James Corbett: how to engineer a crisis
Are you a dictator in need of public support for your latest draconian clampdown on dissent? Or a deep state plotter hoping to topple a foreign government who doesn’t comply with your every wish? A low-level Machiavellian schemer looking for the ultimate trick for defeating your enemies without lifting a finger? Then look no further than this handy-dandy guide to “How To Engineer A Crisis.”
This is The Corbett Report.
Last week on The Corbett Report we considered the possibility that the recent protests in Iran have been assisted by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, all of whom are actively plotting against the Iranian government. As I detailed in that report, the idea only sounds outlandish to those who are ignorant of the history of repeated interventions by foreign powers in the internal politics of Iran.
The joint British/American intelligence operation to overthrow Iranian President Mohammad Mosaddegh—codenamed “Operation TPAJAX” and led by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.—was a textbook example of how such operations proceed. It is not that the protest movement against Mosaddegh was created out of whole cloth; rather, it was the CIA’s job to take a nascent protest movement, a small minority of people within the country already angry at Mosaddegh, and then to fund, equip, enlarge and inflame that movement, greasing the skids to the eventual transfer of power with millions of dollars in cash and promises of further support.
Aaron Maté: And Roosevelt proceeds with a plan that involves rented crowds of people, right?
Malcolm Byrne: Right.
Maté: Can you explain that?
Byrne: Yeah, well, this is a big aspect of Iranian politics. Anybody who’s who’s been around the last, you know, thirty years or so will be familiar with with televised scenes of huge crowds in Iran, whether it’s when the Ayatollah Khomeini returns to the country after exile or things of that sort. And crowds are, you know, our key element going back decades in Iranian politics. Things are just generally unstable enough that if you get enough people out there you can you can really change things around. So that was always a key part of the plan was there were several aspects to it but one of the keys was to get these crowds out there any way you can and the and make it look like the Shah has everybody’s support and we hope we’ll carry the day.
In fact, from an intelligence point of view, the coup against Mosaddegh was a remarkable success beyond all expectations. The operation required only a handful of on-the-ground operatives, seven million dollars in bribe money for the rent-a-crowds, and the complicity of the bought-and-controlled corporate media at home. In fact, although the role of the CIA in helping to organize the protests that led to the overthrow of Mosaddegh has been known for decades, it wasn’t formally admitted by the Agency until 2013, 60 years after the fact. Just last year, the State Department released a slew of new documents describing in greater detail how Roosevelt and his agents used rent-a-crowds to boost the support for the Shah and give the impression of a popular uprising.
But that was then. This is now. How can an outside power intervene to stir up protests or incite violence in a targeted country in the modern day and age?
For an example, we need look no further than the Euromaidan protest in Ukraine in 2014. The Maidan protests, too, involved a mass uprising against a government targeted by the Western powers, and they turned deadly when snipers began firing into the crowds, killing both police and civilians. That both sides were targeted in the shootings makes no sense from a strategic perspective, unless the purpose of the shooting was actually to escalate the violence and drive the protests to their eventual conclusion: the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich. Nevertheless, mainstream media in the west immediately blamed the sniper fire on the Ukrainian police.
But from the beginning, the evidence contradicted this account. Shortly after the deadly sniper incident, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet discussed his own findings on the attack with an audibly shocked Catherine Ashton, foreign affairs chief of the European Union.
Urmas Paet: All the evidence shows that the people were killed by snipers from both sides – among policemen and people from the streets – that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.
Catherine Ashton: Oh that’s…yeah.
Paet: And then she also showed me some photos. She said that [she’s a] medical doctor, she can, you know, say that it is the same same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition that don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now a stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.
Ashton: I think we do want to investigate. I didn’t pick that up. Interesting. Gosh.
An extensive study of eyewitness reports, ballistic trajectories, radio intercepts, photos and videos of the attacks by Ivan Katchanovski of the University of Ottawa concluded that the sniper fire was in fact conducted by elements linked to the opposition.
But late last year, a Ukrainian courtroom became the stage for the most startling confirmation of this version of events.
News anchor: Three years ago, mercenary snipers from Georgia fired on protesters on Maidan Square. Today, their guilt has been proven in court in Kiev. The attorney of ex-president Yanukovych revealed the story of the people who got paid for mass murder. There is footage of the massacre among the evidence. The mercenaries even agreed to testify in court.
Alexander Goroshinsky: Their goal was to instigate a conflict between the protesters and law enforcement using firearms. Witness Koba Negadze was at the Ukrayina Hotel and saw snipers firing at both protesters as well as law enforcement officers.
The plan is as devilish as it is simple. Use indiscriminate murder and violence as a way to escalate a conflict and drive an agenda. In this case, the atrocity on the Maidan Square made negotiations between the protesters and the Yanukovych government impossible.
