The Future of European Cultural Stability
By Boris Beauregard
The future of European stability will bring on new ways of omni-directional peace missions defending elite interests through psychological operations based on a security culture of privatization, internalization and economization. To meet these challenges in transforming European peace operations and to face the new strategic options and risk potentials of a globalized world we have to learn from the grand maneuvers of the past.
In March 1961 JF Kennedy stated to US congress “The free world’s security can be endangered not only by nuclear attack, but by being nibbled away at the periphery… by forces of subversion, infiltration intimidation, indirect non-overt aggression, internal revolution, diplomatic blackmail, guerilla warfare or a series of limited wars”. While the game-theoretical drama of nuclear MAD (mutually assured destruction) was at the forefront, it was the hidden wars that truly signified the cold war era: the invisible battle zones on both sides of the iron curtain. By the end of the Second World War secret stay-behind armies are formed on the experiences and strategies of special operations units and the Western Union Clandestine Committee (WUCC) were created to coordinate secret unorthodox warfare. After the founding of NATO it is integrated into the military alliance under the name ‘Clandestine Planning Committee’ (CPC). By 1958 the NATO sets up the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) to coordinate undisclosed warfare, later hidden within the Belgian military secret service SGR with its headquarters next to NATO under the code name SDRA11. Underground armies and black programs worked under code-names like SDRA8 in Belgium, Absalon in Denmark, TD BDJ in Germany, LOK in Greece, Gladio in Italy, I&O in the Netherlands, ROC in Norway, Aginter in Portugal, P26 in Switzerland, Counter-Guerrilla in Turkey, and OWSGV in Austria, jointly laying the foundations of a tradition of black sites and outsourcing operations beyond national borders.
What was at first sold as a fall back option, when a country is overrun by enemy forces, soon developed into invisible armies of internal subversion against democratic forces and egalitarian politics. Strategies of tension and a top-level campaign of political destabilization to stabilize power structures were financed from highly discrete state agencies, private sources and multinational firms. Based on hidden structures, training camps were set up to instruct mercenaries in covert action techniques including hands-on bomb campaigns, silent assassination, subversion and black propaganda techniques, clandestine communication, infiltration and colonial warfare. With the various elites of big business, landowners, church and geopolitical interests on one side and the have nots on the other, the battle lines were clearly drawn. Despite its undisputed successes over several decades the concept of clandestine stability operations needs to be adapted to a 21 Century setting of globalized information environments. Even with top secrecy, highest order “need to know” compartmentalization and the frequent physical neutralization of investigative journalists, judges or others, a large percentage of missions did not remain covert. Even without direct links to a state authority or military command structure, the beans were bound to spill. Where traditional approaches come in conflict with the principle of plausible deniability, privatization provides added layers of operational security and the private sector emerges as the future of invisible warfare and 21 century stability.
The historical achievements of the traditional secret forces in the European past were nonetheless impressive. Large leftist demonstrations against British interference in the post-war government in Athens are broken up by LOK, a secret stay-behind army in Greece, with many dead or wounded. Similarly secret operatives in Turkey and other European countries used their skills to attack domestic opponents and spark violent disorder. Some operations are intended to bring about right-wing military rule. The clandestine Hellenic Raiding Force successfully take control over the Greek Defence Ministry in 1967 and install a dictatorship, deep undercover armies supported the Turkish military to stage a coup d’état in 1960 and execute the Prime Minister. In 1971, the military takes power again and the stay-behind army Counter-Guerrilla engages in domestic terror eliminating hundreds. They open fire on a demonstration of 500,000 in Istanbul with 38 dead and countless wounded in1977, three years later the Counter-Guerrilla commander General Kenan Evren seizes power in a coup. In the following years the Counter-Guerrilla tortures and neutralizes thousands of Kurds, with the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) claiming more than 3,500 violent transgressions covered up only with partial success.
Italy’s secret army code-named Gladio drives a silent coup d’etat in 1964 and forces a group of Socialist Ministers to leave the government. In a trial thirty years later the Piazza Fontana incident 1969 in Milan with 16 casualties was exposed by General Giandelio Maletti, former head of Italian counterintelligence, as a Gladio operation to discredit the Italian left. A bomb killing three Carabinieri in 1972, again blamed on the left, is traced back to fascist guerilla which leads to exposure of Gladio. Former Prime Minister and DCI leader Aldo Moro, in 1978 about to form a coalition government that includes the Italian Communist Party, is taken hostage in Rome by a secret unit and executed after 55 days. Investigators trace a bomb exploding at the Bologna railway station in 1980 with 85 dead to these paramilitary networks and the P2 lodge. Official figures in a Gladio investigation in the period between January 1969 and December 1987, claim nearly 1500 acts of political violence in Italy’s most recent history with hundreds dead and many more injured. Documents on Gladio discovered by Judge Felice Casson in the military secret service archives in Rome in 1990 force Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to confirm the secret army’s existence. After Andreotti’s testimony, deep undercover armies are discovered all over Europe. On November 5th 1990, NATO categorically denies allegations concerning involvement in Operation Gladio and secret unorthodox warfare in Europe. On the next day NATO had to explain that the denial of the previous day had been false while refusing to answer any further questions in regard to the existence of an underground parallel intelligence and armed operations organization outside the law and without democratic controls. Later in the month the invisible army was also discussed by the European Union parliament. Various judicial inquiries evidenced serious cases of terrorism and crime. Lamenting the fact that such networks have been set up to interfere in the internal political affairs of Member States, Greek parliamentarian Ephremidis addressed the EU: “It has operated clandestinely, and we are entitled to attribute to it all the destabilization, all the provocation and all the terrorism that have occurred in our countries over these four decades.” With independent arsenals and military resources at their disposal the various “GLADIO” organizations have an indefinite strike potential on countries in which they operate and an EU parliament resolution sharply condemns the manipulation of European politics with the covert armies. When the Senate commission researching Gladio and the assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro files a FOIA request with the CIA in 1995 it replies: “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request.” But the secret army had already been exposed by former agent Philip Agee in his 1987 book “Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe”, where he revealed that paramilitary groups linked to internal subversion operate throughout Europe.
