Lily Pad Roll
Journeys to the Outposts of the Empire
By Gaither Stewart
Scheduled for publication by Punto Press, Fall 2012
By Paul Carline
Lily Pad Roll is the second part of Gaither Stewart’s Europe Trilogy. It was born, so to speak, out of the characters of the first novel, The Trojan Spy. According to its author, there was, to begin with, no intention of writing a trilogy. The Trojan Spy was completed and first published as a stand-alone ‘spy’ novel in 2010, but it seems that both the characters – and the evolving political background – presented cases of “unfinished business” for the author. Although the central character of The Trojan Spy – the Russian double-agent Anatoly Nikitin – was no longer around, having met a violent death on a mountain road in Italy, his ghost hovers over Lily Pad Roll, and his intimate connection with later events continues in the destinies of Elizaveta and Masha.
In his review of The Trojan Spy, Australian novelist Desmond O’Grady writes of Nikitin’s self-appointed mission “to uncover the deadliest of spy rings, the organizers of terrorism”. He observes that “the brutality and menace of terrorism has only increased since spies were supposed to have disappeared with the end of the Cold War, and that much of the world is hostage to a strategy of tension in which terrorism provides the pretext for creations like Homeland Security in the USA”.
Although the application of the “strategy of tension” to which O’Grady refers has become global, especially since 9/11, with major elements of it in operation in the so-called “Arab Spring” events, it originated in a specific European historical and political context which has direct connections to the issues raised in the Europe Trilogy. Wikipedia defines the “strategy of tension” as a method for “dividing, manipulating, and controlling public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions” – thus by definition a conspiracy by those who plan and execute it. NATO was formed in 1949. Its clearly conspiratorial mission, formulated the same year by its first Secretary-General, Lord Ismay, was to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”. In post-WWII “Cold War” Europe, the NATO powers used the largely manufactured “Red Menace” – the supposed threat of a Soviet takeover of the whole of Western Europe – to sway public opinion against Communism in general and radical left-wing/communist political parties and candidates in particular.
By the late 1960s, communist parties had gained some ground politically in Europe i.e. they were popular with the voters; nowhere more so than in Italy, where the “strategy of tension” was played out in its deadliest form. The Piazza Fontana bombing of December 1969 in Milan (16 dead, 90 injured) was followed by the 1974 bombing of the Italicus Express train (12 dead, 105 injured), the Piazza della Loggia bombing in Brescia the same year (8 dead, more than 90 injured), and the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing (85 dead, more than 200 injured). At the time, these and other attacks were blamed on “communists” (Baader Meinhof, the Red Brigades), but were in fact carried out by members of right-wing/fascist paramilitary groups, trained and armed by the CIA and British MI6 and working to NATO i.e. classic ‘false flag’ events which were also clearly conspiracies.
In 1984, questioned by judges about the Bologna bombing, far-right activist and member of both the neo-Fascist Avanguardia Nazionale and the Ordine Nuovo and the infamous P2 Masonic Lodge, Vincenzo Vinciguerra said: “With the massacre of Peteano [the murder of three policemen in 1972, for which Vinciguerra received a life sentence], and with all those that have followed, the knowledge should by now be clear that there existed a real live structure, occult and hidden, with the capacity of giving a strategic direction to the outrages…[it] lies within the state itself…There exists in Italy a secret force parallel to the armed forces, composed of civilians and military men, in an anti-Soviet capacity … A secret organisation, a super-organisation with a network of communications, arms and explosives, and men trained to use them…A super-organisation which, in the absence of a Soviet military invasion which might not happen, took up the task, on NATO’s behalf, of preventing a slip to the left in the political balance of the country. This they did, with the assistance of the official secret services and the political and military forces”. Referring to the Piazza Fontana bombing, Vinciguerra said: “The December 1969 explosion was supposed to be the detonator which would have convinced the political and military authorities to declare a state of emergency” – similar to the effect of the 1933 false-flag burning of the Reichstag in Berlin which allowed Hitler to pass the “Enabling Law”, whose modern parallel is the Patriot Act. Vinciguerra made it clear that the attacks were supported by the political and military establishments, not only in Italy: “The Carabinieri, the Minister of the Interior, the customs services and the military and civilian intelligence services accepted the ideological reasoning behind the attack[s]“.
After then Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti had formally admitted – in 1990 in the Italian Parliament – the existence of the “Gladio” armies, investigations were carried out in a number of European countries. In 2000, the Italian government published a 300-page report on the Gladio operations in Italy, documenting connections with the United States. It attributed responsibility for the “strategy of tension” to the US. Having examined why those who committed the bombings in Italy were rarely caught, the report concluded that “those massacres, those bombings, those military actions were organised or promoted or supported by men within Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered, by men linked to the structures of US Intelligence”.
