NATO's secret armies
July 10, 2005 11:30 PM   Subscribe

The Puzzling Story of NATO's Secret Armies During the Cold War: Just What Were They Up to? Secret stay-behind armies served a dual purpose during the Cold War: They were to prepare for a communist Soviet invasion and occupation of Western Europe, and – also in the absence of an invasion – for an “emergency situation.” Further detailed in the book Nato's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe by Daniele Ganser.
posted by stbalbach (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Good, ol', irrelevant NATO.
posted by blacklite at 11:42 PM on July 10, 2005


There is nothing irrelevant about NATO. In a world where peacekeeping is less and less in the form of the classic interpositional form developed by Lester Pearson and more often of a robust Chapter VII variety, organizations with real discipline and a solid command structure are likely to become more, rather than less, crucial and valuable.

Aside from the nature of the NATO command structure, the mere promise of being able to join the NATO bloc has been a significant motivating factor for states in Eastern Europe and beyond.
posted by sindark at 12:22 AM on July 11, 2005

The peace keeping stuff is fine,the operations against domestic targets, blackflag operations terrorist bombings
political assasinations ect ect
posted by hortense at 12:45 AM on July 11, 2005

More country-specific stuff by the author here: Terrorism in Western Europe (pdf).
posted by Ljubljana at 1:22 AM on July 11, 2005

Considering that post-WWII Europe was coming off three hundred years of pretty much nonstop bloody warfare and mutual extermination, I imagine that NATO saw the other big part of their mission (in addition to keeping the Soviet tanks on their side of the Iron Curtain) as being to prevent any of those bloodthirsty Europeans--left, right or center--from starting up at one another again.

If Europe now possesses a "culture of peace" which makes internal wars unthinkable, they have 60 years of NATO (mainly American at that) occupation to thank for providing a breathing space from internecine war in which that culture could develop.

Not that it has entirely developed, viz. Kosovo. Any number of Europeans have strong doubts about this "culture of peace" anyway. Evidence for that is the number of leaders promoting the European Union as the only available way to prevent Europe's old, mad, murderous impulses from arising again. One example among many: Sweden's European Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, speaking at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Poland. "There are those who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things. I say those people should come to Terezin and see where that old road leads."

With NATO becoming more and more of a relic, as blacklite says, I imagine Wallstrom and others in that camp may just have the right idea.
posted by jfuller at 4:04 AM on July 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

Apparently there's still some relics of that in action:
Italy Nabs 2 in 'Parallel' Police Scheme
and from a less reputable source, for the more conspiracy-minded (actually, aside from the political bias and speculation, the facts about the scandal and investigation are correctly reported): A major spy scandal is brewing in Italy
posted by funambulist at 4:59 AM on July 11, 2005

From the first link: The evidence now available suggests that in some countries the secret stay-behind armies linked up with right-wing terrorists and carried out terror attacks that were later wrongly blamed on the political left in order to discredit the communists and prevent them from assuming top executive positions.

To be believed, inflammatory statements like this need a little more citation than "the evidence now available." What evidence?
posted by caddis at 5:47 AM on July 11, 2005

Once the CIA kidnapping scandal broke in Italy, it seemed inevitable that the P-2 and Gladio scandals would have to surface again. Typically, scandals are accompanied by power struggles among decision-making elites. The fact that Gladio is also being talked about in the context of speculation about the London bombings is probably due to the conspiratorialists' habit of randomly linking similar incidents (in this case the Bologna bombing and the recent London attacks) by way of analogy.

caddis should look into the history of false flag operations (which do happen). Gladio and the Bologna bombing was such an incident. The anthrax attacks were almost certainly a false flag operation, as there is virtual certainty that the anthrax letters were not written by a muslim.

There's been a lot of serious policy flapdoodle linked to "bad intelligence" these last few years. Not all of it is ascribable to stupidity, incompetence and politicization of fact-finding.
posted by warbaby at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2005

What was that about "conspiratorialism" again?
posted by davy at 8:31 AM on July 11, 2005

caddis;power corrupts ,secret power corrupts secretly. for example: presently a secret unit of the California National Guard is under scrutiny for spying on citizens connected to the anti war movement .A commanding officer has destroyed key documents. The governor I believe is the commander in chief,
Evidence in cases like this is always thin,because of the secrecy. To me this is evidence of a secret agenda.
posted by hortense at 11:12 AM on July 11, 2005

What evidence?

Apparently, he wrote a book (see second link).
posted by stbalbach at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2005

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