Beware the Black Flag

Buried in the archives of George Washington University are declassified documents presented to John F. Kennedy by the head of the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in March of 1962, sixty years ago this month.  The contents of these documents, codenamed Operation Northwoods, detail a proposal for the United States government to dress up agitators as Cubans and then commit a series of terror attacks in Miami and Washington, D.C. as a pretext to justify war with the Castro regime in Cuba.  Fortunately, President Kennedy rejected this proposal, and JCS chairman Lyman Lemnitzer was subsequently relieved of his post.  Unfortunately, General Lemnitzer would go on to head up NATO for the U.S. throughout the duration of the Vietnam War.

Casus belli is a Latin term that, literally translated, means a case for war.  Under the Just War Theory of St. Augustine, Christians subscribe to certain conditions that must be met to make a case for righteous warfare.  Just War Theory largely permits warfare in defense of oneself or the defenseless, and those who make war are keenly aware of this.  This is the reason why those who desire war must often shift public sentiment in their favor by enacting subversive schemes.  This practice of creating a political or military action with the intention of blaming an opponent is known as a false flag or black flag event. 

A recent black flag event that you may be aware of is the attack in Douma, Syria in 2018.  In the waning days of the Syrian Civil War, Bashar Assad inexplicably gassed his own people with chemical weapons in the city of Douma.  Within hours, anti-Assad forces were calling this an act of a maniacal dictator and demanding the removal of Assad from Damascus, the stated number-one priority should Hillary Clinton have been elected in 2016.  The characterization of the Douma attack in the Western press made little sense.  Assad is a physician by trade, so at least in that regard, he is not a stupid person.  By the time this chemical attack happened, Assad had largely won the war.  Gassing his own people only served to galvanize the international community against him and resultingly get bombed by the West.

The skepticism of the attack in Douma was largely shared by much of the international community.  An independent review by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found mixed results.  They identified the presence of some chlorinating agents that may have been used in a chemical attack but stopped short of confirming that it had happened or assigning fault in whether or not chemical weapons were utilized.  An investigation by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Seymour Hersh found that not only did Syria not use chemical weapons in Douma, but a Russian attack on ISIS forces was known by the West ahead of time, including shared flight paths and targets.  The most likely scenario was a secondary leak or incendiary event following the Russian bombing, which was consequently used to escalate actions against the Syrian government. 

In a recent U.S. Senate hearing regarding the state of Ukraine and the alleged presence of U.S.-funded biological weapons labs in the region, under-secretary of state Victoria Nuland confirmed to Sen. Marco Rubio the presence of biological research facilities in Ukraine.  She spoke of the urgency required for Ukraine to secure biological specimens within and keep them out of the hands of Russian invaders.  In the final line of questioning, Sen. Rubio primed the audience of this hearing by asking Mrs. Nuland, "If there is a biological or chemical attack in Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?"  To this, Mrs. Nuland responded, "There is no doubt in my mind, Senator, and it is classic Russian technique to blame on the other guy what they're planning to do themselves." 

Depending on which news source or government official you're citing, these U.S.-funded biological research facilities do or do not exist.  This is why it is troubling that an official like Mrs. Nuland, who famously aided the installation of the current regime in Ukraine following the color revolution of 2014, would partake in such a specific and bizarre line of questioning.  From a purely strategic and resource perspective, Ukraine will lose its current war with Russia.  The Ukrainians have no air force and no navy and are pleading daily with international forces to intervene on their behalf.  Just this week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky signaled his readiness to negotiate with the Kremlin.  As in the case of Douma, there would be little strategic purpose for Russia to take action that would justify the intervention of NATO or other international forces in the region. 

Perhaps at no point since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the world been more on edge regarding the potential for cataclysmic nuclear war.  The existence of Operation Northwoods is irrefutable proof that some in power think so little of human life and so highly of war that they would instigate warfare under false pretenses to garner the support and the will of the public into violence against people who've done nothing to them.

It is because of this that patience and reason are indispensable virtues.  In all things geopolitics, a reasonable response is cui bono, or who benefits?  Prudence demands that we view geopolitics first through a lens of skepticism prior to taking action.

Brian Parsons is a paleoconservative columnist in Idaho, a proud husband and father, and saved by Grace.  You can follow him at or find his weekly opinion column in the Idaho State Journal.  Gab, email.

Image via Unsplash.

If you experience technical problems, please write to