screenhunter_05_nov._07_03.05_150Facts vs. Beliefs – Today’s Ancient Warfare


In unconventional warfare, beliefs are deployed as weapons by those waging war by way of deception. Recall Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda? Iraqi biological weapons laboratories? Iraqi meetings in Prague with Al Qaeda? Iraqi purchases of yellowcake uranium from Niger?

All these claims were alleged true but later proven false or, worse, fabricated. Yet all were widely believed. In combination, those beliefs induced a consensus to wage war in Iraq in response to a mass murder on U.S. soil. The same deception traceable to the same source is now working to expand this war to Iran.

The battlefield has shifted. Ground warfare is secondary. Likewise airstrikes, naval support and covert operations. Physical operations are all downstream of information operations. False beliefs come first. Psyops precede missiles, and bombs. Hardware ranks a distant third. Foremost are the consensus shapers who manipulate perceptions until a critical mass of phony intelligence is reached. Then comes war.

Knowledge is the target. Manipulate thoughts and emotions and all else is downstream. Wars are won “upstream” — by those skilled at evoking consensus opinions. Where is modern-day warfare waged? Not on the ground; nor in the air or on the seas. The shared mindset is the theater of operations. The battlefield is the shared field of consciousness. Deceit is not new to warfare. What’s new is the technology that enables deceit on a global scale.

The military remains subordinate to politics. But politics are subordinate to those skilled at manipulating consensus beliefs. Decision-making is no better than the information on which decisions depend. Likewise for decision-makers. That’s why U.S. lawmakers have long been targeted as a force-multiplier by the Israel lobby. [See: “How the Israel Lobby Took Control of the Congress”]

With law-making dependent on information, these masterful mindset manipulators can operate atop the chain of command. In a system of law reliant on informed choice, self-governance can be replaced in plain sight by manipulated beliefs and consensus opinions. Thus the motivation for media dominance by these Masters of Deceit in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany and elsewhere.

When waged across four key areas, such “Information Operations” can displace democratic decision-making with a predetermined agenda. Here’s a quick look at each area: geopolitical, strategic, operational and tactical..

Duplicity in Plain Sight

The geopolitical realm is where the “framing” of future conflicts emerges. The Clash of Civilizations first appeared in 1993 as an article in Foreign Affairs. Three years later, when this thematic framing emerged as a book, more than 100 NGOs were prepared to promote its conflict-of-opposites theme. Thus the seamless transition from the Cold War to a perpetual Global War on Terrorism.

That new consensus emerged just as A Clean Break appeared with its proposal for “securing the realm” (Israel) by removing Saddam Hussein. Richard Perle, then a member of the Defense Policy Review Board, led the team that prepared that report for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2001, Perle became chairman of the board. That’s called working “upstream.”

Strategically, to evoke a new war requires a plausible Evil Doer and a credible provocation. The global branding of the Taliban emerged in the “field” in March 2001 with destruction of the ancient Buddhas at Bamiyan. Widely portrayed as a “cultural Holocaust,” that high-profile act put Afghanistan’s previously obscure Taliban on everyone’s list as certifiably evil. The missing piece in this storyline: the mass murder of September 11, 2001.

Strongly provoked emotions (as with 911) facilitate the displacement of facts with what “the mark” can be induced to believe. That displacement is enhanced in the presence of Evil Doer pre-staging and intelligence that is flawed, false or outright fixed. The combination of (a) evocation (religious extremism), (b) provocation (911) and (c) association (the Axis of Evil) enhanced the capacity to deceive. This multi-dimensional psyops was aided by false reports of Iraqi WMD and ties between the secular Saddam and the fundamentalists of Al Qaeda — even though anyone familiar with the region knew they despised each other.

When waging war on the public’s shared mindset, the power of association is one of the most effective weapons. Thus the potent imagery of the peaceful Buddhas at Bamiyan destroyed by violent extremists. Thus too the associative impact of Colin Powell’s February 2003 testimony at the U.N. Security Council when his credibility as a military leader was deployed—like a weapon—to give the appearance of truth to lies about Iraq’s possession of mobile biological weapon laboratories. Not only was Powell “the mark” – so were the U.N. and the U.S. and a global public, both the aggressors and the aggrieved.

Operationally, by the time the U.S. was induced to invade Iraq, 100-plus Israeli Mossad agents had been operating in Mosul for more than a decade. Soon after the invasion, several moderate clerics were murdered, enhancing the capacity to provoke a conflict-of-opposites between extremists among both Shiites and Sunnis, a key to evoking the destabilizing insurgency that turned a conflict into a quagmire.