As in Italy, the Belgian left was discredited by well-planned false flag operations carried out by Special Forces together with secret armies targeting, classical capitalist symbols with explosives. Fighting a psychological battle to keep motivation burning even at times of cold war peaceful coexistence, operators had to be kept alert with the help of imaginary dangers of a revolution circulating in the field. The alleged Communist terror group CCC (Cellules Communistes Combattantes) responsible for 27 attacks between October 1984 and fall 1985 had been set up by the network to create the impression that laid back Belgium was on the brink of a revolution. The secret army attacks and shoots shoppers randomly in the Brabant County in 1985 with 28 dead and many wounded. Investigations soon link it to the stay-behind SDRA8, the Belgian Gendarmerie SDRA6, the right-wing group WNP and the DIA. When the criminal police in the city of Frankfurt in Hessen unearth a German secret army BDJ-TD in 1952 the arrested Nazis are found not guilty. Massive connected arsenals of 33 underground arms caches discovered 1981 in the Luneburger Heide contained large amounts of state of the art combat equipment. Next to automatic weapons, massive chemical combat equipment, large amounts of munitions and artillery guns, tons of explosives and explosive devices as well as truck loads of hand grenades. An arsenal used in the previous year to carry out an attack on the Munich Oktoberfest with a dozen casualties and wounding hundreds. In Austria a first secret stay-behind by right-wing extremists is exposed in 1947 but pardoned by Chancellor Koerner. Another secret army codenamed Oesterreichischer Wander-Sport-und Geselligkeitsverein (OWSGV) was set up by MI6, CIA with locals like Franz Olah involved. With a couple of thousand people employed, and only a few in the know, he later confirmed that units were trained in weapons and plastic explosives to fight against leftists in the country. Police discover hidden stockpiles of arms in an old mine near Windisch-Bleiberg in 1965 and force British authorities to hand over lists of other locations. After more top secret arms caches had been brought to light in early 1996, the Austrian Interior Ministry investigation under Michael Sika declared in its final report in November 28 of the following year “that there can be no absolute certainty about the arms caches and their intended use”. Commission member Oliver Rathkolb of Vienna University placed a FOIA request to gain access to the relevant documents, but the CIA declined under exemptions Bl and B3.
Fake insurgencies and assaults to trigger counter-insurgency methods or maneuvers to influence public opinion continue to be highly successful until this day. Some of the greatest success stories cannot be told without having to kill the audience. But despite the obvious operational success a majority of covert interventions have also created messy spillover effects and bad publicity. Judicial and investigative researchers are on the trail of these activities and make connections to recent European events. Even if theses covert operations continue to mystify audiences in the European theater this is clearly a drawback and the basic approach of such state sponsored stability operations must be considered compromised. Clearly the privatized business driven peacekeeping operations are at a double advantage both in discretion and limited liability as well as efficiency and profitability. Since contemporary economies do not produce products but foremost desires which can then be set on a course to be fed with products, outsourced angst creation is a extraordinary efficient business model. Desire for security becomes a potentially endless market because there cannot ever be such a thing as complete security. Structural discipline reduces the need of prisons in the transformation of the welfare state to the security economy but in environments of constantly high threat levels service contracts for black operations need to go beyond simple procedures to terrorize populations. Looking back at the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) or the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) we witness the triumphant deployment of socio-cultural operations in the early cold war theater. Even though modeled on a traditional top down command and control structure they provided a successful blueprint for cultural asteroids of cellular structured information dominance. Their congenial manipulation of the cultural field provides a clear example of the pervasive power of soft weapons of mass protection in the cognitive arena. With violence as a backup only, new models of less-lethal containment and pacification techniques, provide rich business opportunities in sustainable security economies. An investment in truth projection, media consolidation and enduring peacekeeping is not cheap but it grounds its risk management options firmly into economic success. Strategic communications are an investment into reality.