But Maidan Square was by no means the first time that this strategy had been employed to generate such a crisis. The Syrian government, like the government of President Yanukovych in Ukraine, found itself in the crosshairs of the Pentagon. In a program reminiscent of Operation Ajax, the Bush administration began funneling millions of dollars to opposition groups in Syria in 2006, and, just like in Iran in 1953, these funds eventually paid off in the form of a “spontaneous” protest movement in the city of Daraa in March 2011.
We are told that the Syrian “civil war” began on March 18, 2011, when Syrian security forces opened fire on “peaceful” anti-government protesters. Never mentioned in this mainstream narrative, however, is that one of those shot that day was, in fact, a policeman, and that in the ensuing days several more policemen were killed by rooftop snipers who were firing at protesters and police indiscriminately.
Not coincidentally, these events began to unfold just after the appointment of Robert Ford as US Ambassador to Syria. As Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization explains, Ford, having served time as the number two man to John Negroponte at the US embassy in Baghdad, was no stranger to the use of death squads and paramilitary troops as a means of generating a political crisis.
Michel Chossudovsky: If we go back to February or January of 2011, we have—in fact, I think it was [the] end of January—Robert Stephen Ford is appointed US Ambassador [to Syria]. I happened to be in Damascus at the time of his appointment. I spent two months in Syria in the two months preceding the outbreak of the insurrection. But Robert Stephen Ford is a very important figure in an understanding of what happened.
Robert Stephen Ford was the number two man in the US embassy under John Negroponte. And as we know, John Negroponte has a whole personal history of supporting and creating death squads, going back to the heyday of central America. He was based in Honduras. He sponsored the death squads in Honduras and Nicaragua. So we’re going back to another era. But he was brought to Iraq precisely to create those death squads and also to insert the death squads in the Iraqi police. Who was his number two man? Robert Stephen Ford. And Robert Stephen Ford, in fact, played a far more crucial role than Negroponte because he actually speaks Arabic and he speaks Turkish and he was also in contact with the various factions in Iraq. And then Robert Stephen Ford—actually after a stint in Algeria—turns up in Syria.
He’s a key State Department official. He played a key role in the process of recruitment of these death squads modeled on what had been applied previously in Iraq, and also modeled on what was called the “Salvador Option” in central America. So it really is the application of the Salvador Option to the Middle East. And if we look at the track record of the rebel forces in Syria, we can see that the same training process applied. These are killers, and they are there to kill civilians. They have a certain pattern of executing people who are Shi’ite or Alawite and then they also have procedures for executing what they call the “traitors” within the Sunni community. And then what was applied was the concept of ethnic cleansing in all the Christian communities in Syria.
So there was a very structured insurrection, which was essentially directed against the civilian population. And then what happened is that when these atrocities were committed, the western media casually accused the Syrian government of killing its own people. The accusations were absurd, but at the time people believed them. Subsequently, many reports came through which actually contradicted this interpretation, or falsification of the mainstream media, and then they started to say “Well, there are atrocities on both sides.”
But the fact of the matter is that these death squads were set loose in a sovereign country with a view to destabilizing civil society. Killing people was the basis for that destabilization. The destruction of buildings and residential complexes and so on was part of it.
That provocateured violence and carnage are handy tools in the hands of deep state operatives looking to destabilize foreign governments is, by this point, self-evident. But what if you are a totalitarian tyrant looking to quell domestic dissent? Never fear! Just because these tactics can be employed to overthrow governments abroad doesn’t mean they can’t be used for smaller scale operations at home.
In 2007, undercover Quebec provincial police infiltrated the peaceful protests at the Montebello Security and Prosperity Partnership Summit. The masked undercover officers were spotted with rocks in their hand approaching the police line, but when called out by one of the protesters, were then “arrested” by the police and taken away. Within days, the government was forced to admit that the men had indeed been undercover police officers.
Ian Hanomansing: It was stunning video posted on the internet for all to see, and it came with a charge: That police masqueraded as protesters at this week’s Montebello summit to incite violence. Tonight an equally stunning admission from Quebec’s provincial police. Susan Bonner reports.
Dave Coles: These three guys are cops everybody!
Susan Bonner: Busted! Three Quebec provincial police officers, identities masked, one carrying a huge rock. Nabbed for infiltrating a peaceful protest at Montebello. The tip off came from a union leader who noticed riot police standing by despite the obvious weapon. He accused the men of being undercover cops trying to provoke a riot, and then the protest. The men were removed, but never charged.
After two days of questions, the Sûreté du Québec issued a news release late today confirming yes, the men are police officers, but denying they were agents provocateurs, claiming they were sent in to identify and stop trouble.
And so when it came time for Toronto to host the G20 summit in 2010, Dan Dicks of Press For Truth confronted Toronto police spokesman George Tucker about the possibility that similar provocateur tactics would be used there. Tucker’s response was hardly reassuring.
