolitical goals in Iran, but that Iran’s increasing integration into the wider Russia-China geopolitical realignment through organisations such as the SCO, BRI, NSTC and EAEU means Iran’s security is increasingly underwritten by both China and Russia.

The progressive destruction of the US dollar’s role as the principal medium of exchange in world trade will greatly accelerate the diminution of the US’s capability to wage endless war. The changing financial structure of the world, including but not limited to the demise of the petrodollar, is quite probably the single most important change to the dynamics of the geopolitical world likely to occur in the very near future.

In countries like Australia, the political leadership of both major parties seems singularly unable to grasp the significance of these changes. Major political and economic risks will flow from maintaining the ‘joined at the hip’ US alliance. China, which currently takes a third of Australia’s total exports, has already issued several increasingly blunt warnings about the economic consequences to Australia of being shown “a friendly face but a cold shoulder.” The import of this warning is seemingly lost on Australia’s political class.

False Flags that Flopped – Salisbury & Douma

It is in this context of the rapidly changing geopolitical balance that one has to interpret the two latest false flag initiatives by the Anglo-American duopoly – the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, England, and the Douma ‘chemical attack’ in Syria.

Although some thousands of kilometres apart, they are linked both in their characteristics and what they signal about modern geopolitical realities. Almost everything said by the British government about the Skripal attack is false. The same is true about the alleged ‘chemical attack’ in Douma.

The significance of these two events is not just their manifest absurdity. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence, common sense and the ability to conduct basic research, rapidly ascertained the contradictions, implausibility and sheer scientific nonsense of the official story.

An important and encouraging factor is that the histrionic response to both events was limited almost exclusively to a small number of mostly Western nations. Africa, Latin America and most of Asia conspicuously failed to support the UK/US version of events about either Salisbury or Douma.

Those Western countries who supported the UK’s version of the Skripal poisoning and the illegal missile attack on Syria following the Douma allegations, including Australia, simply ignored the conventions that underlie their much-vaunted belief in the “rules-based international order” and the “rule of law.”

These conventions include a presumption of innocence until the contrary is established. The contrary can only be established by admissible evidence proven to a very high standard. The accused, whether an individual or a nation, is entitled to know the evidence against them. A true rule of law system does not argue by assertion, and following Alice in Wonderland’s ‘Mad Queen’, demand the sentence before the verdict. 

These and other fundamental conventions were simply ignored. The British simply pronounced Russian guilt, told blatant lies, tried to pre-empt any valid scientific inquiry, defied several international conventions to which they were a party, imposed sanctions before evidence had even being gathered, and launched in the case of Douma a missile attack that was a blatant violation of international law.

More evidence emerges, both in Salisbury and Douma, discrediting the original wild claims by the British, the Americans and others including Australia. But rather than withdraw their wild allegations and apologise, government ministers simply ignore that evidence and repeat their fabrications ad nauseum.

In this they are unquestionably supported by a mainstream media for whom notions of fair and accurate reporting are but a distant memory. Important revelations are unreported, and the original lies repeated in the confident expectation they will be contradicted neither by other parts of the mainstream media or by politicians.

The lessons we draw from the experiences of the past eighty years are that in increasingly important respects our democracy is a sham. The abdication of the media, the pro-war consensus of the politicians, and the complete absence of accountability in any meaningful sense for the endless breaches of international law, strongly indicate there are effectively no longer any limits that the citizens can impose on their political leaders.

George Orwell’s 1984, rather than being seen as a warning of a dystopian future, is instead treated by our political leaders as a training manual. We have every right to be fearful.

This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 12 No 3.
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About the Author

James O’Neill is a Barrister-at-Law who writes on geopolitical issues with a particular emphasis on international law. Born in New Zealand, James has travelled and lectured around the world at different universities. He also worked at the UN in Geneva as a consultant. He became a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato, and completed law degrees at the University of Auckland, being admitted to the bar in 1984. James has practised at the bar ever since, first in NZ and from 2002 in Brisbane. His special areas of interest are international law, human rights and the law of war. He has been published in New Dawn magazine and online journals such as New Eastern Outlook, Counterpunch, New Matilda and elsewhere.

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