An engineered provocation is a situation wherein a provocateur entity (typically acting on behalf of a country) carefully goads a mark (typically acting on behalf of another country) into making an overt attack on the provocateur – or into taking action which the provocateur can claim is an attack – and thereby publicly justify more intensive hostilities against the mark. It is basically an inter-governmental frameup.
False flag attacks are often used for the same purpose as engineered provocation; when used for this purpose, a false flag attack is one extreme of the engineered provocation spectrum in that the mark does not actually have to do anything in order to be blamed for the attack.
At the other end of the spectrum would be situations where the provocateur deliberately sets up a tempting target and allows lives to be lost in the service of inflaming public opinion, but does not otherwise misinterpret the mark's actions or participate in the attack. Examples of this variety include:
- the attack on Pearl Harbor, which provided the public motivation for the United States to enter World War II
- the 9/11 attacks, which provided sufficient public motivation for the US invasion of Iraq and the disastrous occupation which followed
Warnings & Predictions
- 2008 "False Flag" alerts:
- 2008-04-26 MAYDAY ALERT! -- Terror Drills Could Go Live! by Dr. James H. Fetzer, Major William B. Fox, Captain Eric H. May, and SFC Donald Buswell
- 2008-02-25 False Flag Prospects, 2008 -- Top Three US Target Cities by Captain Eric H. May
- 2007-08-25 The Kennebunkport warning (predicted attack on ~2007-09-21): this doesn't seem to have happened. It may have been a complicated hoax designed to discredit genuine warnings in the future, or it may have been an overreaction to available data, or there may have been a genuine risk of an attack which luckily didn't happen for whatever reason.
While this sort of brute-force manipulation of public opinion may have been a necessary evil in the days of slow and expensive telecommunications, it should no longer be needed in an era when the case for war can be presented to the entire country in painstaking detail and a national consensus built by something more closely approaching rational debate.
I propose that acts of engineered provocation prior to the Internet age be regarded as a necessary evil in general – though particular circumstances may override this consideration – but that such acts after the advent of widespread blogging and political discussion be treated more like crimes against humanity.
The engineered provocation of 9/11, which itself was the inspiration for the creation of many significant political and ethical venues on the Internet, will need to be looked at as a special case – especially since many key issues of fact have not yet been resolved.