The “stay behind armies” linked to the terrorist bombings and assassinations were subsequently found to have existed in no less than seventeen European countries, including even Switzerland. The most comprehensive examinations of the history of “Gladio” are contained, firstly, in the book “NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe” by Swiss historian Daniele Ganser, and secondly in the three-part documentary by American director Allan Frankovich broadcast by the BBC in 1992 and entitled: “Operation Gladio – The Hidden History of US Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in Europe”. The broadcasts stated: “This BBC series is about a far-right secret army, operated by the CIA and MI6 through NATO, which killed hundreds of innocent Europeans and attempted to blame the deaths on Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades and other left wing groups. Known as ‘stay-behinds’, these armies were given access to military equipment which was supposed to be used for sabotage after a Soviet invasion. Instead it was used in massacres across mainland Europe as part of a CIA Strategy of Tension. Gladio killing sprees in Belgium and Italy were carried out for the purpose of frightening the national political classes into adopting U.S. policies.” On a return to the USA in 1997, Frankovich suffered a possibly suspicious ‘heart attack’ at Houston Airport and died one week later. His “Gladio” film was never shown again by the BBC, but is available on YouTube. Frankovich also made the film “The Maltese Double Cross” which questioned the official story of the Lockerbie plane bombing (Pan Am flight 103).
In an interview given in 2005, Ganser said: “People often say to me: It is very interesting what you write about what happened in the 1970s, but I am living now. What is going on now? My usual answer to that is that “stay behind”/Gladio as such is not operative any more, but what obviously is still going on is secret warfare”. As an example, Ganser spoke of events in the Balkans which also figure strongly in Lily Pad Roll: “ … we had the Kosovo operation when, on March 24, 1999, the NATO bombing of Serbia started. I looked at what exactly the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] did in the weeks before, because William Walker, the U.S. representative to the OSCE, had been linked to covert operations in Latin America. The data I found showed that Walker had the Racak massacre in Kosovo manipulated in order to spread a “genocide” claim. [This] impressed German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, despite the fact that the data on the ground did not support this claim”. Ganser added: ““The rule with Gladio is that you cannot rule out anything, that’s exactly the point. After all, secret armies have existed for 40 years in all countries of Western Europe outside of any control of parliamentary democracy. If that’s possible, you can’t rule out anything.”
After the Andreotti revelations, the matter was debated in the European Parliament (on 22 November, 1990). The eight-part resolution with which the debate concluded called upon the governments of all the EU member states and the Council of Ministers to carry out in-depth investigations and provide “full information on the activities of these secret intelligence and operational services”. The resolution was forwarded to the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the Secretary-General of NATO, the governments of the member states, and the United States government.
Predictably, perhaps, nothing happened. As Ganser wrote later: “The dog barked loudly but it did not bite. Of the eight actions requested by the EU parliament, not one was carried out satisfactorily. Only Belgium, Italy and Switzerland investigated their secret armies with a parliamentary commission, producing a lengthy and detailed public report”. Meanwhile, the campaigns for independent inquiries into the major ‘terrorist’ incidents in New York, Madrid, London, Bali and elsewhere continue. In none of those cases – or of the many ‘minor’ ones, like that of the “Christmas/Underwear Bomber” – has the truth been told.
In the course of researching for this preface I came across the work of another author and journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, who, despite his various addictions, had the great virtue of a passionate commitment to getting below the surface of things to reveal the truth, however dirty it might be. One quote of his leaped off the page: “Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist. You have to get knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you’re writing about before you alter it”. Gaither Stewart has an unusually wide (and long) life experience on which to draw. He has been to most of the places he uses as settings for his stories (and the few exceptions have been minutely ‘walked through’ with the aid of maps). Indeed, his sense of place is legendary – one reviewer suggesting that the places could be seen as extra characters. He is also clearly very familiar with the inner landscape of the mind and soul, with its dark and light places, its abysses and its high peaks.
I referred above to the “evolving political background”. Perhaps I should have said: “geo-political and military background”. Lily Pad Roll takes us into the world of the inexorable spread of American and NATO bases around the world, and in particular in those countries which form a kind of crescent surrounding Russia on its south-western, southern and south-eastern borders. The exact number of such bases is unknown (except presumably to the Pentagon and the White House), estimates varying from around 740 to over 1000, with new bases continually being created or older ones extended – such as those on the Yemeni island of Socotra and the Omani island of Masirah, both situated strategically at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz, within easy striking distance of Iran. The base on Masirah is (with a sense of irony perhaps) called Camp Justice.
