Strategy of tension

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) is a theory that Western governments during the Cold war used tactics that aimed to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions in order to achieve their strategic aims.[1]

The theory began with allegations that the United States government, the Italian government, and the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 supported far-right terrorist groups in Italy and Turkey, where communism was growing in popularity, to spread panic among the population who would in turn demand stronger and more dictatorial governments.[citation needed]


The term "strategy of tension" recurred during the trials that followed in the 1970s and 1980s Years of Lead ("anni di piombo"), during which terror attacks and assassinations were committed by apparently neofascist terrorists related to the Operation Gladio.[citation needed]

It was primarily members and international supporters of the Italian Communist Party who invented and popularized the term "strategy of tension". They meant to draw attention to the crimes of the Italian Right and Far-Right parties who were allegedly supported by the foreign belligerents.[citation needed]

A 1995 report from the Left Democrats (the rebranded Communist Party of Italy, PCI) to a subcommittee of the Italian Parliament first stated that a "strategy of tension" was followed by Gladio and had been supported by the United States to "stop the PCI, and to a certain degree also the PSI, from reaching executive power in the country".[2][3][4] Members of the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS)(the rebranded Communist Party of Italy, PCI), part of the Commission on Terrorism headed by senator Giovanni Pellegrino and created in 1988, also described the Italian peninsula since the end of World War II as a "country with 'limited sovereignty'" and as an "American colony"[5] The centrist Italian Republican party described the claims as worthy of a 1970s Maoist group. Aldo Giannuli, a historian who works as a consultant to the parliamentary terrorism commission, sees the release of the Left Democrats' report as a manoeuvre dictated primarily by domestic political considerations. "Since they have been in power the Left Democrats have given us very little help in gaining access to security service archives," he said. "This is a falsely courageous report."

General Gianadelio Maletti, commander of the counter-intelligence section of the Italian military intelligence service from 1971 to 1975, stated that his men in the region of Venice discovered a rightwing terrorist cell that was supplied military explosives from Germany, and he alleged that US intelligence services instigated and abetted rightwing terrorism in Italy during the 1970s.[6]



Turkey has a history of involvement in similar plots. The Turkish branch of Gladio, known as Counter-Guerrilla, allegedly followed a similar strategy in Turkey in order to justify the 1980 military coup.[7] Turkish secret police are also believed to have instigated the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1955, leading to the Istanbul Pogrom against the Greek minority of Istanbul.[8]

Assaults on Cumhuriyet and the Council of State[edit]

In 2008 over a hundred people, including several generals, party officials, and a former secretary general of the National Security Council were arrested for participation in Ergenekon, an alleged clandestine, secular ultra-nationalist[9] organization with ties to members of the country's military and security forces.[10] Alleged members have been indicted on charges of plotting to foment unrest, among other things by assassinating intellectuals, politicians, judges, military staff, and religious leaders, with the ultimate goal of toppling the pro-Western incumbent government[11][12][13] in a coup that was planned to take place in 2009.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interview with Daniele Ganser PDF (154 KB), December 29, 2006, on Voltaire network's website (French): "It is a tactic which consists in committing bombings and attributing them to others. By the term 'tension' one refers to emotional tension, to what creates a sentiment of fear. By the term 'strategy' one refers to what feeds the fear of the people towards one particular group".
  2. ^ "Commissione parlamentare d'inchiesta sul terrorismo in Italia e sulle cause della mancata individuazione dei responsabili delle stragi (1995 Parliamentary Commission of Investigation on Terrorism in Italy and on the Causes of the Failing of the Arrests of the Responsibles of the Bombings)" (PDF) (in Italian). 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-19. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  3. ^ "Strage di Piazza Fontana – spunta un agente Usa" (in Italian). La Repubblica. February 11, 1998. Retrieved 2006-05-02.  (With links to juridical sentences and Parliamentary Report by the Italian Commission on Terrorism)
  4. ^ (English)/(Italian)/(French)/(German) "Secret Warfare: Operation Gladio and NATO's Stay-Behind Armies". Swiss Federal Institute of Technology / International Relation and Security Network. Archived from the original on 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  5. ^ Dossier Stragi by the Democrats of the Left (Italian)
  6. ^ The Guardian, 25 March 2001, "Terrorists 'helped by CIA' to stop rise of left in Italy,"
  7. ^ See Daniele Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies. Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, Frank Cass, London, 2005. Extracts and documents available here.
  8. ^ Güven, Dilek (6 September 2005) “6–7 Eylül Olayları (1)”, Radikal
  9. ^ State connections to murder of journalist Hrant Dink being ignored, warns BIANET, IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET), 2008
  10. ^ Acar, Erkan (2008-09-06). "Ergenekon has links to security and judiciary bodies". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  11. ^ Burke, Jason (2008-05-04). "Mystery of a killer elite fuels unrest in Turkey". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  12. ^ Rainsford, Sarah (2008-02-04). "'Deep state plot' grips Turkey". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  13. ^ Berkan, Ismet (2008-04-08). "Ergenekon'un yakın tarihi (4)". Radikal (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-09-24. Bugün 'Ergenekon' adıyla andığımız, benim zaman zaman 'AKP gitsin de nasıl giderse gitsin örgütü' adını da kullandığım 'oluşum'...  |chapter= ignored (help) (English)
  14. ^ Düzel, Neşe (2008-01-28). "2009’da kıyamet gibi kan akacaktı". Taraf (in Turkish). Retrieved 2008-08-14. Ergenekon operasyonunda tutuklananlar da 2009’da darbe yapmayı planlamışlar. Adamın aklına durup dururken 2009 iyi bir sene diye gelmedi herhalde. 2009 insanın aklına bir şeyler getiriyor. Şimdiki genelkurmay başkanı 2008 yazında emekli oluyor. Darbecilerin dayandığı, güvendiği bir şeyler olmalı ki, 2009 için böyle bir hesap yapıyorlardı.  Partial English translation in Dumanli, Ekrem (2008-01-29). "Coup in 2009". Today's Zaman.  and Balci, Kerim (2008-07-27). "Question of the decade: What if Ergenekon had succeeded?". Zaman. Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
  15. ^ "Darbe hazırlığını kamera yakaladı". Taraf (in Turkish). ANKA/CN/BÜN. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 

External links[edit]