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The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Spoiling For A Fight

You fancy you are stronger than your neighbour. On top of that they have things which you covet like a crazy person. Choosing to learn from a historical perspective, what are your options to address this obviously unfair hand which life has dealt you?

The Swearing of allegiance oaths at Eureka

The Swearing of allegiance oaths at Eureka

There are three such approaches that may instigate or incite such pugnitude

Openly declaring war is terribly gauche, not the type of thing a person /country / legal entity of your elevated standing ought to be engaged in. What you need is a series of events which would require a swift, harsh and uncompromising response (you can see from this logic why the wingnuts whisper behind their hands about Pearl Harbour, 911 etc). You need public sympathies to be with you before you embark upon your campaign. There are three such approaches that may instigate or incite such pugnitude. Which is to nicely say there are 3 ways to start the scrap:

  • False Flag
  • Laissez Faire Policy
  • Agent Provocateur
The mast at Gleiwitz; Europe's tallest wooden structure and site of a false flag attack. Photograph is by Flickr user fizyk and is used here under a Creative Commons licence.

The mast at Gleiwitz; Europe's tallest wooden structure and site of a false flag attack. Photograph is by Flickr user fizyk and is used here under a Creative Commons licence.

False Flag

A false flag operation is essentially an action undertaken as a masquerade and under an assumed identity. It involves doing something while pretending you are someone else, so you can blame them in turn.

False flag attacks are inherently muddy events employing subterfuge and concealment. But false flags do occur. Just don’t bother Googling it unless you wish to sink your teeth into myriad off-kilter, paranoid ramblings. They enter the bona fide historical record peppered with caveats, hearsay and rumour. They are, in short, beloved of conspiracy theorists, whackjobs and wingnuts.

To illustrate their proximity to the hearts and minds of crackpots, the Wikipedia entry on False Flag has over 655 contributors. Which presumably says something poignant. Or else it means one wingnut has gotten himself a whole lot of aliases.

A brief aside
There is some wonderfully espionage-obsessed language in the Wikipedia entry for False Flag – these events can also be called black flag events. As we know anything black ops related is gloriously mysterious and littered with nefarious terms.

False flag attacks were commonplace right up into the Second World War’s various theatres of operations, but especially so in naval warfare. The naval version was surprisingly literal. The attacker made his approach while hoisting his enemy’s flag. When his ruse had been spotted and his attack begun, he would fly his true flag. Cheeky devils.

Probably the most famous, and verified, false flag attack, and one which led to a horrific war, was perpetrated by the Nazis. The attack, known as the Gleiwitz Incident, was used as justification for their blitzkrieg rampage through, and subsequent occupation of Poland. German soldiers dressed as Poles attacked a radio transmitter in the east of their country. They left a planted dead body of a suspected dissident. They also transmitted pro-Polish messages to infuriate German listeners and stoke the fires of their anger. The dissident was sold to the public as a patriotic German murdered by these treacherous Poles.

Statue from museum at Ostica Antica. Photograph is by Flickr user photogestion and is used here under a Creative Commons licence.

Statue from museum at Ostica Antica. Photograph is by Flickr user photogestion and is used here under a Creative Commons licence.

Laissez Faire Policy

War is coming. Don’t lift a finger to stop it.

Ostia was the primary seaport for ancient Rome. Rome was the largest metropolis of the time, and it brought in its crucial grain supples through Ostia. Troops were also shipped out from here. Rome in the first century BCE had a serious problem with pirates. They carried out lightning raids against merchant vessels, becoming ever more audacious. This continued until they began to attack towns on the coast, culminating in a bold assault on Ostia.

The ancient Roman general, Pompey publicly blamed Ostia’s sacking on organised pirates – whether he allowed affairs degrade to this point or whether it was a bolt out of the blue, Romans nonetheless made many sacrifices to defeat these terrorists. It is quite probable that Pompey saw the pirates’ attack on Ostia as inevitable and let it happen. Even more debatable is whether the pirates were a coherent force.

Pompey sold the attack to the Roman senate and public, inflating the threat as he did so, as a concerted offensive by an organised enemy. In return he was given relatively unchecked powers under the infamous Lex Gabinia. The attack itself was more likely to have been just a small incursion by a small group of disgruntled unfortunates who managed to get in, cause damage and murder several high-ranking military officials. There is however no debate that the pirates did exist, and also did cause Rome considerable economic pain. Either way, Pompey had his longed for casus belli, and went off rampaging around the Mediterrannean.

The Ostia attack has its modern parallels. Robert Harris, everybody’s favourite Latin-lover novelist and polemicist, has drawn correlations with post-911 USA, questioning the true motivations of the protagonists.It was also often claimed that Churchill allowed Coventry to be bombed.

Reward Notice for the Apprehension of Peter Lalor

Reward Notice for the Apprehension of Peter Lalor

Agent Provocateur

Using an agent provocateur is a similar approach to the false flag, the difference being that a false flag is an operation in its entirety. An agent provocateur is an embedded entity that likewise instigates such action but not unilaterally. The intention is to draw on an otherwise reluctant enemy and provoke them into action they had not wished to begin.

The Diggers’ Revolt, otherwise known as the Eureka Rebellion of 1854, remains to this day, Australia’s only revolution. It was led by the Irishman Peter Lalor, also called Honest Pat. The 19th century Irish travelling salesman and serial-entrepreneur, William Kelly recounted the brief revolt in his memoirs. In particular he recounted the authorities’ use of an embedded agent provocateur:

“the military and police were under arms marching down to attack the stockade. Lalor then hurriedly reviewed his scanty, ill-assorted band, and issued a positive order ‘not to fire except in return, or until the troops attempted forcing their entrenchments’; but as soon as they were discerned in the grey light advancing in close column, and before they had come within range, a ruffian, who was subsequently discovered to have been a Government spy, discharged his powder-loaded musket in the direction of the troops, who, as if it was a preconcerted signal jumped into a double-quick with Captain Wise at their head”

William Kelly’s assertion of a spy was contested, somewhat unsurprisingly. Clearly the intention of the agent was to confuse the miners into following suit, instigate a knowing or unknowing response from the soldiers and to act as a signal to proceed aimed at the military officers who were aware of the deception.

False Flag Events
The Gleiwitz Incicdent
Modern Renaissance
Nazi subterfuge
Ancient Rome and the pirate problem
Ancient Mediterranean Piracy
The Eureka Rebellion
Cilician Pirates
Far Green Fields, Ed. Bernard Share, Blackstaff Press, 1992

This article was posted by on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 20:37.
It is archived in Culture, History, Wild Places and tagged , , .

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