Then there’s Camp Bondsteel, in Kosovo, one of the largest, of which the character Ilya in Lily Pad Roll says: “Our Kosovo, the cradle of my country, is one great NATO base. Camp Bondsteel. ‘Beautiful CBS’, they call it. And I do not mean the TV network. That is what is happening. It is like going abroad … if you can even get in there. The Kosovar workers on the base are the new Negroes at one dollar an hour. On the base Americans even have separate toilets. And Burger Kings and movie theaters. The base even runs its own Marathon. The Kosovo Marathon! Camp Bondsteel has a downtown, a midtown and an uptown, dance halls and bars and baseball fields, University of Maryland and Central Texas College courses, while Thai girls give massages, allegedly controlled by military authorities. I wonder. And gigantic helicopters that can fly to Tehran … with a few stopovers in the string of American outposts and bases along the way. But also nearly to Russia. The whole base is surrounded by a 2.5-meter high earthen wall, seven miles in perimeter. The largest base in the Balkans.”
According to Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Secretary of the World Peace Council (WPC): “The establishment of U.S. military bases should not of course be seen simply in terms of direct military ends. They are always used to promote the economic and political objectives of U.S. capitalism.” Imperialism, in whatever form, always needs force or the threat of force to sustain itself. If this can be done under the guise of bringing “freedom and democracy” to ‘oppressed’ peoples, then it becomes much easier to sell the scam to gullible people, especially when the mainstream media, through which they acquire most of their news and which is part of the same rapacious global corporatocracy, feeds them continuous disinformation and outright lies.
Writing in June 2011, another journalist, Chris Hedges, lamented the death of traditional (especially investigative) journalism: “The steady decline of the news business means we are plunging larger and larger parts of our society into dark holes and opening up greater opportunities for unchecked corruption, disinformation and the abuse of power. A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth, when civic discourse is grounded in verifiable fact.”
The novel has long been a medium to which concerned or angry writers could turn to bring their concerns and anger – about social injustice, political corruption or an assault on human values – to a wider audience in a form which allowed the potentially dry polemics of the argument to be given life through the characters and a hopefully engaging plot. Hunter S. Thompson did it; so did George Orwell, another journalist-author, whose 1984 became the classic representation of a totalitarian society, including the original “Big Brother”. By 1989 it had been translated into 65 languages. Orwell was well aware of the ‘false flag’ device. The girl Julia, with whom his hero (or anti-hero?) Winston has an illicit sexual relationship, surprises him one day by speculating that “the rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the government of Oceania itself, ‘just to keep the people frightened’.” Working as he did for the BBC, Orwell was probably aware of the revelation made by one of the Germans interrogated at Nuremberg. Bernard Naujocks that the incidents which Hitler used to declare war on Poland – especially the faked attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on the Polish border – were ‘false flag’ attacks. He may also have been familiar with Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ statement: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”; or with the declaration made at Nuremberg by Hitler’s deputy Hermann Goering: “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
As Orwell and others have shown, fiction can be an effective way of bringing suppressed truths to a wider public – bringing some light to the “dark holes” referred to by Hedges. Orwell himself acknowledged the polemical purpose of his later work, stating that all the “serious work” he had written since the Spanish Civil War in 1936 had been written “directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism”. Stewart’s trilogy is in august company. Perhaps it may help to inspire a new generation of journalist-novelists committed to filling the gap created by the death of mainstream journalism. Perhaps honest novels – at any rate if they are as well-written as those in Stewart’s trilogy – can add a clearer and more appealing message to the often confusing and shrill voice of the Internet. As Oscar Wilde playfully observed: “Anyone who tells the truth is bound to be found out sooner or later”. It is certainly true that human society stands in great need of the truth, perhaps more than at any time in the past.
Other contemporary novelists, such as le Carré and Ludlum, have skirted around the issues. So far, only Stewart has had the courage to nail the lies directly. The encirclement of Russia (and, to an extent, also the other great nations of India and China, seen by America as threats to its global hegemony) and the surreptitious expansion of American military and economic power worldwide in defence of an obviously corrupt and failing global capitalism – including through its multitude of ‘Lily Pad’ bases – is the major, as yet insufficiently told, story of our time. The three stories of Gaither Stewart’s Europe Trilogy should be read widely. They would also make wonderful films.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Studied modern languages (German, Russian) at Manchester University.
Jobs/occupations almost too numerous to mention: civil servant, teacher, special needs community worker, businessman (founder of Wind Things, the first dedicated kite and circus skills shop in Scotland), musician, translator, editor and writer.
Member of IRI Europe (Initiative & Referendum Institute) since the beginning. Mainly responsible for translating/editing/proof-reading all IRI Europe’s print and online publications.
Other interests and activities: not party-political, but passionate about global justice and human rights; committed to exposing fake democracy and fake terrorism (the state-sponsored variety) – have been active in the “truth movement”, seeking the truth behind the official myths about the ‘terrorist’ acts in New York, Bali, London, Madrid etc. which have been used to justify gross contraventions of international law and human rights and have cost the lives of millions.