Vail Daily letter: Beware of false flags
Vail, CO, Colorado
With increasing military tensions in Korea, the Persian Gulf and other locations in our world, we have to be aware and alert for false flag incidents, which in various forms have been used as pretexts for going to war.
The term has its origins in naval warfare when a ship would fly a friendly flag while approaching an enemy’s ship, then fire on them. Pirates have used this ruse frequently. False flag operations are designed to deceive or disguise operations as though they are being carried out by and blamed on the other side.
An early example in our history was the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1898, which killed 261 of the ship’s crew. Cuba at that time was still under Spanish rule and the population in rebellion, with U.S. newspapers carrying graphic articles of Spanish atrocities against the Cuban people.
The Maine had been sent to Havana to protect American citizens and interests there, and the explosion was blamed on Spanish treachery. In what had been called “a splendid little war,” we quickly defeated Spain. Despite the statement by Congress in our declaration of war that America was not out to gain colonies, we did take the former Spanish possessions of the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rice. The latter two are still U.S. possessions.
Many years later, in 1974, an investigation into the sinking of the Maine led by Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded that the most likely cause of the explosion was spontaneous combustion, which started a fire in a coal bunker that adjoined a powder magazine. Coal was used for fuel in these days, and fires caused by spontaneous combustion were a fairly common occurrence.
Japanese agents blew up a section of railroad in Manchuria, known as the “Mukden Incident,” as a pretext for invading that country in 1931. In 1937, Japanese agents crossed into China and fired on their own troops on the other side of the border in the “Marco Polo Bridge Incident,” with the Japanese firing back at Chinese troops. The situation escalated, and Japan used this to justify their invasion of China.
Hitler and the Nazis used the Reichstag fire, the equivalent of our Capitol building burning, which was started by Hitler’s SS but blamed on the communists as a pretext for enacting the Reichstag Fire Decree. Using articles already in the German constitution, this decree suspended most civil liberties and was used by the Nazis to suppress free speech and arrest thousands of German communists as enemies of the state.
On the night of Aug. 31, 1939, the SS staged the “Gleiwitz Incident,” in which a small group of German operatives dressed in Polish uniforms attacked a radio station inside Germany and broadcast anti-German propaganda. To make the attack appear real, a political prisoner was brought along, dressed in a Polish uniform, and shot by the SS. The next day Hitler declared war on Poland.
America was plunged into the war on Dec. 7, 1941, that “date that will live in infamy,” when the Japanese attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Japan’s war with China had heightened tensions in the Pacific, and the Japanese leaders saw the U.S. Pacific Fleet as the greatest threat to their dreams of empire.
As long as the fleet remained at its chief base at San Diego, it was safe from attack, but in the spring of 1941, President Roosevelt ordered the Pacific Fleet to relocate to Pearl Harbor, much to the objections of its commander, Admiral Richardson.
Richardson knew that Pacific Fleet maneuvers around Hawaii in the years prior to the war showed that Pearl Harbor was vulnerable to air attack, a fact not forgotten by Japanese naval attaches observing the maneuvers. Richardson was relieved of his command and the Pacific Fleet was now a target of opportunity for the Japanese, who had the strongest naval air power at the time.
An oil embargo placed on Japan in November 1941 finally forced Japan’s hand. Since they imported almost all their oil from the United States, Japan would have to seize their own sources of oil, and to do this they would first have to destroy the Pacific Fleet.
Certainly our leaders knew we needed to help defeat the Nazis and were aware that war was coming with Japan, with the real possibility that Pearl Harbor would be attacked.
But a Gallup poll in 1940 showed that 83 percent of Americans were against the U.S. getting involved in the war, so an attack by Japan was not only expected, but even hoped for. In anticipation of war, Gen. George Marshall, the chief of staff of the Army, sent a war warning to all Pacific commands on Nov. 27, 10 days before the attack, that stated “Hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot be avoided, the U.S. desires that Japan commit the first overt act.” They did, and Americans mobilized to win the war.
The events in Korea today were foreshadowed by the Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, when Communist North Korea attacked the democratic South Korea. What prompted this attack was a foreign policy speech given by Secretary of State Dean Acheson on Jan. 12, 1950, in which he defined our country’s spheres of interest in the Far East, but failed to mention South Korea.
Communist leader Kim Il-sung was encouraged by this speech and conspired with Soviet leader Josef Stalin. U.S. occupation troops had withdrawn from the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, leaving a military advisory group training the South Korean army, and we had strong support for the government of American-educated Syngman Rhee, so it seems strange that we would not have included it in our sphere of interest in Asia.
The Korean War was likely designed as a test of the United Nations, which mobilized forces to defeat the invaders.
One who likely had foreknowledge was James Forrestal, our first secretary of defense, who reportedly told close associates that “our boys will soon be dying in Korea.” Forrestal died under mysterious circumstances on May 22, 1949, after he fell from a 16th floor window at the Bethesda Naval Hospital with the sash to his bathrobe tied to his neck. Did Forrestal tell the wrong close associate?
Operation Northwoods was a plan by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon to get us into a war with Cuba that was given to President Kennedy in 1962, which suggested numerous “false flag” operations that could be blamed on Castro’s regime. These included another “Remember the Maine” scenario, blowing up a U.S. Navy ship in Guantanamo Bay or off the coast, as well as shooting down an airliner and committing terrorist attacks against the Guantanamo base or in the U.S.
Obviously they were willing to kill Americans to start a war, but President Kennedy would not, and rejected the plan, probably as it involved treason. The Operation Northwoods documents were not released until 1997 and are a chilling lesson on how some of our military leaders think, and that they are willing to kill Americans to start a war.
These are just a few false flag incidents that have occurred in the last century and a lesson in history we all need to be aware of.
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