Imagine a bygone time where four Tribes shared a kingdom in tolerated but uncomfortable peace. Two were as powerful as each other and the two lesser tribes were unbalanced, one being stronger than the other, my tribe being the weakest.
If I wanted my tribe to attack yours, say because you had taken my water, but I couldn’t because other two tribes would call it an act of aggression and band up against me and defeat me. With my tribe wiped out, the remaining three would benefit and have more resources to share.
So how do I deal with the situation? My tribe is weak and in decline. It would only be a matter of time before something else was taken from us.
I would get a handful of my trusted men. Disguise them as the opposing tribe, weapons and all, then get them to attack my own tribe and sacrifice a few of the weakest and sick for the good of the whole. That’s right. I would attack myself then blame the other tribe, giving me every right to attack you back in revenge. The other tribes would then leave me be or at worse, take my side against you because you were the aggressor not me.
Yes, it is a low down dishonourable sneaky thing to do, but all’s fair in love and war. But now my tribe has everything your tribe once had and my tribe is now more powerful and power is addictive.
I want more land etc. but I am still not strong enough to fight the two much stronger tribes. How do I achieve this….easy I would pull a similar stunt on them too, first spreading a few whispered rumours of betrayal to both of them. I would set the stage to make it look as one of them attacked the other. Not before I had sworn allegiance to both sides, telling them not to tell the other about our secret pact.
Then my loyal men would repeat what they did last time and war would break out between the two stronger tribes, causing each to think the other is to blame because they do not know what is really going on.
However, I would not honour any of the secret pacts I made to side with them against the other. That was the illusion of friendship and loyalty. I would wait until one tribe defeated the other. The victor would now be spent, exhausted and short of their finest warriors. That’s when I would attack what is left them and the entire kingdom is mine.
Should any on the other hand, of the powerful tribes outside the kingdom who were on friendly trading terms with the slain tribes begin asking for an explanation of why I attacked. I would show them my relevant secret pact to show I was avenging their friendly tribe. In other words, I am on their side too because I executed their revenge. And the process starts again until I have everything and no one can stand in my way or against my tribe.
War is dirty but that’s war. It’s said the strongest survive. But so do the most cunning. That is why we say ‘The Mists of War’. It means the real truth of what happened has been obscured.
Does this compare with what you are seeing now in the modern world?