To understand the world, you must understand War...
You must also understand the properties of Language...but that's for other posts.
All organized conflict can be categorized one of two ways: Overt or Covert.
Overt means straight up: Invasion, soldiers, tanks, air strikes, nuke strikes, etcetra.
Covert means indirect... Deniable...'Black Ops'.
If I paid some kid to go rob a gas station so we could split the money, that's a low-level covert operation. The idea is to make things happen without being held responsible for them.
In the olden days, war was primarily Overt. Men of opposed Nations battled on distant fields, led ever forward by commanders based back Home. These were National struggles that endeavoured to involve citizens at every level. Those who couldn't actually fight were expected to contribute whatever they could to the War Effort; children were enlisted in Youth Corps in order to instill militarism and whatever philosphy was deemed appropriate by the State; rationing and shared sacrifice were a part of the effort...Ring any bells?
Moving right along...
Deep in the bowels of the military and political power structures, however, we now know that highly intelligent men and women schemed on how best to humiliate and defeat their Enemies in imaginitive and original ways. Here, away from the straightforward, jingoistic dialog of Overt Warfare, ideas that would never survive public scrutiny flourished...
All the snazzy James Bond stuff that you can dream of, coupled with every living nightmare, was conceptualized, directed and funded Covertly: Assassinations, false-flag attacks, counterintelligence, propaganda campaigns, the funding and supplying of paramilitary groups and militias in foreign nations...cyanide capsules, microfilm, high-tech weaponry...Tons of stuff.
When faced with evidence, they have little choice but to admit some Truth, by the way...
As an aside, it is important to note that the Military and Corporate-Industrial structures together account for all technological innovation in the world: We fund Governments, who fund the military, who in turn fund companies who pursue the development of new weapons technology. These technologies are then introduced to the Market, first militarily, then to the Civilian market. This is the basic engine of the economy: Energy, communications, aerospace engineering, automotive, biotech, nanotech, genetics, security - even advertising - are just a few of the industries propelled in this fashion.
In times of Peace, which could more accurately be called times of Fewer Overt Hostilities, these ideas came in handy when a Nation refused to implement the United States-friendly economic model, as happens from time to time...Snubbed, but unable to react on the world stage with a military response, the US (or any nation, for that matter) could then take the Covert route: discreetly funding political opposition in the "rogue" nation, maybe even arranging some low level terrorist activity...Up to and including an Invasion - just small enough to be considered Covert.
Over time, the conventional military and it's arsenal became so powerful that to even contemplate the use of the weapons was illogical, since their use meant disaster on a planetary scale. War had become impractical. These developments coincided with the poularization of the antiwar sentiment due to the disastrous invasion of Vietnam. As a result, Covert operations became the preferred means of combat.
NEXT: Part 2: Multiple Front Lines