As Information Operations proceed at the geopolitical, strategic and operational level, tactical deceit and misdirection provide support akin to a reserve army. Another provocation—the invasion of Gaza—was scheduled by Tel Aviv between Christmas and the inauguration of a new commander-in-chief elected on a platform of change. The timing of that assault ensured minimal capacity to criticize. Meanwhile this serial agent provocateur awaits the next reaction from those subjected to six decades of occupation so that Tel Aviv can again claim victim and, by deploying U.S. weaponry, again make us appear guilty by association.

As critics of Israeli policy emerged in universities, the Anti-Defamation League and its international network mounted a sophisticated intimidation campaign at the University of California, Santa Barbara. By promoting that campaign widely, the ADL silenced academics worldwide. [See:“Treason in Plain Sight?”]

To succeed, Information Operations require both deceit and denial of access to facts that the public requires for informed consent. How else can anyone explain the perception that Israel is a democracy and even an ally despite six decades of nonstop duplicity?

Democracy assumes that all of us collectively are smarter than any of us individually. Thus the need for an educated electorate. Thus too the need for an unbiased media to provide the facts with which to reason together. Thus, in turn, the need for media dominance by those skilled at waging war by way of deception. Thus what we now see routinely portrayed in that domain is a world turned inside out where the aggressor is portrayed as victim and the predator as prey.

With consensus beliefs the upstream target, democracy becomes the downstream casualty. With manipulated beliefs allowed to trump facts, the rule of law degenerates into a faith-based parody of self-governance. To protect the informed consent essential to liberty requires that those waging war on our shared mindset be made transparent so that those complicit become apparent.

This method of warfare is ancient; only the means are modern. This is what warfare looks like in the Information Age. Treason too. Why would anyone expect otherwise?

The common source of this treachery remains little unknown to the public. There lies the strategic role for online media unadorned by conspiracy theories that obscure the clarity required to wage this battle with confidence.

Jeff Gatesjeffgates_150Author, educator, attorney, merchant banker and adviser to policy-makers worldwide and Vietnam veteran.

Jeff was counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (1980-87) working for Democrat Russell Long, son of Louisiana Governor and U.S. Senator Huey P. Long. Specialist in employee benefits law—pensions, 401(k) plans, stock options, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), Tax-qualified employee benefit plans accounted for $17 trillion in assets (April 2007) and more than half the funds in the hands of institutional investors. As of 2007, ESOPs were in place in 11,500 firms nationwide, covering 10% of the U.S. workforce and holding $800 billion in assets.

Law practice w/ former Senators Russell Long, Democrat of Louisiana and Paul Laxalt, Republican of Nevada, chairman of Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns.

Counsel to Kelso & Company, Manhattan-based merchant bankers, completing $4 billion in transactions in 24-months, including the $3 billion leveraged buyout of American Standard, Inc., with employees and managers gaining a 33% stake in this multinational firm.

Author, Democracy at Risk – Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street  (April 2000).  Written as a sequel to The Ownership Solution –Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century (1998). Both books cited by presidential candidate Ralph Nader when branding U.S. Greens “the party of the new populism.” Guilt By Association – How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War (2008).

Draftsman, 1986 Presidential Task Force Report on Project Economic Justice: “U.S. Efforts to Encourage Employee Stock Ownership Plans in Central America and the Caribbean.” Author, World Bank Discussion Paper: Employee Stock Ownership Plans: Objectives, Design Options, International Experience; DEMOS Argument Series (U.K.): Revolutionizing Share Ownership – The Stakeowner Economy; Tomorrow’s Capitalism (Pacific Institute), et. al.

jeff-gates-guilt-by-associationAdvisory work with 35-plus governments, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the U.K. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung announced August 2000 that the Korean edition of The Ownership Solution was his vacation-reading pick.

Contributor to trade, professional and popular publications worldwide: Financial Times, Japan Times, Financial Executive, M&A Today, Boston Review, Latin Finance, East/West Business Report, Society, Human Resource Management, Los Angeles Times, National Journal, World Times, The Humanist, Peace Review, Business Ethics, America, Tikkun, Whole Earth, Perspectives, Journal of Society of Organizational Learning, Journal of Organizational Change Management,

University of Virginia (B.A. in Honors Economics); J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of Law.  Partner, Washington office of Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy. Faculty in the MBA program, Emory University.  Vietnam veteran (1LT, U.S. Army).  Native of Athens, Georgia.

He is also the author of the new book Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War.  His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century.

He resides in Tempe Arizona. [email protected]. Visit his web site,


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A Vietnam veteran, Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. He served for seven years as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He is widely published in the trade, popular and academic press. His latest book is Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War. His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. Topical commentaries appear on the Criminal State website.