How To Start A War: Eight Cases of Strategic Provocation

JD Maddox


A leader intent on starting a war must develop a compelling narrative for their domestic constituency and the international community.  For some, strategic provocation – defined here as the use of deceptive tactics to instigate violence against one's own state – has been a reliable means of initiating war under the guise of self-defense. Eight cases of strategic provocation reveal a basic pattern of its use, and some possibly unwelcome truths about state leaders' methods.  As international institutions increasingly scrutinize states' interventionist agendas, the use of deceptive narratives is likely to continue. Despite known indicators of strategic provocation operations, warning of such operations has not typically prevented warfare.


media; narrative; strategic narrative, propaganda; messaging; war; provocation; strategic communication; media;

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