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Indiana University Bloomington

Themester 2011 Home

Themester Home

War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.
— General William Tecumseh Sherman

Fall 2011   Making War, Making Peace

Lecture and Colloquium Series:

Extreme Politics: Provoking the Body Politic to War?

When & Where: see schedule below

Departmental Sponsor: College of Arts and Sciences, American Studies Program


Propaganda is a powerful tool of government and has been used throughout history to mobilize support for political actions, including war. False-flag operations are covert activities conducted at the behest of government officials, involving the manipulation of events in order to create the false impression of being under attack by hostile forces.  False-flag events can be construed by means of propaganda to provide warrant for a desired political and/or military policy. Such extralegal exercises of state powers have been used as false pretexts for war. Operation Northwoods, the Mukden Incident and Operation Gladio are well-documented examples of false-flag operations proposed and/or carried out within the United States or other countries. As another example, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which led to open warfare between the United States and North Vietnam, is a suspected case of false-flag type activity.

With a series of public colloquia featuring invited scholars, associated readings, and opportunity for Q&A, we propose to examine the phenomenon of false-flag attacks as pretexts for war. Our focus on false-flag events leads us to several bigger picture issues, and we will examine post WWII American militarism and geostrategy and their connection to "deep events" in American politics, that is, events occurring below the radar of public consciousness. 

Despite clear evidence for false-flag activities in world and U.S. history, those who consider false flags are often labeled as "conspiracy theorists."  The blanket application of that label can have a chilling effect on investigation and discourse. We will therefore spend time addressing "conspiracy theory" and the broader framework of "state crimes against democracy" (SCADs), including the historical context, relationship to national security, evaluation, and investigation of conspiracy theory and SCADs. We will take a retrospective look, using historical case studies, at getting Americans in and out of wars. We will also explore the official narrative of the events of 9/11 and consider some of the disparities between the official narrative and the physical evidence of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.


Schedule (subject to change)

Thursday, September 15
7:15-8:45 pm
Jordan Hall 124

American War Machine: Deep Politics and the Road to Extended Wars. Peter Dale Scott (Retired Canadian Diplomat and Professor of English, UC Berkeley)

Monday, October 3
7:15-8:45 p.m.
Jordan Hall 124

Postwar Geopolitical Order, 9/11 Geostrategy, & Political & Social ConsequencesNafeez Ahmed (Exec. Director, Institute for Policy Research & Development, London)

Wednesday, October 12
2:00-3:15 p.m.
Neal Marshall Bridgewaters Lounge

DISCUSSION: Conspiracy Theories. Lance deHaven-Smith (Florida State University), Nick Cullather (Indiana University) and the students of HIST-J 301

Thursday, October 13
7:15-8:45 p.m.
Jordan Hall 124

State Crimes Against Democracy: Moving Beyond “Conspiracy Theory.”
 Lance deHaven-Smith (Reubin O'D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, Florida State University)

Thursday, October 20
7:15-8:45 p.m.
Fine Arts 015

The Terrorist Attacks of September 11 2001. What Do We Know Ten Years Later? A Historical Investigation. Daniele Ganser (Historian and Peace Researcher, Basel University)

Note: This is a pre-taped video presentation.

Monday, October 24
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Myers Hall 209

A Conversation with Daniele Ganser. (Historian and Peace Researcher, Basel University)

Thursday, Nov 10
Jordan Hall 124

Getting Americans in and out of Wars: some Historical Examples and Reflections. Andy Rotter (Colgate University)

Wednesday, November 16
7:15-9:15 p.m.
Morrison Hall 007

The Collapse of the Seventh Tower: A Physical & Chemical Analysis. Niels H. Harrit (Center for Molecular Movies, Copenhagen University)