Dan Dicks: In 2007 there was a summit that was held in Montebello, Quebec, where three Sûreté du Québec police officers were caught as agent provocateurs. They were dressed as aggressive protesters with rocks in their hands in an attempt to incite violence. George, as a representative of the Toronto Police can you assure us that the Toronto Police Force will not engage in any police agent provocateur activities at the G20 summit.
George Tucker: Other matters, security matters, I’m not at liberty to discussed those in an open format.
And, predictably, when the G20 rolled around, the police were up to their old tricks.
“Protesters” who had been outed as undercover cops were caught running behind police lines, protected by their fellow officers. Crowds of identically-clad “black bloc” protesters were allowed to rampage through the streets for hours on the first day of the protests so that a clampdown could begin the next day, resulting in the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. And in one incident that became the iconic image of the Toronto G20, police carefully parked and deliberately abandoned a police cruiser in the middle of the protests and then allowed the masked “protesters” to smash it to pieces and set it on fire, letting it burn for hours in full view of the cameras of the mainstream news networks.
Bryan Law: As you’re seeing behind me, the black spots on the pavement from where the police cars were burned yesterday by alleged anarchist groups down here on Queen Street West and Spadina. Now I was here filming the event as it took place when those police cars got left. I think an important note to make is that the police cars were driven in by police, which then, they got out of the police cars, surrounded them in a “C” formation with a number of riot cops, and then the riot cops backed off and left the police cars there. And I filmed it after the police cars were left, there was one on either side of the street. Both of the police cars were being destroyed incrementally by various protest groups, but they weren’t lit on fire for about six or seven hours. These cars were left here for six or seven hours on this street.
Now, the police have tow trucks. They have tow trucks that are paid for by our tax money with the billion dollars that they’ve been spending for security. Six or seven hours they were left here on the street, and then about 6:00 p.m. the cars were allegedly lit on fire by anarchist groups. They were also left to burn after they were lit on fire. They were left to burn for nearly an hour until the cars were nearly molten metal on the street. Now, the police had every opportunity to call a fire engine down to put these fires out, to cordon off the area to get these vehicles out of here, but they needed some sort of a reason to crack down on people all over the city. Now we’re seeing arrests all over the city. We’re seeing detainment. We’re seeing people going into people’s houses. And this is all caused by these alleged groups that lit a few police cars on fire.
They wanted to leave this happening as a photo opportunity to discredit legitimate protesters that were protesting the g20. There’s over 500 people now in the film studios down there that are being detained unlawfully, against our Constitution, against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and against the right to free speech and the freedom to stand up for what you believe in in this country.
In 2016 the Ontario courts finally granted the ability for the more than 1,000 peaceful protesters illegally detained during the summit to join a class action lawsuit against the Toronto police force, but that appeal was then dismissed by the Supreme Court at the urging of the police board. The top-ranking officer who ordered the illegal mass arrests, Supt. Mark Fenton, was found guilty of professional misconduct for his actions, but that only led to a reprimand and the loss of 30 days paid vacation.
In the end, the engineered crisis worked perfectly. The images of the flaming cop car played across the mainstream propaganda channels all weekend, “justifying” the kettling and mass arrests of over 1,000 peaceful protesters in the minds of an easily-duped public still enthralled by the narrative of the mainstream media networks. One officer received a slap on the wrist, and no one was ever charged, let alone prosecuted, for the use of undercover provocateurs who instigated the violence in the first place.
To be sure, this is by no means a strictly Canadian phenomenon.
At the 2009 G20 in London, a tiny group of masked individuals who the media identified as “protesters” stage managed a carefully contrived smashing of the windows of an HSBC branch for a gaggle of press photographers who in fact overwhelmingly outnumbered the so-called protesters. Not caught on their cameras was any sign of any of the police that were prevalent at all times and all areas throughout the G20 demonstrations.
And in 2008 the Denver Post reported that undercover Denver Police dressed as protesters had instigated a struggle with uniformed police that resulted in 106 people being arrested and an indiscriminate pepper spray attack against the assembled crowds.
Time and again, in country after country, engineered crises have been used to further the goals of deep state agents and would-be tyrants. Undercover forces are sent into situations to stir up crowds, instigate violence, raise tensions, and justify the next move on the chessboard, whether that be the toppling of the government or the delegitimization of peaceful protest. And time and time again, with controlled media organizations on hand to document the events in a biased and uncritical manner, these engineered crises have helped these operatives accomplish their mission.
So don’t worry. The next time you need to engineer a coup, whip up a violent movement, or clamp down on dissent, just know that you are only one engineered crisis away from achieving your goal. Unless, of course, the public wakes up to the trick…But since this guide to engineering crises is our little secret, that’s not going to happen any time soon. Is it?